• In St. Remiel’s Chapel

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    April 14, 2013 /  Memories

    It was raining outside. St. Remiel’s Chapel was a small house of worship tucked between the grand gothic structures of the University of Vandago, a tiny, out of the way sort of place. Alban had discovered it one day when he was lost in the labyrinthine campus of the University. A wrong turn took him to the wooden door and into the small stone chamber. Following, it had been a favorite haunt of Albans. He had been there many times and if only for that reason, tonight’s setting was no strange place. The storm without made it dark, causing the only source of light to be a collection of candles perched throughout the place, coming to their brilliant climax on the grand reredos of the altar. Tonight, though, was different. It would be the night to change Alban’s life. Just as the baptism he had experienced those years ago on the high seas had erased the life of “Alban von Morre” from the world, so would this be its return, though a return that would bring the man to a life wholly different than the one he had lived before. Tonight was a new birth for a new man wearing and old man’s name. On the altar, in addition to the grand silver chalice of sacred water and the tall tapers, several folded robes were placed reverently, carefully. They numbered three just as the occupants of the church that night numbered three. These men, all Vandagan though of differing class, Alban was gentry, the other two were of common blood, were brought together by a respective distinction. They had been chosen from the ranks of their peers for something special, to live a life different and radical. A man dressed in the same habit that occupied the altars, though also including a skullcap perched on his head, the symbol of a priest, entered and stood before the altar. All was silence as he began to speak. “Alban von Morre.” Alban stepped forward, “Present.” He declared before kneeling at the step of the altar. “Alban von Morre.” the priest continued, “you have been chosen by Dav, by the Lord of the Springs Himself, from amongst your peers, your superiors, your subordinates, to have a life specially dedicated to him. You have heard that call, you have tested it. You have sought to live it in the midst of today’s wild world. In this way, you have crafted a fine candle from the wax of life. This is a gift pleasing in the eyes of heaven.” The priest handed a candle to the kneeling Alban before continuing. “Our spiritual father St. Remiel was a man of letters. He did not shy from the peaks of knowledge and of scholarship, not fearing their power but instead making them to submit to their truest cause: That of the Lord. This, Master von Morre, is the cause for which you will now be consecrated, to study and to pray and then to take the fruits of those labors and light your candle with them to show the light of Truth to all the world. Are you prepared to accept this cause?” “I am.” “And are you prepared to vow, before Saint Remiel, before the Church, before me, and before all here, to leave your old life behind and to live henceforth in chastity, in obedience, and in poverty for the sake of this cause?” “I do.” “Then, brother, welcome.” The priest made the sign of the chalice over Alban and reached for a habit, dressing him in it. It was a black cloak complimented by white capuche and a black cloak over it. Alban rose and embraced the Priest, giving a sigh of happiness. How far he had come in these years and how far he would go.. The prospect of returning to Lithmore, which had now laid before him, no longer seemed so threatening. Instead, the challenge was inspiring. He was ready.

  • Let the Water wash over you

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    June 22, 2012 /  Memories

    The men were shouting out on the deck when I awoke. It didn’t take long to get dressed and move out on deck and when I did, I could see just what they were yelling about. There were no stars overhead, not any of the moons. Instead, great black clouds crackling with sinister lightning. The rain, carried by a strong wind beat hard against me. Between it and the crashing sea water that splashed up on the deck, it was impossible to stay dry. I fought my way through the fray to find the Captain, a good old chap who had worked for my father for as long as I could recall. He was a man I trusted, which is exactly why I had chosen his ship to return home on. I thought taking a sea route and making the brief stop at a Tubori port to conference with soem of our patrons there would be more adventurous than the mundane caravan home. Seems I got my adventure.

    I had, despite the storm’s best efforts to the contrary, made it to the Captain. That didn’t help as the wind this time was enough to cast me on my stomach and as I pushed myself to my feet with his help, the ship’s standard was soon behind, catching me like a net and holding me down again. “Arien.” I swore beneath my breath as I pushed it off and managed to get up again. “What on Urth is going on?!” a yelled over the general noise about to the Captain. He opened his mouth for a reply but was silenced as the ship was tossed to against the nearby reef like a plaything. The force knocked us all to our stomachs again and some of us, as I discovered, overboard. I was one of those lost in such manner. The waves were terrifying, casting me about and pushing me under. I fought for my life, gasping. I thrashed my legs to find that my right was protesting, a shard of wood stuck in it. I pulled it out as the fatigue set on over me. The water was strong and my strength, already almost too little, was waning. Providence sent a barrel, marked as some Tubori red, to keep me afloat. I took ahold, felt the violent waters crash over and about me, and surrendered myself to the Lord’s mercy.

    It was not but darkness after that till I opened my eyes. Despite the brilliant life and assurance of survival that followed, I wished the seas had taken me instead. Looming over me with a sinister grin was a great Tubori man, raggedy and criminal by anything I could manage to see. I wanted to fight, to run, to do -something-.. but my body had surrendered itself to dull pain. So the nightmare began.

     

  • Playlist: Shake it out — Florence + the Machine

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    May 28, 2012 /  Playlist

    Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
    And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back

    And I am done with my graceless heart
    So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart
    ‘Cause I like to keep my issues strong
    It’s always darkest before the dawn

    And I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t
    So here’s to drinks in the dark at the end of my road
    And I’m ready to suffer and I’m ready to hope
    It’s a shot in the dark aimed right at my throat
    ‘Cause looking for heaven, found the devil in me
    Looking for heaven, found the devil in me
    Well what the hell I’m gonna let it happen to me, yeah

  • Death comes to all men

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    May 28, 2012 /  Memories

    I was in the courtyard when they came for me. Sitting on a stone bench, a book laid open across my lap, a collection of religious poetry by a Vandagan Priest. It had been a favorite of mine before I had left. I know not why I had never taken it home with me. The man who approached me was my father’s advisor, his best friend. He wore conservative Vandagan style, all black. “Its time, von Morre.” he said rigidly, “Its time.”

    The walk to my father’s chambers was a difficult one. Every footfall felt beyond knowing.. I pulled the wool of my coat closer. Too long had I spent in the warmth of Lithmore, here it was simply cold and dark. The torches cast a sinister light across the halls, creating shadows which hung off the grey masonry like gaunt flesh against bone. We paused at the door, a great oaken slab. I reached for the silver handle and pushed it open, walking into the room.

    By tradition, the private bedchambers of House von Morre were simple. Unpainted wood stood against the stone, a painting or two on the wall, comfortable carpeting and a massive bed and hearth. Compared with the other, massive wealth of the home, this room seemed out of place. It was unlit in this evening hour save a single taper by the bed. Lying gaunt in the covers was the man I had known as my father. He was pale and thin, his hair looking an unhealthy grey.  Over him stood a elder man, dressed in fine robes. A Bishop by the looks of him. A few other family, my brothers and sister, an uncle, were here as well with a nurse. They all nodded their greeting to me, moving to create a passage to come near the bed. My father turned to look up at me. “Leave us.” he said in a faint voice, “It is time for us to speak.. alone.” there was some hesitancy, but they all turned and left, leaving me and him alone. I pulled up a chair and waited for him to speak.

    “We both knew this day would come, Alban.. eventually.” He began, coughing harshly following, “You have been tested much of late. I am pleased.” he lifted a hand, pointing to his desk, which was piled with papers. “There, son. You have been made heir to my all. The entire fortunes and possessions of the house, yours. Its rule, yours. My allies and political gains, all yours. Use them well.” I looked blankly over at the desk.
    “Father.” I said carefully, “Thank you.. I.. I hope that I can serve it with all its due.I’m far from worthy. and -”
    “Be quiet, Alban. Humility never got men anywhere.” he admonished gently, “You will do fine. You are of my blood and bone and of that of your forefathers. This is what you were born to do. Do it well.”
    “I will.” I settled for, looking down at the man. His frail form, even in its illness, its weakness, wielded much power. I could not help but wonder, would I, of his blood and bone, ever be what he was? Would my deathbed be so serene? “Father.” I said, “I intend to wed.”  There was a long silence at this before he spoke.
    “Its the von Eclen girl again, isn’t it?” he asked. I couldn’t tell if he was upset or not at this.
    “Yes.”
    “You think me blind, Alban. Never blind.. von Morre has eyes everywhere. At any rate, I cannot say I approve. Your choices though, are your own. I will not stop you.”
    “Thank you.”
    “I owe no less to you, Alban. All my days, I have honed you. I know I have been harsh, but it was so that you could be tempered and made stronger.  If iron were allowed to remain raw, it would have little use. When put through flames, it becomes great.” he coughed heavily again, a little blood came up with this one, “But when that steel has been made, it is time to allow it to do its work. You are good steel, Alban. I trust your judgement if you do not think too quickly. You have excellent potential. Just remember, failure is not borne of inability, is borne of ability not used. You were meant for greatness, settle for nothing less.”
    “I won’t, Father. I promise.”
    “Death comes to all men. It is like the cold winter.. though wealth and comforts can shelter you for a time, eventually it will freeze you and turn your heart to unbeating stone. All we can do is decide what we are before it catches us. Death is not fair, it comes to some in youth, when they have not yet reached all they could be, it comes to some in old age, far too late when they are little more than shells of who they once were. But, regardless, it comes. When it does, meet it on your feet Alban. Give it reason to fight to take your soul. And, above all, have no regrets when it finally does. Regret is the most painful emotion you bear here, at this moment. Be all you can be and nothing less.” A massive, racking cough moved through him, more blood. I waited, seeing there was nothing more, I kissed his forehead and moved to the door, allowing in the others. The Bishop stood over my Father, intoning blessings and last rites. There were prayers, supplications. Finally, the cleric leaned over, held his ear to my father’s open mouth for a moment and rose up to his full height, chalicing himself.
    “His soul has passed.” The ring was taken from his finger and handed to me. I held the cold silver in my hand. It was heavy, like ice. I slipped it on my finger. It did not grow warmer.

    I took my leave of the room and walked in the garden. My eyes cast out over the patch of green I had once hated so much. In particular, I looked at my father’s rose bush, become bare with the winter. I thought of them all back in Lithmore. I thought of Edvard, of Lord le Orban. I heard the distant sea and thought of Lien. They were consoling thoughts to think what they, in their normal lives, were doing now. As I faced pain, pain which was more than I had thought for the man I had thought I did not love, who I thought not to be like the father he was. Most of all, I thought of Linnea. I sat on the bench, holding to that cold silver ring with one hand. The future laid out before me, but for the moment, I just stood still.

  • Playlist: Human – The Killers

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    May 4, 2012 /  Playlist

    Pay my respects to grace and virtue
    Send my condelences to good
    Give my regards to soul and romance
    They always did the best they could
    And so long to devotion
    You taught me everything I know
    Wave good bye
    Wish me well

    You got to let me go

  • And that which Rises from Love’s Winter..

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    April 20, 2012 /  Memories

    It was high noon and the sun in its mild summer warmth gently poured down into the green courtyard. A tall willow tree filled most of its expanse, the large limbs housing the faded green through which the sunlight filtered through below. It was there at the thick base of the tree that the couple were. Young both, the girl curled up, the boy about her, cradling her. Their smiles were warm and happy. “I love you.” she whispered up to him. His handsome face looked down at her pretty one. “Do you love me?”
    “I think you know the answer to that.” the boy responds, a little wry grin on his face.
    “Yes.” she giggles, “But I like to hear you say it, Alby.”
    “Fine.. yes, I do.” he says back, pinching her side playfully as he does.
    “Then I am content.” she replies, reaching up to kiss him.

    I think back to that day now. All of it, so perfect, all of it, so.. warm, kind, beautiful. They were carefree days, those of which we all dream but never seem to get enough of. They are like good wine, drunkening us and slowing our senses with their thick liquor. O, youthful love, how do I remember. Yet, like all happy dreams and mirthful parties, this came to its end. And with a crash that resounded far louder than any would have expected.

    The couple now stood, dancing to no song save the light birdsong which surrounded them. Spinning around in a slow, close Vandagan dance. From the edge of the court, a voice cleared its throat. The private moment was broken and they were left midstep, forms close together. Standing just beyond the shade was a man, an elder gentleman dressed in sober dark greens and blues, all save a small stitched crest on his right breast: a faded red rose with a silver book displayed open; the famous crest of the all more famous von Morres. “Master von Morre.” he said in a formal fashion, his sharp eye passing evident judgement on the couple, “I suggest you leave Miss -von Eclen- at once.. Your Father wishes a conference. In the Garden.” And so, reluctantly releasing the girl from his hold, Master von Morre went off, sending a few last longing glances over his shoulder to her.

    He walk the familiar path down the Garden. It was not a hard path to walk, the von Morre estate made this ancient track of ground its focus, a tribute to the days of yore when the von Morres, just the Morres then, had been the gardeners to the Archduke of Vandago and from there, his close advisors. Still, it held an almost sacred air to it and every son of the great house had learned to work it with the family motto upon their lips: ‘By the Lord’s Grace and Man’s Resolve.’ For a family like this, politics was something you learned with your speech and to which ambition had been bred with their jet black hair and emerald eyes.

    Dominic von Morre was crouched in the soil, tending to a rose bush which grew in the corner of the yard. A humble plant. The gentryman wore his fine clothing, black stitched with silvers, greens, and blues. He was middle aged, taller than most Vandagans like his son. His skin was also a little fairer, depleted somewhat from the usual Vandagan complexion. His hair, once a rich raven, is touched with grey rendering him an air of distinction. Over his rich vesture, a plain apron and gloves which serves to guard them in his somewhat dirty task. Dominic looked up to his son, his face sharp and stern, well chiseled and distinctly pointed. His emerald eyes flashed behind the spectacles he wears. Carefully, he removes the eyesight’s aid, tucking them into his apron, he speaks one more, “Its done, Alban. You’ll not so much as glance as anyone from the von Eclen family again. Ever.”
    “What? Why, Father? She’s done no wrong?”
    “The von Eclens are disgrace, Alban. They worked against the Duke, -your- liege lord, for their own petty gain. They are lucky to have evaded treason.”
    “That was her grandfather, sir. She’s done -nothing-! You can’t do this?” Alban’s voice is shaking but strong, his father’s gaze met defiantly.
    “Still, its political suicide to associate with them.. it takes generations for this to pass away. And since you cannot seem to control yourself around her, its best you not even be near her.”
    “But, Father!”
    “But what?”
    “But we are in love.”
    “Love, Alban, is a weakness. I’ll not have you playing any part in it.”

    I should have seen it coming sooner. The moment I saw he was at that rose bush, I should have run. Run back to the courtyard, run back to Therese. There, it was safe. There, we were happy. The sun’s warmth, as little as it is in Vandago already, suddenly seemed to be completely gone. I had weathered worse in the winters, true, but this was almost unbearable and no hearth could comfort it. “Oh, the Cold Halls of von Morre.” it has been spoken of us before, “As if the dead of Vandago’s winter was not cold enough. They drink not the merry wines of Tubor, instead, the frozen liquor of statesmen. The greatest perversion is that their cold wind has lifted them so high.”

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