Feast or Famine (Peregrine x Laggy)

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Peregrine, Mar 8, 2015.

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  1. After twenty two years as Rudolph Strongarm's apprentice, from a time when he was useful for nothing but fetching the lightest of the hammers, to today, where he was as much partner as apprentice, Jacob knew the rhythm of the forge as well as he knew his own mind. By the time the sun crested the horizon they would both be in the forge, bleary eyed and chewing on the gruel and dried meat they had prepared last night. Rudolph would tend to the flames, heating them back up to forging temperature after a night of sitting idle, while Jacob gathered everything they would need for the day, both in terms of materials and tools. They would spend the morning working on the quick forges, the nails and horseshoes and iron bars that would be gathered throughout the day by the people who had ordered the materials. Shortly after the bell tower tolled noon Rudolph's wife would find them, bringing fresh bread, cheese, cold tea, and whatever stew Elizabeth had made that morning. They would feast for a half hour, laughing and chatting with each other, before returning to the forge. In the afternoon they would work on the custom orders, usually a plow blade or some other farmer's tool. Occasionally, though, they would get a request for a sword, or some decorative piece from a noble, and Rudolph would walk Jacob through the process, quizzing him on the specialty tools and processes he rarely had reason to use. On the odd day when they managed to complete all the orders they had been given, an uncommon but not unheard of occurrence, they would spend the remainder of the evening working on one of Rudolph's special pieces. They would leave the forge as soon as the sun set, returning to Rudolph's house, and eating dinner with Elizabeth. Occasionally they would return to the forge even after that, although Rudolph always told Jacob that the day was over, and he was no my obliged to help. Jacob never minded. After all, Rudolph had been father and mentor to him for the nineteen years since his mother had left him at the blacksmith's door, begging him to care for the five year old boy. Jacob knew the stories of what could happen to orphans, and he was more grateful to Elizabeth and Rudolph for taking him in and raising him as their own than he could ever express. If nothing else, they were certainly grateful for his help, for he manned the forge alone on Thursdays, giving Rudolph a well earned day of rest. Jacob's own days off were Saturday and Tuesday, when he was allowed to get a little bit of time to himself and get a chance to visit Tamara, the shopkeeper's daughter next door who had been a close friend since her family had moved in nine years ago.

    That was life at the forge, and it never varied. The work was not glamorous, but it was honest, and Jacob was good at his craft. He fully intended to spend the rest of his life at the forge, taking over for Rudolph when the man finally felt he was old enough to retire. He would marry Tamara, if she would have him, they would raise their children in Elizabeth's house, and one of them would one day take over the forge from him. That was the way it was supposed to be. As much as he might have dreamed of adventure when he was young, dreamed that his birth parents would come and find him and sweep him away to some exotic and lavish lifestyle, Jacob was happy with his life. He had never dreamed that, years after he gave up on that childhood flight of fancy, it would come true.

    It was supposed to have been any other Wednesday. They had received a massive order for nails after the latest storm, and it was looking like they were going to spend the whole day trying to fill the order. After a certain point Jacob got so into the rhythm that he didn't even notice the richly dressed man at the door. To his embarrassment, once he realized what had happened, Rudolph was forced to lay down his own hammer, and go greet the man.

    When the sound of their voices finally penetrated through his daze Jacob blushed, wiping his hands clean and making to hurry over. However, before he could move, Rudolph waved him back to the nails. Certain that he was going to get an earful at lunch, Jacob picked up the hammer again and settled back into his rhythm.

    Over the sound of the hammer, Jacob could barely make out the discussion, which got more intense and more hushed with every word exchanged.

    "Let me..."
    "... out of time..."
    "... can't just..."
    "... years to prepare... day was coming."
    "... didn't believe..."
    "Not my problem..."
    "He's my son!"

    Rudolph's cry was so desperate that it forced Jacob to halt mid swing. There was a strange, tight feeling in his gut, which was not assuaged at all by the cold words that followed.

    "He is not your son. Now, move aside and let me speak with him."

    "No." In all his years, Jacob had never seen Rudolph like this. He was a giant man, built for the forge, with hair and muscles that would rival any brown bear, but Jacob had never believed he could be menacing. The hammer in his hands, never meant to be anything but a tool, was suddenly and certainly capable of murder. Despite himself, the stranger took a step back.

    "Fine. You have until sunset. But you cannot change the inevitable." With that, the stranger turned away, quickly moving out of sight.

    Rudolph seemed to deflate. "Come on, lad," he said, pulling Jacob away from the half finished pile of nails. "We've got a lot to talk about, and not much time for it."

    Jacob remained silent as Rudolph led him back to the house. He could feel his chest tightening, and he felt like he was going to puke. What could be so important?

    Elizabeth looked up in surprise, her brow instantly wrinkling with worry when she saw the look on her husband's face. "Rudolph? What's going on?"

    "They came, Elizabeth. They actually came."

    "Oh." She looked like she was about to faint.

    "Please," Jacob said softly, his voice hoarse. "Please, you're scaring me. What's going on?"

    "There's a few things we didn't tell you, lad. About your mum." Rudolph walked over to the kitchen counter, pulling open a drawer and drawing out something shiny and familiar looking. Jacob was certain he should be panicking at this point, but he felt oddly calm. Almost as though some part of him had always known this was going to happen.

    He took a deep breath. "Tell me."

    "You know she left you here, that she couldn't take care of you. But what we didn't tell you was that she was also trying to protect you. She was on the run, hiding from people who wanted to hurt both you and her. People who wanted to kill you. She knew you'd be safe here, and that we would take care of you. She gave us this, to help pay for caring for you. I was always going to melt it down, sell the gold and the gems, but times never got bad enough for it to be necessary. And now... it belongs to you, I guess." With a slight tremor in his hand, Rudolph handed over the heavy gold, gem encrusted pendant.

    Jacob cradled it in both hands, his eyes wide. "What is it?"

    "It's a crest, lad. The royal crest of the kingdom of Helestia."

    Helestia. He knew that name. Everyone knew that name. It was a kingdom on the far side of the continent that had been plunged into a massive civil war twenty five years ago. The royal family had been executed, and a noble family had tried to take over. But, without the ordinance of a god, the land had fallen prey to monsters and demons. It was supposed to be nothing but a vacant plot of land, without an ordained heir to rule over it. Or, at least, that was what everyone had been told.

    "You mean... You're telling me..."

    "You are the heir to the throne of Helestia."

    "But... What? Why?"

    "Your mum told us, after things had settled, someone would come for you. But the years passed and no one came, and the kingdom remained in turmoil. We... never thought the day would come. Perhaps we hoped it wouldn't." Jacob sat in stunned silence.

    "Please, say something." Elizabeth spoke for the first time, tears rolling down her cheeks. "Rudolph and I, we love you. You are our son, blood or no blood."

    It was a further minute before Jacob could speak. It felt like his voice was locked in his throat. But, finally, he managed to speak. "It's okay. I get why you didn't tell me. I think. But... what happens now? Who was that man who came by the forge?"

    "Presumably he is the man who is going to escort you... home." Rudolph looked as though he was walking on broken glass, waiting for something to snap.

    "Home? What do you mean, home? This is home. I'm going to take over the forge, and marry Tammy, and..."

    "Jacob," Elizabeth's voice was soft. She hadn't spoken to him this way since he was just a boy. "You are a prince. The one and only surviving heir to the throne. You can't..." her words caught in her throat. "You can't stay here."

    "I'm not a prince. I'm a blacksmith. I don't know anything about being a prince."

    "Being a prince has nothing to do with knowing how to act like one."

    The three people gathered around the table whirled around at this unexpected fourth voice. Standing at the door was the stranger, backlit by the midday sun.

    "You said I had until sunset."

    "I thought you could use some help," he replied amicably. With a fluid motion he drew the sword belted to his waist, kneeling before Jacob and offering it to him. "Sir Michael Springborn at your service, your highness."

    "What are you doing that for?" Jacob mumbled. "Get up. Get up, I said!" The knight remained stubbornly in place. "Get up!"

    "He's not going to move until you take the sword, lad. Take it, and accept your duties as a prince of Helestia."

    "No," Jacob said, stumbling backwards and tripping over a stool. Only Rudolph's large arm kept him from falling against the table.

    The man drew him up, pulling him into a tight hug to hide the tears running down his face. "I know. I know. Elizabeth and I have had twenty years to adjust to the idea, and you only have a couple minutes. It isn't fair. But life rarely is. For the past years your duty has been to help me at the forge and be good to the people of this town. But now you need to save that broken kingdom, and the people who still want to call it home. And I know you can do it. You can do anything, if you want to." Rudolph let him go, wiping his face with a broad forearm.

    Jacob stood frozen, but then, almost against his will, his hands reached out and took the sword. "Do I still get until sunset?"

    "Don't make this any harder on yourself than it has to be," the knight replied gently, taking back his sword from limp fingers.

    "I need to pack."

    "The essentials are already prepared, and we don't want to be traveling with any more than we have to."


    "It is time to go, my liege."

    Desperate, he whirled around. "Will I ever see you again?"

    "Yes," Rudolph promised. "One way or another, we will see each other again." Once more he moved forward, followed closely by Elizabeth, and the two wrapped their son in a tight embrace.

    "Take a hammer from the forge," Rudolph whispered to him quietly. "Any one. As something to remember us by."

    And then they were gone, backing away, and Sir Michael was there, draping the heavy amulet around his neck and tucking it into his shirt. Numb and barely processing, the knight led Jacob to the door before he had another chance to protest.

    Then he was gone.
  2. The god of feasts was a god often prayed to, but not one other deities seemed to care much for. Not that it bothered him - him and his followers usually had a grand enough time on their own, scoffing and quaffing the night away. As such, though he would often hear prayers or receive offerings, it was rare for him to receive an actual message. From a fellow god, nonetheless. He handled the parchment as delicately as he could, and read it over. Not that there was much to read, of course. But the contents of the message were interesting, to say the least.
    "The crown prince of Helestia has awoken, hm? How very... interesting."

    He faintly recalled the country - one that had been engulfed in chaos for years. To a god, twenty-five years was an incredibly insignificant amount of time, but he had heard whoever was the deity representing war ranting about it incessantly for about twelve. Though he paid such little attention to them as to be able to not even know their gender, he had heard what the situation was, and was not surprised to learn that few prayers for him were coming from the country. He supposed that it was inevitable, though. In times of hardship, revelry was hardly the most important thing on anyone's mind. But he was the god of feasts - of mountains of food, and torrents of wine. He figured that such a nation could use a deity like him - but he needed someone to spread his word. Interacting with lowly mortals before their worth had been proven was not his style.

    From on high, he observed Jacob. The boy did not appear to be anything special, but if the knights and the crests were anything to go by, his appearance would be the last thing he would have to take into account. And, though he watched, he refused to act. Though he seemed vulnerable, he was with other people. People that could lessen his influence. He had to wait until he was alone and at his weakest. Then, and only then, could he show him what awaited the path of the feasting man.
  3. Michael led Jacob away from his home patiently, working his way through the narrow, winding streets that had been the young blacksmith’s home for nearly as long as he could remember. He knew he was still in shock, trying to process exactly what had just happened to his life, and that at some point this evening it would all catch up to him, but for right now Jacob was content to remain numb. For one thing, it kept him calm. The last thing he wanted to do was break into hysterics like some toddler. No, Rudolph was right. This was his duty, and he was bound to it. That didn’t make it any easier.

    Sir Michael had been true to his word, for just outside the gates to the city were four horses, two saddled and the other two laden down with packs for their journey. Michael tipped the stable boy who had been watching after the horses with a piece of gold, before helping Jacob to mount up. The poor horse didn’t complain as Jacob pulled on its mane and the horn of the saddle, and kept all four feet solidly planted on the ground as the novice rider finally worked his way up. Jacob wiggled a little bit, trying to get comfortable in the odd seat, as the knight mounted his own horse and started the whole train moving. Jacob clutched tightly to the saddle, simply hoping to avoid falling off as his horse moved forward without prompting.

    Unwilling to risk trying to find a way to move his horse forward next to the knight and risk falling off in the process, Jacob simply clung to the saddle horn in silence and watched as his small city dwindled farther and farther into the distance. It was only at this moment that he realized that he had forgotten to say goodbye to Tamara. Now, he was likely to never see her again. In that moment it all flooded over him and he slumped forwards in his saddle, all the strength in his body draining away. When he was a kid he had always thought an adventure like this would be exciting. And maybe, if he had his whole life to prepare for it, he would be excited. He was, in a manner of speaking, going home. He was going to become a prince, and rule over an entire country. But rather than feeling excited, Jacob just felt terrified. This change was too sudden, and far too permanent. But he didn’t complain, and he didn’t beg to go back. If he didn’t take the throne than the country would be left to demons, and would dissolve into utter chaos. Someday, some hero or lord would fight and conquer the demons in the name of another god and the land would become a country once more, but in the meantime all the people who still lived there, who still considered the place home and prayed for their King to come back, would be left to suffer.

    No, truly it did not matter what Jacob wanted. All that mattered was that he had a duty, and he could not ignore it. Maybe that would be enough to keep him sane whenever thoughts of home and of the forge entered into his mind.

    Jacob had no way of knowing it, but his heartfelt thoughts were a prayer, and they reached all they way to Griorn, the god of chains. It was the kind of prayer that Griorn had grown used to by now, more of a silent determination and acceptance of duty than a true prayer. Very few considered the god of chains, despite his place in the life of countless individuals. He was a god of duty and obligation and self-sacrifice, and the few who consciously worshiped him were hardly a priesthood worthy of envy.

    Griorn felt a surprising amount of respect for the young man. He knew of few humans outside of his own order who would so willingly accept a duty thrust upon them so suddenly. Especially one of such enormity and consequence. The image of young Jacob seated on his horse, head and shoulders bent with the weight of his task, clung to the gods mental eye.

    How long had it been since a noble had chosen to follow him, let alone a king? The idea was tantalizing and sweet, well worth considering. As a god there was little that Griorn could offer to Jacob as an individual, but there was much he could do for the damaged country. He would have to do his best to keep an eye on the young man, and make sure he did not stray from the potential that awaited him.

    Sir Michael brought the horses to a halt nearly four hours after they had left the gates of the city, when the hill that had blocked the gates from view was but a distant memory behind them. Jacob’s legs felt rubbed raw and sore. He never would have guessed that sitting still could be so much work. The knight dismounted and Jacob attempted to imitate him, but as soon as his legs touched the ground he nearly collapsed, the burning almost too much for him to take. He straightened himself upright carefully, only to catch a frustrated look from Sir Michael.

    “Let your legs rest,” the knight said shortly. “We’ve got a lot of distance to cover and not much time to do it.” He tossed a half-full waterskin towards the weary young man. “Drink all of that. I’m going to go see if I can find fresh water to refill it afterwards. Wait here while I do, and please, try to stay out of trouble.”

    With that the knight was gone, leaving Jacob standing next to the horse, completely flustered. He couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to all the bowing and “my lord”ing from a couple hours ago. Then again, he couldn’t exactly blame the knight. Jacob was supposed to be a prince, but all he knew was the forge. He didn’t even know how to ride a horse. Somehow that knight was supposed to turn him into a king, presumably in the time they were riding to the kingdom. Jacob almost felt sorry for him.

    He sat down carefully, stretching out his legs and allowing his eyes to drift closed. He tried not to think of anything, especially not of home. In many ways, it was far more painful than his legs.
  4. The god looked down at the human, making no effort to disguise his amusement at the young man's efforts to fit in with the knight. He knew he would have to stop soon - after all, he had to make a good impression on the mortal. Given his appearance and what people usually prayed to him for, he needed every advantage he could take, and mocking Jacob - even behind his back - was a bad idea. Nevertheless, he allowed himself a few more light chuckles at his expense, before deciding to have Jacon witness him.

    Banqis was a god - he would not reveal even a part of his body, let alone his face, to anyone who did not have the right. As such, like many other deities, he used his power to have a symbol of his power appear before humans he wished to speak to. In Jacob's case, this would be a plump man - or, more accurately, the glowing silhouette of a plump man. Though featureless, the mannequin-esque body was expressive in how it moved - which was made all the more dramatic by it being translucent, and glowing blue.

    "Good evening, Jacob."
    Banqis' voice was by no means loud - in fact, it seemed rather subdued, considering that his was the voice of an immensely powerful being. Even so, there was something compelling about it. Something that made people listen, no matter their opinion of him. By his voice alone, Banqis seemed almost slimy - and yet, if his charm worked like it did on most other humans, Jacob would find himself wanting to converse with this person. like he was the life of the party, and that attention should be paid to him.
    "It seems like you've found out your true destiny. I feel for you, I really do. I've seen many like you walk the same path... It's never easy."

    Banqis caught himself before he went any further.
    "Oh, but where are my manners? Banqis, the god of feasts."
    The plump 'man' extended its hand towards Jacob, bowing slightly as it did so.
  5. It was a lucky thing that Jacob was still in shock. Were he not, there was no telling what his reaction to the sudden appearance of a god in front of him wouldn’t be. What it certainly wouldn’t have been was him extending his own hand and greeting the god, offering his own name in the process. Despite being nothing but a glowing, partially see through, blue silhouette, the avatar’s hand was warm and solid.

    “Greetings, O Great God Banqis. My name is Jacob. I would add a last name, but I am afraid to say that I no longer know it. What brings you down to this part of the world?”

    Perhaps he had finally cracked underneath the strain. It had all simply become too much, and he had gone mad. That certainly seemed the most plausible explanation for a god appearing before him. Jacob had never heard of Banqis, and a God of Feasts certainly seemed like something that his imagination would conjure.

    Then again, he had just been revealed as the king of a forsaken country. Perhaps all the rules of everything changed at the same time. Did kings speak with gods in a familiar manner, as though meeting an old friend? He certainly never would have dreamed of it as a blacksmith. He hadn’t even allowed in the Great Temple.

    Suddenly panicked that this was, indeed, a real god, and not just some figment of his imagination, and that he had been too forward in his greeting, despite the relaxed nature in which the god had greeted him, Jacob dropped to one knee, bowing his head. His leg squished wetly in the soggy ground, but he didn’t even notice. He was still wearing his smithing clothes, having been given no time to change or pack, and they had faced a far worse dirtying than a little bit of mud.
  6. 'Banquis' waved his hand dismissively, as if annoyed that Jacob was showing him respect in such a manner. Given how casually he had been speaking to the newly-revealed heir, it was hardly surprising that he acted in such a manner.
    "Please, don't get all worship-y on me. Allow me to make this one thing clear, Jacob. I enjoy having people shower me with praise as much as the next god, but I'm not some stuffy old fart. I'm practically a god of parties, so feel free to speak to me like a friend."
    The figure then leaned in close, expression hardening. "Just don't forget who's in charge. I may not be a god of war, but I still have ways of dealing with pests."

    Returning to his normal stance, the figure leaned back, and clasped his hands together.
    "But enough with the formalities. You're asking me what I'm doing around here? Why, the answer's simple, of course. You see, a little bird told me that you were going to be ruling a country soon. Thing is, you're not going to get very far without some... divine intervention."
    'Banquis' began pacing back and forth, though he went slowly. Quite why he did this was unclear, even to himself, but he felt that it would at least add impact to what he was saying, if nothing else.

    "Picture it - a country torn apart by war, its citizens desperate for food, drink, and something in their lives to take their minds off of the tragedy all around them. That's where you and I come in. With me backing you, you can give the people mountains of food, wine that flows like a river, and parties that only end when you say so."
    It turned back to face Jacob. Its expression was difficult to read, being a spirit-like being and all, but there was an unmistakeable air of confidence surrounding him as he spoke. "The people will love you, Jacob."
  7. Jacob climbed slowly back to his feet, his eyes still lowered. The longer this conversation went on, the more convinced Jacob was becoming that this was all actually happening. He had been faced with vivid waking dreams before, most people with imagination were, but this was going on too long, and no illusion was suddenly shattering, leaving him to face the real world. He was here, standing in damp earth far away from a city he had called home, on his way to become king of a country he knew almost nothing about, and a god was present before him, speaking to him as a friend, trying to...

    Some of the tension seemed to fade from Jacob. He had no experience with gods, he knew nothing of religious practices or divine communication, but he knew what it meant when someone wanted something, and they tried to make it sound like it was something that the other person should want instead. How many times had a noble come to Rudolph’s forge, looking for some intricate piece to be done ahead of schedule for a party, reception, or banquet, and how many times had he heard their carefully articulated words, delicately cajoling and twisting the minds of the “lesser” people into doing exactly what they wanted, just because they wanted it.

    He never would have dreamed it would come from a god, but perhaps it made sense. The nobles were elevated by perception, and still such a sense of superiority grew within them. A god truly was superior. They had powers that mortal man could only ever dream of. Why wouldn’t they consider themselves elite?

    “I...” Jacob said softly, trying to understand his own words. The offer was tempting. Of course it was. The image that the god’s words painted in his mind, of a life of luxury the likes of which he had never even thought to dream, was beyond intoxicating. Jacob was on the verge of agreeing when the sound of rapidly approaching footsteps reached his ears. Sir Michael was coming back.
  8. Banquis was silent as Jacob wondered about what to do. There was precious little else for him to do, after all. He had said his piece, and made his offer - it was now all down to what Jacob thought of him. As charismatic as he (thought) he was, Banquis knew that there was a limit to his (supposed) charm. Jacob did, after all, have a lot on his mind. As advantageous as having someone unable to think straight with all the pressure on them was, it was by no means a surefire way to recruit him.

    Banquis' eyebrows raised - it was the moment of truth. Though it would be possible for Jacob to back out of their agreement once he accepted, he assumed that it would be highly unlikely for him to. Very few people dared to mock the gods, and those that did usually found themselves in some incredibly brutal 'accidents.' Not that he would - he had things to worry about that weren't petty revenge. But he didn't think that Jacob would know that, or risk finding out.

    Sir Michael's impending arrival was incredibly fortunate - for any competition Banquis faced, that is. Wordlessly, Banquis' comprehensible manifestation vanished, without leaving so much as a strange taste in the air to indicate that he had been present. He couldn't afford to have another person be involved in their talks - they could actually talk some sense into Jacob.
  9. Sir Michael seemed to sense something in the air, not from Banqis’ presence, but from Jacob’s attitude. The young man stood stiff and confused, his eyes wide.

    “What’s wrong?” the knight asked, his hand falling to rest on the sword hilt by his waist.

    Jacob only shook his head. “Nothing. I’m not used to the woods. I heard you approaching, but I didn’t know if it was you or not. I don’t have any way to defend myself out here.”

    Jacob’s voice sounded flat to his own ears. Considering how little time he had to think the lie seemed well concocted. He wasn’t certain if Sir Michael believed him, but the man seemed willing to let the matter drop. Jacob was grateful. He did not know if he was allowed to speak to the knight about the appearance of a god, but even if he could he didn’t know if he should. The image Banqis had granted to his mind still floated within him, sweet and seductive. He couldn’t help but fear that the cold, duty-bound Michael would say something that would banish that dream from him forever. He didn’t want that dream gone. It was too sweet.

    “Well, I see that your legs are well enough again for you to stand.” It was only then that Jacob remembered the ache in his legs. The presence of the god had banished it completely from his mind. “That means we can continue.” Michael caught a glimpse of the waterskin, still half full and dropped in the mud. A frown crossed his lips. Jacob had forgotten that he was supposed to drink it. That was another thing the god had driven from his mind.

    “Did you not want the water, my lord?” Jacob winced at the sarcasm dripping from his voice. “Very well. Give it to me.”

    The young man stopped, scooping up the skin and tossing it back to the knight. He knew that he was going to end up very thirsty for that particular transgression.

    They rode on in silence, Jacob’s head still swirling. One more thing Banqis had taken from him was the desperate ache in him for missing his home. It would return, but for now it was forgotten.

    The young man tried to urge his horse forward, but the beast ignored his instructions. For all Jacob knew, he might be telling the beast to lay down. Perhaps that was for the best.

    “Sir Michael?” The knight slowed, allowing their horses to fall in line next to each other.


    “Can you...” Jacob swallowed. “Can you tell me more? About what it means to be king?”
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