Wild Things (Story Repost) by CrownPrince ()
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People seemed actually interested in reading the story Of the Greyswandirs... So here it is. I will probaly have to break it into several parts to get to the finish. It is part of a larger story named:
"The Distance Between Shadows - A Seraphims Story"
Seraphim watched the stranger walk up to the campfire as he settled to eat the brace of cony that he'd caught earlier. "G'eve sir. Mind if I share your campfire? I shan't be long,
I’m on my way to the temple see, and I just need to rest me bones" Seraphim noticed the mans hungry glances at the meat over the fire.
“Would you like to join me in a meal? It's not much but we could share." The gentleman scrambling to the campfire gave the answer. “THANKS MISTER! I'm Vivanti, Ernest Vivanti." And as he reached over the fire to grab a piece of the sizzling meat, Seraphim studied the hungry intruder. He appeared to be at least two score yrs in age. Slightly balding he wore the robe of a scribe, and carried a large sack of scrolls.
“You say that you are headed to the temple? What temple is this, of which you speak?”
-Smacking and chewing loudly he leaned forward to get a closer look at Seraphim, the man wiped his hands on a rag in his possession as he replied.
“The temple of Nanaea. About 2 days walk from here."
Seeing no reaction from Seraphim, he continued, eyes lighting with curiosity.
" Oho, your not from around here are you? Where are you from? You’re not a bandit are you? Nah dressed too nice. What brings you here to Ithildor?..." interrupting the rapid-fire string of questions Seraphim spoke.
" Earnest you're awfully inquisitive. I tell you what; the price for the food is that you keep me company. I have not spoken with another human being since I’ve come to this land. I was beginning to think there were only demons, devils and wraiths about." The twinkle in Earnest eyes was all that was needed.
"A Moor eh? You’ve come a long way from home now haven't you Seraphim? What brings you to this side of the world?"
Seraphim looked at Earnest with a smile "I've no more business holding me to my ancestral lands. I left the monastery 'Alhambra' we had been living in after the death of my mother over 2yrs ago. And I have just been traveling the world trying to find my destiny.
'Aye, tis a hard thing to lose a parent. My sympathies. How long was she at the monastery...uhm, well what I mean is she didn't suffer long, did she?
The pained look that crossed Seraphim's face lasted only a few seconds.
"Honestly I think that she suffered all of my life, she died of a broken heart. See we lived in the temple. My mother took refuge there after the death of my father and the fall of Antioch, the city of which he was king. I was just a swaddling babe at that time"
"Ahhhhhh, royalty. I thought so. Are you in danger? Does someone seek your life?"
"No, my inquisitive friend. And I think that we have talked enough for the night. Let us both rest and see what tomorrow brings."
The Morning had come and Seraphim and his guest were packing to leave. Whistling loudly Seraphim held up his forearm and a large Grey owl flew over landed on it, “hey tran" he murmured to it." Did hunting go well for you last night?" Holding a piece of meat up, the owl clutched it in its beak and flew to its perch on the small wagon. "I guess not..." Seraphim laughed.
Ernest watched this with interest. "So Prince Greyswandir where are you headed?"
"Please call me Seraphim, and I’m not certain.... The Temple sounds like a nice place to visit though."
The scribe’s eyes lit. "Ahh then you wouldn't mind company then." it was more a statement than a question. But Seraphim knew what the root of it was, Like all good scribes he was hungering for a story, the rest of his. Sighing he looked at Earnest as he tied his horse up." there is room for one more on my cart."
Earnest finished pouring water and kicking dirt on the campfire then scrambled up next to Seraphim on the small cart.
"So if you don't mind me asking, what happened actually?"
Seraphim didn't answer immediately and they rode in silence for a while.
"I haven't spoken of it for a long time to another person, and really don’t know where to start."
"The Beginning" replied the Scribe.
"Well, this is what my mother told me. It starts with my father Arishiem Greyswandir. Born in the far lands beyond the great deserts to the southeast. He was the bastard son of a Moorish princess, from the southern Egyptian-Moor city-state of Einer, and a Grecian Praetorian Guardsman from the northern Greek-Roman city-state of Oresta. Rival powers, each controlling a vast territory with populations of close to a million people. Upon the discovery of her condition by her parents she was sent away, as she was now a disgrace to the royal family. Arishiem was raised well though, and proved to be a bright student. He also had a talent with the sword. He had one problem, a burning desire to prove himself to his estranged family. And this is what drove him most of his life. At the age of 17, he left his mother to find a way to prove his worth. For many yrs he wandered many lands, had many adventures. Doing as much good as he could... My mother used to tell me such stories of my father battling monsters and evil creatures and so..."
Seraphim laughed aloud and turned to Earnest. "Do you know on my fathers very first adventure... a town was being plagued by a evil cleric who was using this old castle dungeon as a stronghold. In addition, he and his minions would raid and attack the town at will. So my father and a few of his companions took the challenge of liberating the town. His companions were headed through the entrance when Arishiem stopped them from going in and instead lead them around to the back to where they found a secret entrance. Going in that way they were able to ambush the wicked monk, killing him first, which dishearten his followers and made the destruction of their vile sect much easier."
“Hmmm, Your father was a good man. Please continue..."
“A good Man, true but he had a chaotic nature, a wild streak.
That got only worse when he found out that his father the Praetorian Guardsman
was first cousin to the ruler of Oresta, and would not acknowledge him. Nothing was able to tame his inner daemons then...until he met my mother."
“Ahh, beautiful was she?"
“Kara was very pretty, but not beautiful in the classical sense.
She had fierce inner strength, and wit and charms enough to soften the most callus, hardened man.
My father saw her in the forest around the plains of Ard, a most dangerous place far to the west of the coastal city-states. She was hunting deer, a stag, a magnificent beast. My father told her that, that was when he fell in love with her. Watching her as she dressed her kill."
“Was she royalty?"
“No, she was a Moorish farmers daughter, a commoner."
“She never noticed Arishiem looking on from the distance, as she was so intent at her task. He followed her home, and promptly introduced himself to her family. Also his intent to marry their daughter. To wit she said No. She was the eldest of three children and had no older brothers, so the responsibility of running the farm fell to her and she did not want to leave them. This did not change my fathers mind one bit, He packed up his acquired wealth and belongings, bid his mother and friends farewell, and moved near to the plains of Ard to be near his Love. There was a small mixed community nearby of 300 or so strong willed and fiercely independent settlers, and they had formed themselves into a small band of fighters to protect themselves from the wild things."
“Uhhmmm, Seraphim? The wild things?"
“You know, the orcs, goblins, and bandits and such, that roam freely in wilderness places."
“Ahh the wild things."
“They were becoming restless though. At what they felt was the encroachment of mankind into their lands. The elves and dwarves they had to deal with, but not the humans. So one night they banded together and attacked. And would have won had it not been for my father, Who entered the fray with a blazing fury like that of Apollus, the god of the sun whom he worshipped. Battling them back and organizing their group, they won the night."
“YES!" Shouted Earnest, startling Seraphim's owl tranquillity from his rest.
“Then she married him!"
“This is not some fairy tale with a happy ending, So please let me finish. Unless you want me to stop?"
“No, no. I’m sorry, please finish."
The cart slowly swayed back and forth as it traveled along the dirt road. Seraphim continued as tranquility settled back on his perch.
“Where was I...oh yes.
Now although the wild things were beaten back that night they were not finished. They continued attacking over the next few months, being beaten back time and again. Arishiem was chosen to be the head of the militia, he was entrusted with their security. He continued striking the enemy, and driving them further away from the plains of Ard. But news travels fast in the dark places, and the eyes of evil creatures soon settled on this little community. And slowly they came in greater and greater numbers."
“But my father was no fool, he had spent many years in the wilderness and he understood the heart of these creatures. He had sent word to his friends in the coastal cities of Einar and Oresta. He had put out a call to arms, to raise an army, for mercenaries, adventures, people who would be willing to fight to have a place of there own. And they answered, they came, by the hundreds."
“They quickly organized hunting parties, and raids. Driving the creature’s further back into the wilderness, all the way to the northern foothills. Here, Arishiem met his greatest resistance. For in the highland of Ard, at the foot of the dark mountains lay the source of the ill. An Ogre King, Salinu, ferociously strong, he stood nearly 9ft tall, with hard leathery skin which no arrow could pierce, and carried a spear that was wet with many a man's blood.
In the following battle, my father and the Ogre king stuck many mighty blows against each other, any of which would have killed lesser creatures. But not these two, as their armies fought to exhaustion, they continued through the night, neither giving way. Feigning a mortal blow, Arishiem backed to the edge of the plateau and begged for mercy.
The Ogre roared with hatred and mirth, and raised a large boulder to crush his seemingly helpless prey. This is when he stuck, summoning all of his strength my father swung. His enchanted blade, Dyre, pierced its leathery hide. And in shock it fell over the side. As the Ogre King held on to the edge, fighting to get back up, Arishiem took its head. Taking his grisly trophy he raised it up on Salinu’s spear, for all to see, totally demoralizing the enemy army. That day many a dark creature fell to the sword. And for many years afterward there was peace in those lands"
Earnest looked at Seraphim perplexed. "Aye tis a tale full of woe you weave."
"Don't be and ass." Seraphim replied " I never said that it didn't have its high points. That is what makes it so tragic."
"This is when my mother married Arishiem though. She said that she was afraid that she would lose him. My mother, Kara nursed him back to health. For he had suffered horrible wounds in his battle with the ogre king."
"Well, answer me this then, I thought that ogres were stupid creatures?
This one appears to be rather smart."
"Truthfully most are. But every generation or so some are born with a devious intelligence. And of these, the most cunning and powerful becomes kings. Until another comes along and kills him. And Salinu was one of the worst. Salinu the Tormentor he was called, king of the ogres. And news of his death brought joy and celebration everywhere it reached. And it also brought my father great fame. People from everywhere came on the day my father was crowned king, And many stayed. The lands of Ard were plentiful in natural resources. Also, it was on the trade route between the east and west. The last stop for water, before crossing the great desert to the west."
“This was a great time for my father. People came from everywhere to settle in this new land, seeking their fortune. merchants, artisans, craftsmen, people of all skills, and abilities. Quarries were dug and my father built a great city on a nearby hillock, Antioch the Beautiful it was called, and the entire district was renamed Ard-Byzantium. The economy boomed, between taxes and trade tariffs over 1,000,000 gold yearly was added to the city treasury. They erected statues, and built colonnades, beautiful parks, and the city itself was an artistic masterpiece. Over the next ten yrs creativity was fostered, Temples to the gods were raised and colleges were built, for the study of both science and magic. Guilds sprung up everywhere, it was a time of intellectual curiosity and growth, with almost 100,000 people of every race and color living together peacefully."
“My mother bore 2 sons. The CrownPrince, Arishiem Greyswandir II, and me, three yrs later Prince Arsiquil Greyswandir. Everything appeared secure, the future, the present. No one knew a dark cloud was on the horizon."
"You have an older brother? That's great, I..."
“I will get to him later," Seraphim interrupted. As I said this was a great time for my Father. Mother said that Arishiem even found a measure of peace within himself. He settles in to study the magical arts and science too. He created amazing and cunning works. Mother said that he designed and built a ship that used marsh gas to float on the air."
“During his travels, Arishiem fought many wizards, and had gathered many mystical items. Prized among these though was a staff, a magical staff that was very powerful, father was happy."
“It's good that he had some happiness in his life, if this tale ends as bad as you say it does."
“Oh, don't doubt it, it does."
Image Comments (12)
Its funny you say historical Joel... I am a gamer from waayy back.. Arishiem was the very first charater i ever played in the game Ad&d back in 1979. I played him for some 10-15 years. The story Seraphim is telling is about my gaming adventures, so in a way they did occur, even the thing that are to follow in the story. The region of Ard-Byzantium and the city of Antioch was based on the Byzantine Empire. I spent many many months doing reasearch and notes, then i tweeked it to create the setting you all are reading now.... Amazing that you picked that up on that! And your time frame was exactly correct! I will try to work on a picture of Salinu and Arishiem... But there are so many images i could create from this tale... Hope you all enjoy!
You have a great imagination my friend,I enjoyed your little tale.Something is bugging me though - I think Greyswandir was a sword in a Roger Zelazny story,possibly Nine Princes in Amber or Jack Of Shadows,I can't remember which - it's a long time since I read that stuff.Anyway,it's a great name and should be used a lot more!
I watched a Teaching Company lecture series on the Byzantine Empire called "World of Byzantium". I wish I remembered more of it but I do remember that the First Crusade was around 1100. It was very interesting as is the history of Spain under the Moors. This was a very enjoyable read! I like the way you interspersed Seraphim's tale with the conversation between him and Ernest. It added a lot of humor and made me feel the growing camaraderie between the two men. I also like the way the story reaches back into Seraphim's family's past, but is coming up to why he is there and what his current quest is. The glory of his family has some tragic flaw, which is hinted at in the story, but not yet explained. I'm looking forward to reading more!