Each new brew was to be a test of endurance, and of skill. They were the Trial Poisons- each hand crafted, hand brewed and personally tested. The task was simple enough to explain- one simply downed a vial of a toxic poison known only as one of the Trial poisons.
The real challenge came in what one did with the vast stock of unlabeled herbs and other powders within the store room, while the poison worked it's magic. If one desired to pass the final levels in order to become a Sage, one merely had to discover and make the antidote. Simply spoken, but never an easy task.
Saraóre eyed the vial of gently bubbling liquid as it perched on the edge of the small table. The vial of unnaturally deep blue liquid stared back, taunting him. Saraóre wrenched his eyes away, suppressing a groan of pain as his innards protested the addition of the poison that he had ingested a short hour earlier.
The blue antidote needed to cool to we
Courtly Matters Part 42Dead Crows Sing
Dead men and pieces of other dead bodies lay strewn across the fields. It was a pit of death; after a war that would likely not even make it into the history records despite the number of families torn asunder. Though the stench rises above the fields slowly baking in the dry summer sun, I cannot let this tale go unspoken and overlooked.
My tapestry stretches out on the loom before me, slowly revealing truths that many would prefer covered and forgotten. Bright red fills these few inches, these few years. Where there were once the bright colors of life and the gaiety of innocent children now lies the darkness of death, disease and despair. In the days of old, there would still be the one strand of light, the color of hope. In these days though, even that strand has faded out, broken and frayed into the submission of weakness. We have lost all hope. There is no life here in this village that I grew up in, that my daughter grew up in, and that I once dreamed of my gran
Courtly Matters Part 41Broken Whispers end in Silence
After sensing that the crowds had finally dispersed and the criminal's body taken care of, the Duke of Coilas made his way back to the quiet of the stone hall and singular room generally regarded as the executioner's chambers. Just as he had expected, the black robes were hung on a peg in the wall, as was the heavy black hood. In the corner, perched on a low stool, the Duke saw the executioner, head held in his hands.
"My lord," he greeted his friend formally, testing the waters.
The second man looked up then with a heavy sigh. "Yes?" he asked quietly, schooling all emotion out of his response and expression.
"I thought a drink might ease your spirit," the Duke of Coilas replied.
"I have no desire for any fine wine." The executioner replied in a monotone. "You'll forgive me for saying that only a heavier brew will ease tonight's passing."
"There is no need," the Duke replied simply as he pulled out a round jug. "I find that only a st
Courtly Matters Part 40With Bloody Stumps Scream
Duke and Queen
It was not the quiet question that set her emotions spinning out of control. It was not even the loud cheering after the head went rolling in a burst of a crimson fountain. It was, instead, the gentle touch, lifting her chin with the barest pressure of a forefinger so that he could look into her tear-bright eyes.
"Are you alright, Baroness Lydalia?" he repeated in concern. Before he knew it, the seemingly composed Baroness was sobbing into his shoulder, too distraught for even words. The Duke resisted a half-chuckle. I guess that's a no... he thought to himself while patting her back, if rather awkwardly.
A solid ten minutes later, Lydalia finally gained a semblance of control over herself, and with an apology far to brief to make up for the spectacle she had made of herself, ran off towards the castle, hiccuping with emotion and the knowledge that screams would forever be
Courtly Matters Part 39As a Head Rolls
Duke and Queen
It was proper for all the nobles to witness the execution of those of higher class. Just because it was proper though, did not mean that all enjoyed the spectacle that the lower classes so often made of any form of execution. The Queen for one, absolutely detested them to the point where she lost her appetite entirely. It took all of her resolve not to lose the previous meal at the same time.
The man's crimes were read aloud, publicly stated in clear, ringing tones that brought gasps of disgust and shock from the gathered throngs. The sentence, though left unstated, was just as clear. In the shadows, the executioner lurked, his face covered by a dark hood , and in his hand, a gleaming silver axe- four times larger then entirely nervous. Beside him stood the Duke of Coilas, his face expressionless as he murmured to the man in black, entirely at ease within the circumstances.
Courtly Matters Part 38Of Travelers and Villains
The Duke of Coilas happened to be pacing the ramparts when he noticed what seemed to be a large but disorganized group of travelers making their way to the main gates. There was something about the way that they carried themselves that his gut warned him against them. Their banners were not weathered and worn as any other group of travelers should have been, but were instead still bright with young age and showed no sign any damage whatsoever. When he rounded several levels of stairs to reach the ground, he was relieved to see that the gates were still down. The gate guards too, suspected something. From his vantage point on ground level, the Duke of Coilas soon realized why the band of travelers seemed so off. It was the preliminary scout group in disguise.
With a shout to the gate guards to keep the gates closed, the Duke took off at a dead run, racing to find the Queen.
Courtly Matters Part 37King's Order
Sir Vadien, Earl Marshal
Night had fallen, and the Earl Marshal took the long route back to his quarters. In the distance, and from the castle walls, he could hear snatches of the warriors' songs as they kept themselves awake while on duty. The passion that they sang the simple words with sent chills through his body, despite the warm breeze that ruffled his cloak and stirred up the dust around his feet.
He stopped in one of the barracks, received an instant bow from all of the occupants, and when he could not find the person that he sought, left without a word, his expression solemn.
A few steps later the Earl Marshal found his query, quietly smoking a pipe just outside the walls.
The Earl Marshal nodded his recognition of the other man's slight bow, but stood staring out into the distant open field for a moment longer.
Finally, he spoke. "Wear the ribbons. Watch the Queen. We ride when they first appear."
The second man nodded, and the Earl Marshal swept of
Courtly Matters 36Saviour or Devil
Earl Marshal and King
It was with a heavy heart that the Earl Marshal left the King's presence that evening. The charge had been simple. The command could not be argued with as the King himself had spoken it. He had spoken it in love, but they both knew that it spelled doom for others. There were, after all, snakes spreading their poison throughout the kingdom.