[RP Episode] In the realm of forest and snow


#41

Baldrikos stood up from the bed, still wobbling slightly, and grabbing a bedpost to stay up. He narrowed his eyes. “Where is the captain?”


#42

Oh fuuuu-

Varian’s face fell. The warriors behind him tensed.

”We talked. When I stood up without a helm, he attacked me. I slew him with my own hands. I thought perhaps you would know why.”


#43

Baldrikos spoke flatly. “You slew the captain. With your own hands.” He sneered. “Quite a feat that must be, to kill an injured man. Sagonos sees him, but not you, elf. He will be avenged a thousand times over in the Garden.”


#44

Something clicked in Varian’s mind. These people must bear elves some deep grudge for past misdeeds, although he knew of none such as they.

”I know not this Garden. If your God condones a guest who attacks his host without reason, so be it. The same goes for you. Your deeds at the gate repaid the life debt you owed us, you are still our guests, and to attack a host is to give grave insult. But if you wish to leave, none will stop you.”


#45

Baldrikos snarled at that. “To the Garden with your reasons! We have not forgotten what you kind did. We remember what elves are like: faithless and cruel. Why should we not prefer a frozen death in the wastelands compared to your paltry company?”


#46

Varian frowned. The warriors behind him muttered.

”We. Are. Not. Cruel.” he said through clenched lips. ”Neither are we faithless. And what misdeeds have the Helcelen done to your kind?” He breathed slowly, forcing himself to remain calm. He did not wish to kill anymore guests, provoked or no.


#47

Baldrikos looked down, trying to calm himself by sheer force of will. It was partially successful. "The tale is known to every Chromaroi child. Generations ago, we were a prosperous, peaceful kingdom. Then the elves invaded, for no reason, in endless hordes of mounted demons. They crushed our armies, scorched our country bare, burned the cities, and drove my people from our homeland."
The anger flared again, and he growled the next words. “Tens of thousands were slain - men, women, children, soldiers or elderly, it did not matter. And the elves made blood-sport of them until they died, screaming. This is what we know of your elves.”


#48

The elves nodded understandingly. A blood feud was a common occurrence in Helegeron.

”A blood debt is owed. But not by us. We fight on foot for the most part, in furs, leather and steel, and our hair is white. We do not venture south in large numbers. The Helcelen are not the elves who give you grief. But your rage we understand, and therefore forgive. However, I can assure you, the Helcelen did not do this thing. If you doubt my words, I will send my son to take you and your fellows to Helcar, where you will hear the same from the Teranor, our High King.” Varian said, his voice much subdued. The tension amongst the elves went out of the room. To hold a grudge against an old enemy was not just common, but a way of life for the snow elves.


#49

Baldrikos looked down at that. “The cap’n… He mustn’t have known. If he’d just seen you were elves, he’d have flown off the handle. Like we did.” He looked at his hands, half expecting the blood to still stain them. “Make no mistake, I’ve been in the army, I’ve served my time, fought in the war. Killed my share of men, even. But I’ve never butchered like that. I don’t think any of us have.”


#50

The elves had little sympathy for such feelings towards battle madness. After the battle at the gate, they had looked on the strangers with respect, and did not think it at all a thing to feel ashamed of. Varian decided that a long exchange of words was in order.

”It was a sight to behold, I must say. But now I think that you had best stay awhile. Winter has just begun. We have room at our hearths, and an exchange of information, tales, stories, and doings of the north and south will add some light to the long months. Better to spend them talking with drink in hand, then to perish within a day in the cold. Then in the spring, you will be safer to depart, if you desire to. What say you?”


#51

Baldrikos smiled ruefully. “Don’t suppose we’ve much choice, do we?”


#52

The combined parties moved to the great hall, where a large fire with meat roasting on it was burning merrily. A large portion of the village was present, although Melcar and several dozen warriors were missing, off finishing the remanants of the Celcari tribe, as Varian explained to Baldrikos.

Before the feasting began, however, the chieftain called for drink. Pouring a large tankard worth, which formed slightly with a reddish tint, he handed it to Baldrikos, while more cups were passed to the other warriors in the hall. Taking his own drink in hand, Varian raised it.

”Hail the Glorious Dead!” he said in elvish, while the warriors, women, and assorted other elves proceeded to empty their mugs. Varian quickly explained the words of the toast to Baldrikos.


#53

Baldrikos nodded at that, adding a muttered 'And may Sagonos see them" to the toast.

He and his crew, over the course of the meal, were partaking exclusively in the dishes that were clearly meat. None wanted to blaspheme against their deity, so the various greens and salads on the table - those few that the elves had evidently managed to forage from the woods - went untouched by them.


#54

The feast continued for several hours, the drink flowing freely and while the food was dispensed with slightly greater tact. It was winter, afterall.

During the course of the meal, Varian plied Baldrikos with questions, starting with the elves who had caused his nation so much grief.

”Where did they come from? Do they actually look like us? What do they call themselves? Speaking of which, what do YOUR people call themselves?” he asked, before taking a generous bite from a hunk of meat speared on his dagger.


#55

Baldrikos looked down. “The ancient texts tell of them coming from the East, laying waste to several settlements and strongholds before falling upon the royal army in an orgy of bloodletting. After that, well, there was simply no one left to resist them, and they spread out, killing and stealing. At the onset of winter, our people fled south, having no alternative. None of us ever spoke to them, so their name we know not. As for us? Our city was named after the leader of that journey, a religious leader called Chromaros. We call ourselves Chromaroi, the Men of Chromaros.”


#56

”But you are not men, are you? Your teeth and eyes are not those of humans, Baldrikos.” said Varian. He shouted out to the warrior passing. ”Send Melcar to me when he returns.”


#57

“Humans?” Baldrikos laughed. 'Now why should we be humans? Simply because they are numerous? So are rabbits! Maybe we should be rabbits too!" He laughed harder, before growing serious again. ‘There are some among us who say humans were once like us, but forfeited Sagonos’ teachings in favour of their own way." He shrugged. ‘But maybe we simply never were connected. In either case, it is like I said. We are Sagonos’ favoured, endowed with His blessings to thrive in His work."


#58

”If you call yourself ‘The Men of Chromaros’, I assume you are men.” laughed the Chieftain. ”But tell me more about this Chromaros. What land is it? Are the warriors strong, the chieftains just? What is it like, this land of yours?” he continued, curiously.


#59

Baldrikos frowned at that. “I’m not the one to ask. I went to sea just so I could escape it. We Chromaroi are creatures of hypocrisy. We are mighty, certainly, but that might is used to oppress, not protect. We build our cities grand and cultured, but descend into barbaric struggle for simple sake of money. And justice? It is even rarer than honesty.”


#60

”You fight well, none the less, and you certainly helped protect my people. I will never forget that, Balderion. Ask what you will, and I will answer as I can.” Varian used the Elven noun ending for Baldrikos name, which he found difficult to pronounce. He had overheard the Cuio’s name from one of the other shipwrecked sailors. ”As I have not introduced myself to you, so far…” he swept his hand around the room, “This is the Cartani Clan, of the people of the Helcelen. I am Varian Cartanion, and as you might have guessed I am the chieftain of this clan. My son was the one you saw earlier.”