Contest Entry – In Britannia

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Character Name: Megilhir

In Britannia


My life in the realms extends well beyond the time we have for this brief tale. Rather I will speak of a few events that led to significant changes in my existence. I entered life as an inhabitant of Yew. My parents were fur traders, living in a room rented from the monks at Empath Abbey. In my youth there were not two lands as we have now. No, there was one land crammed with beings struggling to survive. I was quite young when my parents died, traveling one evening from Skara Brae to Yew.

Folk knew even then not to travel past the Skara Brae – Yew – Britain crossroads. Yet my father was a fool and my mother a simpleton. They had taken animal furs and skins gathered near Yew to Skara Brea for sale. Why they did not sell them in Yew I shall never know. Regardless, they supposedly made a sizable profit in and my father bought a fine set of chain linked armor and a longsword. Perhaps that is what drove him to make the journey. The pathetic gatherings of huts that comprise Yew have no blacksmith. Only leather armor and archery supplies are available from the local shops. My parents decided to take the highway on their return home.

Highwaymen are named so as they tend to lurk near highways. Had my parents stuck to the trails and paths across the wilderness they would have most assuredly been alive this very day. But as I have mentioned, my father was a fool, and not a particularly clever one at that. He believed that the main road would be swifter in the fading light and my poor naive mother agreed, undoubted trusting in his abilities and the strength of his arm.

They left Skara Brae by the ferry instead of the Moongate, again I do not understand why, and began their last journey. My doomed parents made it as far as the crossroads mentioned earlier. The land was already settled with homes along the more commonly traveled areas and some of the homes were known hideouts for murderers. Even on the most primitive of maps the crossroads were indicated as a dangerous haven for people-killers and outlaws. But my father had a new sword and wore chain-mail. He was indeed quite strong; I will grant him that, one of the strongest and fastest men in all of Britannia. But what good is one against many?

As they neared the crossroads a mob of people emerged from the shadows. There was never really a consideration of honor, valor or any other virtue. The investigators that found my parents’ body parts strewn across the countryside estimated that over twenty people attacked my hapless mother and father. I am certain that father fought very bravely and died very quickly, while mother probably attempted to cast a feeble spell or two before joining him in death. The year’s profit and nice new armor vanished just as swiftly. And I got to grow up at Empath Abbey listening to the monks drone on endlessly about the Virtues and hearing how if my parents had more faith they would have lived.

As I was to fend for myself I knew a trade was required to earn coin for a better residence than that worn and utterly boring monk enclave. One evening I gathered my dagger, a small journal, candle, and a hundred liberated gold coins into a small bag. That and the clothes upon my back constituted my entire fortune. I slide away from the abbey and headed eastward in the direction I had heard Yew Moongate lay. Darkness engulfed my departure.

Growing up in the abbey I had spent a very large amount of time hiding from prying monks and was fairly adept at the skill of disappearing quickly when needed. This would soon serve me well, as against the night sky I could see the blue haze of the Moongate. The Moongates were not predictable when I was a youth. You could enter the same Moongate and end up near Trinsic, Vesper or even right back where you started. Wealthy and learned people spoke of spyglasses that allowed you to read the stars and tell when which gate would take you where. A dubious proposition at best in my mind.

That aside, my path to a new life was barred by a gathering of ten or more, I never really did find out how many, people-killers. Their wicked assortment of weaponry gleamed with a mocking blue reflection of my destination. Worse still, one of them saw me approach. With a shout she called to her partners and began to run toward me. People are at times very stupid. It is a known fact that most humans will flee from pursuit in a relatively straight line. I am not most humans. Grasping my dagger firmly I spun about, ran a few steps and dove into hiding behind a house. When the first of my pursuers lost sight of me she must have thought I was simple-minded and raced off along my previous line of flight. Most followed her but four did not. They move slightly away from the Moongate entry area yet remained between myself and my sanctuary. Quietly I hide as my mind spun with options.

I then recalled an ancient legend, which as we all now know is not a legend but a fact. The area immediately around a Moongate has such powerful and ancient magic that should a person attempt to harm another near the circle; one of Britannia’s ancient guardians will be summoned immediately upon calling out for succor. Most people-killers are aware of this and stay just beyond the ring of magical stones marking the area. However, there is no such prohibition on an arrow or crossbow bolt. Unfortunately one of the murders cradled a nicely made heavy crossbow, looking the entire world like he knew which end did what. I knew my time was fading before the others returned and began a more though search of the immediate area, possibly exposing me and my meager fortune.

I believe that it is better to be lucky then good. My luck began as I leapt from my hiding place and raced toward the Moongate and my future. Awaiting the return of their fellows, the remaining four killers had spread into a loose screen and begun poking into bushes. As I ran for the safety of the stones I heard a crossbow bolt whistle past, striking somewhere ahead of me. At the same instant I saw the farthest murderer turn and run toward me, his kryss dripping with a sickly green fluid. I often reflect on how people do truly ignorant things when under pressure. In his haste to close with me he ran directly across the barrier stones as I entered the circle from the opposite side.

I screamed “Guards!!! Guards!!!” at the top of my voice and witnessed that venerable magic burst into life. With a resounding crack, one gleaming knight of ancient Britannia appeared beside the very surprised killer. Swiftly swinging its enchanted halberd the guardian slew my would-be assassin with one stroke and stood, awaiting the others to violate the circle. My heart filled with joy and relief! Quickly and without hesitation I searched the fallen murderer, relieving his corpse of its possessions. I then plunged into the swirling blue mist, safer and richer.

Upon arriving in Britain I sought the instruction of a blacksmith. I decided upon this career for a number of reasons. People would quite obviously go to great lengths to secure weapons and armor, as noted by my father. There were few blacksmiths that had attained the lofty and elusive ability to produce the finest of their craft, thus becoming renown as Grandmasters. And lastly, it seemed to be a good way to earn gold respectfully, and most of all, swiftly.

After my lessons I purchased a weighty smithy hammer and a few ingots to begin my career. Standing before the outdoor forge I was pleasantly surprised to hear the calls of miners hawking their ingots for less than the city merchants charged. Ages ago iron ingots were sold for a mere five gold each, not the extreme amounts charged presently. I had a reasonable fortune from that foolish murderer so I called to one of the miners. Soon I was hammering out shields and ring-mail as I had been taught. As I labored a young warrior approached and asked me to make him a suit of armor. In my embarrassment I told him that my ability was still lacking. Not to be dissuaded he offered me two hundred gold coins for the best set of ring-mail I could create. I was proficient enough to craft armor better than my former teacher at this point, so I agreed and set to work. Soon my client was clad in a fresh set of ring-mail and for good measure I gave him a new dagger as a gift.

During the time it took me to make, what I considered an exceptional suit of armor, other people had gathered and were seeking my services. I was asked to repair weapons, make swords, maces and helms. Business became so brisk that I was soon running low on ingots. Looking about the square I noticed a wounded miner leaning against the far wall. I walked over to him and asked what had occurred to hurt him so? He replied that while mining for ore to smelt into ingots he was beset by a mob of people-killers. When he regained consciousness they had stripped him of all he owned and left him in the wilderness.

There are a few things I cannot tolerate and one of them is basic mob cowardice. Again I felt my anger rise at the thought of those craven pack-hunting murderers. I bandaged the miner’s wounds and helped him to stand. He introduced himself as Edward Dwelver, a miner from a long tradition of miners. I offered to make him a set of ring-mail and a weapon with my remaining ingots free of charge. He gratefully accepted and soon departed to continue his trade, much better protected this time. I purchased more ingots and turned back to the forge.

Edward Dwelver soon returned with another unfortunate miner. Finculin too had been waylaid and robbed of his goods. Edward offered me his supply of recently acquired ingots to outfit Finculin. And so began our companionship. Edward and Finculin brought me ingots to smith and we split the profits equally. But the people-killers still roamed unabated across the countryside. As self-defense we began training together in weapons and combat. This was dangerous as we did not have a safe area to train at, dueling was forbidden except for guild members within city limits. A number of times as we rested in the countryside, near exhaustion from our brutal practices, we were attacked by people-killers seeking to take advantage of our weakened states. Again the Virtues seemed to be no prohibition upon the people-killers. We desperately needed a haven.

While laboring at the forge I saved my coins diligently against the day I could afford a home deed. Edward seemed to spend all his coin on various rare items which he placed safely in his secure box at the bank. Finculin, well I was never entirely sure what he did with his coin, but it seems that he too saved with an eye to buying a home. Soon the day came when I could afford the materials, deed and rights to a small stone house. More of a one room affair really, but it would be a start. All I had to do now was find a location to build. And this proved the most difficult thing in my entire existence.

For days I wandered the paths of Britannia, finding all spots dictated by Lord British already occupied. Castles, keeps, large and small houses covered the realm. Some people appeared to own multiple properties and some were even for sale. But I could not even begin to afford their cost for these dwellings. The times traveling abroad were fraught with peril. I had not yet mastered magic and my ability with a kryss was fair at best. Should I be assailed by people-killers they would no doubt take my house deed and all of my other possessions. I could lose months of labor in one ambush. And monsters! Hideous, dangerous beasts of all description roamed the hinterlands. My search seemed doomed to constant failure.

I eventually forsook my endeavors to build a home and focused on my trade, achieving that which was once rare. I became a Grandmaster Blacksmith. Edward, Finculin and I continued our martial training, growing in strength while we hunted as a triad through the wilderness surrounding Britain. Edward had traveled as far as Trinsic and suggested we try our fate there. There was a need for smiths and I could ply my craft in a new region. I had to admit Britain was growing tiresome. Thieves would attempt to steal from my pack, while new adventurers had heard of my generosity and were begging incessantly whenever I appeared. On reflection, Trinsic seemed like a fresh start. I left Britain that evening.

Although traveling along the coast was refreshing, murderers were a danger to me. Even before I crossed the Britain – Trinsic bridge there were three attempts on my life. I merely hide and waited for my pursuers to become bored, then ran onward. My weapons skill may take down an ogre or troll, but when a mob of people-killers races after you, well that is when I coined the phrase, “A good run is better than a bad stand.” Particularly when you are alone and carrying your house deed in your backpack. I eventually entered Trinsic swamp. Oddly enough this remote desolation was to be a blessing and one of the more beneficial areas I would ever visit.

As I followed the ocean, the long series of homes seemed to jeer and taunt me for my failure to find a house location. Then, turning west up the coast, I saw a space in the grass between the swamp and sea that looked as though someone had thrown all of their furniture on the lawn. Quickly and with trembling hope I withdrew my house deed and discovered the space perfectly suited my needs. With inexpressible joy I claimed the little coastal spot as mine. Within a matter of moments, when compared to the years of searching, construction was complete and I was at long last a home owner.

In Trinsic I shared the good news with Edward and Finculin. We now had our haven, albeit the occasion alligator or lizardman may wander out from the deep swamp, but we would be safe, or so I believed. Alas, how wrong one can be. For in exploring my new neighborhood I discovered a large tower situated directly behind my home. I have mentioned how luck is important and how people-killers are at best annoying and at worst fatal. My home, my sanctuary, was built directly in front of the guild whose ranks were filled by the largest collection of thieves, outlaws and murderers in all of Britain.

This situation is what led to my current, shall we say, notoriety. A large portion of Arirangians speak a different tongue than I. This communication challenge was possibly another factor in Edward, Finculin and later Zordiman joined me in forming our small guild which we proudly named Hunters and Collectors. Zordiman was a fledgling wizard gifted with a solid rational thought process. It was from watching his skills that I put down the kryss and lifted the spellbook. Soon, with my developing mastery of magic, I began slaying my people-killer neighbors when they appeared alone and tried to dash to the sanctuary of their tower. They did attempt to trap me or overwhelm me with numbers, in which case I would retreat to my house. Behind the barred door I awaited them to become impatient and depart. Eventually another people-killer would appear without their supporting mob and I attacked. I did not win all the battles to be sure. But I won enough to find their entire guild outside my door one morning.

They had found a few members who could speak my language and they, a large guild of well over two hundred souls, were there to entreat for a peace accord. Ah the taste of fear emanating from those who enjoyed attacking innocents. I listened to their offers and agreed, on condition that no member of Hunters and Collections would ever be attacked and they pay me a very large sum of gold. It is probably a good thing that I did not understand their native speech. The was no doubt profanity mixed in with all the shouts of “Corp Por” and “In Vas Flam” that erupted from the mob. I quickly shut and locked the door.

Through this tumultuous time of fighting against murderous neighbors, developing my mystical abilities and welcoming more to our guild who spoke as we did, I even managed to find new home locations for our guild members. It is interesting how the first home was so difficult to find but then it seemed that everywhere I traveled there were spaces available. Guild members lived from as far away as Fire Island to the northern Minoc plain. Initial funds were provided by the regular sales from the vendors I employed outside on the porch.

The building of new homes on abandoned lots was made possible by Lord British having his inspectors tear down a home, regardless of size, if periodic home visitations and maintenance were not conducted. In this chaos we of Hunter’s and Collectors eventually numbered over fifty homes across the lands. Ten of these I maintained as my personal residences while dozens were sold off to fellow guild members or to struggling younger adventurers. This was the foundation of my fortune, until the discovery of another shard of the shattered gem, previously lost, the shard of Oceania.

Lord British sent his warriors to make Oceania habitable and relatively safe. During this time my guild held many councils with friends and allies. The overwhelming opinion was to depart Arirang for Oceania. It is important to note that the population of Arirang was divided along the lines of language and basic perspective. On the one hand, those who intended to stay on Arirang spoke one language while those migrating to Oceania spoke another. The “stayers” usually fought almost naked on horseback with a very fast weapon, often a kryss or katana, coated with poison. They did not appear to do much crafting, preferring to engage in combat en mass. The “leavers” hunted in smaller groups while clad in full armor. They also spent many long hours practicing their trade professions, be that a fisherman, blacksmith, tailor or inscriptionist. As such, the leavers had often fallen victim to the stayers while gathering raw materials to pursue their craft. Such tension festers and must eventually explode.

Oceania was announced safe and colonization began. Homes were built and fortunes made on that distant shard. One day while checking on friends homes I fortuned upon Zordiman. He too had joined the ranks of leavers to seek his fortune upon Oceania. I asked him about events and we spoke of old alliances and past adventures. He told me that many Oceanians were going to return one last time to Arirang. When I inquired? And to what end? He grimily smiled, replying, “Revenge”.

As a side note on battle tactics, many stayers I encountered battled as a mob, tending to overwhelm their outnumbered foes. I remember standing quietly at a bank attempting to complete a transaction when ten or more conjured moongates suddenly appeared around the building. Within seconds literally dozens of guild members of one clan would appear to massacre a few members from a rival faction. Do not feel sorrow though, for the same event, with the numbers and advantages reversed, would occur a few nights later in another town. Such was the guild violence that ruled my youth. Yet Zordiman’s information proved to be different. That very night I stood, watched and joined in a battle that simply surpasses all battles I have witnessed. In fact it was not a battle; it was a full out realm-shaking war.

A gauntlet had been laid earlier in the day by a number of the leaver’s guild leaders toward rival stayer guild leaders. The stayers were challenged, berated and taunted to meet for battle in the vast wilderness north of Yew. This call to arms was answered. As I watched, the standard tactic of multiple moongates appeared and out rode the dozens of scantily clad stayer warriors atop their horses. Only this time shouts of “An Grav” rang from the hidden leaver mages, dispelling and collapsing the moongates. With their forces split the doomed stayers attempted to rally but were slain within seconds. I watched as their spirits sought vainly for a wandering healer to resurrect them. I say vainly for the leavers had taken the precaution of dispatching all healers for miles.

Yet we knew there would be more stayers arriving to seek vengeance. Within the hour, after a number of us had returned to the cities where we subtly displayed severed heads of the fallen, the second wave of stayers came to the wilderness.

Moongates opened across the forest, too numerous to count. Not dozens this time, but tens of dozens of vengeful stayers sprang from the ether. There were murderers, noble lords and ladies, tamers leading dragons, mages of vast power and guilds who had warred against each other since the creation of civilization, joined together and seeking to do violence against the leavers. This they encountered a thousand fold.

When I say that those who departed for Oceania had returned, I mean that almost all had returned. Arrayed against the stayers naked hundreds were an equal number of shining armor-clad knights, backed by mages and healers. My small guild joined the leavers gathered army. We had pack mules laden with replacement armor and weapons for those that fell and needed refit. Other mules carried vast supplies of reagents and bandages. And we had our dragons as well.

The two sides sat in silence for a moment as the magnitude of what was about to unfold dawned on the dimmest warrior. No one moved or spoke as the even dragons gazed uncertainly across the field of battle at each other. Then, with barely a word spoken, our knights began to canter forward toward the stayers and chaos erupted.

How many fell and how often is still the speculation for fireside chats. As a leaver would fall his shade ran to our healer station, set up away from the main battle. Under the watchful gaze of a few dragons held in reserve the fallen warrior was resurrected, healed, rearmored, given a new horse and sent back into the battle. Mages stumbled back, robes torn and reagents depleted. They were hastily replenished and sent back to the lines. Tamers appeared with freshly captured dragons and plunged back to where their previous pet had fallen. And so the war continued. For well over twenty moon phases the conflict raged. New members from the leaver’s ranks appeared from Oceania, having heard rumor of the war. They came bearing great names from Arirang’s long past, for this last battle. It must have been the same for the stayer’s side as well. Soon their warriors and mages were returning to the slaughter quickly and their numbers were growing and outnumbering the leaver’s forces.

Then, in the midst of the leaver camp, moongates opened atop those being healed and refitted for battle. I looked up from loading my small bag with a resupply of reagents to see members of the stayer community pour from the moongates. But these warriors were clad in bright mail. They had heard of the war against the people-killers, thieves and murderers. They had gathered their guilds and had come to join this great conflict. In broken language they praised our cause as worthy and, with a resounding cry; these heroes plunged into the melee.

Their impact was the stuff of legend. Shields raised and spears lowered they collided into the main lines of rival stayers. The leavers merged beside their new allies and pressed the attack. Yet the balance hung poised, for more replacements still joined the murderous stayer’s ranks. I believed that we needed to find and destroy the stayers support base or be faced with a slow crushing defeat. I called to Edward, Finculin and Zordiman. Quickly I told them my plan and they agreed. We gathered a small force of twenty leavers and asked them to await our signal as I marked a rune. We four brothers entered the moongate I conjured and appeared beside the despised home of my youth, Empath Abbey.

Without a word to the shocked monks we wheeled our mounts and raced back north toward where we hoped to find the rear of the stayer’s line. After agonizingly long minutes we saw the stayers gathering of healers ahead of us. At full charge we smashed into our foes. Zordiman’s and my magic torn through their bodies as Finculin sent arrow upon arrow into the stayer healers. Edward waded into the fight swinging his two headed axe and singing loudly of death. I stopped and opened another moongate from the rune I had marked and through it strode the reserve of leavers accompanied by righteous stayers. From all sides we began to annihilate the remaining forces of the people-killers.

For over an hour the slaughter continued, ebbing and rising as the dishonored stayers attempted to mount counterattacks or recover their equipment. To my knowledge, not one piece of stayer gear was reclaimed. We took what appealed to us as victors and left the rest to decay into the earth. Eventually a leader from one of the noble stayer clans rode up and in halting words bid us good fortune, saluted and departed. The leavers, or Oceanians as they now are known, remained just long enough to see the last of the bones engulfed by the earth. Then they gathered their forces, waved one last farewell to my friends and I, and left Arirang never to return.

I will speak of one last event of impact, the great migration. It is likely that those who read this will not realize that Trammel was not always known to exist. As I have mentioned, I grew up on Felucca. The discovery of a mirror world, which is Trammel, shook the very foundations of our realms. While awaiting Lord British to declare the new world fit for inhabitation, I would go between the worlds using a lost piece of magic known as a moonstone. This small oval of powerful incantation would open a temporary moongate to the exact location in both worlds simultaneously. Then a person or group could step quickly through. It was the use of these moonstones that allowed Finculin, Edward and I to scout locations for our future homes. Alas we three were the only ones who remained on Arirang after the Great War. But it was of little worry; I was renown enough that my name promised a certain measure of safety. I rather believe my mastery of the arcane contributed as well.

On the day Trammel was declared fit for housing development we built three sizable holdings. To Edward went a stout log cabin beside the lake surrounding Blackthorne’s castle, located footsteps from Britain. Finculin built a fine patio home in the wilderness surrounded with lumber trees by the ore rich mountain west of Trinsic. And I constructed a large tower just above the desert crossroads.

Lord Britain soon passed a decree allowing the restructuring of owned property, thereby allowing all inhabitants of the realms to erect the home of their dreams. As I reduced the tower to its foundations I made a startling discovery. The desert to the southwest of the crossroads must have once been much larger. In the reconstruction I uncovered a series of oddly shaped tan buildings filled with treasures from very beginnings of our realms. I have since entered a semi retired state to explore this archeological wonder.

I occasionally wander Felucca seeking justice against murderers and villains. I render aid to those who are wronged or simply need a hand-up in the world. For this I have received the questionable title of Dread Lord. You see, I have gone beyond master or even grand master in controlling the magic that failed my mother. I have progressed to a level few attain and a capacity few can withstand. I travel and enforce the virtues as I see them or, perhaps more importantly, as they should be.

Recently Lord British’s ships and explorers have discovered new lands, to include a series of islands where a collectivist society traditionally know for honor and courage in battle dwell. I have begun the battle and slain hiryus, ninja and ronin in equal measure. Yet there is much I have to learn and explore. So it is to this new land that I bring my question reputation of Dread Lord. Perhaps there they will be able to respect, and not fear, such power.

But tale awaits discovery.

Last modified: March 28, 2011

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