[RP Episode] Quelling the Word of God


#1

Frantic footsteps paced down the halls as a knight passed door after door, looking for the dining hall. Streams of sunlight shone through the tall stained glass windows, and the late morning sunlight caused the his shadow to stretch across the hallway. He had an urgent message, and the raven message couldn’t be depended upon, this had to reach the king’s ears now. As he made his way down the hall, the sounds of merrymaking and the glint of firelight became apparent. He turned a corner and was greeted by the ongoing feast. A multitude of people from the town were present.

image

Drinks were being passed around, mounds of meat, bread, and casserole lay heaping on the table. People were enjoying themselves. No one payed any heed as the soldier marched his way into the room, passing the guards at the door, after having stated his business. His stomach growled as he tried not to be distracted by the delicious smelling food. He made his way straight to the high table. King Hendry sat at the table, having finished his food, and was pouring his daughter a cup of watered down wine. Today was Princess Wynneria’s birthday, and she deserved a little something extra than the cow milk or juice she was usually served. Seeing the soldier approaching however, he stopped what he was doing and furrowed his brow. His wife, Queen Marjorie was too busy talking with the ladies to take notice. The soldier approached the table and spoke softly. “Your Grace, there’s a situation down South that needs your attention.”

“Can it wait, Willham?”

“There are lives at stake, milord”

Hendry rose to leave the banquet, ready to take whatever action was necessary, but a tiny hand pulled on his belt, “Papa, where are you going?”

It was Wynneria. She had just turned 8, and had gold wavy locks and blue eyes. Her mother had dressed her in a white dress with green and red embroidery of roses. She had a crown of roses on her head, with which her father had crowned her “Queen of the Day”.
Hendry held her hand, “Wynn, I have some small business to attend to.”

She frowned, making a pouting face,“But the hunt today, you promised!”

“I didn’t forget.” He reassured her. “The deer only come out when the sun sets, remember?”

She nodded.

Her father smiled and patted her on the shoulder,“I’ll be back long before then, don’t you fret over it.”

Wynneria smiled. Hendry handed her the cup of watered wine, “It’s your special day, I wouldn’t forget a single thing.” He then motioned to his commander Sir Willham Quagmire, “Come with me.”

As Hendry and the knight walked out of the banquet hall, many of the guests rose to attention, out of respect to their king, but he simply waved for them to be seated and enjoy the rest of the meal.

As soon as they were out of earshot Hendry berated the Willham, “This had better not be elf-rubbish again.
You can handle that kind of thing without me.”

Sir Willham gave the king a grave look, his old weary eyes told a story of ages of battle experience and a honorable pride. “No, it is much more grievous than that. It seems our ‘cousins’ are roaming the Southern farmlands again.”

“Chromarosi?”

“The very same.”

“Well what have they done?”

The knight drew a small scroll, a message send by raven or pigeon. “So far,” He said, reading the paper. “It appears that some of the farmers around the Lochshore area have been taken hostage by a group of religious fanatics, three fields have been lit on fire, two barns, and 4 houses. This report is only 2 hours old.” He put the scroll away. “I’ve already have a dispatch of cavalry ready to leave at any moment.”

“Hold it.” Hendry looked perplexed. “If they are Southerners than this situation is more delicate than some elf raid.” He looked at Willham. “I don’t want to start a war with the Chromarosi. We need to capture these trouble-makers, and question them. If they are acting of their volition, I would rather send them back home to be judged by Phylakos Andreas himself than risk ‘martyring’ them here.”

Willham though for a moment, twisting his preposterously long mustache. “That does make sense. Wise decision, Your Majesty.”

“Give your men strict orders NOT to kill. We can’t risk a political scandal.”

“At once, your Grace.” Sir Willham gave a firm salute, and left in a hurry to the barracks.


Sir Willham returned to his barracks. There he was greeted by a glorious sight. Heavy cavalry clad in full armor waited for him, sitting atop of their festriers, who were mawing the earth with their hooves and snorting, ready for some action. Beside them however were a ragtag group of mercenary horsemen, hired recently for the border patrol effort that Willham had been organizing. A squire approached Sir Wilham with his breastplate and helmet, which the knight put on, with the help of the squire. Mounting his horse, he lifted his visor and shouted to the troops. “Direct orders from the king! We are to NOT use lethal force. Corral the bandits into smaller groups and capture them. I repeat, we are not risking a war. No Chromarosi is to be harmed!”

A rugged looking mercenary retorted from atop his horse, “If one of those bastards is about to kill me or any of my comrades, I ain’t gonna just stand there and tell him to surrender. I’ll gut him.”

The commander looked his way, his face wrinkled in annoyance. Mercenaries were a pain, but the Crown needed more troops, and this is how it was done. “Yes…In self-defence I will allow it, but any other way, strike to maim, not to kill.”

Sir Willham looked around at his men. "Have I made myself completely clear?

“YES SIR!” The horsemen all shouted in near perfect unison.

As the commander reined his horse forward, the rest followed, and they exited the city of Fordham on the West side and then galloped South, leaving a huge cloud of dust in their wake.


#2

The Men of Sagonos, exalted and pure in His sight, stalked the woods.

The wind rustled in the leaves, the air wafted overhead, carrying a pregnant smell of earth and decaying leaves. Brother Eikonomachos breathed deeply of it, the smell of home. His feet ached from the long walk, as did his knees - after all, he wasn’t the youngest anymore. He reached up to scratch an itch on his bald head, before gesturing his followers to continue on with his rod. It felt grainy and rough in his hand.

Yet all his discomforts did not matter. After all, there was a price to be paid for doing God’s work. He tests all men, judges their worth and valour, and woe to those He finds wanting.

Eikonomachos’ mission was one of mercy for those very same men, those who find revulsion in God’s eyes.

Those who profaned themselves for comfort’s sake.

Despicable.

He shook his head at the thought of the farmer’s desolation as he, his wife, and their children stood and watched their fields and their home burn. He should have been dancing with joy at having thus been released from the bonds of property and obligation, once more free to live in the way He of the Garden meant for them to.

Eikonomachos knew how strong the lure of wealth and certainty was. After all, he had been subject to them for decades. Opulence, decadent wealth, all had been his. Its legacy still marked his flesh, big folds of it hanging from what once had been a fat belly. At the time, he had not recognized how lost and foolish he was, how he needed God’s correction! If any man then had done for him what he had done for the farmer’s family, he’d have thanked him on his bare knees. Though not at first, of course.

It takes an exceptionally godly man to voluntarily give it all up for the Garden’s sake. A man like Eikonomachos. To keep his eyes on the Garden and its great reward rather than the fleeting comforts of earthly life and wealth. Most needed help with it.

The space between the trees grew, and daylight blinked through the leaves. In the distance, Eikonomachos could see the hamlet - naught but a handful of huts and barns, surrounded by fields and orchards, and he grimaced.

The people of this nation were lost. He would show them all the way.


#3

The company galloped onward, as the city grew smaller and more distant behind them. Sir Willham continued to lead in the front, his cavalry directly behind him, and the mercenaries in the back, their shiny armor and lances glistened in the sunlight. The King’s cavalry men had blue and gold banners on their spears and black badger heads, the symbol of house Landshire, stamped on their shields. After a short time they crested the hill and the flat land before them showed sign of damage. A few plumes of smoke dotted the landscape, but where could the bandits be?

image

Willham turned to the mercenaries’ captain. “Mr. Lod, was it?”

“Aye, that’ll be me.” A hulking man with steel armor trimmed with fur and leather responded.

“I want you and your men to veer left and ride through the Eastern farms. Find any signs of the enemy, and look for survivors.”

“Done.” The merc spoke bluntly and spurred his horse forward.

“Lod!” The man turned his head at the voice of the knight. “That order from the king was very strict.
If you ignore it, there will be hell to pay…”

“Mhm.” The mercenary captain continued forwards, swaying carelessly in his saddle. His men followed him down the hill, and soon were tiny dots on the distant fields.

Sir Willham eyed them with a watchful gaze. Hiring mercenaries was risky business, but so far they hadn’t failed him.

“Everyone else! Follow me!”

The cavalrymen of Fordham fell behind their commander and they galloped West to search the farms and hamlets there.


#4

Upon taking sight of the grim band of spear-wielding, bow-waving, rough-looking men, the farmers panicked.

There’d been no warning, no idea of their presence in the region. Midland was a peaceful nation, barring the occasional elf raid - but those only affected the North. The southern plains had always been one of the safest and most prosperous regions of the nation. All of this left the villagers ill-prepared to face the incoming threat to their livelihoods.

They scattered, people running to and fro, seeking to find their families and children, and what valuables they could manage from their homes.

Eikonomachos sneered in disgust. How far had these people fallen, to imagine their fellow brothers in Sagonos meant them harm? They were entirely oblivious to the fact that his mission was one of deliverance. With a wry glance at the spears in his brothers’ and sisters’ hands, though, Eikonomachos reflected that perhaps he couldn’t blame them after all.

He directed his brothers and sisters to watch over the surrounding area, and herd the people together in the dirt patch that served as a gathering ground between their hovels. No more than two or three families lived here, and from inside the barns, the sound of bleating sheep could be heard.

Eikonomachos snarled. He hated sheep. They were too much like unbelievers in their blind obedience and unthinking lives. By strength of will he quelled the urge to throw a torch in there with them this instant.


#5

The peasants huddled close together, being prodded and jeered at by the invaders surrounding them. A baby cried as her mother desperately tried to calm her. None of the men had weapons, and had not found time to grab even farming implements, since the cultists had caught them by surprise. Men and women pleaded for mercy, wailing as the bandits kicked and butchered their animals, waving toches that threatened to burn their homes.



Meanwhile, Sir Willham and his cavalry had scoured the Western side of the plains, and finally they discovered a ragged group of ruffians with spears and torches in front of a mill. “Up and at them men!
For the King! For Midland!”
The knight screamed to his horsemen, his mustache wildly bouncing up and down as he spoke. “Don’t forget your training!” The cavalrymen worked together quickly, and within minutes they had herded the invaders into a tight circle of spears. There were only ten or eleven of the scoundrels, but they were utterly defeated by the shining Landshire knights. Not a single drop of blood was spilled.

“Drop your weapons!” Willham bellowed in his terrifying voice. “DROP THEM THIS INSTANT!”

Many of the Chromarosi men and women had already dropped their weapons in the grass, but the remaining few did as well, realizing their defeat.

Wilham was red in the face from shouting. “Lock them up in the mill! And guard the doors and windows!”

His men followed their orders to the letter, but as they opened the mill door, they discovered the miller locked up with his family. “Ah Sagonos bless you Sir!” The miller exclaimed as they were freed. A few of the cultists jeered and spat hearing the miller call upon their god.

Sir Wilham learned from the miller that the rest of the ruffians had burned fields in their area and headed East to meet up with another band. The prisoners he interrogated confirmed that. So, after making sure the surrounding area was safe, and the prisoners secure in the mill, Sir Willham left a few guards at the mill and proceeded eastward to take down the main force.


On the eastern side of the plains, things were not as exciting. Lod and his men had rode for some time, finding no trace of cultists in any of the farms they visited. They were only greeted with suspicious eyes, and locked doors. As the mercenaries made a wide turn and began heading further south, they encountered a small farmhouse. The farmer living there was out slopping pigs with his children, but as soon as he saw the horsemen approaching he shooed his children towards the house. His older son stayed with him. Grabbing a pitchfork, the farmer accosted the mercs. “Get off of my land! I might be old, but I know trouble makers when I see 'em!”

“Peace, old man.” Lod answered the man. “We’re on duty from the king.”

The farmer gripped the pitchfork tightly, keeping it aimed at the mercenary captain. “Saganos’s bloody hind you are! I said GET OUT.”

Lod chuckled, feigning total innocence. “Relax, we’re just hunting bandits. Have ye seen any?”

The farmer’s son whispered something to his dad. Then farmer spoke again, “Aye, we’ve been hearing rumors. The west wind’s been smelling of smoke for the past few hours.”

“That’ll do.” Lod reined his horse and turned to leave. Quickly unsheathing his sword he swiped swiftly, slicing the top of the pitchfork clean off, much to the shock of the old farmer, who fell down cowering in fear. “AUGH! Leave me alone!”

Lod spat on the ground in the old man’s general direction. “It’s sad I won’t be getting any blood at all on my blade tonight.” He then spurred his horse forward, and he and his men changed their course to the slightly more populated area to the west.


#6

Eikonomachos stood in front of the terrified huddle of villagers, eyeing them with disdain. “Weak.” He spat in a voice of ice over steel. “Spoiled, decadent, weak beings. That is what you’ve been tempted into becoming. No more.” He lifted a hand, and at his signal, his men began thrusting their torches into huts and barns. At the sight, a cacophony of laments rose from the group, but Eikonomachos thundered over them. “Sagonos is merciful. He offers a second chance.” A stern gaze swept the weeping group. “Do not disappoint.”

And with that, insulting the villagers by not even offering them a final blessing, he turned around, beckoned his men, and left.


#7

Sir Wilham and his cavalry galloped onward, searching for any signs of mischief as they made their way east.

“Commander!” a younger knight called out and pointed. His voice sounded metallic beneath his helmet. “Look at our right!”

The commander brought his horse to a slow trot, and stood up in his saddle, craning his neck. “Argh those fiends! Another farm is up in flames. We must hurry!”

He clicked his spurs, and bolted forwards, eager to catch the criminals responsible.


Far off in the distance, but closer to the fire, Lod’s mercenaries had also caught sight of the inferno. “Alright then.” Lod muttered, unfazed as usual. He maintained his current speed, and ordered his men.

“Splinter, Broms, go on and git us a headcount. I want their location and what kind o’ weapons they have.”

The two mercenaries mentioned both had large crossbows strapped to their backs and a mixture of leather and steel armor. They both nodded and split off from the group, galloping off to the sparse woods surrounding the farm.

“As for the rest of yu.” Lod faced his men. “Archers, aim for the legs, and the rest of yu approach with caution. I don’t think anyone here wants to risk their share of the pay, so no funny business. We’ll be herding 'em. Like sheep. NO killing. The good ser knight is already paying less as is, because Porcus couldn’t help but disobey direct orders to desist after that one raid.”

One of the crossbowmen loaded his weapon as he sat in the saddle. “Aye Captain, but elves are only animals really.”

“Animals they might be, aye, but now Porcus has no head, because the Crown thinks otherwise.”

The men were silent for a moment remembering their fallen comrade.

One of the mercs spoke. “Porcus really was a ploughing idiot wasn’t he?”

“Yep.”
“Agreed.”
“Mhm…”

With that, Lod rolled his eyes. They were in the woods now, and had brought their horses to a slow pace. Surprise was a key element to their attack, and now they only had to wait for their scouts to return.