The Kingsfolk’s Blues, part.1

Surprise! Thank you for according time to this side story, a tale of warriors and revenge, where two unlikely heroes will band around a youthful squire to fufill their own quest. Vengeance, redemption and women are at stake! Find the eponymous regicide alongside Sarak’j, Den and Borothar, and enjoy an online version of legendary samurai Musashi’s Book of Five Rings which is hiding behind a link (underlined text) in the story.

As I train in China in a wushu academy, I found in this Japanese classic a great source of inspiration, in both training and writing. I would like to share it with you.

The Kingsfolk’s Blues story will probably last twenty (or a bit more) pages. In order to keep updated, you can of course bookmark your latest page within your browser. However, I vow to try making sure links always lead you back to the Kingsfolk’s Blues page you stopped at – both from the journal entries or the Noble and Gallant main story. Have fun reading Sarak’j and Den’s adventures!


 

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


Walking on the coasting village neighbouring Dragon’s Bay, Elijah Sarak’j sat on a rock, contemplating his own mistakes. Above him, the lights of the Mockingjay Town shone their hundred lights upon him – life goes on on as Sarak’j’s reached its end.

I am the last of my people, he realized by accepting his adventurer side. Once, the Seafolk had been a proud nation of merchants across the Four Corners. Today, they attacked the Isles’ fleet, acting as mere privateers for the Imperials. When we have lost our call? 

In The Five Runes, Ithildir Merethil had written: One who opposes order recklessly is meant to fall, while only one who accepts chaos’ powerlessness can achieve quasi-perfection. Out of this canonical treaty on swordsmanship, Sarak’j had just considered its spiritual value, but never realized its scope extended to the inner workings of civilization. Is civilization the beacon of order? I refuse to accept it. It was indeed such belief that led Sarak’j to cross the seas and gather tribal and primitive martial skills. All these trials had been in order to defeat the warriors of the Empire. Truly skilled and instinctive, Sarak’j had never suffered a real defeat. Only this Avalan Den at the Gathering had proved a match for him in his long career. Never had he believed his glorious spree could be put to the test. Even less could his path be suddenly shattered in pieces.

Months ago, he had fallen in love. Is love the end of a warrior’s way? I assume, yet it also brought me something I never knew. Temperance and… It is strange, it cut my heart in two, like the most accurate of knives. Even though my mind is still mine, it is directing me towards two hearts. And I am a warrior of the heart.

Waiting for Morgan ever since she stroked him out of the arena, he wondered. When will she arrive? After all sooner than later would seem logical. Even if he had been on the verge of achieving his dreams, he chose to sacrifice his future for Morgan, so she wouldn’t suffer her father’s wrath.

Closing his eyes, he recalled the Gathering’s Herald, screaming trying to impersonate a wizard:

“I wish you good fortune in the wars to come”, as the crowd accompagnied his speech. The bells rang, and it began, ending switfly enough. Closing his eyes, Sarak’j remembered how by looking at Morgan, he had recalled the plan, focusing on getting knocked out by Den while she delievered a final strike, thus winning the midseason melee.

Why do things never work out? They were supposed to flee together, leaving with her money earned out of all the bets made on Den, and avoid the Black and Red House’s fury by paying them more than if Sarak’j had won himself. Well, it didn’t happen that way, because a jester of a man chose to bet on Morgan a thousand golds, which ruined everyone. Including the most powerful dark guilds in the city, such as Baron Greyfallow’s horde. Havoc in the gambling community always brings forth chaos in the city’s underworld, as bankers get tangled with the Night’s Watch. As a matter of fact, Sarak’j had noticed the infamous Dantena van Torquaz watching the melee in the Green Pavillon. Are they on us? The Unscarred, immortal of Shimeh and the Bloodless of Tyria, the freak known as Dantena van Torquaz and his squadron of monsters? And Baron Greyfallow, and the Nine of the Red and Black. Is it just a dream? 

Wind howled, and the waves crashed upon the rocks, hiting Sarak’j in the face. His black and wild hair – which reminded Morgan of an explosion – flew under the breeze. Standing up, he looked behind him, having heard a step in the sand. Morgan?

Hooded, in armor, the assassin wore two swords. His own cape flew under the wind, and his familiar eyes stared Sarak’j in annoyance. Avalan Den had come to settle this joke of a joust. This time, Sarak’j knew their blades were sharpened, deadly. Take the underworld seriously, my mother had said. Death is final. 

Drawing his longsword, Sarak’j appreciated the steel leaving its hideout, ready to strike.

“Are we forced into this?’ Sarak’j asked, a composed voice, from which he conveyed peace.

‘- You chose this when you drove my career into oblivion,’ Avalan Den replied, his voice carrying a calm determination. ‘If I canno’t achieve my dreams in the world, my sword shall sharpen in the dark.”


 

Small but old, the Bourg of the Mockingjay was built below Dragon’s Bay, and both castes of fishermen and wandering sailors resided there, none of which community cared of any of the two swordsmen, who were staring at each other. Even if the swordsmen’s minds was overfloaded by their chaos, the silence of the town was only disturbed by the waves and the howling of the wind.

*

Figuring that he was alone against his enemy, Den breathed in, aware that in a duel his ruthlessness would prove deciseful. Sarak’j’s peaceful aura could be a lure, and believing the trickster’s word could end not only his career – but his life. Den saw better men fall to the mud for less. Come at me, Sword of the Mantis, and I shall strike you down like my forefathers stroke your people. 

Of Ashen lineage, ser Avalan Den had been knighted in the proper tradition, before entering the Gathering at the age of thirteen, a mystery knight who faced taller, faster and stronger opponents, all falling to his spear but Dantena van Torquaz himself in the Winter semi-finals. Back then, the dashing folk hero had sponsored Den, recommanding him to the Prime Knight Bromingald Brommson, a nord who served as master-at-arms for men like Norman Daegoln and ‘Kingkiller’ Frates. Serving as an apprentice in the Black Moor Abbey, Den’s swordmanship greatly improved, before he won two Summer Gatherings, preparing for the Winter season, excepting his rise to first ky’ai, the highest rank in the Great Orders. His longlife goal had been to surpass his own father, a renown and skilled battle commander from the Ashenguard’s military, and succeed where he had failed: becoming an Imperial Guard, where only the best of their century ranked. In order to do so, Den had practiced day and night, and even if his talent was unquestionable he never resorted to sloth. Then, a tragic night forced him into this day’s melee, and the death of any sort of legal career. To conquer a seat in the Imperial Guard, Den would have to sell his soul to the underworld and find his own sponsors, the only way to accomplish his dream and pay back his debt to the world. Sarak’j, I have no doubt that your choice to trick me was motivated by legitimate reasons, but only one of us will leave this town alive.

The House of Red and Black always have its due, Den saddened thoughts reminded him ever since he accepted the hit. Is this what I have dreamt of?


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