The Abandoned - Part 2
They rode for several days coming across another ruined town there the men got off their horses and searched the area for valuables, they rode for another several days before they stopped. "Listen boy you are the only survivor of a village overrun by beasts, we saved your life, the stags never attacked, and we are your family now. Got it?" Bargdan stated
"Yes sir" Macra stated
One of the other men the tall thin one dismounted and walked over to them
"Macra we understand you must be scared but understand that we are here to help you, you will understand in time" said the tall man
"Dont worry sir" Macra stated again "I am good at keeping secrets"
The final man dismounted and handed Macra a coin purse and another coin with a strange symbol that hung from a string "Macra the next small town is where we are staying, use the coin to buy whatever you need, first talk to the innkeeper show him the strange coin and ask for a room, if he is skepticle tell him I sent you. "The short man who was called Marcus told him
"We will meet with you again soon meet us in the tavern in 3 days." Bargdan said.
They rode to the outskirts before Macra was let off the horse and allowed to wander. It took him over an hour to find the inn, he entered and heard the yelling of men and the familiar smell of cheap ale. He walked up to the innkeeper and pulled the pendant from his ragged shirt. "By Heser boy put that pendant away before someone sees" the innkeeper growled
"Sorry I was told to ask you for a room" Macra mumbled "And you will get one but who on earth gave you that pendant" the innkeeper growled Macra was unsure but continued "Marcus sir"
"By Heser ok, would you like something to eat or to drink?" The innkeeper growled
"Some cheese and bread delivered to my room please" Macra said with a greedy tone. The innkeeper showed him to his room and set the wooden tray down. This must be how kings feel Macra thought to himself.
Macra spent the next two days exploring the town and buying some new clothes, he even flirted with one of the village maidens. Finally with overwhelming excitement he went to meet the men. "Hello Macra" Marcus said the others not speaking "Hello sir thanks for everything" Macra said "Macra we must discuss in private lets go up to your room" Bargdan stated. They stopped in front of the door he looked it up and down muttered a curse and finally said "This will work" They entered the small room Bargdan and Marcus sat on chairs facing the bed and the unnamed tall man stood by the door "Ok I believe its safe to talk here" Bargdan stated
"Listen Macra you must have a lot of questions we dont have time to answer them all, so ask the most important first" Marcus cautioned him
"What were those things that attacked my village?" Macra asked
"Those we like to call the stags but we don't quite know what they are really called" Bargdan stated
"Why was I spared?"
"The 3 chose you to survive and to further our cause" Marcus responded this time
"Who are the 3 are they some of the 6?"
"No they are not they are beings of great power equal to that of the gods" Marcus stated
"What is the symbol on the pendant?"
"Its the symbol of Heser one of the 3" The tall man spoke for the first time
"I don't quite understand" Macra said shakily
"There is much we don't understand the 3 are the closest we have to that understanding" Marcus stated "But to answer your questions in total, The beasts that attacked your village are creations of the 3, The 3 performed a great ritual and ascended to immortality capable of fighting the gods themselves, our religion is considered filthy and horrid, but above all else you survived, you are the only person to ever survive an attack the 3 must have chosen you to join their ranks someday" Marcus preached
"So someday I will become a god?"
"Yes... errr maybe the 3 may have other plans but whatever they are they must be important"
"I still dont understand"
"You will in time, meet us in the woods near where we dropped you off in 4 days at sundown, come alone" the tall man spoke again
"One thing Marcus"
"I am almost out of coin, can I have more?"
"How did you spend that much in 3 days"
"Well there's this lady who lives near the bakery and well..." Macra said blushing slightly
"That will do boy" Marcus said
The men broke out into laughter before Bargdan handed the boy a much heavier coin purse as they left.
Macra spent the next 4 days shopping, interacting with some of the townsfolk and visiting the young woman who lived near the bakery. She showed much interest in his fabricated story as they sat at the small dining table. "What kind of beasts" she asked sweetly
"I don't know what their called I'm no scholar" Macra stated "If you want I can ask around for a book on beasts and you can find them" she said again "I can't read" Macra said pointedly "My parents didn't see that as important"
"How can a young nobleman such as yourself not know how to read?" She questioned, Macra quickly responded " I am no nobleman" the amulet around his neck grew warm
"Oh your a Squire of those knights then" she said
"Err no my father was a drunk and my mother the local erm... eh.." he said embarrased
"Don't worry I understand" she said sweetly "But where did you get all that coin if you aren't a nobleman?" She questioned
"It was all the coin I found in our home after the attack and what I got from selling all my families possessions on the way here" he stated. Macra didn't know why but he felt uncomfortable around this woman suddenly. He didn't visit her the next day and instead went back to bothering the other local maidens. At sundown the next day he donned his cloak and marched to the edge of town. He followed the path for a bit before waiting, several minutes later the 3 men arrived they acknowledged each other then Marcus spoke "Ok Macra you are going to be presented to our fellow brothers, take this bag remove your cloak and put the robes inside on, then when we are done put the robes back in the bag and make sure no one ever sees them"
"Ok Marcus"Macra spoke as he pulled the ragged cloak off pulling on the rough robes he noticed the symbol of Heser on the robes and the bloodstain on the right arm. Once he finished they set off through the darkness barely lit by the torch all of them silent and tense, each step squelched with mud and occasionally the snapping of twigs. Macra felt like they had been walking for hours when they entered the clearing, before them stood 17 odd men wearing cloaks and a man chained to a tree. The cloaked men remained silent before Bargdan introduced him and told his story, with a few tidbits missing then Macra was shoved into the middle of the circle Macra was unsure what to do, then he was handed a knife and he knew full well what he had to do, the cloaked men began to chant as he lined up the blade with his little finger he felt a sting of pain as the knife cut through his flesh, warm blood trickled down his arm and dripped to the damp earth he kept cutting deeper tearing through muscle and then bone another 17 seconds and the severed finger dropped the the ground as his hand continued to bleed. The amulet around his neck went cold and the pain of his hand numbed and the bleeding slowed. The chanting reached its peak and he thought the symbol etched into a nearby rock glowed, the chanting slowed down before 2 of the men went and grabbed the semi-naked man unshackling him and dragging him into the center one of the men kicked the unclothed man in the ribs with a sickening crunch, then the tall man approached the hunched over man gestured to the man and began chanting and gesturing wildly. Macra knew what he had to do but he was unsure whether he could do it he debated in his mind for over a minute, then he raised the blade and without hesitation he slashed at the mans neck, missing he hit the shoulder, he withdrew the blade lined it up again and he swung his aim was true and the amulet grew colder as the blade sliced through flesh, muscle and finally bone as the body slumped to the ground Macra stood tall as a Man rushed forward and gathered the pooled blood into a cup before dumping it into the small campfire. The ritual was over and the men began speaking, Marcus pulled him aside.
They walked a short ways away before they spoke "Welcome to our order brother Macra" Marcus said "We have the time and I am ready to answer your questions"
"Can you tell me the history of this religion?" Macra asked slowly "I could but it would take all night, I will give you our texts but you must not show anyone" Marcus stated "Anymore questions?" He asked
"Why did I have to cut myself, and why did I have to kill the man?" Macra asked solemnly
"The finger is a offering to the gods and proof we can trust you and the man... well the man gives the 3 their powers and makes them stronger" Marcus explained "who were all those people" Macra asked "well they are just ordinary citizens like you and me shopkeepers, innkeepers, farmers, merchants even a local militiaman" Marcus stated as if it were obvious "what were those beasts, why do they attack innocent villages if they work for the 3?" He asked Marcus
"You see boy us who worship the 3 will be saved when the gods are overthrown and we shall ascend and create a new society not bound by mortal limits" Marcus stated as someone called his name from the clearing "I must leave now" he said "take this book read from it, learn from it and DO NOT LET ANYONE see it, understand?"
"Yes Marcus, I understand"
"Good boy I assume you can get back into town without our help" Marcus asked
And so Macra started towards town happy to be finally getting some answers until he remembered that he couldn't read but he carried on intending to ask Marcus the next time they met.