Cirdan’s Note: I’m pleased to introduce to you another installment from our very own spock0528. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been itching to find out more about the World of Rune! Make sure you’ve read the prologue and chapter one before continuing on the journey below!
The Wand and the Barrel was a grungy little place run by an even grungier old man named Barney. Farion had been there many times with Diggle while patrolling the northern borders and when he walked in Barney and the usual crowd greeted him with vigor. He ordered a plate of bread and cheese and some whiskey to wash it all down.
“Out on patrol again, Farion?” Barney asked. “Something like that,” Farion answered. He didn’t feel like diving into the complex battle plan he was now in the middle of. Farion left the tavern and headed back to camp. The rest of his trip was uneventful and he met no one on the road. By about three in the afternoon Farion could see the smoke of the camp curling up into the sky like a great dragon. He took his horn and blew three long and sharp blasts, the signal of a soldier returning. He was given the standard two quick blasts of the horn, which meant that he could approach the camp.
The camp was massive. Over 10,000 Eastirim soldiers were staying here and the rows of bright red tents was quite an impressive sight. After meeting with the sentries, Farion returned to the tent he shared with three other soldiers from Bahruna. He was ready for a night around a warm fire with his friends as he waited for news of the Zarkaran’s plans.
However when he arrived at his tent he saw a boy about 17 standing by the opening. When he saw Farion arrive he jumped to attention. The boy had a small dagger and wore a cloak. “What do you want?” Farion asked gruffly. He was impatient and he wanted to get some rest. “My name is Renly, Sir,” he said. “I am to be your squire in the battle.”
What the boy had said made Farion immediately think of Diggle. Diggle had been a knight and Farion had been his squire. Farion remembered a situation, very much like the one he was in now, where he, a clean shaven and oblivious boy had awkwardly introduced himself to his master. Diggle had acted like he was acting now: not very impressed.
Diggle however had not used Farion to polish their armor and assist him in tournaments like most knights used their squires. He had instead taken Farion along the northern border on some “hands on experience.” Farion remembered his first night out in the wilderness… They had been attacked by a band of highway robbers and Diggle had tossed Farion his sword and let him take care of the four of them. Farion had barely managed to take all of them all down, but after the experience he and Diggle had both gained a mutual respect for each other.
After that the two had become close friends. Diggle passed him on to knight in just three years as opposed to the usual four it took most boys. After Farion had moved on, Diggle had been appointed as a King’s Guard in Teroh. When Farion got to visit Teroh, he always made time to see Diggle who was adjusting to his much easier job. Farion’s visits were always a bright spot in Diggle’s life.
25 years ago, Diggle had lost his wife in childbirth. He was crushed by her death but he loved his surviving son, Jeremy. Jeremy had blond hair and cold blue eyes and he looked just like his mother. Diggle insisted that Jeremy stay safe and not study to become a knight. He was afraid of losing his only son like he had lost his wife. This destroyed Jeremy. There was nothing that he wanted to do more than fight for Eastirim but his father refused. When he and Diggle were summoned to stop a rogue Zarkaran force that was heading across Eastirim territory, Jeremy, without his fathers knowledge, had secretly joined up at the age of 17.
When Farion spotted Jeremy out on the battlefield, he prayed to the gods as hard as he could that they would spare Jeremy’s life. They did not. At the end of the battle Diggle stumbled across Jeremy’s mangled body. Around him were the bodies of many dead Zarkarans. Diggle wept with Jeremy’s head in his arms for hours. At that moment Farion knew the gods were gone. They no longer cared for the lives of mortals. How could they forsake Diggle like this? How could they let a man as noble as him suffer this tragedy? It was as he watched Diggle scream and cry for his only son that Farion vowed to forsake what he once loved and respected. After Jeremy’s death, Diggle stumbled into a kind of trance. He had lost his wife and son, and he no longer saw reason in living. Only Farion’s visits kept him going.
“I was told that you were to head to the commander’s tent to give him your report,” Renly said, bringing Farion back to the present. Farion silently turned around and started walking to the center of the camp. Renly followed him like a puppy.
“Did you hear what I said about being your squire?” Renly asked eagerly. “Yes,” said Farion. “And?” Renly asked with anticipation. “I don’t need a squire,” Farion said. “I know sir, but I thought you could really use someone to help you, I have quite a bit of experience–” “What battle experience?” Farion said. They had reached the commanding tent. “Well sir, I may not have had actual battle experience, but I’ve–” Farion entered the tent. He had heard it all before. The young squire willing to prove himself and just getting in the way. In the actual battle, he would test Renly like Diggle had tested him.
He gave his report to the general. “There was no sign of any Zarkaran forces,” he said. Farion asked about the other possible locations for a Zarkaran invading force. “You’re the first we have heard from” General Icarus said. Farion was dismissed, and as he exited the tent, he noticed that Renly was gone.
That night Farion was sitting around the campfire with his friends from Bahruna when Renly approached and sat down behind him. The other men took no notice of him. “This leg of goat is delicious,” said Farion’s friend, Heimgal. “Best we’ve had all month,” Heimgal said, wiping his mouth. “Best you enjoy while you can,” replied Mason, the soldier sitting next to Heimgal. “The rest of the scouts are due to come back tonight.” “My bet’s on Baywater,” Gendri, a captain from Bahruna muttered. “I’ll take that bet,” Heimgal said, looking up from his food. “How much?” he asked.
Farion did not partake in this discussion. Instead he was watching Renly. The boy was looking down at his knees. Farion got up and sat down beside him. He felt a little bad about how he acted earlier. The boy needed to know that Farion wasn’t his enemy. “Who’s that you’re sitting by?” Heimgal yelled at Farion. “This is Renly, he is to be my squire in the upcoming battle,” Farion said loudly. “Oh really,” Heimgal said with distaste. “Tell me boy, have you done much fighting?” he asked as if he already knew the answer. “I bet he’s killed a Shaman,” Mason said sarcastically.
The Shamans were the most powerful of the Zarkaran army. Decorated in the robes and headdresses of Zarkaran priests, they were fast and deadly. Farion had never met anyone who had ever killed one in battle, let alone seen one. Claiming you had killed a Shaman was not something that was taken lightly.
“Have any of you seen a Shaman?” Renly asked in awe, Heimgal’s rudeness apparently lost on him. “Gendri reckons he saw one once,” Mason said, now speaking in a hushed tone. “Is it true what they say then?” Renly asked, his voice barely audible. “They’re wicked fast. I saw it only for a second. It killed five men in just a matter of seconds right in front of my eyes. Then it was gone,” Gendri replied, his eyes distant.
“What about the curse?” Renly said. His eyes were so wide it looked like they were about to burst. “What curse?” Farion asked. “I heard about it when I was a child,” Renly said. “And what exactly does this curse do?” Heimgal asked skeptically. “I am not sure. I can’t remember. I think it happens when you kill a Shaman,” Renly said, his voice wavering. “A bunch of fairy stories, no doubt. I bet your wet nurse told them to you when you was a child. Nothing but a load of rubbish, I say,” Heimgal said. Everyone in the group laughed except Farion and Renly. Renly looked at his knees again. Farion started to say something to comfort him. But before Farion could say anything he was interrupted by a horn blast and a shout from a sentry. “The scouts have returned. Gather your gear and get ready to move out. The Zarkarans are arriving at Pymnimily.”
Send us an owl: Wow! What did you think? What do you suppose this “curse” is all about?