Part Two of The Tale of Artur Jakartai
How Artur became an acolyte but left the cloister before taking his vows and, on finding his family slain by goblins, avenged their blood.
Being good-natured and lowly of spirit, Artur nurtured no bitterness over the trick his father had played him. Instead, he deemed it more than fit for one of his stature, that is, one mixed of blood and born of a concubine. He set to his duties as acolyte with vigor and zeal and unto all the devotions of the Just One.
In preparation for the clerisy, they taught him his letters. He learned to read only through hard effort and many tears until, at length, he could read the scrolls as if noble-born. Thusly educated, he eagerly consumed the holy books, the calends, and the Olven tomes (such as they had in translation). But more, he loved the ancient histories, and he reveled overmuch in the tales of the Old Aerdy, especially the old Oeredian poets who could articulate so well what stirrings his heart felt but his tongue could not spell out. Also found he the tales of more recent times, and he lit upon the story of the war with Halmadar the Cruel. “If I had lived in those days, methinks I would have wielt well the axe!” he told himself. In truth, although he knew not the particulars of the tale, his own great grandfather Tristart the son of Fendart had fought as footman alongside the holy order of the Shielding in that conflict and suffered magical burns that marked him the rest of his life.
After some years had passed, and a time of release came before he should take his vows, he betook himself a journey to find his home and see again his father and his mother and all his brothers and his sisters.
In those days, the power of the Horned Society waxed mightily, and those devil-worshippers ever pressed against the Shield. Within their own lands, they had not crops nor flocks sufficient to feed the growing hordes of hobgoblins. The slovenly gundyguts raided the fertile Shield Lands to feed their hungry bellies.
Noble Knights of the Holy Shielding patrolled the borders and beat the intruders back whenever they came upon them. Fortifications they built against incursions, and these they garrisoned with doughty soldiers. If winter temperatures dipped well below freezing (as happens above the Nyr Dyv) certain stretches of the Ritensa, where the water flowed wide and shallow, froze solid over. Then the raiders crossed upon the frozen surface and struck where they would, and little could be done. The knights had not sufficient numbers to patrol the whole length of the river.
Sorrow-filled Artur came upon a burnt farmstead and fallow fields left behind by such raids from beyond Ritensa many months now past. He did bury the bones and commit the remains of his brothers and his sisters and his mother and his father to the gods, interring them by what rites he had learned. Wondrously wroth he sought among the ruin of his home until he found his father’s sword, a blade fashioned of Law’s Forge. He polished away the rust and honed its edge, whetting the blade against the stone with his own tears. Filled with divine fury he swam across the cold river and tracked those raiders (though he knew not how) to their village under a powerful estate of a certain hierarch. Coming upon them suddenly, he slew a great many of their number. He fought as a man possessed by a fiend. So furious and berserk his rage, he scarcely knew what occurred, nor could he give much account of it, except to say he did find himself soon surrounded by piles of carcass, that of hobgoblin and goblin too. All the rest of the den fled from him and raised the alarm. Then fearing for his own skin, he fled back to the river, swam across its frigid flow, and returned to the forsaken homestead.
Now, what should the young warrior do? Should he return to the temple in Stahzer and undertake his vows as he had first intended, or should he remain upon the land that once belonged to his father lest it fall to some other lord for lack of heir? In consternation of spirit he turned to Heironeous and prayed for a sign. The Just One appeared to him in a dream and spake, saying, “Priests enough have I, but in days to come, I shall need men to bear my blade. Remain upon thy father’s land and gather to thee what brave men will fight beside thee.”
Read the story from the beginning here.