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The Memoirs of St. Thomas of Gaekrin

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The Memoirs of Saint Thomas of Gaekrin

Recovered and Annotated by Stephen de Beaufort

Donated to the Church of the Canon by Lord Leopold Helvets

 

 


 

 

I write this memoir in the last few years I have in this world. It is a great collection of my life created with the assistance of Hadrien and Velwyn and under the guidance of my own faith.

 

 


 

 

To Robert, Edward and Rosalie

 

I have lived a long and interesting life, and I will dedicate these writings to my children, the ones born of sin, lust, and ambition. I have loved them all despite their creation and the madness of their mother, and I trust in their abilities and the guidance of their mentors.

 

 


 

 
 

PREFACE

Recovered with the help of valuable friends in Aeldin, this memoir has been published and distributed among the people for an insight into the great life of Saint Thomas. Broken into three books, he recounts his life from his arrival at Asulon to the Great Exodus from Anthos. What is left out is his childhood years, which are important to know in order to understand the great frustration that created the Bear of Chivay. Unfortunately, there is very little on the subject. The only notion of a recorded childhood is mentioned in the House Chivay family archives, which only mention the Rivian Massacre and Radivin plague in passing. What is known, though, is that a nonhuman uprising killed many close family members of Thomas, and his mother was infected with the plague sometime after. Everything else is left to speculation, as Saint Thomas gives no real recollection of the events.

 

 

 

 

TIMELINE

 

BOOK ONE

1342: Birth of Saint Thomas of Gaekrin.

1362: Outbreak of the Radivin Plague

1363: Nonhuman revolt in Rivia, killing a large portion of the Chivay family and infecting Thomas’ mother with the plague. She later succumbs and dies.

 

Thomas and Peter sent to Asulon at the behest of their uncle Henselt. They arrive and are recruited to the Silverblade banner.

1364: Thomas leaves Asulon for Aeldin to tend to his ailing grandfather, Foltest Chivay.

 

The Lost Years commence, where Thomas wanders Aeldin for seven years seeking spiritual guidance and knowledge.

1371: Formatiom of the Order of the White Rose

1372: Thomas and Peter granted the Barony of Rivia under Count Artorias Elendil.

1375: The Order encounters House Geminine and forms a mutually beneficial relationship. Beginning of the Geminine Heresies.

1378: After several incidents and dangers, the Order severs contact with House Geminine.

 

Ser Edmond Brunswick negotiates the purchase of Krak du Rhoswen in the former colony of Ceru.

 

The beginning of the Ildonic Whispers.

1380: The Barons Chivay are freed of their vassalage from Count Elendil after the Adunian Kingdom plot is revealed.

 

The Order moves to Krak du Rhoswen in the Duchy of the Holy Lands. King Godfrey grants the brothers the Barony of Krak du Rhoswen and assigns them as a direct vassal under royal immediacy.

 

BOOK TWO

1383: Godfrey declares the formation of the Holy Orenian Empire (the First Empire), incorporating the kingdoms of Renatus, Salvus, and Seventis. The Kingdom of Hanseti later submits under the imperial banner after a brief period of defiance.

1384: The first recorded encounter between the Teutonic Order and the Order of the White Rose.

1387: The dragon Setherian attacks Krak du Rhoswen, causing considerable damage.

 

The Order of the White Rose is officially recognized as a Holy Order, falling under the Order of the Red Dragon as a Chapter.

1388: The Inquisition, led by Baldir Toov, is created.

1389: The declaration of Dies Irae is issued onto Crestfall, led by the Order of the White Rose and the Inquisition.

1390: The Great Flood engulfs Asulon and forces a migration to the isle of Elysium.

1392: Thomas is granted the title of Grand Marshal and marries Princess Lynesse Hightower of Salvus.

 

Thomas is granted the title Marquis of Ardban by Emperor Godfrey.

1394: The Tarus Insurrection of 1394 is defeated without a battle, Grand Marshal Chivay orders the sack of the city.

1395: Another migration brings the First Empire to the shores of Kalos.

1396: The archipelago of Kalos proves too small for the ambitions of the First Races, and another migration is set for Anthos.

 

 

BOOK THREE

1397: The First Races arrive at Anthos.

1399: The Duchy of the Westerlands is created and granted to Peter Chivay.

 

Construction of Ard Kerrack finishes, and the Order relocates to the Westerlands.

1402: The Thersist Checkpoint is created after countless elven insurgents disturb the Empire’s stability.

1405: The city of Kingston is placed under martial law, with Grand Marshal Chivay and the White Rose acting as its chief military police.

1406: Lorin Chivay is married to Augustus Blackmont, creating the North Anthos Treaty Organization.

1407: The independent Chivay war against Malinor begins. House Chivay and Blackmont scorch the countryside of Malinor and occupy all territory south of the yaruga river.

1408: The First Malinorian War begins. The First Empire sacks the city of Malinor and establishes the Elven Princedom as a protectorate. All territory south of the yaruga is ceded to the Empire.

 

The Kingdom of Kaedrin is formed from the new territory. Peter is crowned as Peter I of Kaedrin, with Thomas as Crown Prince.

1409: Thomas oversees the Kaedreni Conversion, establishing churches and proselytizing the frontier of Kaedrin.

1410: The Blackmont War Against Hansetian Tyranny begins. House Chivay, Blackmont and Carrion combat against House Denurem and Green. Several minor houses join as the war progresses.

1412: The Siege of the Dreadfort. Hansetian forces are routed and the war turns in favor of House Blackmont.

1415: The Blackmont-Hansetian war concludes in victory for House Blackmont. The Teutonic Order is disbanded and Augustus Blackmont is granted the title of Marquis and put under Godfrey’s direct vassalage.

1417: Emperor Godfrey dies and is succeeded by Emperor Horen V.

 

Horen V declares the Great Expansion, claiming all lands north of the temple river and declaring the Isle of Wilderness a protectorate of the empire.

 

Thomas develops gout in his foot and is forced out of direct combat roles.

1418: The Kingdom of Urguan breaks the Blood Pact and declares war on the First Empire.

 

The Battle of the Crossing ends in an overwhelming Orenian victory, driving the Dwarven-led coalition to the defense of Storm’s Crossing.

 

1420: Emperor Horen V orders the Great Exodus. House Chivay and the bulk of the First Empire depart on an armada of ships, leaving Anthos and eventually landing in Aeldin.

 

Thomas Chivay dies of infection on the Exodus ships.

 

Peter abdicates the title of Grandmaster to Ser Edmond Brunswick, who officially disbands the Order of the White Rose.

 


 

 

BOOK ONE

 

The Arrival 1363-1364

I had arrived on the continent of Asulon with my brother, Peter. Poised to do great things, our ambition was driven by our lack of nearly everything - our meager wealth and estates gone. We found ourselves on foreign soil and among foreign people. No more than vagabonds in truth, but our charisma implied something else entirely, and it attributed to our sudden attractiveness from one called Boiendl Silverblade. Perhaps he saw the potential in my brother and I, or perhaps he merely wished to have a personal entourage of burly bearded men. Whatever the case, he had hired the two of us as Silverblade bannermen and we accompanied him to the famed Fort Boot. Our potential was quickly proven to the young lord Braxis, who appointed my brother as his banner commander and myself as the quartermaster. Yet despite our success, my tenure as quartermaster would be cut short due to the ailment of my grandfather, Foltest. He had written to me describing his frailty, and his maid had noted that he was falling into dementia. So I had informed Peter and resigned from my post, taking a ship to Gaekrin and out to the estate of Cantious, my uncle.

 

 


 

The Lost Years 1364-1371

Foltest was a true lion in his youth, much like Peter, but the dementia had driven out his wits and much of his strength. The physicians could find no cure, claiming that his delusions were not life threatening but were nonetheless impairing on the already aging man. Even so, there was nothing I could do, and he thought made me experience a sense of futility and regret. My skills were the tilt of a lance and the swing of a sword. I had nearly forgotten all the studies my mother insisted upon during my upbringing. I stood idly by as my grandfather delved into madness, and I had a revelation to change my own person because of it. I gathered simple provisions and informed my uncle that I would be returning to my brother, yet my true purpose I would not divulge to him nor anyone else save my own cousin, Lanon, who would accompany me on my wandering years in Aeldin.

 

Our journey began as we boarded a merchant vessel named The Dancing Drachman bound for the Couentran city of Justern. Our arrival in the city was coldly welcomed. The Couentrans were a very refined people, while us two Chivays came off as Banardian in appearance. Despite this, Couentran greed made them see past our otherwise barbaric visage and seek us out as worthwhile escorts. Our time in Justern saw us protecting a myriad of city officials and even giving us a chance encounter with the Grand Magister himself, Salvatore Dandolo. Our reputation gave us a fair amount of wealth, which allowed us to purchase passage to the free city of Basiliscus, where the great Aeldinic Library, kept by the Gnosi, was located.

 

The Solarian Adventure

Basiliscus was a magnificent city. Divided into several districts, each with their own unique appearance and decor, the city was alive with both revelry and intellectualism, as the two most popular areas were the scholar and market districts. My time was spent primarily among the scholars, gaining entry to the library and studying the ancient tomes of plague and disease. As I mentioned, my purpose in Aeldin was kept rather shrouded, and I only revealed it to my cousin when he insisted without end. My aim was to seek the knowledge on the cause of the great Radivin plague that terrorized my childhood home of Rivia. It was a chance to improve my understanding of the world, and more importantly, discover where the blight that killed my mother came from. My studies proved fruitless, and my enthusiasm was deteriorating. It was then, as if by divine intervention, the arrival of a future close companion would offer the solution to my questions.

 

His name was Vulcus Solarius, a Lundic man. Much like the Couentrans, he was refined, yet the distinct difference was his martial impression, which he would later describe as the “Lundic way”. He quickly took to my liking and we found ourselves with common cause – he was a man searching for work, and myself looking for passage to the island of Lunde, where the Dorian Seers resided. And so a company was formed, comprised of my cousin, Vulcus, and a band of sellswords and oarsmen to man a modest Couentran galley. We set sail at dawn and followed the northerly winds. Taking the southern route around Aeldin afforded the ease of calm seas, but it would bring us into contact with the Pieces, where the Farfolk pirates raided and terrorized the archipelago and Couentran shipping. Vulcus assured us of safety, and the sellswords at our side helped to ease the anxiety. The journey around the Golden Shore took a day and a half, and then came our direction into the Pieces. The fastest route was to pass through the islands of Minos and Masos, risking an encounter with the legend of Tor Minos, the sorcerer's tower that caused the Pieces to shatter in the ancient era. Our course was set, though, and we rowed forward with courage. The first sighting of the tower brought forth some anxious looks and gasps – it stood taller than any structure I’ve ever seen, built from massive flagstones and obsidian, carved (under magical manipulation, no doubt) into sharp spikes at its top, resembling a blackened crown that gathered all the stormclouds of the region above it. Lightning constantly struck the crown, and it made the seas around the sorcerers’ isle rough and unrelenting. A few of the sellswords lost their bearing and called for us to turn back, yet Vulcus was resolute and pushed the helm forward. My own constitution was questioned when the thundering boom from a crack of lightning struck the mast of our ship, and so I muttered a prayer to GOD, pleading for his mercy and our safe passage around the tower of Minos. The lightning persisted, and as we drew nearer the waters began to swell in a manner most unknown to me, yet the oarsmen began to shout in their drachmen tongues, to which Vulcus translated, “Typhoon!”. Our galley took to the swirls, our ship lost all control of direction and we found ourselves spiraling. In a great panic, some sellswords took to leaping from the deck of the ship, preferring to find solace among the sorcerer’s isle than succumb to death by drowning. Those that jumped met a worse fate than I could have imagined, and as they made it to the shore there appeared spectral armored figures with masks and crowns of ivory. They lifted the mercenaries from their flopping along the shore and gutted them with ghostly blades. Among them was a single man of flesh, adorned in red robes atop a steed with dead eyes. He pointed to our galley and spoke an incantation, and the typhoon intensified. Without control and the sea raging against us, futility struck our hearts. I closed my eyes and prayed out loud, calling to Horen and Owyn, to any divine being that would listen. The thunders of the sky boomed ever more, and my faith was wavering. It was then that the thunder and flashes of lightning diverted from the sea and the tower and struck at the spectral figures on the shore. The horse became panicked and flung the lithe sorcerer from its back, and all at once his apparitions faded and the storms died down. The thunderous booms continued as the lightning chased the sorcerer along the shore. And Vulcus, quick to the opportunity, called upon the oarsmen to take their posts once more. As the waves settled to a rowable degree, we guided ourselves away from the tower and into clear skies, though our ship was heavily dilapidated. Her mast was on the brink of collapsing and half our oars were lost to the depths of the typhoon. I nearly cried in sorrow, but the sea I found myself in – calm and clear – convinced me of my fortune, and so I thanked GOD and all his divine power for saving us from the wickedness of Tor Minos.

 

We brought our ship into the port of Sufi. Requiring heavy repairs, we would be stuck shipless for a week. Our company acquired lodgings from the Mansouri Kabah, a multiplex structure that displayed the wealth of the town’s local lord, Khalifa Mansouri. A very fat man decorated in long and colorful silk robes inlaid with rubies and emeralds, the lord styled himself with the title of Dragut. Despite his obesity, the dragut was a once feared corsair, terrorizing Couentran trade for decades. His career came to an end when the Grand Magister of Couentre amassed a fleet of forty galleys to hunt down the pirate. The dragut avoided capture for several years, frustrating the Grand Magister greatly. They finally reached an agreement when the dragut held the trade post of Malocchio ransom, threatening to burn the harbor and massacre its people unless the corsair was granted amnesty. The Grand Magister, pressured by the notable republic families concerned over the loss of capital, reluctantly agreed, and the prince of pirates amassed his wealth and power onto the island of Al-Farsi, where he established the town of Sufi. Sufi was the only major town in the Pieces, the dragut would burn any others and claimed hegemony over the entire archipelago. The dragut allowed Couentran trade posts to exist, but only after demanding a tax on all goods coming in and out of the Pieces. The appearance of our ship brought the attention of the dragut himself, who called us to an audience and beckoned our explanation of the events. I told him of our course and the encounter with the sorcerer’s tower, of the spectral retinue and the typhoon, and Khalifa laughed as I spoke, calling us blessed fools. He knew of very little men who survive the passage between Minos and Masos, and he claimed our company was guided by divine powers, yet it was said in jest as the dragut was stuffing his face with a date. Nevertheless, the corsair was impressed with our courage, even granting us a gift of hebushite scimitars, more ornate than they were practical. The dragut sent us back to our lodgings and we accommodated ourself for the short stay, but what would occur in the next few days would expel any thought of continuing our journey to Lunde.

 

The third day of our stay in Sufi marked the drastic change that even the corsair did not expect - the arrival of a Couentran fleet representing the Grand Magister himself. Commanded by Silvio Mannino, an admiral of great renown, the fleet surrounded the harbor and turned its galleys to blockade. The dragut, outraged by this sudden act of defiance, called to the ships and cursed, “Those vile and devilish Couentrans who dare blockade this town of pirate princes shall see their ships kissing the bottom of my Shattered Sea!” Yet despite his anger and promise of revenge, the corsair King could do little to stop them: the naval power of Mansouri was a large collection of semi-autonomous pirates whose number (when gathered together) far outmatched the Couentrans, although they more often focused on raiding and seizing Couentran goods than actually combatting them, much like the merchant families of the republic who would prefer to trade than fight. Admiral Mannino knew of this and would not take the dragut’s threats with much sway. Instead he sent forward a representative by means of rowboat. The dragut met him with resentment and before the emissary even spoke, the dragut cleaved him with his scimitar. I had witnessed this in the courtyard of his Kabah, and much to my surprise the corsair ordered the Couentran population of the town executed in defiance to the blockade. The merchants were seized from their ships and houses and hanged from the rocky crag jutting out on the left side of the harbor, and Mansouri wasted no time in pressing his newfound opportunity. With their captains gone, the Couentran galleys were commandeered by Sufi, and its slave oarsmen (more often consisting of non-Couentran folk) freed and offered command of the stolen ships. This gave the corsair a considerable amount of ships to combat the blockade, bringing his number up to 32 ships against Mannino’s 50. Mansouri was now poised to break this blockade, but knew his odds were still slim. His wroth edged his conviction to attack, yet Vulcus and I calmed his madness and counseled him patience. The corsair reluctantly agreed and stockpiled his food stores and prepared to wait out the blockade, for he knew that the seaborne pirates would soon come to Sufi to sell their newly acquired goods. But the admiral would not sit idly by and let the dragut wait in peace. On the third morning of the blockade 10 ships arrived. These were specially designed galleys with completely flat decks and lacking masts. Fitted onto their decks were two onagers. The siege ships were maneuvered into position and at midday began to deliver salvoes into the town. Deadly stones and incendiary pouches were fired into the town, setting ablaze the houses and bringing forth mass destruction. They fired incessantly for 16 days, managing to rearm their ammunition by means of supply ships arriving every two days. The siege was a cleverly planned out display, and it enraged Mansouri knowing that he was helpless. On the twentieth day into the siege, the admiral sent another message, this time by means of a head launched by an onager into the courtyard of the kabah. The head was revealed to be Mansouri’s cousin, Muham Abbas Shia, who the dragut was counting on to relieve the blockade. Enraged and volatile, Mansouri would wait no longer. He fitted his ships for battle and prepared himself to don his corsair raiment once more. The pirate, despite his disadvantaged position, had devised a pyrrhic tactic to break the blockade: his ships would be outfitted with kegs of powder and oils and rammed into the larger Couentran galleys. Mansouri had tasked our ship (which by now was repaired and ready to take to the sea again) with the protection of his wealth, should the tactic fail and the town taken. The dragut had placed a great trust in us, either because he valued our counsel or his mistrust of the other pirates at his side forced us to be his only viable option. Whatever the case, our galley had the wealth of a corsair King in her hull, and our duty was to protect it from the aggressors. The morning of the thirty-second day of the siege marked Mansouri’s attack. His entire fleet sailed out to meet Mannino, and immediately the admiral sent forward his larger galleasses to impose upon the corsair’s fleet. As we witnessed from our position at the right, Mansouri's fireships launched straight at the Couentran front. Their swift maneuverability allowed them to swing around and ram directly into the larger and more cumbersome galleasses. But it was not the ram that caused the damage, but the massive eruption that came from the hulls of the ships. The air was sucked in and blasted back out as the explosion crumbled the heart of the galleasses. The ships caught fire and quickly sunk, leaving Mannino in surprise and his fleet in disarray. Mansouri's fleet now darted forward to meet them in traditional naval combat, and it was here that our chance to break from the battle was given. The night before, in discussion with Vulcus and Lanon, we had no intention of returning the corsair's stolen gold to him. Our journey was to Lunde, and so would be our destination, the additive of a trove of gold would help in our endeavor. So we held our ship back and diverted west as the fleets clashed. The oarsmen rowed with great fervor, inspired by their own greed to protect the ship’s cargo, and we broke from the battle in under an hour, taking to the Shattered Sea once more. Our sails were unfurled and we took the wind along a three day travel to the Heartlands, finding port at the town of Renberg.

 

 


 

The Heartlands held a much different atmosphere than the Pieces or the Couentran merchant cities, and I felt more at home among its denizens. Our purpose here was to resupply our provisions before making the final journey to Lunde. Vulcus informed me that he knew a great many friends here in Renberg, and our stay should not take long, although he insisted I meet one of these many friends, and for good reason, for this man would return with us to Asulon. Lanon, Vulcus and I set out among the city and made our way to the merchant quarter, where a sign of a tree and a white sun emblazoned a building named The Ashford Broker. Heading past the normal merchants and consumers, we headed for the second floor, and found the man that I would later call one of my dearest friends: Velwyn Ashford. He was a man of my height, with a refined and astute look about him, dressed in the Heartlandic fashion of burgher caps and large coats, he did not seem to be a very intimidating man. He was introduced as a man who saved Vulcus from many a loan shark and ne’erdowell of the city, and Solarius praised his friend’s ability at bookkeeping and logistical planning. When the merchant was told of our journey, he quickly offered to join, claiming that he too had business in Lunde, although he would not reveal to us his exact intention. Yet we rose no quarrel, and added two to our company: Velwyn Ashford and his personal bodyguard, Vercint Helvets, a Heartlander of little words. We restocked on provisions at a cheaper price than before – Ashford was already proving to be a valued member of our company – and set out onto the open sea in a few days, our final destination being the island of Lunde, Vulcus’ home. The night before we departed, the four of us gathered in Velwyn’s home to give a toast to the journey. I took this time to learn more of our new Ashford companion, finding out a great deal about his life prior to owning his establishment in Renberg. Ironically, although born in the small town of Ulmsbottom1, he made his fortune in Asulon, peddling throughout the Realm of Hanseti as one of the more prominent merchants. He explained that the walls of Nuremberg were halfway supplied by his own stores of stone, and a great sum of money was made selling coveted Hansetian iron to the various human kingdoms to the north. The Hochmeister himself requested his presence and offered him the position of Grand Burgher of Konigsberg, to which he gladly accepted and took over management of the city. It was under Ashford’s frugal governance that the city saw a revival of iron production and exports, noting specifically a man that Velwyn described as “absolutely mysterious in everything except blacksmithing”. The man’s name was Henry Micklern, although sometimes he referred to himself as Micklebaker (his decision on his surname seemed to change daily). He had one friend named Titus and was a modest blacksmith, yet everything else was unknown. Velwyn spied on him one day, only to find his daily routine mundane and uneventful. He was a regular man of little note, and it perplexed Ashford for some unknown reason. His story of Micklern clearly irritated him, and I would not press it further.

 

1: Ulmsbottom was a town located in the Duchy of Gwynon in northwest Aeldin.

 


 

The morning came and we took to the sea once more, enjoying a relatively calm journey before docking at Lunde. Its main city was named after the island (or perhaps the island was named after the city) and it bustled with activity. The city was designed unlike any other city I’ve seen: the entire layout was arranged in a grid, with streets running straight and bisecting each other, all forming around a central nucleus known as a forum, where military parades, triumphant arches and public announcements were found. Vulcus gave us a quick tour of all the notable landmarks before bringing us to his humble home in the Bercalus district. There he introduced to us his infant son Vibius2 and his wife Julia. He showed us the direction of the Dorian Seers and told us to return by sundown. It was here that I expected Velwyn’s path to diverge from ours, yet he revealed that he too sought the seers for the hope of discovering an ancient artifact (always the cryptic sort, that's all I could get out of Ashford at the time). The entrance to the acropolis of the Seers was an archway depicting two lions fighting over an open book. Beyond this lay the 500 steps of Zakyn, each with a quote in the Gnosi’s ancient language enscribed into the stones. Arriving at the top, we were greeted by several men in the traditional long robes of the Seers. They escorted us to the temple and permitted us entry one at a time. I was ushered in first, entering a cylindrical chamber that filled with the chants of the Seers and the smoke of a strange smelling incense. I was escorted to the middle of their circle and placed on my knees. The Seers continued chanting for several minutes while I inhaled the strange fumes. My head felt light and the room began to spin. As if in a trance, my body felt featherlike and even the dullest of colors flashed bright and clouded my vision. I could not tell if one of them spoke, or a collection of them, for all I heard was the echoing undulations of a voice calling to me. I spoke of my purpose, “I have come to seek the knowledge of the Radivin plague that had struck Rivia and Gaekrin far to the east. Basiliscus gave no insight and so I have come to you Seers for guidance.” They hummed a response and seemed to mumble in deliberation. My head began to sway and I soon heard the voices of the Seers once more, yet I could not understand the tongue. They spoke in their ancient language, and the added effect of the incense distracted my mind from focus. The next thing I felt was a thud as my head hit the ground. I woke up in a simple cot in an even simpler greywashed room. Velwyn and Lanon were at two of the other beds, and the three of us were attended by a young acolyte. He explained to us that the knowledge the Seers grant will often be too overwhelming for the mortal soul, and it will buckle and collapse as a result. Pure fallacy. The entire acropolis was a ruse, a mummers trick designed to fool the simple minded and desperate. I was one of these men, and I fell prey to their trickery and their narcotic incense. Velwyn and Lanon were equally displeased and we made our departure as soon as we could (after paying a “medical” fee to the thin-smiling acolyte). Nothing came from this wasted endeavor, and I sought the temple district to seek some other form of guidance. Lunde housed many temples and was perhaps the most religiously tolerant city in Aeldin. I found a small chapel to the true GOD and spent several hours conferring with the Lord over the faithless actions I had taken in a desperate to discover knowledge. I pleaded to Saint Owyn and Horen and Julia and Joren, and by nightfall realized that my wasted efforts in Lunde would be supplemented by my newfound discovery that faith alone would guide my hand, not the heathenous whispers of drug-induced robed men. As I rose to exit the chapel, a man entered with a small simple sack. He was whispering frantically and didn't notice me until we stood a few feet from each other. He raised his head and was startled to realize he was not alone, “Oh, pardon, good sir, I thought I was amongst my thoughts.” The man dispelled his whispers and seemed to take on another personality, a jovial attitude that sought to speak endlessly of the unimportant intricacies of life. He was a ***** sort of man and he gave off a calming aura. I listened to him for a while before realizing the hour was late, and begged to make my leave. The man smiled and gave me the small sack he entered with and uttered the simple words of, “Good luck and God bless you, brother of the faith.” I exited the chapel and into the dark of the street and headed to the Solarius household. I informed Vulcus of my whereabouts and told him that my journey for knowledge was replaced with a discovery of true faith, complete with an undiscovered miracle. I told my companions about the stranger in the chapel and finally opened the sack. An instant golden light nearly blinded me as I pulled the object from the sack. It was a golden sphere and upon sight, Velwyn dropped to his knees and began to pray and thank the Saints. As it would happen, the stranger was Henry Micklern and this object was his golden apple Velwyn had spent years searching for. The apple was given to the burgher and he felt a great relief wash over him. I furthered the occasion by explaining to them the final journey I would take from Aeldin: in what appeared as a revelation during my prayers in that small chapel, Saint Owyn descended and gave me the guidance to take my faith and ambition under the banner of Owyn and create a magnificent and illustrious company of men. When offered to my companions, Lanon and Velwyn agreed wholeheartedly, while Vulcus unfortunately had to decline. He had already spent too long away from home, and his purpose in life was service to Lunde.

 

And so the four had become three, and we made preparations to sail back to Asulon. Using the dragut’s conveniently acquired gold to rent passage on a larger cog, we entrusted the majority of the corsair’s treasury to Vulcus, who had promised to safekeep it in the case that we ever had to return to Aeldin. The year was 1370 when we sailed from Aeldin, I was 29 years old and full of ambition, faith and desire. Our purpose was decided and our course was set. But the sailing was not as smooth as we anticipated. A raging storm would draw us off course and onto the shores of an Aeldinic land mostly uncharted. And by divine intervention, the mishap would introduce us to our final companion: the Gaesgro giant named Baldir Toov.

 

2: The described Vibius is known to history as Vibius the Elder, father of Vibius de Sola, Imperial Marshal and progenitor of the Vibian Coup on the Imperium Tertius

Note: Lunde would later be the victim of a cataclysmic event ushered in by the Dorian Seers, who were revealed to be sorcerers working in competition against the rest of the Aeldinic warlocks. Almost the entire island would be engulfed by a massive wave, leaving only a small section of land that would later be used to construct the Exodus’ Varbrand Academy.

Furthermore, the dragut’s treasury was indeed kept by Vulcus, and its vast wealth was used by the Great Exodus to establish a foothold in Aeldin, drastically improving their efforts of conquest in the Heartlands

 

 


 

The shipwreck was devestating. Our cog had crashed against the rocky crags and sent us all hurling towards the shallows of the beach. Lanon received a large splintering wound to his thigh and had to be dragged ashore, but Velwyn and I had been blessed with only minor cuts and bruises. The captain and first mate were dead - lost to the sea, and we were utterly lost. The charts and maps sunk with the ship and the remaining sailors quickly banded together and split off in different directions. The three of us were left to ourselves, and without any orientation, we headed in the first random direction. Again, by divine guidance, we found the Gaesgro tribe - or rather, a Gaesgro scout who led us to his tribe. This scout was no ordinary man: he stood a good two feet taller than us, and had the physique of an orc, excluding the grotesque tusks, of course. The man introduced himself as Baldir Toov, and seemed both friendly and intelligent. His size intimidated us at first, but his offer of aid to Lanon soon dispelled our suspicions. The giant carried him back to his tribe and with the aid of Velwyn’s surgical prowess, Lanon was patched up and able to walk (slowly, but nonetheless able). Toov explained to us his people and their way of life, which seemed none too different from our own. Despite all their massive physical bodies, they were as normal as us true human folk. Toov differed from the rest in his faith - the Gaesgro believed in a polytheistic pantheon of gods and natural spirits, while Toov was converted by another shipwrecked priest who informed him of our True Faith. This story inspired my own belief. Owyn himself had sent us this giant as our faithful guardian and bulwark. It didn't take much convincing on our part, just the tales of our divine purpose had brought Toov into our company, and secured the last member of the original four that would form the Order of the White Rose. With Toov’s guidance we found a nearby village and then passage to Setring where another cog was bound for Asulon. Unfortunately for Lanon, the wound had become infected and he would not join us on our journey back, instead remaining in Setring until he recovered. We arrived in Arethor after months of sailing and arranged a meeting with Peter in the Cathedral of the Exalted Horen. After seven long years of absence I was reunited with my brother and we embraced and recollected briefly of our lives. I introduced him to my new companions and told him of my revelation. Peter, intrigued and bound by our shared ambition, joined in the idea without hesitation.

 

And so, on the 15th of Malin’s Welcome, 1371, by Owyn’s guidance and in the halls of Horen, the Order of the White Rose was officially created. Peter hailed as its Grandmaster, Toov as its Confanonier, and Velwyn and I as Master and Commanders. Velwyn took the administrative roles as Seneschal while I took the combative. The four of us were bound by GOD and brotherhood.

 

 


 

The Rivian Chapter 1371-1380

Our first order of business was to establish a base of operations from which to develop our new Order. Peter was still the Commander of the Silverblade bannermen, but that provided no base of our own to work with. So in the autumn of 1371 we set out to find a suitable lord to accept our four man band. Before that, though, Peter had to formally resign from his position at Fort Boot. Luckily, Peter had developed a great relationship with Lord Uthor, and when we informed him of the news, he was at first disappointed but then saw the opportunity in it all. As it happened, Lord Uthor was also the Grand Knight of Renatus, and had the ambition to expand the knights of the realm into an able-bodied force. He saw the potential in our Order, and had us Chivay brothers knighted and promised us that when the Order grew, it would be incorporated into the Order of the Red Dragon as an official chapter. The honor was immense, but we had much to prove before we could be granted this position. We exited Fort Boot with the new status of gentry and used that as a new bargaining tool to entice the Renatian lords.

 

The enticement worked quicker than expected. We met with Lord Artorias Elendil, the Count of Ildon. Located in the far northwest of the kingdom, the count seemed desperate to accept new men to serve under his banner. He quickly agreed to granting us a barony, even bestowing both Peter and I with the title of Baron, certainly unusual but we did not dispute it. He mapped out the territory for our new barony and allowed us to name it. Rivia, we decided, after our home in Gaekrin. Informing Velwyn and Toov of the news, we gathered our belongings and set to meet them on the path to the land. The Confanonier and Seneschal arrived with the wagon of our equipment (and the last share of the dragut’s treasury) and a welcome new gift: our very own uniform. It was a red surcoat with a white rose emblazoned on both the front and back. It was simple yet elegant, and it made quite the impression among the kingdom seeing those tabards arrayed in pristine condition. With our new uniforms and the equipment of our adventures, we started off on the first leg of our Order’s beginning.

 

Kaer Rivia - 1372

We came upon the clearing just a few miles from Ildon. The snow was packed up several inches as the tall piney forest enclosed around a few abandoned hovels, a modest manor and a small frozen lake. It was a wilderness, to be sure, but the four of us were grateful to finally have land to further our great endeavor. Wasting no time, we set upon the duties of repair and repurpose. Velwyn commissioned a number of materials and builders, Toov led the working parties, and Peter and I designed the simple yet efficient keep of Kaer Rivia. The construction and repairs would take a few months, but it brought about the notice of our otherwise remote barony from our great future companions that have given so much for the Order. The first of which came when Toov approached us with news that one of the local workers had expressed interest in living in the hovels we just recently repaired. Upon a further conversation with the man and explanation of our Order and purpose, the worker was convinced not only of inhabiting Rivia, but also of joining our ranks as our first ever recruit: Mathus Oftsea. Eternally humble and equally as loyal, Mathus would prove to be an unyielding soldier and capable commander later in his years. A few more eager recruits would come from those working parties, so much so that we soon found our little barony in the wilds was in need of some more focused sustainment, primarily with our food stores. This solution (although I would hardly call it one at the time) came when Toov brought home a person that I thought could never find solace among such men. Her name was Tanith: slim and short, with almost pink colored hair and a pair of spectacles that looked about ready to fall off her petite nose. In another world, she perhaps would have been a very comely woman, but in this reality she had the ebony skin and repulsive knife-ears of a dark elf. At Toov’s request, she was to manage the duties as our Order’s cook and housemaid. As innocent as she looked, the first timid smile she showed sent me into a spiraling rage that brought back the terrible memories of Old Rivia. Manifested in that sheepish grin was a swirling descent of deceit, corruption and sin. I refused to even consider the notion of her position and denied her entry to the keep. My mother’s death would not be so easily spat upon by allowing a dark-kin demon sleep under the same roof as her sons. Peter was inclined to agree, although he made it far less vocal and sought explanation with Toov. It would take several hours and the pleading from my comrades to bring me to acquiesce, but finally she was permitted to stay, but only under the conditions that she live in one of the hovels and  she does not speak to the men of the Order. Furthermore, I denied her permission to cook my meals, preferring the simple comforts of soup and bread made by an Orderman’s hand. Despite these stipulations, Tanith agreed and set immediately to her duties. The men kept their distance from her and she quietly did as she was told, only Toov seemed to seek her out for conversation. For almost a year, she spent her time meekly cleaning the keep and cooking the various meals for our growing Order. For now, she was an irrelevant eyesore that only remained at Toov’s insistence (and her work ethic, but I would not admit that until much later).

 


 

Leric and Edmond

One day, a few months into our settling, a foot patrol into Ildon had us resting in the town’s tavern. It was a quaint little establishment, and us Rosemen had made our presence known as frequent customers. Peter and I made an effort to ensure we mingled and laughed with our men, enjoying their company and a few drinks in the many taverns we came across. Crowned Dice and Gwent were commonplace among our tables, and many knew us to be a rather lively bunch of soldiers, reveling in the classic songs of future Kaedrin. Yet despite this goodwill, a few patrons and even entire towns took our enjoyment as threatening and obnoxious. The case here in Ildon was that the local guard force, incompetent as ever, felt a sting of jealousy at our organization and effectiveness. Many a times our own Ordermen had resolved domestic issues before the guard could even be rallied, and the envy of those Adunian sentries finally came to a head one night in that tavern. Upset by our treatment of the local elven populace, a few of them confronted us and informed us we had no authority to be dispensing justice onto Ildon’s nonhuman folk. Already a few drinks in and clearly annoyed by their lack of manners, Peter and I exchanged a look that would become all to familiar - the signal of a Chivay Brawl. We allowed the disgruntled guardsmen to finish their speech before the two of us stood up and prepared our own response. Making a big show of it, Peter cleared his throat several times as he stepped to the guard captain. The tavern went silent as several patrons watched, and after a few seconds (to add to the drama), Peter sent his forehead straight into the Adunian. In an instant the men jumped from their seats and rushed the guards. Tankards flew and the brawl ensued. Nearly all of the patrons rushed out and the tavernkeep began to shout in dismay. One particular patron stayed, though, and in fact he jumped in on the brawl, joining our side against the Adunian retinue. We quickly overtook them and managed to bring the fight outside. Disarming them in the process, the Adunians began to flee towards the keep. In a roar of laughter and looking to press the humiliation further, I reached down and packed a snowball, sending it hurling for the mass of bruised guards. The men quickly joined in and a great volley of snow followed behind them. By now, the sentries on the ramparts noticed the clash and called down to us to demand an explanation. Before we could respond, a speedy and accurate snowball smashed into the face of the sentry, sending the man reeling back from the crenellation. The crowd of us laughed and made our way through the streets and escaped back to Rivia. Stopping halfway to regroup, I offered to commend the marksman that hit the rampart sentry. The men looked about in reminiscent laughter but none of them stepped forward. It was that eager patron who finally appeared from the back of our column. Much to our surprise, the patron was an elf himself: a wood elf tall and slender with black hair and brown eyes. I laughed at the irony of it, welcomed the elf and begged his name. “Leric Tresery.” He said, and immediately asked to join our Order. He told us that he heard of our Order and wanted to see if the rumors were true. Needless to say, he was impressed with our combination of discipline and entertainment, and he now wanted to enlist. Peter and I called Velwyn and Toov to discus this potential recruit. Weighing the disadvantage of his elven blood but noting the impressive accuracy and willingness to join, we decided to accept him, under the conditions that he fully convert to our True Faith and clip his ears to show his loyalty to the Order over his elven blood. He did both without hesitation and quickly earned the respect among the men. Leric would become our most effective fighter in the Order, constantly receiving commendations for bravery and superior combat skill. He would even squire under Peter and receive a knighthood of his own, being one of the few elven knights in the Empire, a precedent awarded to only the most capable. Count Elendil, meanwhile, made no attempt to reprimand us for the assault on his guards, knowing full well the White Rose was his power base in the Kingdom.

 

Being Elendil’s power did not come without some expectations, but the Adunian lord often overstepped his authority, even going as far as trying to impress our soldiers into the service of Ildon’s guard force. These overreaching bounds brought our Senior Command to begin looking elsewhere, to lands with more relaxed lords and a larger swathe of land, for our Order was beginning to grow beyond our maintenance. Kaer Rivia simply was not large enough to sustain our growth. Velwyn compiled a list of the less reputable nobles and Peter discovered that Duke Guivret, despite his title, was lacking in any significance. Peter tasked himself out to meet him and established a correspondence. It took time to build a successful rapport, but eventually the Duke of Auvergne agreed to meet us in person and accept one of his knights into the Order as a Senior Knight. In a fine display of White Rose presentation, we marched to Auvergne and met with the Duke and Ser Edmond Brunswick. Edmond took to our liking quickly - he was a paragon of virtue and knightly prowess, well versed in etiquette, and gave an aura of chivalry in almost everything he did. He fit in well with the men despite these traits, with many up and coming footmen aspiring to achieve his knightly status. Edmond was included in our council and gave insight on the Auvergnan situation, which would prove valuable in the next few years.

 

 


 

The Geminine Heresies 1375-1378

The Fateful First Meeting

I will not doubt that the Order of the White Rose was, at this point, insignificant in the grand scheme of the Kingdom of Renatus and even beyond the County of Ildon. Our modest barony could house no more than 6,000 men at best, and even at that number the supply maintenance would be nearly impossible, especially during the winter months when our fields froze up. It is because of this problem that we decided upon two things: one was to discover more suitable land for our later expansion, and the other was to secure friendships among the local lords to ensure a better supply stockpile. The latter came more quickly when, as if by fate, the newly christened Baron Aleistor Geminine arrived at Rivia to meet with us. Aleistor was an amicable and friendly man, and despite his descendence past middle-age, he was filled with youthful expression. He explained to us that the lower barons of the County would do well to seek closer relations. In reality, Baron Geminine was probing for allies to secure his new territory, and we were happy to oblige. The Geminine barony was situated further south and on the coast, allowing for a far longer growing season and port access to the rest of the Kingdom. We arranged a mutual agreement and began to divert patrols and interactions with our new Geminine friends. The relationship blossomed and the men enjoyed the coastal amenities in Aleistor’s lands, which brought us to the arrangement of a Chapter House being erected in the barony’s town, charging my cousin and Aeldinic companion Lanon to its management. Lanon’s leg wound from years past had never truly healed, and so the young and eager soldier was reduced to more administrative duties in the Order. As a result, his time spent behind a desk gave him more time to enjoy the games of the world. He would be dubbed our game master and amass the largest collection of Gwent cards in the Order. He even claimed to have devised a game of his own titled Flixnet. None of us ever bothered to learn it.

 

Cheated and Stolen

A year and a half had progressed with great success between our baronies. Shipments of vital supplies and the basic good company of our Geminine allies was a warming aspect in our relationship. So much so that the aging Aleistor had approached me with a special offer - his daughter as a potential bride. Such a marriage would truly solidify our Houses and bind them. It seemed to be a good match, the lady Geminine was comely and of the proper age to bear children. A courtship was to be formally established in the spring of 1377, in the meantime I planned for the eventual arrival of a noblewoman into the halls of Kaer Rivia. Certain stipulations and amenities had to be prepared to accommodate a woman of her status. She could not eat amongst the men like Peter and I did, getting drunk and pummeling each other for entertainment. I became very involved in “womanizing” certain parts of the keep that I even sought the advice of Tanith, the only woman that had been allowed access to the keep itself. She proved to be well versed in what she called “womanly needs”, and helped to arrange room for a vanity and additional closet space for the lady’s dresses. Despite my outward appearance, I was glad to have the assistance of Tanith and the quiet obedience she brought with her. I would never find that in a woman throughout all my years.

 

The spring finally arrived and I felt overcome with these strange feelings. Perhaps it was the excitement for love, or rather the anxiety of a true courtship and female companion. I felt surges in my stomach that I imagined to be butterflies as I rode with a retinue of Ordermen to make my first official visit to the lady Geminine. I wore my finest surcoat with the rose emblazoned on its front3 and with the advice of Tanith, my beard and hair was trimmed to a more presentable image. She explained that the look of a barbarian may intimidate foes, but this was not an enemy to be slain, but a woman to woo. I arrived at the Chapter House and greeted Lanon with open arms, yet his reception was hardly the same. He had a look of worry on his face and when pressed to explain, he instead brought me to the Baron’s manor. Confused and frustrated at my cousin’s cryptic nature, I entered the manor to find Baron Aleistor at a table with his family. His sister, his son, and his daughter, my bride-to-be… except there sat another at the table, one with a slender physique and a smooth face, with the complete and ever protruding ears of an Elf. He sat next to the lady Geminine as they exchanged a subtle whisper and giggle at my arrival. The two smiled wickedly as they looked upon my stunned face. I looked to Aleistor in a moment of question, yet he kept his face to the table, not daring to look me in the eyes and tell me what had happened. In a quick realization I stood there, for a moment I felt rage and anger and nearly pulled my sword and slaughtered them all, but for the sake of the innocence I thought the lady Geminine still had, I held back. I relaxed and turned for the door, throwing it open and marching back to the Chapter House. Lanon finally informed me that the elf and the lady had eloped during the last month of winter under Aleistor’s blessing. Lanon himself didn't discover the act until the wedding just two days prior. The weak and spineless Aleistor allowed a nonhuman to steal away what was to be mine. Worse yet, he made no mention and thought the matter was a trifle at best. I rode home for Rivia and unleashed my rage as I entered the keep. The men felt pity and urged me to seek revenge on the honorless Geminine bastards, yet I could not. Instead, I would never return to those lands. Aleistor made clear his intentions, and our relationship would never recover. I realized that the feelings in my stomach was not the anxious butterflies of potential love, it was instead the gut feeling of doubt and betrayal.

 

3: The surcoat mentioned is in fact the same raiment worn by Thomas’ son, Robert, during his reign as Emperor of the Imperium Tertius.

 


 

 

The Surprise

A year I spent brooding and contemptuous. I found more and more hatred in the nonhuman populations of the Kingdom - they were an ungrateful and unpatriotic sort, holding no true allegiance to our nation and simply squatting for the benefits of safety. They lived off the spoils of human ingenuity and ambition and gave nothing in return. They guarded their ancient secrets and refused to assimilate. Their pride was unfounded and their very demeanor often made them appear superior. We had noticed this great plague in the kingdom, and by our senior decision we took actions to rectify it. We could no longer sit by and hope that our betters would solve it, it was up to our fledgling Order under the guidance of the Exalted Owyn to do his divine work. The final decision to put to action our plan to heal the infection of these vagabond nonhumans was created in the very barony I swore to never return.

 

It came in the autumn of 1379, during the month of Grand Harvest. The elf-husband of the lady Geminine had a great influence on the household, and began to “elvenize” the barony. He first encouraged several foreign nonhumans into the town, and before long the humans were a minority as elven culture became prevalent. The town was converted from a hamlet of the faithful to a den of degenerate foreigners with devious intentions. Aleistor did nothing to stop this influx and had been reported to be seeking the company of one specific foreign woman, barring all others and barely being seen in public. It was a peculiar arrangement, but I cared little for the aging old man and his young foreign *****. The mistake of it all was that this was no simple *****.

 

One of the maids of the Geminine household came to us, banging incessantly on the doors. She was brought to me sobbing and hysterical, frantically explaining that a witch had come to their estate, and the lady Geminine was in great danger. Toov, who was at my side, quickly drew Dreyrugr and made for the door. Despite my outward hatred and contempt for the woman, a tinge of pity still lingered and I felt overtaken with an obligation to help. In only a couple of minutes we gathered arms and armour and set out by horseback to the Geminine estate. Toov and I were joined by Leric, whose insistence on the value of his marksmanship convinced us of his value. Our journey there was swift, but it was plagued by the sudden arrival of a terrible storm. Lightning, thunder and heavy rain impeded our travels, but not our resolve. We pressed on, and arrived at the manor where we were greeted by the agonizing screams of the Lady Geminine. We burst through the door and made for the upper chambers, but what we discovered was not the appearance of a witch, but of a woman in labor. It was the lady herself, accompanied by a handful of maids but no midwife. Her screams continued and the maids pressed us for help. I was frozen in astonishment and only came to when Toov bumped past me to help. I'm not sure what compelled me, but I grabbed at my medical satchel and rushed forward. The painstaking process of delivering a child was never taught to me in Velwyn’s surgical classes, but we had to improvise. The labor was intense and bloody, and to this day I still remember the images vividly. We tried valiantly, but it was clear that the operation was failing and the lady Geminine became weaker and weaker. For the sake of the woman’s life, I made the hard decision: the babe’s life for her own. I told Toov I would handle this alone and despite his protest, realized the witch was still terrorizing the town. He left with Leric and I began the horrendous deed. The process was, once again, a bloody and nauseating endeavor, but after almost two hours of intense labor, it was over. There I stood, covered in blood and fluids of every kind, holding the dead elf-babe in my arms. The body was deformed and cursed with a marking on his forehead, which we would discover to be a mark of witchcraft. The lady Geminine cried in agony as she reached for the child, wailing in sorrow before turning to rage. She screamed at me to get out as the storm ravaged on outside. Leric had been sent back to warn me of the witch’s location and to inform me that Toov had engaged in battle. They discovered the storm to be coming from the lighthouse on the coast, citing it as the source of the witch. With the lady raving over her unborn son and the maids trying to force us out, I had little else to do. I could not console her, for this was not her fault, but the fault of the wicked elf-husband that had manipulated so many of the good people to accept the deviant foreigners. I took a moment to pray to the Exalted Owyn before continuing with Leric to the tower.

 

We burst into a room covered in ice. A blizzard-like wind whirled around the circular tower as we spotted Toov battling the witch. Among the dead were the remaining Geminine family, along with the wicked elf that brought this doom. Aleistor was absent, but it was not the focus. Toov desperately needed assistance and we jumped into the fray. Leric quickly drew his bow and began pelting the witch with arrows. Drawn away by his firing, Toov was able to draw closer. I took to the left, and the witch noticed our maneuvering. In a scream she created two ice sentinels which immediately rushed our position. Leric took one while I took the other, and the battle ensued. They moved quickly, but mechanically. They had no poise and the realization that irregular combat would throw them off, I made use of anything nearby. I flipped a table and tossed a chair, confusing the magical being as I danced around to hack at its arms. Dismembering it and finishing it off at the neck, the witch shrieked in fury. A great gust of icy wind blew me down across the floor, and it was then that I saw her. Out from the door came a bloodied and maddened woman. She charged at me with a dagger and dove onto my fallen body. She stabbed down wildly and struck me in my arm. I was still shocked that I made no attempt to fight back. It was the lady Geminine. Somehow, through a great last effort of strength, she followed us to the tower. Her mangled hair and pale face cried in grief as she lifted the dagger out from my arm. I came to my senses and realized what was before me. Before she could strike again I sent a gauntlet to her face and she toppled over, weak and exhausted. I grabbed the dagger from her hands and mounted her, sending the last killing blows into her face. I wept as I did it, and by the end of it I collapsed to the side, dropping the dagger and breathing heavily. I was in shock and nearly lost my life, for the witch sent a shard of ice hurling towards me. I was saved Leric’s nimble movements that forced me to the left, and I had to compose myself once again to finish the fight against the witch. In truth, I did not do much else to help. Toov had already closed the distance and Leric had dispelled the sentinels. As I rose to my feet, I saw Toov swing down Dreyrugr for the final blow. Smashing straight through the witch’s protective ice wall, the giant’s strength cleaved the witch in two, her head flying up and off into the center of the room. With deft hands Leric caught it and showed a smile of self-accomplishment. Toov recovered and approached us, and explained who the witch really was: Brunhylde, the Frost Witch Brood Mother. Her coven had came to the Geminine barony and possessed the Baron Aleistor and his household. She cursed the child of the lady Geminine after the elf-husband tried to seduce her as well. Toov had been hunting her for some time, yet he did not expect her to be so near and under such a disguise. Noticing the dead body of the lady, Toov offered to console me, but for the first time since I thought of her, I felt nothing. No hate, no love, just an empty feeling that I would keep for the rest of my life.

 

The three of us exited the tower in silence, the head of Brunhylde in Toov's hand. As we made for the steps downhill into the town, the storm had cleared and the world became silent. We headed to the manor and there appeared Aleistor in tattered robes. He stood idly by as his town was ravaged and his daughter suffered in labor, and as a last maddened decree, he told us that the Order would not be welcome in his barony any longer. Were it any other day and under any other circumstances, I would have given some response,  but I was in no mood to even speak. Walking past the Baron and mounting our horses, we rode off from that wretched and heretical place, glad to be done with it all.

 


 

The Ildonic Whispers 1378-1380

Abbadon the Twisted and the Old Adunian Arrival

Winters often left Rivia isolated from the world. The snow would pack feet high and any attempts at clearing it would be met with heavy snowfall at night, covering up the effort of the day. Because of this, we made less patrols around Ildon and took the few wintry months to conduct cold weather training and planning projects for the spring. Yet the winter of 1378 was quite different from the rest, for Ildon was to receive a new advisor to the court of Count Elendil.

 

Abbadon arrived at the court in Ildon overnight. His backstory was limited and he didn't speak much of his past. What was clear, though, was that he was already a close confidant to the count, and to make matters worse, he was a foreigner of the lowest kind - a dark elf. It was completely unorthodox to have a nonhuman so high in the counsel of a Human lord, and it raised a great many suspicions, chiefly among us in the Order. What did an elf have to gain so far from his homeland? This foreign dark elf was met with great distrust, to be proven almost immediately. Normally, our barony was left to our own details and plans, but as the spring thaw came and the roads became manageable once again, the arrival of county officials came to Rivia. Citing the Count’s orders and carrying papers bearing his signature, the officials were to be informed of a number of logistical reports to be documented and approved by the Count. Peter and I were quick to deny these bureaucrats and set to Ildon ourselves for answers. It came when instead of the Count receiving us (as was normal), Abbadon met us in robes of the Malinorian fashion, and gave us the finest of manners and selection of eloquent speech. It would do nothing to calm or deter us and even provoked our ire even more. When it was clear that the Count would not see us, we stormed out and made our discontent well known. Peter threw a stable boy into the moat. Count Elendil eventually came to speak to us on the matter and informed us that the efforts of centralization were attempts to better organize his county. We acquiesced only in public and thus halted all our plans of expansion, giving the officials nothing to document except a myriad of useless supply reports devised by the clever Velwyn. Each week several stacks of reports would be delivered to Ildon with our logistical counts. Every page was the same, each reading:

 

barley, wheat, flour and good company. Of the same number as before.

 

It was a spiteful thing to do, but our ambitions were already developing elsewhere among far better men and with far better deals.

The next twisted notion to come from the Count’s (Abbadon’s) mouth was the introduction of the Brae clan into the court of Ildon. A mountain tribe further west, the Brae folk claimed to be descendents of great Adunian families, and Elendil found them a place closer to Ildon to settle. Their chief, Hanrahan, was an especially ***** fellow, wearing women's skirts and claiming the ancient Adunian culture mirrored his tribe more than the modern Ildonic people. Despite these outrageous antics, he found a nest alongside Elendil and with the help of Abbadon, converted the cultural identity of Adunians into tribal clans with uncommon and ultimately bizarre traditions. More and more “Old Adunians” flocked to Ildon as their clan system brought in several new families to court, all under the approval and encouragement of Elendil and his twisted dark elf advisor. And although the cultural shift might have been something to overcome, it was their Old Adunian ideology that caused the due hatred of today's Adunian folk. The Old Adunian clans began to insist that their culture was not in line with their Renatian sovereign, and began to preach about the idea of their own Adunian home, “one broken from the bonds of feudalism and truly free.” This led Elendil to soon make his gravest mistake yet, one that determined our detachment from his service permanently.

 

The Summer of Roses

The summer of 1379 came with a surge of recruitment as the ever infesting Old Adunians clambered into Ildon. Honest and decent Renatian folk came to our Order for solace and we bolstered in numbers. Toov developed a new training regimen and the institution of the Unoathed rank came to purpose, with Mathus as its commander. Further good news came when Edmond received a letter from Auvergne, the Duke was taken to a terrible illness and had assigned Edmond as his regent. Wasting no time, we set our plan of acquiring suitable land outside of Ildon into effect. Edmond now had the authority to grant us such a location in the expanse of Auvergne (an idea the Duke repeatedly discarded as “too imbalancing to the kingdom”) and soon found something beyond our wildest expectations - the old High Elven colony of Ceru (under Renatian control for several decades now). The former colony was located on the isle of Paradisus, just bordering the duchy of the Holy Lands. The Eldar4 had constructed a great citadel into the mountain, large enough to fit our growing Order and more. Edmond’s dealings and deliberations with the regency council of Auvergne concluded the price for such a grant of land was 20,000 crowns, to be paid to the Duchy’s treasury. The sum was substantial, but the frugal Velwyn informed us that such a drop in capital would not affect us in the long term. Deciding by unanimous decision and eager to finalize the arrangement, we sent Edmond with a caravan accompanied by 800 foot soldiers and 200 cavalry, a third of our total force. The last few weeks of summer also saw us with the addition of several new prominent members of the Order: Bran Volsung, future Senior Knight; Vibius2, the son of Vulcus; and Hadrien de Sarkozy, the great statesman of the Order. Hadrien would prove his mental mettle in many ways, providing key political insight and counsel and furthering the Order’s influence exponentially. It was at his behest that we seek out our first correspondence with King Godfrey himself. The summer afforded us a nice respite from the increasingly dooming Ildonic nightmare.

 

But it only lasted the summer.

 
 

4: It is Aeldinic tradition to address High Elves as Eldar, based upon the ancient histories of the Varendozian empire.

2: Vibius the Elder.

 

 

Dukes or Barons?

The coming winter came not only with a cold chill, but also with a cold betrayal to the Realm, offered by none other than Count Artorias Elendil. He came to us on the month of Snow’s Maiden, where the journey would have been inconvenient at the least. Yet he arrived at Kaer Rivia alone, raising the first suspicion of something to be kept inconspicuous. He asked that we meet in private, us Baron-brothers and himself, so we took to the lower lounge and sat around a hearth and table. The Count opened his coat and pulled out a map. Unfurling it and laying it over the table, he revealed it to be the Realm of Asulon, marked with all the nations of the day. What was notably different, though, was the addition of a new territory - one carved out in the far north where the land was almost always snow-covered. The Count pointed to this new nation and gave us the offer: A duchy to each of us with permanent Marcher status. An enticing offer, yet it did nothing to sway my opinion. This was treason, deception, and insanity, and it no doubt stemmed from the puppet masters of Brae and Abbadon. “The Adunian Kingdom of Old must be recreated,” the Count tried to explain to us, yet our minds would not be turned to treason and rebellion. When asked if such a kingdom would have the blessing of Godfrey, the Count merely laughed and told us, “A Horen has no authority to allow the settling of Adunian people. We are free to make our own choice.” Upon hearing this, Peter almost flipped the table in rage, yet I saw the advantage in such knowledge. Calming my brother, I informed our Lord that such an act is rebellion and should the King hear, the results would be catastrophic. Elendil laughed off the threat and made the argument that we lowly barons would have no credibility, to which us brothers grinned and presented the Count with a few of our kingly messages. Stunned and coming to the realization that he had been cornered, he pivoted and asked us our demands. They were simple: the retraction of fealty to the Count of Ildon and the safe and unmolested transfer of our goods and personnel to lands outside the County. Elendil had no choice but to concede, and on the coming of 1380, we would be free of the wickedness of Ildon and onto the barony of Ceru, now formally renamed the Barony of Krak du Rhoswen…

 

The first night I prayed to Saint Owyn and thanked him for his guidance. Our once fledgling and infant Order was growing beyond our expectations. GOD was on our side, His loyal Saintly servants supporting us in our rise to prominence and fame.

RESERVED FOR BOOK 2

RESERVED FOR BOOK 3

 

 

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“GOD BLESS JOHNNY DRAGON!” hollers an indiscriminate Adrian peasant, mulling over the scripture with overwhelming excitement

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Somewhere, aloof in the wilderness of (insert current map), a descendant of the long forgotten, but still fabled nonetheless Mathus Oftsea receives word that the old family tales of former glory were, in fact, true. A small smile creeps across his face, running to his drinking mates to spread the good word.

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Ostrobor sends his regards to the author, enjoying good reads such as this.

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