"Be back before nightfall! Arne did you hear me, there are wolves in those forests! You get your arse back here before sunset!" The shrieking voice belonged to a tall woman with long brown hair.
Although I didn't turn my head, I could perfectly envision the woman stood at the entrance to our hut with a ladle in hand.
For my age I was astonishingly tall. In various places on my body you could even see the contours of well-developed muscles.
Sadly I was still lacking in time to grow. Despite my outstanding height I was more than a head shorter than the ladle-wielding demoness I called mother.
Twelve years I had spent wriggling out from her control. Since the day I was able to walk I had been perfecting the art of escape.
Recently I had devised a brand new strategy; compromise.
Within the village I was naturally not the only teenager. Every youth my age was happily playing in the village square or chasing each other through the streets.
The demoness expected her son to do the same.
Unfortunately for her, I would rather eat year-old pig swill than spend a single hour with those juvenile idiots.
Some small part of me did feel bad for my mother. While she had her flaws, she was a kind and caring, albeit stern, parent.
I was glad that I had many brothers and sisters who could make her proud.
Families in this medieval world were extremely large. After delivering her fourth child, me, mother and father swiftly resumed their nighttime activities.
Compared to the crying infants and weaning toddlers in the hut, I was a significantly lower priority.
So long as I spent a few hours in the morning helping out around the house, I was free to do as I wished for the rest of the day.
Interacting with the rest of my abhorrent age group was not a possibility, however, the quiet outskirts of the forest suited my taste.
Herb-gatherers and hunters regularly journeyed along the paths near my rudimentary hideout. Due to this the region had a dense population of small birds and insects.
More importantly the constant presence of armed humans scared off anything that might like to try the taste of my flesh.
I proudly stopped in front of my hideout and admired the ginormous old oak.
Before attempting to climb the tree, I spent a half hour practicing some stretches and yoga-like poses.
Possessing the clever thinking of an adult had allowed me to subtly shape my growth over the years.
I was strong, flexible, dextrous and had phenomenal stamina.
Thinking of the future when I could stride across the battlefield, merrily separating the heads of my enemies from their bodies, brought a smile to my face.
Several hunters in the village, including my frequently absent father, were retired soldiers. In a few days time, I would pester one them to teach me the fundamentals of swordsmanship.
Then my journey on the path of a mighty warrior would truly begin.
I grasped one of the oak's branches with practiced ease. The quickest route to the top had been determined countless moons ago.
As a result of having not yet reached puberty I could be considered somewhat skinny. There was scarcely an ounce of fat on my body and I lacked the hormones necessary to build muscle like an adult.
With my low weight one-armed pull ups were easy, I didn't break a sweat as I pulled myself up and onto the branch.
Training my coordination had been much more difficult than stamina or flexibility. After weeks of trial and error I finally came up with a solution.
Flipping this way and that, twisting my body in the air and balancing on slender branches. I couldn't count the number of times I had fallen or cut my arms and legs on stones and thorns.
Thankfully my hard work paid off. I was so in tune with my body that I could leap almost effortlessly from branch to branch in the treetops.
Looking down at the ground nearly ten meters below I enjoyed the feeling of the cool breeze against my skin.
I continued to climb.
Less than a minute later I reached the very tip of the oak. From my vantage point I gazed across the endless verdant forest stretching out into the horizon.
At the same time as I felt the exhilaration of the wind in my hair; I also noticed the fingers of darkness creeping over the trees.
Nighttime in the forest was something even my father feared.
Hurriedly I began my descent. Right now my only thought was leaving the forest before the sun's light dwindled entirely.
"Arne! You've got your father's muscles don't you. You've certainly got his balls as well, come in now!" Mother reprimanded angrily.
Her fingers pinched painfully on my ear and dragged me into the house. Resisting would have been easy, but I didn't have the courage to further provoke her anger.
The overlapping cries of several of my younger siblings echoed in the house.
"Well don't just stand there! Don't you see your sister crying, help her!" Mother instructed.
I resisted the urge to ask which sister she meant, considering each and every one of them was in floods of tears.
Sighing in my head I walked over to a cot. Numerous bawling faces looked up at me.
'You just had to have triplets.' I thought to myself.
For the next few hours I comforted, soothed and told off. There was a large gap between the ages of my siblings and I, during this time my father had been away at war.
Finally, when the moon was high in the sky, the last child settled down to sleep.
In the village my mother had many cousins and aunts. Any of them would happily help ease the burden of so many children.
To my stupefaction mother was as stubborn as she was prideful. She refused to accept help from anyone, even my own father was forbidden to do more than a few simple chores.
The only exception to this rule was me. Apparently as a member of this family it was supposed to be my honour to contribute.
I liked my mother and father. They were good people leading simple and honest lives. While I complained plentifully about having to care for my siblings, I truthfully did not mind it.
In our house my future was rarely spoken of. Other children aspired to be hunters or guardsmen. I think my parents both knew that my dreams lay beyond the village's walls.
Nonetheless my father had dutifully imparted his knowledge of the forest to me. I was proficient in traps, animal calls and tracking.
At first I hadn't realised it. Children learned at a rapid pace, I hadn't thought that I was learning skills any faster than others of a similar age.
The astonishment on my father's face as I mastered everything he had to teach in a matter of weeks finally revealed the truth.
I was a genius.
Once I learned something I would never forget it. Knowledge entered my head and seemingly became trapped and unable to leave. Relying on my fine muscle I could put my father's teachings to use almost instantly.
The rate at which I progressed was simply frightening. It was more like I was practicing what I already knew rather than learning it fresh.
Nothing in this world could ensure my safety more thoroughly than strength.
'Even if I can't become a sorcerer or Witcher, I can certainly stand above the likes of ordinary men!' I thought to myself.
Lurking in the shadows of this world were foul monsters trapped here by the conjunction of the spheres. Magic was also brought into the realm at this time.
In order to become a sorcerer it was necessary to have a unique connection to chaos. Such talent was rare and highly treasured, the Ban'ard academy would not allow a potential sorcerer to waste away in a nameless village.
Stories of mortal men killing sorcerers did exist but they were few and far between.
There was simply no level of swordsmanship that could resist a sorcerer's spells.
For a potential sorcerer the respective academies would act immediately. The individual would be nurtured until they could use their education to bring benefits to the academy.
In contrast Witchers faced danger at every moment in their lives. Nine out of ten children that entered a Witcher's keep would remain there forever.
I had no confidence to survive the brutal mutations that granted Witchers their strength. Whether I could even die with a human appearance was unknown.
This was the cruelty of sorcerers. They did not care if the process of making a Witcher was imperfect and most often fatal.
In exchange for a few coins countless parents would sell their children. The sorcerers would be satisfied even if one out of a hundred children survived the process.
There was no desire for the power of sorcerers in my heart. Associating with them would only send me to an only grave.
'I am content to live as an ordinary man.' I thought solemnly.
Blowing on my bowl of stew to cool it, I stared out through the crackled glass window.
Then suddenly my blood froze.