The Book of Mengst – Chronicle One – Day One! – Debinani Rahl
22
July, 1999
The Book of Mengst – Chronicle One – Day One! – Debinani Rahl

–==Official Submission==–
FROM: General Debinani Rahl
RE: Chronicle One – Day One!

Day One!

We have done it! I can’t believe it, but we have. The
Sackcloth Rose will terrorize Sosaria no more, and I can
finally commit these words to script instead of whispering
them among my confidants.

Let me backtrack a few weeks and perhaps that will give the
reader a little insight into what glorious things we have
accomplished.

My name is Kironius Mengst, myself and several hundred
others were conscripted into the Rose to replace losses
when the Children of the Guardian rose up and met them in
battle. Lord Spirit may have been the finest General that
Kishara had to field, but Warlord Kerchev was better. But
that is a story for the Children to tell, not me. We had
heard that the Five Armies had marched from Tablenhelm, the
word had spread across the countryside like wildfire that
the Five Ringbearers of Kishara had finally summoned the
strength to bring forth the dreaded Age of Destruction.
They wanted their million souls. To be completely honest,
no one really believed that Tablenhelm could field such a
devastating force, after all, the dreaded City of the
Widowmaker was seated on an island, well away from land.
The armies of Lord Altair waited at the coasts for their
ships to arrive, firmly believing that he could easily ward
off an amphibious assault. He was wrong. All five armies
appeared out of thin air, using Kishara’s dreaded magicks
to transport them instantly from the Isle of the Stranglers
to the swamps in the southern tip of the continent. Two
thousand soldiers lost their souls to Kishara that day; the
Great Tallies swelled before their bindings of human flesh
were hardened.

Cyan Marinetta’s Army of Water was given the dubious honor
of moving further south and utterly decimating Lord
Altair’s city of Penshin and establish a home for Kishara
on the mainland. The four remaining armies moved North to
conquer…and to kill.

Nearly four hundred years later with the entire
southernmost reaches of the continent serving Kishara and
four of the five armies recalled to Tablenhelm, my people
in the city of Harrowburg felt safe. It had been
generations since word of a massacre had reached our ears
and it seemed that the cult of Kishara was happy to possess
half of the known world.

We were, of course, dreadfully wrong.

Soulblighter…Lord Spirit….had not heeded the call to return
to Tablenhelm. He seemed to believe his army could take the
rest of the continent single-handedly, bringing on the Age
of Destruction and winning the favor of his goddess.
Harrowburg never knew he was coming till his armies were
less than a week away.

As the Captain of the militia of this major city, it was my
duty to defend her from the Stranglers that were about to
accost it. I couldn’t have failed more. Even weakened from
the constant battles with the Children of the Guardian, the
Sackcloth Rose marched right through our defenses and right
into town, slaughtering hundreds of men in hours and
securing the city in an unprecedented display of ferocity
and efficiency. As it turned out, Harrowburg’s greatest
strength became its death-cry. Spirit was uninterested in
securing the city and its inhabitants, our major source of
trade were crafted metals and woods, which were of no
interest to Spirit and his war effort. Spirit was
interested in the souls. He was interested in the souls of
several thousand of the followers of Aluviel, his goddess’
arch-enemy. I suppose we were some sort of added bonus…not
only collect the souls but defeat the people of a rival. To
this day it makes me sick.

All the men of the city who would be any use to the war
effort were herded into corrals within the Rose’s
encampment. The soldiers were given free reign to do what
they pleased to the remaining inhabitants, primarily the
women of course, for a period of three days. My wife and my
five children were among them. At the end of that time,
Spirit and his High-Stranglers moved through the city and
collected souls. All of the souls. I sat in the mud and
filth within those corrals for a total of ten days
listening to the screams coming from our families in the
valley below. I vowed to never be powerless again.

My silent, dirty vigil came to an abrupt end when some of
the Rose’s soldiers kicked me out of a fitful sleep. I was
dragged to the river, washed and given simple but clean
clothes, and brought before the Soulblighter himself. He
was a disturbing presence to say the least. Lord Spirit
lounged in a chair within his tents, sipping idly at a
beverage served to him by a local farmgirl with downcast
eyes. He looked insane, but I had been told that was just
the way the five look when they’re possessing a body. This
particular incarnation of Spirit was a tall, lanky man with
long dark hair and a tight beard. All in all, I was
intimidated to the point of soiling myself.

This story grows long and I don’t have much time so I’ll
attempt to be brief. Spirit asked me to preside as a
Sergeant over the locals who had been conscripted, give
them a familiar face to lead them. Our unit was designated
the 21st Outriders, a new unit in the Rose’s ranks designed
to act as scouts and woodsmen. Since Harrowburg’s militia
didn’t make good soldiers it was the only practical choice.
To keep us in line, a detachment of cavalry from the
dreaded 1st Avengers, led by Master Sergeant Serbochev was
assigned to watch over and train us until we became
adjusted to life in the Sackcloth Rose. I accepted my
burden with feigned humility, for at that moment I began to
formulate my plans.

I have always believed that mankind’s greatest achievements
come when he is united, and our victory here at Westergard
is a testament to that. For nearly four years we marched
across the lands, killing thousands in Spirit’s fanatical
quest to win the favor of Kishara and bring about the Age
of Destruction. All that time the survivors of Harrowburg
and hundreds of other conscripts from other villages formed
an extensive secret society, quietly worshiping the Goddess
Aluviel and praying for her to use us as her sword of
Justice to bring town the tyranny of the Rose. Every once
in a while Spirit and his higher-ups would hear about and
root out one of our little cells, brutally torturing the
traitors in an attempt to glean the identities of their
accomplices. But when I originally formed this little coup,
I saw to it that the cells were set up properly. I may not
be the greatest general that ever lived, but I do know how
to get things done. When we marched on Westergard I knew
our time had come. Our numbers totaled roughly one-quarter
of the entire Sackcloth Rose, and the Outriders were made
up entirely of Aluviel’s supporters. I had been free of the
scrutiny of my 1st Avenger guardians for nearly six months
at that point due to my unwavering service and my ability
to tell Spirit exactly enough to feed his ego. The time had
finally come, and all of us wanted to wash the senseless
murders off of our hands by striking against the Rose.

Several days before arriving in Westergard, I sent a runner
to inform the occupants of the city of my plans. To be
completely honest, I didn’t expect it to work. The city’s
defenders however had heard rumors of dissension within the
Rose, and they agreed. When we arrived and the camps began
to form, the Outriders were sent as always to scout out the
terrain. I distributed my men into the usual foraging and
scouting parties and over the course of the evening we all
rode through Westergard’s eager gates. I don’t think I’ll
ever be blessed with hearing about the look on Spirit’s
face when he found out an entire division had defected to
the enemy, but I sure would like to. In a fit of rage
Spirit sent his troops against the walls the next morning
without the normal preparations for a siege. They were
repelled easily. Serbochev must have gotten through to
Spirit after that because they spent the next week
preparing their siege engines and all the other minor
details involved. During that time I had some of the
remaining members of the rebellion sabotage things as best
they could. A few of the cooks who were loyal to Aluviel
managed to poison the food for half the army, delaying
their attacks even further.

During this week a strange thing happened. A group of my
most trusted confidants came to me in the middle of the
night and dragged me to Westergard’s town center, where
practically every surviving member of the rebellion who
could be taken off the walls waited. My right-hand man,
Devin, appeared to preside over the gathering.

“Sir,” he began quietly, “There are more armies out there…
four more. Even if we defeat the Rose, Kishara’s stranglers
will still be doing their work. I don’t know about you, but
most of us don’t’ much like that idea.”

“Been a soldier all my life sir,” said Willie, one of the
Sergeants in Harrowburg, “don’t much know how to do
anything else.”

I asked them to get to the point. They wanted to form a
company. An organization of soldiers fighting for Aluviel’s
Justice, helping to wipe out Kishara’s presence from the
mainland. All in all, I thought it was an idealistic
fantasy. I told them to get back to their posts and we’d
discuss it if we weren’t all dead after a fortnight.

When Spirit’s forces were ready, they struck. As they
assaulted the walls and the gates with rams I saw the
Avengers in formation at a distance…waiting…waiting for the
gates to fall. I could spend the rest of my life
chronicling the week of constant battle, but for the
purposes of this discourse I will just outline the final
deciding moments.

In the end it was our faith and unity that won out. As the
gates buckled after the week-long barrage, many things
happened simultaneously. First, my only spy within the
Avengers sacrificed his life to slay Serbochev, causing
them a moment of hesitation necessary for us to field our
small army through the breach in the city’s defenses before
the cavalry division could rush through and break our
ranks. Second, Spirit himself joined the battle. He strode
afoot through the fray and none could touch him. He whirled
in a deadly dance that rivaled those of the greatest
SwordMasters and every man that engaged him in battle found
death. I stood in the courtyard behind the city walls
waiting for him, for I knew in my heart it was I that he
came for. I expected at any time for him to unleash his
deadly Kishara-bestowed magics upon myself and my army, but
they never came. His face was a visage of calm, almost
amusement, but his eyes shone with rage. That was when I
knew. Spirit had lost his grace, Kishara was no longer
smiling on his quest for vengeance. He had given up her
holy quest and taken one of his own. And at that moment,
Lord Spirit, immortal daemon of Kishara, was little more
than a man. And then we met in battle. For a few brief
moments, I was the sword of Aluviel, her fire burned
through my veins and I met Spirit blow for blow. We
bloodied each other several times in our battle, but my
flesh began to weaken first. Seeing his victory, Spirit
rained blow after deadly blow upon my defenses until
finally my blade shattered against his hell-wrought blade.
He smiled as he brought the killing blow down upon me but
it never came. His blow fell short, and Spirit collapsed to
his knees, revealing a woman standing behind him with a
bloodied dagger. She was a vision, I hope the spirit of my
wife forgives me when I say she was by far the most
beautiful woman I had ever laid eyes on. I thought for a
moment that she was Aluviel herself sent to save me, but
then I noticed the ring on the woman’s finger, its sea-blue
gem sparkling in the afternoon sunlight. She kneeled down
and removed Spirit’s ring, whispered something in his ear
which caused his dying eyes to open wide in surprise and
despair, and then put her dagger thought he man’s neck. She
glided over to me, her blue and white skirts barely
touching the bloodied earth and kneeled down in front of me.

“Take this,” she said, pressing the ring into my
hand, “Bury it and the body in the crypts here and seal
them.”

She graced me with a slight smile and straightened.

“May Aluviel always guide your sword as she did today,
Mengst.” And then she turned and walked through the raging
battle, never to be seen by my eyes again.

With the Avengers broken and Spirit felled, the battle was
swiftly won. Spirit’s men, few of them true followers of
Kishara, lost the will to fight when fear of retribution
was gone. When all was said and done the broken army of the
Sackcloth rose scattered to the four winds, most heading to
the homes they left behind. An army of a thousand seasoned
warriors stayed in Westergard under a banner I didn’t know
I had. They paraded through town, marching to the cheers of
the citizenry, holding a white banner on high marked with a
black rose pierced with Aluviel’s sword of Justice. I was
herded into the town square and found myself face to face
with Devin again. Devin in a black cloak and white tunic,
polished armor underneath. My old friend Willie behind him,
holding the standard, his stance was tall and proud. An
army of a thousand stood behind him.

“It’s been two weeks,” whispered Devin with a fiendish
grin, “and we’re still alive.”

“Kironius Mengst,” he shouted for all to hear, “I present
you with The Black Rose Society, a Free Company dedicated
to the alleviation of Kishara and the pursuit of Aluviel’s
virtues.”

And that’s how it started. Word spread like wildfire that
The Black Rose Society had crushed the Sackcloth Rose, and
the other armies were next. I became their Captain, Devin
and Willie my Lieutenants. The people of Westergard
provided food and uniforms and arms for our men until we
could provide our own. They called it payment for our
services to their city. We graciously accepted. I formed a
new cavalry unit within the Society, known as the 1st
Warders, the antithesis of the Avengers, and they soon
became one of the most elite fighting forces in the realm.

I’m about to go finish the seals on Spirit’s grave, and I
intend to place this tome in the earth with him along with
the Rose’s Great Tally so that the people of the future
will remember what transpired here in Westergard. As for
The Black Rose Society, I don’t know how long we’ll last,
or if we’ll just be a passing fancy inspired by a single
victory, but I have seven-hundred thousand, five hundred
and thirty-two deaths to atone for, and the followers of
Kishara are going to help me balance the debt.

Respectfully-

Captain Kironius Mengst

The Black Rose Society

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