The Noble and the Gallant, part.2

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I do not steal victory.

Alexander the Great


This particular morning, the army carried the reek of death. Carried into the shadow by the desert, Avalan abandoned his horse tied on a dead tree, glancing at the surrounding folly. Around the exhausted knight, men-at-arms and knights screamed as they climbed the piles of bodies of the men who had attempted to drink before their companions. As the other great lords and fellow kyai knights, Avalan Den had been escorted through the human maze by imperial vigils into the Oasis of Carathay. Only his status as a Prime knight had enabled Avalan the luxury of water in the burning sand, while many of his own soldiers had died out of thirst nights ago.

Suddenly hammering, the sun threw Avalan down on his knees, his reddened limbs drowning into the sand. Desperate for life, he dragged his scabbed hand towards the cold water then voraciously swallowed its life, a hound more glorious than him. Almighty, forgive me! the knight prayed, teary. Before washing his sweaty and greasy face within the oasis’ water, his dark raven hair had softened and had also left his skin tanned. By next dawn if the almighty allowed, he would be recovered for the battly, he would be plenty awake. Finally raising his face, Avalan heard his liege’s voice’s: “Ser Den”, the bloody king had barked his name with an obvious disdain, his heavy steps echoing down from the sand hill below the smoking ponds of the oasis.

Standing in silence, the knight saw the obese warlord stepping forward, dressed in his extravagant robes of scarlet leather, his grey mail and his wyvernscale’s plate which was spattered with jewelry, its bronze plastron shining under the sun while carrying his burnt body. Flayed under the sun, his majesty, Tristemer the first of his name, king of Rubaron and prince of Thyriacried his orders with such vigor its mad thundering voice grasped the present men-at-arms, binding them in submitted reverence. “You’ deaf, ser? The bastard, Imrik the whoreson! has called his ban ! We’ve no time to drink…” Despite their mutual dislike, Avalan had given Tristemer-king respect, even if his grace’s dead twin’, dead long before birth, begged for life struck on the monarch’s jaw. He could be a monster in flesh and a greedy tyrant, the king of Rubaron had a keen mind of war. Before putting on weight, Tristemer-king had served in his brother’s host during the raids on Temeros, mentioned in the sons as part of the victors in Fredegar. A son of Ashtown, Avalan Den had grown siding along the Temerians in heart, never actually affected by the battlefields, too young of a noble boy to ride to battle. If he sided with Airn’s puppet king this last day of summer, it was as a Prime knight, send by his order to assist Rubaron’s ruler against a rebellious nephew, Imrik of Rubaron. His order had always followed the strong, in both virtue and disgrace.

“I will make the men walk at once, sire“, Avalan vowed, striking his fist into his heart, this symbol of sacrifice meant unquestionable obedience.

His baby brother’s eyes crying black blood ever since its death, the bloody knight’s remaining eyes were grey and fierce, a cold but cruel sternness sculpted into his iron face. Brought up into the royal palace of Airn, ser Tristemer viAgryn had trained under the king-of-the-islands, groomed for a fertile province’s governance, and his folk had proven their mastery of the seas. Raiders and barbaric, the islanders has burnt monasteries, torched mansions and farms alike and threatened the Temerian crown for over two hundred years. The king glanced at the oasis, and said, his voice carrying a candid sorrow.

“In the songs, oasis are like dawn, they shine in time of great need, their light embracing the thirty who regains strenght, one that is pure…” Avalan heard him, feeling that tightness in their hearts: “- Yes sire, so does your servant.’ The knight had made his voice softer, strong enough to earn his kings’ acknowlogdement. It reached its target, and Tristemer-king said: “- Have you heard of the sirens? They say Carathay had once been an ocean… Whispers of wraith in maiden shape have abducted men from caravans and post guards. Even if I have never accredited these… tales, I now suspect smoke had sparked the fire of these rumours…” This remark left Avalan thoughtful, his knighthood dictating him medidation. The king left, flanked by his sworn shield, a thrall dedicated to serve his liege until death or his liege’s – a giant of a man who fought with a illyrian trident.

Obeying his king, Avalan walked down back to his own war camp in search for his lieutenants.The reigning tension amongst these men explained the black-haired knight why the holy crusades themselves hadn’t appeased the hatred between Temeros and its invaders from Airn, the kingdom of islands. Serving for Tristemer had inserted Avalan’s respect for the islander’s way of life. Unlike they, Avalan had suffered through the blazing heat, his bronze armour blackened by its consistent use had such a burden the knight had dropped it behind in the desert. Never had he conceived a land where winds didn’t freeze but burnt the flesh and where snow was a dream and water a rarity. These Airns have a solid composure, Avalan had thought many times during the campaign. But they hadn’t survived Nalgarroth just yet.

Then finally, he rested beneath his tent.

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Borothar’s Hero’s Journey

It is difficult to realise the true Way just through sword-fencing. Know the smallest things and the biggest things, the shallowest things and the deepest things.

Miyamoto Musashi

Departure

The Call to Adventure

The hero begins in a situation of normality from which some information is received that acts as a call to head off into the unknown.

A mere pigkeeper, Borothar saves a girl, the Forestland’s Sheriff and offers him an apprenticeship in his castle.

Refusal of the Call

Often when the call is given, the future hero first refuses to heed it. This may be from a sense of duty or obligation, fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy, or any of a range of reasons that work to hold the person in his or her current circumstances.

He hesitates for he is happy with Pa, the village’s blacksmith, but his little brother’s sickness can only cured by magic. He accepts, vowing to enter the Kyai Orders as Whitecloak and archbishop at least.

Supernatural Aid

Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously or unconsciously, his guide and magical helper appears or becomes known. More often than not, this supernatural mentor will present the hero with one or more talismans or artifacts that will aid him later in his quest.

Attending his abusive master’s Summer Gathering, he finally earns his respect by winning a brawl and is granted a sword. Practicing, he befriends Dantena van Torquaz. However, the same night he is lured by Rohan the jester into the Mockinjay where betrays the attempt by the Greyfallows to secure their cargaison. This allows the Night Watch to kill all the culprits before Norman actually heals him, send by Dantena van Torquaz.

Crossing the First Threshold

This is the point where the person actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are not known.

The Adventures of the Mystery Toad and his killing of Hoshin.

Belly of the Whale

The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the hero’s known world and self. By entering this stage, the person shows willingness to undergo a metamorphosis. When First entering the stage the hero may encounter a minor danger or set back.

Hoshin’s mucus having infected his arm, he gains the ability to fight like a creature.

Initiation

The Road of Trials

The road of trials is a series of tests that the person must undergo to begin the transformation. Often the person fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in threes.

The dragon attacks and he goes on to save the villagers with his new power. He separates from his master, until he witnesses Richard Frates sealing the dragon away. He reunites with Elijah, Frates’ apprentice. 

The Meeting with the Goddess

Borothar meets Arnaud de Mortierre, the Third Kyai Prime Order soldier who has murdered his mother during the war. He vows to topple the Fulgam Dynasty by spearing Arnaud’s life who hangs himself during the night after sparing his life in return. 

Woman as Temptress

In this step, the hero faces those temptations, often of a physical or pleasurable nature, that may lead him or her to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman. Woman is a metaphor for the physical or material temptations of life, since the hero-knight was often tempted by lust from his spiritual journey.

Borothar is knighted after swearing allegiance to lord Arleone Torquaz, who has finished his studies at the College of Bards from Ashtown, thus becoming the heir apparent to lord Vito. There, he begins serving with the finest knights but he needs a squire himself. He takes Ismair valenKel who needs a knight.

Atonement with the Father

In this step the person must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In many myths and stories this is the father, or a father figure who has life and death power. This is the center point of the journey. All the previous steps have been moving into this place, all that follow will move out from it. Although this step is most frequently symbolized by an encounter with a male entity, it does not have to be a male; just someone or thing with incredible power.

Borothar meets Norman Daegoln during an embassy between the Fulgams and the Torquazes and he vows to surpass him, challenging him in the throne room. He is whipped by Dantena van Torquaz the next morning for his impudence. 

Apotheosis

This is the point of realization in which a greater understanding is achieved. Armed with this new knowledge and perception, the hero is resolved and ready for the more difficult part of the adventure.

During a diplomatic meeting between House Torquaz and their former enemies, the Keshians, and their liege, the king of Aeirn, Bran viAgryn, Borothar reveals he has killed Hoshin, the lord of Kesh, embarrassing his lazy liege, Arleone. Therefore he is branded Toadslayer and all of Kesh soon announces their declaration of war against Borothar of the Forest and his liege, Arleone the Bard. Borothar takes on the challenge.

The Ultimate Boon

The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get. All the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the person for this step, since in many myths the boon is something transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that supplies immortality, or the holy grail.

Borothar is welcomed into the Inner City of Peythralm, as honorary Knight. He can access the White-Gold Archives, and find the cure of his brother. However, when he meets his Pa, he is disowned for his brother has died and his farm destroyed by the war in which he served. 

Return


Refusal of the Return

Having found bliss and enlightenment in the other world, the hero may not want to return to the ordinary world to bestow the boon onto his fellow-man.

Depressed, Borothar decides to repay his dept to the peasants of the world, but helping creating a new order.

The Magic Fligh

Sometimes the hero must escape with the boon, if it is something that the gods have been jealously guarding. It can be just as adventurous and dangerous returning from the journey as it was to go on it.

Borothar rides Ismair as dragon out of the battle of Reishmark, where his incompetence on the field has cost the Empire a large amount of money, and is sent to organise the food supplies of the Empire and has to sell his Mansion in the Inner City.

Rescue from Without

Just as the hero may need guides and assistants to set out on the quest, often he or she must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the person has been wounded or weakened by the experience.

Borothar and Ismair enter the Stumbling Dragon, where Asral who has been named acting Master of its guild accepts them as novices, but Borothar has lost his right to call himself a student of Norman Daegoln.

The Crossing of the Return Threshold

The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world.

Borothar helps Asral arranging a deal with the Thieves Guild by speaking to the Greyfox – Elijah – himself. He has done well, but has a lot of ways to go.

Master of Two Worlds

This step is usually represented by a transcendental hero like Jesus or Gautama Buddha. For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.

Borothar reveals himself excellent with numbers for the Stumbling Dragon and he is approached by the Flintshire Banker, a man looking exactly like the gravedigger of Avalan Den’s chapter. He is offered a position in the bank.

Freedom to Live

Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live. This is sometimes referred to as living in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past.

He refuses to serve the Flintshires and he recognises the eyes of the valenKel in the banker’s eyes, and he sends a Silencer after him. The assassin is killed and Borothar realises he has been saved by a maegi calling himself Gunner.

Ismair Kel’s Hero’s Journey


The Call to Adventure

The hero begins in a situation of normality from which some information is received that acts as a call to head off into the unknown.

Ismair valenKel is awakening in 1477, in Thyrian territory. He slaughters an entire army to save peasants, this establishes the Rubaron rebellion as ruling House of Thyria.

Refusal of the Call

Often when the call is given, the future hero first refuses to heed it. This may be from a sense of duty or obligation, fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy, or any of a range of reasons that work to hold the person in his or her current circumstances.

When he learns his entire race has been exterminated, he turns into a dragon and burns any armed men he sees. 

Supernatural Aid

Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously or unconsciously, his guide and magical helper appears or becomes known. More often than not, this supernatural mentor will present the hero with one or more talismans or artifacts that will aid him later in his quest.

When the dragon attacks, he is saved by the Greyfox who uses the power from the pond to cast him away. It kills the mana lake, and seals Ismair’s powers away. He claims to be Ismair valenKel and he is arrested by Rufus of Mortierre, the great inquisitor of the Holy See and thrown into the Alethur Asylum.

Crossing the First Threshold

This is the point where the person actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are not known.

He escapes after the Wild Hunt liberates Madga Balgruuf. 

Belly of the Whale

The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the hero’s known world and self. By entering this stage, the person shows willingness to undergo a metamorphosis. When First entering the stage the hero may encounter a minor danger or set back.

He remembers his upbringing when he understands he has become a messiah and decides to help the Empire one last time, but he needs a way into the Kyai Orders. Tel’Sian Flintshire recommends him entering into the Winter Gathering, but before being knighted. So he becomes squire to Borothar, the Toadslayer and only knight willing to accept him, in order to surpass Norman Daegoln who therefore disgraces him. 

Initiation


The Road of Trials

The road of trials is a series of tests that the person must undergo to begin the transformation. Often the person fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in threes.

He and Borothar watch the Winter Gathering and sees Morgane Flintshire conquering the field, thus galvanised to train. He instructs Borothar in dragons magic and they go on hunting modern dragons.

The Meeting with the Goddess

Ismair Kel meets with Ulthane viChimeria, a farmer and greatest druid of all time, he offers him a tea that hence his bright heart and purifies his magic. He tells him he cannot help him further, for the phoenixblood hasn’t recognize him yet. If he wants to be reckoned, he must prove worthy of the greatest accomplishment.

Woman as Temptress

In this step, the hero faces those temptations, often of a physical or pleasurable nature, that may lead him or her to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman. Woman is a metaphor for the physical or material temptations of life, since the hero-knight was often tempted by lust from his spiritual journey.

He falls in love with Joana von Fulgam and so does she, and he takes her as student, refusing her magic but accepting to grant her swordsmanship.

Atonement with the Father

In this step the person must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In many myths and stories this is the father, or a father figure who has life and death power. This is the center point of the journey. All the previous steps have been moving into this place, all that follow will move out from it. Although this step is most frequently symbolized by an encounter with a male entity, it does not have to be a male; just someone or thing with incredible power.

Ismair becomes a father for Borothar, and makes him a great warrior.

Apotheosis

This is the point of realization in which a greater understanding is achieved. Armed with this new knowledge and perception, the hero is resolved and ready for the more difficult part of the adventure.

Avalan Den is summoned by the Imperial Guard, as his feats as dragonslayer have been taken into consideration by the Temerian king who has therefore acted as his sponsor, naming himself his liege. Accepting Joana’s help, he enters the Imperial Guard Tower where they have gathered to investigate a new deluded fear of Emperor Arius, paranoid for years, so much he has studied Kyai breathing for 3 years, naming the Iron Circle de facto government. He criticizes them for not taking their liege’s safety seriously.

The Ultimate Boon

The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get. All the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the person for this step, since in many myths the boon is something transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that supplies immortality, or the holy grail.

Arius is killed and a demonking summoned by Rohan attack the kings attending the Summit. Rohan invites Ismair to confront his demon and the battle ends swiftly after Rohan is taken by the Non-World thus granting the demon human flesh. He is basically a Joker version of Voldemort. However, Ismair defeats him after a few strikes and refuses to consider him his nemesis, having no time for demons lurking in his mind… Rohan is left in front of all the kings, he just says he was jesting…

Return

Refusal of the Return

Having found bliss and enlightenment in the other world, the hero may not want to return to the ordinary world to bestow the boon onto his fellow-man.

Upon Rohan’s sealing into the Sarcophagus of the Fallen, he warns Ismair, telling him that he isn’t the enemy. He warns him against those who call themselves noble and gallant.

The Magic Fligh

Sometimes the hero must escape with the boon, if it is something that the gods have been jealously guarding. It can be just as adventurous and dangerous returning from the journey as it was to go on it.

Ismair confronts the army of Gisgo, heading south, for Anarendel.

Rescue from Without

Just as the hero may need guides and assistants to set out on the quest, often he or she must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the person has been wounded or weakened by the experience.

Daegoln and Torquaz face off and Ismair forces them into saving the True Monarch. They both consider Conrad the True King and ride to his aid.

The Crossing of the Return Threshold

The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world.

Ismair finds the Labyrinth, where he understands the origins of the Plague and the Carrion. The skavens, evil creatures from the underworld, have been unleashed in the maze by someone. He understands these are the same wizards who have found him. The skaven shamans ware the same cloak as Arathor.

Master of Two Worlds

This step is usually represented by a transcendental hero like Jesus or Gautama Buddha. For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.

Ismair valenKel proves he is the Last Dragon and fights for Temeros in the battle of Reichmark, on the Imperial Marshe, against Gisgo. Bromingald Bromsson recognizes him as the Last Dragon and therefore sacrifices his life for the young squires, defeating the Immortal made out of Voris’s corpse. The Immortal takes the shape of the shadowy demon: his first mode is Balrog, second is Eye of Sauron, third is Arthas with a Darth Vader runic sword. He kills him using a balista.

Freedom to Live

Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live. This is sometimes referred to as living in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past.

Ismair is then charged by the Empire with burning Hearthstone, but King Conrad, the grandmaster of the Prime Order Ragnar World-Breaker and Imperial Guard Saint Alessia Rhodes accept him as the Last Dragon. He knows he has to help Conrad win the war against Gisgo and Aeirn, and the Skavens, if he wants to recover his name.

Avalan Den’s Hero Journey

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The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone.

Departure

The Call to Adventure

The hero begins in a situation of normality from which some information is received that acts as a call to head off into the unknown.

Avalan is a True Knight in a corrupt Capital City where there Is No Honor. He arrives Phebus’s style, to be received at the Citadel where he meets Lord Captain Paragon and the Iron Circle adviser, His Majesty’s Own Bartholomester van Der Bruck Bromsson, who offer him a post in the Day Watch.

Refusal of the Call

Often when the call is given, the future hero first refuses to heed it. This may be from a sense of duty or obligation, fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy, or any of a range of reasons that work to hold the person in his or her current circumstances.

 Attempting it, his skills are greatly needed, and he fails to remain a True Knight, as he frequents brothels, where he falls in love with Tel’Sian Flintshire but she refuses to offer herself to him, remembering her first lover, ser Richard.

 

Supernatural Aid

Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously or unconsciously, his guide and magical helper appears or becomes known. More often than not, this supernatural mentor will present the hero with one or more talismans or artifacts that will aid him later in his quest.

During his first raid, he meets the thief Elijah Sarak’j, a Alladin of this world, who like he uses no magic but Houdini tricks. This secret could cost Avalan the victory in the Summer Gathering and his post as a Lieutenant. He lets him go against the price of Baron Greyfallow’s next plan. Elijah tells him to check the docks in the fortnight.

 

Crossing the First Threshold

This is the point where the person actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are not known.

After burning the ship on the docs, Avalan Den infiltrates the Greyfallow Brewery by offering the last fel-potion shipment to the baron. Ser Thomas Kent is wary of him.  Avalan Den in love with Tel’Sian begins using the gold he gets from the Greyfallows to help her in her life as a madame, granting better life conditions for her whores. 

 

Belly of the Whale

The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the hero’s known world and self. By entering this stage, the person shows willingness to undergo a metamorphosis. When First entering the stage the hero may encounter a minor danger or set back.

He forsakes being a True Knight, and serves them after he is defeated by Morgane Flintshire’s Tel’Sian eldest sister and rival whom se suspected of murdering their mother in the name of her father, the Patriarch. He fights Elijah on the shores, but his rage makes him ignore the dog, Kiba, whom Elijah follows. They find Borothar, in danger and held hostage by Thomas Kent, who slits his throat. Den is found with the shipments and soon after the connection is made between his Ravenclaw style and the Kingslayer’s ability. This prompts Rohan of framing him as the Assassin of Kings.

Initiation

The Road of Trials

The road of trials is a series of tests that the person must undergo to begin the transformation. Often the person fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in threes.

Avalan Den accepts the help of the Wild Hunt to escape, but the dragon attacks and he finds his salute by hiding with farmers, who flee the war of the kings.

The Meeting with the Goddess

Avalan Den meets a gravedigger, who tells him he is burying his body.

Woman as Temptress

In this step, the hero faces those temptations, often of a physical or pleasurable nature, that may lead him or her to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman. Woman is a metaphor for the physical or material temptations of life, since the hero-knight was often tempted by lust from his spiritual journey.

Avalan finds Morgane, and finds himself in love with her, but she is Elijah’s, whom has resurfaced as the Kingslayer’s Apprentice. She refuses him, and he becomes tempted by the offer of Magda Balgruuf, who takes Tel’Sian appearance and has sex with him. She then turns into Morgane, and Avalan is poisoned by her. He is dying for lying on his claims of being the Dark Messiah.

Atonement with the Father

In this step the person must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In many myths and stories this is the father, or a father figure who has life and death power. This is the center point of the journey. All the previous steps have been moving into this place, all that follow will move out from it. Although this step is most frequently symbolized by an encounter with a male entity, it does not have to be a male; just someone or thing with incredible power.

As he is wandering the streets of Kovani, he is approached by Dantena van Torquaz who offers him the antidote against his vow to forsake the Dark Wolf and enter Kyai mindset.

Apotheosis

This is the point of realization in which a greater understanding is achieved. Armed with this new knowledge and perception, the hero is resolved and ready for the more difficult part of the adventure.

Avalan heals from his wounds and achieves Kyai and becomes the White Wolf. He buries the Dark Wolf into his deeper magical heart, and finally learns magic.

The Ultimate Boon

The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get. All the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the person for this step, since in many myths the boon is something transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that supplies immortality, or the holy grail.

After awakening his magic, Avalan is contacted by the Thieves Guild, whom Elijah Sarak’j is one of the higher ranking members, and meets the Greyfox, and learns later on his identity as the kingslayer, his father’s murderer.

Return

Refusal of the Return

Having found bliss and enlightenment in the other world, the hero may not want to return to the ordinary world to bestow the boon onto his fellow-man.

Avalan wants to find Elijah, now knighted in the Fourth Kyai, and exact his revenge.

The Magic Fligh

Sometimes the hero must escape with the boon, if it is something that the gods have been jealously guarding. It can be just as adventurous and dangerous returning from the journey as it was to go on it.

Despite their final clash they end on Avalan’s victory, who challenges Elijah when he has achieved First Kyai. 

Rescue from Without

Just as the hero may need guides and assistants to set out on the quest, often he or she must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the person has been wounded or weakened by the experience.

Avalan Den vows to become grandmaster of the Prime Order and he reunites with Tel’Sian and they marry.

The Crossing of the Return Threshold

The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world.

He is summoned by the Eldrich Chapter, the leaders of the Prime Order, whom judge worthy as First Kyai auxiliary, which implies joining the worst battlefields along the worse soldiers into the Keshian Empire, as part of raids lasting from the Last Crusade. It is His Majesty’s Own Bartholomester van Der Bruck’s last trick, for he has deserted the Day Watch, and he has not yet paid for this crime.

Master of Two Worlds

This step is usually represented by a transcendental hero like Jesus or Gautama Buddha. For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.

Avalan Den and his men are sent to fight the Nordian Wild hunt, and they are desperate, he only escapes thanks to a tunnel the gravedigger has carved for him, through the grave. He opens it by killing Nicolai, his superior officer in the army, until the Iron Order arrives to support the Imperial forces, Cailan, Arius’ second son, has become Emperor, and he is Deregen Stormfyldd’s “emperor puppet”. Nobody knows for his murder of Nicolai, and he is awarded a large treasure by his family’s lawyers, and a thanks from Bartholomester van Der Bruck himself who has joined him and Tel’Sian, offering them a mansion in the inner city of Peythralm, close to the White-Gold Tower and the fields where trains the Imperial Guard, his father’s brothers in arms.

Freedom to Live

Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live. This is sometimes referred to as living in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past.

Upon Avalan De’s access into the Inner City, he is offered a position into the Iron Order by Grandmaster Arnolf Wallace himself as his aide-de-camp, a Second Kyai position. He accepts and is knighted again as ser Valar Fenris, in honor of the cutthroat who has helped him escape. His Name is Cleared. However, he wonders if anyone knows of his killing of Nicolai, and he finally seems in his room, facing a mirror. There, a man emerges in the night, in a black hood, visits him at night, calling him a heavy sleeper for a murderer. He says not to worry, his wife won’t wake…

The Mystery of the Toad Prince, part.2

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Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.

cropped-the-kingkiller-hunts-destrega.jpg

Once upon a time, there had been a prince with a lustful appetite… ‘He who abducted the Emperor’s daughter sparked the deadliest crusade of all, the Keshian Wars…”

Having achieved his inspection of the fallen, Norman Daegoln calmly walked down the cave’s rocky roads, down towards the pond. Burning smoke irriated from it, blazing an infernal heat the closer the knight and his squire approached it. Norman himself struggled to breathe, hence imagining the efforts mustered by Borothar, who crawled down on his knees as soon they reached the lower cave.

I assume I have given Borothar a large portion of my power… He has unfortunately no clue of how to use it… 

However, Norman reckoned the boy had performed well considering the pressure he had been put into despite his inexperience. Or was it maybe his impudence? For reasons more and more obvious, Norman began understanding that his squire had missed most of the events occuring in this cave. Hence, it explained his lack of fascination for him, where other squires would have killed for his tutelage…

The Mystery of the Toad Prince, part.1

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Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.

Theodran

Hard skills are harvested in harder times..

Shaking on the ground, Borothar was suffering the pain of a hundred drowned men, and the alert had echoed.

Most likely led by Theodran, the free companions rushed in the rocky corridors, the steel of their boots drumming in the distance. Unimpressed like he trained himself to be, Norman Daegoln grabbed his gasping squire and pulled him on his shoulder, his rapier in his strong hand this time, the right. Basic juggling had done the trick! The boy kept gasping which irritated Norman who struggled the enter the Kyai serenity, which came after hours of Kyai breathing. However, Norman wasn’t an average Kyai Knight, neither was he a great one. He was the best. Hard skills are harvested in harder times, said Ithildir Merethil in his indigest treaty. The God of the Sword? Overrated! 

This belief of excellence which the empires in the four corners of civilization shared helped him enter perfect alignment between his mind and body, and, used to perform in public, smiled, dazzling as always.

Now, Norman could see them clearly and five Oursifer sellswords were rushing in his direction, climbing wooden ladders on the edifices below. Calm as always, Norman cheerfully walked towards them, and pushed the ladder with great might, one enhanced by his vial, and the crying men fell downwards, two less lucky cried as they drowned in the pound, their armour too heavy for another outcome. Considering the pound’s smoke, Norman understood that they also boiled as they drowned. Alas, it wasn’t a time for compassion and the mana lake needed to wait. The other three would soon stand and from a natural raw in the cave charged two sellswords, the builkier man armed with an axe, the other, athletic and blonde, with a warhammer.

These two needed to be disposed of.

With Borothar on his left shoulder, Norman positioned his stance in order not to expose the squire and he rushed forward, his Golden-Eye deeming the warhammer bearer more dangerous. His precision had nothing human, and the man fell, a red spot on the forehead. The strength of a spear and the precision of a needle, Norman acknowledged, determined to practice his reach more in order to save stamina. From the left, Borothar was now exposed to the axesman who stroke, but Norman had stepped to the right. Before the axesman could readjust, Norman had stepped left and his blade entered the man’s stomach who screamed, aware of his upcoming agony.

Earing a noise behind, Norman ducked and a crossbow’s bolt pierced the axesman’s eye as Borothar’s tunic had slapped, the squire saved again!

Drawing a dagger, Norman stood up in a jump and the blade entered the crossbowwoman in the face who hadn’t even dreamt of recharging, and she fell backwards as the three men succeeded in climbing the ladder. Norman analysed his situation and he deemed fit to seize his rapier from the axesman’s stomach. The man still lived! It was commanding, and Norman apologized as he removed the blade, the poor fellow casting another scream.

Now, he faced the two sellswords and looked at them closely. Two weaker men with average range and weaker builds surrounded a stronger man with a large claymore and a decaying face, completely burnt. The claymore bearer had long greasy hair, raven black, and his pale skin indicated he came northwards, most likely from Ashtown, the Aeirn dukedom on the continent. This claymore would be difficult to outmaneuver, but Norman decided that the use of magic would have to be delayed, for it would consume his flesh and he couldn’t afford to become like Dantena van Torquaz. He too had been a pretty man, but Norman was handsome as a Illyrian dragonlord. A fel-addict scarred by his crime against nature – the said magic – never attracted sympathy or sponsors. He knew well enough that career heroes and Kyai Knights were losing popularity. However, a scar from a claymore would be as disgraceful, if not worse for born out of martial incompetence.

Lost in his thoughts, he saw the first man charging, one of the weaklings. Describing three circles to impress the claymore bearer with the burnt face, Norman slashed the mace-wielding sellsword and maimed him from both arms before kicking him to the ground with great flexibility. Out of the two remaining, only the second weakling felt threatened. However, the Ashtown claymore-bearer pushed him forward and Norman much obliged and, still trying to intimidate, jabbed with the rapier. The swordsman blocked with surprise himself, before Norman delivered a high kick in his face, spattering with his armoured boot the sellsword’s chin into scattered red. Falling to the floor, he cried before Norman finished him with a soft piercing on the neck. The squish was poetic, Norman believed.

Behind, the axesman still begged for life. Truly impressed, Norman granted his request and left him to try with the bolt in his eye and the hole in his stomach. Sometimes, murderers needed to give up when justice came, for they had chosen their path.

Now, Norman was covered in blood and if he could imagine the dread he inspired with his burning red eyes, he felt awkwardly uncomfortable with the shaking squire on his shoulder and the reek of death on his skin.

Now, only two remained in the cave. He and his fierce and unshakable opponent. Three with the squire.

Where did Theodran go?

“Don’t you recognize me?” the man with the burnt face said, an anger called vengeance in his voice.

“Do you want a truthful answer or a glorified lie?” Norman’s answer was true to his belief.

“I assume I have changed…” the burnt man said before revealing his medallion, an aspic tangled around a bear’s neck as a necklace. Or a bear strangled by a snake according to the perspective. “I have grown since last time, Daegoln. Never shall a man humiliate my father and I ever again, I have vowed over my elder brother’s corpse. At Castralstag, we were outnumbered three to one, we had been deceived by a raven-haired squire with a sharp tongue. He had convinced my House, bearer of the Imperial Mantle, to face Arius on an open field. Arius who then served the rebel king Thorgrim. When you three slaughtered us all, from old men to children, the apostle theo-magus crowned the slave Thorgrim as Emperor! What a joke! A disgrace to the Imperial Mantle! Us Oursifer were the true blood of Sigmalion and you, a squire at the time, has…

– Oh! I recognize you now! You are Theodran!” Norman’s revelation surprised his opponent who spat.

“Worse than anything, you are sincere!” Theodran the Valiant barked. “Do you know what my House has gone through because of your deception!

– I never betrayed you, Oursifer, for I never served you. I sided with Arius from the beginning.

– You…” Theodran began than composed himself, teary: “I must acknowledge I am proud of what you have become. I rather have lost to the deadliest champion of the Empire than to any other blade…

– Contemplating the past is irrelevant. If your father had ruled wisely none would have contested his bearing of the Mantle. You have suffered from your father’s irresponsibility, Norman’s judgement remained sincere, for he didn’t hate Theodran vainly. “As for yourself, the crimes committed as an Iron sellsword are unacceptable. Come, and meet my blade, ser.”

– You offer me to die as a knight, but I shall slay you as a prince!”

They can never be short in words the fallen devils…

As Theodran the once-named Valiant charged, Norman, who had no intention of leaving of this cave with a scar, dropped his squire on the ground which halted the bandit prince’s assault, now trapped in disbelief. Norman put his hand in his leather purse, hanging on his belt.

“The great knight that you are, sacrificing your attendant!

– I am sacrificing nothing but time.

– No need, for you bear no future! Oursifer!” And he roared with his claymore ready. For Borothar or for Norman didn’t matter.

Grabbing a glass flask in pyramidal shape from his purse, Norman cast it with great precision into Theodran’s face, spreading black ink on his face. Barking like a hound, Theodran stepped backwards and Norman jabbed in his forehead, his trademark Griffincliff assault, fast as lightning. The blade went past the skull and Theodran looked confused with his blackened dark face, unwilling to die just yet. Sadly, anatomy wasn’t in his favour and his will to live fainted faster than the screaming axesman, who too had stopped crawling behind.

Removing the blade, the body fell, dull and heavy, a cling from his grey and iron armour hammering the ground.

“If you had used swordsmanship instead of rhetoric, you might have prevailed, ser”, Norman’s only regrets for Theodran was his inability to ear his closing words.

Now, it was time to heal Borothar, for the second bloody time in a month! Deciding to teach him an important lesson, he allowed himself to sacrifice a great portion of the energies he had gathered in the previous weeks – for the cave had been cleaned – and he snapped the boy out of his dreams.


In his drowning, Borothar had dreamt of Kiba. And of messer Den, a good man, and of Elijah, his energetic friend… But the drowned faces with the slit throats had invaded his dream and the nightmare of the pound had consumed his flesh and he had screamed for what had seemed a timeless eternity.

Suddenly pulled by an invisible hand, Borothar was grabbed by the drowned who tried to keep him, but this godly hand was stronger and he emerged in the surface and…

Saw his master with his brown eyes and feline face, covered in blood.

Too shocked to understand, he tried to Kyai breath to ease his waking, but he felt no need. A renewed vitality was flowing in his body and he wanted to go run and jump for he felt too… awake.

“What happened? he wondered, gasping at the sight of corpses everywhere, death, gruesome killings that must have occurred.

– Not for my vial, his master said, you would have to be interned in Alethor Asylum for what you witnessed was no mere triviality… You have been drowned into… pure and malevolent magic. It is important for you to know this, Borothar-lad.

– But, master, with all due respect, you have…”

He felt to scared to express his resentment. His master had exposed them and did nothing glorious. He might have killed all these men, Borothar had actually seen nothing. So far, his two defeated foes had been a chicken and a little girl… Norman Daegoln had started this day nicely but had sadly proven a disappointment. Even in training, Asral and the other bachelors had displayed more bravery.

Then, his master stood, ignoring him. In his hands, a feather and a scroll he must have brought in the leather bag on his back. For some reason, ink had been spattered on the ground and… on the largest fallen’s face.

There is no honour in combat…

Intelligent himself, Borothar closed his fist, angry.

As for his master, Daegoln-elda, he studied every body, taking notes. He counted up to eleven, the corpses on the ground. Then went until thirteen. Finally, he studied a sellsword with a bolt in the eye and a wound in the stomach and wrote extensively on his scroll. He achieved his notes by sketching the picture of Theodran’s burnt face, then rolled the scroll back, sealing it within his leather back he stripped on his brown cloak.

“Why have you recorded your… victories, Eldarnei?” Borothar asked.

Norman turned around, satisfied. Killing seemed to have made him happier and Borothar’s question had stimulated a professorial pride.

“Well, Borothar-lad, I have never taken Death lightly. Every fallen, as rotten were they in life, deserves respect. This is why I have taken records of my 397 victories, for even triumphs hide flaws. Never let the gold and the women distract you from your human condition. This is why I still analyse, to this day, all my battles, in order to reach a perfection that I won’t ever achieve. This is our penitence, as warriors, for hard skills only hail from hard times…”

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The Thing Calling Itself Gunner

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“My dear brethren, do not ever forget, when you hear the progress of lights praised, that the loveliest trick of the Devil is to persuade you that he does not exist!”


Among the Fog dwellers, safety meant campfires and the absolute prohibition of anything close to magic. Religious folk believed the mist carried an evil taint that made sorcerers mad and evil. But again, religious folk didn’t have much love for magic. For most, magic was an art, or a science, that entered dangerous waters, one that many theo-maguses – the heads of the Church of Eternal Fire, Holy See of Mankind – had deemed heretic. In fact, laws of magic varied greatly according to kingdoms and princedoms, with Gisgo simply prohibiting it and Temeros hosting military fortresses of spellcasters – sometimes burning them according to the tendency. Most magicians were outcasts, creature of the Fog, and were hunted down by the Ordo Malleus. No magician could wonder the Fog, only Kyai Knights. And they too, if not truly famous, met only disdain and fear in the smallfolk’s eyes. Typically, Fog dwellers believed in superstition and were often accompanied by sellswords and sworn shields, for in the Age of Fire, reasoned men believed that the creatures of beyond lurked in the bleak light.

But of course, Richard Frates knew better.

For him, the Fog was a precious ally, covering his presence with impunity and enhancing his every prowess. Few magic practitioners knew of this Fog’s propriety, only diplomed eldarneis, sovereigns of great erudition, and first kyai knights – the handful of each orders, the top of the Kyai hierarchy. And of these men, only the Night’s Watch could unanimously practice magic after the bells had rung.

Yes, the Fog had risks. One couldn’t simply drain its powers. After all, Godfrey – the fool history dubbed the Dark Marquis – had summoned it in Kovanni. It had what Richard perceived as a nastiness, and the intention behind the spellcasting – which Richard knew greatly affected the practice of magic – had to be tainted. From tainted choices, came dark consequences.

For everything taken, something is given. 

His colleagues, chiefly Norman, had the belief that something would be later given back. But no. Each choice, Richard knew, was a step on the ladder, and the ladder had its free will. This was why magic was truly frightning. It wasn’t a craft, like archmages liked to believe. It was a force of unmeasurable density that obeyed rules that could never be grasped by any mortal mind.

Here is one for you, lord Torquaz. Since you have all the time in the world, you should become the greatest sorcerer ever instead of whining over principles… Only you can.

Exploring the night, Richard arrived to the Passing of Isildaen, which meant in one of many older tongues the Tower of Dawn – and not Twilight Town like he had lied to Prince Destrega and his court of murderous sycophants. Commonly habited by Windrunners – folk of the roads and travels, Isildaen was actually considered the oldest fortress in Thyria. Erected by the First Kin, the men who insurrected against the Imperium of Illyrae’s dominion before the Creation Wars, this ancient castle had once kept hidden Sigmalion Merethil, the Lord Founder himself, before he had gathered his men, walking up and down the Thyrian Mounts, defeated the draedar army retreating in their lair, conquering Peythralm and establishing the Imperial Order. The first emperor of mankind would then turn against the dragonlords of Illyrae and the Shattering began, thus ending the line of valenKel.

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The Passing of Isildaen…

Ironically, windrunners were deemed the lowest caste by His Majesty’s Own and most civilized hegemons, a lowlife form, not very much human. Some speculated after the last gnome bankers were burnt at the stake that windrunners would become the next target of the kings’s fury. However, windrunners excelled at manoeuvering the roads, civilised and wild alike, hence they vanished in old forts and ruins, always prepared to flee if politics needed a black sheep. Unlike many folks, windrunners had learned of human nature from history, thus taking preventive measures.

Richard had always been kind to their nomadic societies, and after a year hiding with them, they had granted him passage in the Labyrinth, an ancient connection of constructed tunnels and mines that spanned across the Known World and beyond. The Labyrinth was an accepted underworld and most believed in his existence. However, its entrances had vastly been sealed, and its access was denied to all, kings and beggars had to go on their way. Of course, adventurers had defied these rules and expeditions had often been ordered by monarchs who had found ways to infiltrate their neighbours. Eventually, the Holy See led a vast Inquisition armed with the Whitecloaks’s might, and destroyed every vestige of the Labyrinth’s knowledge. Yet, Richard, who had always disliked the Whitecloaks, had discovered that they had kept the said knowledge in their abbeys. What he had found by stealing these had puzzled him… Talks of skavens and minotaurs, vast nonsense. But also underground tunnels between Temeros and Aeirn, between Thyria and Gisgo. Under oceans even… Thanks to this maps he had stolen, the Kingslayer had avoided capture with great ease. And windrunners always offered him passage, for he had always been kind to their daughters, old and young alike.

A hedonistic tribe, the windrunners had gotten free of the shackles of their sexual gender, and men and women didn’t exist to what Richard saw as enlightened eyes. Excelling in the arts of whoring, brewering of alchemy and of petty trade, the windrunners also sold artifacts and ingredients, had crafted the medicinal pipe which later became abused by highborne youth. The last two Richard needed to kill the creature who called itself Gunner. Certain ingredients in the form of a smoking pipe would help him freeze this thing, even if its flesh could evaporate it would be bound to its mortal body.

And the Kingslayer could kill any man, how godly they claimed to be.

Emperor Thorgrim, I call you forward as my witness as the King of Whoresons!

Suddenly, the Fog grew thicker. Old Bastard however was a mule who had consummated cathayan roots upon its breeding and had 200 years behind its travels and most likely a dozen years remaining. A tough old beast and regicide in its own right, for Richard had been riding him down the Labyrinth after the battle with the Imperial Guard in Anarendel.

Yet, Old Bastard slowed his pace, and despite Richard kicking it and insulting him, calling him a stubborn old geezer, the mule showed great pride and refused to obey. It stopped.

But before Richard could complain any further, he saw someone walking down the ancient fortress of Sigmalion. A windrunner scout? Richard thought before dismissing the thought. He would have heard footsteps. Or did he lose such acuity with the years? Then, he saw him clearly.

A boy, no older than a squire, dressed in red and ragged robes, hooded with its ample clothe, and bearing a dragonglass staff. An iron box was hanging from his leather belt and his bracelet puzzled Richard. He had seen one similar before, on Saint Rohan’s wrist in 1455. Even then, it had left the fiery-haired kingslayer wandering of things, for it displayed no riches, no wealth, and its jewelry had no worth but a couple of pennies. It was so similar to Rohan’s it left Richard suspicious. And this boy who walked with the calm of a monk and carried a stern dominance in his warm eyes was the grumpiest child Richard had ever seen. He didn’t recognize the sculped faces on the staff’s edge and neither could he fully guess the boy’s ethnicity. He was human… His eyes could see that at the very least. Or was he? After all, Gunner could have fooled Richard once, and Richard knew ancient evils lied beneath the world.

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When their eyes met, Richard felt odd. He had an incredible gaze, of a rare dept. Rather than wisdom, his eyes carried a will to power.

“Hey lad!, Richard said, what brings a youth your age in windrunner territory? Where is your master?”

No answer.

“Your parents?” Richard laughed.

The boy held his gaze.

Offended for he disliked brats, Richard decided to ignore him. He was just young enough not to be blamed by his blade.

“Well, you’re mute or what?”

Annoyed at the child’s stubbornness, Richard Frates pressed Old Bastard but Old Bastard refused to advance, as he was bowing to a king of instincts, more animal than man. Dismounting, Richard dragged Old Bastard who couldn’t resist his strength. As he walked past the monk in red robes, he heard him say, with a voice of stern compassion:

“You won’t be able to run forever, the demon is the first of many…”

And he began running down the road. Richard Frates was so shocked that he didn’t react and the child had disappeared in the Fog. Old Bastard shivered.

“Boy!” the fiery-haired kingslayer yelled. “Come back or I’ll…”

Or he’ll what? Would Richard Frates, Assassin of Kings, slay a child?

First, Richard cursed in ancient Illyrian. He said the most unholy words that his mind granted his arsenal of nastiness. He threaten to kill him, to rape his mother and disgrace his father’s body! But the boy was gone. Richard should find him and kill him right away. For some reason, the child who bore the same bracelet as Saint Rohan knew of his identity, whereabouts and had been expecting him, calling Gunner a demon. A demon?

Second, he blasted a giant ball of fire into the air, one that the Fog turned into a dragon’s roar! A fire storm that blasted the walls of Isildaen. Fire and death… Screams echoed.

Bah! Even if he loved windrunners, he never liked sodomites anyway!

Third, Richard cursed again before frowning. Did he really needed these nuisances?

How foolish was he?

His master, Bromingald Brommsson, had once warned him against his great skill. He didn’t breathe enough… He had a dangerous temper.

The boy had said the truth. He won’t be able to run forever, for he had the carry the weight of his past rages… Worse, the creature calling itself Gunner was a demon, and Richard had never seen any of these eluding creatures. Every soul feared demons, but none had actually seen them. Norman called himself a demonslayer, but draedars had human roots.. There was no other explanation… “Gunner” could hide his aura and was nothing like a human. He had wandered a land crowded with spellcasters and Kyai knights and avoid detection. Only Richard had read through the crimes of its skin. A demon… There were no such things. Only existed twisted beings with weaknesses and proprieties that obeyed laws. Succubus, ghouls, deatheaters and murlocs were degenerates born out humanity’s folly that was the practice of magic.

Looking up at the burning walls, Richard Frates decided not to pursue a pointless vengeance. He had been outmaneuvered and they have found his trace.

Windrunners didn’t need to pay further than they already had. Closing his eyes in the Kyai way, Richard was reassured. None of them had died. Venturing further up Isildaen, he proposed his help to the windrunners, ignorant of his role in the fire, and he helped casting away the fire, using his practical knowledge. Punishing himself, he didn’t use magic and used his bare hands along the windrunners to kill the fire.

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“Only Richard could see through the crimes of his skin…”

Only after, did he take the time to buy the ingredients, recalling his studies at the University. Iron, garlic, mithril… Pipes, one to immobilize Gunner, one for himself. Then, Rick the inn-keeper was thanked by the matriarch, an older woman with the wisdom of the wild, offered him two gifts: a wash for Old Bastard, and for Rick a pretty whore. For Old Bastard had behaved poorly, Richard only accepted the second.

After all, confronting a demon required a clear head.

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