this was awesome, it had a Gene Wolf Shadow of the Torturer feel to it.
In the far distance, smoke still rose from Bellingshire, and from where I stood, across the Myhrre, the faint sounds of the innocent being slaughtered could still be heard. Not far from me, sat a tavern beside the dirt road, and I decided to seek refuge there, and wait for the clamor to end, for there was nothing else for miles, and I wished not to sleep in the open.
Inside, a minstrel played a lively song, and footmen returned from the front made merry with locals and travelers. It seemed everyone had forgotten that not far off, Bellingshire was being sacked. I sat at the bar, weary from the day's excitement, and ordered a pint of ale, and some meat and potatoes to accompany it. The innkeeper looked at me and said:
"Not livin' in Bellingshire, are ye? It's awful what's happenin' over there." I shook my head. "No, I'm just passing through. What do you make of it all?" "I don't know," the innkeeper said, coming back with my food and ale. "But with the way things are going, I don't think it will be over anytime soon."
I sighed, and when the innkeeper began to charge me, I quickly brandished a piece of parchment, which bore the Calatravean sigil in wax and the words: "On His Majesty's Orders”. The innkeeper opened his eyes wide and said: "I'm sorry, m'lord! I didn't know! "Think nothing of it" I said, "for there was no way you could know. I require food and lodging, that is all." "Of course, m'lord! We will make sure you are well taken care of!" A barmaid brought me a steaming pile of meat and boiled potatoes, with a side of gravy, and a hunk of bread. She smiled sweetly as she lay the vittles before me.
I ate, famished, and washed the food down with the ale. As I mopped the plate of the gravy with the last of the bread, the innkeeper sat with me, and whispered: "So, what brings you to Bellingshire, if I may ask, m'lord?" I leaned in, and whispered back: "I was sent on behalf of the Bishop of Saundry. Rumors have reached him, of...unholy practices in these parts, not befitting of His Majesty's Kingdom. I've been sent to exorcize this backward scourge. The people of Bellingshire...they have committed sacrilege against the All Father" The innkeeper's face turned pale, and he began to tremble. "Please, m'lord, say no more! These are dangerous times, and I would not want to be caught up in whatever it is you're doing! I don't want any trouble!" I smiled, and rest my hand on his back: "There is no need to fear, my good man. I am a holy man, and I will make sure that no harm comes to you or yours. I only ask for your discretion. Can I rely on you?" The innkeeper nodded, and I finished the last of my ale.
I bid him goodnight, and went to my room, where I prepared for bed, and said a prayer for the people of Bellingshire, that they may find peace in this dark time. In the morning I would finish what my men had started.
I awoke. The sun had not yet risen, but the sky was aglow with the light of the coming day. I donned my clothing and went downstairs, where the innkeeper was preparing breakfast. He bid me good morning, and asked if I had slept well. I told him I had, and he handed me a plate of food. I ate, and when I was finished, I asked him where I might find the nearest church. He told me that there was one in the next village, about a mile down the road. I thanked him, and set off. While I rode to the village, I could think only of my mission, bestowed upon my the Bishop of Saundry. The lands beyond the Myrrhe, were to be tamed, and to do so, the King's Faith had to be imposed, by the sword if need be. In Bellingshire heresy had taken root, and it was my duty to see that it was eradicated. I would not rest until the All Father's Will was done.
I reached the village, and as I did, I could see the church towering over the other buildings. It was a simple structure, made of wood, with a cross of the All Father atop the roof. I tethered my horse, and made my way inside. The church was empty, save for a single priest, who was kneeling in prayer. I approached him, and knelt down beside him. We prayed together for a time, and when we had finished, the priest stood and faced me. He introduced himself as Father Andrew, and asked me what brought me to his church.
I told him of my mission, and how I had been sent by the Bishop of Saundry to root out the heresy in Bellingshire. Father Andrew's face grew grave, and he shook his head. "For long the people of Bellingshire have renounced the Kingdom's Faith, it was only a matter of time before they paid the price." I nodded in agreement, and said "the King has let this evil fester for far too long. Yesterday my men set fire to the town, and its people were slaughtered, but I know this is not enough. The hamlets deep in the woods, it is there that the real black magic is practiced." Father Andrew nodded. "You are right, my son. The people of Bellingshire, they worshiped the old ways, the ways of the forest. It is said that there is a witch who lives in the heart of the woods, who communes with the spirits of the trees. She is the one who has led the people astray, and if she is not stopped, more will suffer."
I asked Father Andrew to show me the way to the witch's hut on a map. He obliged, showing me how to arrive there from Bellingshire. I thanked him and set out to meet my men, who were encamped not far from the destroyed settlement. Upon my arrival I saw that my men had hung men, women and children at the entrance of the encampment. The captain of my company of men, Sir Majyn Gyhmek, walked up to me and helped me dismount. "We found these heretics practicing their unholy ritual in the town square. I thought it best to make an example of them." I nodded, and said "you did well, Sir Majyn. The people of Bellingshire need to know that there is a new order in this land, and that the All Father will not tolerate their heresy." Majyn, looked up and asked, "what news from the Mark?"
I told him of my plan to root out the evil in Bellingshire, and how we would need to go deep into the woods to find the witch's hut. Majyn nodded, and gathered the men. We made camp in the woods that night, and in the morning, we set out to find the witch. We arrived at the witch's hut late in the day. It was a small, ramshackle structure, hidden away in a clearing. My men surrounded the hut, and I called out to the witch, telling her to come out and surrender. There was no response. I called out again, and this time, the door opened, and an old woman stepped out. She was bent and frail, with a wizened face. The witch peered at me with her cold, black eyes, and cackled: "So, the Kingdom sends its holy warriors to deal with me, does it? You're too late, the damage has been done. The people of Bellingshire, they have seen the error of their ways, and have pledged their loyalty to the forest. There is nothing you can do to stop us!" I shook my head. "The people of Bellingshire may have turned their backs on the All Father, but I will not allow your heresy to spread any further. I am here to put an end to your evil!" The witch laughed again, and said: "And how do you propose to do that, little warrior? You and your men, you are no match for the Forest!" I unsheathed my sword, and held it up. "By the power of the All Father, I will defeat you!" The witch's laugh turned to a look of anger, and she raised her arms.
Suddenly, the ground began to shake, and trees began to uproot themselves and move towards us. My men began to panic, but I remained calm. I knew that we had to stand our ground, and fight. I called out to my men, and charged at the witch. My sword collided with her outstretched arm, and she let out a cry of pain. The ground stopped shaking, and the trees stopped moving. The witch fell to her knees, and I held my sword to her neck. "Do it!" she spat. "Do what you came here to do!" I hesitated. I had never killed a woman before, let alone an old one. But I knew that it had to be done. The witch had to be stopped. I took a deep breath, and then brought my sword down, decapitating her in one clean stroke. The witch's head rolled to the ground, and her body fell to the earth.
Welcome to the Midnight.
~barkeep, do the lights on the small stage still work? And did I see a tall stool that would be ideal for telling tales?
I walk into the Pub late in the afternoon. And there is this newcomer, monologue-ing away like there is no tomorrow. Hey ~gudakesha96! Welcome to the pub! However, wouldn't it be nice to introduce oneself? And this being a virtual pub ... you sure this is the right place for a pretty lengthy piece of prose?
Oh well. You might chose to ignore me, and might chose that route as well.
~bartender? How about some white port on the terrace? I'd be ever so grateful.