Last Days of Hraige (book)
The Last Days of Hraige
Presented by Paladin Guild Chronicler Oane Hannitraulm
Entry 1 Day 1: The empaths have told me that my condition isn't curable, that it isn't something that can be healed. I had heard that the men in my family are the ones who are typically afflicted. In a few more months, my memory will be reduced to almost nothing.
I have decided to take this as a sign to tell my tale of who I was and who I became...all because of him.
There are those who remember Syal in the manner in which he was taken from us. There are many tales and rumors about what happened. And then there are those who remember how he came into our lives; how he impacted and changed how we perceived the world. I clearly remember our early days together, before the "bonding."
As the youngest son of a local noble, Syal had little choice in his career path. The duties of monkhood were what his family had chosen for him. I knew then that he was destined for more than that. Yet, I couldn't help but feel that the gods in some way had already blessed him. There was just that way about him.
Entry 2 Day 2: In my younger years, I was drafted to be a soldier, but a leg wound resulted in my discharge. While I only had a slight limp, I still had the natural strength of my race so I became the village smith. Syal would come to listen to my old war stories, slightly embellished. In exchange, he would help work the bellows, easing my daily rigors of farm tool forging. He was always careful that his father never caught him doing physical labor. But there was a sense of purity in this young lad, something that made him want to experience all aspects of life.
Entry 3 Day 6: My daughter has told me that she thinks that keeping this journal will only hurt me when I finally lose my mind. I know she means well, but for the greater good of the guild, Syal's story must live on. The others have all gone now. If anyone else left a journal of the "bonding," then the council has not revealed it. But who knows what Kraphae destroyed.
Entry 4 Day 7: The pursuit of pleasing the gods is how I always thought of monkhood. Syal did not. He was sure that through respect and worship, we could come to understand the nature of the Immortals.
This way of thinking came naturally to him based on his upbringing and demeanor. However, he was not destined for books. He finally realized this in his fifteenth summer, one season from when he was supposed to take his clerical vows.
I have forgotten again that my daughter and her family are coming over for dinner. I will have to complete this part of the story later. I will attempt to finish before I go to bed tonight.
Entry 5 Day 13: My ink has been missing for days now. I am now using red wine to jot my thoughts down. It seems that there are more and more items missing from my cottage. I've even found some of my books and parchments outside in the garden. My daughter claims that she has no idea why the items are outside, but it is apparent that she does not want me to finish my story. I will find some ink so that I may properly continue.
Entry 6 Day 18: I don't think the Baron truly trusted Syal at first. Syal was claiming to have visions that even I thought were rather strange. I would never have told Syal that. I loved him like a son and to tell Syal that his visions were craziness was like telling your own child that their dreams were unobtainable fantasies.
No one knew where his visions came from. Some believed the visions to be a malady; others thought the gods were using him. He didn't know how to interpret these visions until he met Csilla. By the gods, what an extraordinary woman! I don't even know if Syal ever told Csilla about his feelings for her. But then, I don't know if Csilla told him hers either. How Csilla reminded me of my wife, only taller. Csilla was Elven and my wife was Dwarven. But they both were very determined women. How I miss my old friends.
Entry 7 Day 25: As I reread through my journal, I am more determined to get whatever last remnants of my memories of Syal onto paper. I barely remember how the "bonding" even happened now. I've asked my daughter to refresh my memory but she tells me that she is tired of telling me the same stories day in and day out.
We were truly a sight to behold that day we rode up to the Baron's court to offer our services to him. He didn't believe Syal at first. He thought Syal was a madman and that we were fanatics merely following a charismatic man. Syal truly had a presence when he wasn't wildly conveying his visions. Some of Syal's visions were terrifying even to me.
Entry 8 Day 26: I woke up this morning from a nightmare. I think that I was somehow remembering some of Syal's visions. I had dreamt that Syal was battling hordes of undead all alone. He was calling out to us, but none heeded his calls. I sometimes wonder where Syal's spirit is. Is he out there still, fighting more battles unseen to the living? Or did Rutilor embrace him and place him among the stars for us?
As I go about my day today, I will ponder on my own musings and try to reflect on that fateful day that Syal sacrificed his life for us.
Entry 9 Day 30: I think I've become depressed. I struggle each day to remember what I did the day prior. It eats at my pride when I talk to others around me and pretend that my memory is still intact. I nod and go about my business. I know they think something is wrong because I was one to talk before. Syal used to tell me that if I didn't stop talking at inappropriate times, he should shovel manure into my mouth. So I would threaten to whip that Human for talking to a Dwarf in such a manner!
We had many good times; some of our best times were picking each other up from a battleground and critiquing fighting styles. He was fortunate that his father did not disown him after he rejected the clergy. While he continued to study and come closer to the gods, he dedicated much of his time to studying armor types and properties of those types. He diligently studied metallurgy and how well a set of armor would fit one's body so that you can maneuver in it to its full effectiveness. Many a coin we spent, pounding out his perfect armor...and mine.
I donated my armor to the new council many years ago. It was so beat up and unpolished when they came to collect it, but they wanted to display it that way. I know they mean well to uphold traditions and they try to remember Syal and all of the others involved in the original "bonding." But this new council is honoring only the legends, not the people behind them.
Entry 10 Day 31: My mind has been very clear today. I will attempt to write down as much detail from the "bonding" battle as I can.
I remember it was snowing, lots of snow. We were very cold in our plate armor. Csilla was always the smart one. She had lined her armor with fur when the first snow fell. I regretted making fun of her as I shivered in my woolen cloak. She was a striking Elf, never lost her composure and always made sure her armor and shield were polished to a mirror shine.
Syal was leading us this time. Sometimes the seven of us would shift leadership, but if anyone felt a moment of faltering, Syal immediately took over. If Syal ever felt fear, he never showed it in all the years I knew him. Even in the worst situation, Syal encouraged us to keep going and that told us we always had more to give. All he ever saw was the light at the end of our goal. And this day, our goal would change us forever.
For several years, Baron Falstad and his army had been fighting against the Dragon Priests. Syal had been having sporadic visions about these men and the creatures of evil that they called upon to dominate the land. Syal was sure that these evil beings would eventually reach Therengia. The Baron didn't believe Syal, but he had no reason to stop him from fighting in his name either. Early on, the Baron provided minimal funding for us to infiltrate this zealous group.
At least the funding gave us rations, but the coffee that Syal used to brew was terrible. If there's anything I should have taught him better on was his taste in coffee. One would think that a well-born such as he would have an appreciation for good coffee. One of the best coffees I've ever had was served at the festival that the Baron held for us. I always had to ask the cooks to give me a small sack of it. I think I'll go see if I have any leftovers from my last trip to the Baron's Court.
Entry 11 Day 35: The council has asked me again to sit in on their upcoming meeting. Although I have no power in this council, they seem to act like I have some greater knowledge given to me by the gods. I must prepare for the trip, as it is a day's ride from here. My daughter has hired someone to watch over me because she cannot leave her family.
Entry 12 Day 37: I still do not understand why I go to these council meetings. I do not even know the councilors' names anymore. These are not even the councilors who succeeded us. Would they think me odd that I am writing in this journal as they convene? Sitting here now takes me down memory lane to our first council days. Before the "bonding," we original seven had ideas on honor, courage, and justice. We did not preach these virtues, we taught them to others by serving as examples.
People sometimes ask me about the original Paladin Council. Before the "bonding," that's not what we were, but I guess in some ways, Syal created the prototype council. We didn't have a guildhall or a formal place to gather. We used to sit around a campfire, discuss issues, and come up with ways on how to make the world a little bit better for others.
It wasn't until after the "bonding" that the Baron humbly recognized us and graciously built our first council chambers so that we may continue with the teachings of Syal. Syal never did formally sit in the first guildhall's council chambers. He never even saw the first guildhall built. But we carried on as if he was still with us.
It would be years before we agreed to allow another to join us. It would be many years before we realized the effect that we had on the people or the impact Syal had on select individuals who felt the calling. One was a kinswoman to me, a Dwarven lass by the name of Emille. We had already heard tales of her as a leader from the mountain regions. She had led an uprising that led to a revolt about something I do not remember now. She eventually left the council to build a guildhall in her hometown province. There aren't many like her now. Many of these councilors who sit before me talk about traditions and issues that make no sense to me. I was never one for politics. I don't know what Syal would think of this current council. Maybe I would have thought differently if I were a bit younger.
Entry 13 Day 40: I've returned home now. I barely remember the trip. I do remember one of the councilors being upset with me for something, but I do not recall what about.
I am beginning to think that my daughter is right and that writing in this journal will only upset me. As I reread through these pages, I am starting to understand why she said it. Some entries will trigger a memory of the old days. Other information I wrote does not even sound like something that happened to me. Sometimes I look around my home for memorabilia that will support my stories. I still have my old horned helm but as I wrote earlier, my armor is no longer in my possession. I do not recall what it looked like even though I saw it not three days ago in the council chambers. I wonder what would happen if I tried to forge again. I suspect my daughter would have me bedridden.
Entry 14 Day 42: A young lad appeared at my door today. He said he wanted me to tell him more stories about Syal. I told him that I didn't know who he was talking about. He had to tell ME who Syal the Vigilant was. I almost cried. The last time I remember really crying was when we lost Syal. But then, maybe I cried yesterday and I don't remember. My journal is my source of comfort now. Here is where I find truth.
Entry 15 Day 60: I have found this journal on my bedside table next to a horned helm that I think was mine. I asked my daughter where the journal came from. She looked at me funny and insisted that it was mine. I am writing in these pages now to compare the handwriting. It does look similar. My daughter has also informed me that she will no longer supply me with ink to fill these pages. I am not sure what I would fill the pages with anymore. I read about this man, Syal, and I think I must have known him but I do not remember him. My daughter has reassured me that the writing in these pages is based on my life and is factual. I am glad for that.
I don't know who might benefit from this journal but I have resigned myself to the fact that this is the last entry that will be made.