Walking side by side with death
The Witches mock their every step.
The snow drives back the foot that’s slow
The dogs of doom are howling more.
They carry news that must get through
To build a dream for me and you,
They choose the path where no one goes.
The mind is often never considered a weapon – yet left neglected or simply pushed beyond it’s capacity to endure – it will weaken, it will crumble and inevitably it will break. This, of course, is not unlike the weapon a man wields when going to battle and so it is easy to see the similarities between the two. The differences lie in that after one is damaged and broken – it can be reforged and remade.
The other could not.
Garros knew this as much as his body knew to draw precious oxygen and fill his lungs, his heart to pump blood through his body – what he also knew was doubt was beginning to sink in. Like a fissure in a rock, it would only continue to grow in time if left unchecked. The Retainer was far from unhinged, yet the recent events in the Kodar Mountains had certainly pushed him to extremes.
So many have come and gone and while not all have been permanent, Garros could not stop and wonder if the Gods were mocking him, for those closest and dearest to him were no longer of this world. The swordsman hoped that with the advances made, the alliances forged and most recently – securing of The Foundry – all that has been lost was not in vain.
But the death of Zhixian Li was just as recent and just as heavy on the swordsman and weighed most profoundly. The Kodar Mountains were no final resting place for a man such as Zhixian Li and it had killed a part of Garros that he could not give him the proper respects by returning him to the land, however, he honoured him the only way he could and had lit the funeral pyre. He had only hoped that wherever the venerable Tian would end, he would be at peace.
Putting such thoughts as best as he could from his mind, the Retainer would fortify his mind and cope the only way he had ever known how to deal with loss – focusing on the task at hand. This was something the swordsman had become increasingly efficient at and was not to be mistaken as cold-hearted.
The fact remained – Garros was now the sole surviving Harbinger as deemed by Eldrim Wyrdmake before leaving Kalsgard. Yet the Retainer could not help but feel wonderment concerning his new companions. The young lad, who devilishly wielded a whip and despite feeling a slight pang of frustration when he spoke, not out of any sort of malice towards the man, rather he sometimes wished he got to the point. In spite of this, Garros was remarkably impressed with Reginald Barclay and would undoubtedly come to rely on him in the future, for someone who was apart of the Pathfinder Society was an asset in of itself.
There was, of course, Nergui Li. The Retainer felt elation and sorrow and equal measure when it came to Zhixian Li‘s daughter. This duality would present itself in sorrow because it would forever be a constant reminder of what was lost, elation because it would be an opportunity to learn about the progeny of his best friend. And though he did not know much about her, Garros was deeply honoured by Zhixian’s final request to his daughter and would do everything in his power to see that the Witches of Irrisen would not extend their tyranny any further.
Addarah the half-orc was a curious one. The Retainer had respect for the Steel Eater Clan and she could no less handle her own. Magicks had always been a bitter pill to swallow for the swordsman and would sooner put his trust and faith in his own two hands yet if it was not for Addarah, King Ezelgard would not be lying lifeless – innards spilled on the onyx floor by the sheer onslaught of the swordsmans blades. Anok, Steel Eater Warlord would not be the only ally gained and thus the war effort would be vastly improved for the Ulfen peoples.
Despite all of this, in his heart, Garros knew that there was still so much that needed to be accomplished before a true strike against the Witches of Irrisen could be successful. His personal coffers were next to depleted and gold would be needed mobilize their own war efforts let alone any sort of large scale assault. There had been no word of Irrisen or the Land of The Linnorn Kings and their current state of affairs, for much could have changed since their departure.
He thought back to his single combat against Duke Arvanoff and the sheer power Queen Elvanna had wielded. He also thought of the Ulfen people, squabbling over petty raids and petty kings, divided and weakened. Though more personally, he though of Raemarrund and the weight he carried as last of their kind.
It was time to unite the clans and the people’s of the Land of the Linnorm Kings. The Retainer knew full well the stakes and what was on the line and thought back to his audience with Sveinn Blood-Eagle before the Harbringers left Kalsgard that now, felt so long ago.
“Now, you’ve achieved more than anyone has dreamed but fighting these odds, it looks like rage, not courage.” proposed the King of Kalsgard.
Letting out a deep sigh Garros looked directly at Sveinn Blood-Eagle, “It’s well beyond rage. Help me. In the name of the Gods, help yourselves! Now is our chance. Now! If we join, we can win. If we win, well then we’ll have what none of us have ever had before: our country united and our lands reclaimed!”
The proud Ulfen people will bow only to those who can prove their worth. Lofty words and charismatic leaders hold no respect to the people of the Land of the Linnorm Kings. Only those who can take the head of a Linnorm are worthy – only the hard. Only the strong.
“It is time return to the Land of The Linnorm Kings,” whispered the Retainer.