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Aftermath


Post by Sir Karsimir on

It was time.

Lowering smoothly to one knee, the Shining One pulled his sword from the scabbard by the quillons, holding it forth by the blade for Amaranda to grasp the hilt with Dash's hand. Aorle's own hands remained on the blade as he swore the deepest promise of his life.

No one had truly taught him the words. No one had to. They were inscribed upon his very soul. Hearing them recited by Kurgriss had only shown him the reflections of his own heart.

"By my word and sword, by faith and honour. My Oath is thus."

"To act with valour and compassion in all things. To stand upright and true with every deed. To walk humbly and love justice. To permit no evil within my power to oppose, by life or by death. To make honour my life. To safeguard the helpless. To do no wrong. To share of my strength with those without."

"That is my Oath."

Now fealty.

"My rulers are Compassion, Heroism, Honour, Justice & Measure. Here and now I call each one my liege and pledge my fealty. To shun what they shun and love what they love."

"From Compassion my tasks are eternal. To answer the cries of those in need. To watch no cruelty go unchallenged. To give without thought of return. To aid those who suffer and ease their pain. To stand against what threatens them. To meet malice with battle and sorrow with kindness."

"From Heroism I accept these duties. To strengthen the weak, to enrich the poor, to free the enslaved, to exonerate the falsely accused, to champion the defenseless, and to welcome self-sacrifice when 'twill bring what is just. To better do right and die than do wrong and prosper."

"From Honour I welcome these charges. To uphold all trusts placed in me. To speak only truth. To exhibit courage in both word and deed. To make no accord with workers of evil, be it to yield or consort. To forsake none given loyalty. To answer to rightness and stand by my deeds."

"Justice be the soul of knighthood. To render all fair due, be they man or woman or beast or god. To permit no life be wasted in vain. To avenge the wronged and guard the blameless. To set right inequity to my full power. To side always with right, unswayed by thoughts of gain. To champion those causes I find worthy."

"To Measure, my obligations. To reserve wrath for the wicked. To be not blinded by anger or pride. To stay my blade save for righteous purpose. To give honour to the deeds of others. To be guided by wisdom. To act always in accordance with the Teachings of Angels."

"This is my pact, and these are my duties, until Heaven release me, or death takes me, or the world ends." Not one shred of doubt entered his voice, this was his driving purpose. Every word held deep value for him. Finally, he ceased his grip on his sword blade and released the weapon into Amaranda's care, for her to use in her Judgement.

And yet, there was one modification he made to the Oath. Two further words of such value. "And beyond."
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.

Post by Falcon Bertille on

It was a very fine Oath, spoken with admirable conviction. And it deserved a fitting response. True, Amaranda could perform the Accolade while still in Dash’s body, but to do so seemed insufficient. She wanted to make sure that none present on this day would ever doubt what they had seen. This was the moment the angel had been saving her strength for.

Thank you, she whispered to Dash, speaking softly inside the girl’s mind. And remember this, my sister: never be ashamed of your wings. Regardless of why they were given to you, you can still use them to lift others.

Then, with a great surge of effort, Amaranda projected herself through Dash, like light passing through a lens, so that she could stand before the Shining One in her full glory. Gasps of wonderment filled the room, accompanied by one solid “thump” as Julen dropped to his knees. Looking slightly dazed, Dash released her grip on the hilt of Aorle’s sword and backed away, so that Amaranda alone faced the man who had just sworn his Oath to her.

Gracefully, Amaranda stooped to kiss Aorle’s brow, just above his right eye. When she withdrew her lips, a gold mark remained behind -- two wings, enclosed within a single circle. “Strange,” she murmured, in a voice meant just for the two of them. “I intended to gift you with some of my angelic nature. But it seems you already have an angelic nature of your own. You are full of surprises, Shining One.”

Still, unexpected as the revelation was, it didn’t change what he had earned. Standing upright, Amaranda spoke loudly enough for all assembled to hear. “Rise, Shining One. You are now a Sword of Heaven, a Knight of the Sundered Wing, and a friend of the angel Amaranda. Use your power to do good in this world.”

For a moment, Amaranda smiled, well pleased with the events of that morning. Then, drained by the effort of remaining on the earthly plane, she released her grip and allowed herself to be pulled heavenward, vanishing in a burst of blindingly bright light.

Silence followed her departure, with many of the warriors and refugees now focusing their awe on Aorle. Julen remained kneeling, his eyes tightly closed, as if by keeping his lids shut he could forever trap his last glimpse of Amaranda behind them. He remembered his “dream” of standing outside his dead mother’s garden, remembered the awe of seeing something so pure that it could never truly exist in the mortal world. He remembered the pain of being torn away from such beauty. That was how he felt now. When Amaranda left, part of him had wanted to cry out to her -- Wait! Don’t leave me here! Take me with you! But now, as the angel’s image slowly faded, Julen reluctantly released it. Opening his eyes, he looked up at his wife and thought of all the happiness she brought him. Not perfect happiness, no. But happiness well worth having. Then he looked at Aorle and thought of all the work which still lay ahead of them. Hard work, yes. But work well worth doing. The ache inside Julen’s heart remained, except now it shrunk to a reasonable size, and he could carry it. Paradise would have to wait.

Determined not to be outdone by the horse a second time, Julen got to his feet and approached Aorle. “Congratulations.” Clasping Aorle’s arm, wrist to wrist, Julen shook his hand in the way of warriors. “I have never been more proud to serve your cause. Nor to call you my friend.”

Post by Lylessa Uluki on

((NPC Post))

Dash stood watching Amaranda and Aorle, awed by what she saw. Then she felt an arm around her shoulders, and turned to see her sister Zee, with Baby Martin balanced on her hip. Zee said nothing, but smiled proudly at Dash. Dash smiled back, her emotions still a little tangled.

Amaranda’s words about Dash’s wings kept going through her head, over and over. The wings had never seemed like a blessing. They had always felt like a scar. Dash was beginning… just beginning, but the seed was planted… to see them in a whole new light.

She couldn’t believe an angel had found her body worthy to inhabit. Surely it should have been someone purer, someone with clean hands, mind, and heart. But it hadn’t been. It was her. She still wasn’t quite sure what to make of that.

Then it was all over, and the angel faded.

“You did a good job, Dashie,” Zee told her. “Did it hurt?”

“No, not at all. It was nice. Just odd, that’s all. Let’s go find Mama and Papa, alright?” Dash had a sudden, overwhelming need to be with her family.

She wanted to talk to Aorle, of course, to tell him congratulations, but it could wait. There were plenty of people who would no doubt want to speak to him now, including Julen, who was doing so already, and Dash needed some time to process her emotions first. She also wasn’t ready to answer the inevitable questions from the others. For now, with all these strange emotions coursing through her, she needed the familiarity of the people who loved her.

Dash took Martin from Zee, and the two girls set off together, leaving behind the crowd that had borne witness to the angel.

Post by Sir Karsimir on

I swear to it. As you bid, I serve.

Words that need not be spoken. The Oath had seen to that, as had his heart. Still, an answer was only fitting to her command to use his new power to do good, and he could give no other.

As he rose, scars formed on the left edge of his face, memories of his first deed of true self-sacrifice. A badge of honour for a worthy deed from one who was so young. Those scars were left by the rings of a noblewoman, one who intended to punish a serf-girl only to find a page-boy intercepting the attack... refusing to either raise a hand to a woman or stand aside when cruelty would come to pass, the page-boy could only withstand the assault himself until the fully-grown attacker had exhausted herself in her rage.

Standing tall, his steel-sheathed form was dappled with the light unleashed by Amaranda's departure, the lingering illumination seeming to cling to his armour. Bright scales now resembled steel feathers over his body, and the larger plates on his limbs and body glinted like silver mirrors. The oval shield worn on his arm displayed an etched pattern of feathers on the metal face, spreading out from the center in the pattern of a sunburst, akin to a wing made of burnished steel.

Tell the crows we made them a feast. A thought directed outwards like a prayer, and he knew she heard him. A gift to the winged creatures, and the just due of every bird who had aided him.

Finally, he claimed his own sword and saluted, before sheathing it in a smooth motion. "Dash. Thank you." The words did not seem enough. At once she had been the agent of his deliverance from annihilation and the fulfillment of his ultimate dream.

Next the Sword of Heaven knew, he was being greeted by the approval of his first warrior. After the enormity of this event, he had lost his own initiative and was far from ready to speak. So he had achieved his lifelong dream, now what? Of course he knew, he would fulfill his Oath and Pledge to his final breath. Only... he had to begin that purpose afresh, and had lost much of his initiative in the moment of his success.

Then he found it again.

You made an Oath and Pledge for all things. Fulfill it now.

"And I you, Julen. And I you. 'Tis an honour to fight at your side." From there, he accompanied the armclasp with an armoured embrace. "My deeds were done with your aid, and are as much your success as mine. A better friend could not be asked for. Thank you." On those final words, he stepped back from the hug and bowed from the waist.
Last edited by Sir Karsimir on Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.

Post by Julen on

Grinning, Julen returned Aorle’s embrace. He hadn’t realized it until that moment, but some small part of him had been worried that receiving Amaranda’s blessing might have changed Aorle, might have transformed him into something incapable of considering a mere mortal to be his friend. Clearly, that was not the case. Aorle’s words not only reassured Julen, but deeply touched his heart, and he returned his friend’s bow with one of his own. “You’re the one who deserves to be thanked. I stand here today because you had faith in a man whose own faith had faltered, because your hands were always steady when mine trembled, because your eyes saw what mine could not. I will never forget that.”

It was not entirely clear who started the cheering, although those standing closest to Sigvard might have been able to make a better guess than most. Regardless, the sound spread rapidly through the assembled group, until nearly everyone was either applauding, banging their weapons against their shields, or shouting. The refugees hung back a little, more awed by the spectacle they’d just witnessed. However, Aorle’s warriors were quick to hurry forward, congratulating their leader and reaffirming their allegiance to him.

After the bow, Julen melted into the crowd, allowing Aorle to have his moment. He knew that the personal glory would mean little to his friend. But Aorle would surely be heartened to see the renewed enthusiasm that his men now felt for the tasks which faced them. Such an outpouring of zeal was likely to refresh his spirit as much as any essence that the angel had granted him.

Glancing around, Julen noticed that both and Dash and Zee were gone. They’d probably slipped off to be with their family. Julen couldn’t blame them for that -- it had been amazing enough to see an angel, he couldn’t imagine what it must have been like to contain one. The girls definitely deserved a bit of privacy. Although, now that he thought about it, Julen was surprised that he hadn’t seen either Rollick or Uluki in the crowd, especially since Uluki had been so eagerly spreading the news about the angel’s arrival. He hoped they were alright. Half of him wanted to go check, and half of him didn’t want to interrupt anything private.

Julen was still trying to decide what to do when he felt someone touch his arm. Turning his head, he saw Rosemary standing beside him, her face radiating a mixture of hope and admiration that hadn’t been present since the early days of their marriage. “And I have never been more proud to call you my husband,” she murmured. “I’m sorry for everything I said last night. I tried so hard to see what you and Aorle saw, but I just couldn’t. Until now. Now, I understand what you’re fighting for, and I understand why it’s so important, no matter what sacrifices we have to make.”

Her words rinsed away the remaining bitterness left behind by their fight. Drawing Rosemary into his arms, Julen rested his face against the top of her head, his cheek cushioned by the soft waves of her auburn hair. He knew that things wouldn’t always be perfect between them, that fear and doubt would return to torment them both. But when you’ve just seen an angel, it’s not hard to believe that everything will somehow be alright -- for a little while, at least.
Shim -- where the men are men, and the livestock are scared.

Post by Sir Karsimir on

Strange, he had never thought of the cheers.

Each warrior present received some acknowledgement for their gestures of support. Be it the salute of fist on breastplate or laying a gauntleted hand on a shoulder. Regardless of the form, respect was given for their loyalty and valour in the previous battle. They all had fought for the innocent, they had all held firm to their tasks.

They needed to hear as much.

Raising his radiant shield high, he achieved silence, or at least a moderate murmer amid the crowd which enabled him to address those who served under arms.

"For standing by me in battle, I give thanks. For standing by innocents in need, I give homage. Take this day on a choice you will make. The choice is if you will be sworn to my service. Take this day, I will not have oaths sworn on a moment's thought or by those unready." A long gaze settled on the group from now-gold eyes which made little pretense at being human.

At this point, Aorle began shedding his armour down to only a padded aketon. "Sean, Ian." he called, "Take these upstairs for me. Numidar, save me a shovel, I have taken long enough to work on the defences." Orders followed, he resolved to contribute at least a few hours before returning to his family. No longer impaired by wounds, he could resume his stay with them and thus honour their hospitality towards him.

Without being made vulnerable.
My faith protects me, my kevlar helps.

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