New Beginnings

1597, Storm Season, Death Week, Wildday


The initiation of Lord Eril, Cinder Fox, into the Cult of Humakt.


The taste of the latest argument is still on his tongue as Eril approaches the laughably-named Temple. It is a single-room shrine, with a barrier built to protect the altar from prying eyes, and those eyes from the altar.

He should not be here. He should be at the Temple of Air, preparing himself for the dances of pride and price. His brother learned the secrets of power and regret, of leadership, of recompense and justice.

Eril should, as a dutiful son, be there. His father raged, but even the greatest of storms would not have moved him, for the simple reason that finally silenced Lord Tamain; that Temple had not called him.

This tiny shrine, with its low door and its uncarved lintels, did. Eril does not even pause to say goodbye to the past.

He left his father angry. It is too late to regret the pettiness, too late to relish in how good that felt. He must be calm.

Tamain supposes he will learn the secrets of Lhankor Mhy, but knowledge has only ever been a tool. A librarian Hero would hardly be heroic. Eril wants more, and he is here on his own terms.

Within the dim room a woman is in meditation. She has never told him her name, and he does not care. The one important thing is the knowledge she bears; another tool for him.

“Sword,” he says with a bow. “Thank you for coming. I am here to pay deeper respects to the god.”

She speaks quietly. Her throat is scarred. “Bar the door. I have no further need of testing.”

Painted in woad, already sweating it off his skin and into his pores, Eril stands before the altar, and she cuts away his old life, and visions take him.

He marches in an army a hundred men wide, stretching in front of him as far as he can see. He gives orders. Voices rise in song.

“We who are already dead will fear no further sting of death
We who gave our lives in services give our afterlives
Follow the raven banner, follow the wolf banner
Hang upon the sky the two great Runes of Death and Truth

“Form up you noblest of dead
Chosen by Humakt to swell his ranks
We walk to the final battle, gratefully
Our commanders are Heros, our merest ranks are great warriors and Swords”

As he opens his eyes some time later, with knowledge of Humakt’s magic within him, Eril remembers the argument, considers that, alas, Tamain is still his father, and looks around to thank the Sword of Humakt who met him. She is gone. Her task was done at the start of the ritual, and she had other places to be.

The shrine is not empty. The initiate who keeps it is the closest he has to a friend here. Eril knows he should, as a son of the Cinder Foxes, go tell his chief that he lives and serves the warrior god.

He goes. Duty is strong in him, and Tamain Cracksrock is his father.