Säule Sommersonnenwendigkeit

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Säule Sommersonnenwendigkeit

Post by Casey on Wed Feb 19, 2014 8:30 pm

As the windswept and frost glittering peaks of the Wiegeberge of Vaterland gather the kind clouds the north wind brings them from the Highwater Sea, as the eagles dare to soar from the crags to hunt the hares scurrying on the valley floor, and as the men till the land and watch their flocks in the high grasses of the mountainous plains, the burg of Joachimstal continues on as it ever does. Known mostly for its silver mines that define Vaterland's ubiquitous coins, yet still in the dales the pixies dance in the moonfilled circles in the dew drenched grass and the faeries whisper sweet dreams to the children of the vallies as their parents keep watch over them and shut their windows to bar the imps from their predation.

Lovers of peace and well groomed land and old stories and older traditions without beginnins, the people of Joachimstal live as did their ancestors. Weavers and potters and smiths and farmers and woodcarvers and fat merchants live their lives and teach their children and their children's children about Man's first exodous from the mountains and the land it is said that they found full of the riches of the good earth and the little waters and the bosques of the Great River and never had want nor never knew hunger.

Their sons leave as they ever had to serve the King and those who did nothing come back and boast of their deeds and those who saw too much of the outside world come back and say nothing but that they are happy to be home and will never leave again. And the King's ministers come at the Erntefest wearing their gold and Joachimssilber and collect the taxes and dues and grains that are the property of the Kings and then they leave before the first frost has turned the stubble of the empty fields into the diamond mines of the winter sprites and the Yulehearths are lighted.

So it was that a child was born to a common family with a common name who owned common fields and a common cottage. But it was not long before it was known that the child was not a common child. Small and frail for a member of such a long lived and doughty race, yes possessing a calmness and intelligence beyond his years, the child was nutured by the village elders and read books and spoke poetry and thought thoughts to himself as he sat in the village square with his paper and ink and ideas.

Eschewing the rougher games of wrestling and sticks and footracing he was allowed to attend the Burgermeister's school, and learned maths and ancient prophecy and the rhetorics of the nobles. But nothing drew him more than the healing touch of the Master's Art. Whether setting the broken bone of the gosling's leg or staunching the flow from the wound of an unlucky sticks player, healing hands were for - said the village elders - for no other thing. When a cohort of the King's Guards arrived in the village to suppress a rise of armed bands highway bandits, it is related that the gentle child said nothing out of respect for their sacrifice, but hid himself in the inn and wept.

It was long known that this child would not remain long in the village, and in his fourteenth year, with a letter written by the Burgermeister's own hand, he left for Koeningswelt and joined the College of Healers. Finding peace among the marble hallways and book lined shelves and the halls of the sick he refined his talents until - no longer a child - he was pronounced a Journeyman Healer, and finding himself for the first time to make his own future, he left comfort behind him to assuage the pains of the world.

Last edited by Saule on Wed Feb 19, 2014 8:36 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Säule Sommersonnenwendigkeit

Post by Casey on Wed Feb 19, 2014 8:35 pm

Hans looked back at his charge. There he was still, looking down at his feet as he walked. The boy
always walked alongside him and to his rear. It was as if Säule believed that if he was unable to
make eye contact with him, conversation would be avoided.

Shrugging his shoulders, Hans looked at the road ahead. It was as bleak as it ever was, these last
two days. They were crossing the Akhant, the barren wastland that separated Northern Fricana
from the beginnings of Al-Asham. Hard brown packed earth, flat as a river stone, was all the eye
could see for miles around. Carefully planned inns, always built next to a spring or an oasis, dotted
the land, allowing the caravans and nomads places to rest along the way. The road was
painstakingly marked with stone pillars, placed close enough together that when a person was at
one, two more could be seen ahead, and the last two behind could also be seen. Water was absent
from the region, as if the Land herself abhorred it. Hans was very careful to carry enough water in
bulging skins on his pack horse, Langsam, for two days' travel for the three of them. It was no easy
feat, but a lack of water on this road would mean a certain, painful, lingering death.

That night, setting up a tent in one of the oases – they had too little money to sleep in an inn every
night – Hans prepared a meal for his charge. Nothing spectacular, some dried noodles soaked in hot
water. Hans had learned a trick from the Bedouins, putting water into a black stone jar, letting the
heat of the sun by day bring the water inside to a near boil. At night, the noodles could be placed in
the jar, creating a passable soup. He wouldn't have thought that, after such a long day walking in the
blistering heat, he would want a cooked meal at night, but experience in the near-freezing night had
quickly dispelled such illusions.

They had no campfire. Wood was strictly controlled in the oases, but the moon was waxing. Most
nights previously in their long journey after they had eaten their evening meal Säule would open a
book and read. Tonight, Hans noticed, he simply lay on the ground, looking up at the sky. Every
once in a while he would glance over towards Hans. At first Hans thought that he was looking at
him, but then he noticed that Säule was looking at his spear. It was almost a pike, really, taller than
he was by a good bit, made out of ash as hard as iron and tipped with steel. Hans cleared his throat,
hoping to make conversation.

"You like it?" he asked, indicating towards his spear.

Säule looked away quickly, as if embarrassed. For a long moment Hans thought that his question
would go unanswered, but then he was surprised by his companions voice.

"I hate it," was the laconic reply.

"Um, uh, why?" was Hans' startled response.

Säule inhaled deeply, as if to refresh his lungs with the night air that was quickly growing cool. "It
is an evil, a blight, a symbol and an archetype of all that is wrong with the world. I give you the
shortest space of time, and with that thing you could do more hurt than I could undo in the space of
years, and rend more flesh than I could mend in a lifetime. It is an odious tool to rip souls from the
body, to cause mourning that cannot be assauged, to make widows and orphans, to destroy town and
city, and to erase the good of generations."

Hans gulped. He was a simple servant and a soldier. He didn't understand everything that his master
had said, but he knew that Säule disapproved of his spear. Still, he didn't know what Säule wanted
him to do.

"Um, do you want me to get rid of it?"

Säule was half his size and at least ten years his junior, but he would obey his every command. Not
because he had been ordered to do so by the Hauptstadtherrn, but because this boy was something
that he was not. Säule thought, he read, he had wisdom in his eyes. Hans didn't even have a last
name, but despite the humble beginnings that were told of Säule, by the time that Hans had come to
know him he had been given the impressive surname of Sommersonnenwendigkeit. Hans didn't
even know what it meant. Still, Hans knew that the world was commanded by such men – and he
knew that someday Säule would be just such a man. Still, Hans was a warrior. He lived by the
strength of his arm, the quickness of his eye, and the sharpness of his spear. His legion's motto
"Kein Furcht mit Stahl" – No Fear with Steel – meant everthing to him. A life without a weapon
would be.... What, really? What would he do without a spear?

"Keep it," Säule said after some time. There was no more talk that night.

Two days later they were in trouble. They had gotten lost in the trackless wastes of the sand dunes,
and a sand storm had over taken them. Hans did the best he could, but he was not used to such
places, and he could find no shelter from the winds that bit. Säule was fairing poorly, coughing,
choking, bleeding from the face and hands from where the sand had ground away the skin. Hans
knew that if he did not do something soon, Säule would not survive the day.

Hans looked at Langsam, his faithful pack horse of many years that had been a gift from His Lord
when Hans had defended the keep and Helmsburg against raiders. For Hans, it was not even a
decision. He stopped and sat Säule down, sheltering him temporarily with a blanket. Hans unloaded
Langsam, placing the beast's burdens into the shifting sand. Pulling the horse's reins downward, the
old mare got to her knees, and then lay down. Hans passed the tent over, under, and around
Langsam, using her weight to anchor the tent on one side. He used his own weight to anchor the
other side, bringing the boy in between them, nestling him into the protected lee created by the
horse. Hans silently wept, praying to Allvater that Säule would survive the night.

Hans awoke with a start. The wind had stopped. All was quiet. Hans lifted the tent from around him
and stood slowly. The tent was covered with sand. He was covered with sand. He felt the sand in his
clothes, his hair, his mouth. Hans reached for a water skin and drunk sparingly. There would be no
telling when they would next find water. He was careful to not look at Langsam. He didn't want to
see, not yet.

A sound disturbed the silence. A soft padding sound. The hair on his neck rose as Hans turned to
look, turned and saw creeping towards them a shape illuminated by the full moon. Hans knew what
it was. Though he had never seen one, he had heard the tales told in the oases by the camel driver
and the merchants. Big as a full grown pony, powerfully built, with shaggy hair and the form of a
dog, Hans knew it could only be one thing: a Desert Wolf.

Snatching his spear, Hans quickly put sharp steel between the Wolf and them. "Stay down," he
hissed quietly at Säule, who withdrew into the belly of Langsam's corpse.

The Wolf circled them twice, three times, apprising the situation while staying well out of the reach
of the spear. Then it spoke.

"Man, Man," it softly uttered, almost purring and it continued to circle. "Why do you thrust your
tooth towards me? Can't you see that I am hungry, me and my children? Why would you deny us
that which we want? Surely you would not value your life below that of the child. Surely you will
part with the child, and surely as I speak the truth you will go on your way, you with your life and
me with my life and the life of my children. Keep your trinkets, I want them not, only give me the
child and a little water for my children."

"By my life you shall have neither!" cried Hans. "By my blood you shall not harm him nor shall
come to him! Take my horse Langsam! Eat her flesh and be satisfied, you and yours!"

"Yes, yes." The soft purring had turned into a hissing growl. "Yes I shall feast on its flesh, and I
shall also lick your blood, yours and his, and you shall be food for me and mine. You are MINE!"
the Wolf shrieked as it leapt towards Hans.

"Kein Furcht mit Stahl!" shouted Hans as he set to receive the charge.

                   *                     *                     *

"There, down there," Ibn Mufassa said.

Ben Gurion craned his head and shielded his eyes. Mufassa had sharp vision, and while Gurion saw
as a lump in the groung Mufassa saw something else.

Hurrying down the steep slope of the dune they came upon a sorry sight. A horse, flayed by the
night's sandstorm, lay dead on the ground. Next to it were the bodies of a Desert Wolf and of a man.
Also there was a boy, perhaps thirteen years old, with hair a surprising yellow and eyes a pale blue,
kneeling next to the body of the warrior, trying to dig a grave with his hands.

Ben Gurion, looked, guessing what had happened. Clearly this was not one of the desert; he had all
the appearance of an Imperial.

Ben Gurion cleared his throat. "Peace be to you, friend," he said, trying to remember the words in
Thelonic. "May you have peace, may your wives have peace, may your mother have peace, and
may your children have peace their lives. May the rains lift you up and may your camel carry you
through the desert and may your goats give milk."

The boy looked up, his pale eyes ringed with a mourner's red.

"Can you help me?" he asked. "I have a little money, and some books. Can you help me? I will give
you anything I have. I must bury him."

Ben Gurion, shocked by the boy's offer of recompense, composed himself and replied, "By my
faith, may the Djinni find me should I take a drop of water from you or a copper earring from you
to help you! Tell me, what is your name, and what is the name of your servant, so that we may
properly honor him in burial?"

"My name is Säule," he said, standing. "And he is not my servant. His name is Hans. He is my

"Well met, Säule Blue-eyes, and well met, Hans Warrior-Friend." Gurion and Mufassa placed their
hands over their eyes and spoke the words to send Hans to the Bosom of the Sun.

After they had conducted the proper burial rituals for Hans, Säule began picking up his things. He
also hefted the long spear shaft - the head of the spear having broken off, embedded in the body of
the Wolf.

"You take that, in remembrence of Hans?" asked Mufassa.

"No," said Säule. "I take it as a weapon."

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Re: Säule Sommersonnenwendigkeit

Post by Maximum Shepherd on Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:40 pm

See? This story is the inevitable progression which turns Saule from a peace-loving hippie wizard to an amoral killing machine. He started off hating the appearance of spears, but he took a staff as a "weapon". Next, he realized that he could command men and creatures in combat fairly well. Now, his pacifism has lowered itself to an all-time low.

Slowly, dear pupil, slowly. The road to the dark side is flat and even at least when viewed from the present moment.
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Re: Säule Sommersonnenwendigkeit

Post by Casey on Sat Feb 22, 2014 2:27 pm

Alpha Centauri wrote:See? This story is the inevitable progression which turns Saule from a peace-loving hippie wizard to an amoral killing machine. He started off hating the appearance of spears, but he took a staff as a "weapon". Next, he realized that he could command men and creatures in combat fairly well. Now, his pacifism has lowered itself to an all-time low.

Slowly, dear pupil, slowly. The road to the dark side is flat and even at least when viewed from the present moment.

Well, yes, besides the "amoral killing machine" and "dark side" bits, that's a pretty good picture of Saule's character development. He's learned, from some rather obvious experiences, that some people just need to be killed.  Smile 

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