[b][u][center]Under Moon and Sun
Five minutes of rest amounted to nothing inside of the great egg. Thenyr left as soon as they were up, regardless of the priest’s grumbles. He had work to do, and if the high priest himself had sent for him, that meant that there was another mission in the world beyond. A big one, too, if it meant sending for him on the same day that he had returned. He imagined that it would be worse than the shield if it couldn’t wait for more than a few hours.
He walked through the curving corridors of the temple, taking in the natural light and the reflections of it as they walked through the hallway. It was a comfort of sorts, something that he had missed in his time away. Here, in a temple dedicated to light, there were no monsters in the dark. For where could the dark be found, here?
They followed curving pathways to the core of the temple, where the high priest waited for them. There was no door between the high priest’s office and the rest of the temple, though the novice waited outside. Thenyr returned the young man’s bow, and then turned his attention to the Thordani waiting on the other side.
The elder bird looked at him as he entered, his golden robes glittering with retained light. The garments of the higher-level priests had long-since been enchanted to retain the light of day and glow at all hours, and the high priest had it stronger than the others, shimmering as he moved, almost like a feathered sun. Thenyr bowed his head to the older male.
“You sent for me, high priest?”
“Yes, my hunter. It seems that the world outside continues to grow thorns against the sun.”
“The sun raises all, no matter its birth.”
“Yes…sometimes to the detriment of us all.”
Thenyr said nothing. Though he had always been a hunter for the church, there was a reason that he was at that layer removed rather than being part of the paladins that joined the church proper. There were…disagreements, it had to be admitted. Faenya still smiled on him, however, so he was allowed to serve in a way that other questioners would not.
The high priest waited, then continued when Thenyr didn’t object.
“The Lycanscar has been found.”
“…You’re sure of this?”
“As sure as we can be from rumors alone.” The high priest shook his head. “We don’t have a firm location yet –”
“But we have something?”
“…A lead, yes.”
“The graveyard in the Eastern Passes.”
He knew the place. The eastern side of the continent was blocked off by a massive mountain range, and before the road leading to it split into the various passes that could be found through the treacherous peaks, an abandoned monastery looked over a graveyard. A massive one, as well, potentially the largest in the central lands. It was filled with those that had attempted the climbs and failed, as well as the bodies of the dead that had been brought back from the eastern lands.
It was a place of the dead, dying, and undead. A new body brought back would bring news to those spirits, and there were many that would clamor to hear it.
“What do we know?” Thenyr asked.
“The graveyard was attacked.”
“Yes. No grave robbers, these ones. They were armored, well-armed…and they carried the sigil of Fenrir.”
Silence fell on the room, and neither of them dared to speak for a moment. The air chilled despite the presence of the high priest’s glowing light, and even the light of Faenya through the temple felt slightly dimmer for a moment.
He shouldn’t have been surprised. Fenrir was the great wolf that oversaw the lycans of the world. The werewolves, the were-rats, the were-ravens; they all answered to the original beast. If something had come to light regarding the Lycanscar, then they would be on the move, and his followers would be clamoring for it.
“I see why you called me, high priest.”
“I’m sure. If they manage to seize it first –”
“I know the consequences, high priest.”
“Then see to it that they don’t.”
“I will leave on the morrow, high priest.”
“I’ve asked the clerics to open the armory. If there are any tools that you need, take them. This is a mission beyond anything that I’ve asked before.”
“I assume that I am to be the vanguard to a greater operation, then?”
“You would guess correctly.” The high priest shook his head. “The paladins are already gathering. They’ll move in your tracks, follow in your wake. But I need you to move, now, before they find that thing’s resting place.”
“It will be done.”
Thenyr bowed, his mind racing. The Lycanscar…
It was a weapon that had been buried in the depths of history for centuries, to the point where it was merely a legend even among the temple and its hunters. It was rumored to be the great vengeance that Fenrir crafted during the hunts undertaken on his followers, a means of taking revenge on the entire world. With one cut, the Lycanscar could spread the transformative curse of the great wolf to anyone. There was no resisting it, no holding back against the curse, and unlike those that were merely wounded by the beasts, there was no possibility of curing it over time.
It was a death sentence to the mind and soul. If they found it, then villages, towns, even entire cities could fall under Fenrir’s sway in a matter of weeks.
The high priest had good reason to be abrupt. Thenyr lifted his head.
“Shall I depart tonight?”
“If you can. If you must rest, then the first thing in the morning.”
He nodded once more. It would depend on what was in the armory, he supposed, whether he would be able to leave tonight or on the morrow. If there was something that would boost his stamina, if there was something that would allow him to move without sleep, then there was a possibility there. If not…
He knew himself, and he knew how treacherous the roads going east were. The light of Faenya did not reach far beyond her temple in that direction. It would take time to find the right paths, and it would be all but impossible in the dark when he was feeling this tired. He needed time to recover, or he needed something to make himself stronger. One way or another, he was not sufficient on his own.
“I will see to the armory, then.”
“A runner has already been sent.”
“I have your blessing?”
“Walk in Faenya’s light, my hunter.”
Thenyr bowed one last time and left the office. The light of the goddess rained down on him, as ever, but in light of the news, it felt dim, strained, less uplifting than normal.
A hunter’s duty was to seek out those that were a danger to the flock. Thenyr had fulfilled those duties all his adult life, following the signs to the different artifacts that would bring harm to those that didn’t understand them and bringing them back to the temple. At times, he hunted the living as well, bringing the spear of Faenya to those that refused to cease their actions against the flock. That, however, had been rare.
[i]If I fail, it will become far too common…[/i]
Fenrir had his reasons for being angry. Unfortunately, he also had a prime choice of targets. If he got the Lycanscar, he would finally have the numbers to attack the temple of Faenya, and her followers.
[i]I can’t let that happen.[/i]
First, the graveyard. The dead would know where to point him, and from there, he could find his way to wherever the Lycanscar had been laid to rest.
But before that, the armory.
Buried at the bottom of the temple for security reasons, the armory was where the weapons, artifacts, and great items of the temple were kept. The clerics that worked there were always a little bit on the strange side, mostly because their studies focused them on the enchanted over the spiritual. It pushed them to consider the world through a different lens, and that, in turn, meant that they were regularly pushed to do things that the rest of the temple would have considered…off.
Thenyr liked it down there, though. They were more friendly, more open, and as a general rule, a great deal more interested in hearing the truth. When he showed up, he didn’t find a series of panicking novices. Instead, he found a cluster of older birds, all of them muttering under their breath, taking the practical approach.
“Light-balls would be good.”
“Takes too long to bottle it, and it goes bad. No, go for phosphorus.”
“It’ll burn, collateral damage. Some booze and cloth –”
“Are you mad? Enchant some dagger-bombs.”
“That’ll work for the entryway, but what about –”
“Gentlebirds,” Thenyr said, and just like that, the conversation stopped. The various clerics stepped away from one another, going back to their testing projects.
All but one, that was. One of them walked over to him, robes the dull white that meant that this cleric hadn’t risen too high in his position just yet. He bowed at the waist, standing up with a small twinkle in his eye.
“It is an honor to meet you, Thenyr. Please.”
“An honor to meet you, as well,” he said, following the armory cleric through the room. The rounded chamber – as all others, curving around a central point to create a circular room – was lined with shelves. All proven items were on the right side of the room, all ones undergoing testing on the left. Thankfully, the right side was a great deal more full today; often it was the other way around. “I’m sorry that we don’t have time for greetings.”
“It’s fine. You have a very important mission this time.”
“Important enough to come here.”
“Indeed. We’ve got the best waiting for you.”
“I don’t need much,” Thenyr protested.
“You need the best that you do get, though. You’re going after –”
“Let’s not spread that around. Novices get everywhere, you know.”
“…Good point.” The brown-feathered bird smiled. “Now, what do you need? Do you have a list, or…”
“I need something to keep me awake, something to talk with the dead, something to boost my flying speed, and something to make me jump further.”
“…Don’t you need a weapon?”
“I doubt that we have anything that fits what I do.”
“We have all kinds of things,” the cleric said, gesturing to the walls. “Quarterstaffs, spears, bows, anything that will keep others at a distance.”
“Yes, and all better suited to killing than what I do.”
“But…you’re a hunter.”
“Please, just get me what I asked for.”
The cleric looked at him as if he had just said the strangest things, and he supposed he had. Hunters were meant to do the dirty work of the temple as much as they were meant to do the holy things. He had avoided that by hunting artifacts more than people, but it seemed that the reputation came along regardless of what he did.
With another nod, however, the cleric left him. He turned in place, looking at the various weapons that had been created in the depths of the temple. The teachings of Faenya mostly focused on the growth of others beneath the sun, in allowing them the freedom to roam through the world and grow beneath its light. She was a goddess of the nest, for the most part, and that was how the world viewed her.
But down here, in the depths of the egg temple, the other side of her was shown. The mother hawk, the guardian of the nest, the deadly strike from above that was the realm of all birds: it was gathered here and focused until it became a weapon that would guard the temple against those that would seek its destruction.
Most hunters availed themselves of such weaponry whenever they could. Thenyr…had a different approach.
Eventually, the cleric returned, bearing in his arms a number of metal bands and bangles, rings and necklaces, and other accessories. Thenyr had already dismissed a good half of them as being too heavy for what he needed, and others as too bulky for him to wear without worrying about them getting caught on something while he moved around.
As the cleric set them down, he immediately set to shifting them to the different sides of the table. The impossible to wear stuff went to the left, while those that had possibilities went to the right.
“Hunter?” the cleric asked. “Why are you –”
“I have to travel light,” Thenyr said. “And I’m more of a scout than a fighter. If I’m pushed to fight anyone for longer than a few seconds, then I doubt I’ll hold out for long. I’ll have a better chance if I can escape and try again a second time.”
“But what if they surround you?”
“I have yet to meet a were-bat or were-raven that can fly as fast as we can. And I have yet to find a werewolf that can keep up on the ground once we take flight. But to do that, we have to get to the air swiftly.”
And be able to keep moving, which was why he needed the ring of stamina that he had seen in the pile. He dragged it out, turning it left and right.
“Do you have one with a stronger enchantment?”
“Not one that’s fully tested, I’m afraid.”
“But one that has been partially tested?”
“I will take that one,” Thenyr said, putting the ring down again, going through the pile once more.
“But – that’s a bad idea. What if it fails in the field?”
“Then you will know it doesn’t work. And you can rely on me to use my own skills to get out of whatever mess I’m in.”
“…That’s…a little overconfident, isn’t it?”
“I’ve earned that much,” Thenyr said, offering the younger cleric as much of a smile as he was capable of with his beak. “You know my reputation. Trust me; I can handle myself if something goes wrong. Now, please, find me that other ring.”
The worried look continued for a few more seconds before the brown-feathered cleric went to find the item. Thenyr shook his head, turning his attention back to the pile in front of him. There were a great deal of items to search through, and only a limited amount of time in which to find them. Now that he knew that they had something that would give him the energy he needed, he would have to leave tonight.
[i]So much for a good night sleep…[/i]
Then again, such was his life. If he wanted to sleep in, he could have chosen to be a normal priest.
Shaking his head, he gathered up the various tools that he needed. He found an ankle bangle that would fit him well, boosting his jump height by nearly ten times if he used it at full power, and he knew from experience that such things would enhance his kicks, as well. It would not be entirely useful in combat, due to the fact that it would likely also shatter his legs if he went too hard with it, but it would be useful in its own way.
While he had a few little tools for talking to the recent dead, he knew that the spirits in the Eastern Graveyard would be a little more…hesitant, and longer dead. So, he picked out a small bauble of light contained within a sun-sphere. It should suffice to keep the spirits on-point and avoid them wandering in focus.
As for his flight speed, he chose a feather-band that would hang from the back of his neck. From what he was able to determine, it would triple his flight speed in short bursts, which should allow him to get most of the way to the Eastern Graveyard overnight. If he could conduct his necromancy by daylight, it would be far easier for him, and far less dangerous than the alternatives.
When the other cleric returned with the untested stamina ring, he took it with a nod of thanks. The cleric hesitated.
“You…will come back, right?”
“Just…be careful. From everything we’re hearing, this is probably your most dangerous mission yet.”
“I’m sure.” He smiled. “Thank you for your concern, but for now, I’m off. Pray for luck.”
Summary: Thenyr is given a new mission, and a dangerous one at that.
Tags: No sex, fantasy, bird, thordani, temple, lycanthropy, magic, magic items,
Thenyr finds out about his next mission and selects his equipment.
Part 2 of a possible series.
Written by Draconicon