Caelus be my guide, the spear that pierces the veil, the edge that pierces the corrupt, and the mail about my fist. Make me an instrument of your will.
“I am the spear that pierces the darkness. Lord, acolyte, spirit, or demon. No one escapes the lord’s judgement.” - High Marshal Henrich
The campfire burns brighter tonight more so than other nights. The mist on my breath calmed, by the roaring flames. In times of weakness my body begs for release, for a true reason for why I embarked on this personal crusade of mine. Why, when all the world seems to try to kill me, I rise to face the next foe.
Whenever I look upon the markings on my palm I remember the greater path that lay ahead. The sacred words etched upon the lines of my hands renew my faith, the burnt scars on the edges of my hand mirror the newer scars the enemy have wrought on my mortal form. They light the fire that the lord hath planted in me, and I feel his name carved into the very root of my soul.
Despite this however, there has always been doubt. Doubt in the oaths that bind me to my cause, doubt that questions the very nature of my purpose, doubt that clouds my worthiness to serve as a Cleric of the Order of Mithras.
I still remember the day I was ordained. Every sensation burned into my mind, never to be forgotten. The oath I had taken that day, will be fulfilled, and the doubts I suffer can wait till I am done.
My armor rattled as I knelt in front of the altar, each plate creaking as I held firm amongst my brothers in the sanctum. Marshal Strobilus approached, his silver plate armor adorned with holy runes, with an off white robe flowing over his shoulders and down the center of his breastplate. Relics hung from his belt on the right side, bones of saints and sinners alike bound by chains, and a small bright lamp with incense flowing out of its crevices. His head was covered in a hood, but one could make out the silver band grafted unto his brow, and wrapped around his head at the temples, a symbol of his rank.
I felt nervous, my usual steadfastness racked with hesitation. This would be the culmination of my most holy work. Eighteen years of battle, prayer, and servitude culminating in what would be the final test of my love for my god.
Would I be worthy? I asked myself, as the weight of the Marshal’s gaze weighed heavily on my shoulders.
“Rise.” the Marshal said, his voice echoing throughout the sanctum. “What is your name?”
“M-my name is Secundus, sword-brother of the sacred order of Mithras.” I responded, cursing myself for stuttering.
“Brother Secundus. All those who stand before me now attest to your faith?” Strobilus asked, a hint of doubt in his voice.
I did not raise my head to face them, so as not to show doubt in their testimony. I have fought with them for many years, saving each other's lives in the service of our god. But why did I still feel afraid of what they might say?
“We bear witness.” my brothers replied in unison. I kept my head down, with eyes affixed on the Marshal’s armored boots. “His faith stands above all.”
“Very well.” Strobilus said as one of the servants rushed to him with what looked like a mace. A golden eagle mounted on its crest, and etchings of sacred texts on its already ornate steel handle. The marshal took a chain, and fused it to the mace’s pommel. “Your right hand, sword brother.”
I quickly removed my right gauntlet, and held out my hand, my head still dipped in deference. The Marshal grabbed it, and with a glow of his eyes heated the mace’s handle to a bright red. I gritted my teeth as its glow bordered my vision, and cold sweat began to drip down my temples.
Strobilus scowled, and pressed the mace’s handle into my palm with an audible hiss. I clenched my teeth in pain, trying my best not to make a sound that would reveal my agony. The sensation was excruciating but also exhilarating. I could feel the handle burning into my palm, searing the skin, burning the sacred words into my hand, binding my very spirit into the weapon.
A nearby serf ran forward with a bucket of water, and doused the mace, and my hand. The steam rose from it as if from a hot spring, and I slowly curled my fingers around the hilt with laboured breaths.
“All of you, leave.” Strobilus said with a wave of his hand.
My brothers bowed and left the sanctum, and the serfs did the same leaving Strobilus and I alone. I could hear my burdened wheezing echo through the sanctum walls, and surround me. I felt ashamed at my weakness in this moment, but the marshal did not seem to mind it. The silence between him and myself was unyielding, like a predator stalking its vulnerable prey.
“Every cleric must have an oath, or oaths, depending on their confidence and steadfastness.” Strobilus said bitingly as he stood behind the altar, hefting a large heavy tome from a nearby shelf. “What are yours?”
I raised my head to face Strobilus, sweat still dripping from my brow.
“I swear by the gods, and by the great father, that I shall serve the people of Hominia…”
Strobilus sighed slightly as he inked his quill and started writing.
“I swear by the gods and by the great father, to shun wickedness and deny the temptations of the corrupted…”
Strobilus raised his head and looked upon me, as if he wanted something more substantial.
“Gods. Does being made a cleric have to take this long?” said Severus as he placed an idle hand on his blade hilt, and loosened one of the leather straps on his pauldron with a grunt of frustration.
“Hush Severus. Being made such is a holy thing, no need for your blasphemy now.” I retorted as I leaned on my halberd, feeling its weight dig into the moist morning grass. I took a moment to appreciate it's beauty as its blade shined in the sun. Not many among the Mithran knights choose this weapon as their own. The men call it clumsy, and the other women feel it is too heavy, but I knew from the second I held it that I was born to wield it.
“Though I do admit this is taking a while. What do you think his oaths are Behemond?”
The man tilted his bald head slightly and shrugged as he finished carving a small horse for his little sister. “Who knows, you were closest to him Casta, if anyone would know it would be you.”
“Here he comes now.” said Severus as the sanctum doors opened, and Secundus came bearing down the steps of the chapel. He now donned a white and gold robe on top of his armor, and his new mace hung by a chain on his hip. “He does seem more serious than his old self nay? Real priestly.”
I smacked Severus on the chest with my backhand and walked towards my newly ordained colleague. Severus can be an idiot at times but there was truth in his words. Secundus had changed somehow, if not by his demeanor, but by the spirit that dwelled within him. I can't explain the feeling fully, but I could definitely feel it.
“Secundus. Is it done?” I asked with concern as I shouldered my halberd.
“It is done.” Secundus responded, with his distinctive plainness. “Thank you all for your presence.”
“Well you didn’t kill an army of apostates by yourself that’s for sure.” Severus muttered with a grin, as I gave him a wicked scowl.
Behemond chuckled. “We are happy for you brother. Don’t mind Severus’ goading, he’s just upset that he can’t fight you anymore without getting his hand cutoff for striking a cleric.”
Severus smiled. “I jest Secundus, but you were the best among us. I am glad to see you in the cloth.”
Secundus bowed to his companions, before embracing them one by one. He grasped me a bit tighter this time, and deep in my heart I knew what was to come.
A single tear began to drip down my cheek, I freed a hand from Secundus' embrace to quickly wipe it off before he could notice. I promised him I'd be strong but what am I to do in these circumstances.
I watched Secundus look to Bohemond. The man caught on as well, and beckoned Severus to help him get drinks ready to celebrate. And as the two men left, I looked at my beloved one more time, my eyes glazed with stifled tears.
“Weep not dearest Casta.” said Secundus as he wiped another tear from my cheek. “We shall see each other again I am sure.”
“You were never a good liar Secundus.” I replied, my lips still quivering, and curling at the sides as I finally let tears flow down my cheek. “Always too honest. Must you leave now?”
Secundus closed his eyes and took a deep breath before steadying his gaze at me and nodding. He knew I would ask this, and I knew he kept a firm grip on his own emotions as he answered.
“I will not be gone long. My oath will not keep me from you, I would never have it any other way.” he said, his eyes staring right at me yet distant. There was no truth in them, and I took a deep breath and smiled.
“Like I said Secundus. You were never a good liar.” I said, kissing him lightly, and carresing his face in my hands one last time before letting go and walking away. "Go now. I'll explain things to the men."
I watched as Secundus looked out into the horizon beyond. I watched as he turned and walked away towards the stables, his heart beaming with fervor. I watched as he turned to me one more time as the brief glimmer of hope that he would stay continued to fade into the nothingness like the setting sun in the late hours of the day. I waved, and turned away.
I can smell her in the fog, the stench of her pestilence begs to be unmade. I grasp my mace tightly, wrapping its chain around my arm, and fusing it to my gauntlet with a hastily drawn rune as not to be swept away by her putrid gale. I gag slightly, and plant my feet into the soft wet undergrowth of the bog.
She screeches as she lunges from the mist, the monstrous thing, a distorted reflection of what she once was. Corrupted flesh makes contact with righteous steel, my mace glowing with holy fire as I smash it into her scaly side. She cries out in pain, as if such a being could truly feel such a human emotion, a large burn now melting through her skin.
I grasp my mace with two hands now. My feet begin to curl as I dash forwards to meet my foe, the mud dispersing under the water with every step I take. She lunges again, crashing into my left pauldron. I scream, feeling a shoulder dislocate from its socket. Saliva and blood drip from my mouth as I drop to one knee and consider the next move.
She smells my weakness, my vulnerability, and begins to circle back into the fog. I clasp my prayer beads and say the holy words as she inches towards me from behind. I know she is there, I can feel her breath on my neck, I can sense her hatred, her loathing, her fear.
“Tirreth!” I thunder as I raise my mace and turn towards her. The weapon now glows like the morning sun. “Your true name!”
The creature retreated, a distinct horror gripping her now deformed face, and her large form melting before the light of the relic revealing one more akin to a frail old woman.
“Aaaaaarrggghhhh!” she screamed as I pointed the mace at her, the light now piercing burning through her true skin. “No! You will not! You cannot!”
“The light of the father purifies all!” I declare. “Woe to those who the corruption defiles! Corruption shall know no respite!”
She continued to scream as I drew closer, holding out her arms to block some of the light only for it to burn straight through her fingers, cleaving half of her face.
My hand was about to tire, and the beam faded as I dropped my arm slightly. I breathed heavily, and screamed again as I slipped my shoulder back into place with a loud crack. I then looked upon the now dying creature, anger gripping my weary body as I raised the mace one last time, and it renewed its golden glow.
The creature smiled at me with what remained of its repulsive face. Her hands devoid of fingers, her body burnt asunder, riddled with black charcoal like pustules, and exposed organs of unworldly variety.
“You think this will end me cleric?” she said as she began to laugh. “As long as they fear I shall return. As long as they live I shall return!”
I thought about it for a moment, for there was truth in what she said. Her nature was to feed on negative emotion, her very essence was the evil that lived in all of us, in all of humanity. What would my action do in the grand scheme of things? What would it accomplish? What is my purpose? What is my name? What…
I found myself in a trance, a victim of her predations, and before I knew it she lunged at me one more time.
“Begone demon!” I roared as I drove my mace down with a force akin to a blacksmith’s hammer. Again, corrupted flesh made contact with righteous steel, and she screamed in agony as her form exploded in a glorious display of heavenly light. There was nothing left of her except dust in the water.
Victorious once more… I thought to myself as I sat on a nearby rock, and held my injured shoulder.
Another demon had been ejected from this realm, though there was truth in what she had said in her final moments. The people I protect, the very creations I live to serve, are the source of my endless struggle. My thoughts turned again to Casta and my brothers in arms, wishing to be with them now, wishing to have helped them, wishing to have been there when they died. Guilt grew inside my heart, and it was my burden to bear, my decision to leave, my decision to fail.
“Caelus preserve me…” I muttered as I watched blood trickle down my left arm, and into the water.
I saw my reflection in the bog, slowly growing red as my own blood pooled around it, taking shape, and staring back. I shut my eyes, grasped my prayer beads tightly, and began to pray.
“I reject my own humanity for the good of others. I reject the wickedness and corruption of my sin, I reject those that claim my soul, and none but the father shall have me.” I whispered as form emerged from my blood.
Half a head, a bloody reflection of me poked out of the water. I watched it bob up and down, its eyes open inhumanly wide, hungrily staring at me as I prayed.
“Lord Mithras preserve me…” I said as I stilled my heart, and when I opened my eyes the entity was gone.
I then got off the rock, and exited the bog, retracing my steps through the soft ground back to the road I was travelling on and kept walking. I peered at my map, guiding me towards Byzanton, the holy city. Only there, at the Great Temple of Mithras can I fulfill my oath. But while there is a destination, there will be many more trials ahead. By his will, I shall not falter.
About the Creator
J D Guzman
I like writing about epic things, tragic characters, and the occassional grimdark fantasy.
Thanks for visiting my page and reading my work! I'm a sucker for comments so any feedback on how I can improve is well appreciated!
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