Happy Tuesday, everyone.
No fancy run-up, let’s just do it. Time for some good ol’ fashioned fantasy.
Crixus, a Beginning
Grumlik watched the rocky dirt road
pass under his feet as he doggedly placed one boot in front of the
other. His march had been long and, wearied by war, his heart yearned
for the warmth of his home’s hearth and the touch of his beloved.
Aching, he blinked his tired eyes and shook away his exhaustion as he
focused on the nighttime sounds: the moonbirds that sang their
distant song, the wind that whistled through the tall grass of the
plains, the rhythmic thud of his heavy boots, and the crunch of the
gravel beneath them. He lifted his eyes to the star-riddled sky.
The song, the wind, the thud, the
As he thought, he heard also the soft
rustling of what he wore: linked chains that gently chimed with each
heavy step, bent plates bearing scars, punctures, and dents that
rubbed against pads of leather, the shield that hung loosely to his
side with its rattling buckles, and the sword on his hip with its
muffled dance within the scabbard. His thoughts now upon the garments
which had saved his life many times over, he felt their weight on his
shoulders as he trudged onward towards home. In the stars he saw
constellations and soon saw faces – the faces of comrades, those
who wouldn’t see home.
He crested a small ridge and filled
his powerful lungs with a deep breath and held it a long time. When
he released it, it was accompanied by a tear in his eye. The wind
carried the scent of smoke, not the black smoke of war he’d now
become so accustomed, but the smoke of an home’s hearth. Grumlik
paused. His mouth watered, his stomach twisted, and his fingers
The song, the wind.
As he stepped across the threshold of
his home, a small cabin on the outskirts of town, the inside was
aglow with the warming fire and the air smelled thickly of stew.
Wordlessly, Grumlik cast his gaze slowly over the room.
It was good to be home.
He saw her sitting by the fire, but
the sound of the door softly shutting behind him roused her.
“Faralda,” he called quietly. The
sound of his voice surprised him, he’d been silent so long.
She turned to immediately to his call,
her fair skin, wavy brown hair, and deep blue eyes illuminated by the
fire’s light. She offered no words, but Grumlik could see the sparkle
of tears paint from her freckled cheeks to her trembling chin. After
a moment hung in the air between them, like a drop of rain frozen in
time, she burst from her seat by the fire and flew to his arms. They
embraced, they kissed, and they shed tears with one another. Faralda
pulled away to speak, when a cry sounded from a crib Grumlik hadn’t
She smiled to her husband and stepped
over to the crib to hush the awoken child. Grumlik approached and
laid a hand on her shoulder. Inside the crib was a small babe,
perhaps a year old, yet he bore the features unmistakably of his
father and the softness of his mother’s eyes.
“What is his name?” Grumlik
“After your father,” she replied.
Grumlik smiled with pride.
it wasn’t a large town, Faraday saw its share of travelers. Known
traditionally for its caravan park, it remained the crossroads of a
large amount of trade as well as home to the Fenrici Caravaneers’
Guild base. Crixus would watch the roads, fingers laced over the end
of his pitchfork, and gather tales from those passing through. In his
meetings with these adventurous travelers, he heard stories of bandit
attacks, monstrous ghouls, rescues from raging infernos, the
weathering of frightful storms, and much more. Every morsel fed his
own fire and thirst for adventure.
was time that thirst was sated.
You’ve gotten better, boy! Your form is most improved!”
seems,” Crixus replied, finishing his parry and sidestepping to his
opponent’s left, “you make a fair teacher!” The young half-orc
feigned in with his shield and followed it with a boxing motion of
his wooden sword’s point. The older caravan guard with whom he
sparred was well experienced and dodged the tip of the blow,
returning with one of his own, only to have it deflected by a shield.
Crixus broke away to re-position and quickly stepped in with an
overhand swing. The older man deflected not the weapon but the wrist
holding it and, with Crixus off balance, kicked him to the dusty
earth with a foot to his bottom.
makes it,” panted the older man, “eleven to three now, yes?”
it quits already are we, Regis?”
“Ah, you’re young, I’m old.
I’ve earned the right to say when we’ve finished.”
because you know I’d thrash you were we to keep going.”
two shared a laugh and clasped one another respectively by the
came a call from the cabin.
better go, boy. We’ll have another bout when next I’m in town.”
it soon then, as I’ll have your hide next time.”
that you will, I’m sure.”
was at the table smoking his pipe and rubbing his knee – an old war
wound – when Crixus entered.
needed me, father?”
son. How was your bout with Regis?”
got lucky, this time.”
well that’s because you go too easy on him,” Grumlik laughed.
“Come, take a seat next to me. Good. Now, I’m no poet or bard. I’ve
no way with words, so I’ll just come out and say it. I know that this
farm holds no life for you, Crixus. You’ve my strength of arm, your
mother’s wits, and the same adventurous fire we’d both had at your
age. We do you no good now, holding you caged here any longer.”
father, how will you-”
manage here just fine, son. You’ve naught to worry there. No, no
more. Just listen.” The old Orc stood up stiffly, motioned his son
to follow, and walked over to a trunk against the far wall. He
grunted as he leaned down and opened the clasps on either end. The
smell of worked leather and redolence of old steel escaped the trunk
as the lid was lifted. Inside, Crixus could see his father’s old
belongings from his time in the war when the conflict was at its
height. One by one, Grumlik removed the items and laid them out
across the table. “Here, try them on,” he invited.
some minutes spent adjusting fittings, belts, and buckles, Crixus
stood in the center of the cabin, bedecked in his father’s old armor
and his shield at his side.
stepped around Crixus to his front after setting the final strap and
asked, “How does it feel?”
equally for words, Crixus moved and shifted in his new garb. “It
feels good,” he said, and with a chuckle, “if a little strange.”
will suit you well enough, at least until you replace it with
are you doing this for me, father?”
I am your father. What kind
of question is that? Besides, you need not hide it any longer simply
for the sake of your mother and I. We’ve seen you watching them, the
caravans and guards, travelers and wanderers. You’ve done well by us
to aid tending the farm, but it’s long time we do well by you and not
hold you here any longer.”
Crixus held his father’s gaze with a hard, stoic eyes
for a long moment before his countenance broke into a large, toothy
grin with eyes wide and anxious. “I will find it, father.”
“Nothing cryptic, son. Find what?”
Crixus sat upon an old stump looking up at the ways the
smoke from his campfire danced and writhed its way between the stars
with the gentle wind. He took a deep breath and the crisp nighttime
air filled his lungs in a way he’d come to enjoy, a new way, as for
once it was the air of open country not tread by his boots. Thoughts
of home had come to him often as he’d marched over the last week. In
those moments, he looked to the sky and thought that while the ground
he walked and the lands he would see would be strange, it was all
under the same sky.
As he mused, there came the crunch of gravel and the
snap of a dry twig down the road to his right. He knew the road to be
dangerous and since leaving Crixus had defended himself from a wolf
separated from its pack (that now found itself the subject of Crixus’
rations pouch) and frightened away a would-be highwayman. He stood
and put a hand on the hilt of his sword. “Hello?”, he called out.
“Who goes there?”
Wordlessly, a robed man approached his site and said,
“a simple traveler wishing to share the warmth of your fire, young
“Hmm, yes. Come. I’d be glad of the company.”
Crixus waved the man over to a stump near his own. The figure took
his seat by the fire. In its light, Crixus could now see his robes
weren’t the dusty rags of a simple traveler but a bright, vibrant
lavender. A strange amulet depicting a pair of woven hands hung on a
thin silver chain about his neck. Seeing no weapons on the man,
Crixus assumed him to be a priest of some obscure order. “How has
the road fared you, being as you’ve not a sword to defend yourself?”
“Safe enough,” he chuckled. “I presume many see
the robes and think they would do better than tangle with a magician.
That, or they are gods-fearing in their own right. Who’s to say,
really? What is it that brings you out this way? Do you wander, or
are you lost?”
“Neither. I seek something.”
“And what is it you seek?”
“Ah, a fine goal to be sure.” And after a breath of
silence between them, he said, “You may well be in luck, then. Do
you have a destination for the morning?”
“Not in particular. Why do you ask?”
“Come with me then, to the city of Tallin.”
Crixus paused and was slow with his answer. “What
awaits us there?”
Crixus stared long into the priest’s dark brown eyes as the fire crackled between them. He stared and he searched and in the end found promise in those eyes. The two laid down to rest under the stars and as the sun rose they rose with it. Cinching the straps of his armor, Crixus again breathed deep the morning air and with his new priestly companion began his march towards Tallin, the City of Temples.
The Take: Yup! We’re revisiting the Amwren-series. It’s been a while since we’ve put up one of these. I’ve always liked Crixus’ intro. It was short, simple, and none-too-complicated, but personally, I think this was one of the more elegantly written (or, at least, pleasurable in a literary sense) of these serialized shorts. He also went on to be a really beloved character and, in his own dorky way, a sort of central glue for the rest of the group. He had a way of lovably admonishing Revan and his plans, being admonished by Cerlina for his own goofy ideas, kicking impressive heaps of ass with Aldis (when he wasn’t busily selling himself into slavery), pulling ill-advised feats of courage with Tsal, and running schemes with the last member of the group who awaits his introduction next time…
Anyway, catch you Thursday, dorks!