Take Flight My Child…

by on November 13th, 2013

It is a dark, dark day. Clouds pollute the sky blocking out the stars that would have otherwise aided the torches that line the streets, and the square. A heavy breeze sweeps through River Square, interrupting the calm that the flames of the street lamps so willingly give up, and cause a choice few of those gathered within the square to shiver. While the Lithmorran people stand huddled to watch the affair. A cold affair indeed.

My hand clasps the young one’s shoulder tightly as I allow the poor boy his final moments; those precious last moments spent saying farewell to a sobbing mother and a stoic father. As they exchange the last moments of affection bestowed upon me, I can feel their gaze; his father’s eyes burning with hatred, his mother’s seeking mercy and compassion from me, and the crowd’s. The crowd’s is a mixture of those of his parents’, as well as everything in between.

“I love you, my child, and I will see you in Dav’s arms soon–” the mother weeps.

“Why? Why do I have to go -now-?” the child asks defiantly, unwilling to accept his fate. A fate that had been forced upon him. Indeed, the taint is does not discriminate, whether just or wicked, the taint will touch you, will infest you for its own sick pleasures, for the sole purpose of bringing good Davites pain and sorrow.

“Take flight my child,” the father says as he finally breaks his silence, “and shine brightly in the heavens so that your mother and I can find you hastily when Dav welcomes us into His arms.” The child merely nods, lapsing into stifled sobs, his cheeks glistening with the tears as the light glow of the torches seek to emphasize the tears’ presence.

“It is time, boy,” I tell the boy, tearing him away from his parents with a gentle push of my hand against his shoulder. His parents cry their objections, and although I hear them, although they have the effect on me, I must steel my visage, deny myself the emotions. It is my duty to rid the Urth of taint… no matter the cost.

My footsteps are just as hesitant as the child’s, and though my heart breaks my face does not give my emotions a chance to reveal themselves. This is my charge… this is our burden… The child wears no shackles, and he unwillingly steps closer to his final destination. Brave child…

My will is waning, and I nearly stop. My thoughts, my objections to this ordeal, my regret blind me temporarily, and my footsteps finally do come to a stop. Am I about to shame the Knights Lithmorran once again? Have I faltered in their eyes, as well as Dav’s? My eyes focus, and the child is climbing up the steps to be ushered by a priestess to be bound to the stake, and I breathe an ill-placed sigh of relief. This is where he’ll feel his final embrace: the fiery touch of cleansing flame.

The child is out of my custody, and I merely stand to the side facing the crowd whilst the cleansing comes to fruition. Looks of horror, astonishment and pure, seething hatred mark the faces of those gathered to watch. Their eyes are upon us, judging us, criticizing us, perhaps praising us. While they allow themselves to feel, I cannot. As they stare hatefully my way, I will stare back, emotionless. Any hesitance on my part would only cause them to feel that I am unable to do my task, as grim as it is. Let them hate me… such is my burden.

And now I ride; hastily to the Keep  to shrug myself of this burden only to bear another one. The emotion that I so stubbornly disallowed myself is finally peeking out, begging me to release it. And I’ll allow it; a single tear. Oh merciless winds that batter my face so, I pray that you pity me. I pray that you dry it with haste, and take with this tear the sorrow that my burden brings.

Theirs is the Trial, I am the Error.

by on November 10th, 2013

Februarius 16, 360

[A letter written to the Pages and Squires unlucky enough to have been assigned under Loken’s watch]

To my Pages and Squires,

It has been two months since my return from my assignment at the Kirulean Seas, of the details I have not yet had the chance to speak about to those of you who are curious enough. I am aware that my training methods are considered harsh and overly taxing to you all, and I am aware that this has brought forth a general distaste for my presence. I hold no ill-will towards you, and your feelings towards me aren’t unreasonable. It is better that you hate me than to find yourself ill prepared for what’s expected of you when your spurs are bestowed upon you.

But an apology and an acknowledgment towards your feelings towards me is not the purpose of this missive. While you allow yourselves to recover from the rigorous training that I oppress upon each of you, I would ask that you take as much theoretical concepts in your training as you do with practical. Our teachings tell us to lead by example, and that can be taken both ways. You can be a shining beacon, one to aspire to mirror, or one can be the epitome of sin, an individual society urges you to avoid becoming.

Yours is the trial, my dear pages and squires, and I am the error, and I will share with you the err of my ways so that you not only know how to act, but how not to act as well.

I was challenged to a spar by a good friend of mine, Reeve Maxwell Wattkil. Two bouts where I was the victor. At the time I had thought nothing of it, it was a spar, a friendly challenge between peers, but after some choice words exchanged between Lord ab Harkness and I, I began to ponder.

Nights had passed where I reflected on Lord ab Harkness’s words, as well as the results of the spar between Maxwell and I. Was I indeed the victor? My answer lay within my past where, as a Page, I had watched two of my peers engage in a spar, where one was the undisputed victor while they other had limped away, bruised and broken, like a dog with its tail between its legs. While the victor boasted nonstop of his triumph, it seemed that our trainer was more impressed by the one that had lost. Why?

Pages and Squires of mine, I say to you, when faced with extreme hardships, it is those with the will to overcome daunting tasks that will triumph. The loser had fought until he could fight no more. Combat is not only a testament of your physical strength and prowess, but your will, your heart. When we are faced by our enemies, those infested with taint, we must remember that it isn’t the amount of blows we take that will turn the tides to our favor. It isn’t our losses, for we will endure many of them. It is our will to overcome our losses that will allow us to become victorious. Aye, we are beaten, aye, we are broken, but so long as we do not let that be the end of all things, we will learn from it, we will better ourselves from it, and we will overcome it.

Weeks had passed and the broken and beaten Page spent days training, improving, studying. It was our monthly combat trial, and it would seem that fate had smiled upon the broken and beaten Page. Again he would have the chance to spar against the one that had seemingly made a fool out of him. Again he would endure a test of will. But he will not be broken again.

The match lingered on, and although our beaten and broken Page had endured some near-crippling blows, he fought on. His challenger’s willpower waned until no more was he willing to fight. His willpower had been lost to him. He hadn’t the heart to fight any longer, his technique was sloppy, his teachings lost to him. That day, however, there was not one victor, but two. Together they formed a bond where they would become friend and foe at the same time, to test each other’s will, to sharpen each other’s prowess.

So what of me? When I had won that match I became arrogant much like the first Page, the one that had won the sparring match in our story. While I stood in front of Maxwell, his form somewhat ragged from our spar, me with a few scratches and bruises here and there, I forgot the teachings of the Knights Lithmorran, and I stood there thinking that I was perfect, that there was no room for improvement on my part. Maxwell hadn’t given up, and he fought with heart and unwavering will that day.

Pages and Squires, I will end this missive with this: do not fall victim to arrogance. Your journey does not end when you receive your spurs, nor the accolade of Knighthood. Chivalry, in a sense, is a journey. Chivalry is a life long journey to perfection, though we as humans can never achieve perfection we are tasked with pushing past our limits in all things: etiquette, combat, geography, mathematics, philosophy. Embark in all your endeavors with a stubborn heart and unwavering willpower, and I can promise you that you will be successful in your never ending path to Knighthood.

Sun and sword protect,

Sir Loken de Ronthe

Knight Lithmorran

The Soldier in the Knight

by on November 5th, 2013

“De Ronthe, Darson, start extracting information from him, and make sure you move the map beforehand so it doesn’t get ruined,” comes Gavin’s command. Darson and I glanced at each other, unspoken anticipation between two who’ve served the front as we’re finally given the chance to give the Daravi what they deserve.

A hand gripped the hilt of my sword tightly before I slid it from its sheath, the cold steel thirsty for Daravi flesh. But the bite of a sharpened blade would have been too much of an escape for the man known as Ryhan xi Nolque. The man looked soft, as if a blade would cut through him easily like a kitchen knife through butter. No… the pommel will have to do.

And so it began…

It only took one blow, the unyielding solidity of my blade’s pommel cracking skin and bone faster than I had anticipated. And as the man staggered backwards, stunned and helpless, it happened.

The cries of friend and foe alike filled my mind as they fell to their deaths all around me; steel ringing and clashing as they collided with one another, the sound of a flurry of hemproot tipped arrows penetrating steel and flesh all collided and contributed to this symphony of death and desperation.

My sword is sheathed now. He’s much too soft. I rely on my fists…

Steel plated knuckles collide with xi Nolque’s face, his features contorted as my strength disrupts the integrity of his jaw, and again I am there…

The stench of charred leather, cloth and flesh is strong as a few heretics were lucky enough to throw pillars of fire at my brothers and sisters in battle before the arrows struck the filthy mages down.

He throws a punch, but misses. His jaw is no match for my fist. It breaks. Xi Nolque is wavering… 

His khopesh is fresh with blood from a fallen ally. The curved blade sinks once more into the helpless man’s neck, blood spilling and painting the barren floor a deep, deathly red. His eyes are set on me, and he advances. My arms are aching from exhaustion, and my steps cause me to stagger, but I cannot allow myself to be bested today. I cannot allow this man to live, for he is an enemy of the Holy Church, the kingdom to which I’ve sworn to protect. He will not make it. I’ll make sure of it.

This dance starts with a circle, and I can see the hatred in his eyes. There is no humanity here, no room for compassion. If I hold back now, if I hesitate, that could mean the difference between his blade in my gut, and mine in his. He charges and I stand my ground. Dav will triumph today… heretic. Before he can manage to strike me, I thrust the blunt side of my axe into his stomach, which causes him to stagger.

More punches now. Jaw, kidney, his strength’s waning, and I’m growing more and more bloodthirsty. I want to see him break

He regains his stance after recapturing his wind. Seems the blow had struck a nerve, literally and metaphorically speaking. Good, mistakes will come. He cries as he rushes again, and we engage in a dance of steel, where the couple will surely become the single once the dance is over.

Dav! A misstep, and I falter in my stance, I lose my rhythm. I am a fool! I turn too late, and I can already see his blade thrust towards my neck. No more time for thinking, move… NOW! My body twists at the waist with barely time to spare. His blade cuts deep, my skin tearing compliantly at the will of its edge.

He can barely stand. Good. Now’s the time for questions, his will is broken. Throw him onto the table and be done with it– What is this? His hand connects with my face, a weak blow, but a blow nonetheless.

I feel it: the rage, the desperation, the burden, the sorrow, the struggle, the fear, the loss, the hopelessness. It all converges onto me at once, and I am like an animal cornered by hunters that would like nothing more than to skin me alive. And there, I let it burst. The idiot had lost his balance. The fool, he over extended, and he will pay. My sword, it hungers for heretic blood, and now it will feast.

It only took one thrust, and my blade feasted on the innards of a heretic.

It only took one blow: his fist against my cheek, as weak as it was, was enough to send me back. Back on the Front, back to Edessa, back to that unchecked hatred and disregard for another’s life. My fist met his face again, and again until finally, his face was no more. I had broken him. Throughout all this, I had somehow come into possession of a portion of baklava, which I found out later Gavin had given me. Good. Xi Nolque’s unrecognizable face has left me dissatisfied. I hunger.

The pistachios… they crunch between my teeth. 

I’ll Get It Through Your Thick Skull

by on October 17th, 2012

“Draw your sword, Squire,” the giant rumbled, glad in gold and crimson armor. Paere de Laern towered over me, granted I was tall by Lithmorran standards, he made me look like nothing but a child. An awe-inspiring display of power,  his stoic gaze jabbed into me, merely foreshadowing the events to come as I stared at the sword pointed in my direction.

Reluctantly I drew my sword. I had heard of the man’s martial prowess; his ferocity. Coupled with the man’s sheer size, it’s a deadly combination indeed, and I was about to experience a deadly combination first hand. Without warning he struck, and I met the flat end of his sword with my arm. Unwillingly at that.

“You are to adhere to the Old Knight’s Code,” he rumbled out loudly, the force of the blow sending me veering to the right. The throbbing pain belatedly taking hold of my arm as the instructions not only echoed throughout the auditorium, but within my head as well. I took on a defensive stance, but too little too late as the air is struck out of me, a reaction to the flat end of Paere’s sword against my gut. “You are to eat well and drink to ensure that what happened in the Cathedral never happens again. If you need to relieve yourself, you are to excuse yourself and take care of these things in private.” I could feel the blood rushing throughout my body now, especially in my ears. What they said was right, my assumptions correct: he was a deadly man.

Pain began to wrap itself throughout my body, sending defiant signals to my mind, urging me to flee. But my pride would not let me. I was going to stand my ground, and I was going to learn from him. I was not going to let the pain distract me from the lesson I was being taught. A lesson well deserved.

“I cannot–” I began to say through grit teeth, exhaling sharply with each failed attempt to parry the man’s expert blows. The next distinguishable blow was against my ankle, which sent pain searing throughout the entirety of my leg. “I will take better care of myself then, Sir!” I exclaimed, my voice nearly faltering as my body fought to come to terms with the pain, and my stubborn drive to allow it to endure such a horrible sensation, “So that I will prevent this from happening again.” I wanted to say something different, I wanted to defend myself both verbally and physically, but it would have been an act of defiance against Sir de Laerne, and I didn’t want to find out the rage that such an act would unleash.

Another near-blinding blow, this time to the neck. Rather than completely missing the parry, my sword met his. Alas, my own sword aided the other’s effort to inflict pain. I faltered in my footing as he called out to me, his voice bellowing from his throat, “What was that Squire? That’s not what you were going to say, finish what you meant to say.” My entire body was screaming at me, yet still I stood my ground.

“I cannot control when my stomach decides to growl,” I managed to say after much hesitance, preemptively readying myself for another devastating blow, which to my surprise never came. He straightened his posture, shifting into what I could only imagine was a defensive maneuver as he pointed his sword in my direction. “But you are right, I will prevent it any further by taking care of myself. I cannot fulfill my duties to protect the ones that I love if I allow my body to decay.” I studied his form, contemplating my next move. Taking a risk, a huge risk, I lunged at him, using my sword to bat his sword off target before turning my blade opposite of him. My pommel connected with his gut, but it was possibly nothing more than a tap against the thick armor that protected him.

Sir de Laerne had a look of surprise on his face, eyeing me me coldly. His hand clenched into a fist and I braced myself for a blow in kind on my stomach, though I was blindsided by another shot by his sword against my arm. As I staggered sideways, I caught the forms of an audience among the bleachers. I wondered how long they had been there for, but only for a second. I had to steel my resolve, if only to be able to endure blow after blow from the hardened giant.

Just then, verbal silence ensued between Sir de Laerne and I, save for the odd commentary between Gavin ab Harkness and Lynis Teladri, and the constant clang of sword against sword, and sword against armor; at least his armor. I had nothing but cotton attire during this save for my shield, which was useless against a sword. Parry met sword as sword met cloth as sword met armor. The faint tingling of exhaustion began to take hold of my limbs, but that blow against his stomach seemed to have unlocked a sudden ferocity in him, that I may have been literally fighting for my life.

He was beginning to miss his target, but not by much, perhaps exhaustion was beginning to take hold of him too. I managed to parry some of his attacks completely, but a majority of them merely ended with my sword glancing against my body. I met him on with as much strength as I could muster until a shot to the head with his pommel did me in; blinding, deafening blows, each one of them. A ringing in my ears drowned out the rest of the scenery, and my focus was solely on the giant in front of me, fighting back, pushing through exhaustion, pushing through the pain that enveloped my mouth, my shoulders; Dav, my entire body.

When awareness finally granted me its benefits, I watched in horror as Paere struck my knee rapidly, destructively with the end of his hilt. I finally gave in to the pain, my threshold well over its limit. I knelt before Paere as he stood up, relaxing himself from the sudden ferocity he had succumbed to. “Sir,” is all I managed to say, lowering my head in a bow towards him.

“You are going to make a good Knight someday, Squire,” he said to me, which lifted my spirits, though he looked somewhat confused. By what, I’m not entirely sure. I struggled to keep myself up, using my sword as support (which is taboo by the way but desperate times call for desperate measures), and made my way to the bleachers. I’m… not too sure what followed afterwards. I know I spoke with a few of the spectators, Aemelia, Lynis, Gavin, Lirems. But… the details are foggy. My head was clouded, my ears were ringing. I vaguely remember walking… just taking a walk until I finally succumbed to the darkness that was rapidly creeping in.

I’ll See You Again

by on October 15th, 2012

It’s only two years. That’s what they keep telling me. Two years and she’ll be back. It’s as if they forget. When you care so deeply about something or someone, and time is all that separates you, your mind plays cruel tricks on you. It slows down the seconds turning it into days, which turn into weeks. The only escape from such cruel trickery is to busy yourself with unimportant things; to forget.

But how can I forget? Forgetting would mean to throw away the lessons you had taught me. Forgetting would mean to turn my back on you. I can’t do that to you, Lylie. I know I have been nothing but a handful for you, but Dav knows you were like a mother to me. Dav knows I need someone like you to keep me at bay, otherwise I would continue to be as reckless as I was when I had first joined.

I won’t forget. I can’t. I’ve been keeping out of trouble. I’ve been training as much as I could. I am going to make you proud someday Lylie. I wanted to kill him. I wanted to kill Yves when you were sent away. But I didn’t, because I knew that’s not what you would want for me. Because I knew you would be disappointed in me. Because I knew that it would be wrong. My job isn’t to agree with the decisions of others, but to fulfill my duties, which is to obey. And as much as I hate it, I will.

Until next time, Lylie. I know we’ll see each other again soon.

A Bout

by on October 14th, 2012

“We’re going to spar, Squire,” she said to me rather abruptly, her dusky gray eyes just piercing into my form. A spar? This will give me a chance to show her how much I’ve improved compared to the boy that shoveled horse manure for a living. I thought to myself excitedly, instantly reaching for my wooden practice sword.

“Not with swords. I know you’re already a decent swordsman,” Lylie said to me in amusement. A smirk touched her lips as she watched me drop my sword in amusement. I looked at her with confusion, my face contorted somewhat as my nostrils flared. “…What are we going to use?” I asked, though something told me that I was not going to be very happy with the answer. She always had a knack for blindsiding me with twists. But these twists were welcome, they were desired if only to keep me on my toes and better mold me into a Knight.

As I continued to watch her in skepticism, she picked up something that had been laying in the Keep’s training room, something that I would have never thought to be used as a weapon. “I thought we were going to spar, Lady Earl Marshall, not build things with sticks.” That smirk that I’ve always known her for crossed her face as she tossed one of the , what I thought was puny, weapons towards me. “You rely on strength too much, I’m going to teach you about finesse, get ready, Squire.” I thought I was ready. What could be  so hard about using one of these things? My confidence was premature however. As I gripped the simple thing, it slipped clumsily in my hand. “Your stance is too wide,” she barked out with authority, swinging the end of her staff against my shin. The pain was a nuisance, a very big nuisance.

Immediately I jumped back to get out of the way, but with such a sudden grace she twirled bringing the other end of her staff against my neck. “You’re too clumsy, Squire, move around. This is like a dance. You Farins like to dance don’t you?” she continued to say, a mischievous glint in her eyes. I tried my best to fend off blow after blow, but my hands were not used to the grip of the staff, my arms unable to compensate for the weight of the weapon. In a desperate effort I swung towards her arm to veer her blow off course. Like the expert she is, she still managed to land a bruising blow against my arm.

Thoroughly bruised by her flurry of blows, she finally had her fun. She looked at me with a grin on her face as she said to me, “Combat, being a Knight is more than just physical strength. You have to have the willpower, the know-how, and the decorum. We’re going to work on this Squire.”  In astonished silence, I let the staff clatter to the ground. Another twist to our lessons, another surprise thrown in my direction, another eye-opening experience. I thought I had it all figured out.

How wrong I was…

The Pinky Promise

by on October 5th, 2012

Dolly, if there was ever someone that I thought was so adorable that my heart would forever be in a constant state of a buttery mess, it’d be you. You never cease to make me smile, and your energy and enthusiasm is so heartwarming. I’ve missed you during my travels to Farin, and I miss you when I am still in Lithmore.

I made you a promise that day after we had spent some time in Ashe’s shop, that I would be around more, that I would protect you. To emphasize that I intend to keep that promise, I sealed it with the most sacred of gestures that one would only do with a Princess: a pinky promise. 

I promise you, Dolly, that like the Farin Knight that has sworn service to Queen ab Samael, I too will swear service to you. I will protect you, and I will be the additional strength needed to carry your burdens, whatever they may be. I will do my best to watch over you, and keep an omnipresence in your wake.

The Rescue

by on September 29th, 2012

When I woke, they were finally gone. The tent around me had been left in disarray. Tattered remnants of my once proud tunic had been left on the floor. My skin was a display of blood, dirt and sweat, which clung to my skin stubbornly. I couldn’t feel my legs, they had gone numb. And there is where I gave in. With a loud, agonizing cry I let myself go, a sobbing, bloody mess. And Dav, if I could, I’d be beating my head against the ground. Once again, I had gone against the wishes of the Lady Earl Marshall. She told me to stick by her. She told me never to leave my quarters. I didn’t listen. And now I am going to pay for it. By tomorrow I’ll be nothing but a memory to a few, but it’s only those few that count the most.

As I calmed myself, willing myself to accept my fate, the flaps of the tent had been flung open. My heart began to race as I had anticipated the cruel form that my mind so willingly grew to hate, but there, standing in front of me was the Lady Earl Marshall herself. Her eyes were full of sorrow, rage, concern. But like any good leader, and any good friend, she knew now wasn’t the time.

“I’m sorry,” I said to her, breaking out in tears, “I just wanted to make you proud. I thought–“ She quickly silenced me with a quick ‘hush,’ her voice sharp and cold, but her eyes were soft and worried. Like the trained medic she was, she ran her hands along my wounds. The prodding aggravated my wound, but it was a welcome touch considering. With a quick flick of her wrist, she had cut the binds that held me in place. Weak, I collapsed onto the floor, a cloud of dust surrounding my fallen form. “I’m sorry, Lylie,” I said once more. That’s all I could say. Dav… I am sorry.

“Be quiet, they’ll hear you,” she commanded, with nothing but urgency in her tone. “Can you stand?” With that question I planted myself on my knees. The movements felt so foreign to me, but I summoned all the muscle recollection I could muster.

“I can try,” is all I say. Silence ensued as I struggled to get up on my feet. Lylie, bless her heart, did all she could to support my large bulk. As we stumbled towards the tents opening, she paused, and as coolly as possible told me, “When I say so, you arien ride and never look back.” I glance at her, my vision still fuzzy, but I could see her as clear as day. She saw the look on my face and promised, “I’ll be right behind you.”

As quietly as we could, under the dying light of the pyres, the putrid smell still filling my nostrils as strongly as it had earlier. “Chipotle– where is he?” I asked with concern as I looked around. A sudden look of relief soon followed as she clicked her tongue silently, causing her steed and my mule to trot forward from their hiding place. “He followed me here.” As she helped me up, she tied me to Chipotle’s saddle. As if a babe being held in its mother’s arms, I gratefully rested my cheek against the beast’s fur, a welcome sensation, a welcome sight. “Now go,” Lylie exclaimed, slapping Chipotle’s backside before I could protest. With an uncharacteristic amount of speed, Chipotle started out in a gallop, as if the beast knew the urgency that this situation needed.

A sudden flash of light erupted behind me, blinding me as I looked back. As the light dimmed down, there was Lylie riding behind me like she promised. We rode on, as fast as possible, and I clung to my poor mule’s neck for dear life, which I thought was slowly bleeding out of me. We pressed on in the dark of night, for Dav knows how long. The whole trip I had faded in and out of consciousness. Until finally… we reached the Fortress Gates. What a welcome sight. To be amongst friends. Exhausted, weary, I stayed atop Chipotle while Lylie began to dismount hers. With fire in her dusky-grey eyes she advanced towards me. “You better have an explanation for this, Squire.” She said coldly.

I slipped off my mount, and leaned heavily against the poor beast for support. “Lylie I–“ I began, but a sudden slew of what could only be assumed are curse words had followed. In four different languages no less. Unable to defend myself, to lunare to do so, I let myself collapse, once again welcome the surrounding darkness.

I’m alive. Thanks to Lylie.

The Camp

by on September 28th, 2012

Not even hours had gone by when I was dragged to my tent. Chipotle was nowhere to be seen, and I could only assume the worse. Outside, as the wind opened the flaps of my tent I saw a burning pyre of bodies, my brethren’s bodies. I could hear the woman’s shrieks of agony as she was burned alive. Her leggings had been torn off, but the bastards left her helmet and breastplate on. From that split second I saw her, I could feel her metal armor cooking her from the outside. And there was Aeron’s head, piked in front of my tent as if to mock me. I couldn’t move. Shackled to the ground against a thick wooden pole, my arms bound too tight for any movement. My knees ached, but I couldn’t readjust myself.

“Ah, the little Squire’s awake,” said a voice, his accent heavily of Daravi origin, but he knew enough Lithmorran to make sense. “Good morning to our guest of honor,” the man said with a smirk, giving me a mocking display of the Knights Lithmorran salute, “we have plans for you, little Squire. We know who your Knight Master is, we’ve dealt with her once before. What a treat it is, to have her little pet delivered to us.”

As I glared at the man in defiance, my eyes can’t help but look outside the tent to the burning pile of bodies, to the woman who has now grown silent. He follows my gaze, laughing as he tells me, “Do not worry, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to send them off to Dav’s arms. We bathed them in ‘cleansing fires’ in your honor, little Squire.” With a grin he circled around me, continuing his little speech, “We are taking you to Vard Qarat.

Those words hit me like a giant flail to the skull. Vard Qarat… that’s where she was taken, that’s where she was tortured. That’s where she barely escaped. What horrors awaited me, I wondered. Suddenly, a flaring pain in my side erupted, and I looked in horror as the man stuck his dirty fingers in my wound. “Before that, we’re going to have a bit of fun. Scream little Squire.” And I wanted to. So badly did I want to cry out in pain, but I wouldn’t. I did not. I wouldn’t give the heretic the satisfaction. He used his fingernails to tear at my wound, widening it, and with as much strength as I could muster, I held my breath. My eyes welled with tears as I thought about Lylie, about Aemelia. About Ashe. I was never going to see them again.

“I like this one,” he called out to the men wandering into the tent to see what all the commotion was, “He’s got heart. Shame we’re going to cut it out, huh fellas?” The rest of the men cheered and threw what I thought were Daravi curses at me, Daravi insults. One went as far as to swipe me in the face with the back of his plated glove, which was a caress to the face compared to what they did to me.

“Listen you little whelp,” the man said as he grabbed me by the chin, a sudden snarl taking hold of his tone, “if you obey, I will make sure you get a chance to pray to your beloved Dav before we finish with you.” My reply? A spit on the face, and I made sure every drop of blood in my mouth got into his eyes. If this were truly going to be my demise, I wanted to curse the man with my image every time he took a life. I wanted him to remember that his little game did not scare me. But in reality… it did. This little gesture of defiance however, made him all the more angry. Good. Bring on the pain.

And he did. His boot struck my thorax with such precision, that it knocked the very air out of me. The steel nearly cracked my chest, and it could have. But I knew he pulled back. I knew he wanted me alive. He wasn’t finished yet. Another jaw cracking backhand to the face, the metal studs adding a more vicious touch to the blow. He wanted to instill fear in me, and it worked. By Dav, it worked. I wanted to cry, I wanted to beg them for mercy, but my pride wouldn’t let me. “Are you going to scream for me, little Squire?” he asks suddenly, his disparaging stare causing me to feel all the more smaller. I knelt there in silence, never meeting his gaze.

“Very well then,” he murmured, his eyes showing no remorse, “boys, have fun.” The gathered men circled around me, each wielding a cane as thick as my forearms. The first blow knocked the air out of me, sending me gasping for air. “Almost got him to!” one of them cried out. The rest laughed and cheered, throwing mugs and dirt at my face before suddenly, a blinding flurry of canes to the chest commenced. I did what I was taught. Flex my muscles to protect the bone, hold my breath in. That’s all I could do. My lungs were aching for fresh oxygen, and the air slowly escaped my chest until I finally let out a drawn out grunt, a growl.

My world began to turn white, and I thanked Dav for that, because soon I would be out. Out of the pain. Out of the tent. I’d be away from all the trouble I had caused everyone. A sudden slap to the face had brought me back. “It’s not your time yet, little Squire. I still haven’t gotten what I want out of you yet.” Suddenly a foreign, hot pain grasped at my side again as he had taken a knife and raked it across my weeping wound. “You feel that? From the very flames that burned your brothers and sister. By the way, your sister screamed for me. She enjoyed every minute that I had impaled her. She didn’t last long. Pity, she would have made a good slave.”  With a vicious snarl, he cut across my midsection, as if what I had already had wasn’t enough. And it wasn’t. Not for him.

“Let me hear it Squire,” he murmured with such ferocity, “let me hear you beg for mercy.” I couldn’t, even if I wanted to. My throat was at odds with my lungs, fighting to breathe in and out at the same time, which caused nothing but a gurgling sound to come out of my throat.

“Ashe…” is all I managed to murmur. I missed her. I wanted to see her. My last memory of her is going to be the image of her ever shrinking form as I rode away from Church Square.

“Don’t worry, little Squire, we’ll do you the same way we did the rest of your kind,” he said with a sneer, “and you’ll be a pile of ash when you are finished, only to be distant name never spoken on the tongues of your beloved people.” He thrust an arm out, signalling for what I thought was going to be the tool to my demise, but it wasn’t. It was just another play thing. A still burning torch, which he waved mockingly in my face. “Let me give you a glimpse of your beloved cleansing, hm?” He shoved the burning end of the torch into my wound. I could hear the flesh sizzling underneath the lapping flames until the flame died out. The still hot embers sending a raging pain throughout my body. My eyes clenched, and I kept my mouth as closed as I could, lips clamped shut, the only breaths I took were the sharp inhales and exhales coming from my nostrils.

I felt weak. I couldn’t take it anymore, but before I had lost the last bit of my resolve, a welcomed darkness began to fade in, until finally, it was no more. I could hear him screaming angrily at the rest of the camp before I succumbed to darkness.

Ashe… I’m sorry.

The Capture

by on September 28th, 2012

Septemberis 24, 355

Sir Aeron woke me up in my quarters. The look on his face looked rather urgent, but a hint of mischief glinted in his eyes. “Come lad, we’ve got work to do,” he said with a grin, the sort of grin that you knew intended trouble, the sort of grin that aired a confidence earned only through deeds and reputation, “we’ve received word that a Daravi scouting party is on its way to Edessa Keep. We intend to intercept the heathens.”

“But what of the Lady Earl Marshall? She’ll be furious if she finds me out of my quarters?” I asked. I had no intention of angering the Lady Earl Marshall any further, especially after having been promoted to Squire. I did not want to ruin this chance. I did not want to disappoint her. Disappointing her was the last thing I wanted to do right now. But ah, to be thrust in the heat of battle, real battle, to perform what it is that I have been training to do all these months, the thought of it excited me.

“Don’t worry, lad, we’ll be back before dawn. She’ll never know that you had left,” he said to me. He let out a chuckle afterwards telling me, “Just make sure you clean yourself up afterwards. Blood and gore are a dead give away.”

Off we set, the colors that each Knight, a group of seven including me, had pledged loyalty to flashing under the glint of the moonlight, Sir Aeron’s white and blue pennant flowing atop the polearm he so favored. We were nearing what seemed to be a campfire. As we drew closer we had noticed that it was empty and suddenly, before we could react a hail of arrows rained down upon us like a deadly storm. One by one each Knight had fallen. Aeron, Dav bless his soul, came to my aid, blocking every shot with his massive shield. Soon, they all came. It was just us two, encircled by a group of Daravi, fighting for our lives.

One fell, two fell, we did our best to hold them off, but we both knew that we were done for. Suddenly it hit me, a searing pain across my side. I fell to the floor, fading as I watched in terror Aeron’s dance of proud defiance until it was all over, he too had succumbed to death, a sword stabbed through his throat. The world around me soon faded. The last thing I remembered was hearing these last, Daravi accented words said in Lithmorran, as if to mock me, as if to tell me what I had in store for the next few miserable days, “It’s her Squire.” She had warned me. She had told me what they would do if they found out I was her Squire.

I’m sorry, Lylie.

…I’m sorry, Ashe.

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