The Bonds of Daecora – The Ocul Tritae (CH 2)

[size=14][b]The Ocul Tritae[/b][/size] The storm settled in with steady rain as darkness fell. Sarkan took shelter under a low rock overhang, cast into a gentle curve of smooth stone after millennia of wind and sand. He lay on his back, exhausted from his flight from the excavation site. Propped against the sloping rock wall, the great rune-inscribed disk was illuminated by the frequent lightning. [i]What are you?[/i] Sarkan questioned in the confines of his mind. There was no response, though he was sure he could feel a presence hovering over him, or perhaps within him. “What are you?” he asked aloud. [i]I am your path to power, your…[/i]“Yes, you said all that before. But what manner of being are you?”There was a moment of pause. [i]I was once a...

Rilen

Rilen, stop! Please! The desert of Stygia was worse than the stories he’d heard. Which was surprising, since those in Aquilonia are often quick to exaggerate everything else about that hellish land. Still, if you don’t want to be found, and water isn’t a concern, there are scant few places that would serve better. I have to do this. In the years since he’d left – or more accurately, had been run out of – Poitain, he’d searched for other places to disappear. Unfortunately, of all the things humanity does well, learning to survive in the strangest and harshest of places is certainly one of them. Just ask the Cimmerians. The hardships faced there define them as people. They have adapted; they are strong – instead of...

The Drowning Man – Anmoch Coisich

Drowning. They say that drowning is a terrible way to go, except that it’s over relatively quickly. Once the water rushes in, everything goes fuzzy, the panic subsides, and darkness overtakes.   I beg to differ.   I’ve been drowning, slowly, bit by bit, my whole life.   The desert will do that to a soul. With every damnable step the sand inevitably shifts and covers your feet, wiping out your footsteps and leaving no trace of a man’s existence. It doesn’t matter if I run, walk, or stand still, the sand is always creeping, always covering, always devouring. I’m told those used to the desert, like the Stygians, don’t mind the sand. Perhaps it’s my Cimmerian blood that rages against the idea. My feet yearn for rock and stone underneath,...

Sayani’s story

‘Why me?’  At some point, I suppose everyone asks ‘why me?’  I have come to the conclusion that the only appropriate answer is ‘why not?’ When I was younger, the answer was easy, the question rarely asked, because we were born to it.  We knew no other life.  And as the adults did not talk much about the past, not to us, anyway, most of us born of the desert knew little of what the alternatives were. What is there to say?  I was born to a mother who had herself lived her entire life in the desert.  She never saw anything else.  All she ever knew was the sand and the wind.  And me?  I never knew her.  She died before I was old enough to remember anything at all.  But then, so...

The Bonds of Daecora – Manifest Destiny (CH 1)

[size=14][b]Manifest Destiny[/b][/size] [b]Stygia – Present Day[/b] A backhanded strike came swiftly and quite unexpectedly, spinning Sarkan to his knees. The heavy rings that adorned the acolyte’s hand adequately amplified his displeasure, leaving a trail of broken skin from cheekbone to jaw. “Illiterate filth, I should have you digging with the slaves,” Acolyte Hinsh spat out. “I said bring the Eighth Tolna scroll – this is the Luxur Hasagim scroll. Return this and bring me the proper document you worthless peasant! Fail to return before shadow falls on me, and you will be among the first offerings this evening.” Sarkan could have argued that the scroll was handed to him by another acolyte from the encampment and the error was not his own, but he...

The Book of Debinani – Chapter 10 – Where we walk.

I am clean.  Scoured pure by wind and sand.  All that remains in the crucible is wind and fire. I was born to the armaya, the curse.  Born to the Rose & Swords and the desert of a woman who I am told was soft and weak and taken for her water shortly after I came squalling into this world.  They say I am son to the betrayer himself, that I have his eyes and his countenance, though none can know for certain.  I will not take his name as other sons of the curse do of their Company fathers and grandfathers.  An oath is a sacred thing, even when given to an evil whore of a witch. I was raised as all children of the curse, taught the ways of sand and water and the Annals and Code of the Company as we huddled in our tsera beneath the...

The Bonds of Daecora – Prologue

[b][size=14]Prologue[/size][/b] Stygia – Centuries Past The Priesthood deemed the site sacred, as evidenced by the orientation of the myriad trails gifted to the desert sands by the revered sidewinders and their serpent-kind. The Oaiti Temple, once completed, offered a small sanctuary on the route east from Khopshef Province to the city of Luxor. Lhatar, a ranked priest of Set, presided over the temple and ordained its completion through a magnificent weeklong sacrifice of surviving slaves to the mighty Serpent. The gift of power did not flow freely from Set, and in Lhatar’s quest for arcane knowledge through study and worship many captured souls crossed to the realm of death in the name of the Snake Lord. Followers found convenient offerings through the...

The Men By the River

 We had all heard the stories, of course.  But as the decades passed the stories became less history and more myth. Kishara was a high priestess of Set, whose beauty was rivaled only by her cold-hearted cruelty.  In addition to her priests, acolytes, and bodyguards, she maintained a company of irregulars, soldiers known by the symbol of the black rose they wore on their lapels, to enforce her will within her demesne.  It is said that as the years passed, Kishara grew more aggressive in her aspirations for power.  She became feared and reviled by the Setite hierarchy as she maneuvered for power beyond any a woman had ever held, leaving a trail of corpses in her wake.  It seemed to all that she was favored by Set, her soldiers were...

The last thing I remember….

It was my tenth year of command when the Company found itself in the employ of the King of Aquilonia, fighting the Nemedian War.  Lord-General Prospero had stationed the Company in a fort overlooking a small pass through the mountains near the head of the Khorotas River while he and the rest of the Aquilonian lords and their armies camped near Shamar.  Intelligence reported that General Zin had bid his engineers construct hundreds of barges – so common thought was that he was going to bypass the mountains altogether and move his armies into Aquilonia via the Red River.  Even if he decided to take the Road of Kings, a small force was stationed at the high point of the road in the mountains, right on the border – able to provide Prospero’s host...

It’s Time….

It’s Time…. The General lay in his bed, the breeze from the open window rustling the silk canopies. His breathing was labored, and skin shone with sweat. He had taken his search to the depths of hell and beyond and faced off against countless fell beings along the way. He’d consumed foul magical elixirs to give him the strength to tear asunder the Abyss and bring back that which he had lost. He failed. In the end, it was the dark magics and elixirs that finally pushed his mortal body past all limits, leaving him broken and chained to his bed as an invalid, his son and castellan carefully concealing his weakness to the others – but it didn’t matter any longer. “What do I leave behind?” he asked, his voice being the only part of him that still...