Pavis back

Initiation for two

Wind's day, Movement week, Fire season

Later that day Yodi finds Graylor. "Initiation will be tomorrow, we can’t afford to wait for the next holy day. Wind's Day is auspicious in any case, for the True Wind. Many new recruits we have to train and the new initiates will develop more rapidly if they can help as did you."

"Thank you Master Yodi. I will inform Yenda and Santhis straight away."

Inwardly Graylor starts to panic a little, outwardly he is calm. He walks quickly, almost at a run to go and find his pupils. He was in such a hurry that he missed the Drulz smile and shaking head. "Much patience he has yet to learn."

Graylor brings Yenda and Santhis to a quiet area of the camp. They spend the rest of the day caring for their equipment so that everything is perfect. In the morning the three dress their smartest, bronze buckles gleaming, leatherwork polished. Graylor looks them over with pride. He is full of the advice he wants to give to the two youngsters, but as he is about to speak he remembers the conversation he had with Dori before his initiation.

“You know I had a lot to I wanted to tell you before your initiations. However, now the time is at hand I find that none of it is relevant. You are both ready, and you need to find your own truths. Your past experiences are all parts of your truth, don’t try and discard them as irrelevant or unworthy. They shape your past paths and will influence your continuing path. The difficulty, at least for me, is to actually recognise your truth when it comes to you. I will tell the tale when you return. So let’s go now and the gods bless your choices.”

He smartly turns about and leads them to the temple. Yodi, Dori and Siggyr meet them at the entrance. Dori puts a hand on Yenda’s shoulder, Siggyr does the same to Santhis. The four walk down the steps to the temple proper. Yodi puts his hand on Graylor’s arm, reading the anxiety in his eyes. "Go practice. Your presence only clouds their minds. They will return."

Gently the duck pushes Graylor away, who stumbles unseeing to the training grounds. Here he meets his new recruits who he starts drilling on shieldwall techniques and since he himself has much to learn he joins the shieldwall as Siggyr’s ten tests them out and shows them how it should be done. After some time with this activity Graylor gives his men a break and looks for someone to spar with. Spotting Khan he walks over collecting practice blades on his way.

“Care to teach me a lesson in swordcraft? I have companions undergoing initiation and need to have some distraction.”

Khan acknowledges Graylor with a nod.

"Distractions make for poor lessons. One cannot pour water in a full bucket. Let us spar instead. I would be honoured by the opportunity to practice my shieldwork."

He takes a wicker practice shield from a nearby rack and faces off against his doubly armed opponent.

Graylor launches a quick attack using both short blades, which are neatly parried by Khan with blade and shield. Khan’s riposte is avoided by Graylor who dances out of the way of the blade. Thus the tone of the contest is set, Graylor using his better movement to avoid many of Khans blow's whilst Khan calmly parries Graylor’s attacks with minimum effort and maximum precision. After fully half an hour of the contest Graylor calls for a pause.

"You have the better of me Khan. I would not last long against you in a real contest. And you don’t have the decency to look even slightly flustered."

He wipes the sweat from his face to emphasise the difference between Khan’s pale, dry face and his own reddening, sweat covered one.

“It seems to me that I could do with more practice. Where would you say that I could benefit most?”

A slight furrow creases the Lankstaner's forehead for several moments. Finally he answers.

"Move less, cut more. Think only of cutting your opponent, everything else is a means to this. Next time you practice, fight without once moving your feet. You may find this instructive."

"That will be hard for me. I have been taught by the Jalmari who pride themselves in their ability to move in ways others can't. But I will practice the stillness that you suggest."

As they are discussing Graylor’s limitations Yodi approaches. Graylor looks anxiously into the duck's enigmatic face.

“They have done well. Come with me and you can congratulate them.”

“Why don’t you come too Khan? You will hear their stories and learn some of the truth that Hereward offers.” Graylor offers.

"An opportunity to hear truth? I would be honoured."

Graylor and Yodi lead Khan to an ordinary tent in the centre of the camp. The tent hides the entrance to the underground temple.

“The guardian of the temple will test you as you enter.” Graylor warns. “You are not illuminated so you will have nothing to fear.”

Indeed as Khan descends the steps he feels a presence probing his mind with meaningless questions. In moments the presence fades apparently satisfied.

“Now you have been made welcome to the Legion you are now privileged to know its secrets. This temple is the reason for our camp being here. It has been lost to my order since the trolls overran Pavis. Welcome to the Temple of Jalmar and Kaarg. Jalmar Ironsword is my Lord. He is sword brother to Hereward as they fought against the evil of Gabji. They parted ways when Arkat chose the path of deception. But now we have a chance of reuniting them again. We fight the hidden aspects of chaos that undermine our society, the excesses of illumination and the underground cults that prey on the innocent. The nature of our work
requires secrecy, our foes must not know of our existence until it is too late for them.”

Khan looks long and hard at Graylor before finally appearing to come to some resolution. Finally he replies to the Jalmari.

"To attack an unknowing foe is not the way of the sword, and yet one must enter the shadows to strike down what lurks there. I know not your Lord Ironsword, and shall not judge his ways. It is good to hear you combat the children of Vivamort."

Just then Santhis and Yenda exit the temple proper, wearing the slightly stunned expressions of those returning from the heroplanes. Graylor hugs each fiercely a big grin on his face as he welcomes them as Legionaries.

“Come sit here and tell your tales. Khan here will be soon joining us and needs to know what Hereward means to us.”

Yenda and Santhis look at each other for a moment before Yenda starts to speak.

“I was Hereward as he battled against the Unity Council. We opposed their decision to create a new god. When Nysalor was unleashed on the world we followed him to see if he was the light that was promised. We learned much from Nysalor, about how truth can be manipulated by changing your perspective. He showed us a new perspective from beyond the gods where truth could be what you wanted. We didn’t like this feeling of living with no focus so we used the North wind to give us direction and stability. With this new stability we were able to see that Nysalor was not the light but the Gabji the Deciever and we fought harder against him, nothing that he stood for was the truth. We joined Arkat in the battles against Gabji and we were blinded by Arkat’s aim’s and forgave him his indiscretions on the way, though it felt uncomfortable. When he wanted us to cast off Humath for the troll birthing caves we finally came to our senses. We called on the North Wind again and moulded it to our will forging it to the finest edge to cleave deceit from truth.”

In tune with her words a breeze flutters through the underground room, growing stronger as her passion increases.

“This new wind, the Truewind we threw at the words and actions of Arkat and found them lacking. Returning one last time we severed ourselves from his deceits vowing never to stray from the path of truth.”

The wind rudely attempts to probe everyone, a colder and more invasive questioning than offered by the temple guardian. Recognising the use of the Truth on the Wind Graylor interrupts before she attempts anything nasty like Cleave Deceit.

“Yenda stop that now! I know that the Truewind is new to you but you can’t go throwing it at everyone. You will have to learn better control in the future.” He gently reprimands Yenda, who blushes as she realises what she has been doing. “Though you seem to have a talent for the Truewind. Dori will be very pleased.”

Santhis looks confused on hearing Yenda’s tale.

“I did the same things as Yenda, but nothing was the way she told it. Did I do it wrong?” He asks Graylor.

“I know you did it right, you would not have survived otherwise. The path to Hereward is individual. Yenda was right in that the truth is somewhat biased from your own perspective. You are not Jalmari and you don’t have Yenda’s background, so your path will be different. Tell us your version so that we can judge the differences.”

Smiling in relief Santhis starts to relate his version.

“I was fighting against the Unity Council because they had betrayed us. They had stopped listening to the common people. The council stomped on their beliefs and traditions. This was not why we had made them into our leaders. They were governing for their own selfish aims, which is not the way to lead.”

“Their pride culminated in their greatest folly, the creation of Nysalor. I followed Nysalor to see if he could lead the world back to the light. At first his teachings seemed good and we found much to learn. Soon however his teachings turned in on themselves and I saw that he had deceived us. He had kept secret his true nature and betrayed his followers. He had cut us loose from our links to the world and abandoned us, this is not the way a leader should behave.”

“When I found solidity by using the North Wind I directed all my efforts to defeating Nysalor. I joined Arkat as his fight was good. He was open with his goal and dedicated utterly to achieving it. I admired this quality in him. He had a tendency to ignore calls upon his duty when it suited him, or he disagreed with his allies. Finally he asked us to abandon all our oaths and join with the trolls. A leader should never demand acts disloyalty from his men.”

“I travelled the world seeking leadership and only found despair. Many wanted to use me but I wouldn’t be used dishonourably, however honourable the cause. Eventually I stopped travelling, when there was only me I realised the truth. ‘The point of the journey is not to arrive.’ Armed with this truth I returned to the world to Gabji fight my way. I raised and army offering them nothing but the truth. No false comfort of ignorance or false optimism. I offered them the chance to walk the swords blade. I fought as often for my men, against the dishonour of allies, as I did beside them against our foes. For that is the way a leader should behave.”

“Well spoken Santhis. I hope that following Hereward would be able to help you overcome your betrayal at Cavos’ hands. I am very pleased with you both. We shall celebrate shortly, but first I will tell of my initiation.”

“Several truths were revealed to me. The companionship of Hereward and Jalmar was one such and the nature of their estrangement. But the most profound truth I encountered was that countering self deception. I was so sure that I knew what I needed from Hereward, I battled the Truewind for days before I recognised it as the truth I needed not the one I desired.”

Graylor pauses, looking as if he is going to say more. Instead he shakes his head to clear the memories.

“So friend Khan, you see three initiates and three visions of what Hereward can offer. If you talk to more you will find other stories and other views. Hereward offers many things to his followers, not always what they expected, but always what they need. Now let’s go and celebrate these fine Legionaries achievements.”

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