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 Post subject: Tales from Östea
PostPosted: December 30th, 2016, 8:06 pm 
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Duke

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Delon usually enjoyed patrols. The opportunity to escape guard duty in the packed streets of Arnum and ride out into the vast forests of Ӧstea was a welcome respite from city life. The joy of patrol soured quickly, however, as the acrimonious stench of exploded blast powder began to waft through the trees. Delon and his three compatriots dismounted and moved cautiously towards the source of the smell. Soon, the smell of blast powder was coupled with that of scorched flesh. The day soured further. Delon drew his sword; he knew better than to be unprepared should more of the demons be lurking nearby.

It was not long before the singed wreckage of a tent became visible through the foliage. Delon paused for a moment at the edge of the camp, scanning the trees for any sign of movement. Satisfied that there were no eyes staring back at him, Delon motioned for his men to enter the camp. The campsite was pockmarked by two craters on either side of what remained of the tent. Bundles of charred fur were strewn about, likely scattered by the explosion. The tent itself was almost entirely shredded, and those inside seemed not to have faired better. Two mangled bodies lay inside, disfigured to the point that they were nearly beyond recognition. One of Delon’s men gagged upon seeing the corpses, but Delon himself was unfazed. He had seen such carnage too many times before. Too often followers of Creeperism let the demons get too close, curious about the messengers of their dark god. Delon had no pity for such fools, though that did not seem to be the case with these victims.

Delon’s men began to gather wood for a pyre; the least they could do was give the dead a proper funeral. Delon had just begun to drag one of the bodies out of the tent when he heard a muffled moan. Delon continue to pull the body away from its resting place, revealing the huddle figure of a young boy. He was caked in dirt and blood and his arm was badly mangled, yet Delon could see his chest faintly rise and fall.

“Fetch the horses! Quickly!” Delon commanded as he kneeled next to the boy and began to clean off the debris. The boy tried to speak, but Delon quieted him, “Save your strength, little one. We have far to travel.”

---

Eadric never thought the boy would wake. He had been clinging to the last dregs of life when Delon had brought him to the monastery. Eadric remembered the stench of rot coming emanating from what remained of the boy’s hand. There had been no saving the hand; Eadric prefered to forget the grisly task of amputating the arm just above the wrist. He was sure that the fever would claim him before long. Delon had stayed by the boy’s side until he seemed beyond saving. Eadric assumed he had gone to drink away the sorrow, but was surprised to see Delon return soon after with a vial of the mysterious bloodfyre. Whatever was in the potion seemed to burn away the rot and give the boy enough strength to endure the fever. Eadric made a note to investigate the details of the potion when he had a chance.

It was four days since Delon found him when the boy opened his eyes.

“Where… where am I?” the boy mumbled weakly.

“You are in the Arnum monastery, child. You have been here recovering for four days now.” Eadric held a cup of water to the boy’s lips. The boy drank as fervently as he could muster.

“What happened to me?” the boy asked, trying in vain to sit up in the cot.

“You and your parents were attacked by creepers in the forest north of the city.”

“My parents…” Eadric could see in the boy’s eyes the memories come flooding back.

“I am sorry, child. A funeral was all that could be done for them.” Eadric wiped away a tear that trickled down the boy’s cheek, “Cry not, these tests by the great Creeper serve only to strengthen us.”

“No…” the boy sighed, seeing the mass of bandages wrapped around his left arm.

“I am afraid your hand was too badly injured to be saved. I preserved what I could, so that perhaps one day you might still use the arm. It is a miracle you are alive, truly.” The words fell on deaf ears as reality began to sink in.

“The worst is behind you, child.” Eadric placed a comforting hand on the boy’s shoulder, “There is more to life than a hand. As a wise man once told me: we must live with the days we have. Rest now, child. You still need to heal.”

---

“Again.” Delon leveled his sword at Cylus’ chest. The boy swung the sword in a wild overhand slash. Delon deftly blocked the attack with his shield and countered with his own measured cut that stopped just short of the boy’s throat.

“This is not fair.” The boy whined, letting his sword and shield drop to his side, “You’ve got two hands.”

“Aye, I do. But is it my extra hand that makes me faster? Is it my extra hand that makes my cut stronger or more precise? No, it is practice, Cylus. Your sword is in your hand, same as mine. Your shield strapped to your arm, same as mine.”

“But…”

“Excuses are for the weak, Cylus.” Delon interjected, “Do you wish to be weak?”

“No…” the boy muttered.

“Good. Again.”

The two sparred until Cylus could barely lift his sword. Satisfied with the evening’s training, Delon suggested that they retire to his hut on the edge of the city. A few months of training had done wonders for the boy already; Cylus was a novice, to be sure, but Delon knew the instincts of a true swordsman when he saw them.

Delon felt a tinge of pride as the two meandered back home. Delon’s wife had been more than supportive when Delon suggested they bring the boy into their family. She knew well enough that the boy needed love and care as much as the next, and Delon had always wanted a son to balance out their three daughters. Cylus had been wary at first, but with spending life at the monastery as the alternative, he soon warmed to the idea.

Delon stopped at the smokehouse and purchased a few slices of pork for the two to share as they made their way home. Cylus dug into the treat ravenously, his hunger having been bolstered by the night’s training. For a moment, Delon could see the hint of a smile on the boy’s face, and he smiled too. It was the first time he had seen Cylus truly happy.

---

Cylus was diligently polishing his sword when he heard a knock on the door. Delon was busy slicing carrots for the evening’s stew, so Cylus hopped off his stool and marched to the door. He opened it to find Eadric with a small burlap sack in hand.

“Hello, my child. May I come in?” the monk smiled warmly, and Cylus gestured towards the table behind him.

“Delon is working on a stew. You are welcome to stay for dinner if you like.” Cylus said as he led the monk to the table. Delon waved hello from the kitchen.

“Many thanks, young one, but I am just stopping by to give you a gift.” Eadric set the burlap sack down on the table with an audible clang. “Open it.”

Cylus undid the tie on the bag to reveal a curled metal fist, ornately decorated with patterns and runes. The face of a creeper was carved into the back of the fist, it’s eyes and mouth painted black.

“I heard from Delon that you wish to become a great warrior. The great Creeper may have taken your hand, but in its wisdom it has given you the opportunity for a unique weapon of your own.” The monk smiled, but Cylus did not smile back. His mind was in turmoil as memories of that fateful night came flooding back.

“Say thank you, Cylus.” Delon called from the kitchen, Cylus’ silence hinting that something was amiss.

“Thank you kindly. I…” Cylus tried to find kind words to say.

“It is the least I can do.” Eadric cut in, noting the silence as well, “ May it prove worthy of your skill.”

Cylus put the fist back in the sack and left to store it in his room.

“He did not seem to like his gift.” Eadric said as soon as the boy was out of earshot.

“Cylus has no fondness for the demons you worship.” Delon responded, “They have taken a great deal from him.”

“The great Creeper tests us all, some in crueler ways than others. It is not up to us to question it. All we can do is meet the challenge.” Eadric answered solemnly.

“You worship that which inflicts suffering upon you? That which kills your friends and kin? That is not your god, that is your enemy.” There was a hint of anger in Delon’s voice now.

“The great Creeper wishes to make us strong...” Eadric was trying to find the right words, but Delon cut in.

“Your god does not wish for your strength. It wishes for chaos. If it does exist, it is a servant for evil and darkness. Such things should be burned on a pyre, not praised. It is a fool who worships his cruel master.”

“I should be going.” Eadric relented, noticing that Cylus had reentered the room, “Many wishes of happiness to you both.”

“Farewell, Eadric.” Delon responded curtly, returning to slicing carrots.

---

The sight of a column of soldiers marching through the streets of Arnum was not unusual, but their approach towards the stairs leading to the monastery caught Eadric’s eye. From his perch on the monastery wall, he guessed their number to be at least a dozen, garbed in the heavy armor typical of Casadian lancers. With a sigh, Eadric closed the book he had been reading and made for the entrance. He arrived just as the soldiers were marching through the archway.

“Greetings, friends. How might I serve you on this fine day?” Eadric said warmly.

The man at the head of the column removed his helm, revealing a familiar, but concerning, face.

“Ah, Thalian, it has been many years since you have graced the city with your presence.” Eadric tried to maintain a pleasant tone. Thalian was one of Cerydon’s old war dogs who had earned a reknown as a ruthless warrior during the battles against the Sejuk. Rumors of Thalian’s true nature as a merciless killer had spread quickly through Ӧstea following the conflict, with some of the tales being particularly gruesome. The stories had not sat well with a young Eadric, and they certainly caused his stomach to turn now. Thalian was one of Cerydon’s most trusted generals; whatever he was here for, it was not bound to be pleasant.

“Summon the commander of the Knights of the Order. We must talk.” Thalian said gruffly.

One of the gate guards scurried off to find the commander while Eadric led Thalian to the library

“Might I inquire as to the purpose of your visit?” Eadric asked as he unlocked the door to the library.

“There are concerns.” Thalian answered curtly.

“About the Order, I presume?” Eadric guessed. Thalian nodded.

“It does appear as though Ӧstlaed is headed for crisis. The good Ealdorman was a unifying force for certain. I fear what may happen now that he has passed.” Eadric gestured towards a table and the two sat. He pined for a mug of ale as his nervousness grew. The door creaked open and the commander of the Knights joined them. Eadric could tell by his guarded expression that they shared concern.

“There are concerns that the instability of Ӧstlaed may take root here. Such conflict is to be avoided.” Thalian’s comments sounded more like a command.

“I do not think the people of Ӧstea will pay too much heed to the politics of their northern brothers. If they wished to partake of Ӧstron politics, they would have left for Ӧstlaed long ago.” The commander answered, trying to match Thalian’s sternness.

“It is not the people of the city that worry us.” Thalian glanced at both Eadric and the commander.

“Surely you do not believe we will cause trouble?” Eadric exclaimed in surprise, “The last thing we desire here is conflict.”

“Is it not the Order who commands you?” Thalian asked rhetorically.

“By technicality, I suppose so, though the commander here will confirm that we have had less and less contact with the Order since the foundation of Ӧstlaed. We have always maintained a level of independence from the central body of the faith. With the way the order has turned towards fundamentalism, I would not doubt they consider us faithless heathens now.” Eadric’s thirst for an ale was as strong as ever now.

“The monk speaks true,” stated the commander, “The ranks of our knights have always been drawn from the local population. There are few foreign Ӧstrons in our ranks. If you think we are under the thumb of the Order, you are mistaken.”

“This is welcome news.” Thalian’s tone did not shift, “Your faith has always been welcome in Casadia. It is our hope it remains so. In pursuit of such an end, I would advise that your relationship with the Order remain unchanged. Should the Order seek to change it, the Guardian expects to be informed.”

“As you wish. If there is nothing else...” Eadric collected himself and stood.

“I shall leave you to your business.” Thalian stood and strode out of the library. Once the door had shut behind him, Eadric shared a knowing look with the commander. Both men made a swift exit towards the brewery.

---

To the Ealdorman Mark Accynafon II,

Word has reached us in Ernun that you have disbanded the Knights of the Order and have summoned all former knights to Acholm to be evaluated for fitness to join the Halig Frecan. I found this news of this disbandment troubling, especially given the relative independence granted to our monastery in the past, and as such chose to discuss it with my fellow knights before heeding the order. Many expressed concern about both the necessity of such evaluation and the implications of leaving Casadia and their families to be pressed into service for a foreign army. In truth, I shared many of their concerns. After much discussion, it was decided that each knight in my command shall choose for themselves whether to heed the summons. Of the sixteen knights under my command, only three have chosen to accompany me to Acholm for evaluation: Sirs Alric Toller, Saward Lander, and Eadfrith Maerleswein. The rest shall remain in Ernun to uphold their oath to defend followers of the faith under the command of Sir Wilheard Hygered.

I pray this letter reaches you in good health,

Sir Eadward Wulfheort
Commander of the Knights of Ernun


Eadward set aside his pen and passed the letter to Thalian. Eadward could see Thalian’s eyes read each word carefully.

“Good,” Thalian passed the parchment back, “Send it.”

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 Post subject: Re: Trouble in the East
PostPosted: January 1st, 2017, 1:48 am 
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Count

Joined: October 14th, 2016, 11:54 pm
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The creepers are beings to be respected. Those who venture to close may meet the great spirit sooner than they plan.

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 Post subject: Re: Trouble in the East
PostPosted: January 1st, 2017, 2:15 am 
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Joined: May 30th, 2015, 10:17 am
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Creeperism must be practiced carefully!

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 Post subject: Re: Trouble in the East
PostPosted: January 1st, 2017, 2:20 am 
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Duke

Joined: May 30th, 2015, 6:01 pm
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[New section added to OP]

Eadric never thought the boy would wake. He had been clinging to the last dregs of life when Delon had brought him to the monastery. Eadric remembered the stench of rot coming emanating from what remained of the boy’s hand. There had been no saving the hand; Eadric prefered to forget the grisly task of amputating the arm just above the wrist. He was sure that the fever would claim him before long. Delon had stayed by the boy’s side until he seemed beyond saving. Eadric assumed he had gone to drink away the sorrow, but was surprised to see Delon return soon after with a vial of the mysterious bloodfyre. Whatever was in the potion seemed to burn away the rot and give the boy enough strength to endure the fever. Eadric made a note to investigate the details of the potion when he had a chance.

It was four days since Delon found him when the boy opened his eyes.

“Where… where am I?” the boy mumbled weakly.

“You are in the Arnum monastery, child. You have been here recovering for four days now.” Eadric held a cup of water to the boy’s lips. The boy drank as fervently as he could muster.

“What happened to me?” the boy asked, trying in vain to sit up in the cot.

“You and your parents were attacked by creepers in the forest north of the city.”

“My parents…” Eadric could see in the boy’s eyes the memories come flooding back.

“I am sorry, child. A funeral was all that could be done for them.” Eadric wiped away a tear that trickled down the boy’s cheek, “Cry not, these tests by the great Creeper serve only to strengthen us.”

“No…” the boy sighed, seeing the mass of bandages wrapped around his left arm.

“I am afraid your hand was too badly injured to be saved. I preserved what I could, so that perhaps one day you might still use the arm. It is a miracle you are alive, truly.” The words fell on deaf ears as reality began to sink in.

“The worst is behind you, child.” Eadric placed a comforting hand on the boy’s shoulder, “There is more to life than a hand. As a wise man once told me: we must live with the days we have. Rest now, child. You still need to heal.”

_________________
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Master of the Slayers Guild
Minister of Hermertian History


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 Post subject: Re: Trouble in the East
PostPosted: January 1st, 2017, 8:29 pm 
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Duke

Joined: May 30th, 2015, 6:01 pm
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Location: Michigan, USA
[New section added to OP]

“Again.” Delon leveled his sword at Cylus’ chest. The boy swung the sword in a wild overhand slash. Delon deftly blocked the attack with his shield and countered with his own measured cut that stopped just short of the boy’s throat.

“This is not fair.” The boy whined, letting his sword and shield drop to his side, “You’ve got two hands.”

“Aye, I do. But is it my extra hand that makes me faster? Is it my extra hand that makes my cut stronger or more precise? No, it is practice, Cylus. Your sword is in your hand, same as mine. Your shield strapped to your arm, same as mine.”

“But…”

“Excuses are for the weak, Cylus.” Delon interjected, “Do you wish to be weak?”

“No…” the boy muttered.

“Good. Again.”

The two sparred until Cylus could barely lift his sword. Satisfied with the evening’s training, Delon suggested that they retire to his hut on the edge of the city. A few months of training had done wonders for the boy already; Cylus was a novice, to be sure, but Delon knew the instincts of a true swordsman when he saw them.

Delon felt a tinge of pride as the two meandered back home. Delon’s wife had been more than supportive when Delon suggested they bring the boy into their family. She knew well enough that the boy needed love and care as much as the next, and Delon had always wanted a son to balance out their three daughters. Cylus had been wary at first, but with spending life at the monastery as the alternative, he soon warmed to the idea.

Delon stopped at the smokehouse and purchased a few slices of pork for the two to share as they made their way home. Cylus dug into the treat ravenously, his hunger having been bolstered by the night’s training. For a moment, Delon could see the hint of a smile on the boy’s face, and he smiled too. It was the first time he had seen Cylus truly happy.

_________________
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Master of the Slayers Guild
Minister of Hermertian History


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 Post subject: Re: Trouble in the East
PostPosted: January 3rd, 2017, 1:47 am 
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Duke

Joined: May 30th, 2015, 6:01 pm
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Location: Michigan, USA
Cylus was diligently polishing his sword when he heard a knock on the door. Delon was busy slicing carrots for the evening’s stew, so Cylus hopped off his stool and marched to the door. He opened it to find Eadric with a small burlap sack in hand.

“Hello, my child. May I come in?” the monk smiled warmly, and Cylus gestured towards the table behind him.

“Delon is working on a stew. You are welcome to stay for dinner if you like.” Cylus said as he led the monk to the table. Delon waved hello from the kitchen.

“Many thanks, young one, but I am just stopping by to give you a gift.” Eadric set the burlap sack down on the table with an audible clang. “Open it.”

Cylus undid the tie on the bag to reveal a curled metal fist, ornately decorated with patterns and runes. The face of a creeper was carved into the back of the fist, it’s eyes and mouth painted black.

“I heard from Delon that you wish to become a great warrior. The great Creeper may have taken your hand, but in its wisdom it has given you the opportunity for a unique weapon of your own.” The monk smiled, but Cylus did not smile back. His mind was in turmoil as memories of that fateful night came flooding back.

“Say thank you, Cylus.” Delon called from the kitchen, Cylus’ silence hinting that something was amiss.

“Thank you kindly. I…” Cylus tried to find kind words to say.

“It is the least I can do.” Eadric cut in, noting the silence as well, “ May it prove worthy of your skill.”

Cylus put the fist back in the sack and left to store it in his room.

“He did not seem to like his gift.” Eadric said as soon as the boy was out of earshot.

“Cylus has no fondness for the demons you worship.” Delon responded, “They have taken a great deal from him.”

“The great Creeper tests us all, some in crueler ways than others. It is not up to us to question it. All we can do is meet the challenge.” Eadric answered solemnly.

“You worship that which inflicts suffering upon you? That which kills your friends and kin? That is not your god, that is your enemy.” There was a hint of anger in Delon’s voice now.

“The great Creeper wishes to make us strong...” Eadric was trying to find the right words, but Delon cut in.

“Your god does not wish for your strength. It wishes for chaos. If it does exist, it is a servant for evil and darkness. Such things should be burned on a pyre, not praised. It is a fool who worships his cruel master.”

“I should be going.” Eadric relented, noticing that Cylus had reentered the room, “Many wishes of happiness to you both.”

“Farewell, Eadric.” Delon responded curtly, returning to slicing carrots.

_________________
Guardian of Casadia
Master of the Slayers Guild
Minister of Hermertian History


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 Post subject: Re: Trouble in the East
PostPosted: January 3rd, 2017, 2:31 am 
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Posts: 2001
Location: California
Really interesting read so far! A few misconceptions of Ostron creeperism but overall really fun to read!

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 Post subject: Re: Trouble in the East
PostPosted: January 4th, 2017, 3:44 pm 
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King

Joined: May 30th, 2015, 10:17 am
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Location: Stirling - Scotland
Read the rest of this tale, what manner of fist is this? Or will all be revealed?

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 Post subject: Re: Trouble in the East
PostPosted: January 5th, 2017, 4:11 am 
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Count

Joined: August 8th, 2015, 8:55 pm
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Is it truth that the great creeper is testing us all? Worshiping a being so cruel must be a wrong path.

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 Post subject: Re: Trouble in the East
PostPosted: January 5th, 2017, 4:22 am 
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A misconception indeed. I'll correct those soon.

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