3 Week, 4th Day, Spring.
The boy lived, though terribly wounded. The other Blades wanted to take him back to the high city to be questioned. It was part of their contract with the Order of the New Dawn. They were not members themselves, just hired hands. Mercenaries, of a sort. He wouldn’t have believed they were members even if they had said so. The Order was built of men more heroic than these. Men who’s spines were forged of steel, and tested against the heat of hell. Men who’s convictions were more important than their lives, and who’s morals could not be compromised. There were men like those of the order, and then there were men like himself. He would work their means, yes, but not with the light they brought. He would do what it took, however stained his hands might get.
It is worth noting that the town rose against The Imperium in the last moments, tearing the crossbowmen from their steeds and breaking them upon the ground. I am glad to see it, but wonder if their conviction will hold. We were joined more permanently by Bedivere, a large man of the town. I suspected his training in war was not formal, but he was naturally inclined. He is not bright, but he is brave, and seeks to do good. He reminds me of stories I have heard of Darius, in his early years, and it is a comforting thought. Not all great men are graced with intelligence, and I hope that Bedivere shall deliver himself to my aspirations.
We set forth on horseback, trailing the boy in a wagon of sorts. We did come across a desperate mage, a Zellicar Z Erricus, losing ground to an enraged and four armed beast. After driving the thing off, we came to his acquaintance, and traveled to a nearby inn. It was magical, and hidden from the world by magic so as to protect the traveling wizards who frequented it. An interesting place, but of little consequence. Onward to Aeroglyph.
We beat the heaviest snows, but just barely. Their Order handler, Vence, agreed to sign me on to their contract at half pay, which I felt was reasonable. What followed was a long, and relatively uneventful winter. There is little work for men like us to be done in Aeroglyph, for the rune-guard keep things exceptionally safe. Gangs and criminals and the like are subtle or quickly dispatched by the powerful force.
Having gotten to know, over the months, the members of The Gilded Blade, I think it worth noting my analysis of them. It is as follows:
Flynn is a coward of the worst kind. He lives by his skill at the blade, and is quite talented at it. Yet in spite of this, he has no bravery in him. There is nothing of a hero, or of a man. He talks too much, usually to girls, so as to hide his fear that he is not the man that he should be. He is helpful in fights due his great skill, until he judges things dangerous. Then he backpedals, figuring a way to stay outside the heaviest fighting. And he does so not with the shameless approach of a coward, but trying to stay from notice or observation. He will do fine with the Blades, until the moment we need him the most. Then, I fear, he will save himself at any cost.
Corian is everything I expect of an elf, knowing little of them but stories. He is a hard man, strengthened by years of difficulty. Decades or centuries in fact, it is difficult to know with his kind. How must they see the world, when they must live within it for so long? He is reliable and unshakable, if somewhat too practical. I do not understand his cause or his motives, except to continue living and fighting, but I am not overly concerned with them. I feel this way because I can trust him to do right by both himself and by me. His skill with a bow is as amazing as they say in the stories the elves are, and he knows arcane magic as I understand most of his people do. It is to them as farming is to us.
Adora is a rune-guard, and so graced by an ancient magic our people have come to be known for, and to rely on. The affinity for such magic is rare, and impossible in men. I respect her for the duty she has shown her country and the kindness she shows in her words and actions. Kindness is the right word for her, but I fear it is too strong a trait. I fear she is too soft for this life, and will not do well with the choices that are made by those such as us. Where I might normally be incensed at such a person, I will do what I can can to shield her from those choices, when it is possible.
Ama is dead. From what I knew of her, as callous as it sounds, the world is not much poorer for it. Her tales were all a sexual nature, she seemed ruled by it. At every opportunity she would trade not her given profession but the oldest one. It is no impressive feat to lay upon ones back, or to lure a rutting pig of a man to climb atop one. Perhaps there was more to the woman, or perhaps she had good cause for her attitude, but I never knew of it before she fell to the Imperium.
Larule is ridiculous. I do not know any other way to say it. I asked her once if perhaps her goddess was not just a divinity of physical strength of arms, but strength of will, and she handily dismissed it. It was meant as literally as it sounded, her goddess praised strength of arm alone. There is no depth to her, that I can see, she is all bluster. Still, I will not discount the favor of her goddess out of hand. The gods are wise and powerful, and do not hand their grace for simple cause. There are moments, aside from her boisterous shouts, a beautiful wisdom seeps through. I shall be patient and respect the choices of the divine, in hopes that she takes those moments and makes them as she praises, strong.
Adahay is not a man or a beast, but something between. Men live as men must, with civilization and organization. We build with the fire of industry, we study as magi in towers, and most of all we live together. Beasts live alone, in the wilderness, survival first and foremost in their what little they have of minds. There is a majesty and beauty to nature that can often be as terrible as it is amazing, and I would not fault the lion for eating the lamb, for that is it’s nature. Adahay, however, is a man who wishes he was a beast. He can reason and argue like a man, but all pointed at suggested men are nothing but beasts, despite conflicting with how society itself has formed. His actions, the mutilation of those fallen men, were as vile a thing as I have seen, and yet he saw no fault in it. “Why waste perfectly good intestines when I could make bags and clothes out of them?” I saw no interest in making the point with him, he is too far gone to come back, and so saw him banished from The Blades. We have no need of such a creature as he is, not man and not beast, but a monster.
In all, we are as many groups of legend started, young and mismatched. The tales of Ominix and Darius are filled with early disagreements, and some even suggest that Ominix once despised Darius as a simple fool. Only with time did he see the man was not simple, he was pure, and that is a thing worth being in this wretched world. Perhaps it even helped him change from the angry and brilliant young man he was, utterly obsessed with magic as he was. Perhaps I am even wrong about them, perhaps it is me that is flawed. I am certainly not perfect, and in fact quite far from it. Only time will tell, for Arakaxx rarely tells his secrets.
Our time in Aeroglyph was long, but it passed. Vence informed us that the boy knew of a weapons stockpile, hidden to the southeast. If we could destroy it, it would affect their ability to field an army in that section of the country. We accepted of course, it was a good mission, and one suited to our temperament, after being trapped by the snows in the safest city in the world. Before leaving we met with a young enchanter. He is a nobleman, and a good kingsman at that, and wishes to seek his duty to his country with us. After a long discussion where we questioned facets of his magic and approach (amusingly long if you consider how quickly we accepted Bevidere), he was inducted into The Blades.
We set forth, in good spirits, but it was not to last. Behind our leaving, not more than a mile, an army appeared by way of powerful magic. It was The Imperium, and they were mounting a full scale invasion. With the city born aloft by magic, I knew something was to be, and it was. Worm-like magi appeared in their army and began a cast of such intricacy that, even as a versed bard capable of many kinds of arcane magic, I suspect I will never grasp.
The Order of the New Dawn came then, in full force. It was a sight to behold, nothing short of the legends and the epics. Such glory is not fated long for this world, nor could it last and be what it is. Alone, the three of them held an entire army at bay. It was…I cannot describe it, except to say that I will never, in this life, see it’s like again.
Then came death, a spell meant to destroy Aeroglyph but turned to his purpose by Ominix the White Star. The armies were as dust, and the greatest city in the world came crashing down to earth, figuratively and literally. Never before has it fallen, and it is my fear it will not rise again, but that is only known by Arakaxx. We ride, now, against a force that spans four countries and has leveled our shining capital. I will not fear them, however, for all great times in history come of these kinds of years, these kinds of quests, and these kinds of wars. The cups will run over.