Violent Prayers – Collum Brant, Religious Chronicler of the Great Library of Arbetron
“I don’t see myself as a cleric, more like an avatar”
I groaned inwardly. Not another young, arrogant zealot!
Four years. Four years of travelling the Inner Sea Region noting the numbers of clerics, paladins, druids, prophets and other holy personages. All because I happened to mention a passing curiosity with religion! Master Librarian Ganford must still be giggling himself to a hernia, if the old bastard is still alive. My long excursion had led me here, sat in front of Kye, a young cleric of the Battle God Gorax, desperately trying to mask my bored incredulity. Experience has taught me that it is not wise to openly mock holies, particularly ones that are likely to bury something sharp into your gut! I tried to hide it, but I failed!
“Don’t worry, I don’t think the Iron Lord resides in here,” he grinned, knocking his gleaming breast plate with a gauntleted fist (these clerics never seem to remove their armour). His grin slipped from his face, replaced by frowning confusion “It’s more like He’s in here.” A steel clad finger tapped his forehead.
“It’s hard to explain” Kye continued. “A couple of years ago, when I was fifteen, I had a kind of waking dream. I know this sounds delusional but bear with me” (As if I had a choice) “I saw a huge warrior, clad in wickedly spiked armour. He reached out one massive hand and grabbed my head in his fist. The pain was something else. It felt like something had crawled inside my skull and was mashing my brain with a mace. You know when you’ve eaten something bad and it feels like your guts are being ripped apart on the inside?” I nodded dumbly “Well, it was like that but a thousand times worse, and in my head” He shook his head as if still pained by the experience.
“Well, I must have passed out, but when I woke everything was different. My mind worked in a strange way” He leaned forward and I could see he truly believed what he was saying “I could do things, amazing things, just by focusing my mind!”
I had to leave before I got myself in trouble. This lad was certainly touched in his head but not by his god!
He laughed again “Everyone looks like that when I tell that story. Come outside and I’ll show you what I mean, I can never get the words right.” He gave me a sideways look “Perhaps you could write about it in your book?” So that’s where this was going.
I started to offer the empty platitudes that I reserve for specific requests to be in my book, but Kye grabbed my arm and pulled me into the training yard.
The noise assailed us. Battle calls offered up as worship, cries of injured acolytes choral music to the Iron Lord, percussive blows of weapons on armour a back beat to their violent prayers. It was heady and somewhat intoxicating to be in the midst of such devout aggression. As I was dragged across the yard by an unrelenting Kye, the sounds of fighting lessened and a disturbing hush followed us in a wake of silence. Of a sudden I felt tense. Perhaps there was something different about this young man.
Kye stopped at the foot of an angular, functional hall, austere to the extreme. Clerics of Gorax are not renowned for their appreciation of beauty after all. Kye looked up at the wall.
“How far up do you think that ledge is?” He asked “About 50 feet?”
I nodded dumbly. Again. Unsure where this was headed. The entire yard was now silent, every eye intent on us, well intent on Kye to be precise.
Kye looked me up and down with an appraising eye. “You look like you’ve climbed a wall or two. How long do you think it would take you to climb that?” he gestured to the side of the building and grinned “Before you got old that is!”
Cheeky whelp! “About 30 seconds” I lied.
Kye grunted and raised an eyebrow. “30 seconds? OK, watch.”
Kye stood relaxed for a few seconds, breath slow and rhythmic. There was a shift in the air around him and for an instant he was ….. intensified. It was as if I was seeing him through a spyglass, I could see the most minute detail, like the pores of his skin, but I was seeing the whole of him. It was disorientating and sickly. Then he drew the intensity into himself. With a last grin at me he ran at the wall …. And then up it! He didn’t climb, he ran! Up a vertical 50 foot wall! In breast plate armour! Within a few heart beats he was standing on the ledge, beaming. There was an awed silence across the training yard. I guess this was the kind of thing that never failed to impress.
Kye shifted his posture and with a grand flourish of his right hand, crackling energy swirled to form an odd looking weapon. It appeared a combination of weapons. A caged mesh hand guard of a rapier, the flared shaft of a long cosh from which hung twin chained balls of a flail. The balls fashioned into the likeness of roaring lions.
Then he leaned impossibly far out from the ledge ….. and ran down the wall. As fast as a man wearing no armour. I shifted my own focus to detect what magic he was using, but there was no tell-tale magical aura. This was just a young man running up and down a 50 foot wall with no aid from magic. I was stunned.
Kye was back at my side, his strange ethereal weapon hanging at his side.
“Well?” he asked “Pretty weird eh?”
“Yeah, pretty weird” I was at a loss of what else to say. I became aware of voices around the yard.
“Why do they call you Red Kye?” I asked.
Kye turned, face a cold slab of stone, eyes flat and emotionless, a blue fire almost glimpsed in them.
“That is not for your book.” He walked away then, leaving me in the yard at least partially believing that the presence of Gorax was indeed within him.