Becoming a Demigod has been a boon, but not without its share of banes along the way. First, please allow me to graciously thank your intelligence and tact, along with your years on me. Never once did you belittle me for not getting your title correct. You also dealt with me at face value, even when a millennium of centuries spelling out how my kind were the spawns of Chaos and beyond. Was heavenly Apis the only other Minotaur in history to become good, and that’s why Ra made her a goddess?
I am coming to understand that “Leadership” & “Friendship” are often more at odds and they are comrades. However, trying to find that balance between them is what I believe allows “Mercy” to temper “Justice” from becoming something darker. Bear with me on this as I relate the events of the final week within Apis’ boon of a month’s time to the 31st of Grekar.
I was walking through the “Golden Triangle” center of town in Nisi when I saw Shaman Grignak and the rest of CrIsis going about any number of morning tasks. It would seem Shaman Grignak was inspired by his days as a part time slave gladiator. He opted to make a public decree against the forces of Hades to fear us. I fear he forgot that the Demons of Hades are not bound by the Agreement. The Demons that chose to present themselves, did so with a few Tautons supporting them.
Hmm, did that Tauton involvement break the Agreement, I wonder? Given that none of the Ramen have come to our aid in such a fashion during my tenure.
The line up was:
- 3 Baal-Rog Greater Demons
- 1 Soul Catcher Greater Demon
- 1 Brek-Shall Greater Demon
- 4 Tautons, Minions of the Dark
Our foes began to toss sleep spells about and Father Indaris and Khonsu’s Reaper were forcibly whisked away to the dream/nightmare lands. I am finding magic difficult to affect me as I strode through the Clouds of Slumber and grabbed Vindicator getting burned slightly because I was not a dark soul! Never have I been so happy to be injured! Even in sleep Master No Name refused to let go of his Runic Scythe. So I just tossed both in the air and asked the weapon to banish the demons. It tried but these were Greater Demons and much more resistant to such a power. Alas, it failed to work.
Covering my lower arms in Lightning Magic I parried one of the Tautons Scorpion Tail strikes with my armored arm. Hmm, pretty sure the Tauton’s involvement means that one among the Pantheon of Taut is hurting about now. Just then Khonsu’s Revenant was felled by the Soul Catcher, Greater Demon of Hades. The monster was unable to drink his soul into the writhing mass below the skin upon his back, FOUL AND DISGUSTING! In short order I had dispatched one Baal-rog Greater Demon, but not before Shaman Grignak was laid low by the same ‘Soul Catcher’ Demon! Then came our little fox to the rescue, Silent Dream outdid himself psychically enforcing his will and a calm-like state upon many of the enemies’ minds. Just then two of the Tautons stole Shaman Grignak’s and Father Indaris’ bodies via teleporting of a fashion! I roared and smote another Baal-rog Demon using Prodromus Lex! At one point I had to draw Callandor for parrying while I took the Flail of my station as the “Oathkeeper God” and showed the minions of evil why they should fear the Harbinger of Law!
During the battle the gods sent us what would have been the replacements should events I will explain not unfolded the way they did. A Dwarven child upon a Pegasus wielding a lance and rune sword, made runs at the Brek-Shall Greater Demon! He looked like a young Master Overkill reincarnated! Then an Eandroth Mind Mage of some girth appeared so I knew it was a female. She began to help brandishing her Psychic Sword like Mistress Iana had once done. Master Dream convinced the remaining Demons to flee and the Tautons had used devices to do that as well. Just then, heavenly Apis, appeared in her physical form and all of Nisi saw us beat the demons back and a God of Light appear and lay Father Indaris (whom still had Osiris’ Left Arm and Oathbringer) and Shaman Grignak (whom had been robbed of Vereth) upon the ground in front of us. She then healed EVERYONE that had been hurt by the fight directly or as a spectator! We were given a warning of an impending attack on Sekhet-Aanru, where Mighty Ra and each of his godly allies occupies their own sprawling pyramid palace cities (why do I know that all of a sudden, hmm either intelligence increase or being a Demigod, maybe both). After she left Father Indaris mentioned a vision of both Sekhet-Aanru and Nu’Ak amassing on opposite sides of the celestial, crocodile infested river that runs through the Ma’ip. There were tens of thousands of Ramen and Tautons amassed among the gods! I am sure one of those gods of darkness is hiding because of the Tauton involvement. I am also sure that if Shaman Grignak thought his little speech would have started an engagement between the gods he would have thought twice about it. What a painful way to learn about actions and consequences! Still I don’t blame him for our current situation, he already lost a runesword of light and sent his goddess off to battle, what am I going to say that would leave a more permanent mark than that?
Shaman Grignak was not the only one that had wandered off on their own. Khonsu’s Revenant had been inadvertently effected by Silent Dream using a group mental power I had opted out of. I was worried about linking my mind now because Master Dream mentioned nearly drowning in my memories. Worried my divine nature might adversely harm my team mates I abstained. I must bear some concern that Master Dream’s power that altered Master Ursus may be from his touching my mind. The effect may not have been noticeable until now. The old me would just assume it was my fault and the new me is unsure but intends to keep tabs going forward. You see Silent Dream had brought out the darker tendencies in Ursus, I feel are within any creature with free will.
Free will is the key here, while his darker tendencies were in dominant prose he still had free will. Why is that important one might ask? Because of freedom! King Guy the First of the Timiro Kingdom has freed the slaves and stated religious freedom to worship how you wish in this land. Freedom to worship light or dark icons of faith. When Master Ursus killed a member of a band of faithful he dubbed: “Ursunites” and had him resurrected. He broke the laws of the Church of Light. There were just over a dozen Timirian worshippers of Terosh among the camps he and his band attacked and using Defiance’s Tooth he carved a “T” upon their forehead! We must treat our enemies better than this! We have to or there will be no showing them a better way to the light for their souls!
I was so relieved we did not fail against “ANY” enemy while fighting within the confines of the town, township, fledgling city “???” of Nisi. I know that had we failed our worldwide popularity would have suffered. If we are this popular I can only imagine what book sales are doing for the donations to the Church of Light?!
Just after Father Indaris did the blessing of ‘Contagious Scripture’ with the following prayer:
“The light will prevail in the deepest darkness. Seek the light in darkness.”
I used all of my energy to send verbal magical pigeons to every major city in Timiro to spread the – invested prayer. I really hope this is enough to help boost Apis and keep her safe, but those Tautons still make me think their is a weakened god on the Dark’s side. The way Father Indaris described the amassing of forces makes me think about having a chat with everyone to strengthen our bonds as a team. Maybe this is a skill of leaders but I am trying to lead without leading. I hope that simply by trying to lead by example will give people a path to follow that does – I CAN’T BELIEVE I AM SAYING THIS – allow for both people of light and dark to be better versions of themselves. It is the friendship I feel with Master No Name – Khonsu’s Reaper has allowed me to see the vision for the Church that the Pontiff has stated is how it will survive.
We were praying for some time trying when Bishop Tutu and eighty Timirian Soldiers appeared in the town triangle, err.. town center on the road just south of the Obelisk of Osiris and the CrIsis statues. They marched up and declared Master Ursus was under arrest for breaking Timirian and Church Laws. It was here I felt the most conflicted and betrayed by the lovable oaf turned rogue thug of light. When Master Dream mentioned his involvement I began to wonder if our contact had not just made him drown in my memories as I mentioned above. For now this is merely a thought I have and will require far more effort on my part to get to know our little fox better. I realize I’m repeating myself a bit but I feel for those that may read this repetitive reinforcement of the sequence of unfortunate events that led to this moment that Master Ursus is a good man. Master Dream is a victim of inexperience and Ursus is a victim (to a point) of having forcibly fallen prey to his darker nature.
It was decreed he would be allowed to stand trial and face his accusers, one of whom was the Bearmen known as Father Titus! The wonders of the reign of King Guy the First never cease to amaze me! Truly a great and noble king that this former “monster” race is a citizen as I am! Glory unto the Lawgiver for the edicts that make such freedom so in this land. Again despite the guilt he felt Master Dream stepped up and tried to fall on the law to take him instead and explained his part in the drama unfolding. While Bishop Tutu was unwilling to allow that given the proof of the crime and self admission given by Master Ursus. The good bishop allowed him to attempt to undo the damage done. As though he had an Ace up his cloak like the crew of the new Shield of Light when playing cards. He was magnificent in restoring our friend to his former nature. Sadly, Master Ursus, blamed Khonsu for allowing him to commit murder rather than taking the onus upon himself for while dark in the soul, that soul had free will.
The trial was to be held at Fort Ac and we promptly left to begin the journey with Ursus in chains. Two days into and eight day journey we realized that we were running out of time with Apis’ time boon. I offer to teleport everyone to the fork in the road that will lead to Fort Ac. My offer is accepted and I make everyone gather within 60 feet of me and with Magos’ aid I teleport everyone to the spot I mentioned. Master No Name suggested sending word to Master Rell as an arbiter familiar with Timirian Law and last believed to be at the Pyramid at Credia. I did as requested and when we arrived at the fork word came back that he would teleport to Fort Ac straight away and be there on the morrow. His defense was masterful and while I offered to help, something nagged at the back of my mind. I stayed quiet and my mortal friends solved this crisis without needing to ask any help of me. I can’t eloquent “why” I started feeling that sensation to let them solve the problem and just wait and see if they “needed or wanted” my help. I was so proud to see current and former CrIsis members come together to aid one another. Ursus owes well over 100,000 in “₮ golden knights” to the aggrieved parties payable within a year.
Compared to all of that week my time back at the Tri-Arcanum Guild, finishing my indoctrination as High Weaver. Going through the process of the fine for Father Indaris (public spell casting) and Master Ursus (not an approved racial form) was a breeze. They were all so kind to stay in the guild’s tri-tower and out of trouble for the remaining time and I was thrilled to ignore them all for a short while! I met with all the Alchemists and Thurwood Getor presented me with the Freeze Change Wand. Then I found out we only lost 20% membership at the guild having me as the leader. Hmm, in an ironic turn of events the scum that survived the attacks on CrIsis were among the 20% that opted to leave. So good fortuna there and I’ll take it, HA!
On the morning of the 30th of Grekar Master Wesvon woke me up and I was laying in a bed so magnificent to wonderfully support my full size frame. In a joking tone I looked at Wesvon, ’You’re not Laval’liere, Rhiana or Iana so what gives?’ Did I mentioned I am crappy at hiding a smirk when I think I made a funny joke? Sorry back in 1/12th of an hourglass that was so funny to not chuckle for a bit.
“Still not getting invited to the parties, so grab your friends and meet me on the roof,” the Granted Leader retorted and he left. Soon, I had all of CrIsis packed and on the roof where he teleported us to Credia so I could save my energy, so generous of him! We appeared on the deck of a ship so huge that lay four Minotaurs horns to toes from port to starboard sides! It was so great to see everyone as cheers went up like mad that we had returned. I feel strange sometimes that the ship and sea are more of a home to me than the desert of my birthplace.
Earlier, in this exhaustive missive I spoke to the generosity of, King Guy the First, but it begs further notation:
- 40 Timirian Sailors.
- 8 Timirian Craftsmen.
- 20 Timirian Mariners.
- 20 Timirian Soldiers.
Acting Captain, Jershon informed us that this crew was hand picked by the king to man the “Shield of Light” for us. The amount of time this saved everyone was nothing short of amazing. We had some brief discourse about how to pay for the increased crew. It was then we were informed about the king paying for the first three months of pay! He even paid for two siege weapons and their initial ammunition! All he asked in return is to lead by example and pay our taxes on the 1st of Ra. It was discussed that with some minor tweaks our book proceeds would cover the crews pay and given our veterans a raise in pay. So those were made and put into effect.
Silent Dream and I donated money to cover the food for the voyage and poor Mistress Annie and Kom’var may not be seeing a lot of each other given how her cooking requirements just shot through the roof. Hmm, if he sneaks into the kitchen and doesn’t at least bring me a few carrots back I’ll remind him of what mother did to us/me when I was young. Carrot Taxes for the win, HA!
After myself and Silent Dream hand over the money to Jershon I asked if I could speak with him after dinner up by the ship catapult and ballista. There in the night sky I sat down so our heights nearly matched and reached into a pouch, pulling two objects from there. Two objects that had consumed my evenings on the farm. I wanted to show him that I had not lost faith within him. Bidding Dream closer I extended my fist (nearly the size of Dream’s whole head) unfurling it to show both items:
∮ A steel amulet framed in iron and on an iron and thick leather chain.
∰ A steel arm-cuff made of bands with three brass lightning bolts woven among the steel bands.
“Master Dream, none of us are ever perfect and we stumble even trying to do the right thing. Please know that I look up to your fortitude as an example of where I want my soul to return. You’re my inspiration in many ways. This steel amulet,” I moved my hand slightly and nodded in the affirmation for him to put it on, "Will protect you from the touch of the undead. They can still shoot you with arrows or spells I believe but cannot touch you. This is fashioned from some old iron horseshoes for the frame and steel farm implements into a Holy Symbol of Apis’ face on the front side and the back side bears my sigil. I provided the flame and the farmers on No Name’s land made it for me to enchant for you. I had hoped the metal coming from the “animals of the land” and “tools of the land” would be acceptable way to honor you and your people."
“This is amazing Xerx’ses. Thank you – I don’t know what to say.” He turns it back and forth in his hands to admire the look and feel of both sides before putting it on.
Once he was wearing the Amulet of Turn Undead I started to continue, “Now please take the arm-cuff and put it on,” after that is done I keep going, “This is a Talisman made by me.” The Kankoran held a cold-forged woven steel arm-cuff from some strands of thin steel bands I had the farm smith make for this purpose. I had then bent it to shape using my strength and was taught how to weave it step-by-step into a knot-style woven pattern. I was lucky and got three small brass lightning bolts cut and then wove them into the arm-cuff. “I have imbued it with three uses of the spell called – Handful of Lightning. Now this will allow you to use them as your bow spear attack and only become the genuine article once fired. Now, if I keep re-enchanting the Talisman to perform this magic spell you will have 1/12th of an hourglass to use them before they vanish. If you have any other Alchemist re-enchant the Talisman that amount of and hourglass will be much smaller. You will also find the damage less if re-enchanted by any Alchemist other than myself, it’s creator. While instructed how to make the weaving on the arm-cuff I did it completely on my own. In honor of what little I have gleaned about your people from you.”
Silent Dream traced the pattern of the arm-cuff, noting the detail of the lightning bolts woven among the rest of the metal. He remarked to me about how he could almost feel the magic contained within, begging to be released. “These are most thoughtful gift, friend Xerx’ses. I do not know that I am worthy of them after what my ignorance did to Ursus.”
I rose my head to the sky, “While I might joke about it, I don’t hold you or Grignak responsible for what either of you did, but Apis’ gives me strength that more Minotaurs can be shown a better path, and Khonsu gives me hope because he is looking out for them. Isis and Ra give me strength for bringing you into my life. Because of you I have faith I can once again claim to be in the Lawgiver’s good graces someday. For all of everyone’s faults I would not change them. You all are my family, my brothers, and I do not question Apis’ choice in you little fox. If you ever doubt yourself, give me your faith, because I have it in you, my dear friend.”
I asked him to sit with me and watch the stars for a bit. Once out to sea, on the morrow, I promised to help him fire a few lightning spears to get comfortable with the Talisman cuff.
He nodded, telling me about his thoughts on his recent mistake and what it almost cost the group. Very quietly, almost a whisper, he thanked Apis’ too, for placing him amongst CrIsis, then he said aloud “Thank you, Xerx’ses. I will treasure these gifts. You have my word on it.”
Silent Dream stared at the stars with me he spoke of wondering if the skies are just as clear in the Northern Wilderness. He wondered if someone he knew called, Night Rain be looking at the same sky? Then had the same look on his face that I did when I used to talk about love. He thought she had likely mated with Red Snow in his absence, and would be tending their pups. Then he smiled and upon query he mentioned another past acquaintance – Fighting Moon. Maybe they were both looking at the same sky? Then he mixed a yip and bark as though he felt the ridiculousness of the thought. He smirked and instead said he would look to the future; about tomorrow, especially. When we would set sail and I would show him how this spell in the lightning cuff. He said it had been too long since he’s held and used Azomir.
>> Written by Xerx’ses Goldenhorn, sent on the evening of the 30th of Grekar, 4th year of King Guy the First of the Timiro Kingdom, 72nd Year of the Wolfen Empire, 345 year of the Dominion of Man, and 25th Year of the Western Emperor Voelkian Itomas II. <<
Art by AZ_Rune.