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 Their Honor and Their Son

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RagnorakTres
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PostSubject: Their Honor and Their Son   Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:48 am

"Rhys, we can't fight them! They have Relics! They have training!" Mama's voice was strained. She and Papa were arguing again. Taran rolled over and put his ear to the crack in his bedroom floor. The scary men had come to the village again today, demanding money and wine.

"I will not stand for their threats anymore, Selena. If they kill us, at least we will have died defending what is ours." Papa's voice was as calm as ever. Papa was always calm, and he was strong and smart, too. He had fixed more toys for Taran than he could remember.

"But what about Taran? What about my baby?" Mama's voice had finally broken, and she was wailing now. Taran knew exactly what she looked like at this moment. Her hands were balled up into fists, clutching her dress while tears streamed down her face. She was biting her lip to keep from sobbing. Taran always wanted to do something for her when she got like this, and his eyes were tearing up a little in sympathy.

"I don't know, honey. He's 5 now. If we wait another year, they'll come and take him, turn him into one of them, or worse." Taran knew what Papa was talking about. The ones Papa called "worse" were blank eyed and filthy, led around on chains by some of the scary men. Most of them were women, but some of them were little boys and girls, not much older than Taran.

"Why don't we just move, then? We should have just kept wandering..."

"Dammit Selena!" There was a bang downstairs and Papa's voice had lost it's calm. Now Taran was really scared, he'd never seen Papa lose his temper before. "We can't just go! I can't just go! These people took us in, sheltered us, gave us food and water when we had nothing to give in return! We owe them our lives...and Taran's. We cannot simply leave them to this fate! When we awoke, together, with no memory and only the names of our weapons to remind us that we had a past, I kept my sword, my Uriel, I kept my past, even though I did not remember it and still cannot. Did you keep your spear, your Lorelei? Or did you leave her, along with all the memories? I refuse to believe that a man and a woman with named weapons were bandits and privateers. We must have had a code, a set of ideals we lived by. In the name of those ideals, forgotten though they may be, I refuse to impugn my honor. I refuse to back down and let these vermin crawl all over this village, picking and choosing what they want. I will go alone if I must, but I had hoped that my wife at least would stand by my side."

There was silence from downstairs for a time. Then Mama's voice came and her tenor was strong. "You are right, Rhys. I did not throw out my Lorelei. I tried, many times, but I just could never bring myself to do it. You are right, we have to stand up to them. But we'll wait a year."

"Selena, we can't..."

"No. We wait a year." Mama's voice had taken on that steely tone that meant that she had made up her mind. "We wait and we watch. And we teach. We teach Taran to survive, to fight back. And we teach the villagers to stand up to their enemies. And we plan. If we're going to do this, we're going to ensure that at least our son survives this encounter. Do you understand me, Rhys? I will not sacrifice our son for our honor. My life? Your life? Yes, and that is fair and just and right. But not Taran. Not our son."

There was silence again, for a time. Then Papa spoke again. "Yes, dear."
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Taran ap Rhys - Codex
First, thou shalt not suffer the strong to trample the weak
Second, thou shalt suffer no man to enforce his will upon you
Third, thou shalt strike your enemy down in silence and from shadow
Above all else, remember that nothing is always true, even these tenets
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PostSubject: Re: Their Honor and Their Son   Fri Jul 08, 2011 8:20 pm

The next year was hectic. What of it Taran remembered at the end was filled with brutal training from both his mother and his father, training in the way of the blade, training in the arts of silence and stealth, and, above all else, training in stoicism. Growth spurts came frequently, but were often short. It was as if Mother Nature herself had decided to aid in the Son of Rhys's training, giving him the physique to match his newfound skills.

In less than a year, Taran went from a slightly underdeveloped 5-year-old to a hyper-developed 6-year-old. He carried himself with the confidence born of training and a mature mind, and, on a casual glance, could almost be mistaken for a child just entering pubescence. He had learned that people see what they want to see with even the slightest suggestion, that even the best guard in the world rarely checks the ceiling and that a warrior's best friend was the advantage of surprise. He had learned that, even in the direst of circumstances, with family and friends falling into Death's cold embrace all around him, a sharp mind and a cold heart would keep him alive to mourn his comrades...after vengeance was exacted from the flesh of his foes.

He was nowhere near done with his training, but it would have to do. The Condottieri came today for their yearly "tax." Mama and Papa had been very evasive when he asked them what happened to the children who got taken away. Usually he pushed for more information when they refused to answer a question, but they had been evasive in that "you aren't old enough yet" way that he had learned to recognize as not worth pushing. They would tell him when he was older...assuming they all survived this day.

He sat in his upstairs window, his legs dangling outside, looking at the rising sun through the morning fog. His part was simple in this day's battle: hide and, if need be, protect himself. Mama and Papa and the rest of the impromptu militia they had conjured up out of the village's able-bodied would take care of the Condotierri. Ambushes, traps and tight quarters were their advantages in this area. The Condotierri carried Relic weapons, pieces of metal that spat flame and bits of lead. They were deadly at any range, but most of the bandits carried longarms, Relics that would be all but useless at the point-blank range the villagers would be striking from.

This day, the Condotierri would be shown their folly. Uriel and Lorelei were alive in his parents' hands as they sparred in the backyard. The looks of intense concentration and battle-lust on their faces were empowering to him. They were his parents. They could not fail.

The two adults came tête-à-tête, their fierce grins meeting across the sparks of metal on metal as Uriel's steel blade screamed across Lorelei's iron clothed haft. The strain faded from their muscles as they kissed deeply.

Taran made a face and turned away, slipping back inside. From his understanding, the heat of battle mimicked the heat of the passion that nature yet denied him in a way that some found invigorating. Just at the moment, he still found it icky. Glancing out his window again, he noted that it was almost time for him to hide. The Condotierri would arrive just as the last of the fog burned off and he needed to be away before that. It was time to go.

Grabbing his little satchel that Mama had packed for him the night before, Taran stepped onto the windowsill and leapt to the roof of the tool shed. Jumping to the ground from there, he rushed over to where his parents were waiting for him. He hugged each of them as hard as he could. Papa smiled and ruffled his hair. "I'll see you after the battle, kiddo. Don't hesitate to kill one of 'em if you get a clear chance, eh?"

"RHYS!" Mama's arms were akimbo, but Taran could tell it was only mocking anger. Her eyes were smiling.

Taran grinned widely. "Don't worry Mama! I won't go looking for trouble."

"Good. Now give me a hug." Now there were tears in her eyes, though they were still smiling. After they embraced, Selena walked back inside, wiping at her eyes and sniffing a bit. Rhys kneeled next to his son and put his hands on Taran's shoulders.

"Listen carefully, son. This will be a battlefield. Fights are unpredictable, we may...we may die. You may never see us again. If that is the case, I want you to run. Don't look back, find a place to learn what we couldn't teach you. In time, perhaps, exact vengeance. But not. Now. Understand?" Taran nodded, his eyes wide. Rhys pulled him into a tight hug. "I have one more lesson for you. Nothing is true. Absolutes are for fools and salesmen. Listen to neither. I love you dearly, my son. Live well." Standing, Rhys winked at Taran and walked away, forever to disappear from the boy's life.

It is said that skilled warriors know when their time is near. That their instincts scream at them that Death awaits them this day. That they charge in willingly, ready for their final foe regardless of what awaits them at the end.
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It took ten years. Ten years of physical, emotional and sexual abuse for the village to finally tell him what happened that day. Goron, his savior, the man who had protected him from the Condotierri when his parents had died, sent him to kill a man from the village who was plotting against him. Taran walked into the man's house, intent on killing the man who defied Goron. Instead, he got to hear the truth.

Taran finally heard stories from his former neighbor of the day Goron the Blacksmith became Goron the Traitor, in the village's mind if not their mouths. How his mother became a glorious, shining, red-winged Valkyrie of legend and his father became a dark, long-toothed beast from the ancient times, stepping from shadow to shadow. How the Condotierri won by treachery, how dozens of them were slain despite this treachery.

How Goron, his father's closest friend, became his murderer. How Goron killed his parents in cold blood, his eyes laughing-mad as he mowed them down from behind with the rapid-fire Relic he had refurbished.

The same day he learned this, Goron died for his betrayal.
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Taran took his parents' weapons with him that night, collecting them from the hidden graves the village had buried them in, their weapons their only headstones. The sword and spear were, Taran noted, in remarkable condition for spending 10 years without proper care.

Catching the Traitor unawares, Taran bound him the same way Goron had bound him that first week of the "games," right after he had turned twelve. Taran was oddly serene, despite the horrors he would now visit upon this bastard.

First, Taran branded him. Once for each of the people Goron had killed that day, minus two. With each sizzle of flesh, Taran intoned the name of the dead one.

For each year of his life lost to the abusive fuck, Taran cut a piece off. First, the man's tongue. Then, his penis. Then, his trigger fingers, followed by his thumbs, followed by his feet. Finally, his nose and one of his ears. With each cut, he listed the names of the village's dead, beginning with the day after his parent's death. He took care to cauterize each wound after letting it bleed a bit. As he told Goron, "I don't want you to die until I have demonstrated to you why I am killing you."

After all this, he finally picked up his mother's spear, Lorelei. "Can you hear her, Goron? She sings for your blood. Even after an entire decade, she still cries out for the life of her wielder's murderer. She shall have it, in time." And with that, he sank the blade of the red spear into Goron's left shoulder, passing all the way through it and embedding it in the wall behind.

Then, he picked up Rhys' blade. "And here, as well. Uriel, too, wants your blood. But his is a more primal sound, a howl, rather than melody." And he sank his father's fang into the man's right shoulder, again forcing the blade through skin, flesh, cartilage, muscle and bone to embed it deep in the wall behind him.

With Goron thus pinned, Taran leaned close to the man's remaining ear and whispered to him. "This, then, is my concession to you. You did train me and you did shelter me. You fed me and kept me clothed. For this, I will end your life swiftly rather than leaving you to bleed out in the cold night air. But not right now. Not immediately." And Taran removed the man's other ear.

Thirty minutes later, after watching the deaf, bleeding man struggle and scream wordlessly, Taran buried the dagger his parents had given him so long ago in Goron's forehead and watched as the light of sentience faded from the man's eyes. He had finally indulged in a child's anger and hatred, spent it on vengeance upon the source of his suffering. He was free, finally, to mourn. The Son of Rhys walked out of the traitor's house and trudged to the graves of his father and mother, his head hung, his arms limp at his sides.

Falling to his knees, he lifted his head and keened his loss to the stormy skies. For the first time in ten years, Taran ap Rhys allowed himself grief and anger at an unfair world. A decade of childlike terror and sorrow was poured out of him, flowing strong and relentless from the bottleneck he had created for his emotions, finally unstopped.
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-----------------
Taran ap Rhys - Codex
First, thou shalt not suffer the strong to trample the weak
Second, thou shalt suffer no man to enforce his will upon you
Third, thou shalt strike your enemy down in silence and from shadow
Above all else, remember that nothing is always true, even these tenets
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