Welcome to Chapter 4.4 for Bannihar and Myre!
Now that Bannihar and Myre have successful (in a temporary or permanent sense we don't yet know) joined forces, the last two posts for each group will be done in unison.
This post focuses on characters from both groups, namely Leijh, Liam, Keeland, and Cornelius from Myre along with Kayte, Roarg, and Jules from Bannihar.
Though it appears the groups are getting along well enough there's no telling when that might end... or what might happen to disrupt the peace. At this time, contributing readers for Liam, Keeland, and Jules need to vote on this post:
1) Travel as one; more people mean more protection. (one group with part A and part B post).
2) Part ways peacefully-- Banniharians in one group and Myrenese in the other. (separate into the same groups as how they started).
3) Reconfigure the parties for the most effective travel since you'll meet again soon in Zion anyway! (characters will split into two equal groups as determined by character interaction).
4) Stay encamped and just have the joint Wild Landers/scouts check out the situation in Zion. (two groups... once stays put and one goes on ahead).
Votes this week are due by midnight on WEDNESDAY March 7th.
Again, please note that submission date is on Wednesday; plan accordingly.
Zion - Light of the New Moon, Part 2
Bannihar and Myre
As the group from Myre and the party from Bannihar begin to form up, it becomes quickly apparent that those of faith will become the guiding light for the combined forces. Since Keeland's contributing reader did not vote in this post Keeland will lose 1 Willpower and Myre will lose 1 Favor.
In the end, most of the fear and distrust ended up being for nothing. Rather than the Banniharians being a bloodthirsty band of inquisitors they turned out to be... well... pretty normal. They had Wild Landers with them, who looked far better treated than you might expect based on the stories we've heard of Bannihar. They had a magus with them: an armadillo Geomancer, and a badger laborer who was nice enough.
The gryphon turned out to be the genuine thing too, but he was more than what you'd expect from a gryphon-- he was able to talk, and was really good at it (his jokes alternated between funny and really bad); all in all he could have been mistaken for one of us if you didn't see his real form. The badger mentioned his name was Sebastian, and, based on the way he and Josh took a liking to one another I figured the two of them would keep each other out of the way for the rest of us (even IF Lady Marion was a little hesitant to let the choir cub play with a 'vicious beast').
It took a little while but, as we became more and more familiar with one another I saw the prejudices and preconceived notions slowly begin to fade from the Banniharians as well as from everyone else around me. I would like to be able to say that I walked into things with a clear head and an open mind but, Miri, as we both know, the stories Lord Dalton used to have the servants tell us didn't exactly make accepting Banniharians as real people very easy. What did was spending the evening with them.
Lady Marion and Josh went to sit with the Banniharian group's laborers and their magus while their priestess and her guardian came to join the rest of us along with one of their Wild Landers. Liam, Keeland, Cymbeline and I were gathered around our campfire, perhaps a stone throw from the other Banniharians where they sat with Lady Marion (Josh and the gryphon were off in the grass pretending to take turns slaughtering each other). The Banniharian priestess introduced herself warmly as Kayte Delier.
She was nothing like what the stories suggested she would be like-- she was friendly, smiling, and welcoming; not once did she ask if we said our prayers or threaten to condemn us to the Eternal Abyss. Oh! And she was a Moon Pelted wolf, Miri! According to her, being Moon Pelted in Bannihar meant that the Goddess chose you to be a cleric. It's so different, but not in a bad way... I told her that the Moon Pelted were never accepted into the clergy in Myre because our temple considers them divine in their own right without having to be in service to the temple; she laughed without any hint of scorn.
While the fact that the Banniharians had Wild Landers guiding them was no great surprise (we had Bahrla, if you recall), the fact that they were so well treated was a surprise. Compared to the stories we hear all the time it was obvious that the Wild Landers hadn't been whipped; they weren't in chains; they didn't look like they were compelled into service. The two antlered wolves sitting with Lady Marion seemed almost cheerful (you heard me right, Miri... the Wild Lander wolves had ANTLERS!) and the strange individual that joined us alongside the priestess had what was certainly the largest smile I had ever seen.
His name is Jules. I'm still not certain exactly what he is... some kind of fox-rat mix maybe? A sleek wolf with a raccoon-muzzle? A little of all of them, or maybe none of them? I don't know. One thing I can say is that he was quiet... always glancing over his shoulder at anything and everything. The smile I was talking about was during a comment their priestess said about having 'a little trouble' on the road. He had commented (and grinned) that he would have hated to have experienced what she thought 'a lot of trouble' would have been.
They weren't many words, but I remember his voice being smooth... slightly higher pitched, as if he were still a youth, or perhaps a castrati-- I do remember hearing tales about how Banniharians would sometimes castrate their guards. It still doesn't make much sense... I know some of our choir boys are fixed at a young age so they don't lose the quality to their singing, but guards? No... it doesn't make much sense, and that's just something I'm going to have to remember to ask in the future. Regardless, Priestess Delier was a fine woman... friendly... outgoing... and patient beyond any imagining.
Oh, and her guardian, Miri... oh GODDESS, what a dog. His name is Raes... LORD Raes. Apparently Champions of Bannihar are given titles and they're treated like the heads of the noble houses are in Myre. Can you imagine a commoner being elevated to the same status as someone like Lord Dalton? But if you ever met Lord Raes you never would have thought that he'd had been a commoner... ever. Apparently all Paladins of Bannihar are noble, chivalrous, and proper, but, according to Kayte Delier, Lord Raes out shined them all... and I believe it.
He's handsome too, Miri... in a dog sort of way, but has that admirable humility of a man that truly doesn't realize it. According to Lady Marion, the two of them are inseparable... practically brother and sister. Lord Raes is the kind of person that's not hard to like; he has this... thing about him... just being near him feels like you're near someone the Goddess favors-- I've never felt anything like it, not even near the Priests and Priestesses of Myre. I guess it may sound a little like a heretical statement, but it isn't; you can FEEL Tah'aveen in his presence. Also, I know I wasn't the only one to feel it.
Liam's eyes never left Lord Raes. At first I thought he might have been needlessly envious of the dog; I know I had no qualms about making eyes at the Paladin, but, to be honest, Liam hadn't ever struck me the jealous type. It wasn't until he spoke up that I understood what was on Liam's mind. "How did you become a paladin?" he asked of the dog.
"At a young age I was given over to the temple." Lord Raes explained, "I spent years learning the ways of a holy warrior. During the summer, when the weather was at its best we learned to ride and to fight. When the weather got colder we would retreat inside and were taught the finer points of tactics, reading, writing, and the ways of the temple... prayer, of course, was always a constant."
"So you were part of an entire class of Paladins?" Keeland asked. The shepherd sat beside Cymbeline, who hadn't spoken a word; his attentive gaze noticing everything but his muzzle saying nothing.
"I was part of a group of students raised to be the elite among temple guardians." Lord Raes corrected, "Any holy warrior of Bannihar needs to be as much priest as soldier."
"Then how did you become a Paladin?" Liam pressed.
"Many of my fellow students were unable to keep up with the rigors of training. At various levels the priests and our commanders would decide as one who would progress to the next level and who would be kept at their current rank. Those who did not progress were provided their commission for whatever status they had qualified."
"How many Paladins were chosen from among all of you?" Keeland asked, seemingly as interested in the process as Liam.
"Five." the dog replied.
"Out of how many?" I questioned.
He smiled warmly at me, "Thirty nine."
"And you five were made Champions?" Keeland pressed.
"Just Raes." Kayte smiled, reaching over to take hold of his paw and give it a proud squeeze. It's a funny thing, Miri... they treated one another like brother and sister, but at different times it was hard to tell whether they were supposed to be older brother and younger sister or vice versa-- at that moment, she almost acted with the pride of a mother.
"And how did you become the Champion out of the five Paladins?" Liam asked.
"Simple." Lord Raes offered, "We were ordered to kill one another. As I was the last man standing, I was deemed the Champion." He said it with such simplicity and matter-of-fact honesty that it shocked us all... right up until the moment he started laughing heartily. In retrospect, I suppose it would have been more of a shock if the priestess hadn't started snickering uncontrollably the moment the words had come out of the Paladin's muzzle. A half second later we were ALL laughing.
It wasn't such a funny statement as it was strange to hear such a thing come out of the Champion's muzzle. I know it sounds strange to hear me think it, Miri, but he had a way about him that makes me think that there isn't anything he could say that people wouldn't believe. He comes across as real... honest... genuine... which is why realizing that he was capable of humor (however crass and poorly aimed it was) was so incredibly funny.
We basked in the moment... all of us, simply enjoying the evening. It's a strange thing being in the Wild Lands, but it's even stranger having a moment of peace and quiet, thinking that, for once, nothing bad was going to happen... that you were surrounded by enough eyes and ears that you would know far ahead of time before anything bad happened... that you had enough swords and shields that anything that did get to you would be turned aside like the tide against a rock... that, despite how broken and damaged the world was, there were still good people with good intentions, even if you'd been told all along that the only island of good in a world of evils was where you were born.
I suppose that's the best way for me to leave off for tonight, my dearest sister. Liam is restless, and gazing across at me from our cot. We are due up in six hours to take over our half of the watch and I know he has other plans before we sleep. I mumbled something earlier jokingly about him being my Paladin and, I kid you not, he's wearing one of the spare helmets he found in one of the wagons... just the helmet... nothing else. I'm sure you'll understand when you're older.
I'll write in here again as soon as I get the chance. I'm finally starting to think that we can make it through... that there's a light at the end of the tunnel and that I'll be home again soon. Until then, Miri, just know that I love you with all my heart.
<This is where the journal ends. There are no more entries.>