Darkness, Death, and the Hands of Man

Around him there was darkness, but that wasn’t really right it was an absence of even darkness. Word, Meaning, and Acts spiraled into one another building things around filling thoughts with Form. Aretaeus realized he was part of all of this as things grew, his awareness seemed to be on everything as Existence was. Purpose, spent meaning, intent, the weight of Judgement and the trauma of war slammed into Everything limiting what he was experiencing.
He could feel the weight of God on his brow, the scorn of God in his heart, and suddenly the voice of God to his ear. Even as he heard, he felt himself being poured into Form and felt its limitations, its uniqueness. As Meaning filled as the Form was, it changed his perspective so much, it was hard to think of what he had been aware of just moments ago, and at the same time the Firmament and the land became so much more clear with feet on the ground and the sky above him. The valley around him being defined even as he was watching there were leaves and needles, stones and seeds which more was lost to view as they became parts of trees, mountains and plains.
It was the Valley he Felt himself in, he was not sure when though, Time had yet to attach. All aspects of humanity began to form around him;
– Feet began to walk trails and roads, cross paths where they came together it slowly made something of a grid.
– Mouths and ears shared words, what it wasn’t clear but it felt of laughter, anger, all manner of feeling
– Hands sculpted stone, wrought iron, and worked wood. These hands assembled what was and would be the Great City of Stragosa, what was and would be the Husk of Stragosa. The hands of man swarmed and ebbed building all that would be seen.
Some of these were connected, others were not, feet with no earthly bodies worked off and on to the stage of the area, hands floated free as they did their work. It amazed Aretaeus, but at the same time he was not overly surprised. All too often what he had seen when looking beyond did not fully match what his eyes might see, his ears might hear. Even so knowing it was hard to tell and be prepared for what was real and what was reality.
Aretaeus closed his eyes, to take in all that was around him, and even as he did so the sounds and feeling around him changed and shifted. Ser Percival was beside him, and they were walking towards the Miracle when his mentor brought him to a stop, “Listening and what else? It has been to long since the church has committed to decisive action. You will decide what it is you are committing to, and tell me by evening. “ The Knight masters words were curt but not harsh, but even those shifted at the ends of it flowing into a time at the tavern, “Now is not the time to Act, but to learn more first” Other times began to connect and as chaos started to grow Aretaeus let go a bit with his mind that particular focus and tried to focus in general.
Opening his awareness once more Time seemed more solid, as did the Manor house he often met with the Leadership of Silbran in, still in the valley but no longer where he had stood once moments ago. Splashed colors this way and that showed the touch of magic everywhere in the city. Little stood truly warped, but just looking you could see where colors were off, creating a space that one might expect after enough herb to change the world around them. Entire paths stood out in odd coloration, a concern to the Paladins heart as they lead different directions.
What stood out the most walked into the manor, as the Baroness stepped within mouth moving as she talked to others in to room but that was not something Aretaeus was aware of as he looked on. The colors that made the Lady Drake stood out so much, evne as they were perhaps warped like a spoon in a glass of water, or light through a crystal. Broken, warped, and changed in a way that struck at part of the root of Aretaeus desire for divinity to spread. –How, how do we fix this? To shepherd this lost Meaning back to its purpose and form? Let this not be something that give up on so quickly. What must I do, I have learned as I have felt needed to understand more, what do I do now as the next step toward bringing her back to the flock? What next?-
The world came to a pause, it turned to Grey through area “She Must Die”, and it rocked him to his very core. Still he kept enough mind to try and understand; Did she need to be purged by the Fires that Cleanse? Did the words feel of Ash and Heat? No, the purge of heresies was not the demand. Cold, simple death. That the Gates open before her where all are judged equally. But there was not much more depth beyond the command, the next step.
The cold was around him now not just in him. He felt the oncoming winds of winter, an empty war camp around him and looking on to the Kaurlite stronghold as it stood standing. The Empire had an army at its gates, but it was not clear to keep to his own timeline that he had sworn to. More so Aretaeus was here, an empty camp and not leading the charge. The cutting edge of despair biting into him like the worst of bitter winter winds. Looking around him he saw the Butcher serving children at the edge of camp, but they always seemed further than he could get to and further still as the crest of Lurian fell from his shoulders.
“What else Will I get wrong? When people look to me as a source of direction, what do I show them if I feel lost? You have shown me so much darkness recently. From the Rituals hidden ones are doing through out the city, a follower of Laziel behind me, that my next steps must be a bringer of Death and what else do you give me? A Candle, which might hold the Hope of Man within it? A light that flickers so weakly at times. A light that seems to go dark when needed the most. Being a guide to others, to give them hope and direction where has that gone? Laziel, Tarraniel and Kurian all have sunk their talons so deeply here, surely those of your Intent don’t need the amount of suffering that is here? Do they? How do I show those at the edge that they should come to us and vest everything into the Faith? There is so much Discontentment here, so much for the Thorns to take root in. And … “
Suddenly he realized he was just yelling at himself, angry at himself. The loss, the pain, his own and that of which he had seen in his vision and his experience. A deep sigh came across him, and he awoke with a start, his bed a tussle from fit filled sleep.

To: Sir Percival, Knight Master of the Order of the White Lions Sping 604

March 14th Lion Age 604

To: Sir Percival, Knight Master of the Order of the White Lions

From: Sir Atrieus, Knight Commander of the Order of the White Lions, penned by Sir Renatus, Knight Errant of the Most Vigilant Order of Knights Templar and Father Superior of the Mithrihim Covenant

Greetings, Knight Master, may the blessing of God and Benalus be upon you.

I write to you on this day (insert date) to provide an update upon the state of affairs in the city and the valley. A Kaurilite stronghold, with an estimated force disposition of one thousand soldiers, has been identified in the area, in addition to other forces that include one or more armies of undead.

It is has been deemed to be in the best interest of Stragosa, the Church of Benalus, and the Throne that these threats be removed with all due speed. With sufficient troops, we can have the stronghold cleansed and all their troops slain by the end of 604.

It is to this end that I do submit a request for sufficient troops and supplies to be directed towards Stragosa Valley. There are several within our Order, the Boywer Hadrianus (From oath of Overwatch) and Stablemaster Iacomus (From oath of Cavalier) in particular, that I would call upon to aid me in this task. This is in addition to asking for your own support in seeing to the Valor of some of these units.

I am looking for a force sufficient enough to take the vanguard, with the support of troops from Silbran as well as Stragosa. I plan to join the field with them, and see to the command of these forces.

By the blessing of God, will these troops be available for deployment so that we may end this threat to Stragosa and the Throne in the names of Benalus, the Saints, and the Archangels.

God’s light be upon you, Knight Master.

Sir Aretaeus
(Signet Seal)
Sir Renatus
(Signet Seal)

By Raven: Aretaeus to White Lions of Lethia Spring 604

White Lions of LethiaF
We are in need of aid. Stragosa and several Noble families have pledged support for a crusade against the entrenched Kuarlites in our area. Estimated at over 1000, and with a fortification as well as a so called ‘holy site’. As well there are forces of Lazerines, Orcs and Rimelanders. I need troops levied by the White Lions to join my banner in this. I wish to call upon our resources, Boywer Hadrianus (From oath of Overwatch), Stablemaster Iacomus (From oath of Cavalier), Forgemaster Sethlan, to aid me in this, Benalus’ service. Stragosa is giving what supplies it can but additional are needed.

St. Tirodore the Vanguard of Falaisia

Tirodore’s story started simple and mundane. left to the care of the church from a young age, he grew up in lay service first to the church, then the Templar. His unit had spent many seasons on and off the border with the Badlands of Korm, with battle a common thing. Even in the common the unexpected can happen when an ambush took out the Command tent, the entire unit was forced back.
In there retreat Tirodores army got routed into a likewise leaderless unit of the Order of the Dragon, who had recently had a Pyrrhic victory against an Orc war band. Both where in chaos as their paths crossed, with the Sha’ra forces marching endlessly towards them. Arrows rained down and men of the empire died, every one around Tirodore, one of those deaths was a standard bearer of the Order of the Dragon. As Tirodore watched the flag begin to fall, he saw a man holding up the solider and with that look he knew it to be Dumal. The Warrior-Saint beckoned to Tirodore and without hesitation the young man rushed forward to grab the banner before it could truly fall. The vision nodded and faded as swiftly as the flagbearers life did.

Banner in hand, Tirodore turned towards the charging army. Shouting out prayers, yelling out a rallying cry, Tirodore slowly gathered the men around him, who brought more attention still. He changed right towards the invaders and men followed. Tirodore did not waver as the brutal fight continued, the flag stood strong. For that fight, and every fight back to the border Tirodore carried the standard of the Dragon, leading his peers without any real command, but with the force of his own determination. Winter came, and the fighting grew even more brutal, but the combined force held until reinforcements could come from Lethia.

In the next battle a stray arrow struck Tirodore, who barely had enough time to hand the banner to someone before fell, dying on the field. After talk through the men at arms had spread back to Lethia the Templar order recognized his achievements, though it was not untilover a decade later, in 435, after more then a dozen units had reported a man holding their standard high even at the loss of a flagbearer that he was lionized.