Back/up Pavis overall

Graylor's initiation to Hereward

We've had a lot of NPCs doing this behind the scenes, but for Graylor we're playing through it.

Many of our NPCs were also being initiated into their first Humakti subcult, so for them the emphasis was on Humakt. Some were adding another subcult to the collection, like Graylor. For them, this meant learning about the aspect of Hereward that most interested them - Elendala, for instance, sees him primarily as the leader who does not let his followers down.

The thing that Graylor is finding confusing at the moment is the definitions of honour. Jalmar considered that the honourable thing to do was to keep the commitment to fighting Gabji, whilst for Hereward the honourable thing was to distance himself from a dishonourable leader. Yet the Herewardi are generally much more honourable than the Jalmari.

When he puts this to Dori, she nods thoughtfully. "There's no easy answer to that. Everyone finds their own path to the Truth - I may have said that once or twice?" That quick smile.

"There's a couple of things that you might want to think about there. One is that we have a slightly different view of the Severing from the norm. We don't call it kin-severing. For us, what Humakt separated himself from was a leader who had proved himself to be dishonourable. The fact that the leader was his own brother was beside the point. Compare that with our reasons for leaving Arkat, it may help."

"I suspect that in this respect you have followed Humakt closely. I'm guessing that your severing was much more from a leader that had failed you much more than your family. That had been taken from you much earlier." She nods silently, her expression bleak. Graylor looks thoughtful as he continues. "It's funny but my severing was completely the opposite. I experienced the cut that joins. In much the same way that a healer may break bones in order to set them straight; my severing allowed the healing of the rift between me and my father. He is a sword in the service of Hu who as a youth I severely misjudged. Such failings are too common in the young, if we are lucky we are able to make reconciliation. I will meditate on this for I feel there is a truth here that I am missing."

"I've been told that the word "cleave" is important. It means both to cut apart and to join together, though I've never understood that mystery myself."

"The other thing..." she hesitates, unsure how to go on. "There's a story I used for my devotion quest. Or rather, that I intended to use. I've never quite remembered what happened, but it all went a bit strange, and I ended up in a totally different myth. Anyway, I've got a feeling I should tell you the basics now, though I'm not sure why. I can't give it Hrolf's flair, you should ask him to tell it to you as well.

"There is usually a good reason for these feelings. I have learned the hard way not to ignore these feelings. They tend to build." Graylor's face darkens. "In my case took the death of 25 comrades to finally stop me running from Humakt's call." He grunts ruefully. "Sorry, please continue."

"Recognising what the call is can be hard," she says ruefully. "It took me far too long to realise that devoting myself to Hereward was what I had to do, Illig had to all but hit me over the head with the idea before I recognised it. But yes, back to the myth. The basic idea is, it was in the time when Humakt was wandering the world trying to recover Death, and learning things. One by one, he discovered weaknesses that made him dishonourable, or less effective as a fighter, and he cut them off. He cut off his pride, his anger, his fear, pity, spite, the need for revenge - all his emotions. Only then he found that he had no reason left to act. Not to defend others, not to defend himself. Instead of cutting these things off as weaknesses, he had to accept them and use them as strengths.

"I've been finding a lot of that over the last season or so. Weaknesses that turn out to be strengths. Maybe it's going to be relevant to you, I'm not sure."

"I'll be sure to find Hrolf. I wanted to talk to him about learning the Oath feat from him. The oath he formed in the temple was awesome."

Later, Graylor talks to Hrolf as suggested, and is told this: MythSecret

It seemed odd: usually before any heroquest, much less an initiation, the presiding godi would be making sure that you knew every detail of the myth, every phrase, every gesture. Anyone who'd done it before would be recounting their experiences, telling you all the ways in which it could vary and how to deal with them. But here, Dori wouldn't tell him more than an outline. And apparently speaking of what had happened on one's own heroquest, to a non-initiate, was forbidden.

When he asked, Dori looked almost surprised. "But of course. Like I keep saying, everyone finds their own path to the Truth. What would be the point of telling you what my path was? It couldn't tell you anything useful, it might well mislead you. I know, it seems unfair sending you in without guidance, but that's half the point of Hereward, in matters of honour you have to manage without guidance. If you're going to judge whether or not your leader is honourable, you can't trust someone else to do that for you, and certainly not anyone who you might think of as a leader."

"Look at the greater truth behind the little truths. What you're going to experience is the moment when Hereward stopped being just one of Arkat's followers and became his own man, with his own opinions. When he realised that what Arkat was doing was dishonourable, and he should leave him. All of Arkat's followers who we know of seem to have had a moment like that: I'm sure Jalmar came to the same decision at some point, but for different reasons.

"Just remember the basics. Whether this disagreement was over trolls, or sorcery, or what to have for dinner, doesn't matter. It's the basic principles. Honour is the path as well as the goal. The end does not justify the means. And motivation matters at least as much as action - an honourable deed done for dishonourable reasons is still dishonourable.

"Then the second part, the Truewind - how you get to know it doesn't matter. It'll appear to you in a way that fits your truth. What matters is that it becomes as much a part of you as your swordarm."

All the Herewardi are gathered for this, the first initiation to take place in the new temple. Many of the Jalmari, too - while Graylor is not one of their band, he is of their cult. Many had expected that Illig would have led the ceremony himself, but given the possible significance of the bond between Graylor and Dorinda, she is to preside. Not for the first time - like any Devotee, she has created new initiates before, the latest being Elendala - but this is going to be unusual, and everyone present is aware of it.

The temple is dark - it always is, lit only by the Deathlight. But now even that seems not to illuminate the walls as it should - it's hard to see the edges of the temple, they fade out into shadow. The voices chanting do not echo as they should - is this place larger than he had thought? A cold wind blows from a direction that must be North, surely? and he turns to face it. The crowd parts before him, and is silent. And in the silence, an unheard Word that calls him forward. Behind him, Dori takes him by the shoulders. "Go forth and find your path," she says. "And come back to us knowing yourself."

He walks forward, leaving the protective circle, and her guidance, walking into the wind. He can see nothing ahead of him - hear nothing. He walks. He must be well beyond the bounds of the temple now, the comforting support of his friends lost in the darkness behind him. Yet he knows they are there.

A light ahead - a sword blade. And a voice.

"Hail, sword-brother!"

At some deep level, he recognises that voice - and at some more shallow level, too. But the deep dominates for now. His comrade, Jalmar, who he has fought alongside for many years.

Close enough to see him, now, though not the face, always hidden in that deep cowl. A hand raised in greeting - that flick of the fingers that added the salute of one Illuminate to another.

Hereward/Graylor responds with the same salute.

"Hail, Jalmar, sword-brother. It is good to see thy light in this dark place. Doest thou know a route out of this blackness? I am no Uz or Mostali that enjoy life without light."

"Yonder - our master and the rest of our comrades await us. Aye, our allies will enjoy this, and our enemies hate it, but I too have little love for the darkness. Dark clouds, and a dark night - must the Orlanthi forever let their storms rage out of control?"

A rhetorical question, obviously, and he goes on, musing, "We fight to defend the Heortling lands, and yet they fight each other as readily as they do Gbaji. Their magic lacks control, weakens us as often as it strengthens. What use an ally if you must watch for an attack from him, intentional or not, as often as from the true foe? I wonder, now, if the so-called Great Storm damaged them in some permanent way, let Chaos creep in? It would explain much."

"Aye that it would. But we must follow our leader that is our duty. We have bound our honour to him and if he says that it is good that these wind-brothers are our best ally then so be it. I for one will not gainsay him."

There is a light ahead of them, now, and a group of figures.

One stands out amongst them: the others are but faceless shadows in comparison. The light comes from his great sword - and again, both Hereward and Graylor recognise it, but this time both levels agree.

"Hereward, my friend! The last to arrive, but the most welcome."

The simple words and gesture gather the groups' attention.

"Now we are all met, and we stand at a crossroads. A decision is being forced upon us. Some of you have spoken of this, I know. We fight, and we fight to the best of our ability, but still we are forced back. There are many causes, many reasons, but the main one this day is that at every turn, we are hampered by our supposed allies. They promise to defend our flanks, and fail, they promise support, and it does not arrive, their magic blows out of control, as likely to harm us as our foes. We will be better off without them."

A face becomes more distinct in the crowd. "But to leave them? This is their land: we fight to support them, not they us. You order the battle, Arkat, but the High King rules over all. Is it the way of honour to desert our leader?"

"We must do whatever it takes to defeat Gbaji. The Wind is a weakness that the Sword-Warrior cannot afford, and a leader who fails us is no leader."

"You would have us sever ourselves from them?"

"I would go further. I would have us sever our magic from theirs."

A silence at that: this is deep magic, and a great decision from which there will be no going back.

"To change the tales of the gods... that is dangerous. Dangerous, and hard. But it can be done, when you know those tales from all sides. Humath serves as warleader to his younger brother - all know this. But there are tales in the West of how he left the brother who failed him, and took a new name. Cut off his weaknesses. Became the pure Sword Warrior, unsullied by the intemperate Storm. I would have us do this, to leave the Storm behind us both on the mundane and in reality."

A subtle change in the group dynamics - uncertainty. While he still has their attention, he does not have their full agreement, and that is new.

"Jalmar, my friend and advisor, have you not said that you feel the Storm may be Chaos-tainted? Best to cut it from us, then."

The voice from within the cowl remains impassive, detached. "I said only that such might be the case. It is not yet proven. Still, better to be too careful than not careful enough: better not to trust than to be too trusting."

The man who spoke earlier is singled out, now. "Maklamann, loyal thane. This is a risky endeavour, but will you support me in this, as in all else?"

There is some reluctance here, but no indecision. "To abandon our Orlanthi allies might be seen as disloyal, but to abandon the leader to whom I am sworn would be more so. If you must do this thing, I will support you."

And finally, his Master's attention turns to him, and Graylor/Hereward feels hypnotised by the intensity of those grey eyes.

"Hereward, my friend. Most welcome I said, and most welcome I meant. It was you who first taught me how to not just follow the tales, but to change them. Will you aid me now, to change the tale we follow and cut ourselves free, not free as the Wind, but free from the Wind?"

“I can not. I will not be party to such an outrage against our friends. Where would we be without our Lord Humath? If we do this we will be changing our very gods for ever. We will be outcast from the Storm Tribe. Who are we to say to Humath, your laws that guided us through the great darkness are great, but they are making this task difficult I wouldst not obey them now? What has become of us that we change our honour as we change clothes? A leader does not cease to be a leader because he looses, he ceases to be a leader when he acts without honour and integrity. Would that I could show you a wind that was so pure it would cleave right from wrong, truth from untruth. Then you would all know that we canst not act without honour in all things, lest we become the very thing we fight against.”

Graylor/Hereward’s anger releases him from the depths of those grey eyes. Eyes that are left full of pain and astonishment. He turns to Jalmar and speaking quietly he asks.

“Jalmar, my brother, I would trust your 'might be so' over many men’s 'definitely'. So the storm is chaos tainted, but I would fain know this truth. Canst thou find out from whence the stain originates? Is it from within or without? Are we betrayed or merely beset by greater magic.”

"I do not know. I do not yet know even that it is tainted, much less how, though I have my suspicions. You were ever the one to seek out the deeper Truth, Hereward, and you are right, Chaos hidden in our own ranks is the most dangerous to us. I will find this out, you have my word on it." There is a new resolution in his voice - a path has been chosen here.

Hereward/Graylor speaks quietly, for Jalmar's ears only. “I fear that those that have our insight on the world,” here once again Hereward/Graylor flicks his fingers in that strange manner, “will need a more subtle approach than normal creatures tainted with the pre-dark.”

Jalmar nods, thoughtfully. "But for now, Arkat is right, as ever. We cannot afford to be corrupted by this weakness, no matter what its cause."

“But oath breaking is a much greater corruption than being beset by possible only an incompetent ally.”

"Never ascribe to incompetence that which could be explained by malice," Jalmar quotes.

"Do you not see it, Hereward?" This is Arkat at his most persuasive, without the deep, passionate, impulsive conviction of his earlier speech, but with the charisma that makes all things, all arguments, seem not just reasonable but compelling. "We are not abandoning our friends here, we seek only to make ourselves better able to protect them. They are weakened, but we need not be. Our honour must remain pure, so that we can better guard theirs. It is a sacrifice we make for their good, even though they may not understand it."

Hereward/Graylor is swayed by his leader’s powerful presence. He seems to shrink down with every word. Though the more observant see that he is probing every word trying to penetrate there truth and the truth that is held in the heart of Arkat. Subtle magics seem to play round the edges of their words. It has ever been thus when these two debated; they have pushed each other onward, forged each other. Now however the dynamic is different, the pushing is in different directions. The onlookers sense a dangerous diverging of paths.

Hereward/Graylor is/are cracking under Arkat’s gaze. “There is something amiss here, but I can’t penetrate Arkat’s words. Dori warned me to find the deeper truths of this situation. Well perhaps the Herewardi can help?” Graylor switches his consciousness to the shallow level and sends out his plea. “Brothers-to-be I need your help. Help me weigh the truth of these words.” The support comes and he weaves the magic through Arkat’s words and finds that they are the truth! Though there is still a feeling of questioning about the answer. A feeling that Hereward doesn’t comprehend. But one that Graylor has experience of. Arkat’s illumination is clouding the issue.

Graylor remembers General Vur's promise "When you have need of our senses call on us lad.". So Graylor surfaces again and calls to the Jalmari. “Brothers-in-spirit lend me your perception for here is an illuminant that needs to be tested.” The quest for truth is now armed with a mystical sword that cuts through the veils covering the words; it is not deceived by the misdirections inherent with illumination. Still Arkat doesn’t lie; he believes the words he speaks! Though at the core of his existence there is a black seed of destruction. So well hidden that even Arkat doesn’t know of its existence.. Yet! This seed knows the truth, Arkat is deceiving himself and it is certain that this is the start of his moral downfall.

At the deepest level Hereward is outraged and disgusted, with himself mainly for not seeing this fault in his leader. Once again Hereward’s emotions allow him to break free from Arkat’s gaze.

Something unseen passes between them and Hereward/Graylor stands tall. A decision has been made, or a truth found.

“Arkat, when you use that voice I’m sure that you can persuade your meal to hop willingly into the pot! It will not persuade me on this issue.” Hereward/Graylor raises his voice to address the whole crowd. “Breaking our oaths like this reduces our honour to nothing. Is that the way you wish to keep your honour pure? I will have no part of it and nor should you.”

Addressing Arkat, once again in a normal voice. “You mentioned leaders that were not. The leader that dishonours himself, and requires it of his command is the only leader who is no leader. In such a case the oaths binding his command are no longer held honourable and should be cleaved lest the taint contaminates the followers. If you persist in this path then I can no longer serve you and our paths will be different.”

There is hurt in the grey eyes, but also a stubborn refusal to bend. "Hereward, must a friendship of years be broken over something as abstract and short-lived as this? Momentary allies such as these Orlanthi - they come and they go, only the battle against Gbaji goes on. We have been friends through it all - true, we have argued, but remained friends despite that. You think these fickle allies will care one way or the other about your honour, in a year's time? No, they will have blown away, but our friendship will not."

Again, the charisma and intensity is almost impossible to resist. The power of that gaze can almost be seen: the light seems brighter between them, the bonds of friendship almost visible. The remains of the magical vision Hereward/Graylor had been using, perhaps - he can see the lines that join their auras, feel the pull from them.

“You are right as usual Arkat, our allies will not care one jot if we stain our honour, if we defeat Gabji. However, I will care. I follow the ways of Humath who teaches that honour is the most important thing. The route you take is important. I will not deviate from the path of honour for one step. I’m sorry, but you leave me no choice.” Hereward/Graylor bows his head sadly, his eyes turned inward. A tension builds in the silence. Suddenly, shockingly, he takes half a step back drawing his swords, he strikes once, twice before anyone can move. The target was not Arkat, though he was within reach, but the bonds joining their auras. Both men stagger at the backlash of the magic.

“Thus is our relationship severed. Arkat I am no longer your vassel. I canst not follow the path thou wouldst take. Fare thee well old friend.” Turning Hereward/Graylor leave the circle of friends. As he passes by a shocked Jalmar, he pauses and says quietly. “Jalmar, our paths must part here, for I see that you must still follow Arkat. Take care and watch him for I fear for what he may become. Farewell.” He grips his friend’s arm in the way of warriors, and turns to leave.

Recovering fast, Arkat calls after him: "Hereward! You may have refused to help me, or to teach further, but your very refusal shows me the way. Humath will sever from his kin, now that I have seen how such severing is done. No matter what the cost, Gbaji will be defeated! The Old Wind is over, Hereward!"

"Aye, but it'll be us that makes sure that its children are cleansed of falshood." He shares a meaningful look with Jalmar and leaves.

Once he was outside the camp and out of sight Herward/Graylor sat down to meditate. Now the action was over doubts crept into Herward/Graylor’s mind. Had he done the right thing? Had he acted properly with honour? Was he too under the influence of some self deception? Instinctively Hereward/Graylor knew that he could not use his new-found perception on himself, at least not without some external source of objectivity. “It is time to find out if that pure wind I wished for exists.” Hereward/Graylor thought to himself. “If it does exist then I may be able to return and save Arkat from his own self.”

Drawing power from deep within himself Hereward/Graylor sent out a call to his god Humath and also to Orlanth to show him how he might find such a wind.

Now that the wind was part of his thoughts again, he became aware that a breeze had been blowing all along. It had eddied turbulently around Arkat and his companions, its direction uncertain, but now blew clear again. From the north, as it had when he started this journey. From the mountains. Even here, in the sheltered south, it blew through wool and linen, chilling him to the bone. It cut like a knife - like a sword. He had, he remembered, started this journey by walking into that wind.

It was time to see to what it would lead him next. As he walked he allowed his mind to wander and it took him many places, but mostly it dwelt on the recent past and his severing from Arkat. Slowly it became colder and Hereward/Graylor was having difficulty keeping warm and his thoughts were slowing as survival became more important than meditation. It was at this time that he became aware that his thoughts were filled with the wind. No, that wasn't right. The wind wasn't the object of his thoughts it was beside them and was experiencing them in some way as Hereward/Graylor was thinking them! This should have been disturbing for Hereward/Graylor but for some reason it just made him smile. “Well what a cheeky wind you are! I hope you like what you have found for I am coming to find where you are blowing from.”

The wind was coming from the north. Always from the north, clear and cold. It was growing lighter now, and he could see the mountains ahead of him. Snow on the peaks... no, those weren't the peaks, those were the foothills. Nothing gentle and rounded about these hills, though, these too were sharp and harsh. Looking ahead to see where he was going meant looking into the wind, the cold tearing at his eyes. It was easier to look down, at his feet, blind to the world about him.

Steeply uphill now. Hard work. Harder because the wind was blowing so strongly against him. Looking ahead, the path due north would take him along the top of a narrow ridge - a very narrow ridge. Icy, too. Any sidewind there, and he would be blown off, no question about it. And it was a long way down...

I'll see if I can Google a few pics - ever been along Striding Edge in winter?

and another

At first Hereward/Graylor was dismayed at the sight. "How is any man supposed to cross that?" he called out despairingly. He cast about for alternative routes but there were none. Graylor was on the point of panic, when the support of friends reached him and allowedhis normal calm nature to reassert itself. Suddenly he laughed, "So my little gusty friend, you lead me here; and now you are challenging me to cross this ice-knife. Well I'll take up your challenge and will see you on the other side, oh wind-that-cuts-my-thoughts. I hope that when I am there you will be honourable enough to show yourself to me." The last was shouted into the teeth of the wind. Was there some flicker of acknowledgement from it? Surely that was just his imagination.

"OK, how do I get across that thing?" he muttered now to himself. Thinking required effort so he stopped in the lee of a boulder. The advice he remembered from his father only involved keeping warm and sitting it out. Somehow Hereward/Graylor knew that this would not blow over; the time to cross was now. He had to cross to satisfy his honour and prove to Arkat and himself that what he did was right.

Another, more recent, face came into view. Irnar was giving one of his lectures about survival. "Remember the alynx uses its claws to grip slippery surfaces. Man has no such advantage and must make his own claws, anything with a blade or point will do." Excellent, he could use his daggers to grip the ice. The pause had renewed his vigour a little, so with renewed purpose he set off towards the ridge and immediately lost his footing. His speed of reaction was the only thing that saved him. With both daggers plunged deep into the snow and ice he hung on, then slowly pulled himself back to the level ground. This was no good; he needed the grip on his feet not his hands. Quick thinking as always, even in the cold, Hereward/Graylor bound the daggers to his feet and practiced kicking the points of the daggers into the ice, it was certainly better than his slippery boots. He had no more daggers so drew his shortswords, reluctant to see them chipped on the rocks he filled them with the power of the unbreakable blade. As an afterthought he did the same for the daggers. Disciplining his mind he bravely stepped out into the wind and climbed out onto the ridge.

Hereward/Graylor set off with confidence and soon got into the rhythm of kicking his feet into the ice and using his swords for hand grips. It reminded Graylor of some of the training routines he endured in the Temple of Light, certainly his training was helping him adapt quickly. He still slipped frequently, but each time his quick reactions and agile body allowed him to grab a hold and keep to the ridge.

All the time the wind still blew straight at him, cold and cutting, and soon sapped him of his initial burst of energy. It came to Hereward/Graylor that the wind was unusual; there were no side gusts, no little eddies round the rocks, just a constant true wind. He began to relax with the wind trusting it to blow true and no longer worrying about being blown off the ridge sideways. This did not make the way easy, each fall wrenched his arms, and became more difficult to recover from. Each time he faltered and thought he could go no further thoughts of Arkat added steel to his honour which reinforced his dedication to the completion of the dangerous climb.

And then the ground ahead of him was flat. Well, flatter. He had reached the top of the ridge, and the ground beyond rose more gently towards the next peak. The wind, however, did not let up. If anything, it was becoming stronger, and colder. Snow blew into his face, and tiny fragments of ice cut his exposed skin.

He trudged forward. The immediate danger of the climb past, exhaustion was starting to set in. He had, he noticed, stopped shivering - and he remembered enough of his father's words to know what that meant. If you're too cold to shiver, the cold is starting to kill you. Take shelter, even if it's only in a bank of snow. But there was no soft snow here, only hard rock and ice. And that cutting wind seemed as it it would blow straight through even that. He pulled his cloak tighter around him in a vain attempt to keep it out.

Onward. A stubborn refusal to give up was all that was keeping him going now. Still the ground sloped up. He couldn't see far ahead, the air was full of driving snow and ice, it hurt too much to look up. Light danced in the crystals, confusing him. His feet were numb, so were his fingers.

And then the ground fell away ahead of him, and instead of the whiteness of the freezing gale, blackness. A chasm lay before him, and the gale howled up from it, moaning of defeat and inevitable doom. He stopped, squinted down. It was impossible to see how far it went - forever, down into the darkness, it seemed. An abyss. Light and shadow glinted off the ice that still flew towards him, and he thought he saw a shadowy figure facing him before he realised it was his own reflection in the air.

He fell to his knees. He had failed! All this way and all this effort and he could go no further. Despair as black as the abyss threatened to overwhelm him. As he sank back Hereward/Graylor reviewed what had happened and how he failed. As he thought the wind again blew through his memories. This was most disconcerting and he tried to retreat, to think clearly. Each time he did this the wind blew stronger. Soon it became a battle, Hereward/Graylor using mental barriers to try and hold out the wind and the wind blowing them aside. The wind was so strong now that he was blown flat on his back.

An echo of a voice passed through his mind. "Then the second part, the Truewind - how you get to know it doesn't matter. It'll appear to you in a way that fits your truth. What matters is that it becomes as much a part of you as your swordarm." It was Dori's last advice before the quest.

Something in those words made him look at the way he had been doing things. So far he had been concentrating on the physical journey, but this was also supposed to be a spiritual journey too. "I see it now. I have misinterpreted Dari. I have been trying to find my wind, to find its source. When I really needed to embrace it and accept it." With these thoughts Hereward/Graylor released his mental barriers and opened his cloak to allow the wind to fully blow through him. At this acceptance Hereward/Graylor felt once again the comfort that he had felt with the wind's first touch. "I am yours my wind. Blow my soul clean of all falsehood. I have found my truth." he calls to the wind. Painfully he forces his body to stand upright; he staggers to the edge of the abyss and once again looks down. The wind blowing out of the chasm is no gentler than before, but, Hereward/Graylor's perception has changed. He is still looking at death, only now this is a welcome sight. This is the familiar feeling of being once again close to his lord. He welcomed it and mentally reached out to embrace it. This was not enough he needed more the wind needed more. A final action for failing muscles, Hereward/Graylor leaped out into the abyss. He embraced the wind, he embraced the cold, he once again embraced death, and it embraced him, coldly.

Was he falling? He must be, surely, yet all he was aware of was the wind, and the cutting ice it carried, and the pain as it cut him through. Not physical now, those cuts, but directly to his soul, shearing away the dross and imperfections that he had only just become aware of, those little faults that he had thought until recently were "good enough". They weren't. Not for this wind.

First to go was feelings of superiority, his tendency to preach. Gone were his illusions about himself, the little lies that he told himself; like better looking, smarter, more skilful than he really was. A true honest entered his being, never again would he exaggerate or boast. For now on he would be a man that only spoke the simple truth.

The knives of ice flying towards him - or was he falling past them? were not physical, not now, but that only meant they were sharper and cut more truely, like a perfect sword. And there, the largest yet - surely that was a sword? White as ice - as the wind itself - clear gems in the hilt - yet all he could see was the point as it sped inescapably towards him. He did not dodge, but welcomed the clean blow, admiring the perfection as it cleaved him straight through the heart.

The pain faded. The light faded. The impact in his innermost being... dissolved. Was he flying backwards now? Darkess, unawareness, his thoughts slowed, and stopped.

And then he landed, with a painful and very physical thump. Alive. In a snowdrift. He felt his chest with fingers that were painfully prickling back to life. No wound, no scar - yet there must be! He had never even felt the Sword withdraw, only... spread? As if it had become part of him. Unsteadily, he climbed to his feet. He was facing downhill, down an easy slope. The lowlands lay before him, distant as a dream. But clear. The signs of war were there - war that had gone on for too many years. He had work to do, a task before him. And a new tool - a new ally? The wind had died down - or had it? He moved his hand, and an eddy sprang up, the slightest breeze, in response. Pleased with this Hereward/Graylor walked out into the planes, interested to see what this new power was capable of. The first group of soldiers he met were keen to fight until he showed them the wind from the abyss; suddenly they developed a new interest in pure athletic pursuits. It amazed him how fast a soldier could run in full armour.

Pleased with this Hereward/Graylor walked out into the planes, interested to see what this new power was capable of. The first group of soldiers he met were keen to fight until he showed them the wind from the abyss; suddenly they developed a new interest in pure athletic pursuits. It amazed him how fast a soldier could run in full armour.

Hereward/Graylor looked round the desolation that the war had produced and decided that it must end soon, so he prayed to his lord for guidance. Something was different the image of his Lord, there was two of him! For once the perceptions of Hereward and Graylor were different, each saw a different dominant image. Unsure of what this meant Hereward/Graylor sent the cutting wind, a mirror to the one he had embraced in the abyss, to remove the deception veiling the image. The flickering stopped and his lord was revealed. How he had changed to Hereward's eyes. There was now stillness where once the winds played, a grimness in his face where once a lively wit resided. "My Lord Humath what hast happened to you? Where are thy winds?"

A grim smile flickered across the face at the question. "I have not gone by that name for many an age; not since I was forced to cleave my kinship with my brother Orlanth. I am named Humakt in these times, and my winds left me with my brother." came the reply.

"Then Arkat did complete his plan. I wonder what other mischief he has completed whilst I was elsewhere." Hereward/Graylor murmured to himself. "My Lord I have been apart from the world of men for an unknown length of time. Is there any task that thou wouldst have me undertake?" he asked.

Humakt took his time replying. "I have no task for thee at this time. Though I think it meet that thou shouldst return to thy former comrades. There are some there who needest thy help."

Thus, Hereward/Graylor set out to find Arkat. On the way he learned to control the wind. At first the more violent aspects of the wind came easiest, though ripping the truth from left them resentful at the best and injured at the worst. So rapidly he learned to reign in the power of the wind to a gentle breeze, even so the breeze was able to discern the truth of any words spoken.

Soon he came across a large unit of soldiers setting up camp. He needed to know who they were so he crept closer, unfortunately they had chosen their site well and there was no possibility to get really close. The part that was Graylor remembered that Dori had used the wind to send her words; could he use it to bring the words of the guards to him? He wondered how he would do this and if the wind would understand his wishes. Even before he had finished thinking these thoughts the wind blew and a strange sensation came over Hereward/Graylor. He felt dizzy and oddly missing something. Hastily he called the wind back and the dizziness receded and he felt whole again. Hereward/Graylor realised that he was thinking about this all wrong the wind was part of him like his legs he must stop commanding it like it was a pet. Now he reached out with the wind to the guards and he could hear their conversation. It was oddly broken up as if pieces were missing. He thought carefully letting his wind guide him. In a short time he had worked it out. The power of the wind was based on the truth and so it could only perceive the truth. So conversations were edited for the truth, at least the truth as the speaker knew it. He spent some time sorting out his control of his wind. He let it drift over the whole camp and found it could seek out the truth, too, as well as any scout. Graylor, remembering back to his early training, particularly appreciated this. The knowledge that he gained from the troops was not comforting, this was part of Gabji's army and that they were becoming confident of victory, Arkat was in retreat. He must get back as soon as he could.

Just then Hereward/Graylor became aware of a noise near him. Two scouts were approaching his position the first was horribly disfigured with the corruption that is chaos, it seemed to have an extra one of everything, three eyes, two noses, three arms and legs. The second was normal looking and was issuing orders to the first to search in the bushes. The way he flicked his hand was very familiar. The deformed creature died the instant it entered the bushes. Soon the second man grew tired of waiting and with many curses entered the bushes too. He found Hereward/Graylor's blade against his throat, and Hereward/Graylor's eyes boring into his own. Granth, for that was his name, found himself transfixed while Hereward/Graylor reamed his very soul. Here was a man in the same position as Arkat, illuminated and gone to the dark side. Hereward/Graylor could see the black seed had spread through this man.

"You have a choice enlightened one. You can either die now or let me help you fight off the darkness that is creeping through you?" Hereward/Graylor whispered.

"Help me please. I can't bear what I have become." Came the reply. So Hereward/Graylor started to work. His wind born sensitivity to truth and Graylor's own perception of the darkness combined well to cut out the corruption in Granth. Unfortunately, the corruption was too wide spread and Hereward/Graylor was only unable to replace pieces he removed. The corruption was gone but sadly so too was the breath of life. It was too much for Granth to take.

Finding Arkat did not seem to be as easy as it should have been, to his Hereward-self, and he realised that there was something missing. The pull of Arkat's personality was no longer there. Something drew him, though, some sense of a friend in a certain direction. And as he drew closer, the wind brought him voices. A voice he knew, that of a friend.

"No, I will not! To abandon our Lord altogether, and turn to the Darkness? To exchange the clean sword edge for the mace, to be ruled by hate and rage instead of honour? Never! I have followed you through much, Arkat, but this time you go too far."

"We must!" No longer the smooth persuasiveness of their earlier meeting, but the jagged edge of barely-controlled anger. "We must do whatever it takes to defeat Gbaji. Zorak Zoran will give us more power - so we take it. Now, are you with me or against me, Jalmar?"

"I cannot be with you." The voice Hereward knows so well is still detached, regretful. "I would rather not be against you, but it seems that I have no choice."

"Then you are my enemy - and my enemies die!"

And there they are, in sight around the final bend in the path. The great black sword is already swinging, and master warrior though Jalmar is, Hereward knows he stands no chance.

"No!" Hereward/Graylor calls out. "I must defend the truth." With these words, almost without conscious violation, the wind rushes from his outstretched hand and hits the Sword even as it descends, stopping it dead and knocking it from Arkat's hand. He leaves it where it falls, reaching for the mace at his side.

"Arkat, are you so far gone into the darkness that you will kill your own men for gainsaying you?" Hereward/Graylor asks. "I have found my pure wind and returned to show you. I had hopes that it would be able to show you the deceptions you practice on yourself. However I find that you have gone too far for me to be able to help you. I can not stop you walking this path but I will stop you destroying good, honourable friends who would lay down their lives to rid the world of Gbaji."

The near-berserk rage dies for a moment, but remains in the shadows. "'He who is not with me is against me'. You say you are no longer with me."

"'The enemy of my enemy is my friend' is what you used to say," Jalmar says a trifle breathlessly - the Sword had only just missed. "Does that only apply to new friends then, and not to old? Since when have trolls been your friends, and we have not?"

"Since they gave me power!" He waves the mace. "This is power. The sword is too limiting, it comes at too high a price. But the troll way, that frees us to fight as we should."

Hereward/Graylor interrupted. "Arkat since when have you found the ways of Humath lacking in power? You hold more power than can be rightfully expected of any mortal and yet you hanker after more. Not content with changing the face of our god to Humakt you now want to abandon him for the excesses of the abomination Zorak Zoran." Hereward/Graylor shakes his head sadly. "I thought that having found my truewind I would be able to show you the truth and persuade you back to the honour path we have walked these many years. But now I realise that I was deluded, my friendship caused hope where there was none. You must travel your own path, but we can not and will not follow. We will always remain enemies of your enemy."

"If you choose to remain behind, shackled, Jalmar, that will not stop me from going on, and those who are still loyal with go with me. Will you not, my friends?"

The crowd of followers is smaller now than at their last meeting, but still as devoted as ever. They cheer, and follow him down into a nearby dark passage, leaving Jalmar, and Hereward - and the Sword.

Graylor/Hereward reaches out, stunned that such a thing could be simply left behind, and Jalmar stops him. "Touch it not! Not unprepared. Death lies within it, and a quick death too for those who touch it in ignorance. Arkat never wanted anyone but himself to know its secrets, but now - if I once deemed him fit to be trusted with such power, should I not judge you still more worthy? Let me teach you what I know of the Sword, Hereward, and what I taught Arkat. Then you take it."

The lesson that follows is timeless, and disconcerting. Graylor realises that much of what is being taught is what he already knows - but that to Hereward, it is new.

And then it is done, and he reaches out and grasps the Sword. Even now, touching it in knowledge, the impact is overwhelming. Everything goes dark, only the Sword in his hands registers - and then it is light again. The Deathlight. He kneels on a stone floor, cramped and cold, but still holding the Sword, his hands interlocked with those of another. Dazed, he looks up to meet Illig's eyes.

"Thank you my lord, for bringing me back." Graylor drops his eyes in shame. "I would not have made it back alone. The power of the sword.. You could lose yourself within it for a lifetime." Suddenly, his brain registered what his eyes were looking at. His eyes opened wide as a shocked look passed across his face. "My lord this is the same sword... is this.. The Sword?" he whispers.

"Of course. You knew that, before - now perhaps you understand it." Illig regards him thoughtfully. "That was what brought you back - touching the Sword. Dying on the HeroPlane brings you back to the mortal world - or should. In your case I gather things varied from the norm."

Graylor's awareness is returning to the mundane, he realises there are others here, and that Illig is now addressing one of them. "Dorinda, it is bad enough that you insist on exploring new paths across the HeroPlane every time you enter it. Do you really have to instil the same bad habits in your pupils?" Graylor winces on her behalf - but the tone had been one of humourous acceptance, not real anger, and she takes it as such.

"All the others stayed normal!" The mock protest over, she turns serious again. "I thought he stayed as close to the main path as could be expected, myself, considering how close the Jalmar path must be. And we certainly learnt a lot. I can't say I understood it all myself, though."

After the excitement of his initation, Graylor's acceptance into the Legion is almost boringly routine. He swears his oath, under the supervision of Uljar Breaknose, and feels his existing link to the Sword change and grow. New abilities are there, ready for him to use, subtely like his own and yet unlike. He does not have time to explore them further for the moment, though, as he also has to link with the lesser Wyter of his new Cohort - the Seventh. Yodi controls this, the beady eyes watching him with enigmatic amusement.

And then the is the question of his new ten, though there are no magical implications here, only an oath of obedience to his new Ten-thane. Dori, of course.
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