Chapter 3 Part 2a
Any question of “if” was quickly pushed from Arthon’s mind. Whether he wanted the adventure, or did not want the danger, it did not matter. In a few weeks it was only a question of “how” and preparations. Seaoth was both excited and concerned. On the one hand, there was a feeling of purpose and reason in the air. He was no longer harassing the private to keep his mind busy, but was instead prepping him and hopefully preparing him for real world, life and death situations. And there was the concern, Myth Drannor is, as men put it “for real”. It is a damned city, cursed and to be avoided by any with the sense to do so.
And so it was with a very serious mood that they moved forward. At every step Seaoth would reiterate and restate the danger involved.
“Warriors of the greatest skill and knights of valor have gone to that damned city and never come back.” was likely his favorite, with “it is now a city of undead, cursed with the magics of our elders” coming in a close second.
The morning assembly was quickly changed into a grueling ordeal designed, it seemed to Arthon, to kill him long before he got to Myth Drannor. With irritation he chastised himself for all the times he had wished for something exciting to happen, for excitement it seemed was not all that it was cracked up to be for a member of Aerun’s Army. He would fire a dozen arrows, sprint full speed drawing his sword and practicing attacks. Reaching the target, he would sheath his sword and fire the arrow back across the courtyard. A single errant missile, a sword held less than just right…or for no reason at all obvious to the private, Seaoth would rage and yell and make him run, or do push ups.
“This isn’t a gods be damned game boy! You are going to be eaten by fucking zombies!!” he would scream in Arthon’s ear as he forced himself to do another pushup . The rain, the heat, nothing stopped Seaoth. Suddenly, he was monitoring Arthon’s diet, sleeping schedule, everything. It had gotten to the point that Arthon had legitimate concern that Seaoth’s usual ‘mental quirkiness’ was slipping into something more serious, and the private felt it his obligation to address the situation before he ended up truly injuring himself and unable to make the trek at all. Throw in the fact that he was having his ‘mysterious speaker on the hill’ dreams even more frequently, and Arthon was filled with confusion and concernt. He went to his sergeant’s quarters and was just about to knock when he heard speaking…amongst heavy sobbing,
“Why have you asked this of me Good Lady? I am not prepared for this and I am sending this poor child off to his certain death. Please, I beg of you, my time is passed here on this world, take me now. Bring me to the netherworld and deliver this young soldier to someone who can give him the training he needs and deserves.” and the rest of the proud elven soldier’s words were lost in crying.
With near shame in his heart, Arthon turned and walked away. The next morning, he was standing at attention in the middle of the courtyard a full half-hour before Seaoth awoke and never again did he complain once.
It was in late winter, after a day of marching in near waist deep snow and in complete exhaustion that Seaoth came to him,
“No sleep yet, boy, you have a visitor.”
This was truly strange and Arthon was immediately concerned. He dressed, checked himself in the mirror and rushed down to the room that Seaoth had indicated the guest was waiting in. In his heart, he expected to see his sister, or her husband. It was a priest, however, that was waiting for him. Upon seeing the soldier enter, he looked up.
“Ah, Private Arthon, I assume.” He rose, bowed and offered his hand, “Well met, my name is Hernalphys. We met many years ago, though I do not know if you remember me.”
“Of course brother.” Arthon replied, bowing deeply before shaking the priest’s hand, “I hope everything is alright at the cathedral.”
“It is fine, fine.” He motioned for Arthon to sit, which he did after waiting for the priest to return to his own chair. “I am here on the matter that has brought us together.” He reached beneath the table and retrieved a long narrow item wrapped in cloth and fastened with ribbon. “First,” he continued handing the item to Arthon, “is this. The Hall of the Western Star has for a long time managed and commanded Aerun’s Army and as part of that, we have a small collection of items that we can use when needed. I had to make a special request to his Excellency, the bishop, but he has blessed this endeavor and has allowed me to borrow that blade.”
As Arthon removed the cloth, his eyes lit up at the magnificent weapon it contained.
“Sir Lestarthyll’s Blessing.” the priest said, and Arthon immediately knew the name. Sir Lestarthyll’s was one of the few of Aerun’s Army ever to be named a saint. “It has been within the church for many, many centuries and now I place it in your hands. Protect it and use it and let it bring his memory and blessing upon this quest.”
For several minutes they were quiet, the priest letting the young elf appreciate what had just happened. Then, he continued with a sigh.
“So…” he said, “the letter. Yes, we all heard about it. A young private of Aerun’s Army is approached personally by his Excellency and you forget to deliver the letter.”
He paused for far too long for Arthon’s comfort, he could feel his cheeks flushing.
“You must have been mortified.” he finally said with concern in his voice and paused again for a long time before finally, “But enough of the past, there is a way that you can bring honor back to your post.”
Arthon looked up, both anger and embarrassment flooding over him. The priest even used the proper term “your post” to insinuate that he had not only embarrassed himself, but everyone else associated with him. If the priest didn’t have his attention before, he had it now.
“Perhaps you can help me while helping out yourself…” he waited,
“I am listening.” the private said finally, near-irritation in his voice.
“Good.” The priest said as he drew his chair closer to the table and leaned in more intently. “Myth Drannor, like most cities, has multiple areas, burrows, neighborhoods, districts, wards, whatever you would like to call them. The northwest of the city was called Sheshyrinnam (“the homes of the faithful”) and is the temple disctrict. This is where the paladin believes his man-god wishes him to go, and this will serve our purposes nicely.”
“Our purposes?” Arthon asked a bit confused.
“Yes, our purposes.” Arthon was not sure what he heard in the priest’s voice, but he stopped staring at the sword he had been given and sat up a little straighter in his chair. Hernalphys continued, “In Sheshyrinnam, at the center of the ward, you will find one of the most magnificant temples ever built to honor Corellon. It is a true ‘cathedral’. It was abandoned with the rest of the city. While the priests thought they had made a controlled retreat, it was not until it was too late that it was discovered that two very important and holy manuscripts had been left behind.”
He paused and took a sip of the tea Seaoth had made for him when he had arrived.
“Were you to find these: One is the philosophies and teachings of Sylishtis, the most reveared prophet of Corellan, and the other is a Roll of Saints; were you to find these, I could present them to his Excellency and not only likely mend your previous…” he trailed off to let the private fill in the blank with his own disparaging term, ‘dishonor’, ‘disgrace’ “But it would also be heralded as a great and noble act and would put yourself and your order and superiors in a very positive and honorable light in the eyes of the church hierarchy.”
Arthon thought quietly for several minutes, trying to find the right answer.
“Brother,” he finally started, “first I am honored that you would grant me this oppertunity to serve my order and gods. It is an honor just knowing that you find me worthy of this task.” He paused before continuing, “Be that as it may, the last choice I made for myself was to join Aerun’s Army, by doing such I gave her authority to guide my life wholely and completely.” He looked at the priest, trying to guage his reaction, but could not find any.
“I will have to speak with Seaoth about this. If he decides to issue me a lawful order to retrive these tomes, then the nine hells will be crossed to meet that order if needed.”
The priest sighed, started to say something, stopped. Then, he rose, saying, “I understand and accept this as the reality of the situation.” He began to leave but stopped behind the soldier, who had risen and now stood at attention. The priest leaned closely and almost whispered,
“You young private, however, should do his own analysis of the current situation of things.” He pasued just long enough for Arthon to consider this, “I believe any reasonable being would come to realize that this is a good situation for all involved…and an almost necessity for a yound and aspiring soldier who displayed a public disrespect for the highest ranking priest in the land.”
Arthon’s face flushed in anger, but his training and conditioning held fast and he simply said,
“Yes, brother. That is something I will definately have to take into consideration.”
“Yes, you will. And I hope that you approach your superior with the proper additude and do what you can to help him see the benefit of this.”
And with that, the priest left.