Legendarium Lothian

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Sir Basil, Jun 18, 2014.

  1. The tournament commemorating the Birth of the King - Rí Dannoch - had been celebrated since the first kings has ruled the lands of Lothian - from the Tynemarch to the distant Glahmreach - and it remained a day of great festivities for highborn and common alike. Strange then, that the general of the Lothian army, a Knight Commander who should have been invested in this opportunity to claim more honour for his name and glory in the name of the One True God ; why, then, was he sitting in the otherwise empty tavern, clutching a mug of frothy swill that passed itself off as ale? Why was he not on the field of battle, jousting to earn a Champion's wreath, as he had for the past three years? Ser Gabráin Ulster no longer had interest in winning that sort of fame. Instead, he avoided the opening ceremonies, and drank in the tavern.

    He was in touch enough to know that he was depressed, and that this was likely an attempt to recluse himself away from the world and all of the stressors that it brought with it. Even killing would not assuage his spirits. He had taken such pleasure in breaking his lance through men, but now he felt no joy in the action - it seemed to him like nothing more than a simple gesture of loyalty ; and what sort of man demands on his birthday for men to die for his own entertainment? No, the Old Ways would not have condoned such an action, and Gabráin found himself wishing desperately that the Old Ways were what the Dannoch king believed in. But he knew, as he sat in the darkened tavern, sipping the warm swill of beer that had been fermented in a bath-tub, the Old Ways were well and truly gone.

    The depression had not stemmed from the killing, or from the tournament. The depression had stemmed from the letter he had received by courier that morning. It had come from the Glahmreach, and was sealed with the crest of his mother's people - the head of a moorish wolf crowned with thorns. He had read the letter, out of the kinship he bore with her and the closeness that they had once had, but the words had sunken his heart. They demanded that now that he was the head of his house, he should raise an army against the weak king of a loathed dynasty - to rebel and torch the countryside in the name of the peoples that he had set to the torch long ago. His mother was always calling for rebellion - she wanted to see a good king on the throne, and the lands and titles of the rulers that House Dannoch had brought to heel freed from their adornment of the Rí Dannoch's crown. The letter sat on the top of the oaken table, admist the stained rings that marked the countless drunks that had passed through this tavern.

    To , Ser Gabráin Ulster , Knight-Commander of Lodain be this letter taken.
    My well-beloved son, I greet you well. I beseech you to pardon my boldness and not to disdain but to accept the good counsel I give you now.
    The chief causes of my writing to you this season are these:

    Item: I have remained imprisoned within Glahmreach for these past seasons and following the death of your father last winter there is no reason for me to be kept here any longer. I had prayed to the Gwyenhyfarr for his death for these past few seasons, and the Pale Maid has finally taken him down her starlight path. He will sleep with the demons of his One God, as he would have had me. Strange, then, that I live whilst he is dead. Thus, I beg your royal seal on behalf of your father's family, the House of Ulster, in order to release me.
    Item: Your blessed sister must be rescued from her match to the Prince of the Dannochs, and he must be held accountable for her rape and the breaking of the sacred virtues of the Old Ways; the keeping of a maid without winning her. I have heard rumors that he has slaked his unnatural lusts upon boars and monsters - fouler things. Perhaps this is the gossip of idle maids but Constantine Dannoch is a prince of failed virtues and broken promises, a lord of the rotting throne.
    Item: Rí Dannoch must be slain, and his blood spilt across the altar of the Tuireann in the Stones of Gabála. From the blood will come the next king. You will need to make allegiances in order for this to occur. I have prayed and the Old Ones have sent me a vision - a maiden sitting before me in a chair of ruddy gold. Not more easy than to gaze upon the sun when brightest, was it to look upon her by reason of her beauty. A vest of white silk was upon the maiden, with clasps of red gold at the breast; and a surcoat of gold tissue upon her, and a frontlet of red gold upon her head, and rubies and gems were in the frontlet, alternating with pearls and imperial stones. And a girdle of ruddy gold was around her. She was the fairest sight that I ever beheld - and she told me of her daughter, as shinning bright as she, who commands the legions of faekin and Herlaþing that will aid you in your venture. She has been imprisoned, and only when the Chapel of the One God - a false place - is torched, will she and all spirits flood back into the world.
    We commend you to seek the hearts and affections of our northern kinsmen in whatever way you will. Bear in mind the great name of Ulster and of my own kinsmen, which is my bequest to you, and use it for your protection and welfare.
    Written at Glahmreach this Tyrsday after the feast day of Gwyn ap Nudd in 471, by the hand of your mother, the Lady Eithne, Priestess of the Old Ways, the Queen in the Tower, and maid of the Tynemarch.

    The tavern was otherwise deserted, but Gabráin felt like there were constantly eyes upon him. This was a mad thing for his mother to do, a treasonous and mad things. There had been other letters of course, but none of them had been this direct, this commanding about what he must do ; and the treason was spelled out there, in her black calligraphy, with the practiced hand of a noble woman. She hadn't even written in the Old Tongue, and instead had chosen a common tongue. Any man of learning could have read this missive. The man who had delivered it had been a mute, with his tongue cut out. Gabráin had to wonder if that had been his mothers doing as well.

    He sipped at the beer. It tasted like piss and sweat, but it was something real, rather than a treacherous snake of a woman, who was far away, and loved her gods more than her husband, and feared the subjection of her people more than the death of her children. Gabráin shifted awkwardly on the honeyed wood bench. What was to be done? His sister. Perhaps his mother was right. Perhaps there was a princess in need of a rescue. Or perhaps he should sit here, an old and aging knight -- his squire off to run errands - and drink his cheap and seedy beer, with the letter collecting dust on the table...

     
  2. A festival of fools had commence in the kingdom of Lothian for the commoners it was a time to venture around and enjoy everything the grand event had to offer. The streets for now were empty and all gathered in the court grounds to greet their selfish and greedy king, but above all to grab a chance at seeing men slashing one another with blades all in the name of a fair sport. To say enlightenment came from such sights. It was ridiculous and luckily for one young lad it was an opportunity he did not have to take. He awoke long before dawn as he did every morning. Earning his pay and keeping himself busy all through out the tedious hours. An outcast, as many labeled him, but to him this was just as much his home as the next person. Having been raised by one of the kingdom's most respected men he upheld that title with dignity but above all honor. His mentor constantly reminded him that a label did not define a man; it was his actions and character that gave earned him a proper name. Being young and naive he took this to heart perhaps too much. His day started as every morning. Climbing the slope of the path just to reach the stables outside the castle walls. There he carried two buckets in either hand one of food and the other water. Feeding and grooming the kings stallions and mares as expected of him, and if he was lucky breaking in a new addition to the stable. Unfortunately with the festival taking place he was given the task of grooming each horse and preparing the saddles for the knights and even the king himself. It was a task he endured with no remorse. Sandy blonde hair was now layered with a coat of sweat that gathered just beneath his bangs and above his brow. It was the sweat of his labor; slaving under the hot sun. Racking away the feces' from the animals and stocking up each stall with hay and fresh water. This was without a doubt the only place in the world he could escape the burdens and resentment of the villagers and peacefully go about his way. However, today proved other wise. Several rebellious teens decided that today they would harass the remaining majestic creatures. There was a total of three boys each from houses that honorably served the king thus their actions would not go punished too severally thanks to the servitude from their fathers. While Leonard was finishing the last of the stalls towards the entrance the boys came from the rear. Sneaking in trying to keep their voices hushed just so the outsider would not notice them.

    Passing several empty stalls they found their first target. A mare that was never used for riding but for pulling large and heavy carts of trade. A spotted coat and white mane with a matching tail. The mare was by far the oldest in the kingdom and the scars upon it's body proved the years of hardship it endured. For now the creature was peacefully grazing on it's fresh meal brought to her thanks to Leonard. The tallest of boys had a pale complexion with freckles along his cheeks and parts on the bridge of his nose. Red curly hair atop his head and a figure that was a tad bit more fit than Leonard's. Without hesitation the boy stepped forward grabbing a stone from the ground and tossed it to the creature hitting the mare in the side of her rib cage. The moment the stone made contact the creature's head sprung up and a whinny of discomfort was released from it's lips. The commotion for any one not to notice and in the midst of his task Leonard's head perked up from the stall and saw the cause. A reluctant sigh passed his lips. Taking a firm hold of the rake in his hand he stepped out from his location and into sight. The boys laughed while they taunted the creature and threw more stones it's way. Alas he could stand no more.
    "Hey!" his voice rung breaking their enthusiasm bring their attentions solely on him. Narrowing steel blue eyes their direction while his feet began to move his body closer towards the group and in return they did the same. "That mare has brought many valuables from far kingdoms to feed the whole lot of you, and this is how you repay her?" he could see their smirks and two even laughed at his ridiculous statement. Dropping the stones they all held in their filthy palms they now stood only a matter of feet in front of the blonde.


    The red head was not shy to humbly step forward and bare his emerald eyes into Leonard's own. "It's a lousy animal you twit! It feels nothing, it only obeys. Doing what we ask of it regardless if it wants too or not." one of many reason's why Leonard could never fully understand the youth of this village. They were too stubborn and naive to see beyond the material objects they treasured; instead he focused on living things and cherished everything that breathed and held life. Spiking the rake down in front of him digging the spikes into the soil where he proceeded to proper a boot covered foot onto it. "Suppose..but without that lousy creature you and your mates would have not a single inch of silk that clothes your bare arse." a chuckle fell from Leonard's lips but the stern cold silence from the boys proved that his joke was far from amusing. Glancing each side of his body the red head said nothing to the other two but instead gave a nod. All at once the boys pounced forward like hungry predators advancing their hands and taking hold of Leonard's shirt, arms and one grasping at his chest. Having let his guard down the blonde released his rake allowing it to fall while he resisted against the holds but outnumbered and the element of surprise his own strength was not in his favor. Held firmly in place the red headed boy stepped forward reaching a hand to tangle in Leonard's hair and grab a fistful of his golden locks. Yanking him forward so their eyes met. "And a bastard should never address a lords son so openly!" The title he was so use to hearing came, and it was his only trigger point. Thinking of nothing better the blonde spat in said boys face bringing out the destructive fire from within. A numb pain shot through the side of his face as he helplessly watched the boys balled fist make contact with his skin.

    Meanwhile with the tavern quite and calm there came a sudden burst through the door. A body shoved inside battered and beaten to a pulp. His focus on the pain causing his sense of balance to leave him and he stumbled over a propped table knocking it over with him as his body fell to the wooden floor board with a loud thud. Coughing several times and spitting a mouthful of blood and saliva to the floor board while using his arms to push himself up. The door was left open but in the background the heavy sounds of footsteps were vanishing in the distance. Praise was shared among his attackers as they fled shouting back "bastard" as they did so. Leonard cursed the boys several times under his breath and managed to bring himself to a standing position. Swaying slightly before his posture straightened with an arm wrapped around his lower abdomen. His eyes narrowed out the door for several seconds before he looked over his shoulder and blue eyes found the sight of his mentor sitting at the stand. Great, he thought. Turning his body sharply on his heel he inhaled sharply and lowered both arms to his sides, a sneer of utter immaturity stretched along his lips as he spoke.."W-What..nnn! What a surprise...I find you here.."
     
  3. Gabraín lifted his head at the sound of the commotion, coming out of his thoughts. His squire had stumbled into the room a bloody mess of a boy. The knight's dark eyes scanned the boy's disheveled appearance. The knight lifted himself from the wooden bench with the creaking of his mail and the wood of the bench. Gabraín was rarely without armor, even though there was no real need for it - and it was a discomfort to him. Some part of him believed that the pain of armor was a necessity - it was a burden that a knight must bear, in addition to the moral pressures that came from being able to end a man's life. The church of the One True God said that murder was a sin, and their first murderer had been banished from the realm of the heavenly host, forced to wander the world a shell of a man, unable to die but unable to live. The Old Ways had no such provisions against murderers - they believed that if a man was killed, it was the duty of the man's Bloodkin to kill those who had murdered their brother. Gabraín, who lived with a foot in both worlds, was uncertain what he believed. His mother would have him kill for every slight, real or imagined, but his father told him to forgive and let go. He supposed it had been easier for his father to say such things - he was the one in power, and he did not have to be forgiven for anything. But he was dead now. The pain of his armor scraping against his knees and elbows was comparable to losing his father; an irritant that scraped off a layer of flesh whenever it was addressed. Gabraín shook his head slightly, knocking aside his black hood, and tried to clear these dark and terrible thoughts from his mind.

    His squire. That was what he must focus on. Gabraín remembered when he had found the boy, a mewling infant crawling amongst the wreckage of a torched home. The sky had been thick with smoke and the skies stained with orange and red. The Clerics of the Only God had said that the boy would not live long - he had inhaled too much of the smoke and the filth. But the boy had lived, under the care of the Knight-Commander, just as he had earned his laurels. The youngest Knight-Commander that the Dannoch reign had seen. The one who had come before him - his teacher and his mentor, just as he was now to Leonard - was Ser Galan Erilich. Gabraín's memories of the man were shrouded in the smoke of a burning countryside, of the horror and violence done by the Dannoch King against the free peoples of the now so-called Unified Kingdom of Lothian. He remembered that when he had been Leonard's age, Ser Erilich had been his icon. His pariah. He wanted to mimic the man in everything he did, from the way that he wore his hair - short and close to the scalp - to the way that he held his sword - right handed, with the left clutching at a tower shield. He wondered if Leonard idolized him in the same way - Gabraín thought that perhaps the boy did. Leonard had grown up short and strong, a compact but powerfully built boy in contrast to the lanky, lean muscle that Gabraín had built up. But those muscles and that weight seemed to not have helped him, given his present condition. He was bruised and battered.

    A crease appeared between Gabraín's brows. He snatched the letter up from the table, crunching it into a ball of vellum. The knight moved towards' his squire's hobbled - but standing - form. He folded his arms across his chest. The knight could feel the scraping of his mail at the insides of his elbows, where there were blue-green veins that stood out bright against pale skin. The pain was nothing. A knight did not wince at the pains that his protection caused him. Gabraín's face remained cooly neutral, a practice aloofness that was not genuine, but certainly appeared that way. The only thing that gave him away was the small crease between his silver-threaded brows, the one mark of concern. Gabraín had to assume that his squire had been a victim - not an instigator, judging by the laughter of the attackers outside. Gabraín thought of how his own mentor would have handled it - the long dead Ser Erilich. He could recall a moment when he was a picking up supplies at a general store in the capital, and the drunken store-boy had said that he was born of savage blood - his mother had been a whore, who had spread her legs for demons and had whored her way into raising armies against her husband. Gabraín was not like Leonard. He was not an anonymous mewling infant, whose mother was dead, whose father was dead, whose village had been burned to the ground. Gabraín had a famous mother, a famous father, and their wars between one another were famous too. His hand tightened around the bundle of crumpled paper and it made a satisfying crunching sound.

    The knight tilted his head to the side, hood slipping over part of his face, mail making a scraping noise from where his gauntlets hit his breastplate. Gabraín's words were measured and stern - but did not lack compassion, "Trouble seems to have found you." A slight accent tinged his words, the Tynemarch accent where the words seemed to slip into one another like a fish in the waves of their river. Gabraín unfolded his arms, and reached out to pull a rag from his belt-pouch. "Use this to wipe your face. You're bleeding."
     
  4. Unfortunately for Leonard trouble for him was practically in his name. This entire kingdom looked down upon him, Gabrian on the other hand was a hero. A respected knight that was merciless when it came to his blade but had a tender heart for a bastard. The significant difference between Leonard and the remainder of people here is this kingdom was almost too shocking. He was aware of where he came from Gabrain was not shy in the least to remind him. In a way Leonard really couldn't stand how his title seemed to be his mentor's upbringing. It infuriated him knowing that had those boys stuck around they'd surely give all their respect towards his mentor forgetting that he himself was even there. From where he stood he watched as his mentor's body rose from the stool, somehow in the pit of his stomach a knot was growing; like a child caught in the act it was exactly how he felt. Gabrain was a humble man and never had to severely punish Leonard before so why he felt so frightened by his mentor's approach now was truly beyond him. Perhaps it was the fact that Leonard secretly shared an infatuation for his mentor, or it was because his pride had been damaged long before entering this tavern. Unsure of the real reason he stood tall and in silence. Leonard knew better then to try his luck with his mentor; hearing the armor adjusting as Gabrain approach him and the concerned look on his face peer down at him, silence really did not suit him any longer. Keeping an arm hooked under his stomach he pulled his split lip in an upwards grin. "You're not at the festival?..." he began. "Are you not a knight? Lounging about here...b-by yourself really isn't suiting for you." trying to make lightly of the situation though when Gabrain stood before him clearly unamused by his statement the boys grin slowly lowered. He felt ashamed having to stand like this before his mentor and it damaged his pride further.

    It was his mentor's statement that forced a sarcastic smirk to pass from his lips, lowering his head to avoid eye contact he head and eyes adverting to the side to hide any sign of shame he may of had. When the rag was offered to him at last he did not bring his attention back to his mentor but rather gave a distant nod and took the rag in his grasp. Holding it firmly and using the corner to bring up and press against the large gash in his lower lip. At first he was hesitant in doing so and gave a twinge of pain but eventually he forced himself to press the rag on the tender exposed flesh. Reluctantly he sighed and returned his attention back to his mentor with eyes heavy of disappointment. "Call it what you will....trouble I think is hardly the statement to use. I couldn't just stand by." he admitted with a pause before continuing. "They came and started harassing Sehara, the large Clydesdale horse of the king. They threw stones at her and as my duty I had to ask them to leave and I did, but those boys claimed to be of noble blood and someone in my position had no right to give them demands. What you see now is a result of a punishment a slave would receive should he disobey his master."


    His last words came out with sheer rage and frustration behind them. Removing the rag from his lip he roughly handed it back to his mentor and prepared to turn sharply on his heels and perhaps return to work? He knew that Gabrain would try to comfort him as he had done for 18 years but as a young man Leonard knew that Gabrain just like everyone else would never understand him. No one knew what it was like to live their lives as a bastard and unwelcome anywhere he went. The only thing that stopped Leonard was his observant nature that had taken his attention entirely. In his mentor's hand was a crumpled up piece of paper. Now as simple as it might have seemed Leonard knew that his mentor was not one to lounge about in an empty tavern just to read a bloody letter by himself. There was something of importance on that piece of paper and the closer Leonard looked at Gabrain the look of despair was all over his face even if he tried to hide it Leonard was far to observant for that. "My problems are my own, but what I find strange is my mentor sitting in this tavern clearly drinking with a heavy air of brandy on his breath and a note in his hand that he is clearly trying to advert. Has something happened?"
     
  5. No, it didn't suit him. Gabraín was never a heavy drinker, not even when he was a young and wild youth. Then again, he had never been young and wild. His younger brother had been though. He remembered when he had first returned to his family's estate, after he his fostering. Aeternus had suffered without his mother - even though they had not been close. Although she had seen so much of their shared father in him, to Gabraín's eyes, the boy had turned into a shadow of his mother. Though he had inherited the ruddy skin of their father, along with his flame-coloured hair, his mother's dark eyes peered out from his bruised sockets; Aeternus rarely slept. He claimed that when slept, he was trapped in terrible dreams, plagued by the visions of the Gods of his mother - the pagan deities that she had told her children of when they laid in bed. She had promised that if they did not sleep - the Herlaþing would come. The Herlaþing with their blood red stags and their white dogs with brown spots and flames for eyes would rush into the room. Their king, The Tuireann was said to have been a man, once, who had been king of the Lothian region long before any others. His sister had been jealous of the love and respect he commanded - and the power. So she raised an army in rebellion, and on the Slaughtering Fields of Glahmreach they killed one another - brother and sister lay in their ring-mail with their shared blood pouring onto the stones. The feyfolk saw an oppurtunity in the smoldering corpse of the king - and they flowed into the Tuireann's corpse, filling him with their dark magicks. They replaced his organs with plants and witchery, and he rode with them, his human life a distant memory.

    Gabraín saw this monster reflected in Aeternus' - the boy had grown up wiry and spindly with hollows around his eyes and long yellow fingernails that he refused to cut. He wove vines into his hair, and took to riding alone in the woods for hours on end. His squire had never met his younger brother -- or his sister for that matter. Gabraín's family remained a mystery to the boy; and Gabraín would have preferred to have kept it that way. When Gabraín rode to visit his family, his sister, his father, and his brother - never his mother - he had always insisted on riding alone. In truth, he was scared of Leonard's judgement. He was only a boy, and he should not judge a man, but the sight of his family's savagery would surely unsettle him. It unsettled Gabraín too - but the bond of kinship was not so easily severed. He watched the boy wipe away the blood on his face. it reminded him too much of the thing that he had seen Aeternus do when he was last home. And that scared him more than any judgement.

    The knight's grip around the crushed note went limp. He lowered himself back onto the bench of the tavern with the crunch of his mail and his skin, pinched between leather and steel, rubbing red beneath the armor. He released his fist on his mother's letter, and smoothed it out across the table, rubbing out the creases with his gauntleted knuckles. "I wish it had been brandy. Cheap wine does not quench memories like brandy does," Gabraín said dryly, voice slurring with alcohol and accent. He flicked a hand to Leonard, beckoning the boy over to look over the letter. He had taught Leonard to read, and recalled it fondly, the boy on his lap tracing the calligraphies from ancient books. Leonard would likely have never learned otherwise - not in that little village where Gabraín had found him. Most of the world still could not read - or if they did, they read the runes of the Old Ways - not the new, fully fledged script of the Dannoch-men. Gabraín, who lived in both books, spoke and understood both of these texts but had only passed one on to his squire. There was something too primal about the other tongue.

    Gabraín leaned back slightly on the bench, allowing his squire to read over his shoulder. "It is good you did not stand idle. Your loyalty to Rí Dannoch is commendable." Gabraín let out a barking laugh, and then gestured to the incriminating paper that lay on the tabletop. "And what would that loyalty have me do with this letter?"
     
  6. Clearly Leonard wasn't at all amused with the fact that his mentor was keeping something from him. The two had been very close as Leonard grew up and he saw lying just as morally wrong as murder. Leonard was truthful with his mentor always so when the shoe was placed on the other foot and his mentor sheltered him from important matters more so ones that bothered him it was a personal attack towards the boy. He may be young but he tried to offer his mentor advice whenever he could whether or not that information was taken serious was entirely up to his mentor. For now Leonard was not about to back down from this matter. Shaking his head some at his mentor's remark.."Regardless you are beyond the bottle, I don't wish to see you a babbling drunk." it was true. Leonard did not disagree with a social drink, or even a toast, but Leonard saw the most respected men degrade themselves and their houses by intoxication. He hated it. These men were idols for this town and sound present themselves to their best day in and day out, no exceptions. He would venture to the flames of hell before he allowed his mentor to succumb to the mercy of a bottle just to drink his sorrows away. Gabrain was better then that and Leonard claimed it to be a fact. When his mentor made a seat specially for himself Leonard followed the gesture and moved around his mentor and peered over his shoulder towards the crumpled up flat piece of paper. Having been taught to read when he was all but a child there wasn't a single word that he couldn't understand.

    He was silent for all but a moment reading within his conscious. Everything seemed almost normal, Leonard had never met Gabrain's mother before and honestly from the tales his mentor told him he really didn't anticipate on it. The woman was cruel and to Leonard a tad bit crazy. Then again to degrade a woman let alone a lady was not something he was brought up on however everything he read over in this he felt his chest tighten. Was this woman mad?! His breath was caught in his throat and he could feel an uneasy sensation washing over him. This was ludicrous and he honestly couldn't believe what he was reading. Rage was quick to come his expression, gritting his teeth and biting against his tongue he took no hesitation. That once finished he lunged himself over his mentor's shoulder took the paper in his grasp. Crumbling it up as it had been but in a tighter grasp. Stepping away from the table he kept the piece of paper in one fist while his other hand ran anxiously through his dirty blonde locks.

    His body was pacing at an uneasy speed. He didn't want to shout his mind so he had to think cautiously on what to say exactly but after turning sharply on his heels his eyes at last made eye contact with his mentor. His mouth wide open and eyes telling of his disbelief. "Are you insane?" he began, keeping sure that he kept his voice down while he approached the table once more. Standing on the opposite side as he continued. "Do you have any idea the punishment you could receive if anyone found this? You are not a humble man of this town you are a knight, a servant of his majesty the king. You know as well as I do that our king does not take lightly to threats. As for your mother, bless her heart and for many more years to come but how could she honestly ask something of you knowing the possible outcomes? I refuse..." taking a deep breath he continued. "This letter burns in our fire pit tonight. I will not allow you to ponder on this any further. The alcohol has finally gotten to you and you need rest. We speak no more of this...please.."

    It was then Leonard remembered just to whom he was speaking to. Lowering his head in an apologetic manner he released the crumbled up paper and placed it back on the table. His body was frigid and his anger was creating shame that he couldn't even look at his mentor. "Please...speak no more of this. If you even consider this pass it from your thoughts and think with some sense."
     
  7. Gabraín's face did not change in response to his squire's violent reaction to the contents of his mother's letter. it was enough to stir up violence in any man who considered themselves loyal to both their King, their country - and, Gabraín supposed, their single god. What his mother proposed was something that went farther than the removal of the Dannochs - she called for a return to the old ways, to the animism and spirt-worship that had prevailed in Lothian before House Dannoch had conquered all of the peoples of the region, and thanked their single God for allowing them to do it. Gabraín could only recall parts of their occupation of the Tynemarch in fragments and feelings. He remembered distinctly, though, the day that his mother first wrote to him from behind the walls of the fortress where she was imprisoned. The Glamhreach had been one of the last places to fall to the Dannoch regime, and they maintained an active force there, ready to imprison and interrogate any who would keep to the Old Ways - a brutalist military experiment that had resulted in many deaths. Gabraín believed it was an unnecessary waste ; he had begged Ri Dannoch to remove the knights that he had stationed in his mother's prison - and the prison of so many others - and argued that it was not the position of a knight to serve as judge, jury, and executioner for heresy. But the king had laughed in Gabraín's face. We must send a message, Gabraín, the king had said, Don't you want to see these savages tamed?

    The insinuation had always existed that Gabraín was too soft on the so-called savages. He shared their blood, afterall. Half of his being came from his mother, who was so entrenched in the old ways that it would take more than Ri Dannoch to persuade her to leave them aside. He listened to Leonard list off blessings for his treacherous mother, all the while knowing that there was no possibility that Eithne would accept such words when spoken by a heretic to her faith. And more importantly, she did not want to accept them; for they were a lie. Leonard did not wish Gabraín's mother well - he wished her to stay in that tower without a hand in the world. The knight let out a small sigh, and his nostrils twitched with the inhale and exhale of breath. The knight's dark eyes were distant, and faraway. How could she ask him of such a thing? Leonard was right, he supposed. Such a request would not end well for Gabraín - the contents of that letter were so nefarious, so dangerous. Leonard was reacting as if the knight was seriously considering actually complying with the request - and that lack of trust cut him deeply. He was savage-born and savage-bred until his fostering - but they had filled his head with the wisdom of their One God ; and now, even the boy who he held closest in his heart thought that the simple message his mother had sent would sway all of his loyalties?

    Well, perhaps it would. The letter was lingering on his mind. He had read the words and phrases of his mother's severe, restrained hand over three times now, mulling them over in his mind. Gabraín was not a general, and he was certainly not a king. He was a Knight Commander, and while he could command knights well, and knew the virtues of the glorious armies of the One True God -- he was not politically minded, and striving to improve his station seemed counterproductive at this point. His life was one where he could have servents if he wanted them , a pretty noble-born wife if he wanted one, and all the wealth of House Dannoch if he had wanted one. But he didn't want them. He didn't want anything like that. What he wanted was to have a life where his mother did not send him letters like the one that his squire now held, crumpled in his hand. He wanted a life where his parentage, the wa that he had been born and raised, did not colour every interaction, and mutate the opinion of all around him. He wanted to live a life where the name Gabraín Ulster did not, was not, immediately become associated with savagery, or paganism, or the maid of the Old Ways who remained imprisoned in the tower, unable to exert her power in the world.

    Gabraín rubbed a hand across his face, and swung his leg over the bench. He stood up, a tall, lean figure, who only swayed a little from the alcohol that he had consumed. The knight looked down his nose at Leonard and nodded once, slowly. "Yes. The letter will be burned on the fire tonight, but.." His voice cracked, and he trailed off. "But I think it is time that you meet my mother." Before Leonard could respond, he shook his head quickly, shaking his hood aside. "I am not going to honour her request, Leonard. But she's hardly a maid any longer, and my father is dead. She is of no threat to anybody -- least of all, me."
     
  8. "So this is something you truly desire then is it?" Leonard began, "You know I am opposed to meeting your mother for numerous reasons but none of them have to do with fear." It was true, Leonard feared realistic matters but an encounter with his mentor's mother was one thing he did not. Despite how mad the woman seemed he wasn't the least bit intimidated by her. In fact it was something completely opposite. A discussion like this was not the first. Gabrain had brought this up several times before and even as a child Leonard refused but it was not an outcome of fear. Knowing that his mentor assumed that much made a from creep along his thin lips. His head lowered some and his eyes grew heavy with some sorrow but not enough to show past his exterior. "You mother is your own she is nothing to the likes of me. I am not an offspring of yours. I have no mother and no father that I take a last name from. Introducing a bastard to a woman like your mother will only put more burden on your shoulders. You know well enough that the moment she see's me I will be nothing to her as I am to everyone else here in this kingdom. I hold very little regard to my title, but I bare the shame of forever being a bastard. That title follows me wherever I go and to your mother..she will only insist to you that you rid of me the first chance you get. You can not say this wouldn't be true." His tone was heavy with remorse and at his sides his hands were balled in tight fist. Leonard hated how differently he was treated all because he was a child with no name, and no background. It was one of many reasons why he wanted to become a knight; only then would he earn the respect and admiration not from others but from Gabrain. It was all he wanted, to make his mentor proud and hopefully to hear himself called Gabrain's son. Boys always lived up to their father's reputations, and some even exceeded those expectations but Leonard wanted to go even further beyond that.

    He wanted to not only make Gabrain proud but to prove his worth. He had been sheltered and nurtured his whole life by his mentor the least he could do in return was become a man worthy enough to be called son. For now Leonard really wanted no more of this discussion and turning his head sharply to the side he adverted his stare from his mentor wishing no more of this discussion no matter of Gabrain's retaliation to his statement. "I am sorry, but I want no part in meeting your mother. It would be easier if she knew not of my face. At least then when she addressed me I would feel no remorse because she doesn't know of me. For now mentor let's not speak any further and I ask that you humbly return home for the remainder of the evening. I will return now to the stables and await the knights to return with their horses."

    Giving a slight bow of his head he turned his entire body moving towards the entrance of the tavern greeting his body with the warmth from the sun set in the horizon but just when he thought the worse of his day to be over he felt a breath caught in his throat. His feet shuffling on the gravel of the dirt beneath him while in front of him a steed of all black came to a trotting halt a matter of feet in front of his body. Just by the creature and saddle upon it's back he knew exactly of the rider to this majestic creature. He didn't have to make eye contact with the rider to know, his body instead instantly gave a deep bow of his upper abdomen and remained so in silent. The man atop of the steed held steady on the reins. His face and grey hairs atop his head slicked back smoothly, brown facial around his chin held the same small streaks of matching grey symbolizing his age, and wrinkles far too many for a complement to anyone's sight. The armor in which he wore was almost identical to Gabrain's but with an embroidery upon his right shoulder signified a higher rank among knights.

    Deep brown eyes narrowed down at the boy in front of him. Dismounting his steed and standing now before Leonard the boy didn't move but instead grew more tense. "Rise boy." the tone of the older man was smooth but menacing with a hint of authority behind him. Doing as he was command the boy rose his body and stood in place, needless to say his first glance was not on the older man but the boy that approached from behind him. That same brat from earlier, flaming red hair and same sarcastic grin that only grew more devious than before. "Is this the one you told me of?" hearing the knight speak Leonard switched his eyes to settle on him. Meanwhile the boy behind him nodded. "Yes, this is the one that attacked me."

    The false accusation made Leonard's jaw literally drop. However the older man inhaled sharply and shook his head lightly. "Gabrain's bastard I presume. I would like to speak to him if you wouldn't mind?" Leonard did not say anything but rather was nudged aside when the older knight entered the tavern. Locating Gabrain rather quick and his attitude quick to alter into a heavy scowl. "Unfortunate I find you here my friend. I was expecting an easy conversation and perhaps a drink or two..However it has come to my attention that your boy while attending his duties today attacked my son. So, care to explain why a bastard would dare strike a nobleman's child?"
     
  9. Gabrain turned his head in the direction of the knight. His eyes drifted over the insignia emblazoned on his shoulder. Gabrain was the Knight-Commander, yes, and commanded all knights under the banners of the Dannoch's - but the noblemen were not inclined to surrender their autonomy to a Knight-Commander. So, they emblazoned their family crest above the snarling Dannoch Dog, to show their merit and worth. Gabrain's dog wore a small crown, and carried a sword in its paws, but his family crest remained absent. Although his family was recognized and even celebrated in some circles, a knight commander was more than a family. A knight commander didn't have a family - a knight commander was a heroic icon. It was a hard title for Gabrain to live up to especially given his own thoughts about his family, and his understanding of what he should be doing, compared to what he actually did. His mother would have howled to know that his title meant a conversion, a baptism. But she did not know, and Gabrain found himself praying to whatever gods would answer him that she did not ever find out that he, at the age of nineteen, had been baptized in the fonts of the Dannoch's. Ri Dannoch had looked on with a smug smile, a self satisfied twitch in his mouth. "You're one of us." He said, and Gabrain had believed him. That was a mistake. He was not one and the same, he was not an indentical character to this graying mass of a man infront of him.

    He identified the man's family crest - the engraved lion above the Dannoch dog. He was from one of the oldest family's - from the other end of the Tyne river. He was of the Vale of Athorth, one of the Lordlings of House Inverurie. Gabrain cringed slightly, jaw tensing. Their position on the other end of the Tyne had meant that the House Inverurie had often conflicted with House Ulster in the past - resulting in violent riverside conflicts. Gabrain remembered one story that his father had told him, about when the Inveruries had told his great-great-granduncle that there was a need for peace amongst the two of them. They promised that if this ancestor of Gabrain's had come to their hall, they would give him the Jewel of the Vale - a Athorthian woman born to House Inverurie who was believed to be the fairest maid in all the world. Caithness, the Jewel of the Vale, would ensure that the two warring, river-side families finally achieved the peace that was necessary to save their castles and their men. Caithness and grand-uncle Lukas met in the Athorthian castle, and she wept bitterly on her wedding day. When Lukas asked her why she wept, she shook her head. The Old Gods priestess drew the stars on their foreheads, and wreathed their hands in holly and ivy - but as she began to a sing a hymn to Aine of Knockaine - the queen of the Feykind, and the goddess of all lovers bound together - an arrow pierced her throat. Caithness had been promised to another man - an archer called Daire, from House Straumyr - a minor house in the Vale of Athorth. The spurned archer then shot Lukas, through the eye and out the back of the skull, and then, his would-be-lady-wife in the side. He cradled her in his arms, and then, carried her into the river Tyne - where the Jewel of the Vale's blood mixed with the water.

    Gabrain's father prefaced the end of the story with a disclaimer; the ending was a legend. The river Tyne had never been magical - and it certainly could not summon up the feyhost. What happened, in the end of the tale of Daire, of Lukas, and of Caithness, was that when Daire lowered her body into the river, the spirit of the river Tyne - the lady Airmid rose up from the depths. Clad in a bride's gown, with a wreath of holly and ivy around her wrists, she whispered to the archer. The maid was not at fault, nor was the betrothed. You were betrayed by the Inveruries, who sought an end to their war and their folly. You have killed what you did not love true. Daire was so shocked that he released his grip on his betrothed's corpse, and she sunk beneath the waves, into the depths of Aimid's brugh - the underwater fairy palace. The spirit clutched the archer's face in her moon-white hands and said softly, You shot too well, and now your lover is dead, and innocent blood has been spilled. If you are an honourable man, and you loved her true, you will give up your life for her's. Daire shook his head, "I will not! She betrayed me!" The spirit Airmid was disappointed in his lack of understanding, in his failure to see what he had done. So, the spirit cracked his head to the side, and sent his body floating down the river where it was found by his younger brother, Bryce Straymyr. Daire's broken bow still adorns their banners. But what of the maid and Lukas? Airmid wove her majicks, and healed their wounds with river mud. They bore identical brown scars - on her ribs and across his eye. And they were wed. But Airmid cursed the house of Inveruies for what they had done - she did not love violence without justice, and she loathed traitors above all others.

    When Gabrain looked at this Athorthian knight, with his Inverurie lion emblazoned on his shoulderguard, he could see the curse. All of the Inverurian line were marked by terrible rage and anger - enough that turned them from men into frothing barbarians, who killed indiscriminately. The blood drained from their faces, and they bit at their shields. Gabrain hated berserks - Inverurie and savage alike - but he could not help but feel pity for this man. His terrible rage was an affliction of the Airmid-spirit's curse. The river had damned his family to froth at the mouth and kill even their friends as retribution for the betrayal they had enacted against both his Grand-uncle Lukas, and against their own daughter, the Jewel of Caithness - and the poor, rash archer Daire. Gabrain knew, however, that he would have to proceed with some caution. His eyes flicked over the graying hairs - the man was older than him, maybe by ten years. In which case, he could not be the heir to the seat of the Inverurie lands. He must be the brother of the current Lord Inverurie, the younger brother. Gabrain knew a little of him. His name was a mystery, though.

    Gabrain did not stand up to greet him, as one should a nobleman. He had to remember that they were similar enough in rank that he did not have to move. They were equal enough. He folded his hands on the table infront of him, lacing his fingers together. "Ser Inverurie, I believe." He inclined his head respectfully - but not too low. "And your noble-born son as well." The knight tilted his head to the child - privately thinking that the boy had inherited the characteristic Inverurie blandness, the beige skin and unremarkable lump of a nose - "I don't believe we've ever formally met. Knight-Commander Gabrain Ulster, of House Ulster, first of his name." He leaned back on the bench, and unlaced his fingers, gesturing across the table from him, to the bench on the other side. "Please, sit. I believe that this matter can be discussed with both an easy conversation and a drink - as you had hoped." Gabrain smiled in as nonthreatening a manner as he could muster. "I believe that my young squire - Leonard, a good lad - can explain the reasons behind his actions. Then we can discuss what is to be done with both of our charges."
     
  10. Leonard regretfully knew where this was going. He despised being put on the spot and in the terribly "great" mood his mentor put him in was not going to help his case. Unlike his mentor Leonard was not on a level to degrade a lords son let alone speak ill of the brat. If Leonard had it his way he would have just struck the lad back and with confidence in his fighting skills he was confident to know that if he engaged in combat with this lords son he would be victorious. For now he had to be respectful and remind himself of his place here. His mentor was a knight but he was not. Only when the lord entered the tavern with his son as well Leonard followed behind. Keeping his eyes distant from the glares being received from the red head just beside him. Lords they were like daggers piercing his skin and he could feel the tension growing. As Gabrain began to usher the lord to sit the respectful lord nodded in thanks to the gesture but respectfully denied. "I thank you for your hospitality Gabrain my friend, but as it appears time is not a luxury I have today. The king expects my return upon the next event. If you do not mind I wish to finish this dispute and be done with it." giving a gracious smile his head then cocked over his shoulder to settle his annoyed and stoic expression to his son. "My son claims that while he ventured to the stables today visiting the horses of course, but upon his visit with one of the oldest mares he was merely feeding the creature the grains he had to offer her, it was then that your squire retaliated at him. Claiming that my son's presence was unwanted and that he wished for his departure. In retort my son explained his stature and that his presence was not harming anyone let alone the mare he was simply feeding her. Then of course Leonard attacked him. This is the story correct?" without hesitation the boy nodded his head once. Allowing a long sigh to leave his lips the lords full body turned not to face Gabrain but to face Leonard. "This is the story my son claims to be true, but I like your mentor desire to hear both sides to every tale. Only then can justice be put into act. Is this accusation against you true?"

    Oh how badly the boy wanted to tell the lord that this tale was as true as Gabrain's mothers train of thought, however he did not and for a long while Leonard was in a long ponder. He knew the right thing to do was tell his truth to this lord but at the same time what would that prove? Sure this brat would get what was deserved and he would be ridiculed as a liar in his father's eyes, and possibly punished for speaking a false truth but at the same time Leonard knew that no true justice would be served on his part. This punishment would surely fall into the ears of the other towns folk and their resentment towards him would only grow stronger. The pity they would feel towards him the rumors that he was more than certain would be spread across this town like wild fire. He had always disgraced his mentor enough with his bastard title the last thing he wanted was to add more to the platter. "Speak quickly lad day light burns quickly." the lord snapped forcing Leonard our of his haze. Gasping slightly as he did so moving his eyes from the lord to Gabrain for a short moment.

    A frown tugged at his features before he returned his attention to the lord. Lowering his head with shame and respect he spoke in a hushed tone. "I haven't a story to tell my lord. Everything your son has expressed is true. I did indeed attack him. He lulled the mare in a way I became envious of him, of more reasons then just this. As a result of my jealously I lost my temper and attacked him. I ask for both you and your son to pardon my behavior for it will never happen again, and to please punish me according to your desire." the last of his statement fell from his lips like venom. He couldn't believe what he had just done but it was over and done with now. Aside he he could hear the boys snickers and though he did not glance towards him he could see that wicked grin across his face. Anyone who knew Leonard would claim this to be a lie, hell, the lord knew it as well but if Leonard could not own up to the truth then there was nothing anyone could do.

    "So it seems." the lord paused turning himself to face Gabrian with the most discouraged face anyone could offer. "As much as it pains me my friend it seems your charge admits to his actions against my son. Normally this matter would be brought to his majesty and we both know the numerous consequences his grace would enforce for this crime. I however, am a humble man. Boys will be boys and the young lad poses no greater threat to us then he seems. I will not enforce any major charges against him nor yourself, I do ask that he receive fifteen lashes to the back from the whip master latter this evening. Let us not make this a public affair and leave this dispute where it is. I find this fair don't you?"

    "Yes my lord...thank you.." speaking up behind him Leonard lowered himself in a grateful bow, he didn't wish for Gabrain to speak. This matter would be easier if Leonard, the bastard, took his punishment to be done with it regardless if it was a true justice or not.
     
  11. Gabrain wrinkled his nose. Ser Inveruie was a distinctly unpleasant man - and the rumors Gabrain had heard of him did little to his credit. Gabrain had never met him, prior to this moment, and in this instant, Gabrain wished that they had never met. There was the natural animosity that stemmed from Gabrain's position as a Knight of the Tynemarch, with a long family legacy on that river, and the situation between them and the men from the Vale, the other river-folk. The man's unpleasant nature showed on his face, and in his words. Though they were grateful and gracious - the man was still addressing him as an equal - using his given name instead of the name of his position, or speaking to him for what he was; the knight commander of the Dannochs, son of the fabled maid of Glahmreach. What he liked even less than the man himself was the fact that his squire was scraping down to him, bowing and muttering out gratitude for the lie that Gabrain knew was emerging from his lips.

    Perhaps it would have been easier for Gabrain to let this situation stand idly by. Perhaps it would have made more sense for the Knight to have allowed the bastard to take the punishment that the Ser Inveruie had proscribed - but he hated more that the lord thought that he was allowed to dole out punishment to Leonard - a boy who was not subject to him in anyway; he was the subject of Gabrain's will and the king's - and did not have to answer to anybody other than them. And Ri Dannoch had given his opinion on the bastard at their last formal banquet. The squire was gone - fetching food for himself, sitting at one of the lower tables while Gabrain sat at the high table, next to the king. Ri Dannoch had leaned over, resting one of his heavily jeweled hands on Gabrain's forearm. "Your bastard grew up well." The king said, flicking his leathery tongue behind his yellowed teeth. Gabrain had nodded slowly, once, in response to the king's statement - but then the Dannoch king had continued, "Perhaps I should pay him a visit tonight." Gabrain must have visibly flinched, because the King laughed in response, and patted his gauntlet, "Don't worry, Ser Ulster. Your boy is your own." Gabrain hadn't been able to shake the king's words off as easily - there was no laughter, just a half-pinched smile and a tightened jaw.

    Gabrain cleared his throat, and then, picked up his cup of beer. He took a small sip of it, feeling the acid of the alcohol burn against the back of his throat, the bitterness sharp and reminiscent of the wines his mother had brewed; from gooseberries and wormwood, to help her talk to the Gods. He recalled sipping the wine through all his childhood, when she was there. Perhaps the reason that his younger brother had turned out so wild was because there was none of that wine to keep him mild - he was too young to drink it, by the time that his mother had been sent away. He set the cup down and fixed Ser Inveruie with a cold, dark eyed stare. His mouth corners were pointing firmly downward, "You will address me as Knight-Commander Ulster, or Ser, Ser Inveruie, as befits a man of my station." He stood up. He was a tall man, Gabrain, but Ser Inveruie was just as tall as him. He met the other knight's gaze without flinching, expression stony. His words, although they remained tinged with the subtle slur of alcohol not long ago consumed were enunciated clearly and coldly - a knife forged of ice in the place of his tongue.

    "As it stands, the boy and I are traveling this evening, to the Dannoch lands to visit our Prince Constantine Dannoch, may the one true God keep him in his sights." The speech was pretty, but even as Gabrain drew the triangle of the one god in the air, he found himself grimacing, hating himself for the words that he was saying, knowing that they weren't really true. "I will ensure that his punishment is administered - personally. I swear upon the God's broken body, and upon the God's earthly tomb." Gabrain's mouth twitched slightly, and his nostrils flared. "However." He said, and that one word had a sort of burning importance to it, as burning and harsh as the alcohol that coated the back of his throat. "May I advise you to administer a fitting punishment to your son as well - for concerning himself with the opinions of a low-born boy, and for not being able to defend himself against my bastard's attack." Gabrain's lip twitched turned into a predatory smile. "As you say, he is 'no great threat' - surely a Lord's son would be able to best him." There was a pregnant pause, before Gabrain graced the man with an honorific, "Ser."
     
  12. Leonard could not believe what he was hearing, Gabrain was going on a rant about how he and Leonard were taking a visit somewhere and to all places somewhere Leonard did not want to be. Even at that the blonde just stood utterly amazed by his mentor's sudden stern attitude towards the lord. He on the other hand stood in silence. What the hell was his mentor going off on now?!! Watching in sheer silence the words exchanged between these two gentlemen Leonard moved his attention over to the lords son when Gabrain expressed that he too should be punished. The boys face was to die for and it took everything in Leonard to say nothing and bust up in laughter. His face looked as though he had never had a hand raised to him before. Leonard's entire existence was full of punishments and rough beatings perhaps that is why his skin was as tough as nails now? He wasn't sure, but for now Leonard took some satisfaction in the boys utterly enraged face. The lord however stood tall even as Gabrain demanded he be treated equally, the lord wanted to snicker and the grin remained plastered on his face. Was Grabrain really challenging him? It seemed so and the lord was quick to let a small snicker push past his lips. "Ahh in that case forgive me. I thought we were speaking on friendly terms but, since you wish to put labels before our names then very well." The man paused seemingly displeased with Gabrains words that were utterly truth.

    Leonard could best a high borns son and that did not sit well with the lord. Letting a sharp exhale pass through his lips the lord took a deadly step forward. "You dare try to humiliate my name and my offspring?" his tone was lowered in a hushed whisper for only Gabrain to hear, eyes narrowed piercing his opponents while his lips were tucked tightly enraged. "I'd like to see that bastard of you wield a sword to his high superiors..if he's smart he wouldn't dare. Not in this town." it wasn't enough to be considered a threat but lord pulled back knowing that he had already said too much. Turning sharply on his heels and locked his glare at his son who in response grew tense. "Come, we shall take our leave." moving forward not awaiting a response he stormed from the room but not before he came to a drastic halt at the door and turned his head over his shoulder at Gabrain. "The punishment shall be followed through with my own hand. I advise you do the same and get him back to work. The king and knights will be returning." With that the man mounted his stallion and off he rode with his son leaving the two alone for the time being.

    With the lord gone and far out of ear's reach Leonard narrowed his eyes towards Gabrain and gave only a shake of his head. "You shouldn't have done that." he explained while moving his own body towards then entrance. "The last thing we need is a lord on us now as well...Go home Gabrain...I will be there when all the knights have returned. It would be better if the king did not see you in this shape.
     
  13. Gabrain stared at his squire. His heart was hammering in his chest, and his hands were clutched tightly into fists. His dark eyes were flickering with an unspoken anger. He was the Knight-Commander, and his word was law. He commanded all knight's beneath him. If a Lord was a Knight, then they were his to command as well. He answered to Ri Dannoch, not to anybody else, and certainly not to this man, this half-bred berserk. Although good breeding was not something Gabrain believed in - his mother was well bred, and she was a harpy out of Hell - he couldn't help but thing back to the Ulster and the Inverule feud, and how long it had carried on. There was a reason that it had gone on so long - and it was simple to see why. They were too proud, the Inverules, and they were cursed to bear their pride in the form of violence, with berserking. When there was still widespread war, the men of the Vale went without their mailcoats and were mad as hounds or wolves, bit their shields -- they slew men, but neither fire nor iron had effect upon them. So, their ancient enemies, House Ulster had devised the perfect way to kill a berserk, and it was the knowledge of this that Gabrain held close to his heart as he watched the Lord leave, his petulant and tiresome boy trailing in his steps. Although it had been a tradition of his father's family, not his mothers, she had taught him the method all the same, and swore that his father never would have taught him the art.

    To kill a berserk, to kill a man of the Vale, you mixed equal parts sheep's blood and ash. This would turn into a thick paste. The paste then must be boiled in water, under the dead skies of a new moon. The concoction was then added to a sword with a silver alloy. The blade then must blessed in the name of Agrona, the Lady of Silt and Slaughter, and this was done but dunking the blade in her sacred tributary that cut though the Tynemarch, down all the way into the Glahmreach. Then, for ten days and ten nights the sword must be wrapped in a black cloth, to charge its power. Only then would the blade be able to cut down a berserk, and only then would the House of Ulster be freed of their ancient enemies. Gabrain mentally recited the steps in his head, all the while knowing that he could never kill the Lord. He was bound to Ri Dannoch, and Ri Dannoch would not wish for him to slay one of his most beloved and trusted allies. But the thought of practicing the ritual gave him some small comfort. And then, he realized how disturbing that was. His brows furrowed. Witchcraft, engaging in these old and out-dated pagan practices would have been an insult to the One True God, and would have cost him his station.

    He had to banish such thoughts. The knight turned to his squire, and then cleared his throat. He strode up to the boy, and looked down his nose at him. "We are leaving." He said firmly. There was no question in his voice. He was leaving, and his squire was coming with him. A squire's job was to serve his knight, and now, Gabrain wished for his squire to come with him, to leave. Gabrain was going to see his mother, if only to rid himself of these thoughts. He needed closure. So they would journey the long way, down into the Glahmreach, and set his mother free. And with her freedom, would come either her death, or Gabrain's corruption. But it was a necessary thing to do. If he did not, her voice would haunt him forever, the constant mumblings in his ears about long forgotten magicks, all of it needed to be killed. Gabrain straightened his cloak, and the hood about his face. He pulled from his pocket a handful of farthings - enough to pay for the small cup of alcohol that he had consumed. He stacked them neatly on the table-top, and then, looked back to Leonard. "Gather your things, and meet me by the city's gates. Take a horse from the stable for yourself - I will get mine." His tone was flat and even, the alcoholic lilt in his voice had nearly faded entirely. His voice had strength in it. Strength and punctulaity - each word over enunciated to clarify his intent. "I have additional preperations to make."
     
  14. Leonard was more than prepared to leave and return to his duties that is until he heard his mentor speak. Turning his head over his shoulder and listening obediently his mouth wanted to drop to the floor. He questioned where they were going at such a last minute decision but he already knew the answer to that. Gabrain was going to set his wretched mother free, he was going to see her and bring Leonard along with him. Just the thought of that horrid hag passing her judgmental words to her son of how the gods would look down upon him for sheltering a child that was not of his own seed infuriated Leonard beyond words. His jaw visibly clenched and his brows narrowed in a thing glare towards his mentor. Instead of lashing out with the rage he felt within he simply lowered his head and shook it lightly. Blonde sandy hair swaying as he did so. Leaning his right shoulder along the door frame while his opposite hand reached up to his face rubbing his aching temples. A small snicker left his heads just before he snapped his head up and settled his eyes to Gabrain.

    "I have already apologized for my deed but this is how you punish me? By forcing me to tag along on the road to see your mother?" there was so much Leonard wanted to say about her but bit against his tongue in doing so. Instead he pushed himself off the door frame and balled his hands in tight fist at his sides. "I would prefer those fifteen lashes to my raw skin then to venture to see that horrid woman. What do you hope to accomplish by going to her? That her gods might be in favor of you despite your position here, serving the king if I may add!" Leonard could only imagine what the king would do or say if he ever found out about Gabrian's horrid mother more so the letter she had wrote her son. The last thing he wanted was to see his mentor's head rotting on a spike. He refused, but who was he to deny a request given to him.

    Had he been a proper boy, a child baring a true name then maybe he could reject the command. Unfortunately these very demands reminded him of the painful truth that he was indeed nothing more than just a bastard. All fire and retaliation left his eyes and his spirit was broken. There was no arguing against his mentor. It broke his heart to assume that Gabrain might possibly see Leonard just as every one else did. Nothing but a servant to the people including himself. It was a cold spike to his beating organ but reluctantly his head lowered to hide away his internal pain. "But if that is what my lord commands of me." he paused, letting those words sink in to the silence before continuing. "Who am I to refuse...I will meet you at the gates."


    He didn't give Gabrian the opportunity to lecture him due to his choice of words. Instead he made his exit from the tavern and paced himself back to the stables. Once there he chose a horse that due to an sport injury was never used for anything but in town riding. The steed's coat was a caramel brown and mane was an auburn. Placing a saddle and reins on the creature he easily mounted the horse and trotted down the path through the town until he reached his shared home with Gabrian. There he dismounted the creature and stood outside beside the creature for a long moment lost in thought. Why, it was always like this. Why couldn't he be anything else but what he was now? Maybe then the pain of rejection wouldn't hurt so much.