1628, Earth Season


Before the Battle of the Heroes, few people but Berra and D’Val were aware that Eril was a Hero. He prepares for the battle, and the revelation to the world.


It is half an hour before dawn. Breakfast will be delivered to his table shortly. A distraction, a requirement of the body. He must be fit to fight for several hours.

In the privacy of the tiny space that holds his personal belongings and his bed, Lord Eril begins his day. Underclothes, and then the first of several ritual vestments. A tunic with lines drawn on it in woad and indigo, a crude sketch of padding. Lord Eril wears no armour but Humakt goes to battle well accoutred.

The linen falls over his back, covering the messy scar on the left. It will be a relief not to have the woollen robe touching it. Of course bearing that scar is an honour beyond what most would imagine, but it is a constant reminder of the prison of time. The low level of pain must be overcome, the damaged muscle accounted for, the scrape of humble wool on scar tissue ignored.

A knee-length skirt of the same material, then. This is undecorated, but split into ribbons. It ties at the side, and not the back, for Humakt is alone in the world. He could have a helper, but the only person who would understand the weight is a peasant whose chatter distracts, a half-formed project with an unfortunate loyalty to a freak of form. Silence is better, and besides, people might talk. Worse, they might think, and notice her.

He sits down on the chest that holds most of what he brought, and with a brush, pre-soaked and for use this once, paints on greaves and then vambraces. As the ink touches him he remembers metal, long ago, the weight of bronze. There is no associated emotion. He was prideful then, and joyful for battle, but now he is cold, and patient. He drops the brush on the ground, discarding it. No doubt it is a minor relic, but it must be discarded, and forgotten.

His foot wrappings are woven wool, and his boots are a sturdy pair, with a pattern of iron picked out in the bronze nails. A modest fortune marks Death into the ground with each step.

Now, Humakt requires a helmet. Eril has a simple leather band for his hair, taming the mass so it stays back from his eyes, but that is not enough. This is the first of the treasures of the Temple that he will wear today… with a blunt, long needle he sews a golden horsehair where it could be seen if someone looked with the right eyes. There will be shamans, he knows, who notice. A circlet that says he stands for Harsaltar, stands at the head of the Household of Death.

He feels the weight of their ghosts, hears once more the vows that he made, the crash as the sanctum roof fell.

Now he is ready, as Humakt, and as the heir of Harsaltar, but there is more that must be done, in this unwoken, limnal state. Breakfast awakes, and when he eats and gives his first orders, he will be a man. Now, he is part god, part mortal.

The Regiment knelt to the Wyter yesterday, and Bladesong accepted their worship. Deep within the sword, a secret sleeps, and Eril touches the hilt of the sword he will hold, and indicates his wish that it should be ready. He feels, far more intimately than any lover could, the entire personality of the blade. The wishes and dedication of the Regiment, the temper of the blade, formed and not forged, created by will and resolve, are all open to him. Nothing is hidden. Nobody who gives him less than their full trust was allowed to sully the act of worship.

Outside, the rituals that will bind the whole Regiment to him for the day are commencing. He will be needed for a few minutes there, but not yet.

The Wyter is awake. Next to it, bare, is the blade that holds Athanu. There is no need to touch that sword; he does not. His ally knows enough of what will happen today.

Eril shrugs on his robe. Most of the ink is dry, and the smears of the rest are of no import. It is the act of donning the armour that is sacred. There are three ties that he does up and then he buckles on his Regiment. Athanu will remain behind, until it is nearly time for him to play his part.

To outward appearance Lord Eril is a mortal man in a rough black robe, wearing an iron sword with little wear. The trick is staying that way until the time is right, when the Hero may be revealed.