A Broken Branch, of an Elder Tree
The circulated writings of Aeyn Edvardsson Rurik,
Today I take my pen to this page with a heavy heart. For my blood hangs from the Ash Tree. Ancient symbol of our people. My King condemned my kin to a criminal’s death, for he had betrayed our land, our people, our Father. This man was dear to me. Known to others by Chieftain of the Caunters to me he was simply Caylus. He was a good man, with a straight back and kind eyes, who took in urchins and orphans in their time of need. Fed and clothed them. Taught them to read and write. Perhaps his veins ran thickly with the blood of his mother, a heartlander through and though as I am told. For his stomach always turned at our ways, at our justice.
As the storm clouds of war weighed heavy upon the horizon, and the boots of foreign men increasingly invaded our lands I sensed great turmoil in his heart. Within our humble burgh a faction had formed. Perhaps of cravens, perhaps of the sentimental, perhaps of the wise. Only history will tell. Endlessly they begged us to defect to the cause of the rebels. That we should abandon our oaths, to the Hellenic Throne. That we should kneel to some foreign lord, of a foreign people, of a foreign land. A man who would write poetry as his men fought, bled, and died. As did.., far to many of our own. I have buried enough young men in this war to be far beyond the delusion that we shall reach victory quickly. But in the end our King could not be swayed by the words of these appellants.
The young King Alvar cast these folk from our lands. Some departed on good terms. Merely wishing to be unaffiliated with either side. Whilst the Caunters, were banished. I will never know the workings of the minds of my fellow Rurikid. For we are a strange breed of men. Eternally obstinate, nigh suicidally devoted to our loyalties, to our convictions. Neither man would bend. And as rumours grew that Caylus intended to challenge Alvar in the ancient way, by mootright. The former was exiled from the Nordish realms. To live amongst his new battle brothers in the depths of Orenia.
The war raged, the rains fell, and the crows feasted. The once golden fields atween Leuven and Dunharrow were rent and torn by endless skirmish and battle. They are now nought but bottomless mud and mire. Split only by the ever shrinking paved surface of the Imperial road. Again and again Caylus came to me, each time with growing desperation. Surely I would be able to change the opinion of my liege. Surely I would be able to sway the chieftains, the freemen, the clanless. No doubt the All-Father would wish us to survive, for the faith to persist. He said to me over and over again. For what hope could be had against the vast legions of Haense, of Adria, of Curon, of the countless brigands and mercenaries their vast coffers could employ.
Again and again we grasped victory from the merest jaws of defeat. Our lords trumpeting our great victories as I was compelled to bury the corpses of more and more young Nordish men. Men who had died fighting a Heartlander war. Over Heartland crowns. But our oaths are not so easily broken. The Renatians had given us safety when we fled from Doran, his brigands and his Adrian rebels. They had given us land, titles, and most importantly of all. Our Faith. Only one Horen before had granted us such a boon. To turn our back on such a lineage. Unfathomable.
As our intentions, nay our convictions became increasingly clear. The visits from Caylus began to decrease. Further apart and with greater desperation. Until one day, returning from a deep raid into the plush lands of Adria we came upon him. He was being held by the men of Istaff. A brutal band of warriors whose strength and support had been instrumental in repelling the Orenic rebels and holding the defensive line at Dunharrow. They ceded him to us, for he was a wanted man in the Redmark. And so, with a heavy heart I escorted my own blood to Dunharrow. That he may answer for his crimes against our King.
Having brought him to the depths of the Dunwatch, my courage broke and I departed. For even with the Father’s strength I could not bear what was to come. I forbade the presiding Keeper from torturing the man, for he was my kin, my blood, and most importantly. Of the Ruricblood. Keeper Amice heard the final words of Caylus, gave him his final prayers and blessings. Before Caylus was escorted by the Dunwatch to our juvenile Ash Tree. Just now large enough to serve its most famous purpose. From over the rooftops I could hear the voice of Alvar, his words unusually cold, taunt almost. He sentenced his fellow Rurikid to die. Not the first, certainly not the last. But perhaps the first of his tribe to hang his blood. The world was silent then. Broken by naught but the sullen footsteps of Caylus as he mounted the platform. Then silence. Then nothing but the cawing of crows. For my friend was dead, and the world was just a little colder.
Soon after his death I was met with the two, freshly orphaned sons of the Caunter Clan. Traveling to Dunharrow having heard the tidings of their father’s death. I cannot recall their names. But their faces remain clear in my mind. A young boy on his knees, eyes puffy and face still wet with tears. Whilst the elder fought to hold back tears. His lower lip quivering. I said what words of comfort I could. But, seeing my words ring hollow I departed. I would not do them the dishonour of watching these two lads, on the cusp of manhood, shed tears. Upon my return I was stricken with wroth. The orphans had cut their father down from the tree and carried him away. Dooming him to eternal torment.
I had intended to free his soul, giving him a proper Nordish burial and laying him to rest next to the ashes of his forebears in the crypts below the Monastery. Lacking that I did what I could, his effects were gathered and lain upon his shield. These were born into the atrium of the Monastery. Where, having blessed the items and prayed for the soul of Caylus we gave them to the Father’s fire.
To the Nordish Folk where’er they dwell
As chieftain of the Edvardssons and High Keeper of Grand Hearth I extend my personal protection over the sons of Caylus until their twenty first winter respectively. Any Nordishman who does them unprovoked harm shall incur feud with the Edvardssons. And shall incur damnation from the Father. So it is writ, so it is.
To the Sons of Caunter where’er they dwell
Your Father is dead. I cannot bring back breath to his lungs nor can I restore the spark to his flesh. But you have damned him. His soul is trapped within his corpse. And I assume you have not given him the Father’s mercy. If so you have condemned your father to a rotting prison. In which he shall remain trapped until his bonds crumble to dust. I assure you that you will come to no harm if you return his remains to the monastery, that we may lay him to rest. Let the maidens sing his death song, let him lie upon his shield grasping his sword. Let him go and receive his judgement from the Father on high. I promise this on my honour as a Chieftain of the Nordish folk and the High Keeper of the Holy Hearth. So it is writ, so it is.