RoE General > The Bard (IC)



The tide carried the black galley up the river towards the waiting maw of Eustan's harbor, the great river-wall and the many-towered bastions promising the rain destruction upon any intruder. Eustan's walls were old, built during the days of war with the Anuirean Empire, all those centuries ago. Old and strong. Strong enough never to have been breached, old enough to have repelled more than one Anuirean assault.

But today the great catapults and trebuchets were silent. And no scorpion or balista dared track the solitary ship approaching so effortlessly. In his palace the Satrap of Eustan railed and cursed, but it was as if his bloodline mean nothing in the face of the approaching wind - the Red Wind had come to Eustan...

The Wind continued to blow throughout the great city of Eustan. First it had swept through the lower quarters, subverting the poor and the destitute. Something about a One True God that offered truth and salvation. Then it had swept through the priest quarter, fanning the Black Flame. Once again something about One God, and the foolish sorcerers had listened and bowed their knees. And now what few spies remained to him reported that the bald man with the tattoos and the crimson sash was walking the noble quarter, gaining the allegiance of more and more of the Sons of the Heavenly Sky-father.

So far the Wind had not done anything but rattle the Inner Palace of the Satrap. But that would not last. Soon the Wind would rise and his gates be blown open, and the accursed sorcerer would stand before him and demand recognition and power. How had it come to this? How could one man humble the greatest lord Eustan had ever seen? Descended from the heroes of old, from the men that had turned back Anuire at the height of its power. Who had gained divine blood and regency by consuming the still-beating heart of the one the Anuireans called Imperial Chamberlain? The Satrap did not know...but he supposed he would soon find out...


The Satrap sat on his favorite balcony watching the fiery orb rise above the eastern ocean. At first it was only a faint glow in the distance, but soon the top of the sun-disk rose above the seemingly endless expanse of water. It was beautiful and soothing.

The wind was not. The weather had been very hot these past few weeks, hot even for Eustan in the dry season. An hot and sunny days inevitably meant cooling sea breezes during the day - and the hated dry land breeze during the night. The Devil Wind that made the Satrap sweat like a beast despite cooling drinks and fanning slaves. The wind that stole his sleep and gave him waking nightmares.

Even with the sun up it would not go away for some hours; a sorcerer had explained to him once - not until the land became hotter than the sea would the wind change and offer him succor. And so the Satrap would sit and watch the fire-in-the-sky until the sea breezes came adn took him off to sleep.

Or rather, he would on any other day. But today another kind of wind would arrive...


The Satrap lay on his great bed, undressed. He had ordered all the lamps put out and the window-covers opened. He was alone, the female companions that usually kept him sane during the dark hours had been dismissed. The heat no longer bother him. Neither did the dark nor the loneliness. Or rather, than was not entirely true. He was not alone. The One God was with him, and he never need be alone again. His faith in the One was what sustained him now. He could feel the certainty in his heart and knew He was with him. He always had been, only the Satrap had been too fearful to realize it. But the Speaker had shown him the truth, helped him see through the lies that men surrounded themselves with. Yes, it was the God who had saved him, but it was His Speaker that had shown him the path to salvation. For that he was thankful; thankful beyond description, for now he was safe, not only in this mortal life, but for the eternity promised his immortal souls. It felt good, the knowing. The faith. Not that he had been an ungodly man before, he had honored the Sky Father and made his offering to the Earth Mother and placated the Deep Below when he felt the need. But it had been nothing like this. This faith was bliss. A man could lose himself in it and be content. But the Satrap was not just a man. He was one of the Chosen. Chosen by the One to represent His Kingdom in the World. The Satrap looked forward to the morning, when he would again do His Work. He smiled one final time before falling asleep, the brilliant visage of the One God softly ushering him away to the realm of holy dreams...


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