The Wailing Screams of Loyalty
‘False is the hope of madmen.’
The words of Matron Mother Vintirya clawed at his mind with flashes from the battle he days prior turned away from because of his promise to his sire. But the memories and shock of The Wail left his head with a splitting pain he was powerless to stop. Snow began falling into an easily disturbed layer of white where the people didn’t walk. He trembled at the escape that was his past few days of tribulations, wanting it all to stop—like a river, swaying back and forth so moved his migraines. The most horrid of remorse came over him with an overpowering knowing that death was there and the feeling drained him enough to feel starved of breath. He wanted away with that which he had seen and felt at the spire, but he was tired now of fighting it, too tired to care, yielding it left him with little else but a wearied and vacant gaze into the nothing.
‘Blind hope is bound for those of willing prayers and the wickedness of ignorance and lies,’ Matron Mother Clarice of the first era.
Watching his callous hands searched for warmth beneath the confines of his tattered brown clothes, sharp cheeks high and deep-sat pale blue eyes scanned the passer-by. The streets below the stairs where he sat crawled with life to the lumbering aurora of the fading day. Yellow and orange had taken the skies with a few stacks of clouds that passed, and in the beyond stood the marble tower of their dead emperor.
‘Be true to yourself and those of family in blood and oath, for the madman’s path is wrought with naught but the falsity of lies’ – Matron Mother Adina of the second era, saviour of Thael Dul.
With a shivering sigh he stood, scorned in the midst of winter-cold his poised gaze beset the darkening heavens to watch the spire, awed by the grand theatre of dancing colours. Am I better than this? He questioned himself. For thirty-four years he had lived to serve, yet the pain of his last few weeks held him back; tugging at his core. He knew the war was done and still his mind raged on and on, fuelling the fires of his regrets and the recent memories of The Wail.
‘Those of untruthful nature who veil their wickedness from sight and sound their lies of hope and promises of blissful despair, they are the wicked and evil, and they wish us be plunged into a war of pitting sisters against sisters and brothers against brothers, the honour and oath of yours bound in heart, nay soul – I pray will keep your vigil intact and shield whole for the sake of our Thael and people,’ – Matron Mother Clarice of the third era.
Mother was the title and name of she who used her absolute eye for detail when teaching the elite surrounding the Thael—pure inspiration and utter understanding of true objectivity to the best of their abilities but a Mother were also the only one allowed within The Wikorian Academy of Knowledge where she taught Vaen and Ven as well as the Thael, and willingly accepted the law of never leaving the upper royal levels of the spire for the sake of security.
The privilege of being taught by the Matron Mother was something only ever given to those standing in the highest kinship of the ruler, and his guards all ranked above the Lords of Ios, which was one of the causes of the civil war. Also a Mother was almost always at the last of her ten years in life so that the next would come to take her place after being guided and shown how things are done in person with the exact same tradition as when the first Mother came to be.
Mother was she who was the core principle of the knowledge that had made the legends of the Thaels and his royal guard into cemented beliefs mixed with facts and the rumours that forever had that surrounded the Vaen and Ven. But these Matrons all carried a rare devotion reaching beyond the value of herself with the belief of a greater good in her gift of wisdom in those finding themselves under her guidance.
Yet the Matron Mother always portrayed a side of malicious cruelty to punish any and all mistakes of her pupils. This was something the lone man sitting alone on the cold steps knew better than anyone else.
The Vaen always learned about the Matron Mother’s void of acceptance unless perfection was attained in both mind and body. And harsh as she remained with no fear of beating her students, her love for their success was pure. She taught them of arts ranging from war to peace, lies and truth, and deep philosophies that forced the taught into questioning the soundness of their reality and surroundings which left them an open mind to serve them well.
The last couple of days in ride away from the royal spire had been arduous and nearly cost his life on several occasions before his horse collapsed in the outskirts of the township he found himself in. Enjoying the moment of peace as his days without sleep made it hard for the Vaen to stave off his momentary nodding off. Johrn was the name he carried, meaning ‘a man that gives’ and it was the name of the man who had stood beside his liege in the moment of defeat, a valiant amidst his brothers in arms, and none of which would ever be remembered. Facing death many realize their faults and so did he. Morals – his whole churned at the spiteful and tormenting thought.
Broken was he who once stood beside his Thael, the Lord of Lords: their emperor.
‘Protect him and those he serves until death takes you, and listen then for the voices of your singing brothers as they put you to rest in the same solemn garden in which the Thaels and Vaen and Ven of olden times remain and forever remind us to keep the tradition of Valorious and its wall of reverence in memory and knowledge– so we may learn of the mistakes of history and turn wise where our ancestors did not. This is the ending of our journeys for us chosen few devoted only to our people and their utmost servant. And know that when you reach the earth you are delivered from your oath and your world will now be that of our gods and demons’ Matron Mother Valcienna of the seventh era.
“You there!” A male voice beckoned from the crowd, pressing through with strong arms his dirt raffled features and bearded chin stuck out like a sore thumb, much like his thin eyes and soft-darkened skin.
From the north? Johrn questioned himself,
“Yes?” He replied, narrowing his gaze upon the man of simple heritage while his own of nobility seeped through with ease. A callous smirk and straightened posture followed, his cold hands clasping behind his back.
“Need work?” San bellowed, nodding sideways.
Johrn’s features grew rigid for a moment before a thought struck him, “What kind?” He asked, tone colder than winter itself and prideful in posture like that of a tall mountain.
“Caravans... need a loader, and you... seem out of place.” He chuckled.
Johrn paced downwards, edging through the snow with leather-covered feet,
“Where to?” He asked, the answer was obvious to him - east, like most people who sought a better place to live. Fools, traitors, Johrn pushed his ill thoughts aside with a forced, yet polite small smile.
“South as south can go, my friend... less warm than the east but warmer than freezing lakes, so to the warmth, I hope!” He laughed.
“You’ve a name?” He replied.
As Johrn neared, the man’s cheerful glee grew less and less, “San....” San paused, his brown eyes stirred-frighten to the visage of the known and crude scar which Johrn carried upon his features. Scarred as if lashed by fire the burn marks were those of the traitor, the wanderer who had survived The Wail.
As though struck with regret San hastily turned to leave only to find himself in the strong grip of Johrn’s, fingers clamping around his wrist as if with a wish to break it.
Johrn leaned closer with a demon-like and blank slated gaze, “San?” He spoke.
“...Yes?” He replied.
“I will come.” He said, and ran his hand over his shaved head to clear the last of the snow.
“I-I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
The avoiding eyes and faltering tone was more than enough for Johrn to know. “You fear me?” He chuckled lightly, and pulled the man closer.
“You’re him, the one they all speak of, aren’t you?”
“And who do ‘they’ speak of, San?”
“You fought at Cersem’s side, defended him... that scar is from The Wail isn’t it?”
Johrn inclined his head, tone but a whisper, hollow as the cold brush of his breath as it pushed against San’s cheek; he didn’t need words to threaten the man, “South, you said.”
San felt no peace as Johrn released his wrist, frightened he surrendered, “Yes, South....”
“I’m not whoever you think I am.” He replied, indifferent as if nothing had happened, and added, “South it is.”