Heroes of the Order were often afforded accommodations regular soldiers could only hope of. This of course included the chance to join nobles for rides in their carriages as they passed by. It was believed that the presence of a hero would give you the protection of the divine, so many would find within their best interests to offer a hand to a hero on their quests.
Rubius was a very heavy-set Lord who was famous for his appetite, as well as for the magnificent parties he threw for anyone who cared to join. He had a booming, joyous voice that was full of a love of life and that of his people, and a very bushy red beard. His crude sense of humor and his habitual indulgence in food and drink made him rather unpopular with the rest of the nobility, as well as the Church.
The nobles considered him an embarrassment, or rather “a fat loaf devoid of any refinement in his sweaty body”, and the Church was not too fond of his wasteful indulgence in pleasure. Solomon felt this way about him as well, and did his best to try and sway Rubius to a more “righteous” way of thinking.
“You know the Church teaches us to share in our bounty with others, less our souls become heavy with the guilt of gluttony and avarice”, Solomon said, sitting with his right leg on his left knee and his hands clasped together. Rubius smiled a he ran his finger through his beard.
“My boy, I’m a man of the faith. I share all I can with others. I’m not one for the finer things in life, I prefer simple things”, he replied, his blue eyes full of enthusiasm as they always were. “Take this carriage for example. Do you see it filled with silks and encrusted with jewels? No you don’t. It’s good strong wood, decorated with paint made by my people. Whatever money I earn goes back into my people’s pockets”
“You claim to be faithful, but as far as I can tell you spend all of your time feasting and drinking. It’s such a waste of life”, Solomon said, trying to hide his disgust at the sudden foul smell that had just permeated the air.
“And you spend all yours praying in chilly churches and killing monsters. Don’t think I mean to belittle your work, in fact I am most appreciative myself, as I can’t remember the last time I held a sword. We all have our ways to serve the gods. You serve them by slaying monsters and heretics, and I serve them by making their people as happy as I can in these dark times”, Rubius replied.
“Perhaps these dark times would be over sooner if you could put your people to work for the war effort, make soldiers of them instead of leaving them tired and inebriated for the Demon Realm to claim them”, Solomon said, his patience waining fast.
Rubius burst into laughter, his heavy gut juggling like a bowl full of jelly. “And you’d have them be bitter and angry for them? Oh my dear boy, you must learn to liven up a little. The gods want us to be joyful! You of all people should know that! Besides, it’s not as if my people do no work. I’d wager that most of the food you eat in your camps is grown or raised in my fields”
“Well I thank you for that, then”, Solomon said. “Now if I may be so rude, I must ask you to stop the carriage. My destination is close enough for me to walk”
“Suite yourself my boy”, Rubius. He knocked on the side of the carriage and the vehicle came to a stop, though parts of the lord’s anatomy stayed in motion for a few seconds afterwords. “Do stop by my manor, the door is always open to you and anyone who wishes to forget their troubles for a day!”, Rubius called out to Solomon as the carriage began to move again. Solomon stooped over to his knees and began to cough violently, his lungs desperate for fresh air.
“Loathsome churl”, he cursed before entering another coughing fit.
After recuperating for a few moments, Solomon set out on his destination, the forward Order camp.
Agatha stood guard at the southern perimeter of the camp. She was a novice soldier sporting simple chain mail armor, a spear, and an aggressive attitude. She resented her captain for putting her someplace where nobody would bother attacking form. She believed she belonged where the danger was. Still, she followed her orders, boring as they were.
She had stood her post for about an hour now, seeing little else than birds dart around in the sunlight and the occasional rodent pop its head up out of the grass. She knelt against her spear and sighed. “The Gods must hate me”, she mumbled to herself.
“Oh?”, asked a stern male voice. Agatha immediately jumped to attention, holding her spear at the ready. She scanned for threats, but instead of someone appearing from a hiding place, she saw a man draped in a while cloak walking down the path right in from of her.
“Tell me, why must the Gods hate you?”, he asked as he steadily walked towards her, his hood masking most of his face. Agatha shook a bit in panic as she tried to keep her cool, but something about the man’s presence made her feel like she was as close to death as she would ever be.
“H-how di-did you hear m-me?”, she asked.
“Because I’m blessed through my service to the Order”, the man replied. The man was now very close to her, close enough for Agatha to see the weapons on his belt and the cross around his neck.
“You’re a…..” , Agatha stammered. The young soldier dropped to her knees and bowed, finally recognizing the stranger. “My lord”, she said.
Solomon placed his hand on the girl’s head, forcing her to look up at him.
“The Gods have a path for us all. Keep your faith and you will find it”, he said, smiling down at her. Agatha couldn’t say anything, both out of fear and of awe. Solomon released her and made his way into the camp, the soldier immediately scrambling back to her feet to resume her duty.
The camp was typical of how the Order conducted things. Dozens of simple white tents for the regular soldiers, while much bigger and more luxurious quarters were afforded to knights, heroes and any others of importance. The soldiers who weren’t training were tending their gear or sleeping, while the knights and heroes spent most of their time praying. Solomon quickly made his way through the camp, many taking notice of his presence and soon the whole camp was abuzz with the word that he’d arrived. Solomon’s reputation had indeed preceded him, as the camp’s commander scrambled out of his tent to meet him.
“Ah, my hero Solomon”, he said, giving a short bow which Solomon returned. “It’s an honor to have you grace us with your presence”, he said. He was a knight hailing from a noble house, yet Solomon’s status as a hero despite his lesser background meant he outranked him. The knight was red headed man with green eyes about the same age as Solomon dressed in heavy plate armor, though he certainly carried himself differently. Where as Solomon was stoic and obviously very religious, the knight was a man who thought of war as a sport. Still, he swore to serve the Order, and that was all that mattered to Solomon.
“I appreciate your welcome, Sir Knight, but I’m not here for idle talk”, Solomon replied as politely as possible. “I was sent because word has been spread of monsters slipping by your forces”
The knight was taken aback by Solomon’s words, not expecting the arrival of a hero to be a consequence of his actions. He swallowed hard as he quickly thought of an explanation.
“I thought it would be… unwise to spread my forces thin chasing rumors”, he said, smiling disingenuously.
“Hm”, Solomon replied. “Well could you give me the details so that I may put an end to these rumors?”
“Ah, of course” the knight said, having a difficult time making eye contact. “Most say that there are sightings in the countryside. However, the only things we heard about there was a group of bandits, but as of late we’ve yet to hear anything further from them. I guess our presence here has deterred them for a time, lest they bring down the might of the Order upon them”
Solomon stared at the smiling knight for a moment and nodded, then turned around, his cloak flapping fiercely as he did. The knight blinked a couple of times before calling out. “I shall have a tent set up for you when you return, noble hero!”15606 Views