Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Gathering of Knights

For the first time in many years, the Horn of Ilthias was blown. Not once, but three times, did its echoing call resound down the hills and dales of the land of Saint Joseph's Land. And with its call came a great wind; and a crash of thunder; and for two hours' span, the sky turned a burnished red, crackling with lightning and stranger things. And so did the knight Nathan, sword at his side and iron on his hands, summon his brethren to the Third Moot of the Knightly Order.

They trickled in, one by one, to the great gathering. First came the knight Roland, his trusty steed thundering down the long road from the Imperial capital. Then came Ser Rotem, her cloak fluttering in the breeze; Ser David, whose helmet's plume stood proud and tall; Ser Ethan, youngest and boldest of them, who lived once as blood-brother with Ser Nathan. They met at the center of the Moot, and spoke; but their two remaining members, Ser Emilia and Ser Kevyn, did not come.

The knights spoke, and shared rumours heard on the road, and reached a conclusion: their comrade Ser Kevyn was in grave danger. One traveler had spoken of a knight, riding to face a dragon; another had seen it belching flame skyward in triumph, a battered figure prone at its feet. The knights agreed: all but Ser Nathan would travel to the dragon's lair, to face it down and slay it, either to rescue their brother or to avenge him. Ser Nathan would stay, and await the coming of Ser Emilia.

Days passed, and Ser Nathan saw no sign of man or beast approaching the blasted heath around the Moot. He took up knitting.

Then a cloud of dust formed in the distance; Ser Nathan looked up hopefully, for he thought it possible that Ser Emilia, of nobler lineage then any other one of the knights, might arrive with a retinue. But no; it was the other Knights, Roland and Rotem and David and Ethan - and Kevyn, for he had survived his captivity in the dragon's lair, whose largest tooth now hung at his belt. They met together, and cheered, and celebrated victory and success and life itself; and they traveled to a nearby town, where skilled chefs prepared them frosted yoghurt and other delicacies for the knights to delightedly consume.

Then the Knights returned to the Moot, and began their business at last. They assembled the materials, and began to plot; a war-game, their plan for the next five years, until they would Moot once more. They each took up the role of one of the great nations, and plotted and schemed against the others; though, they would confess, not without some amusement at great success or vile treachery perpetrated by their brothers. They engaged themselves thus for many hours, and saw what they might of the world's future; then they lapsed, and spoke of deeds past and plans future, and watched Kevyn in his occupations. One by one, they left, as they had come; first Roland, then Rotem, then David; but Ser Ethan decided not to leave, and to live once more with Ser Nathan, who he named brother closer than the others. Ser Kevyn was last to leave, as he had been last to arrive; he stayed 'till day turned to night, and starry night descended. But at last, he, too, was gone; and the Moot was empty once more. Still none among them knew what fate had befalled Ser Emilia, though some vowed to search; and of the consequences of the Moot, none could yet say.

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