A Dark Path - Prt 02

Ursa Blacksong - 95rd of Autumn YSTR 112

Ours was once a noble and honorable calling. The brothers and sisters of my Order, charged with seeking out evil and defending against the darkness that threatened the lands and its people. Rarely was thought of self or of sacrifices given heed because in our death we all knew that there was a place for rest once our earthly duty was done.

“At one time…” The Mathus continued as he scanned the spines of the books arranged neatly upon the bookshelves arranged along the walls of the aged Wizards Library. “ … long long ago you might be surprised to find that the whole of this region was once the domain of the Kingdom of Sarnia. That was back before the ‘Treaty of the Vicar’s I believe in 110 of the Olde Calendar If I recall correctly.”

“ 112 by the Olde Calendar.” Ursa corrected absentmindedly recalling the date from the countless history lessons she had been forced to suffer through during her childhood spent in the temple of Warfall. Sister Agnis an elder priestess of the temple being rather single-minded about the matter of history addressing everything topic from the foundation of the High Church to the establishment of the system of three Orders in the years that had followed what was known as the Treaty of the Vicars.

“Indeed…” Mathus smiled, nodding his approval before he paused pulling a large tome from the shelves. “I believe this is what we seek.”

Ursa’s joined the aged Wizard as he seated himself at his study desk looking over his shoulder as he opened the ancient tome and flipping through the first few blank pages. Ursa's gaze lingering on the first elaborately illustrated page briefly before turning her attention to Mathus. “It's a book of children’s stories.”

“That it is…” Mathus nodded his agreement as he continued to turn the pages until he reach the page that he sought. “ More to the point this is a book that contains a great many local myths and legends and most importantly the oldest written account of the four brothers.”

“The tales of the Brothers Da’Luc ?” Ursa noted aloud reading the title of the page thankful that she was still able to recall how to read the elder common tongue.

“Very good my dear.” Mathus smiled brightly nodding his approval at her ability to read.“ You see the ruins that are known locally as the Four Corners was in fact once known as The Temple of the Lake.” Mathus stated plainly. “ An as you might have already guessed Da’Luc translated from the common elder tongue means the lake and thus this fabled accounts of the lives and adventures of the four brother knights who at one time once resided there.”

Ursa nodded reflecting for a moment. “ I think I can recall some of those tales from my childhood.” she mused softly.

Mathus nodded. “ Not at all uncommon given that the tales of the Brothers Da’Luc are widely known though often not in their original context.”

“ If I recall correctly the stories I do recall were mostly a collection of moral lessons used to teach children the High Churches views of right from wrong. Your typical lessons akin to subjects like, its bad to steal, not to lie to priests of the temple, to honor the goddess both in words and deeds …”

“Indeed…” Mathus offered. “ The problem however is that very few of these commonly known tales are true retellings of the original text. Most in fact are corrupted or more simply stories that were made up all together.” Mathus noted softly. “ The original text is a bit darker and to complicate matters further if the fact that very few within the leadership of the High Church want it known that the Brothers Da’luc were knights of the Black Order.”

Ursa paused somewhat surprised at this revelation. “ Really, I would not have even dared to guess.”

Mathus nodded. “ All that said I believe the answers you seek is contained somewhere here-in awaiting discovery.”

Mathus having other matters to attend to left Ursa to her own ends allowing her to remain in his library to continue her research at her own pace. Seek out what answers the ancient tome could provide her.

The tales of the Brothers Da’Luc were, in the end, simply a collection of stories that recounted the brother's collective adventures over an undetermined period and oddly in no specific order though there were hints to be found here and there is one looked hard enough.

Unlike the tales from her childhood the Tales of the Brothers Da’Luc recounted in the tome painted a much different portrait of both the individuals and events and made it fairly clear that the brothers while no doubt still being heroes were very much deeply flawed individuals who had a tendency to fight amongst themselves almost as often as they fought the evils of the world around them.

It was while she read the stories that Ursa come to the conclusion that the wraith that had spoken to her was most likely the youngest of the brothers Christopher Da’Luc. A more open and accepting individual who held very few biases in life when it came to dealing with others and who by all accounts tended to be the more diplomatic of the brothers.

Of the elder siblings Franco, Claus, and Bernardo the stories gave enough details to allow her to identify them easily enough as well.

Franco, the eldest and most respected of the brothers by all accounts was always painted as the leader of the group and was always the first to put himself in danger in the defense of his younger siblings.

Claus was the second eldest who was by all accounts a gifted spellcaster whose focus had always seemed to be the arcane arts and magical studies and who by all accounts while no less remarkably in his skill with the blade did not really favor the sword as much as his brothers did.

Bernardo was the third brother who was by all accounts a giant of a man who was often referred to in the text as the mountain. Often mistaken for a simple man he was intelligent and often surprisingly insightful as well as being a kind-hearted individual who had a soft spot for children.

Christopher, the fourth and youngest brother was painted as the equal of his brothers but tended to act in the role of diplomat and more often than not tended to try and resolve any disputes with words before the use of a sword was called for. He was also the focus of a majority of the individual stories and was clearly the source of the childhood lessons given that it was clear that he was always focused on improving himself and learning the lessons life had to teach him. A true hero for lack of a better description on her part.

So if one believed that the wraiths were the brothers Da’luc, now trapped in an eternal state of undeath. It wasn’t so much the question of why that bothered her so much as the question of what or more specifically what was the ‘it was calling them home’’ that the wraith had mentioned to her that lay somewhere to the North?”

“It calls us?” Ursa repeated the words to herself. “ It call us home Little Sister…”

The wraith had called her Little Sister not because they were related by blood or had any famila connection but because they both had been members of the Black Order at one time and it was not all that uncommon for Senior Priests and Priestesses of the past to refer to Junior Priests and Priestesses as Little Brothers or Sisters. So if that was the case then perhaps the matter related to some unfinished business of the Black Order. Something that lay somewhere to the North of Highmarch.

Ursa froze then as an idea struck her…

No, there was something of importance to the Black Order that lay to the north of High March and it was calling the Knights to it but what it might be still puzzled her until it dawned on her that the Black Order of old only placed importance on two things beyond the duties of the Order itself.

The first being the defense of the temples under the Order's protection of which none remained as far as Ursa was aware. Leaving only one other place of importance to the Black Order members both alive or dead which could only be a Requiem. The question then was did the Black Order even have a Requiem this far North of Sarnia?

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