WORLD PLOT: JUNIS 1021 A.ORDER. - Milton Krape
Milton Krape, Ranger of Guildhall
LOCATION: In Northern Dale on the Lands of Lord Willowby
SUMMARY: Sheriff Milton Krape accompanies Prince Justin to the Dale where a High Priest of Eldin and his Acolytes install crystal rods to drain power from the Dale. Sheriff Krape grew from a throw away one-shot character into a Major Plot Character. As a young man in Inverness Territory Milton Krape worked closely with Prince Justin to put down the Highlander rebellion. Years later, he came to Evermore hunting highlander rebels, but interactions with Guildsmen of Evermore showed him a wider world and now he’s stuck between loyalties, friendships, and binding oaths.
Sheriff Milton Krape stepped from the small skiff into the water, grimacing as the cool liquid leak into his boots. He grabbed the boat’s bow and heaved toward the shore. The keel slid silently over the river mud, beaching onto the shore. Krape would rather have been anywhere else, but he did his duty and held the boat steady as King Justin, monarch of Holt, stepped onto Dale soil followed by a half dozen battle priests, Acolytes of Eldin, blessed with abilities and powerful magics that rival those of Guildhall.
“Did we drift downstream?” Justin sneered with his ever-present irritation.
“No, my lord,” Krape bowed in deference. “The rowers put us in exactly where I instructed.”
The Acolyte climbed off the ship. Krape struggled to hold the boat steady as the robed figures maneuver a long wooden crate onto the shore. The ranger had no idea what was in the box, but it must be important as the battle priests treated it with great reverence.
“We’ll be at the site by midnight,” Krape said,“so long as we don’t encounter any Willowby patrols near the apple orchard.”
Justin huffed, and crossed his arms. “This land should have been annexed to Holt during the Asgarn Invasion. Those damn Guildsmen of Evermore… They interfered and ruined everything.”
Krape watched the rage building on Justin’s face as the King of Holt continued his tirade. “The plan had been perfect. I was going to annex these lands, just like my forefathers did in the Highlands. I move in, drive off the Asgarns, save the common folk, and then stay to keep the peace. So easy. So simple. Damn the Guildmasters of Evermore for revealing the plot.”
The king stared at him, seeking affirmation. The old Ranger had been privy to the whole affair and he had been secretly relieved in the unraveling of Justin’s plan. He would not want the Dale to become another place of political contention. Krape shrugged and said, “As you say, my Lord.”
“One day,” Justin whispered. “One day soon, the Inn at Evermore will face the vengeance of Eldin. All those Guildsmen who thwarted my plans will suffer the fires of purification. I will burn that Inn. The flames of Eldin will consume them.”
Krape could see faint licks of flame that blazed around Justin’s raised fist. The world was changing, a commoner king with the power to directly manipulate heat energy. Those had once been the skills of Guildsmen, but now as more energy entered, the world’s fanatics could gain power. Sure, it was rare, but the battle priests could call on the flames of Eldin as well.
The Acolytes spoke as one, “All praise to Eldin.”
Krape shushed them. “You’ll bring Willowby’s patrols to us for sure with that chanting.”
“The light of Eldin protects us,” rebuked the High Priest of Eldin, as he stepped off the boat.
Krape kept silent. He followed Eldin as did most people in Holt, but he’d also seen another side of the god, a side shown to him by Mriyeh pride Clawbright, a rakarrin Cleric in Evermore.
Her words still kept him awake at night, creating doubts, giving rise to questions. The priests of Eldin taught the superiority of human-kind, but in Evermore, Krape had seen greatness in every species and that had proven the priests wrong. Mriyeh showed him a different version of Eldin, a god that had fought to save the whole world, a god that valued all people.
She had opened his eyes. Then his research had proven that the worship of Eldin had not always been a path of prejudice and pride. Eldin had been a god who loved all equally. The old prayer books of Eldin in the library of Guildhall had confirmed that these priests had perverted the faith a few hundred years ago, but there was little to be done. To weaken the faith would be to weaken Holt, and the Orc Empire was ready to attack any weakness. The priests had to be tolerated.
Krape led the group from the river, through the vast orchards of the Willowby Estate, and into the old growth forest. An hour later, they came to the overgrown vale filled with the broken bases of shattered crystal spires. He could feel the power of the place. Even at this distance the energy made his skin tingle. The only time he’d felt such power was at the holy places of Evermore in the months after the elemental convergence.
“What is this place?” Krape asked.
The High Priest answered. “You gaze on a major mana node of the realm.”
Krape shrugged. Not impressed. He was a woodsmen, an archer. He knew the sword and axe, and didn’t bother with the castings of his Guild. If he needed to kill a dangerous beast, he used his bow or blade. Magic to him was not very interesting.
“Guildsman.” The High Priest sneered. “You think you know magic? You are children stumbling in the dark. Your lore skills grant you individual power. The magic of Eldin is the magic of a nation.”
Krape started to turn away, the High Priest caught his arm. “At the end of the Age of Life the Orcs destroyed this place. They hated everything about the Five, especially their places of power. Before the Fall of Evermore, the FiveSworn would gather here and use the crystal constructs to move energy around the world. After the fall, with the crystals shattered, all forgot this place. But we passed the secrets down. We priests of Eldin, we knew there would be a time when magic flowed freely again.”
“By the Wisdom of Eldin,” Krape said, knowing this would satisfy the priest.
“Good man.” The High Priest patted his arm. “You’ll stand in the Light of Eldin when the world changes.”
The King of Holt and his High Priest walked to the center of the old woods. Krape waited on the rise, sitting on a stump. He was not worried about discovery. No one came into these old woods. Down below, the king and the priest conferred for a long time. Then, the priest called to the acolytes who reverently carried the long wooden chest down to them.
“Open it!” Justin commanded. “Since we could not get the land, we will take the power. The last bindings break. Eldin must walk again to save us all.”
The acolytes did as their king commanded, and from the chest, they removed six crystal rods, holding them reverently as holy artifacts from the Age of Life. The High Priest began chanting. The acolytes hammered the rods into the ground as they repeated the chant.
Justin cut his hand and wiped his blood down each the shafts, chanting in response to the priest. The High Priest lifted a cross in one hand and a silver chalice in the other while invoking the name of Eldin. Whirls of colored energy flowed around the shafts and the participants. The acolytes chanted. Justin laughed loudly, almost maniacally, as power coursed through him.
Krape watched from his position on a log. He didnot want to get close to the swirling energy. He continued to stare, frowning as the commoners manipulated the energies of the realm. Mostly he saw silver tendrils and some gold, the energies of profane and holy. In time, he understood what they were doing. Justin and the priests were shifting the energy flow from this node into the land of Holt.
As the ceremony concluded Justin walked up the rise. “Take me to the boat.”
Krape motioned to the priests. “What of them?”
“This is one of the world’s great nodes,” Justin explained. “It has much power, but the high priest will follow the flows of energy and place more rods. We will pull all the power from this land.”
Krape led the king quickly back to the boat and pushed off. The rowers pulled hard against the oars, and by the time the sun rose Justin was standing safely in his own territory gazing West to the Forlorn Mountains the home of the orcs.
“What we do today will save the realm,” Justin whispered. “You know the non-humans are going to create their gods of conquest. Humankind must be ready. We are the chosen people. Eldin is the greater god. The nonhuman gods, Grotar, Ansaki, Eveya, and Tharkana broke the world in the Age of Life. This time will be different. In this Age, Eldin will be there to keep Order. Eldin will stop the non-humans. The Ages will not turn. History will not repeat.”
“As you say, my Lord.”