Friday, January 28, 2011

The Penitent's Tale - Part 3

Turning, the gentleman addresses the others in the hall. “You are all witnesses! This man has disgraced the honor my house and has been challenged according to the law!”

“It’s true!”, cries the woman. “He is a beast and needs to be punished!” Behind the gentleman’s back, a knowing look finds Akiros.

A pleading look: “Rosilla! What is this nonsense!? I thought...”

“Don’t try to talk your way out of this one, knave! Dawn! Swords! Bring a testament!”

“Sir, I assure you. Your wife...”

“Do not speak about my wife!”, the gentleman roars, veins straining in his neck. “You have done enough damage already! I will hear nothing more but your death rattle on the morn!” He sneers. “And this from a so-called paladin of Erastil.” He looks about the room at the bystanders. “You should all be ashamed.”

Nodding, the woman straightens up and release a gob of spittle into the face of Akiros that would make a dock worker proud.

A heartbeat, then a red haze descends over Akiros’ eyes and he has a rod from the crib in his hand. There’s a woman’s scream and the red haze darkens. A grapple, a cry, and the red haze darkens yet again.

Horrified, Akiros gapes at the red haze seeping through the Sunday dress of the woman he once loved.

The bystanders stand stunned. Only one thing remains to do.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Penitent's Tale - Part 2

A man in a coat and hat is dragging a reluctant woman in a Sunday dress down the length of the hall. The woodcarver stands up and removes his leather apron, revealing a shirt of chain links and an intricately carved wooden pendant in the shape of a bow and arrow. His smile at the sight of the woman turns to a frown at the gentleman at her side. Others look up from their work at similar tables to watch the well-dressed couple breeze past them

“You!”, roars the gentleman. “You did this to my Rosilla!”

The woman is pulled up short by her arm - the disarray of her raven hair and flush of her full cheeks seeming only to enhance her beauty. Her big blue eyes land on the woodcarver with a mischievous look.

Rosilla: “No! Don’t let him near me! He threatens everything!”

Woodcarver: “I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Gentleman: “Have no fear, my dear. I won’t let him anywhere near you.” Turning to the woodcarver, the gentleman pulls off a leather glove, one finger at a time - then flings it directly in his face.

“Akiros Ismort - you have violated the virtue of my wife and I demand justice!”, he bellows.

The woodcarver’s jaw drops.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Penitent's Tale - Part 1

An eagle descends out of a sunrise. In the morning light, the shadow of the Black Cliffs stretches long over the Mighty Porthmos. Below pass the majestic villas and once-golden spires of Oppara - the Gilded City.

The eagle sails beyond the bustle and din of the city and travels out, out over a pastoral countryside. The streets of the city are replaced with cultivated fields, livestock, and hedgerows. A village catches the bird’s eye - covered in cobbled roads, fresh paint, and people in well-mended clothes. A churchbell rings and the smell of the morning baking is on the air. Dipping to avoid the lazy stroke of a windmill, the eagle lands on a branch outside a long hall and peers inside.

A sturdy man sits at a worktable with a simple knife in hand. His brow furrowed over piercing gray eyes in concentration, he shapes a wooden rod.

One stroke, two stroke - turn. One stroke, two stroke - turn. One stroke, two stroke - turn.

His hands stop. He nods in approval and blows sawdust from the rod. Bending down he affixes it to the side of a cradle and reaches for another piece of wood. A hanging woodblock carving of a man in hunting garb watches over him as he toils.

There is a bang and a gust of wind as the door at the end of the hall flies open. Startled, the man draws blood with the knife and utters a low curse.

Sunday, January 23, 2011