Leopold cast an eye around the inside of the wagon, ensuring the people that fate had thrown him together with were asleep and that he had some privacy to do what he must. Nodding to himself he bowed his head and closed his eyes, running through the exercises he had been taught by the order to slow his breathing and clear his mind.
Instinctively his hand fell to hold the burnished metal covers of his codex as he lowered himself into the deepest mindset of prayer, opening himself to his god as he sought guidance, not simply to give thanks.
“Toma Thule, Father of Kings and Lion of Gods, please, hear your troubled servant in this most trying of times. I have been brought to this strange land of Sohte, whether through your will or the machinations of some dark power I do not know. I am alone of the faith, separated from my brothers and I am lost without the guidance of the elders and my captains. When I woke I was alone in a city of words and darkness, a twisted realm that was inhabited by entities of shadow and some of evil. I was fortunate that I found others like me, strangers in this land, but none of them share the faith and I find it hard to trust them. However, necessity breeds camaraderie so we have formed a bond, galvanised by the horrors of the dark city, normally I would not use such a word, but I faced a foe there unlike any other; a knight of shadow who chilled me to my core. I am ashamed to admit but my resolve was weakened by him and I felt the icy claws of fear in my deepest being when I faced him…”
With this the knight pauses as their wagon bounces over a particularly large rut in the road, watching to ensure his fellows sleep on the leonine warrior idly begins to finger through the rosary binding the bronze hammer the Jack gave him as he vividly remembers the shadow driving it’s arm through him.
“I held firm, though, Lord. And when hope seemed lost and I called upon you I awoke outside the city and away from the monstrosity, so I know your hand still guides my path, and for that I am more thankful than I have the words to express. A strange man, although I am reluctant to use that word, cared for us after we were cast from the city, he introduced himself as ‘the Jack’ as if it were some form of title in this land, he even tried to explain it, but none of the words we offered proved sufficient to him. While he offered us great charity in taking us in and providing for us, he just felt wrong to me, Sire, however I intend to fulfil the debt I owe him and see my allies fulfil the promise they made to him to deliver an artefact they found in the city to the ‘Floating Market’ in the ‘Kingdom of Diamond’ and find a scholar who can shed some insight on what it is and its significance. With any luck this journey will allow me more clarity on what your will for your humble servant is.
Speaking of my journey, my companions are a motley bunch; I am not sure what to make of them. One of them speaks in riddles, narrating his life and calling himself ‘Chrome’. Hardly a name, however it will suffice to address him. I worry that his mind is weak, however I remember well your teachings that it is the duty of the sound of mind to care for those less fortunate, so I shall endeavour to care for him, in the hopes that you see fit to restore his faculties.
I also travel with a man of the woods who goes by ‘Artemis’, he is intemperate and lacks restraint, so much so that he was seduced by some creature in the shape of a woman, and this unlawful union resulted in an abnormal child, it has aged over half a year in as many hours, learning how to read and talk without tuition. I opened my mind to it but I could sense no darkness in its heart and I will continue to do so, whenever I have the opportunity. However, I have read of the miraculous children of the old times so I shall stand as a bulwark and allow no undue harm to come to it.
Finally, there is the man who calls himself ‘Lucius’, I am familiar with his kind, I do not doubt he seeks to further himself, however his gains coincide with mine own for now, so I shall allow him to proceed along his path, while acting as an exemplar for how to live a good, valuable life. However, I cannot help but feel a touch of disdain for how he places me between him and any perceived threat, but I know that cowardice is a characteristic common to those lacking faith so I shall endure it.
We have found passage with a Halfling who goes by the name ‘Jheets’, but as he has proven himself remarkably… ‘perceptive’ I shall not speak of him aloud for now, Master. He has agreed to take us to the ‘tunnel’ that will lead us into the kingdom of Diamond, so I shall not refuse his generosity simply on what I suspect his true character is.
Grant me strength, both in body and mind, Toma Thule. I shall attend to the vigour of my faith for the trials to come.”
With this the large, armour-clad man sat in silence for some time before beginning his daily ablutions of maintenance, ensuring his armour’s pristine condition was maintained.