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The Klymorian Wars Saga

The Klymorian Wars Saga is a story of several chapters that go into the Wars fought between Perisno and Klymoria.

They have been separated from The Perisno Anthology on our website for ease of access, although in the final version of the physical book, they may be combined with the Anthology, depending.

The currently posted stories are early beta versions of the Klymorian Wars Saga.

To report problems with the formatting, and to leave us your feedback. Make a report in our Discord at the channel: literature-study.

We hope you enjoy the beta versions of this epic story!

Chapter 1:
Over the Hill and Along the Way

A mellow light burned from amidst a steady flame amid a nearby fireplace. The sound of comforting crackles snapped calmly from the well laid wood in this perfect traditional place of gathering. The stone walls which surrounded this room were covered in part by pictures of nearby castles and lakes. One image boasted a proud warrior with a large bronze shield, and flowered kettle hat– a common arrangement of Perisnoan soldiers even to the current time. A man at the center of the room stretched out his hands and walked to a nearby rocking chair. The man was tall. He had deep green eyes, and his hair was thick and brown. A beard– very neatly kept and combed proudly hung from his chin. The tip of his beard was rounded, and it was so dark that it was almost black. Though his facial hair was somewhat long, his skin looked relatively young. His face held the constant emotion of someone who was often cautious and stern. But a sincere joy could beam from across his face if the right cord was struck. A slight scar could be seen on his forehead, but it was so faint that one would question if it was really a scar or one of the very few wrinkles present on his never-aging body.

 

The man let out a yawn. Easily– he collapsed in a nearby chair and felt he might go to sleep. The comfort that a simple instrument such as this was all the man felt he needed. Content, he began to breathe slowly in relaxation. The sound of pitter-pattering behind him immediately made him awake. The sound of a young boy and a little girl rushed up behind him. Their giggling and laughing filled the room as one pleaded the other “please slow down. . . . Kohjehn! Please. . .!”

 

“Hey, what's going on?” The man asked even though he knew. He twisted his head behind him to see a little brown haired girl and a blonde haired boy running in circles around the tiny table at the near-center of this very room. The lad had a toy dragon made of wood, and the lass was trying to catch him– with no toy in sight in her hand.

 

“Kohjehn’s teasing me!” The girl complained. “He took my watering can away!”

 

“No I’m not!” Kohjehn laughed. “We’re playing! Ibili’s dolls were trying to water their plants, but my toy dragon stole their metal can for watering because it looks pretty and shiny!” He giggled even more as she began to chase him around and round the room. It was to no avail, for she couldn’t stop him. The boy was quite easily faster. The man looked to his right outside a nearby window, attempting to gauge the time of day. The sky was dark and stars lit up the night. The sun had set not too long ago, but the children were not asleep. . .

 

“You two should be in bed!” The man answered. “It’s late for young people to be up!” He was tender as he spoke.

 

“Awwww, Aracanus. . . “ The boy stopped immediately, “But I’m not even sleepy!” He was clearly upset. Just then– the girl nearly seized her chance to steal the toy away from him– but he was too quick. The boy lifted his hand a little too high for the girl to reach, and his toy dragon and the toy watering can remained out of reach. She jumped to try and take it, but he just moved his hand out of the way. The two struggled while immediately some joy returned to the boy’s face before the man in the room spoke once again.

 

“It’s not good to stay up late. Do you remember the story of what happened to the rooster who wouldn’t stop crowing, even late at night and keeping his family of hens wide awake?” Aracanus asked energetically.

 

“His eyes became bigger and bigger to adjust to staying up all night!” Kohjehn answered gleefully.

 

“And he– he could only see clearly in the moonlight. His vision was blurry all day.” The little lady added sadly.

 

“Who cares, he could stay up all night!” The other boy said happily. “I wish I could stay up all night. Then I could hunt like a wolf!”

 

“But he. . . was a rooster and he couldn’t ever spend time with his chicks and his hens. . .” The girl added pitifully.

 

“Do you want to stay up all night and not have time to spend with your family and friends because they are asleep when you are awake?” Aracanus asked much more calmly than before.

 

“No. . .” Both the boy and the girl answered shamefully.

 

“Then how about I read you a bedtime story and help you get to sleep?” Aracanus winked as his concerned face turned into a gentle smile.

 

“Yeah!” Kohjehn responded quickly.

 

“That sounds good. . .” The lady answered mellowly, but happily.

 

“Now, what do you do with your sister’s toys when you’re done playing?” Aracanus asked again carefully.

 

“I help her put them away. . . because we played together.” Kohjehn answered slowly.

 

“That’s right. Go on, put your dragon back, help your sister and then I’ll read you a bedtime story.” Aracanus smiled again with a quick tip of his head.

 

“Yes Aracanus.” The two children scurried off quickly. Eager to obey and hear another one of Aracanus’s stories.

 

The man reached over to the table near his chair and grabbed his favorite pipe. It wasn’t long before the two children returned and Aracanus reached for a book on a nearby bookshelf. Kohjehn sat on Aracanus’s arm-rest, and the little lady sat on Aracanus’s lap. Aracanus opened up the book and puffed out two clouds before he started reading. The title of the book read:

 

Over the Hill and Along the Way.

 

Over the hill and along the way

A knight was strong and good

He lived his life doing good things

For his neighborhood

 

One day the knight, his mission pure
Was told a daring must:

He should travel up to this place
And see the castle’s trust

 

Armed with a sword, and large bronze shield

The knight must move today

Or else all things that are important

Would be wronged: delayed

 

The knight in green so young and pure

He bolsters in this fuss

The many things that block his way

Would soon be torn and flushed

 

Out in the open fields 

From his house he bursts

A jolly song and a bag of bread

And gold lined in his purse

 

The knight in green would travel out

And laud his open prey

That those who do the evil things

And worse– he soon will slay

 

Over the hill and along the way

The path was very beat

The man was walking pleasantly

The love that guides his feet

 

A startled chicken sounds about

And cries out for its meat

The vessel containing it’s soul

Is tempting as a treat
 

A loathsome cat so very thin

Stalks his worried prey

And knowing soon the chicken’s life

Will feed him for today

 

The knight knows that this chicken is

His neighbor’s low– livestock

And so he stops to chase the cat

Before the chicken’s caught.

 

Go little cat! You are a stray!
No chicken you shall steal!

But if you are truly so poor
Then I will share my meal!

 

And out of his bag, he had a fish
It was so smoked and sweet

The fish was thrown down to the cat
And the cat began to eat.

 

The chicken free; returned back home
The place from whence it came

And the young knight was very glad

For the *two* which he had saved

“Aracanus why did he feed the cat? Wasn’t the cat an enemy?”

 

“What do you think a good knight should do?” Aracanus asked presently. “The cat was only hungry.”

 

“But the cat will just attack the chicken later!” Kohjehn objected. “That’s like letting a bear live to kill someone another day!”

 

Aracanus chuckled. “I saw a man tame a cat this way. And cats eat mice, who otherwise would spread plagues. . . cats are good to keep around. And if you keep cats fed they won’t attack chickens. What if the cat visited the knight later, and what if the cat became his friend? It’s easier for a cat to catch a mouse than a hen. The cat will prefer to keep catching mice as long as he’s alive.” Aracanus mentored.

 

“The cat was the enemy, but now he’s a friend.” The lady added softly.

 

“Isn’t it dangerous to help our enemies?” Kohjehn asked plainly.

 

Aracanus took a deep breath. “Maybe. But it’s what good people do. It’s not easy to do the right thing. But can you tell me what also makes a good knight Kohjehn?”

 

Kohjehn thought for a moment. He knew that Aracanus was asking this question, because Kohjen must have known the answer. He tilted his head and looked back at Aracanus, with a little confidence.

 

“A good knight is brave?”

 

“That’s right.” Aracanus answered. “Even though it’s risky, a good knight is brave, and a brave knight will help his enemy if he can.”

 

Kohjen shook his head in solemn agreement. Aracanus saw that he seemed to get the lesson and that both of them were ready for him to continue reading:
 

Over the hill and along the way

The knight’s continued march

Was something he had gotten used

To walk in snow or marsh

 

The knight was sold on his ideals

The principals he keeps

The worried souls of many met:

Confident in his leaps

 

The knight was sure as he crossed

Behold: a steep incline

The hill was like a mountain here

And he may have have to climb

 

Above him drives a caravan

They tread the same sung road

Large pots and jars were in the back

And probably some gold

 

The knight thought little of the things 

And pressed on in his walk

But the caravan became

A moving- surprise road-block!

 

Tumbling down barrels of milk

They rolled out of the back

Quickly the young knight could see

He was under attack!

 

With leaps and bounds he dodged the pots

Them rolling down so quick

He wiped the sweat off from his head

And proudly showed his wit

 

The people who laid up above

Cried out in distress

Their valuable barrels thus full

Would be a broken mess

 

For at the hill, it’s very foot

Some large and strong sharp rocks

Laid the way to break the wood

That contained precious stock

 

The knight returned to where he came

The bottom of this lot–

And with his hands he caught the first

Of many- many pots

 

The barrels stopped, and goods secured

He outran a hawk–

He saved the rolling, tumbling goods

And placed them under lock

 

“You’ve saved the day, our valuables”

“Your kindness hits the spot!”

“And now this day is nearly done”

“We’ll repay what you’ve got!”

 

But the knight denied these honors

For he had no need

Because a knight of high station

Is generous by creed


 

“He didn’t take any reward.” Kohjehn whispered, his young eyes appearing very wide.

 

“That’s right.” Aracanus reinforced. “Now, listen.” He was eager to get to the next part of the story.


 

Over the hill and along the way.

The road had gotten steep

The knight had marched up to the top

And saw far out– the keep

 

A castle stood– the sun not high

It was his final post

The place he had been summoned for
His greatest act to boast

 

The man prepared for his decent

The stone fortress thereat–

Was waiting for his mighty stride

And push into its heart

 

“I know the task I have been sold”

“is pressing deep without”

“But I will not be there deterred”

“From with the stirring bout!”

 

The man charged forth, ran down the slope

His conscious blurred in south

And as he came to those great doors

A roar came from his mouth

 

“The lady doth expect me”

“I will not hold hereout”

“You must permit me to go through”

“Immediate or I’ll shout.”

 

A timid man ran to the tow’r

“Hail unsightly fiend!”

“You wish to enter our domain?”

“In whose name do you sing?”

 

The timid guard was shaking

The knight’s response sounds mean

“I will inform without delay”

“The one who keeps things clean.”

 

The final word shook the guard up.

“I make the lady wait!?”

With trembling, slippery speedy hands-

He fumbled open the gate.

 

The knight bolts forth: he was not late

But no moment could save

His journey, his oath was not fulfilled

Until her place– he came

 

The knight bolts forth: he was not late

He’d made it here alive

His journey, his oath was not fulfilled

Until he had arrived. . .

 

The knight looked forth around the wall

He turned so very tight

And soon enough he had come to

A very special sight

 

The lady walked among her halls

A broom lay at her feet

Her hands upon her hips she saw

The castle, nice and neat

 

“Grandma!” the knight proclaimed with joy.
“I’ve made it to your keep!”

“The very place you love to clean.”

“And comfort traveler’s feet.”

 

The lady smiled, her face was old

But genuine at times

Like this when her young shining arms

Had come to her sublime

 

“My son, my son, you have arrived.”

She sounded so relieved

“And just in time to smell and eat.”

“My famous hand-made treats.”

 

And to the oven, the knight’s eyes wide

He looked upon this feat.

He had arrived here just in time

To eat at grandma’s feet.

 

And he ran to the table told–

And grandma gave a test

She asked where his manners were

Before he start to rest.

 

The knight turned round, and ran about

His face was shining red!

For he’d forgot to hold the door

The treats– He’d lost his head!

 

Grandma came in after him.

She held her head up high

And strolled down to the oven

And pulled the treats out nigh

 

“Are you hungry?” She gave a wink

Eager to see him rest.

“I love you grandma very much.”

He smiled. “Your monthly quest.”

 

For every knight so young and bold

Though dangerous his quest

Would always listen to his grandma

Her wisdom, and be her guest.

And all the halls, there came the joy

Of servants, dukes and kings

And all the fair ladies who lived

Nearby arrived to sing

With Diamonds jewels and pretty things

The robes, and scents of thus

The power prestige and the goals

Of a very merry bliss

The knight wide smiled, drank to full

His very merry trust

His grandmother's wise home and stores

Had taught him wisdom's musts.


 

“Yawn” Kohjehn jaw dropped distinctly out of habit when the last page of the book was finished. “That was. . . a short story.”

 

“A short story leading to a faster sleep!” Aracanus spoke transparently. 

 

“His quest was just to see his grandma?!” Kohjehn seemed upset about the story, but even he chortled after making the statement, seeing how funny the story was.

 

“Yes he did. Why do you think that?”

 

“Because he had too?” Kohjehn asked seriously.

 

“Well, if he gave his word, then he had too.” Aracanus honestly answered. “But he wanted to. And what did Kohjehn get for visiting his grandma?”

 

“Cookies?” Kohjehn asked with a cheesy smile on his face.

 

“It was for wisdom– I think.” Ibili interrupted.

 

“Hahaha. . . “Aracanus couldn’t help but laugh. “Wisdom is very important. Especially for a young noble lady.” Aracanus pinched Ibili’s nose and wiggled it gently. “But also for a knight.” Aracanus looked at Kohjehn next, slightly more seriously.

 

“I want to be strong and fast like the knight!” The boy flexed his muscles and looked at both of them swiftly.

 

“Wisdom is also a strength.” Aracanus corrected. “But. . . you are wise. . . to want strength.”

 

“Wisdom is a type of strength?” The boy seemed confused. “But what if I’m not wise– I can just beat other warriors up. Then I don’t have to be wise!”

 

“You don’t have to be a lot of things. But you’ll find it makes life easier if you try.” Aracanus answered solemnly, hoping that if he said things the right way, it might impact the boy for the better, and make him look at the world less simply. Ibili yawned and stretched out her arms. “You too eh? Come on! Both of you, time for bed.” Aracanus got up and lifted Ibili as he stood. He kissed her and Kohjehn both on the cheek before sending them up to their rooms.

 

The pitter-patter of little feet sounded up the stairs, once again filling his heart with gladness. “Even if you are wise, life is not easy.” He shook his head with a small grin. “But the sound of children nearby, does the most to make some things easy.” He reminded himself quite happily.

Chapter 2:
Eshoal of the Wind

Deep in the halls of a Klymorian palace, a stranger stood among lords. The stranger was wrapped from head to toe in brown, wind-torn filthy rags and sackcloth. A small trail of sand could be seen from the entrance of the room to where the stranger stood now. The palace was largely constructed underground where it was easy to keep the air cool. A few circular pillars of dark taupe colored stone held up a sandstone roof. The floor was neatly cleaned, and simply decorated with geometric shapes, diamonds inside of circles, monochrome or some shade of brown. The lords all sat in chairs to the left of the stranger. They were planted on simple, yet elegantly carved stone seats and furniture similar to the rest of the designs that filled the room. 

 

The far end of the room differed, as the floor around the king had a noticeable amount of desaturated red in its decor– a rare use of color in anything the Klymorians had built. The “king” as best as the stranger could describe him sat on an elegant throne of wood. No jewels or even metal could be spotted among even the highest noble’s furniture. Only the floor itself boasted any color, for the throne was made of a dark, and slightly brown engraved detail. The “king” seemed to be sitting calm upon his throne. Neither amused nor un-interested in what the stranger had been saying. He wore a very clean black fabric just like the rest of the noble Klymorians. No crown was on his head, but a black metal festoon necklace could be seen reaching from the far end of both his shoulders, but not drooping down enough to reach the bottom of his chest. The stranger could not make out whether the “king”’s necklace was engraved with smoothed black stones or valuable onyx due to the Klymorian’s adversity to using anything considered “too valuable.”

 

The stranger took a closer look at the rug at the “king’s” feet. It had a curious pattern, using swirls, and almost a water-like style to it. The center, and the outer ring of the rug was mostly red. But the middle layer was dark, and plain looking. It was like someone had spilled oil into a pool of water, and then made the rug to reflect that design, but with these different colors. Even the “king’s” sandals were black.

 

“Tell us again. For you speak of things we have never heard before.” One of the noble Klymorians leaned forward as he spoke. He placed one of his elbows on his thigh and began to rest his head on top of a closed, but unaggressive fist.

 

The stranger answered quickly. “It is not something which has been hackneyed, nor is it completely foreign. I preach to you an idea that was presented to you previously– but in a different way. Remember your ancestors, and remember the stories in which they have told you.” Having finished explaining, he rubbed the left side of his face with fatigue due as the journey here had already made him quite tired. He briefly looked up and to his right– the ceiling of this structure was slightly higher on his right hand side, and it had openings for sunlight to enter from the surface, though these were currently covered by blinds.

 

“How? What does Kaumid have anything to do with these spirits?” the same lord questioned. “We are aware of the outside world’s influence on his reputation. We are aware that the world chooses to believe that Kaumid was blessed by a wolf named Haskaloe. That he was thrown from the top of the first mountain, and that he was “blessed” for being the first man to leave it. But these are not the ideas that we– the Klymorians– believe.”

 

“And it does not need to be. . . but the idea I bring forth to you is so: the outside world may believe whatever it wishes about your patriarch. But because Kaumid could not speak, he did tell nothing of his youth or what he saw. Nor as a baby would he have likely remembered anything.” The stranger attempted to show the Klymorians that their history was already not clearly known.

 

“Then what are you proposing?” The lord asked again.

 

“I am proposing only what you have already seen. . .” The stranger rubbed deep into his right eye, his body posture clearly displaying various fatigue. “Was Kaumid not the strongest man we have ever known?”

 

“He was.” The lord responded.

 

“Where did he get that strength?”

 

“It is unknown. Kaumid killed a lion with his bare hands. But people have been blessed with other strange and powerful things.”

 

“And you believe it was all coincidence?” The stranger asked harder. “That Kaumid, having no speech, and no family to speak of– no story he spoke of himself, came into existence and fathered the Klymorian people without any help from another source?”

 

Two lords in the hall looked at one another. Another lord seemed to randomly look away. Most of them maintained their stoic nature, or discreetly seemed to read the expression of their neighbor– but it was very brief. Silence permeated the subterranean halls. The stranger looked at the expression of each and every lord of Klymoria. They all had long black hair, some of which was braided. Their faces were veiled with beards– many of them thin, but their eyes gave no discernable emotion aside from a very slight joy. They have pride. The stranger thought to himself, as his eyes continued to evaluate each of the Klymorian’s eyes. And it is the root of their strength– this pride. He concluded internally. Pride in that they do not need the spirits or integrate any of their use into their lives.

 

“Then what if your father– your very people came into being because of these things?” The stranger preached inquisitively. Perhaps that their very own patriarch was in alliance with some spirits might get them to change their mind.

 

“Then it is like the wind in the sand. Wherever it takes it, we do not know, but there it shall stay– until the wind picks it up again. Who can control such things? And who shall cry over it? It is not the way of us Klymorians to assume such things. We leave the spiritual things to those who wish to understand them. But that person shall not also be a Klymorian.”

 

“There is another saying, that to be ignorant is to be blessed.” The stranger spoke as humanly and humbly as possible. But even as he said this– he knew he had overstepped his bounds.

 

“It is not ignorant to be uncaring of what cannot be controlled or known, stranger.” The last word was spoken as if it were a light threat, but the stranger was too tired to take the threat seriously.

 

“And what of the Draharans, is it not true that because of their gifts from the spirits of the wind, that Klymoria was retained?” The stranger appealed to the possibility of other forces defeating the Klymorian’s because of the recognition of such power.

 

“Our grandfathers attempted to expand north into Draharan lands. But twice our armies were scattered, not by swords, nor by bows, but by the winds of the sand. A great storm, with even lighting from the sky.”

 

“But the Draharans, they worship the wind, and the spirits therein. Do you see how things were changed because of their faith therein?” The stranger was surprised they so easily admitted that no weapons of war had spelt their previous conquest’s failure.

 

“Those tribes of Draharah, and all the tribes of the world. They may speak to God– to spirits, to whomever they wish. They may believe that they understand, and be delivered a great victory. But to depend on such spirits makes them weak. And one day, when their children do not fear the spirits, and take for granted the deals that they have made with them– then they will find all that they own is pulled out from under them. Klymoria has no interest in such deals. Klymoria is only interested in teaching his children– to be un-relying on others– and to be strong.”

 

“You believe that being in agreement with these spirits– will lead to doom and weakness eventually?” The stranger was contritely surprised.

 

“In Klymoria, we keep things simple. Ask God not for a horse, and God will not kill you when you forget to bring him a lamb next year.”

 

“I see.” The stranger answered. “It appears I am mistaken in the. . . strong resolve of your people’s customs and ideology. I am. . . shocked.” He spoke his thoughts far too honestly. “No man has ever said this to me.”

 

“More should come to Klymoria. They would also see many more things we rightly think.” A Klymorian lord tipped his head slightly with a smile.

 

More silence filled the room. The stranger contested different ideas in his head– the many things that he might say. But quickly– he realized that the minds of the Klymorians had been made up for centuries. This was the cornerstone of their civilization. Their culture and belief was to exist in absence of all spiritual things. And it was something that they would never forsake.

 

“I need relief. Good fortune upon you oh king– for considering my preaching.” The stranger hoped the audience would be dissolved and he wouldn’t waste any more time this evening.

 

The Klymorian “king” waved his hand neither dismissively nor respectfully. He had not said but eight or ten words during this entire speech, for the lords of the land had done most of the discussing. The stranger began to leave the hall and look for the nearest source of water. He still felt dehydrated, even though the last three hours it seemed like he had never stopped drinking.

 

“Dash it all.” He muttered as soon as he felt he was out of ear’s reach. “Of all the things I have been doing!”

 

“Sir.” He heard a voice behind him as he continued walking.

 

I’ve wasted a lot of time here. He thought to himself. These people are more ignorant than dogs chasing their own tales.

 

“Sir!” The voice came about more urgently.

 

“If only I had one more letter to that title, then life would be easy.” The stranger muttered.

 

“Sir, please!” A third time the voice called out.

 

“Pray tell, what drives you to call upon me?” He finally turned around, hoping it was something simple and not more questions that would go nowhere.

 

“Sir– greetings. I could not let you leave after everything you claimed. Please, speak with me. I have been waiting for someone such as you to come here.” The person following spoke. He was a tall and handsome man, with long brown hair, lighter than most of the Klymorians who typically had deep black braids.

 

“What do you need?” The stranger asked pessimistically.

 

“Well, how about your name?” The tall man specified.

 

“Eshaol. You’re the only one who’s cared to ask this evening.” The stranger answered spitefully.

 

“Has nobody here asked of your name?” The Klymorian was surprised at his people’s lack of hospitality.

 

“They have outside of these underground chambers– but they shall forget– or make jokes about me after I’m gone till they also forget it.”

 

“I see. Well. . . tell me Eshaol. I heard that you are completely new to this land, having never met nor interacted with our people. Everything we do is strange in your eyes, and you should not be able to understand a single thing. Why is it then, that I can understand you in my own language? It is not Draharan that we are both speaking. . .”

 

Eshoal slowed down his walking. “The spirits of the wind are in my breath and my drums. It allows me to speak so that you can hear me, and it changes the sound as it enters my ears so that we can understand each other's speech.”

 

“I believe you.” The tall man agreed.

 

“How amazing.” Eshoal responded. “Now, I must be going.”

 

“Wait, please, you are right– the elders, they– let’s go somewhere private.” The man changed his tone as if he was about to say something he shouldn’t. He seemed rather careful even though the two of them were seemingly alone walking through these halls.

 

“Can you get me something to drink?”

 

“Certainly. For a guest– gladly.”

 

“Not water please. These bare necessities are making me feel like life is hardly worth living.”

 

“Said many people who travel to Klymoria.” The tall man laughed amusingly.

 

* * * * * *

 

Within minutes, Eshoal found himself in the young man’s private tent. A cup of tea had been poured just in front of him, and mixed with a little honey. “I thought I might get you to come here with me. I ordered my house to have this tea made before I even spoke a word to you.”

 

“Your anticipation was wise. Now. . . tell me. What do you want that all your neighbor’s do not in this dreary land?”

 

“That is almost it.” The man answered. “I don’t want to live in this. . . this land.”

 

“Then leave.” Eshoal answered while sipping his tea.

 

“No– I want. . . land that is better for my people.”

 

“Really?” Eshoal took a long sip and nearly coughed from swallowing it the wrong way. It had been too long since he had anything but plain water, and now that his trip was largely over, he desperately needed something he could enjoy. Too eagerly he had consumed something which he could highly enjoy. The euphoric retention of such a long awaited indulgence had spoiled his disposition. But the pleasure it brought would not be so easily slighted. He did not mind.

 

“My people are ignorant, and they are so willfully. Draharah makes pacts with the spirits of the wind, and that is why my grandfathers could not take their land from them. We live in strict compliance to rules that we abstain from many forms of pleasure. We see hardship as a time of testing. We have no alcohol, for it is seen as the greatest of potential ways for a man to ruin himself. Our men are strong, and tested against the elements, but we take this testing too far.”

 

“Too far, how do you mean?” The guest continued to sip his tea. He had slowed down significantly since he didn’t want the rest of this good feeling to be receded by any more miss-swallowing.

 

“Our testing, I agree, is a good thing. The virtue of man is that he can choose to do the honorable thing, and he does not live strictly on his instincts. However, I believe we have lost our way. And I believe that the old mantras we tell ourselves are merely to defend our complacency. We have been hurt very badly by the harsh conditions. Some children die young, because their families cannot get them medicine or food. I have seen members of my own family have babies, and give up trying to feed them due to the scarcity of food. Fathers are obsessed with how strong their boys are, and how large they are when they are born. The death of infants is sometimes hardly grieved– for it is just the elimination of someone who was not strong enough to keep on living. Klymorians only know two forms of pleasure. Sex– and honey. Some of us, it seems to be all we think about. Our culture is about restraint, and strength, but even here some are slaves to passion. While nothing is done to make our lives easier, and to keep the weak from dying. Eshaol, how often I think that my cousins– Kaldi especially– would still be alive if not for our harsh cultural trappings.”

 

The guest stopped sipping. The long winded speech was not that of a ranting elder, but of a young man who had spent a great deal of time thinking about these things. The boy was an intellectual, Eshoal could definitely tell. He was thoughtful and caring, and he had been born in this sandy dung-heap. Far from the right place for him to be. There was only a slight hint of bitterness in the way that he’d spoken this entire time– far less than Eshoal had managed to brew up over the years. “I’m sorry.” He offered his best sense of sympathy. “I too know what it is like to live among elders who are too blinded by– well, not their love for any of the things you displayed. Nay. . . but their love for. . . keeping things the way they are. Even if it’s to their own absolute damnation.“

 

“Eshoal, what my people need– is a new form of strength. They need to see intelligence as strength. Avoiding waste– saving energy. One day, the Draharans will overtake us. They change their standing with their neighbors frequently. One day they will out-populate us and come for us and our quarries, or want to trade with the dwarves directly. I see it happening, possibly in the next one-hundred years. Draharah is always changing, but we are much too far the same.”

 

“Perceptive. The flow of time is cruel to any people who remain ignorant of their own ways. But your people are by far the most stubborn I have ever seen.” Eshoal reached forward and served himself another glass of tea. He continued speaking: “I have come here to preach as I was ordained– they will not listen to me. Even in a world with many righteous spirits wishing to align themselves with honorable humans– the result of so many people not remembering their vows and their deals. The market is free– you could make contracts with any spirits you want, now that so many have been abandoned by their former pactees.”

 

“You propose we make deals with these disgruntled spirits?” The man asked quietly. Eshoal could see the hope in his happy eyes as he spoke for it.

 

“As long as you can keep your end of the deal. Do not forget, or you will fall, much the same way the northern parts of Draharah has.”

 

“What things have come from those who make these sorts of deals. Sandstorms that repel invading armies? Speaking in languages you have never heard?” The man aksed about the nature of this pact’s utility.

 

“The spirits will grant you help in different things. The wind carries– information to me. Allows me to speak in other languages indirectly.”

 

“Would they help us attack Draharah?”

 

“Depends on what you and the spirits agree.”

 

Eshoal’s host looked around the tent that the two were sitting in. “On what we agree? You can commune with, and make agreements with these spirits?”

 

“Essentially. Contracts, or covenants technically.”

 

“What sort of contracts would they be willing to make with me.”

 

“It depends on a number of things.”

 

Eshoal continued drinking his tea. The young man opposite of him delved back into his stoic nature and began thinking. The wind outside was growing and the tend was gently flapping.

 

“It cannot be obvious how these spirits are helping me. Or I would be cut off from my people.” The man finally answered.

 

“I agree.”

 

“I want. . . to talk to animals, is that possible?”

 

Eshoal set down his now-empty cup of tea and closed his eyes. The wind grew wilder outside, and it appeared as if Eshoal was listening. . .

 

“Ah, interesting.”

 

“What is it.”

 

“The spirits. . . seem eager to agree.”

 

“Will they give me this blessing immediately?”

 

“No. . . you must make a sacrifice.” Eshoal opened his eyes. His gaze seemed to penetrate his host’s, as if he was looking through his very skull and focusing on the black infinity behind his mortal body.

 

“What sacrifice is required of me?”

 

“They ask. . . that you give up honey.”

 

The young man responded. “Honey?

 

“Yes. The spirits perceive your love of honey. Would you part with it?”

 

“For how long?”

 

“For eternity, or. . . . till your mortal body is relieved.”

 

“Possibly.” The man responded.

 

Silence filled the room as Eshoal closed his eyes and continued concentrating.

 

“Should I be bargaining? I would give up many more things than honey.” The man intervened.

 

“Know– they know. But they want you to give up something pleasurable to you now.”

 

“What if I give up something I have never had.”

 

“Maybe.”

 

“What if I give up alcohol? Most men; it drives insane anyways.”

 

“What value does it show, if you give up something you have never tasted, and have never wished to?”

 

“I. . . would ask you. . . is it a sacrifice if a man. . . looks at his neighbor’s beautiful wife. . . and does not fornicate with her? Even if she offers him day by day, and he smells her sweet aroma, and her husband leaves on a long forgotten trip? So it is, when one hears the tale of Draharan wine, and how one misses out on their spices and sweet aromas. We Klymorians make this sacrifice every single day!” The man expressed decisively.

 

Eshoal smiled. It was the smile of a man who was playing cards in a tavern. The smile of a man who had calculated the last four plays, and knew that everything was lined up for his destined victory.

 

“The spirits. . . “ he whispered in a tone of victory– of snide congratulatory means. “Will. . .

 

. . . Agree.” His smile curved even higher as the last words left his lips.

Chapter 3:
A Marriage to Deny

Cold wind whispered above the trees, as a deep body of gray clouds overlooked the Forayen Forrest. Walking under their cool, but soothing boughs, Aracanus looked up into the blanket of thick green leaves and felt at peace. The leaves swayed and made a calming sound. Barely opening up enough holes in the blanket for Aracanus to see the gray clouds above. But even these clouds were not thick enough to completely hide the sun, for in various areas, cracks radiated sunlight through the seams, giving the old man hope once again.

 

Hope that things would heal.

 

Hope that people would change.

 

Hope that he was in error in his estimation. . .

 

Hope for a lot of things that he probably should not be so hopeful for. . .

 

“Arcannny” A young lass’s voice spoke up next to him. Aracanus was accompanied by a little girl. She had been walking alongside him in these woods for the entire evening. “What are you thinking about?” She asked plainly, for she had seen the smile curving upon his lips.

 

Aracanus’s smile got a little brighter. “Nothing. Just this place is calming” the man said gently. “Nothing has changed. I’m just elated to be here.”

 

The little girl smiled before looking down at her feet. She was wearing a simple deep green hood and cloak. Her curly brown hair was largely veiled by her garments. “Well, that’s still good.” She answered cheerily. “You have a hard time ceasing to think about problems. I’m glad that this place helps you to stop worrying.” She started to skip a little bit energetically.

 

“Aye.” Aracanus walked at his own strong and sturdy pace. “For that, I am thankful.” He slowed down a little as the two approached a dry, and sturdy log. This log was probably a year or so old now, but not so decayed that it was always wet and uncomfortable to sit on. The wood was still firm enough to hold the weight of the man. Carefully, Aracanus sat down, to as not accelerate the atrophying of the log. He enjoyed coming too– and sitting down at this very spot. Although often, he did so without company. The little lass walked around and looked too and fro for a bit before she also sat down beside him. A few raindrops began to fall from the heavens, though the trees provided ample cover.

 

“Aracanus.” The girl ceased using her favorite nickname, immediately indicating to Aracanus that whatever she said next was likely to be very serious. “Why. . . why do I have to get married?”

 

Aracanus lifted his head up. He had previously let it hang in a downward fashion, staring at his boots. That topic had come up. The one he so terribly dreaded. A conversation that he had hoped he would not have to have, although he knew that he really should. But as inevitable as it was, it was unfortunate that he did not yet have an answer ready. Even as old and wise as he was.

 

“Why do you think we all get married?” He asked her back with the turn of his face towards her, and a slight smile on his side.

 

The girl giggled, but then turned her face away from Aracanus’s. “I. . . to have children, and to be in love with your husband, and your children, I guess.” She answered.

 

“And. . . why wouldn’t you want that?” He asked.

 

“I. . . do want it. I just don’t want to be with someone like him.” She said a little sadly.

 

Aracanus did not say anything. He looked forward into the deep wood. As if, the right words to say might come to him, but it was of no avail. There was no wisdom spoken in the wind, nor engraved on any distant trees. The die had already been cast, and fate was quickly moving into play. The future of this poor girl already motioning into a grand display, and there would be no reversing it. As Aracanus mulled over the many different things he might say, the little girl continue, saying;

 

“He isn’t a noble sort of person, is he? I. . . may not be much more than a. . . you know. A. . . “

 

“Aye.” Aracanus placed both hands on his face and attempted to rub the anxiety away. “A toy. A trophy. Your fear has a genuine founding.”

 

“Really?” The girl questioned very sadly.

 

“Possibly.” Aracanus answered with a slow and uncertain tone. “But. . . impossible to know for certain.”

 

“Should I let them marry me to him?”

 

Aracanus did not answer. He only continued to stare forward into the deep beyond, wishing he were not sitting here. Wishing he did not have to make up answers for a foolish monarchy, that had long since abandoned its principals. The silence permeated the forest, with only raindrops echoing across the darkened hollow. Foreshadowing the sound of tears, pattering on the stone floors of a distant castle outside of Perisno. “She is a person, not a piece in a long term political game.” His conscience pried at him. “But if she does not, then Julvan will not stay aligned with Perisno, and the Eastern front will be absolved. Our boarders wide open to Draharah, and even Julvan if they align with them.” The powerful consequences of such an action ate at Aracanus’s mind.

 

“I do not know.” The man finally answered. “I do not know if what I say even matters at this point.” He muttered lowly.

 

The little girl folded her hands, and put her head down again.

 

“You heard that he–”

 

“I know that he loves to drink. And I know that he loves beautiful women Ibili.” Aracanus finally spoke the girl’s name. “Prince Echoihim represents the power of Julvanite cavalry as well as the economic support provided to us by the inhabitants east of Galwe before the Tribes of Draharah. If you marry him, you will secure peace, and prosperity for your family, and your country. The Kingdom of Perisno will have security for another generation.”

 

“What if they do something that removes this security? What if I marry Echohim for nothing and the alliance falls!? What if. . . he sleeps with another girl even though he’s married to me! Aracanus. . . they believe that the Hallowed Testaments allow. . . “

 

“Allow a married man, to lay down with any unmarried woman, so long she is not a child of Perote.” Aracanus finished citing the one miserable moral loophole in Perisno’s ancient laws regarding marriage, as was defined in their religious documents. “Copulating with another man’s wife is prohibited. But such deeds with a woman who is not married is supposedly allowed.”

 

“Will Echohim do it!?” Ibili asked very sadly once again.

 

“Impossible to know. The rumors of him sleeping around now are. . . only rumors. But some men have been known to grow out of it, even coming from a culture as unrefined and barbaric as the men of Julvan–”

 

Aracanus stopped talking, for the worst sound that could possibly come over these woods began to permeate the two’s immediate presence. A single breath taken through the nostrils rather abruptly. A sob, let loose from the hopeless face of a noble lady. The raindrops of a fallen countenance, passing the elegant clouds of girl’s eyelashes. The fear and dread or escaping air from her youthful lips.

 

Ibili was crying.

 

And Aracanus felt as if he could do nothing.

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