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Tales from the Front

Lore, history and other content by the citizens of Underlight preserved for posterity.
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Mandus
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Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:50 am
Character Name(s): Mandus

Tales from the Front

Post by Mandus »

Many of the stories of my time with the Itraxen Cult are quite vivid and deserving of being told. Not everyone in the cult was as despicable as those who led it. It is my hope to share the stories of these soldiers so that we may learn from their experiences. These stories are collections of my memories put together with the memories of my Caretakers and some soldiers who remained.

Tales from the Front (Captain's Duties, Part 1)

Moserah Belafonte and her husband, Abhaya Istalthees, both defected from the Great King's army when he passed. The prophecy was unfulfilled, and the regent steward was not the man to carry on the legacy. The allure of Itraxen Cult was simple: Fulfill the legacy of the Great King and bring the sun's return to the wasteland they called home. They spent most of their nights away from the decrepit, repurposed ziggurat the cult called their home, instead choosing to roll out a few large, furry camel hides against the harsh, chilly sands.

During one such evening, Moserah held a harp, Abhaya a flute. Moserah flung her long, sand-matted hair over her olive-tinted shoulder and gave a wide grin as she started an ancient-sounding melody. Abhaya nodded and returned the grin, moonlight gleaming off his bald, brown scalp and bright teeth alike. The two began the melody, but their smiles faded into focus and reverence as they played the mournful, slow song. Plumes of sand lazily whipped the dunes around them, seeming to dance with the flowing music. It didn't take long after the song crawled to a halt for the two to embrace, wrap themselves in hides, and fall asleep.

The two were awoken as the moon slipped under the horizon, leaving only the inky, star-dotted sky to light the world. A boot, tipped with bronze, nudged the hide containing the sleeping couple. Flows of gathered sand poured from the fur as they stirred. "Ey." A grumbling, older voice called out. He did not seem enthused. "I'm tired of coming out here to cover for you. Commander Gerontia wants you.”

"Which?" Moserah said, brushing her eyes and shaking the sand from her hair. She looked up to the man, clad in the cult's black-leather armor, thorned infinity symbol impressed in red-berry dye over the front. His face wasn't visible

"You. Abhaya should come though."

She nodded sleepily and kissed Abhaya on the forehead, "Come, love."

Abhaya sat up and yawned before immediately falling into an urgent cough. He waved his hands at the looks of concern. "Sand," he uttered between coughs, "Always-- sand." The armored figure let out a rarely heard laugh and walked off.

The two rolled up the camel pelts and stowed their instruments. Once they arrived in the ziggurat, they went to the armory and changed out of their normal clothing of simply dyed flax, and donned their armor. Moserah's armor bore many commendations, medals of gold and silver, ribbons of rare dyes of purple and azure. Abhaya's armor was more bare, holding a few bronze commendations. For both of the soldiers, the awards were mixed, some presented by Commander Gerontia, some presented by the Great King himself. Previous awards were allowed to be worn, showing an overall dedication to the cause. Abhaya adjusted Moserah's cap and gave her a wink before nodding to the door of the armory, "Bet you make captain today." The two started walking the brightly lit sandstone corridors to the Commander's meeting room.

"Doubtful. There are enough officers. I'm happy being a sargeant. Besides, we're of the same unit."

Abhaya shrugged, "So they'll re-assign me. Who cares."

She shook her head and let out a breath, "Maybe."

As they approached the room, a massive, hunched figure, clad in the same black armor they wore attempted a shaky bow. His skin was alabaster pale and surgical scars covered his arms. His greasy, black hair swirled as he turned and opened the door for them. Moserah and Abhaya were stiff near the large man and gave gentle nods as they passed, "Thank you." Abhaya managed as he walked past.

"Of course," the booming baritone echoed from beyond the doorway. Moserah shuddered and stepped forward. The door closed quietly behind them, the man still in the hallway.

Moserah and Abhaya stepped into the middle of the shadowy room. A central light illuminated the floor around them and a large, polished stone desk. A pair of gloved, feminine hands wrote on a sheet of papyrus. The body they were attached to was shrouded in the dark. "I'll be with you in just a moment."

Moserah and Abhaya bowed deeply. Abhaya turned to his wife and whispered, "That created man gives me the creeps. There are enough abominations running around here. Last thing we need is to make them strong."

Moserah shook her head urgently and opened her mouth to whisper back, but she was cut off by the woman in the dark, "If I can hear you, so can he. He is our hope for breaking this curse, so you'd best mind your tongue." Gerontia leaned into the light as she rolled up the papyrus. The harsh, yellow glow accented her already angular features and made the deep, gathered scars and wrinkles in her skin seem more pronounced. Gerontia was never seen with a smile and this was no exception. The shadows played over her pursed, straight, and scarred lips, only moving when she spoke. "Moserah Belafonte, you served under the Great King. You were part of the regiment that slew the False Sun. You held many honors in the King's Army, and have earned several more here. I have one question for you: Why do you serve us?"

Moserah nodded as the Commander spoke. Her posture was straight, her hard, golden-brown eyes gazed forward, but distant, as though not looking at anything in particular. The glow of the room glinted on specks of sand in her flowing hair. “It is what I know. I am not a politician, I am no trader. I trained to fight, to create peace, and if needed, die on the field.”

“Will you let others die on the field in your stead if that is what is required?”

“If that is what is required from me, Commander Gerontia.”

“Good. Report to the Officer’s Barracks. You will not be sleeping under the stars any longer. Abhaya may join you.”
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Mandus
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Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:50 am
Character Name(s): Mandus

Tales from the Front

Post by Mandus »

Tales from the Front (Captain's Duties, Part 2)

The moonlight cast down upon the bustling marketplace of Telenos, a small, walled township distant from the capital. Even eternal night had not changed the pitched-calls of merchants hawking wares or the whine of a child looking tugging on their mother’s dress as they saw a trinket or toy. In fact, the most that had changed was the tents. Without a sun bearing down on the merchants every moment, the market became far more open with goods on display. Only the occasional merchant held firm to their dyed burlap stand covers – usually the ones with something to hide from plain sight. Tables lined the sides of buildings, out into the central square where the watchful gaze of the central keep’s tower could look down over all. Captain Moserah and her direct superior, Commander Ashkhan, an older man with light skin cold, dull blue eyes, and a few gruesome chunks missing from his cheeks, wore dark colored hoods and mingled with the crowd, occasionally stopping at a table.

“Moserah,” Ashkhan said, his gravelly voice rumbling under the din of shouting voices, “you will find that being a Captain in our military does not look the same as it did under the Great King.” He lifted a small green apple and gave it a gentle squeeze before looking to the merchant, nodding and taking a bite. The merchant gave a single, silent nod and the two continued on. Moserah’s brow furrowed and her gaze danced between the apple, her commander, and the merchant as she kept pace with Ashkhan. He continued to speak, his cheek full of fruit, “When we fought under the Great King, there were sides. Enemy armies, rebels, city garrisons. These are no more. These people,” he gave a quick, brusque wave of his hand as he walked, “are all our people, though some do not think they are yet.” A hooded figure stepped into view on a nearby rooftop, nodded once to no direction in particular, and hopped off the side. Ashkhan gave a nod and kept walking. “After all, would you say we are in an enemy city right now?”

Moserah looked around her, glancing over the unfamiliar faces of the citizens of Telenos. She spoke with a hush, “These people serve the Western Steward, they are our enemy, are they not?”

Ashkhan motioned to another stall and looked over a gold necklace. The merchant looked up at him and began his sales pitch. “The finest gold melted from the golden rays of the sun while it still—” he stopped quickly, looking upon Ashkhan’s haggard, wartorn smile, nodded, then continued, “while the sun still shone here! The woman who brought it to me say the sun melted the gold itself.”

The haggard commander simply nodded, and set the piece back down, patting it twice, “Are they are our enemies? This is not a reconnaissance mission, Moserah. We claim this city today.”

Moserah stopped in her tracks, looking around for a brief moment. She felt instinctively for her sword at her hip, but it was not there. She grit her teeth and quickly caught up to Ashkhan. “You told me to leave my weapons in the Ziggurat,” she hissed quietly. “How could you bring me here unprepared?”

“We are not unarmed. We blend in.” He directed Moserah to a stall across the way. A few merchants tried their lines as they passed:

“Fresh meat from camels! Slaughtered only yesterday!”

“Eggs, straight from the hen’s nest!”

“Trinkets from beyond the clouds!”

“New, intricate crystals! Designed and grown with care and love by my beautiful wife!”

Moserah’s head whipped around, pre-battle adrenaline sweeping through her veins, seizing and squeezing her lungs. Ashkhan took her by the hand and pulled her along, “Calm yourself. We are fine. Do not draw attention.”

He took her to the stall he motioned to. A tall, dark-skinned man with a fat, firm belly crossed his arms and eyed the display of iron swords in front of him. “Blades. Buy one. Or two.”

Ashkhan looked over the assortment of blades and ran his finger along the glinting metallic edge of a long falx. “You see those two guards over there?” He gave a brief nod to two guards, one standing firm, the other half-drunk and fighting to stand straight. Moserah nodded. “Which one is ours?”

Moserah looked them over. One was tall, pale-skinned, blue eyed. His armor was banded and polished properly. The other was shorter, brown skinned, and wobbling, using his spear as a rest. She squinted a moment and turned back, “The farlander. One of the King’s people.”

Ashkhan remained silent and took a long, xiphos blade from the table, handing it to Moserah, his thumb and forefinger gripping the point. She eagerly accepted and held the blade defensively. Ashkhan took another blade, short and sturdy, and nodded to the blacksmith before tucking the sword under his cloak. Ashkhan looked up to the moon and squinted, then pulled Moserah into an alley. “Now watch.”
She breathed heavily, looking out onto the market. A plume of purple smoke rose up from a building far off and out of eyeshot. The wobbling guard looked up and saw the smoke before drawing a dagger and wordlessly sinking it into the taller man’s neck. The other guard fell quickly. Soldiers clad in Itraxen armor burst from buildings, alleys, and homes, sinking their blades into any nearby person. Blood sprayed, screams tore the air. Shopkeeps keeled over their tables, throats torn out. Marketgoers panicked, running amok, trampling each other, letting out panicked yells and fearful cries. But many stood firm, walking to the keep. The dusty sand of the market square painted the scene a cloud of moonlit tan. A guard in ran directly toward the alley the Captain and Commander stood in, screaming “Traitorous cultists!” but an arrow from an unknown direction smashed through his cheek bone. The shock in his eyes faded to a dull, lifeless hue as he fell.

From the panoptic tower, a deep, bellowing yell rang out before two guards flew from the parapets. A hulking, massive figure, clad in simple clothes and a hooded cloak, stepped out onto the top of the tower looked down into the panicked crowd. His gaze fell upon the alleyway, and he gave a brief nod. In the span of four minutes, the market was calm again. Blood stained many tables and people, corpses laid everywhere, but there was very little damage to the town.

Ashkhan nodded to Moserah and motioned out to the square. They walked slowly, stepping over bodies. The produce merchant, the blacksmith, and the jewelry salesman all gave a deep bow as the two came out. “For the King!” they shouted. Moserah looked back up to the keep where the Telenosian flags were being cut down by a mix of plain clothed people, city guards, and clad military men. They unfurled the banners of the Itraxen cult and stood at attention.

Ashkhan gave a grin, looking up at the banners, “And now, the city is ours. All of ours, again.” He motioned to the xiphos Moserah carried, “I told you we were not unarmed.”
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