The Ex-Communitcated Champion – The Journey Onwards

After a week of wondering, having lost count of the days after initially leaving Solaris, Ayron’s journey had initially progressed unabated. Yet, as the cycles of day and night continued to rotate like clockwork, he grew progressively tired. Slowly hindered by the encroaching sand storm and forced to withstand the baring heat and dry course wind; as it seemed to mindfully face him head on despite any change direction he faced. His strength was waning, unable to find adequate game to hunt among the rocky strolling hill side, let alone not having the proper tools to even do so he was only able to collect the odd edible root or grub; all of which he would save in a cloth bag made from a stretch of his own tattered clothes.

The Kinship of Paladins survival training afforded Ayron enough to get by, even though had no previous call to utilise them until now. With distant screeches in the distance he instinctively took to making spears from just about any sized branch and flint he could find. Evenings were spent hunkering down in front of a small crude fire, and when possible, tucked away inside an alcove. Nights were spent trying to satisfy his hunger on his daily finds but not quite enough to realise his strength; only just enough in order to prevent staving death. He soon started to lose hope. He doubted his prayers to the Trinity were ignored, let alone even heard.

Further days kept counting by and one in particular saw Ayron hunted by a small pack of roaming Cervairas; their screeches were what he had heard days before. As they grew closer to the sounds became more piercing to the ear. The vicious little beasts had elongated bodied and narrow heads, with twisted jagged horns. Their foul scaly skin was bleached like sand and they had sticky long tongues that ended in razor sharp barbs; all of which adapted them well to the climate and for ganging up on prey. Before he could be their next meal, still having enough sense to not desire that outcome, he managing to gain some distance further down the long road. Or so he thought.

Before Ayron knew it, they were upon him. They charged at him while emitting their distracting screeches and were successful a few times in nipping and lashing at his legs with their barbs until they started to become raw and bloody. His strength sought only to fend them off but managed to successfully kill a few in the process. It was enough to see the pack retreat beyond the hills with their dead, no doubt seeing them with a more savoury outlook.

The adrenaline of being near death was enough for now but he new it would only be temporary before he passed out. On edge and desperate to not hang around, he noticed the terrain had bled into woodland. Walking further down the road, now reliant on his toughest spear as a walking aid, he limped towards the trees. Smoke could be seen bellowing beyond the canope and where the greenery was carved out by the road, evidence as clear as any of more civilized souls inhabiting the area. He continued through with straining limbs and aching bones, and was more than ready to collapse, until he could clearly see built structures.

Reaching the outskirts of the hamlet Harenamsil Ayron collapsed at the gates. The town guards, who noticed him, but dared not open the gates unnecessarily, rushed down from the log ramparts to aid him. They brought him inside and away from the dangers that lurked beyond. His exhaustion had beaten him but for now he was safe.

Laura Steel ©2015

The Ex-Communicated Champion (Part 2) – The Hagiren’s Call

Having walked for days, the far reaching plains had turned into rockier hills. The grass was thinner and the ground was steeper. Aryron hesitated. His ears picked up on something strange, it was the sweetest of sounds. It was hard to determine what it was, it sounded like the gentlest of voices from a most angelic seraphim. He looked towards the darkened cave to his right. Focusing on the entrance, the ringing melody in the air grew louder, this is where it was coming from.

He entered the cave with very little concern. The sound echoed through the jagged mossy walls. Navigating through the twists and turns, stepping over outcrops of rock that would have tripped him or almost slipping on the dusty gravel that poked through his thin leather shoes. 

The cave opened out into a sunlit cavern, it was a hidden oasis of beauty. The roof was open and a ray of brilliant Sol light cascaded down into a column. It bathed a magnificent tree; full of the most vivid pink blossom, which rained its petals in a haze, from it’s base and grew towards the opening of the ceiling above. Through out chamber there was thick grass and flowers of the most vibrant of colours and shapes.

Under the tree sat the most beautiful of creatures. Her flowing gown flowed with the air. Ayron walked closer, his heart was now tethered and was being pulled ever closer. He knelt before her, trying to see beyond the weave of golden shiny hair.

As he reached out too uncover her face, she stopped. The seemingly fragile face turned; radiant blue eyes turned raging blood red, perfect porcelain smile into a toxic razor maw, soft smooth skin into grey wrinkled leather.

She screamed with an ugly high pitch and with her dirtied claws reached for his face – She pounced! 

Without thinking, Aryon took hold of the nearest branch by his feet and lodged into the beasts neck. 

The sweet echo was reduced to a gargled moan as it slumped across the tree’s roots. Shaking his head he had realised what he had done, the deathly error that almost was. Around him the deception faded. The green grass wilted, the flowers had dried to dust and the tree was but a mouldy husk of a stump. The branch was a femur of a past victim now dripping purple and reeking worse than death. Hagirens were not known to inhabit these parts, atleast to Ayron’s knowledge, but here one lay motionless. 

Ayron came full to his senses looking around to see the previous victims of the Hagiren’s call. Stepping over their remains both new and grayed, all gnawed clean, crunching under foot. He walked back out in a daze. Outside the cave that was nearly his tomb, he collapsed against the rocks, he sighed and cleansed his sweaty face with his bare palm. Having learnt his lesson, he looked skywards and thanked the divines for their aid, gratefully continuing to walk on.


Laura Steel © 2014

The Ex-Communicated Champion – The Hard Life

Watching the cool flowing water meander around the mossy rocks and hovering fish scales glisten from the noon day glare, a secret break away at his favorite spot on the bridge. Sol was unhindered most of the day, however dark rolling clouds appeared creeping from beyond the horizon, blanketing the far lands with thunderous rain. The sweet song of birds euphorically burst through the air, a brief distraction from the strain of turning straw, they almost sounded like they were warning each other of the impending weather change. Standing there, alone, doing nothing wasn’t appropriate behaviour for a young farmer. “A farma’ ain’t allowed no breaks, doin’ nofing means no food for uv’ers!” So says Joah’s father…

It was too hot to work even as the clouds slowly strolled across the sky, the last hours of the lit day burning away fast. Even though he should be working constantly and his father would have had him scorned for not doing so, he was in no mood.
“Works not over til I say!” is what he would have said, or “Ya idiot, not like this…can’t you do anything right boy!” Anything he had done was never enough and what work he had done was always criticize or belittled. Days were hard, long and tiresome. Just as he father’s father before him and so on for atleast a few remembered generations. “Men of’tha house ‘av muck for blood…ya know.” Was he favourite saying to anyone with ears.

“Ya mother will ‘av your ‘ide if ya slack off!” He would say to Joah if he saw him as he was, gawking into the wavy waters mentally distanced from everything. His mother wouldn’t have said anything of the sort, but she couldn’t really complain…not if the occasionally blackened eyes were anything to go by.
She used to sing songs to Joah as he slept as a baby and further more until his teens, they abruptly stopped after then.
“He’s too old…ya hag, he needs ta man up now… You’ll soften ‘is ‘ead.” Heard late at some untold hour of one cold night. After which they did.

Nothing but hardship followed in the years to come. Tiling, sowing, scything when crops were bound. Chopping and hunting when coldness hardened the dead fields. This was the time table over and over for years, with the ever so rare trip to the nearest market. Time spent was over efficiently, with no moments for merriment. Watching the other boys and girls in town playing their games was as close to fun as Joah would be allowed, being cuffed on the head when any spark of enthusiasm for fun presented on his face.

What happened next was unpredictable and unconceivable to Joah and his father. The old man found himself pounced upon and left writhing on the ground, after his throat was gouged out by the razor teeth of a Diralupa. Joah ran over to find the large bulky, black matted hairy wolf-like beast, who had pinned his father flat into the tilled soil, too preoccupied to noticed anything else. It had unknowingly sprang out of now to Joah’s father’s surprise where during the dusky hours of the day. Waning light limited the detecting of the creatures presence and the out lying wooden fences provided no protection other than to mark the field’s limits.

It had rather boldly found it’s meal miles from it’s den in the hills. Rumours of it prowling the hillside had circulated the local towns but Joah’s father paid no heed as stubborn as he always was. Joah strangely felt a sense of remorse, panic and anger when he realised the predicament his father was in. Emotions he was not expecting to feel for the man who he had to suffer, for so many gruelling years.

Confronting it with the four spiked fork Joah grabbed while sprinting in aid of his father, screaming muffled with gargling as he tried in a vain attempt to prise off the beast looming over him. Joah lunged the fork into the side of the monstrous form who was still wearing the viscous crimson around it’s maw. The four honed spikes pierced the creature’s hide inch by inch into and through it’s inner organs. It staggered away on each of its four paws letting out a wincing cry as it meandered off into a slump.

Joah looked upon his father, still in the throws of death, who in turn looked up at his son with pleading painful eyes, wishing that his suffering would end. Joah stayed his hand briefly, almost enjoying the pain his father was suffering. Pity took over. And without thinking he lifted the fork vertically above his head and landed the mercy blow. He threw away the fork and walked slowly over to his favourite spot on the bridge, panting a heavy remorseful breath that mismatched the thumping in his chest. Staring at the darkened waters, the fish that once beautified the river were dimmed from sight. He looked upon his home were the light broke through the windows, unable to find the words his mother would have to hear when he returned.


Edited: 26/09/2014

Laura Steel © 2014

Travelling Companions (Part 1) – By the campfire

After a brief meeting in a small town, Ayron Glorand and Laurena Reaver found themselves as travelling companions, both in need to mutually traverse the Tenelunca Cave, as it’s not a solo-able journey by any means. After a few days, the two have made camp along the widening road some miles south of the cave’s entrance. Rolling hills flanked each side, blocking the horizon. Both were sitting in a quiet contemplation, while the camp fire flickered and spat embers, which died instantly on any surface.

Ayron occasionally took a bite from his roasted Pavorsus leg, thanks to Laurena’s hunting prowess. It tasted awful, but he didn’t complain. Laurena just nursed her meal, still skewered through with stick, distracted about past events. Ayron found himself caught staring by Laurena, who is more spatially aware than he had given her credit for.

“Why are you staring Solaran?” said Laurena, as she replaced her food with sharpening her jagged Dreadblades with a whetstone. Her head unturned her towards Ayron.

“My apologies my lady. I could not help but wonder,” he explained. Unafraid to look away after being caught.

“Wonder what? What makes me unnerved, because -”

“- No that was never my intent,” Ayron interupted. “Besides your are not nervous. If you wished me harm I would have been so already!” he said in his ever passive voice.

“So what is it you want to know?” she asked.

“Why, just how a woman of your inner beauty and grace, has eyes so clouded with hate, and a heart so leaden with grief,” Ayron inquired.

Laurena said nothing. She glanced under her hood towards Ayron’s face, illuminated through the fire.

“I was hoping to alleviate you from your pain, should you would allow it,” Ayron offered .

“And what do you know…of my pain?” Laurena asked, sheathing her weapon.

“I know you dwell on only one thing, of loved ones who have been taken from you.” Ayron asked as if he could see straight into her heart.

“I have long since gotten over that,” Laurena said dismissively .

“Have you?” Ayron insisted. “I suspect you have thought of little else, other than to see them avenged.”

“I am an Umbrian, it is our way.” Laurena deflected.

“Is it? I was under the impression that there was more to your people than seeking revenge. That you also know of honor and respect and comradery.” Ayron saw through the typical stereotype of her people, despite his inexperience of communicating with them.

“…and what do your people know of honour or respect, when your people are forced to live a life devoid of freedom,” rebuked Laurena.

“If you are referring to my people’s involuntary indoctrination…you may be right,” Ayron conceded. “But it does not deter them from peace, friendship or love,” Ayron admitted, with a mixed sense of guilt and hope.

“So why help me, I fail to see what you would gain?” asked Laurena.

“I was hoping to gain a friend, but more importantly, to not see someone capable of so much more than becoming a construct of hate,” Ayron explained, with genuine intent.

“I have been consumed by hate for far too long to be saved,” Laurena replied, as she rubbed the Noxia pendant with her finger and thumb, half caught back into her old thoughts.

“I do not believe so my Lady. You have the inner light of Lumia burning within you…I see it. Beyond your pale skin, white hair and blackened tunic, you glow with an iridescence aura of compassion,” Ayron boasted.

“No. You merely see the empty shell of a person, a person who could have been. No more, no less.”

“Then why do you strike at those who wrong others? Parry the blades of brigands and thieves, that would harm others, just as if they had harmed you. Aim to right the wrongs that would leave many without justice. Have a passion to help without the need for praise or personal gain,” Ayron said, trying to justify his inquisition.  “It is that I wish to save.”

“Even if you could, and even if I wanted you too. It wouldn’t matter until-”

“-Until what?” Ayron interrupts abruptly.

“Until I rid the world of one particular monster,” Laurena replied, sullenly, as she wrapped tightly around her pendant and her teeth clenched to almost crush them at the thought.

“Would that really help,” Ayron pleaded. “There are always other monsters out there. Some of which are far larger and far gruesome.”

“Maybe so,” Laurena hesitated. “But none that gone this long with out punishment, none that have deserved my blades piercing their heart more than that of my quarry.”

“And what would you do when said monster is slain? Rejoice perchance?Live the rest of your life in peace? Or will you find yourself with nothing but emptiness?” Ayron asked, persistingly, as he finished the last his Pavorsus and dumped the remains on the fire, while embers spat forth from the slowly dying fire.

“I will be, set free,” Laurena said.  She then laid down with her back turned to Ayron and the fire.

Looking one last time at Laurena with a genuine concern, Ayron turned on his back; to stare at the stars blanketing the clear night sky, and slowly drifted off to sleep.

Laura Steel © 2014

The Order of Lumis and the Fallen Paladin.

Edit* This piece was written before the character Ayron Gloran was established and there may also be changes and continuity differences since I’ve written additional pieces.

The Tower of Lumis is a magnificent structure of white smooth durastone, twisting skywards in a cylindrical fashion. Inside and out the surface was lined with intrinsically carved ornaments, laced with highlights of radiantly polished gold. The constant of clear skies is no hindrance to the barrage of Sol light – Hexterra’s primary star, from reflecting of every angle, showering the city in a spectacle of amber rays. The tower was quite literally the beacon of the city, both metaphorically and literally. The chamber at the very peak of the tower held the cities very own Magicron, the sixteen sided orb radiated with an aura of brilliant white light. The chamber had a series of closable partitions that prevented this light from keeping the city permanently lit during it’s night life.

The city was protected by a large towering squared wall, scaling over the horizon of the largest buildings, encompassing the entirety of the cities boundaries, broken only by the strategically placed watchtower. The city was in the middle of a open flat plain, so vast that no invading army would be able to approach without first being seen, during the night the Magicron would be used to illuminate any potential threat. It’s main use of protecting the city from invaders.

This wasn’t the limit of the it’s power, as the cities scholars eventually realized it’s true potential. The Magicron’s aura could be harnessed with a large lens than was positioned to pivot around the housing chamber, it could be focused to a point. The beam was capable of disintegrating any hostile force with an intense beam of super heated light and with complete impunity.

The city surfaces were meticulous cleaned and polished regularly. Every road stemming from the Tower’s base had lush greenery running parallel, from grass, shrubs and tall trees, breaking up the monotony of white marble and gold inlays. Every home had hanging gardens on every free balcony and ledge. It was truly a paradise to behold. However one that would came at a high cost.

The cities population consisted of a hierarchy, first there was Serfs. The Serfs were little more than a over controlled workforce and if they didn’t have enough money to buy full citizenship, they were basically slaves, and were only allowed to leave the city with permission from a sponsor. Most were even punished for the sightless of mistakes and there was no repercussions from anyone mistreating a serf, beyond murder, which was still illegal regardless of stature.

The rigorous attitude needed to maintain this high level of maintenance and in having to perform their religiously strict routines, would breed contempt from lesser serfs. Merchants and smiths were those who would craft anything required from; pottery and utensils, to weapons and armour, or furniture and decorations. Traders would only be allowed to leave with permission and even then they were required to have an armed guard service. Who would also act as chaperones, to prevent unwanted anti-Lumis propaganda or escape. Last was the ruling body of the city; the Order of Lumis.

The Order of Lumis dedicated to the Goddess of the same name, is the religious trinity that have absolute control over the city of Solaris. Promoting all the positive things that was expected of the general populous, by preaching goodness and respect. Those who did not comply were silenced with a ruthless authority that left many unable to express anything other than praise for the Order’s absolution.

The religious leader the High Priestess oversees the largest Cathedral in Solaris, consisting of priests and priestess’s tending the Shrine of Light; acting as the guides and heralds of the goddess of light; The Conclave. It’s members would also provide all forms of religious services such as weddings, festivals and seeing off the recently departed. Through the use of the Lumicron. An artefact in the shape of any standard leather bound book, although it has no pages beyond the two covers. Text would flow on either of the inside in a barrage of glowing cascading  columns.

The Inquisitor Council. A select group of members who write the laws in which all citizens must comply. Who also act as judge and jury for those who would commit crimes against the state or those who would refuse to believe in Lumis. They were feared by everyone and only those of whom were fully devote did not hide when one graced the streets.

The policing force of the city is the Kinship of Paladins, men and women of whom act as the enforcers and executioners of every law currently in effect. As order of extremely well trained elite warrior’s they are all trained both in the use of an wide array of weaponry, firearms and Sol magic. Magic which when used can both heal the wounded and smite the wicked. They become living examples of what everyone should aspire to be. The paragons that carry the eternal light of Lumis with in their souls to show the people just what it was to be a good honest person.

Paladins were also the force to impose the ideals and beliefs with impunity and if needed; a brutal resolution. One that left the cities general population uneasy around them. This had over time cause a development of a secret group with non-worshipers, members who wish to live their lives without the oppressive attitude of the Order, with in the cities walls. Hoping to do so without the strict rules and regulations imposed upon them.

One venerated paladin, who had become the Champion of Lumis after years of service to the Order, would soon start to question the strict jurisdiction of one particular member of the Conclave; Inquisitor Zhidar.

 The two never saw eye to eye and many of their arguments were broken up via third parties, whenever they would become heated. Zhidar was widely known for his rather callous methodology and almost zealot styled belief. Both were given the order to scrutinize a manor just inside of the cities wall. Under suspicion of harbouring anti-Lumis protesters. The Champion and Zhidar argued over the proposed methods of inspection, and after their debate both reluctantly agreed to a means, proceeding to the manor with a handful of squires in their charge.

After a rather vigorous search of the premises no trace of residence was found. No piece of furniture was over turned, no room ransacked. Zhidar however still judged them to be anti-Lumis sympathizers, such was his paranoia. So sure was the Inquisitor that he ordered that the family members of the house be immediately taken to the city square to be tried for their crimes. With out any indication of their guilt the Champion’s immediate protest that they could not be guilty.

The family; including two small children, were dragged through the streets by the other squires while constantly pleading their innocence. This was done so without the Champions order but Zhidar’s. Even though the squires themselves hesitated they continued through fear of punishment, they followed their ordered with a nervous compliance. The Champion and the Inquisitor would continue to rally their argued points to each other while storming to the cities centre. At this point a crowd had starting to form, following the noise from the streets.

The family was lined up in a row in front of everyone, they had silenced their persistent defense with a morbid sense of their impending doom, the children couldn’t help but wear tears on their face, streaks of salty water flowed down their faces to crash onto their crooked knees dirty knees. Regardless of being told otherwise many people had started to scream and hiss at the family. Pre-assuming their guilt. Such was the un-wavering loyalty of everyone of who saw no reason to question the cities authority. Others in the crowd merely stood still, petrified of not seemingly acting as one with the crowd.

The Inquisitor who was a rather stocky and over bearing type, with a bellowing voice that when speaking almost made the lungs of everyone in ear-shot to vibrate. Started to spouting various passages from the Luxicron. The revered book was a guide to some but viewed as a doctrine to many, saying so would result in extreme punishment. After a few minutes of preaching, Zhidar started to denounce the family as heathens and made statements to the fact, citing the reasons for his belief, and slandering their otherwise good nature with unproven facts.

Zhidar ushered the squires to strike down the family in front of every one. The Champion would take exception, his experience was far greater than that of the rest of his unit and called for a stay of execution. Defying the orders of an Inquisitor is at best a death sentence, worse still is to become a Penitent; someone who is punished by wearing a extremely heavy suit of made of thick plated gold, the armour would at best cripple those who could not wield due to it’s unwieldy weight. Those who were not as fortunate died an excruciatingly painful death.

The stay was at great expense to the Champion, as he became aware that Zhidar was merely using the family to cause his downfall in front of everyone. Forced to choose; condemn an innocent family to death, or face expulsion himself, for not complying with his oath to follow the Order in it’s entirety. The conniving Inquisitor had not anticipated what would happen next. The squires had also halted in confusion, unsure of how to proceed.

A frustrated Zhidar attempted to continue the execution of the family himself, by casting a magic spell. The area lit up blinding most of every who wasn’t quick enough to react by shielding their eyes. The spell built up charge but before it was cast the Champion had drawn his sword and cut down Zhidar. The spell fizzled into stray streams of light, as his upper torso tore away from the lower section of his body, collapsing in a heap of internal organs, the once stainless marble floor was covered in a enlarging pool of blood.

Members of the crowd who had up until now,  not regretted being there. Everyone including the squires were horrified, their faces wore a masked mixture of fear and awe at the powerful display of the Champions shear strength and ferocity. The Champion himself was at a lost. With no idea of what to do after his impulsive reaction to help those in need. He chose to remain disarming himself before the squires, knowing they were required to arrest the Champion sought solace in the fact that he would at least be given a more fair trial.

Under normal circumstances members of the public would only face a Inquisitor at a trial, however this was a rare occasion. The Champion was standing alone and in chains in front of committee of the Order’s highest members, the High Priestess, the Grand Inquisitor and the Prime Archon – lord of the Paladins. One after another respectable eye witnesses were summoned to accounted for what happened in the city square. After many had given their worded evidence, it was a full day before the three returned from their deliberations and in front of the court issued the punishment set before the Champion.

Much to his relief not to be executed or even given a penitent sentence. Knowing that the people of the city would not accept his execution, due in large to his reputation and valiant past deeds. Nor would he be imprisoned or forced to become a Penitent, to remain in the city as a symbol of defiance. Stripped of all of his past honours armour and he would be forced to leave the city never to return, an exile to everything he knew and loved. As the first in many centuries to become a member of the Fallen.

After the sentencing, his punishment was put into action immediately. With few clothes, no weapons and little money, he was compelled to walk the streets with an armed escort in tow. Streets which were lined with a plethora of citizens, polarized with a variety of views and objections of his innocence or guilt. Given his one remaining possession; a Luxicron. Held with both hands to his tightly to his chest. He would have to brave the wilds beyond the city wall alone.

Unsure of his future, he walked through the city gates. Turning once to see one remaining group of people. The family he had a day since saved, who had stayed to see him off, the children had refreshed the tears on their cheeks but now accompanied smiles and waving hands. Hoping that he might be able to assist those in need far from the boundaries of Solaris. The newly Fallen Champion walked further and further away, until the city had grown small in the horizon. Knowing he had lost his home he was not dishearten, his persistence of seeking justice in Lumis’s name was still intact. His internal light would still remained.