Posted by: cmittermeier | July 29, 2015

18th year of Ornith’s Reign, 1723 IYL

Boren paced eagerly around the room.  The anticipation of the next move in the chess match was delicious!  Eight years!  Eight years ago he set this in motion, and as his mind reviewed the next sequence of events it was made all the more satisfying knowing that not only the dolt Ornith, but the Pastoral would be totally unprepared and soon be scrambling like little ants whose hill had just been tilled under.

He had his uses for the Pastoral, he would have so much more if they would just fall in line.  He had modeled his own spy networks after theirs once he accepted that his repeated attempts to infiltrate or turn them would always fall flat.  That was something he never understood, even if he had been able to sway the head of one, two more would fall solidly in place blocking his attempts to corrupt them to his ends.  How many times had they warned him that he was going against the Triune?  How many times had they tried to review what happened to those in opposition?  He twitched, breaking his pace momentarily, anger replacing his eagerness.  Why must they always ruin everything even when they are not present?  Think! Think! Soon the heir, the key piece to Ornith’s final moves would be out of play.  Savour the anticipation of his downfall, let it ravish you… Yes!  The game’s the thing.

***

Very few of the Pastoral had been ordained to a single strand, most had some of each charism; priest, prophet, king, but there were a few that (just as in old) stood out as prophets.  Jassom was one, and from the moment he had held the heir the whisper, “protect him” had never left his moments of prayer.  Initially, the Pastoral added extra teachers, but by the child’s third year it was decided that the call was more personal in nature and Jassom had been assigned to him directly.  In the years that followed, Jassom’s prophecies began to unfold a larger picture and it had changed him and his teaching of the heir.

Jassom had fully understood that each generation faced trials, just as each individual must continually choose to follow God’s path, society as a whole must continue to choose His way. Not every trial will be difficult, but the success of each trial determines the frequency and difficulty of the next.  Though there is always choice, the push against or towards God varies, based on factors few fully understood. Beyond that, just as individuals must grow, mature, society too has such periods.  This generation was coming to both a period of many trials and growth.

Unlike previous geneartions, this one was more motled and outside of the West, few quadrants were uniform in their devotion.  The Western Quadrant had continued to stray further, enamoured by promises of riches and an easy life that defied even the most basic logic, but, once society begins to turn, it sweeps away the thoughts of even the most educated.  If the others had remained strong in faith, their collective prayers would have been more than enough to aid their brothers.  Yes, many trials were to come.

The choice of both Boren and Ornith to use the Tannen’s as the reason to increase the military  prior to the eventual take over of all quadrants had caused many to look outside their borders. The Tannen’s were not a monarchy, but held fast to the Roman model of democracy.  The constant ebb and flow of various rulers had the effect of sporadic growth, but when it grew it was by leaps and bounds.  On the whole both kingdoms were similar in advancement, but because of Boren and Ornith’s focus on the military, Tannen’s health system was more advanced.  

All societies knew that God worked through all governments, that none was superior.  They knew that the sucess was determined by the will of their government to work with God and be servants fo the people.  Illandria had always had strong rulers who were grounded both in faith and the needs of the people they were to serve.  Only in the last two generations had a noticable gap begun to form between the Monarchs and the people, though not all Dukes had strayed.  Historically, the type of government changed only when the present one became significantly corrupt, but, even without significant corruption, the health gap between the Tannen’s and Illandria was causing some to look towards a more democratic approach.  Factoring in the recent military expansion, and how an open democracy may have prevented such a waste of money, many were beginning to murmur for change.

Growth needed to be answered, and Jassom had no clue how it was to be accomplished.  For nearly 800 years Illandria had continued to grow from a single city with four quadrants surrounding a central core to the Nation it now was.  That first city was now ruled by the Monarchs with no surrounding land to claim its own.  The concept of the quadrants had been moved outwards, eventually become dukedoms, run primarily by their own Duke who followed a similar marriage to the people. The Monarchs ensured equal distribution between the quadrants, as well as dealing with any trade issues that might arise.   Now, as the population had grown so vast, Jassom knew the people’s prince or princess and raising the heir in a single quadrant was no longer sufficient to be the voice of everyman.  The Quadrants were simply too diverse.  The people needed a better voice.

As Jassom prepared for the marking, these thoughts swimmed in his mind.  In ten short years they would likely be the biggest isses that the heir needed to answer.  

He looked over at the boy, working the field with his father and that’s when he saw it.  Dust rising in the air, too much dust.  From all the years on the farm Jassom had learned a thing or two about how much dust a horse stirred up, this would have been a squad.  How could they have found him?

Irrelevant!  Now is not the time.  In a moment his stupor was broken and he sprang into action.  Within moments, the family was moving, but it wasn’t fast enough.

God had chosen the family well, the troops arrived as they were just saddling up.  Hestay already had his sword drawn and as he sent the horses with the boy and his mother on, he turned to battle the 12 that arrived.  Jassom had never been prepared for  battle and the violence astounded him.  

Hestay’s acrobatics kept him one step away from death as he seemed to run atop the horses, slicing at the men who had little time to form.  Jassom realized this was the best chance for their survival, once they reached the open area of the yard and were able to muster their horses, Hestay would be easily put down.  Yet, one by one, they were being either removed through their horse with wounds Jassom presumed were fatal, or much to his horror due to the gore, the horses throats were being cut, brining the men down to the ground.  It was obvious the men had not expected such  a fight, not a single steed nor warrior was in armour.

Soon the fight was totally on the ground, Jassom counted four men who entered combat.  Until now, Jassom had never realized the strategic placement of the buildings and farm equipment.  Hestay lept from one to another, able to stay out of reach by being able to make better use of the vertical surfaces.  Though Jassom had often seen Hestay entertain the young boy by flipping himself over as he ran toward a wall, he had never predicted the practical value in a fight.  Soon it was down to the leader of the group and Hestay.  What followed next was not expected.

“Hestay,” the leader knew his opponents name, “I trained you well.”

“I trained myself better,” Hestay and the man circled in the open area.  Jassom could tell Hestay was bringing the man away from the buildings.

“What is the boy to you?  I never took you for a monarch lover.”

“And I never took you for a blood thirsty lunatic willing to slit innocent throats to satisfy another man’s greed.”

“Harsh words,” the leader was now facing directly into the sun, as forced by Hestay, “considering you were the one to spill so much today.  These men had families, children, will you be the one to deliver the news?”

“So the guilty have families,” Hestay was drawing the man closer to the well, “they will face their judge just as you and I.”

Jassom realized with the sun in his eyes the leader would  soon fall, everyone did.  Only through repeatedly finding it the hard way was he able to know where it was in diddicult light.  Now Hestay understood why they had planted the trough, the false words of “to provide a path for water to drain to the well” almost made him giggle.  The grass was longer in the trough so it reached to the level oh that beside it.  In normal light the two colours of the grasses gave it away, but with the sun (or dark of night) the leader would soon trip into it.

Jassom closed his eyes, knowing what would soon occur, another death.  He began reciting the prayers – but it never came.  A loud thump was all he heard, not the slicing he expected.  As he opened them, he found Hestay staring at him with that look the man often had.

“I’m not going to kill a man in cold blood,” Hestay rolled his eyes at the priest, “defense is one thing, besides, he will be of far more use to use alive.”

“Morgana,” Jassom looked over at the trail where the horses had been sent, “Where would they have gone?”

“Into the keep we have hidden in the feilds,” Hestay raised a blue flag up their line, obviously to signal her, “Till we know how many in total came it would be folly for them to go too far.  Run, get me the hemp so I can bind him before I wake him.”

“What does teh blue cloth mean?”

“Stay in the keep,” Hestay looked at the priest and taking the rope from him handed out orders with an ease that unnerved the prophet, “which is where you need to go.  Take the brand but don’t do it yet.  With the brand they can mark any child.  We need him ready to ride, feast day or no.  Once I’m done with this one we go, be ready.”

“Who are you?”

“Former first leutentient to the crown,” Hestay made a half bow, common to all soldiers in respect, “before the west defiled out ranks.  This one trained me in the bow, it was a stupid guise to infect us with their filth.  Now go.”

The rest of the afternoon and near into the night Jassom stayed in the keep with Morganna and the heir.  For a child fo eight years old he was remarkably composed, Morganna explained after he fell asleep that by the time Jassom had arrived the boy had finished his tears and shakes.  When he saw the padrio coming he had wanted to look like a man and had asked his mother not to tell.  When Hestay arrived, they were all a bit fearful.

“I’ve left Joach knocked out,” Hestay didn’t look pleased, “but he may not last the night.  Sorry Padrio.  There are squads along every road, we will have to take to the hills if we are to escape.  Boren wanted to kill the heir because then his son would be the only noble of age to wed the people’s princess.  He had assumed we would have branded him at first light, Thanks God for that fairy tale!  They were to take the brand and leave the scene so it would look as if we did not know what you were doing… Turns out the tale they had been told was that the Padrio does not tell the parents, but, after sharing a meal drugs us all the night before so we fall into such a deep sleep we do not hear the screams of the child as they are branded. They expected us all asleep.”

“Let me guess the rest, ” Jassom nodded, “but you woke to find me and in trying to stop me a fight ensures which leads to the death of the child?”

“Excatly.” Hestay stroked the child’s hair as he slept, “We will have to work harder on this lad’s training.  But that is for another day.  Now we must begin our trek through the hills.”

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