Tuesday 25 November 2014

Scent: Part 16

Reven paced around his cell trying to make sense of all that had happened over the past week. His life had been turned upside down and he was being swept along by events out of his control. Why had he so readily accepted to travel with Reynard and Aisha? What had driven him to commit such heinous violence against the other children when he was brought here? He felt like he was losing his mind. The anger that flooded through him when fighting is something he had never experienced before and it chilled him to the core when he thought of the broken bodies he had left on the floor of that room. He wanted answers. Who were these people? What had he done to be imprisoned in this way. As questions swirled around his head the door to his cell creaked open and a wiry old man walked in. The man was almost bald, wisps of white hair clung to the side of his head that met a wild unkempt bushy beard of the same colour. He wore a simple woollen grey tunic tied with string at his waist. He clutched a knobbly staff in one gnarled hand. He turned his bright green eyes on Reven and spoke in a wheezing rasp, ‘I am Master Hultz, I will be your trainer. You must follow me aspirant. We’ll collect your hound on the way’. With that the old man turned and marched out of the room clicking his staff on the floor as he went. Reven followed him out and opened his mouth to ask what he was to be trained for but Master Hultz waved a hand before the words left his mouth, ‘All your questions will be answered in good time, just keep up and keep quiet!’ Reven did as he was told and trailed Hultz through the stone halls and up stairs to where Fang was being kept.

Fang bounded backward and forwards along the bars of his cage when he saw Reven approaching. Reven noted that his cage was more plushly furnished than his own cell . Fang’s bed was made of piled rugs and the walls were wood slats where Reven only had cold stone to rest against. Master Hultz flipped the latch and Fang exploded out of the cage greeting Reven as he always did; by wagging his tail wildly and licking his face furiously. Reven ruffled his coat and threw his arms around him, relieved to find Fang well and not at all unchanged by his stay in this place. ‘Enough’ cried Hultz, ‘We must get on’ . Fang bounded over to the old man playfully and started tugging on his tunic. Hultz flapped his arms to keep his balance and then viciously tugged at the hem of his robe trying to free it from Fangs grip. Reven burst into laughter as with a tearing sound the tunic ripped free and Hultz staggered backwards almost losing his balance again. Fang jumped around shaking his head from side to side frantically as if he was trying to knock the life out of a kill. There was no kill in Fang’s mouth of course., just a tattered piece of cloth. Master Hultz ‘s face turned glowed red with anger as his face flushed with blood. ‘Control your hound or lose him’ he roared. Reven was startled at the power in the old man’s voice and both he and Fang froze on the spot, ‘That is lesson one.’ With that Hultz hobbled off and Reven and Fang sauntered after him heads bowed.

The training room looked more like a classroom. Benches sat lined up facing a white wall that had diagrams and writing and heraldic devices on it. Master Hultz walked to the front of the room whilst Reven took a place at the end of one of the benches so Fang could sit next to him. The other aspirants from the trial were already seated in the room and as were five other children that Reven didn’t recognise.

Master Hultz spoke for hours and wasn’t lying when he said that Reven’s questions would be answered. The building they were in was called The Deep. It belonged to an order known as The Black Veil and the aspirants were training to become members of this order. The Black Veil had chapters all of the world and this one here in Vardnfell served all of Orland. its purpose was to root out evil in it’s many form and act as a shield to keep the darkness of the world hidden from the people. The Veil was made up of a strict hierarchy. This chapter was led by Master Ulfram who’s adviser and second in command was Mistress Renk. She held the title of Mage Lord and would help maintain the chapter whilst using her considerable sorcerous powers to give direction the orders activities. Mistress Renk was senior to everybody with the exception of Master Ulfram. Below the Master sat three lords; The Lord of Shadow controlled the chapters assassins, the Lord or Iron its warriors and the Lord of Bone it mages. These three Paths would serve the chapter and were schooled in different arts of combat . Aspirants were brought in to bolster one of the three paths but many would fail to pass the tests and would become Travellers. These Travellers were scouts, all gifted warriors but lacking in the abilities that make them truly great. Below them sat the Orderlies, led by Master Hultz. The Orderlies duties were wide and varied, ranging from acting as servants and aides to teaching and information gathering. They were also charged with the maintenance of the chapters vast libraries which contained more information than any one man could hold. Last and according to Hultz definitely least in the eyes of the order were the aspirants. Brought in to the order at a young age to start their training , they would spend years honing their skills and many of them would fall along the way. To keep the chapter full, new aspirants would be brought in every month as many wouldn’t make it past the first. For those that made it through and ascended to one of the Paths, glory and power, their names celebrated in song and rhyme. Death would welcome the others.

Reven’s head swam at all this new information and listened in wonder as Hultz took some time out to tell them about some of the deeds the Order had accomplished. Not all of the other aspirants seemed as keen with a couple of them quailing after hearing of mighty battles. Reven just patted Fang and smiled as he soaked in the information. For the first time since he had arrived at The Deep he was enjoying himself.

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