Ewoden's soul was the one thing he prized above all else. It had been his only procession when he was born into Slavery, under the cruelty of his master's whip. He grew up knowing nothing but merciless discipline. As a slave, you had no rights. If your master decided that it was time for you to die, nothing could save you. A strong slave would live for about twenty years if he was lucky, but if you didn't become strong within your childhood, you would die. That was the lesson Ewoden learned the hard way when his brother died, unable to cope with the daily routine of helping to push the heavy carts out of the Provincial mines. As his friends and family died all around him, Ewoden carried on, his soul burning in hatred, sorrow and rage. Every lick the whip gave him, ever scar that went untreated, every injustice his master's got away with, he remembered. Every instant had been carved in stone. They could take anything but his soul from him, it was his most prized procession and one he would never let go of. Fiery red hair and hard set green eyes, forged and set hard by years of labour were his trade mark. They reflected his soul, which despite his situation remained free.
When it neared his nineteenth birthday, and all he expected to get as a present was an extra ration from a generous friend, Ewoden began to wonder if his destiny lay trapped in these mines. Drilling out the precious metals for the nobility of Willendorf to use, never seeing any fruits of his labours, then to die under the mining carts wheels when he grew too tired or too old to carry on. On that day when he turned nineteen, a mysterious man, accompanied by two knights came to visit the mines. Ewoden had never seen an old wrinkled face before, was that would he would look like if he lived long enough? He had a hooked nose and dull grey eyes. A strange, looped symbol was tattooed in red on his forehead. He was dressed in grey robes with a golden outline around the edges of the hood and cuffs. His thin, bony fingers he grasped a staff, with a strange pearl like orb on the top. A decorative red and golden snake was wrapped around the whole length, the snakes mouth attempting to swallow the pearl.
"Who is he?" He asked another slave as they passed by. The knights had shining silver armour and their eyes glinted from behind a visor in their helmets. Their choice of weaponry was either a long pure white blade or a long, double bladed pike.
"He is Moebius, one of the circle of Nine." The other slave replied, before carrying on with his work. Ewoden gave this old man another look over. He was patrolling the mines, eyeing the younger, stronger slaves with a keen eye. Ewoden had seen this happen before, rich merchants would usually come down to pick out strong slaves for their own enterprises. But this Moebius didn't look like any merchant.
A member of the Circle of Nine? Ewoden hadn't the slightest idea what or who they were, he'd lived his entire life working these mines, keeping his nose out of business that did not concern him. Making a guess, he imagined the circle as an elite group of businessmen or something like that. Finally he came over to Ewoden's work line, accompanied by the slave master. A large man dressed in white robes and with a whip tied to his belt. A thin moustache trailing down each side of his lips. Moebius looked them all down, but he stopped to study Ewoden further.
"A fine example." He said to himself, encircling Ewoden, noting nearly everyone of his muscles with his eyes alone. The slave master forced Ewoden away from his work and forced him to stand out straight so the old man could inspect him better. "Yes, you'll do nicely." Ewoden hesitated. He'd been picked out? It certainly wasn't surprising. Given that he was a prime stock for any buyer, he thought it only a matter of time before someone came for him. "You won't need that anymore." Moebius said with a mysterious grin, pointing to the pick axe in Ewoden hand's.
He had never tasted Freedom before, So when he was marched out of the mines and into the light. He could hardly believe what was going on. Three carts were stacked outside the entrance to the mines, almost bulging with muscular slaves. Not one of them had been asked to bring their mining equipment along. An idea came to Ewoden's head as he boarded the final cart, one that seemed too good to be true but he hoped for it none the less. Did this mean that, he was free?
South west they moved, through lush countryside that he had never set eyes on before. Despite how cold and tired he was, Ewoden refused to close his eyes even for a minute. He would not forsake the wonders the world was filed with. The clear sky, the high mountains in the distance. The joy was almost unbearable.
Nosgoth's beauty was so astounding, Ewoden almost convinced himself that he was dreaming. That he was still back in the mines and would awake at any minute thanks to a cruel lashing from a whip. Moebius and his two knights rode up front on horse back, two banners flying out behind them. The background was flaxen yellow, and the symbol itself seemed to be an angel with outstretched wings.
Eventually, fatigue got the better of him, and he sank into sleep involuntarily. His dreams were torn, so many conflicting emotions of hope and fear preventing his mind from fixing of anything.
"Wake up, you can't miss this." One of the other sold slaves prodded him. Ewoden was put back into reality rather harshly as the other pulled him to his feet, all murmuring and pointing toward something up ahead. Ewoden looked with half closed eyes. They were entering a valley between two large mountains. The hillsides of each covered with the rich body of an evergreen forest. A soft, pearl lake lay at it's centre. The waters glistening brightly., the suns rays casting shadows of light on the rippling surface. But that was not what captured Ewoden's immediate attention. On the side of the lake was an immense fortress. A colossal structure, with battlements that stretched over twenty meters high at first glance. Giant turrets branching off at each side. A gleaming white sentry that stood alone in between the green peeks, banners held aloft in the sweet evening breeze. A large pair of wooden doors opened out onto the lake, two large banners held out on either side. The strange thing was, an odd crystal was mounted above the entrance, a pink gem with a faint gleam of light reflecting off the polished surface.
"I know of this place." Another astonished Slave told him. "This is the Fortress of the Sarafan order." The Sarafan were too famous for Ewoden not to know who they were. A fanatical order, created some hundred years ago to combat the increasing population of Vampires in Nosgoth. Their tales of gallantry and heroism stretched across the Nosgoth far and wide. Their fortress was as every bit as magnificent as the stories described it, even more so.
The carts rolled on until they reached the edge of the lake. There they stopped and waited, the two knights waved their banners high so the guards around the turrets could see they were friendly. From down thee, Ewoden could see a few Archers standing atop the battlements, looking down on them suspiciously. Once the banners were sighted, the two gigantic gates opened out onto the lake, pushing against the water creating ripples of foam and small waves. Slowly, two boats sailed out toward them. They were small, but large enough to accommodate all those present.
Ewoden and the other purchased slaves were told to step out of the carts and onto the boats. They did so without question, mainly because they had been taught to do so. Ewoden had never been on a boat before and his sea legs failed to catch up with him quick enough to help him with his stomach. The gentle rocking of the boat, while soothing to others made him positively sick. A gentle voice chuckled at his ear.
"You get used to it after a while." Ewoden looked up to see one of the Knights that had brought them near, he had taken his helmet off. He had pale skin and hard set blue eyes, his hair was a thick golden blonde, but was dirty from not being washed. Ewoden failed to notice it though, he was covered in a culmination of years of grime. "I'm Dumah." He added, offering his hand to shake. Ewoden stared at him confused. He had never been treated like an actual human being before. When someone used their hand against him, it often to strike him with the back end of it. After a moment of hesitation, he reached out and took it. "What's your name lad?"
"Ewoden." He replied. Dumah smiled warmly at him.
"Not used to the treatment I expect." He added. Ewoden nodded fiercely. "Not many of the freed slaves are." The slave's heard missed a beat. So, he was free. He was free.. Free…free….free. The word bounced around inside his head and he embraced it, tears of happiness running down his cheek.
They sailed inside the large door and as soon as the last boat had gotten inside, it slowly began to shut after them. The hall beyond was magnificent, a arched ceiling engraved with curves and slant edges. Six pillars standing around the edge of the water, holding the ceiling over them. Waiting for them on each side of the small indoor dock were four women. It surprised Ewoden to see that all of them were bald. They were dressed in grey uniforms with golden threads gauntlets around their forearms. The old man Moebius got off first after a plank of wooden was placed across the gap. Once on the other side, he turned to face them.
"Well to the Sarafan Stronghold, new recruits."
(Reviews please, dose continue.)