A little lore ~ “The call of the wild”

Here’s the latest taste from the epic pail of sorry stew that is Lore of the Underlings. A dish from the menu of courses to come…

A thin stream of sun from the tent’s flap door split the floor between Fyryx and vell. Yet the fresh broken dawn went unnoticed by both, for the man here turned inward as well.

“From this day and onward, take heart, remember, whatever befalls you now… your life shall not have been lived in vain. I make that promise. This I vow…

“Though my means may have at times been flawed, my purpose has ever been pure and right. The ends always back to where we began.

“The impure clot in our wild hearts, the true flaw spoiling our gemstone souls — that evil came from father’s own tongue in the rosy words of his treasured address. Oh, beautiful words, yes — soothing, easing. All well-meaning but misleading…

“So there at the end of that Crossing Day when we made this Keep our home at last, that was the moment we lost our way. To be shielded by armor but rusting away, deep in the irony wood…

“We were never intended to rest in peace, complacent, with comfort our only goal. The Semperor knew, he foresaw it all. And so his edict ordered we move at the turn of every third season. But we chose to ignore his wisdom and rule, thinking somehow that we knew better.

“Now we know how wrong we were. None can still deny that. Instead I reject my own father’s act and dare at last to overrule it. Back to the natural law of the land. To return to the struggle that made us strong.”

In slipped the sound of a songbird, sweet, adrift on a draft of the morning air. Fyryx nodded his head when he heard it.

“Brother vell, I’ve another confession to make. One more small mistruth I have told you tonight, spun from a secret that I’ve been keeping. A feint about a voice you knew… a Voyce of the Court I’ve come to know…

“A fortnight ago I had a dream. The Semperor’s siren appeared to me… Semperess Amyly, in song… and told me it was time to go. Seduced by her beauty, under her spell, I eagerly agreed. But little enchantment did I need to do what I’ve yearned for myself for years. Long before leadership fell to me, I felt in my heart that our destiny would be written without this safe Keep. Only now, I knew it to be true — filled with music, the courage to act.

“That very morn I gathered the Guard.

“‘Warriors! Ready your mounts to ride. Pack them with two weeks’ provisions. Into the Wilderness we go. Armed to the teeth. Tomorrow!’

“The next day we set out on expedition, to find a way back to ourselves once more…”

Men made noises, manly ones, just beyond the tent’s thin walls. They were the sounds that morning brings.

“Father would have thought me mad, rash to leave his ‘Treasury’, the Keep of the people he loved. No doubt my brother Ayryx too, who carried on that legacy. But they no longer stand this ground or walk its ways or smell the soil. With both lost or fallen to evil disease, the bloodline of Treasurors runs to me. Now I must claim it as my own. For once and for all. Finally.

“Not that I pity myself as weak, or that I’ve led meekly at every turn. I’ve ruled with force when pushed — quelling the tide of leavers, making judgment swift and punishment public, meting out justice sure and sharp. And yet, not rightly honored. Never more than Huryx’ younger son or the stricken Treasuror’s little brother.

“Ten years I’ve served in my brother’s stead. It’s been twenty since our father left to meet with death alone. I’ve already paid them due respect. I cannot fear to truly lead and be the Treasuror in full.

“What beset us yesterday — setbacks sobering and strange — none of that will sway me. No, the opposite is so…

“I’ve been thinking. These alien three that served themselves up last night like some stinking imported cheese — their arrival cannot be by chance. There’s a deeper secret behind this rot. For in all our Treasured history, from the moment this internal exile began, no one has ever found us before. No Sylander. Surely no outsider. And now these foreigners stumble upon us just when the Guard and I are away? Hardly happenstance, I say.

“I have a feeling we’re being tested, but know not by whom or why. How sad that we’ve failed in every way. First, exposed and naked to see, we’ve lost the defense of obscurity. Worse, we’re revealed unready to fight and die for the very reason we live — to be the blood of Syland, kept safe at all cost, untainted and pure. But the unclean slipped in anyway. The plainsmen let them pass untouched. The folk stood by gawking, all but bewildered. Even the Guard they turned into buffoons.

“But you, ancient one, seemed to know something more. Is it part of the Semperor’s plan, this test? A trial to ensure our fidelity? Or perhaps an attack that he foresaw? Something he spoke of to you years ago? I wish you could wake and tell me…

“Yet, despite your silence I have a sense. Tonight I thought it was evil had found us. This morning, with time, I’m not so sure. I may still choose to kill these three. In the end there may be little choice, now that they know so much. The plump one at least, in any case. But first I must learn what they are. Who sent them here? Both how and why? I sense a greater hand in this…”

… To be continued …

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May the Lore be with you!

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