No one was to wander the streets as the moon lit the sky. Surely it was a death sentence as either a demon would consume your soul or the knights of the Order would imprison you for disobeying the Sanctorum’s tenets. One vagrant soul feared not the night however and in fact found it to be his daylight and so he wandered beneath the night’s stars. He was neither a thief nor a vampire but even to see his face would strike fear in some and others sought to kill him. The price on his head was high yet one who understood the reasoning behind his crimes would support him on what he called his journey to rid the world of the one only known as Bal.
He was a dark-haired, pale man of 23 years garbed in crimson garments under a long rawhide coat with a matching wide-brimmed hat to obscure his face wandered the streets of Corazoras at night. Upon a closer look at his face, one would see hazel eyes that held both despair and passion behind his silver spectacles and that his facial features were not even those of a citizen of the holy city-state of Corazoras. Nobody knew who he was other than a menace to the Sanctorum and therefore he would declared as an enemy to all adherents of the faith. He spotted the familiar shape of a knight of the Order in the night and knew he had to run as he would rather avoid spilling blood. Stepping into the nearest cleft he could find, he accidentally knocked over a barrel. Torchlight drew near and he kicked the barrel right as the soldier looked in his direction. The wanderer took off. As he ran by a church, he did not remove his headwear and muttered a curse under his breath.
“Kill the Demon-Spawn if you value your life. Remember that you shall not suffer a warlock to live.” he heard from one he assumed to be the commander of the soldiers. The voice was vaguely familiar to him in a way that only brought him trauma. He heard the clashing of steel upon pavement and saw the lights of lanterns spreading throughout. He was out in the open and barely saw the supposed commander look in his direction and with nowhere to hide, he ran off, panting heavily. He came upon the city gates and saw that the city’s guards had their crossbows aimed at him and the one he believed to be their commander appeared behind him. His sword was pointed at the back of the wanted man’s neck. “You will kneel before the Imperator, Garistov.”
“My name is Rousreuel. Garistov is the one you seek. He is dead, Iairus.” The wanderer responded. “Come and kill me if you must unless you want your beloved Novus Lux burned down.”
Iairus punched Rousreuel to the ground and mocked him. “You would humble yourself as an Asturanian yet commit treason against the Novus Lux?”
Rousreuel slowly lifted unto one knee and said, “Have you forgotten that hubris is a grave sin? I kneel before none of your demons you claim to be angels.”
“Blasphemers deserve only Hell’s flames. I must slay you.” Iairus kicked Rousreuel in the head and knocked his hat off.
“Iairus, you know not of your bindings.” Rousreuel rose from the ground again and took his hat.
“Fire!” Iairus commanded. Rousreuel took the quill adorning his hat and stabbed his foe with it and then took off.
I did not expect that trick to work. Damn it, I need to stop running! Rousreuel thought to himself. I’ve been running for seven years now and you’d think I would be fit enough to outrun these bastards! He blindly ran towards the docks and saw that a ship was lit up.
“Rousreuel!” a voice familiar to the wanderer shouted. Suddenly Rousreuel felt a strike in his back and he closed his eyes.
Rousreuel heard another voice with an Asturanian accent telling him, “Wake up.” He opened his eyes and saw that he was on in the cabin of a ship. In front of him was a face familiar to him and the other was of someone he did not recognize. The familiar face was slightly younger than him and possessed the features of the Zintalo people of tanned skin, bright green eyes, a small stature, and curly brown hair. He wore typical a white shirt with a green vest over it and tight black leather pants for easy movement. The other man appeared to be in his 40’s had the usual features of an Asturanian albeit tanner and had a muscular build. He tied his oily rust brown hair back in a ponytail and wore an Asturanian sailor’s togs consisting of baggy tan pants with a blue sash and a brown vest without a shirt underneath. They both had stubble and wore earrings as Rousreuel did even though he wore it on his left ear.
“Are you trying to get us all killed?” Rousreuel questioned Tanon. His old friend shook his head for no. “It sounds like you’ve got a death wish. Just how did you become friends with the former captain of Asturania’s navy before it went to Hell? Why were you in Corazoras? You know the Zintalo and Asturanian refugees ate not welcome in the city let alone my ugly face.” The wanderer turned to Seimeon and asked him, “Ser, this is personal. Would you please step out of this room?” The former Asturanian naval commander gave Rousreuel a look of distrust and left the room.
Tanon responded, “You’re not really that ugly.” His comment made Rousreuel feel a chilling itch.
“If you saw my wanted posters then you’d assume I’m ugly. That’s not important though. Why did you kidnap me?” the wanderer said to the Zintalo.
“Captain Seimeon knocked you out. It wasn’t me. At least it’s better to hide out in Asturania than in a city where everyone wants you dead. You’d blend in better I suppose. People have other things on their mind in Asturania than your head anyways.” Tanon answered.
“Really? I look like a starved vampire. Asturanians are darker. Just tell me why you kidnapped me! You would think that killing me would solve everyone’s worries.”
“Asturania needs you. It’s your home. The princess of Asturania believes that you can stop the Usurper. We know you’re not a demon.”
“I have no home. Why do you insist I am human? I could lose my humanity any given moment I use magick?”
“You’re stronger than that!”
“No Tanon, I am a coward. I keep on running when I could just overthrow the Novus Lux at the cost of becoming Bal. I am tired of running and I am tired of being called a demon.”
“That is why we would have you fight for Asturania. You cannot take an empire in a single day but you did once believe in dividing and conquering. You’ll no longer have to run for sure.”
Rousreuel considered his friend’s words for a moment. He told him, “Perhaps you are right Tanon. Perhaps I shall turn the princess against the Novus Lux.” Tanon smiled. “I’ve been on the run all night so good night.” Rousreuel yawned and apologized to Tanon. “Why are you still here?” The Zintalo too left the room. “I didn’t mean it that way!” Rousreuel exclaimed. He undressed himself so that he could sleep in comfort and then laid in the bed. This is not very comfortable, but Tanon and the captain are doing me a favor. At least I’ll lose Iairus’s trail for now… Why can I not save him from the strings of the Novus Lux?
The wanderer opened his found himself in complete darkness. The only sound he heard was that of his heart’s beat and his breath. Due to his nudity, this rhythm was more noticeable to his ears than the sounds he often heard during his entire lifetime in the big city. He felt as if he was falling into an endless abyss yet he could walk around normally without there seemingly being any obstacles. Rousreuel screamed, which echoed in the strange place he was in. Am I in the heavens? Am I in the inferno? he thought to himself.
All was silent. Rousreuel heard a commanding and distorted voice with a vague hint of his own tone saying, “Come to thy altar, herald of Us.”
“Who are you? Where am I? Why am I here?” Rousreuel called out to the voice as he awaited a response. The stark obscurity he found himself bound in became a blinding flash of light. Rousreuel now stood within a cathedral where its altar stood opposite of him. It was both beautiful and decrepit at once, yet it was still shrouded in the darkness that Rousreuel stood in before his rapture to this cathedral. Reminded of a daily ritual of his in his childhood, Rousreuel cursed the place he stood in silently. He looked on ahead and saw an emerald radiance vaguely shaped like a woman in an elegant gown. Curious about this phenomenon, Rousreuel approached the apparition carefully, holding back whatever fear he had.
Approaching the peculiar figure, Rousreuel saw more clearly that it was a woman he remembered in a painting at his former cell in the monastery he lived in during his childhood. Intrigued, he asked her, “Are you my-”
“Why yes, I am your grandmother’s spirit. How could you forget? It has only been a few weeks since we have last met before you decided to travel to Asturania,” she spoke. She wore a lavish gown resembling the garments of antiquity of the same color she radiated and her soft, rounded, and gentle facial features were the same as Rousreuel’s.
The 23-year old wanderer stared at the phantom in awe as she spoke. He felt surprising ease in meeting the entity claiming to be his deceased grandmother, but he still had his doubts. Rousreuel questioned, “Are you an angel or a devil? Why are we here?” His fear overcame his tranquility as he spoke.
“Do not be callow. I am simply your grandmother’s spirit. Nothing more, nothing less. Your destination of Asturania will fall into greater peril. I have been sent by Dius to watch over you on your travels and to protect you,” responded his grandmother’s spirit.
“Leave me. I need not be watched for I am an apostate. Do not meddle in my affairs, phantom.”
“Do not be crass. The eagle of the Santorum; the burden of Tartaros, will soon fall apart to the machinations of the Novus Lux. Remember why you left the Santorum. Remember why you became a wanderer.”
“I will. I shall become the phoenix that shall burn down both the decaying Santorum and the Novus Lux eating at its heart to bring forth a new light to the world. I will be hailed as a hero to not just Asturania, but to all the known Teras.”
“You must not talk of the Santorum as a villein. Even though the Novus Lux is her poison, she can still be saved. Answer your call, your heart’s desire. The Santorum was never meant to be used for evil; she can be cured.”
The young man thought to himself. “Very well then, please forgive me,” responded Rousreuel. He embraced his grandmother’s spirit. Upon their touch, she vanished then the rest of the cathedral-like place soon disappeared back into the darkness.
He heard the spirit’s voice say, “Farewell my grandson, I must return and godspeed!” Everything, including Rousreuel’s heart’s beat and his breath became silence.
He opened his eyes rose from his bed in a panic from the knocking at his cabin’s door and thought to himself, Damn it, I had that dream again. It would be best to preserve my magick usage. The knocking at his door continued and Rousreuel, frustrated, looked in the small opening of his door. He saw that it was his traveling companion and yelled, “Tanon, you pervert!”
Rousreuel went to his wardrobe and dressed himself, starting with a simple burgundy shirt 0f silk and tanned trousers. He then adjusted his leather boots and gloves, finally donning his long leather coat and a matching wide-brimmed hat adorned with his saffron-colored quill. He opened the door for his friend to come in.
“Morning Rousreuel. We’re approaching Asturania. Seimeon told me that we will be going to the inn first to pick up some intel from a courier of Lord Volos’s, the princess’s uncle. Seimeon also says that the inn’s among the finest, yet simplest and inexpensive inns in the country,” his friend said.
Rousreuel let out a slight smile much to Tanon’s shock and answered, “Nice of you to offer, but I only drink tea. Do not assume I have made permanent vows not to drink alcohol. I really should not give it a chance anyways as I just had that dream again. Such things aside; did you send my letter to your sister?”
The apostate’s friend nodded in confirmation. He then apologized to his friend for startling him.
“You do it all the time like some who is fixated on me. It is quite disturbing,” Rousreuel said with a hint of sarcasm. Tanon quickly walked out of Rousreuel’s cabin in embarrassment. Rousreuel took off after his younger friend.
Seeking fresh air, Rousreuel stepped unto the top deck of the ship. He approached its bow and saw clearly the Asturanian coast nearby. Tanon who was speaking with Seimeon, the ship’s captain at that time, called Rousreuel over. The wanderer sighed as he approached the rugged war veteran, sighing in concern of an argument. Within Seimeon’s distance, the latter began to speak. “Sir Rousreuel, Tanon, as you may know, we are approaching Asturanian shores soon by way of the city of Lysithion. Sir Rousreuel, stand on watch should we be attacked. Tanon, ready the cannons.”
“Aye,” Tanon nodded.
“No aye,” Rousreuel subtly mocked Tanon, “Don’t treat me like one of the Novus Lux cur. I will fight too. And please do not address me as “sir.” I am no longer associated with both the Santorum and the Novus Lux. Remember that I am excommunicated. I do not care whether I am an apostate of your religion or if I were to be the most devout adherant of your Dius.”
His response enraged the captain who responded, “Sir Rousreuel! Do not be foolish! You are important to milady’s mission. Do not jest in the battlefield with your parlor tricks!”
Tanon, feeling bad for his strong-willed but vulnerable, emotionally wounded friend whispered into Rousreuel’s ear, “He is just watching out for you. You need not get upset.”
“I need no one watching my guard. Even though I am an apostate, I will help those in need, whether it be you or even a member of the Corvus that seeks to assassinate me,” Rousreuel said to both Tanon and Seimeon. “Tanon, stay out of my battles for at least one time,”He told his younger companion. The wanderer looked out towards the shore to relieve himself of the captain’s words and to both Tanon and Seimeon, “In the world Rousreuelas and Myriam fought for and died for in vain, the world would be free of its demons; free of a tyrant such as or worse than the Novus Lux. I can only dream and fight for but not pray that the princess too seeks a world much like the heads of House Costanza sought.”
Seimeon responded, “Surely you jest in your fantasies from those books that you have read.”
“No, Seimeon, you jest. As long as I can reveal to the known world the secrets of the Novus Lux from my studies, then the world will truly see the sun- the sun of salvation as opposed to the moon of the Santorum. No man or woman can bring another person enlightenment; he or she can only help pave the way to salvation, not rapture them and hold their hand like a mother to her child. You, Tanon, the princess, nobody, not even a former member of the clergy as I unwillingly was is a pawn of a higher force. This is why I use my magicks even though I am no longer a man of the cloth or bound by strict tenets. Let me be labelled a necromancer! Let me burn on the stake as a petty criminal if I speak the truth!” Rousreuel spoke back to Seimeon in a slightly mocking but truly passionate tone. Tanon looked on with concern while Seimeon only looked at Rousreuel in a harsh way that he wound consider Rousreuel as a fool. Tanon and Seimeon resumed their work on the ship while the wandering apostate looked out again unto the Asturanian shore. Soon, the crew set the ship’s anchor at the dock of Lysithion.