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Author Topic: Eyron / Erpheronian / Crazed Healer  (Read 2598 times)
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Eyron
New Santharian

Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 2


Human - Erpheronian


« on: February 23, 2013, 02:28:50 PM »

Name  Eyron (While he does have a last name, he thinks it too common to befit his ‘eminence’, and so he much more regularly refers to himself as Eyron the Empyreal, or Eyron the Phantasmal, or some other ludicrous title)

Gender  Male

Age  62

Race  Human

Tribe  Erpheronian

Occupation  Crazed Healer

Title  Witch Doctor


Overview
Put succinctly, Eyron is stark raving mad. Once a healer in the Order of the White Knights, he is now convinced his gifts in healing are supernatural. Even after losing his wits, however, Eyron has somehow managed to retain a great deal of his teachings in healing and herblore, though in his mind it is knowledge of witchcraft not medicine. While money is hard come by for an insane healer under the guise of witchery, he has managed to scrounge by, admittedly much worse for wear.


Physical Appearance
Height  1 ped, 2 fore
Weight  1 pygge

Hair Colour  Barsa dusk
Eye Colour  Herne green

Asked to sum up Eyron’s appearance in one word, ‘old’ may perhaps be the first word to come to mind, or ‘worn’, or ‘ragged’. This is certainly the image the elderly healer gives on first glance. His numerous years, combined with a less than comfortable life, have left Eyron seeming exceptionally ancient. Pale, paper-thin skin covers his spindly frame, barely concealing the sinewy muscles that cling to his skeleton. While perhaps below the average height of his tribe, given their diverse ancestries this is not particularly anomalous. Age has, however, somewhat diminished his height, a fact not helped by his stooped posture.

Now bereft of all colour, Eyron’s hair in his youth was a reddish-brown that was seldom named the same hue by two different people, whether it be copper, or chestnut, or auburn. Still, time has leeched this colour from Eyron’s head, leaving fairly dull, grey hair. Having long ago forgone any personal maintenance, this hair sits in a tangled mess, with tufts shooting off in all directions. Depending on his latest ‘spell’, a few singed hairs would not be unprecedented, nor would several ensnared leaves or twigs.

Two deep-set, herne green eyes sit in the centre of the elderly healer’s face. Despite their frame of crow’s feet and underlying bags, they appear to be one of his few aspects that have managed to hold on to a youthful guise. The two orbs still cue to his inquisitive mind. Yet, there is something just a bit unsettling about the twinkling cognizance that is an incessant presence in these facial features, resting under the arches of two fairly bold, grey eyebrows.

Eyron’s face is vaguely oval in shape, flanked by two somewhat large ears that themselves are hidden beneath the mess of grey hair that adorns his head. A large, hooked nose assumes the centrepiece of the healer’s face, perched over a mouth with lips that could not rightly be termed full or thin, but instead somewhere in between. Much of the rest of the healer’s face is obscured by a grey, unkempt beard, clinging to his jawline like a thicket of brambles. All in all, Eyron’s visage appears like that of the typical happy, old man, albeit one who has neglected their appearance of late.


Clothing
Without money to spare on clothing, Eyron only has one outfit, which is understandably as worn as him. Not that this particularly bothers him. This outfit consists of the tattered remains of the once white robes he had worn in the White Order, a leather belt and leather sandals. The robe has the occasional haphazard patch, however, Eyron has assumedly since abandoned such restorations, as various holes and tears remain unrepaired. Its edges are markedly frayed, dirtied and occasionally burned, as are his voluminous sleeves. The cloth is stained a multitude of colours, presenting a sea of flowing shades of grey and brown with sporadic bursts of reds and greens and blues. Whether this colour scheme is the culmination of various spillages or the result of intentional dyeing, seeking to increase his numinous appearance, is perhaps now unclear even to Eyron.

Around his waist rests a simple brown leather belt with a copper buckle showing the beginnings of brown-black tarnish. Numerous pouches and flasks hang from this belt, containing all manner of magical objects and ingredients. His leather sandals are similarly unornate and are similarly showing signs of wear. Eyron had once possessed a simple silver amulet of a banded ricau on a modest chain, however, this has long since disappeared, most likely in exchange for a bowl of stew and the heel of a loaf when Eyron was going through a particularly rough patch. The healer has subsequently replaced this amulet with one of his own design, a leather thong suspending the three teeth of a canine, a larger one between two smaller. These teeth have been thoroughly enchanted by Eyron and are engraved and painted with runes of protection and healing, as well as the occasional rune of invisibility or clairvoyance. Eyron claims to have plucked these teeth from the mouth of a mithral wolf he had sent into a deep sleep, however, the much less marvellous truth is that he pulled them from the remains of a dog he found by the side of the road.


Personality
Put politely, Eyron is an eccentric character. Put perhaps more correctly, he’s a nutter, completely delusional and living in a different reality from the rest of the world. Due to a combination of his chronic exposure to a wide array for noxious chemicals and some bad luck, the healer’s sanity is now thoroughly demented. This skewed worldview has had dramatic effects on nearly every aspect of his life. It is this insanity that first fostered the notion of Eyron’s magical gifts, and as his mental state further deteriorated, this idea continued to grow in his mind, eventually twisting his memories, thoughts and character to conform to this false preternaturality. Eyron now views himself as an immensely powerful wizard, and thus a gift to the world.

Despite being completely out of his mind, Eyron is surprisingly intelligent, allowing him to not only maintain his ruse under his own scrutiny, but occasionally under the scrutinies of other, marginally saner, people as well. A life spent in study have garnered a mind filled with a plethora of knowledge, though as his mind continues to deteriorate this is admittedly not always easily accessible. Nevertheless, his mental incapacities have yet to dull his inquisitiveness, and thus he still seeks out any knowledge he can.

A particularly important aspect of the elderly healer’s personality warped by his psychosis is his rationality and decision-making process, or more appropriately the almost complete lack of such. To all but himself, very little reason is apparent in a wide array of Eyron’s actions. This owes little stability to the healer’s life, and in fact occasionally adds significant danger to it. And while this may lead some to brand him reckless or irresponsible, in truth these assessments are somewhat inaccurate. It is not so much that Eyron has little concern for danger and consequence but rather he seems to have absolutely no awareness of these. To draw a fairly trite analogy, his boldness is akin to that of a young child, who has yet to fully grasp cause and effect. And similar to a child this ignorance extends to social acceptability, often leading the healer’s behaviour to appear strange or uncouth to others.

Yet it would be wrong to assume Eyron to be a completely different person to the young man he was before losing his mind. Some characteristics still remain, not least of which being his single-mindedness. Ever since he was a child the healer had always been determined in his actions, constantly striving towards his goals. And this can still be said of him today. Unlike his earlier self, however, Eyron is now unbelievably fickle in his aspirations, constantly changing the target of his obsession. Thus he presents the odd combination of a person who zealously attacks their goals, yet rarely reaches them before moving onto another.

This erratic behaviour reaches beyond Eyron’s ambitions, affecting his everyday life. The healer has a fairly short attention span, frequently moving onto new things in the middle of tasks, or even conversations. This is not so much due to a lack of interest, but instead the distraction of numerous other fascinations. Such unpredictability can also be seen in his emotional state, with mood swing not being an unprecedented occurrence. This capriciousness means Eyron’s opinions of people and responses to their actions are rather inconsistent and prone to change.

In looking at Eyron’s past, his religious view may seem a pertinent area of his character to consider. As a member of the Order of the White Knights religion obviously played an incredibly large role in his life. Like many of his race, these religious views centred on the Twelve, though Eyasha and Nehtor held particular significance, being the patrons of his order. The importance of such things in the healer’s life has, however, changed with his mental state. As his magical delusions developed Eyron gave less and less thought to his religion. Accordingly, it would perhaps now be best to describe the elderly healer as having no religious beliefs, though some may argue his ardent belief in his own magic may be considered religious.


Strengths
Who are you calling crazy?  While being completely out of your mind may commonly be considered a substantial detriment on first thought, Eyron’s entire being relies upon this. He has built his life around his delusions of exceptionality and mysticism. And it is this utter submergence that allows him to commit so believably to his craft. Without such commitment he would most likely find convincing others of his abilities, and hence earning a living, even more impossible than he already does. Moreover, this insanity has removed the reticence a rational man may have, driving Eyron to do whatever necessary to preserve his life and maintain his charade.

Trust me, I’m a doctor  Knowledge of medicine is blatantly a useful skill for any person, and this is especially so for Eyron. This fairly extensive know-how of herblore and healing, and the occasional dabbling of alchemy, are the sole means of Eyron’s survival. While somewhat marred by his magical endeavours, the healer’s remedial talents are still comparable to the other healers of his former order. Better suited to his mystic craft, the fabrication of a variety of salves, potions, ointments and poultices dominate the majority of Eyron’s craft. Nevertheless, the healer also has some surgical skill from his time in the Order of the White Knights, albeit his addled mind resorts to such, seemingly mundane, action much less frequently.

Smarty-pants  As part of his studies in the Order of the White Knights, Eyron received a fairly substantial education, bestowing the healer with sufficient literacy and numeracy aptitude. In particular, the ability to read and write has a significant impact on his profession and livelihood. As an apprentice, Eyron also came to learn a great deal of Santharia and beyond, on subjects such as history, law, religion and culture. Much of this knowledge is, unfortunately, now twisted or outright vanished. Still, the healer is disposed to the occasional strokes of lucidity, recalling facts forgotten years ago.

My middle name’s MacGyver  Born out of a life of poverty and hardship, Eyron is a master of survival. Years spent with little to no money have forced the healer to find different, more resourceful means to sustain himself. Often this means some fairly unpleasant situations. Suffice to say, the taste of rat or corbie isn’t a concept with which he is unfamiliar. Owing to a skewed sense of reason, Eyron can undertake such action with relatively few qualms, a small fortune considering the frequency with which he is required to do so. His time spent travelling has also garnered a variety of other rudimentary survival skills, say, for example, foraging, an advantage not only in the acquisition of food, but also magical reagents.


Weaknesses
Those illusive marbles  While undoubtedly an important aspect for the maintenance of Eyron’s illusion, and thus livelihood, it would be hard to argue that he would not be better off sane. Life would certainly be a lot easier without the constant need to maintain an absurd façade over his entire life. On innumerable occasions, this compulsive need has led Eyron into considerable misfortune. What’s more, stripped of reason, the healer is gratuitously reckless. Essentially, Eyron’s insanity has steered him towards the challenging life of a charlatan ignorant to his own deception and a pariah ostracised because of this, a life where money is hard come by at the best of time.

Time hasn’t been kind  Eyron definitely isn’t what he used to be, both in mind and in body. His age has quite likely contributed to his current mental state, though various factors may also have a role. However, time has also taken its toll on Eyron’s body, a fact fairly apparent from his appearance. His advanced age has put varying restrictions on nearly every measure of physical capability, including his strength, speed, flexibility, stamina and agility. While not so extreme as to render him infirm, even being able to muster the occasional erratic hops and bounds as part of some bizarre spell, he is fairly limited in such actions and would certainly have to reconsider a running race, or anything of the sort.

Without two sans to rub together  Choosing a lifestyle such as his, Eyron is almost constantly living is poverty and squalor. Even if in possession of all his senses he would no doubt still struggle to remember when he last held any real sum of money. Instead, the healer manages to scrounge through life with bartering, the occasional mislaid coin and a great deal of scavenging. This matter is only worsened by his habitual insistence on placing the acquisition of magical reagents above that of food, leaving Eyron constantly on the brink starvation.

Experimentitis  Ever striving towards some goal known only to Eyron, the healer is ardent in his continued magical experiments. Sadly, these tinkerings have had, and still have, a significant toll on his wellbeing. While unknown to the healer himself, his continuous exposure to all manner of noxious substances undoubtedly contributed to his mental deterioration, and with persistent contact may further exacerbate this. The effect of these, however, is by no means limited to Eyron’s mind. The healer is also plagued by bouts of various ailments that seem to come and go without reason. Curiously, his hands are most frequently affected, with transient numbness, itching and burning, and scaly skin prone to peeling and rashes, albeit these problems are not always confined to his extremities. Another peculiar infirmity to strike Eyron is severe headaches, where lights seem much brighter and noises much louder, that appear akin to a hangover only without the preceding alcohol. Eyron treats these various complaints as they arise, with varying success.

It’s all a bit of a blur  Years spent with his nose buried in books have left Eyron with vision somewhat lacking in acuity. Initially his sight only blurred distant objects, but had no trouble with those nearby. However, now even these have lost their clarity, a fact somewhat problematic for reading and potion brewing. Thankfully, this problem arose while Eyron was in the Order of the White Knights, and thus still had the mental capacity to recognise the problem and the means to remedy it, by way of a pair of spectacles. Whether he remembers to wear these, or that they even exists, is another matter.


Magic
First and foremost, it is vital to understand that Eyron possesses absolutely no magic ability. Not that you could convince him of this. He is instead what some may refer to as a macanti. Nonetheless, this ‘magical’ practice plays a large role in his life and is thus worth expounding upon.

Eyron is an ardent believer in the ceremony of magic, in that while his ability may be god-given, it is recalcitrant and capricious without carefully researched and practiced rituals. If drawing parallels to the various magic systems of Caelereth, Eyron’s has perhaps the most in common with witchcraft. The most obvious disparity from this system, apart from the actual lack of magic, is Eyron’s culmination of practices similar to a variety of covens. That is to say Eyron commonly employs incantations and chants, akin to warble or rhyme witches, erratic movement some may consider dancing, not unlike jiggle witches, the occasional rudimentary carving, as would a chisel witch, and his personal favourite potion brewing, comparable with a cauldron witch. His magic bears less similarity with needle, loom or wheel witches, seldom utilising sewing, weaving or spinning, as he simply never learnt such crafts. He does however use writing and drawing, which may have its equivalence drawn with these witches, though his tools are often a stick of charcoal or chalk, rather than, say, a needle (though an ordinary stick to draw lines in the dirt will suffice).

The majority of Eyron’s craft centres around the creation of various salves and potions, a small blessing considering this is the only aspect of his magic that has a real effect. Such concoctions often have their basis in Eyron’s knowledge of healing, with some fairly unusual additives. Some of the more unsavoury of these include spider’s web, fairy mouse blood, a sprinkle of pipe moss and even mimsy urine (a particularly difficult reagent to acquire). The production of these medicines is nearly always in a fairly smoky setting owing to candles and incense, and accompanied by various invocations, gestures and inscriptions, rounding off the entire ritual.


Belongings
A gnarled, worn walking stick
Countless pouches and flasks containing a variety of herbs, potions and other magical reagents
A small, leather-bound, unbelievably battered book containing some rather nonsensical scribblings on a variety of magical matters
A pair of reading spectacles, bearing a few scratches


History
Birth Place  Westhron, Vardýnn Province, Santharian Kingdom
Birth Date  23rd Rising Sun 1611 a.S.

From an early age
This story has a fairly unremarkable beginning. It starts with a Nehtorian monk by the name of Korash in the town of Westhron on a scorching, summer’s day. Korash was a short man with a portly build suggesting a comfortable life. Sweat beaded across his brow, drops occasionally becoming too heavy and running down the monk’s flushed face. His white robe flapped around his legs as he strode briskly down the relatively empty street. It seemed most people were smart enough to stay out of the sun on a day like today. Unfortunately, Korash didn’t have that luxury.

Glancing down at the parchment held in his hand, he once again checked the address scribbled on there. He was definitely on the right street. Yet this blacksmith remained elusive to the monk.

Continuing down the street Korash cast his eyes to every building he passed, silently praying that each one be a blacksmith. Each time he was disappointed. Up ahead a dead-end was fast approaching. If he didn’t find it soon the monk knew he’d have to give up. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could stand the cruel rays that beat down upon his head, no doubt already leaving their bright red mark.

Before long Korash was at the dead-end, and the blacksmith was nowhere to be found. The monk turned about on the spot, completely at a loss. It wasn’t here. Resigning himself to the return journey, Korash took one final look at the various shops that populated the end of the street before heading back. Something caught his eye, something he’d passed over before. A plain door on the other side of the street, most likely a second entrance to the chandler’s next door. Crossing the street letterings etched above the door soon became apparent. They read ‘Blacksmith’. Korash felt a rush of relief, not without some annoyance. Not the most obvious sign I’ve seen.

Moving towards the wooden door the monk lifted his hand to impart three quick rasps, desperately hoping the blacksmith would offer him some respite from this heat. This was a wish, however, that Korash knew to be pointless, considering the furnace that was certain to be burning inside.

As he waited the monk pondered the owners of the shop. A young couple, he’d been told. The wife had recently given birth to their fourth son. His father’s blacksmith simply wasn’t large enough to accommodate another apprentice, a fact now thoroughly apparent to the monk, so his parents had implored the Order consider their child. Seems the child has an uncle in the Order, a healer at a hospital in Voldar. He suggested the boy’s parents consider the Order. So here was Korash.

An answer was not long delayed. The door opened to reveal a burly man, bare-chested except for a black apron, undoubtedly due to the heat. His skin glistened with a film of sweat and dirt covered his face and arms.

“Afternoon. Kale, is it?”

“Yes,” replied a deep voice.

“My name is Korash and I’m here from the Order of the White Knights to see your son.”

“Thought so. Please come in.”

Korash stepped into the shop. The heat was intense. It made the air seem heavier. In an instant the monk’s wish to be out from under the sun’s rays was turned on its head. Now he’d give anything to be back outside.

“Sorry ‘bout the heat. Weather doesn’t help.”

The monk’s ingrained etiquette forced out the lie, “Oh, it’s no trouble”.

“If you want to head upstairs it might be a bit cooler. My wife’s up there with Eyron.”

The monk made for the stairs, with Kale following behind him. The short ascent revealed an open room with a plain wooden table and chairs in its centre. At the back of the room were two doors, presumably leading to bedrooms considering the absence of beds in the present room. At the table sat a young woman with auburn hair gazing into the cot beside her. Her face had the unmistakeable look of a mother’s love.

As the two men entered the room, the woman turned to the stairs and stood upon seeing her guest.

“This here’s my wife, Elýssa, and the little one’s obviously Eyron.”

“Good afternoon, Elýssa. My name Korash from the Order of the White Knights.”

Elýssa smiled, “Can I offer you some water?”

Korash politely accepted the offer, his mouth thoroughly parched. The comely woman picked up a nearby pitcher, poured a cup and handing it to Korash. Lifting it to his lips he took as sip. It was unpleasantly warm. Still, it helped remedy his dry mouth, so the monk took another sip before placing it down on the table.

Korash tried his best not to sound in a rush, but he could think of little but getting out of this heat. “Mind if I get straight to it?”

“Not at all,” came Elýssa’s reply.

The monk turned to the cot to behold the infant. The babe was only clothed in linen undergarments, in an effort to combat the heat, but even so it cheeks were flushed. Ignoring the heat, however, he looked fine. No obvious illnesses or deformities. And the smile on his face certainly supported the lack of problems.

“Has he been well up to now?”

Elýssa replied. “Yes, sir. Midwife said he was completely healthy and he has been ever since.”

Korash nodded. All in all he seemed to be a pretty happy baby. And his home appeared comfortable enough, at least once the weather cooled a bit.

“Well, I don’t see any problems here. He looks like a very healthy and happy baby. If you would like to bring him to the monastery after he turns five, the Order will decide then.”

The two parents’ eyes lit up. A barrage of thanks and praise rushed from their lips. Korash couldn’t help but smile at their obvious joy. But, it had been a long, tiring and above all else, hot day and the monk was eager to rest. After accepting their thanks he politely excused himself, leaving the house to continued thanks of the young couple. Stepping outside the door, he bid the blacksmith and his wife farewell and set off down the road. The sun was still high in the sky, unrelenting. Still Korash felt at ease. He could finally return to the monastery and get out of this accursed heat.

Not just once a week
Aelrin gazed across the room, not seeing the other monks busy with their chores. His thoughts were still occupied by the events of the morning. It was never easy saying no. It certainly wasn’t a task the monk envied his superiors. The children themselves usually take the rejection fairly well; most likely they can’t really grasp the whole situation. Their parents usually find the news less favourable. The monk had seen all manner of reactions, from anger to tears to pleading to simple acceptance. Some parents were clearly desperate, completely unsure of what their child’s future would hold, while others merely saw an opportunity and decided to go for it, almost on a whim.

Aelrin thought the parents from this morning were somewhere between these two contrasting poles. The mother in particular seemed worried about her child’s prospects, but she didn’t appear without other options. If truth be told, she appears somewhat relieved when her son wasn’t admitted into the Order. No doubt since it meant she needn’t pass off her son to someone else. It was a situation the monk was quite familiar with. But still he couldn’t help but be a little surprised. It was funny how people could have such conflicting desires simultaneously.

As the monk continued to ponder, one of the large, wooden doors at the entrance of the monastery started to open, its hinges creaking as it did. The high-pitched sound resonated amid the arches of the high, vaulted ceiling. Aelrin turned to the source of the noise and squinted as he look towards the portal of light. Despite the numerous high windows that lined the walls, the large room remained considerably darker than the outside, hence the ever-burning candles that similarly lined the walls. As his eyes adjusted, the silhouettes that occupied the entry transformed and the monk observed a man leant against the door, pushing it open, while a woman stood at the doorway with a young boy clasping her hand. With the door open, the three figures moved into the monastery and towards Aelrin, his mind slowly returning to the present to process the situation.

After a brief pause everything suddenly fell into place and Aelrin became conscious of the trio's purpose for being in the monastery. The monk adopted a friendly smile as he started towards the young family.

“Good morning. Is there something I can help you with?”

The woman gave a nervous smile while her husband answered. “Er, well, we’ve just brought our son along like we were told to when he was a baby. He’s five now, so he’s meant to be joining the Order, you see. At least, I hope he is.”

“So that would make you Kale and Elýssa, right?” The two nodded in unison. “And this young man must be Eyron.”

Two green eyes looked up at Aelrin while the young boy let go of his mother’s hand, as if to seem more adult. “Yes sir.”

“Well, nice to meet you all. My name’s Brother Aelrin. If you would all like to follow me to the other room we can get started.“

Turning on his heel, the monk led the family towards a door to the side of the room. Aelrin left the family outside the room as he entered. On the other side of the door two other monks sat behind a large, sturdy table, both bent over sheets of parchment with quills in hand.

“Pardon my interruption, Brothers, but the blacksmith and his wife are here with their son, Eyron.”

“Thank you, Brother Aelrin. Do show them in,” came the reply from the older of the two studious monks.

Aelrin turned back to the door and opened it. The young boy stood just outside the room with his parents, whom appeared to have been conversing. Wondering about the selection process, no doubt. The monk stepped to the side of the doorway and gestured from them to enter.

“Please come in.”

As the three stepped into the room their apprehension was apparent. Shutting the door behind them, Aelrin turned back to the room to see the two seated monks rising from their chairs, the more elderly abbot supporting himself on the table as he did. With an affable smile on his face the abbot greeted the blacksmith and his family.

“Good morning. Mr name is Abbot Lýsand and,” motioning to the man next to him he continued “this is Prior Tiron. Please have a seat” The abbot then turned his sights to Aelrin. “Brother Aelrin, if you could get our guests some drinks.”

The monk strode across the room and did as his superior bid. Lifting the plain earthenware pitcher that stood on a small table against the wall he poured five cups of water. These he then carried to table, setting one before each person.

“Thank you, Brother Aelrin, that will be all.”

Aelrin nodded to the abbot and then turned to leave the room, shutting the door as he left. Back in the monastery proper paused for a moment, considering what next to do. They would likely be some time, as the Order took some time in contemplating each possible member, thus Aelrin thought it best that he get to work on his chores. Going to a small alcove to the side of the room the monk picked up a broom and set about the sizeable task of sweeping the expansive chapel.

*      *      *

Aelrin paused for a moment, deciding to take a brief break. His back ached from its hunched position and his hand was starting to cramp from gripping the stiff brush he was using to scrub the stone floor. This task was not an easy one, even with the help he received from several other monks. Still, he couldn’t wait to finish. After this he was done with his chores. The rest of the day he could spend reading and praying and resting.

Just as Aelrin was about to resume his scrubbing his hopes of this task being his last of the day were extinguished by the sound of a door opening and some muffled speech. The monk looked towards the door, seeing the family he had led into the other room, accompanied by Abbot Lýsand. The mother’s face was flushed, it appeared she was crying. Unable to make out their conversation, Aelrin was not completely sure what this meant for the young boy. He may have entered the order, or he may not have. The monk’s uncertainty was soon remedied, however, as he saw the blacksmith reach out and shake the abbot’s hand with some vigour. Good news it seemed.

After releasing the abbot’s hand, the black smith and his wife turned to their son. His mother crouched to be on eye-level with the boy, while her husband rested a hand on her back in support. She held her son in a tight embrace, as the family exchanged their goodbyes. Aelrin’s attention was, however, wrenched from this affair by the beckons of his abbot.

“Brother Aelrin, would you please come here,” came the call from the elderly abbot. Despite his age, his voice still managed to travel across the large room.

The monk stood, leaving his brush on the ground, and strode over to the abbot. As he did so, the conversation between the two parents and their son became audible.

The boy’s mother appeared particularly distressed, tears rolling down her face, yet forcing a smile. Her voice quavered as she addressed her son, “You be a good boy now. I need you to do what you’re told.”

“Yes, mummy.”

“And you know we both love you.”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, baby, we’ve got to leave now.”

The boy’s distress was apparent. Tears were collecting in the corner of his eyes. “But I don’t want you to go.”

“I know. I don’t either, but I have to.

“No! Don’t!”, tears now freely flowing down the boy’s cheeks.

“Eyron, I need you to be a big man for me now, can you do that?”

The young boy sniffed a couple of times, regaining some composure before replying. “Okay, I will.”

“That’s my boy. Now you’re going to stay with this man here, okay?”

A meek nod was his only reply.

“Okay. We have to go. We love you.”

Standing, her husband placed an arm around her shoulder as they turned and left the monastery. The boy watched them until the exited through the large, wooden doors. Once gone, the boy turned back to the abbot as he spoke.

“Eyron, this here is Brother Aelrin, whom you met before. He’s going to take you to your room and tell you about the Order. If you have any questions please do ask.”

With that the abbot left the young boy with Aelrin, returning to the room where his books undoubtedly still sat open on the table. The boy looked up at Aelrin, the tears in his green eyes glistening in the light. The monk smiled down at him, trying to be reassuring.

“Okay, Eyron, would you like to go see you room.” He nodded. “Good, come with me.”

The two started towards a door leading to the monastery’s gardens. Outside the sun was still burning brightly; Aelrin guessed it was still some time during sunblaze. They walked through the gardens, headed for the monastery’s living quarters.

“So, would you like me to tell you a bit about the Order.” Again the boy nodded. “Well, the Order of the White Knights follows the ways of Eyasha and Nehtor. We have numerous monasteries and hospitals throughout the kingdom, all of which work towards keeping peace and helping the sick and poor. We are made up of knights, healers and monks, one of which you will be one day. Do you know which one you want to be?”

Eyron’s reply was faint, “Um, a knight, I think. I want to be brave.”

Aelrin smiled, “Well the White Knights certainly are brave. But before that you’ll first have to study for quite a few years. Ten years, in fact. First you’ll learn all about the Order, our beliefs, our practices and our codices, as well as all manner of things. You’ll learn about law, and history, and geography, and all the different races of the kingdom. Men and elves and dwarves and hobbit and gnomes and brownies and orcs. You’ll also learn about diplomacy and herblore, and other skills you’ll need as a peacekeeper and healer.”

Eyron looked somewhat apprehensive. “That sounds like a lot.”

“That it is, but don’t worry, I’m sure you can handle it. First of all, though, do you know your letters?”

The boy shook his head.

“Well then, that’s what we’ll start with first.”

When I grow up
The day had finally come. Dekaer couldn’t believe it. Ten years, all leading up to this. The sheer gravity of the situation left the apprentice in a state of contradictions. On the one hand he felt great relief at the completion of a significant chapter in his life and the chance to move forward, but he was also deeply apprehensive at his uncertain future. Today was the day that would determine the rest of his life. Henceforth Dekaer would be a knight, a healer or a monk. Or at least an apprentice of one of these.

The entire morning Dekaer had been able to think of little else. From his early morning prayers, right through his chores, he was obsessed with thoughts of the imminent decision. In his mind the choice was simple, he was to be a knight. He prayed the other monks agreed.

There was still close to an hour before his midday prayers so Dekaer decided to relax in the monastery gardens. He thought he would enjoy his last moments before apprenticeship, seeing that his pathway in the order would be decided after his prayers and meal at sunreign. He followed the flagstone path through the garden, passing by the vegetable patches of tuberroots and mithatoes and redneeps and caroots on the way to the orchards. Off to the corner of the apple trees, separated by necessity, there was a lonesome bittersweet tree with one root in particular that was perfectly moulded into a seat. It was his favourite spot in the gardens.
   
Stepping underneath the tree’s reddish-purple canopy the young monk inhaled deeply, breathing in the faint sweetness that emanated from the tree. He looked up to this awning, searching out some early berries, but they were impossible to discern from the multitude of purple flowers that still flocked the branches. A quick glance at the ground resulted the same. It looked like it would still be a little while before the ladders were out and picking started.

In truth it was a task Dekaer always enjoyed. He, like a couple of the other younger monks, took to climbing around the tree’s branches, rather than sticking to the ladders, and it certainly added a thrill to the task. That, plus the heavenly fragrance and the occasional sneaked berry, made it something to look forward to.

Except Dekaer might not be here to help pick the berries this time. It all depended on what happened in the next hour. The realisation carried a twinge of disappointment. This place had been his home for the last ten years; most of his memories were of here. Now that may all come to an end.

Taking a seat in his usual place Dekaer gazed up at the sea of reds and purples that rippled in the slight breeze. The few of the sun’s rays that managed to breakthrough the foliage were dazzling, forcing the apprentice to close his eyes to their brilliance. Eyes shut, he let his mind wander. Feeling nostalgic his thoughts went to everything that had happened in the last ten years. He still had vivid memories of his first day at the monastery. He remembered feeling alone, like he had been abandoned by his parents. That was when he met Eyron. He had only arrived at the monastery a few weeks before Dekaer. They latched onto each other almost instantly, their friendship growing through the next decade. There was the time X. Or the time Y.

This reminiscing only brought on further dejection. As it always seemed to recently, thoughts of his friend soured Dekaer’s mood. He worried about what the future held for there friendship. The question of what if Eyron followed a different path in the Order and they never saw each other again resounded in his mind. Eyron certainly held different goals to Dekaer. It wasn’t something the spoke much about, as if by some silent agreement. But ignoring it wasn’t an option any longer. Dekaer wanted to be a knight and Eyron wanted to be a healer, and that meant they might be split up. It left Dekaer secretly wishing Eyron would be chosen a knight instead, even though he wanted his friend to get what he wanted.

A buzzing suddenly sounded in his right ear, disturbing Dekaer’s thoughts, before disappearing as quickly as it had come. He didn’t bother opening his eyes to check; it was a malise, no doubt, likely from Brother Melor’s hives, drawn to the tree’s sweet scent as he himself had been. That was something he had grown fond of in his time at the monastery. Brother Melor’s honey was exceptionally sweet, and bet yet, abundant. Dekaer really hoped there was a beekeeper like him wherever he ended up.

As the apprentice continued to ponder his future the toll of a bell sounded. Dekaer's eyes shot open as he abruptly bolted upright. It was midday. Dekaer couldn't afford to be late to his prayers, especially not today. Rising, he left his refuge and made his way back through the gardens at a light jog. Reaching the monastery chapel Dekaer slipped through doorway just as Abbot Lýsand began the communal pray. Taking a quick glance around the procession Dekaer was unable to spot Eyron, so deciding to instead take the first available seat nearest him. As he joined the edges of the crowd the monk let out an involuntarily sigh of relief that he'd made it back just in time.

Before long Abbot Lýsand finished his prayers, and the cavernous room fell silent as the congregation turned to silent personal prayers. As these prayers came to an end the assembly of monks rose for their midday meal. Dekaer’s fellow apprentices were strikingly quiet. He guessed they were busy contemplating the coming decision, just as he was. The meal passed with very little conversation, and Dekaer was still to spy Eyron.

And then it was time. Dekaer was a mixture of fear and excitement as he took the last bites of his meal, the moment that would shape his life creeping closer with each blink. Finishing their meal, the solemn monks moved towards the cloisters, the apprentices arranging themselves in a semicircle around their seniors. Abbot Lýsand stood at the forefront, a roll of parchment in his hand. Dekaer’s eyes were transfixed by this parchment for some time, until, out the corner of his eye, he glanced Eyron. They exchanged nervous smiles as the abbot commenced his proclamation; his voice quiet, yet still managing to fill the hush of the cloisters.

He began with a blessing, as he always did. “Praise be to Eyasha; praise be to Nehtor.” A wave of echoed exaltation spread through the assembly, Dekaer adding his voice to the cacophony.

“You came here, all of you, as children, little more than babes. Your parents, be they bakers, or farmers, or cobblers, brought you here all for the same reason. They chose for you to dedicate your life to Eyasha and Nehtor and carry out their will in this world. They chose you to be healers of the sick, protectors of the vulnerable and custodians of peace.

“And now, ten years later, you are about to take the next step in this life-long pursuit. Today, you will be separated from many of your brothers to continue your education and service. Some of you will become healers, others knights, and others monks; all noble and virtuous vocations.”

Pausing, the abbot unfurled the parchments clasped in his hand, holding the document at arm’s length before his face. Dekaer ignored all other sounds as he listened to his fellow brother’s names being listed, concentrating so intently the abbot’s soft voice seemed a thunderous bellow.

“Kelmar, monk. Artes, healer. Garneth, knight. Ralon, monk. Dekaer, knight.”

Suddenly, silence. Dekaer saw Abbot Lýsand’s mouth continue to shape various names, but he made no sound. Or at least Dekaer couldn’t hear it. For the briefest moment the apprentice was unsure why this was so, until all of a sudden it hit him. Dekaer, knight. He was going to be a White Knight!

The urge to convey his utter joy, even if just to flail his limbs in some nonsensical display of elation, was almost too much to quell. His entire body was filled with a tremendous euphoria; it was happening, he was going to be a knight. Yet, somehow, Dekaer managed to restrict his outward celebration to smile, admittedly, a broad one. And as he wrestled his emotions into some semblance of submission the Abbot’s voice returned as abruptly as it had left.

“Raedoc, monk. Migos, healer. Eyron, healer”

In an instant the confusion and mixed emotions that had plagued Dekaer for the past weeks overwhelmed his previous jubilation. In truth he had expected it, and he knew Eyron wanted this every bit as much as Dekaer wanted to be a knight. But he couldn’t help but feel sorrowed at this prospect.

Turning to look at his friend he saw this mirrored in Eyron’s grey-green eyes.

Those Experimental Years
“What could it possibly be now?”

Ever since that accursed day that his nephew had first taken to alchemy, Myrrin had been forced to deal with a constant battery of explosions and aceed spills and fires and noxious gas leaks. And from the sound he, and no doubt half of Voldar, had just heard, there would now be another disaster to add to the already voluminous list.

Striding down the corridor at some pace, Myrrin thought back to that seemingly innocuous day. It must have been six, maybe seven years ago. Whatever the case, Myrrin recalled, it had definitely been in late autumn, as the city was inundated with all manner of farmers and artisans and merchants travelled to sell their wares before the snow set in. All roads leading into the city were bustling with heavily-laden carts and donkeys, and wearied, dirt-laden travellers. And buried within this endless parade were those two harbingers of doom. Or perhaps that was overly dramatic. Inadvertent pests at the very least.

Myrrin had been on his way to the marketplace with Eyron. To get more trinity herb, no doubt. No matter how much he bought of that damn herb, it never seemed to last very long.

As they made their way through the marketplace they came upon a small crowd that had gathered around a cart. A makeshift stall had been set-up in front of the cart, behind which stood two gnomes. More specifically, Golgnomes. The two never-sit-stills writhing in matching smooth, black boxes (volcanic stone from Mount Hèckra Myrrin presumed) were the obvious giveaway.

Golgnomes were quite an uncommon sight, and this combined with their remarkable inventions and alchemical concoctions was more than enough to grab the attention of various passers-by, Eyron among them.

His nephew was clearly eager to examine these exotic goods. And with his meagre apprenticeship salary he was unlikely to buy anything too outrageous, so Myrrin indulged him. Leaving Eyron to squirm his way to the front of the crowd for a better lock, Myrrin continued with his errands alone.

When he returned Eyron was immersed in conversation with the least-bald of the two gnomes. While noticeably reluctant to leave the stall, this did nothing to dampen his excitement. The whole way back Eyron’s fervid chatter was non-stop. Already the amazement of the gnomes many wares was translating to all manner of fanciful ideas. The seed had been planted.

At first he had encouraged Eyron’s newfound passion. Why not? What possible harm could come from trying to heal people? In hindsight, a colossal misjudgement. Like no other mistake he had ever made, Myrrin regretted not putting a stop to this lunacy when it first started. Now it was much too late. There was not a single thing in all the kingdom that could quell the ardent fervour gripping Eyron. All Myrrin could do was try to minimise the damage and clean up the mess.

Still, while Myrrin may reprove some of his nephew’s more ambitious, or outright ludicrous, experiments, he had to admit the boy was not without success. There was his odd concoction of quicksilver, orpiment, willow bark tincture and an array of other substances, which proved surprisingly effective against pox. And a powder made with alum that helped stanch bleeding.

Myrrin only wished the damage would be minimal this time. Likely foolish optimism, but one can hope.

Coming up to the door things didn’t look good for this hope. A thick, grey-vaguely-green gas was slowly seeping out from under the door and crawling across the floor. Burying his nose and mouth into his sleeve Myrrin reached out for the handle. Unusually warm. With considerable apprehension, he turned the handle and braced for whatever he may behold.

It was bad. Really bad. Maybe not the worse of Eyron’s many mistakes, but definitely up there. Where visible through the greenish fog, black soot and broken glass littered the floor interspersed with several piles of burning papers and mounds of embers which had presumably once been similar piles of papers. The contents of a mortar and pestle standing on the table in the centre of the room was similarly aflame, though this burned a brilliant violet colour and spewed a column of thick black smoke. Standing by this table atop a stepladder was Eyron, or what remained of him. His left eyebrow was gone, as was most of his right and a great deal of his hair. Like the floor, his face and clothes were covered in a similar smattering of soot. He was struggling to hold the lid on large vat, with limited success judging by the bursts of green vapour escaping at various intervals as the contents bubbled up.

“By Nehtor’s beard! What in the world is going on here?”

Skeletons
Horrific didn’t quite capture the mood. Appalling, despicable, vile. No word seemed adequate to describe this utterly abhorrent situation. That poor, wretched boy.

The image was still seared into Brother Maeroc’s memory, burning white-hot. It had been unlike anything he had seen before. All manner of lesions had riddled the poor boy’s body, some red and angry pustules, like those of pox, others crusted, weeping sores, and others a deep purple-brown, somewhere between a bruise and a scab. His lips had been cracked and ulcerous, exuding a mixture of blood and pus, and his eyes bloodshot. On examining the body after the boy’s demise, the healer had found his tongue coated in a thick white scum. But perhaps most horrifying were the great swaths of skin that had peeled off with the boy’s every movement, leaving raw flesh beneath.

The boy’s skeletal frame suggested recent circumstances were not the first misfortune to befall him. An urchin, no doubt. The wretch had been screaming incessantly when Maeroc arrived, but towards the end muffled groans were all he could manage. He had done his best to help the boy, but in truth there was little he could do. He had given a tincture of cylian poppy for the pain and let blood for his fever. A futile effort, Maeroc knew; there was nothing that could have been done to save the boy.

But still, the unpleasantness wasn’t over.

Striding down the passage at a rushed pace, Maeroc felt beads of sweat collect under his white robe. Harsh midday sunlight poured through the unglazed windows that interspersed the grey, stone walls, bringing with it an oppressive heat. Sadly, any manner of breeze seemed unable to make use of the same entrance.

Reaching the wooden door that stood at the end of the passage, Maeroc grasped the cold iron handle and paused, taking a minute to prepare himself. He inhaled deeply. And exhaled slowly, before turning the iron ring, pulling the door open and stepping across the threshold.

The room behind the door was just as stuffy, the hot, stale air doing little to ease Maeroc’s nerves. A long wooden table filled the room for the most part, at which sat several men, all dressed in the same white robes, identical to Maeroc’s own. The brothers were undoubtedly of a wide array of ages, though to label any of them young would be misleading. Instead, their ages appeared to range from old to older to older still. Not that Maeroc was any spring taenish himself.

Maeroc took a seat at the table...

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble
...
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