The man I would come to know as Jaren Ward, my third father and quite possibly my closest friend, came to Palamon from the south.
I was just a boy, but I'll never forget his silhouette on the empty trail as he made his slow walk into town.
I'd never seen anything like him. Maybe none of us had. He'd said he was only passing through, and I believed him - still do, but life can get in the way of intent, and often does.
I can picture that day with near perfect clarity. Of all the details though - every nuance, every moment - the memory that sticks in my mind is the iron on Jaren's hip. A cannon that looked both pristine and lived in. Like a relic of every battle he'd ever fought, hung low at his waist - a trophy and a warning.
This man was dangerous, but there was a light about him - a pureness to his weight - that seemed to hint that his ire was something earned, not carelessly given.
I'd been the first to see him as he approached, but soon most of Palamon had turned out to greet him. My father held me back as everyone stood in silence.
Jaren didn't make a sound behind his sleek racer's helmet. He looked just like the heroes in the stories, and to this day I'm not sure one way or the other if the silence between the town's people and the adventurer was born of fear or respect. I like to think the latter, but any truth I try to place on the moment would be of my own making.
As we waited for Magistrate Loken to arrive and make an official greeting, my patience got the best of me. I shook free of my father's heavy hand and made the short sprint across the court, stopping a few paces from where this new curiosity stood - a man unlike any other.
I stared up at him and he lowered his attention to me, his eyes hidden behind the thick tinted visor of his headgear. My sight quickly fell to his sidearm. I was transfixed by it. I imagined all the places that weapon had been. All of the wonders it had seen. The horrors it had endured. My imagination darted from one heroic act to the next.
I barely registered when he began to kneel, holding out the iron as if an offering. But my eyes locked onto the piece, mesmerized.
I recall turning back to my father and seeing the looks on the faces of everyone I knew. There was worry there - my father slowly shaking his head as if pleading with me to ignore the gift.
I turned back to the man I would come to know as Jaren Ward, the finest Hunter this system may ever know and one of the greatest Guardians to ever defend the Traveler's Light...
And I took the weapon in my hand. Carefully. Gently.
Not to use. But to observe. To imagine. To feel its weight and know its truth.
That was the first time I held "Last Word," but, unfortunately, not the last.