• Hello, Guest. Welcome to Telath, a Play by Post fan forum made by and for the community of Aelyria!
    Stop by the General/Welcome forum and say hello. Returning player? Pick up where you left off or start afresh and get to posting! New player? Check out our new player guides to get started!

[Jaedaxia - Dragon's Cliff] Bonjour Papa, c'est moi (Keldon)

Late Spring, Era XVIII

Kevalin Elsdragon

La vérité est un mirage
As he walked up the path to his father's fortress, and his childhood home, he couldn't help the butterflies that fluttered in his stomach. Their beating wings must have been stealing his breath as he grew closer to the gates, because he couldn't breathe. He hadn't expected the nerves and anxiety. He had expected his time aboard the privateers vessel to make him bolder and more confident. Wouldn't his father be proud? He had been so very bookish before, so privileged. Now he had fought a little, he had learned how to use a sword. Technically, a whole host of knives as well.

Was El Viatre just more foppishness though? Was it not manly enough for his father who was a generational talent with a blade, nevermind strongly competent in so many other martial pursuits? He always worried that his father didn't see enough of himself in him. Kevalin was tall, but not as tall as his father. He was blonde, but much lighter in colour. His eyes were blue, but a much deeper blue than his fathers. His father was more muscular, more militant, just more in general.

He pulled at the collar of his black brigandine and then adjusted his sword belt back and forth, ultimately leaving it in the same position it had started in. Pull down on the coat below the belt, to straighten it all out again. Armour was bloody uncomfortable. He didn't like it. He also wasn't entirely in love with the way the long estoc would smack into the back of his knee when he walked too fast if he wasn't holding onto the hilt. The throwing knives at least had the good grace to stay where they were placed.

Kevalin took a deep breath as he got to the gate, simply nodding at the guard.

"Tell my father I'm home," he exhaled as he walked past and into the courtyard. He wasn't sure if he should go any further than that.

After all, he hadn't said anything before he left to join a mercenary group at sea. Young sons usually ran a thing like that past their fathers first.

Eunesians, pirates, and merchants on the wrong side of powerful men hadn't killed him. But his father might. C'est la vie.
Last edited:
Kevalin approached the grand gates of his childhood home, Dragons Cliff, with a mixture of nostalgia and apprehension. The towering limestone cliffs that surrounded the city were a sight he had grown up with, their imposing presence a constant reminder of the power and prestige of his family's lineage.

As he passed through the gates, Kevalin couldn't help but feel a surge of memories flood his mind. The familiar sights, sounds, and scents embraced him like a long-lost friend. The cobblestone streets beneath his feet echoed with the footsteps of countless residents and visitors who had traversed these paths before him.

The guards stationed at the gate greeted him with respectful nods, recognizing him as the son of Lord Keldon Elsdragon. Kevalin acknowledged their presence with a nod of his own, his gaze drifting briefly to the castle's towering walls and the bustling activities of the first bailey.

With each step he took, Kevalin's senses were greeted by the sights and sounds that he had known so well in his youth. The intricate architecture of the buildings, constructed from the same limestone that formed the cliffs, whispered stories of the city's history and the prominence of his family.

In the marketplace, the lively atmosphere enveloped him. Kevalin's eyes scanned the familiar stalls and shops, the artisans and traders offering their wares with the same passion and dedication as ever. The colorful array of goods, the tantalizing aromas of food wafting through the air, and the familiar voices of the vendors created a tapestry of familiarity.

As he ventured deeper into the city, Kevalin's steps carried him along the path he had walked countless times before. The second bailey, where the skilled craftsmen honed their talents, held no surprises for him. He recognized the rhythmic sounds of hammers striking metal and the delicate precision of artisans as they worked diligently on their creations.

Passing through the third bailey, the residential area, Kevalin cast a fond glance at the grand houses that stood as symbols of his family's stature. The memories of his childhood echoed in the opulence of these abodes, reminding him of the privileges he had enjoyed and the expectations that had always loomed over him.

Finally, the familiar sight of the grand castle came into view, its imposing presence drawing Kevalin's attention. The labyrinthine halls and lavish chambers held secrets and memories that were etched into his very being. The throne room, with its awe-inspiring architecture, served as a reminder of the power his family held within these walls.

Yet, despite his familiarity with the castle, Kevalin couldn't shake the lingering trepidation. The weight of his transformation and the choices he had made weighed heavily upon him. Would his father see his growth as an admirable path, or would it be perceived as a departure from their family's traditions?

As he stepped into the courtyard, Kevalin took a moment to collect himself. The clash of emotions within him—the mixture of pride, uncertainty, and determination—created a storm that raged beneath his calm exterior. He knew that facing his father, bearing the marks of his journey, would be a pivotal moment, one that would shape his future and define his relationship with his family.

Drawing upon his newfound strength and resilience, Kevalin squared his shoulders and took a deep breath. The Castle City, his home, had witnessed his growth and would now bear witness to the next chapter of his life. With each step he took, he embraced the challenges and uncertainties that lay before him, ready to confront his father and the destiny that awaited him within these walls.

As Kevalin crossed the courtyard, his attention was drawn to the inner castle gates, a threshold that granted access only to the esteemed Elsdragon family. Standing there, as if time had etched its mark upon his weathered features, was an older guard whose eyes twinkled with recognition. The guard's face bore the wisdom of age, and it was evident that he remembered the young boy Kevalin once was, who had left the castle in pursuit of his own path.

A warm smile played across the guard's lips as he stepped forward to greet Kevalin. His voice carried a hint of nostalgia as he spoke, "Welcome back, Master Kevalin. It seems like only yesterday you were but a sprightly lad roaming these halls."

The guard, fulfilling his duty with unwavering loyalty, continued, "His Excellency, Lord Keldon Elsdragon, is currently in the countryside, engaged in pursuit of bandits who have plagued the nearby lands. However, he shall return shortly. Allow me to escort you to the upper study, where you may await his arrival."

Together, Kevalin and the guard traversed the familiar corridors, their footsteps echoing off the stone walls adorned with tapestries that depicted the glorious history of the Elsdragon lineage. The scent of aged parchment and polished wood mingled in the air, evoking memories of hours spent in study and reflection.

Upon reaching the upper study, the guard opened the doors with a flourish, revealing a haven of knowledge and tranquility. The room was adorned with bookshelves, filled to the brim with leather-bound tomes that chronicled the vast wisdom accumulated throughout Keldon's time at the Imperial Forum and the highest courts. Sunlight streamed through the stained glass windows, casting colorful hues upon the room's polished wooden floors.

The guard gestured toward a comfortable armchair positioned near the grand mahogany desk, its surface scattered with scrolls and inkwells. "Please make yourself at home, Master Kevalin," the guard said with a respectful nod. "Lord Elsdragon shall be informed of your arrival, and I have no doubt he will be delighted to see you once he returns."

In this quiet sanctuary, surrounded by the echoes of the past and the promise of the future, Kevalin steeled himself for the imminent reunion, knowing that his presence here was the culmination of a journey that would shape not only his destiny but also the future of the Elsdragon family. Through the expansive stained glass windows, the study overlooked the vast expanse of the ocean, its waves crashing against the cliffs below. Beyond the frothing waters, Kevalin could see the sprawling city, its buildings and streets painted in the warm hues of dusk.

As the sun began its descent, casting long shadows across the Castle City, candlelight flickered to life throughout the castle and the distant city. The soft glow danced upon the walls, lending an ethereal ambience to the study. Kevalin's eyes traced the balconies that adorned the castle's exterior, their ironwork adorned with intricate designs like guardians overlooking the secrets within.

Time seemed to pass slowly in the solitude of the study, it was perhaps why the Lord preferred to rest and meet others within it's walls.
After sometime, perhaps a candlemark of two in the distance, a sound reached Kevalin's ears from the depths of the castle city below—a familiar rhythm of hooves against the cobblestones. It was a melody of homecoming, a symphony of a father's footsteps drawing nearer.

A short time later the door to the upper study swung open, revealing the figure of Lord Keldon Elsdragon, clad in armour adorned with the Elsdragon crest. The weariness of his pursuit etched lines on his face, but his eyes sparkled with a mix of surprise and joy as he beheld his son, sitting in the study that held so many memories.

"Kevalin," Lord Elsdragon spoke, his voice carrying a blend of pride, frusteration and relief. "You have returned."

Kevalin Elsdragon

La vérité est un mirage
It was a funny thing, despite the immensity of his childhood home by any rational measure, it had grown to feel so small to him over the years. He had felt the weight and shadow of his father and his legacy in every alcove, craftsmans stall, crest, scroll, and guardsmans face. It was like his eyes saw the ghost of the literal and figurative giant that was Keldon Elsdragon everywhere. How could he not? Every stone and bit of grout, every person and everything they made, every beautiful view, night of peaceful sleep, and wonderful scroll all existed because of the work of his father. He had built it and himself from essentially nothing. And he was the son of that. He had been suffocated by the weight of the expectations, whether real or imagined.

Naturally when he went out into the world it seemed so big. The ship he boarded was wonderful and exciting. The boundless seas were full of incredible potential. Full of adventures. Full of knowledge. Free. Just...free. But eventually the ship got small. The ports were more or less the same. The people were stagnant. The books were terrible. If there even were books.

When he returned the castle and all its baileys felt enormous. All of the people, with their different skills and thoughts and perspectives and experiences felt like the world he sought outside. In that library he had eventually been led to, there was the true possibility to know everything that could be known. The view of the city, beautiful, resplendent Jaedaxia, brought the mind alive with possibilities. He almost forgot what he had run from.

For the first time, in what fell like a lifetime, a true smile spread on his face when he saw that old guard he had known for so long. It disappeared at the mention of his father off fighting bandits, "I could've helped..." he muttered uncertainly. Could he have? Probably. Would it look foolish? Perhaps he should've swallowed his own pride and just asked his father to teach him how to fight. He didn't want to be like the old money that snubbed him, resting on the laurels of what their fathers and mothers had been born to and done. Perhaps that was the problem, why they had hated him. He had thought himself too good for the way of things and beyond the notion of stations.

He removed the sword belt and accompanying estoc. The sword was left leaning against the desk as he went to the books and began browsing. He swallowed hard when the guard mentioned his father would be happy to see him. He feared it wouldn't be so. He feared he had provoked his fathers wrath.

After the guard left he picked out a voluminous tome on the legal structure of the Northumbrian upper and lower houses. If any had spied him reading in that time they would've seen a small, content smile on his face and his eyes alight as he read the intricacies and details of how it all worked and under what circumstances. Most would be put to sleep by it all, but to Kevalin it was beautiful. It was all a great game put to pen. So neat. So sure. So orderly.

He was startled by his fathers voice and slammed the book shut immediately, as though he was a boy hiding crude pictures. He shot up from the chair, almost knocking it over as he stood. He likely would have if he hadn't scrambled to reach back and stop it. He jammed his left ring finger as he rescued himself from one embarrassment and plunged himself into another.

'Feth.' This wasn't what he had wanted it to be like. He moved the chair the rest of the way back and reached down again to pull his brigandine straight as he took a breath. His cheeks were flush with embarrassment that he prayed didn't actually show. Perhaps the burning sensation hadn't reached his fair skin.

A dozen thoughts passed through his mind. Something about how he could stab things too now. Something about how his father should have him lead the next party to suppress bandits. Something about how they should be prosecuting people, not murdering them - that those of their station ought to be guardians of the civil order and not judge, jury, and executioner. Something about how he had missed him terribly. Something about how he was sorry. Something about whether his father was finally proud of him. Something about it being no surprise he came home to find his father gone on another quest.

"Well, it was growing late and I didn't want to miss dinner, though you didn't seem to be worried about the same." His face had started off composed, yet somehow by the end of his statement even he was confused. Why that? Why those words?

He walked around the table and picked up his sheathed estoc, "Dispatch many commoners today? I pray they had the good sense not to protest the Duke's justice."

If he could slap himself, he would've. Why did his tongue escape his command? In his heart he wanted to only tell his father he loved him, he missed him, and he was sorry for leaving without a word. Yet immediately he fell back into old quarrels. Somehow it felt easier and safer than saying what he actually felt. It was a more comfortable mask to wear.
The senior guard, a seasoned veteran who had served Keldon for years, stood at a respectful distance, observing the interaction between father and son. Though his face remained stoic, the guard felt a twinge of discomfort, understanding the complexity of the relationship and the weight of their unspoken history. He had seen Kevalin grow up, witnessing both the challenges and the moments of connection between him and his father.

Observing Kevalin's moments of embarrassment and the clumsy actions that followed, Keldon couldn't help but feel a mixture of understanding and amusement. He recognized the vulnerability and desire for acceptance that lay beneath Kevalin's attempt to fall back into their old quarrels. It was a familiar dance they had performed countless times before. Nonetheless, he maintained a calm and composed demeanor, masking his own longing and concerns.

Keldon approached his son with a measured stride, his body language conveying a blend of authority and affection. As he neared Kevalin, he extended his hand to rest on his son's shoulder, the touch firm yet gentle, a reassuring presence amidst the complexities of their relationship. The guard noticed a subtle shift in Keldon's expression, a softening around the eyes, revealing the love and concern he held for his son.

"I see, like a child, you still let your words escape unfiltered, and your surprise at your own words is evident all over your face," he said, his voice deep and steady. "Dinner can wait, child. It is good to have you back home, my son."

The guard noticed the slight quiver in Keldon's voice, a glimpse of vulnerability hidden beneath his composed exterior. It was a testament to the depth of his emotions and the significance of Kevalin's return. Keldon's gaze held a mixture of understanding and expectation as he continued, "Let us put aside our old quarrels, my son. I want to hear about your journey, the lessons you have learned, and the person you have become," he stated with genuine interest.

With a slight pause, Keldon added, "The pursuit of justice should always be tempered by wisdom and compassion. It is a lesson I have learned throughout my own experiences. If you believe I returned from someone's execution, then you've learned little from your foray into the world beyond." The guard noticed the firmness in Keldon's tone, a reflection of his unwavering commitment to his principles. Yet, beneath it all, there was an undercurrent of longing for connection and understanding, a desire to bridge the gap between father and son.

However, before Kevalin could respond, Keldon's expression shifted slightly. "There is something you should know," he said, his voice taking on a more serious tone. The guard observed the subtle tension in Keldon's jaw, a sign of the weight he carried. "We located the bandits' camp, and I am pleased to inform you that no one has lost their life, yet. But we must act swiftly to bring them to justice and ensure the safety of our lands and the people we are sworn to protect."

Keldon paused, his gaze meeting Kevalin's. The guard saw a glimmer of pride and anticipation in Keldon's eyes, as if he saw a glimpse of the man his son had become. "Prepare your things, my son. You will be joining us in this endeavour. Your presence and skills will be of value, and you can demonstrate all the growth that has occurred beyond the limitations of your tongue," Keldon said, briefly glancing down to Kevalin's scabbard, and then back at his son, curiously anticipating how he would react.

The guard, his own presence blending into the background, observed the interplay between father and son, recognizing the significance of this moment. He had seen the challenges and the growth, the fractures and the mending of their relationship. And now, as they stood in the study, on the precipice of a new chapter, he silently hoped for understanding and reconciliation between them.

Kevalin Elsdragon

La vérité est un mirage
Nerves crept into his belly as his father approached, a certain anxiousness. Wanting it to be tenderness, but not trusting it. Hoping, but fearing to hope.

Then the touch, gentle and firm. Reassuring and safe. On the shoulder...did it show respect? Was it what he longed for? His father seeing him as a man? No, the singular word that followed demeaned him. Child. Child. Twice in two breaths. Forgiven not with love, but with pity and disdain. Insolence tolerated, not a viewpoint understood.

'Only with you,' he thought. A tight smile touched his face. "I'll work on the deficiency, sir."

In a game of small barbs, he wasn't unarmed either. Polite, kind, but cutting. Plausible deniability maintained. Fine. It could be that way.

It took everything in him to dismiss the quiver, the softened looks. It was his father, of course he wanted to believe in those moments. Yet, it was his father, and he was too vulnerable to trust it. He was 6'3", yet all of a baby in front of the man who raised him. He hated that.

The next words caught him off guard, and uncertainty played across his eyes as he met his fathers gaze. Did he really want to know him? To understand him? To see him?

His eyes widened at his fathers words and his heart beat quickened. He could hardly believe his ears. They were alive? He was invited? Had his father finally heard him? His skills? Did he mean the sword or his able to prosecute the law? Then the insult, again. He would brush that aside. He would show his father he was wrong. He would let him see who he truly was as a man. He would help redeem his fathers sins in the world.

Kevalin hastily put his sword belt back on, his fingers fumbling with the clasp after he pulled it tight. There was excitement in his voice, "Then let's go. We can capture them, we can learn their why, and if they are irredeemable put them before the law. We can show the people that true justice exists here."

He held his hand out toward the door, "Lead father, and I'll follow."
Keldon listened attentively to his son's excitement, his expression a mix of pride and concern. He recognized Kevalin's enthusiasm and his unwavering belief in the power of the law. However, there was a lesson that needed to be imparted, one that Kevalin had yet to fully grasp and one that which was a shame the young man and not yet experienced.

"Kevalin," Keldon began, his voice gentle yet firm. "Knowing the laws and understanding their meaning is undoubtedly crucial, but remember, the field is a different realm altogether. It is a place where the truth can be elusive and danger lurks at every corner." he let out a small sigh as he knew this all to well both inside the political forum of the empire and on the battlefield.

He placed a hand on Kevalin's shoulder, the weight of his words carried within the touch. "Justice is not always a straightforward path, my son. It requires not only knowledge but also adaptability, discernment, and a deep understanding of morality. There will be moments when you will face individuals who will stop at nothing to evade the consequences of their actions, even if it means resorting to violence."

Keldon's gaze held a mixture of concern and wisdom. "In those moments, you must be prepared to protect yourself and those under your charge. Swift action and decisive judgment will be paramount. Your sword skills will be put to the test, not only to apprehend the criminals but also to ensure your own survival."

He paused, allowing the weight of his words to sink in before continuing. "Remember, Kevalin, justice is not just an ideal to be pursued. It is a delicate balance between upholding the law and safeguarding lives. It is about making difficult choices, sometimes in the face of uncertainty and danger."

Keldon's grip on Kevalin's shoulder tightened briefly, conveying a mixture of caution and reassurance. "I have faith in your abilities, my son, and I believe you have the potential to become a formidable force for justice. But also understand that the path you have chosen is not without its risks and challenges."

He released his hold, taking a step back to allow Kevalin to absorb his words fully. "Lead with conviction, but be ever mindful of the complexities of the world we live in. As your father and your mentor, I will be there to support and guide you, but ultimately, it is your judgment that will shape the outcomes we seek."

Keldon's words carried a sense of realism and a reminder of the harsh realities they would face together. He wanted Kevalin to understand that the pursuit of justice required not only knowledge but also the courage to act in the face of adversity.

Keldon turned his attention to the senior guardsman, addressing him with authority. "Inform the men to gather in the courtyard. Master Kevalin will be leading the patrol today, and I will observe. We shall depart shortly." glancing back to Kevalin. "Meet us in the courtyard in half a candlemark.

Chapter I | The Little Fawn
Mod Plan Approved OOC

The morning sun cast a radiant glow upon the landscape as Keldon, his son Kevalin, and a contingent of senior guardsmen and mounted knights set forth on their mission. Clad in their formidable armor, the knights rode alongside Keldon and Kevalin, their resplendent plate armor reflecting the clear blue sky above. Each knight proudly displayed the colors of House Elsdragon, their loyalty and dedication evident in the way they carried themselves. Their helmets gleamed in the sunlight, visors partially raised to reveal focused expressions and determined eyes.

The group moved as one, their presence exuding authority and strength. The senior guardsmen, dressed in their own formidable armor, showcased years of experience etched upon their weathered faces. They rode with confidence and purpose, forming a protective shield around Keldon and Kevalin, ready to defend them and face any threats that may arise in this untamed forest.

As they ventured further into the forest, the environment transformed into a breathtaking display of nature's beauty. The clear skies allowed sunlight to bathe the forest floor in a warm and inviting glow, casting long shadows amidst the towering trees. The thick canopy above provided a natural shield, filtering the sunlight and creating a mesmerizing interplay of light and shadow. The air was crisp and fragrant, carrying with it the scents of blooming flowers and the earthy aroma of the forest.

The forest itself was a tapestry of vibrant greens, with leaves unfurling on the branches of ancient trees. The undergrowth teemed with ferns, mosses, and delicate wildflowers that dotted the forest floor in a riot of colors. Rays of sunlight filtered through the dense foliage, creating a mesmerizing play of light and shadow on the forest floor. Birds sang melodiously, their tunes intertwining with the gentle rustling of leaves, creating a symphony of nature's harmonies.

Deeper into the forest, the path narrowed, and the dense foliage closed in, creating an almost ethereal atmosphere. Ancient trees with gnarled trunks and sprawling branches reached towards the heavens, their canopy creating a natural cathedral overhead. Beams of sunlight pierced through gaps in the leaves, illuminating patches of moss-covered ground and highlighting the intricate patterns etched upon the tree barks.

The clear skies painted a vivid backdrop, allowing the vibrant colors of the forest to shine even brighter. The azure expanse seemed to stretch endlessly, unblemished by clouds, providing a sense of openness and possibility. It instilled a feeling of reassurance, as if the heavens themselves watched over this valiant group on their quest.

Kevalin, towering above many with his striking figure, drew eyes with his exceptional beauty. His pale skin glowed in the sunlight, contrasting with his short, immaculate platinum blonde hair that framed his face. His eyes, deep cerulean pools, held a mixture of determination and anticipation. Clad in his carefully chosen attire, he emanated an air of confidence and refinement, his clothing always immaculate and perfectly tailored.

Keldon, by his son's side, stood tall and imposing, his presence commanding respect. Despite the absence of his right eye, covered by a patch or a small glass orb, his left eye, shifting in color between green, brown, and blue, held a depth of experience and wisdom. His face showed no scars or signs of damage, thanks to magical healing long ago. His golden brown hair, kept neatly groomed, added to his distinguished appearance.

Together, they formed a formidable father-and-son duo, their shared purpose and determination evident in their every movement. The knights and guardsmen, with their unwavering loyalty, enhanced the group's strength, their mounted figures creating a sense of grandeur amidst the enchanting forest.

In this idyllic setting, amidst the towering trees and the symphony of nature, the group pressed forward with unwavering resolve. The forest, thick and starting to sprout to life with the arrival of spring, held both beauty and mystery within its depths. With every step, they delved further into the heart of this enchanted realm, their spirits lifted by the clear skies above and the promise of adventure that lay ahead.
As the group advanced deeper into the forest, a moment of pause settled upon the senior guardsmen and mounted knights. Their eyes instinctively turned towards Keldon, the seasoned warrior with a commanding presence, seeking his guidance and direction. The weight of their expectations hung in the air, a silent plea for his lead.

However, instead of offering his own commands, Keldon turned to his son, Kevalin, standing tall by his side. His gaze, filled with a mixture of pride and trust, fixed upon his son's determined expression. With a firm yet gentle voice, Keldon spoke, his words carrying the weight of his faith in Kevalin's capabilities.

"Kevalin, my son," Keldon began, his voice resonating with authority and conviction, "You are to lead this patrol. Your understanding of the laws, your commitment to justice, and your unwavering dedication make you the ideal candidate to guide us through this task."

The guardsmen and knights turned their attention to Kevalin, their expressions shifting from expectation to a mix of surprise and respect. They recognized the significance of this moment, as Keldon entrusted his son with the responsibility of leading the mission. It was a passing of the torch, a demonstration of unwavering faith in the next generation.

Kevalin, his azure eyes shining with a newfound sense of purpose, accepted his father's words with humility and determination. Stepping forward, he embraced the role bestowed upon him, ready to prove himself worthy of the trust placed in him.

Keldon's gaze lingered on his son, a silent acknowledgment passing between them. It was a defining moment, where the legacy of a father's teachings and the potential of a son's leadership converged. With a nod of approval, Keldon gestured towards the path ahead, signifying that it was time for Kevalin to take the lead.

The guardsmen and knights, their loyalty unwavering, adjusted their positions, aligning themselves behind Kevalin, ready to follow his command. The forest seemed to hold its breath, as if in anticipation of the unfolding chapter in their story.

Kevalin Elsdragon

La vérité est un mirage
The practicality of his father was always at odds with Kevalin’s idealism. The boy dreamed of a better world, a world based on schola and university lectures. A world informed by a privileged upbringing. Even in his foray aboard a privateers vessel, he had been relatively sheltered. He learned to fight, and even did a bit of it, but he was never made to make hard choices.

He wanted to debate his father, to push back against his hard won wisdom. He wanted to hurl insults about the missteps of the former Marshal. He wanted to insist on an imaginary world only found in treatises and fantasies, to insist that if they dared to dream and hope, if they dared to dare they could make it all real.

But he had the sense that what was to come wouldn’t be so pretty. He had the sense that there was the ring of truth to his fathers words. It sat like a stone in his stomach. He almost regretted ever picking up a sword at all and in that moment he missed his study halls and trading barbs with other rich boys.

He feared the realpolitik of his father. He feared that it would become his ethos as well.

Chapter 1

Kevalin rode alongside his father and he imagined they were quite the striking pair at the heart of the formation of knights. He also knew that he, ironically, stood out like a sore thumb amongst them all. All of these knights and their gleaming armour were a stark contrast to his black brigandine armour. It was all the same, more or less, when a blade came, though the steel bands of his armour were concealed within dark leather. He almost laughed as their horses beat their way through the silent forest paths, armour clanking as it would.

Everything around them was silent and serene, but they were loud and in motion. He looked the darkling in his black armour, yet he wanted to minimize death and dismemberment, while the gleaming knights were more likely to want to run the bandits straight through. He rode beside his father, a career politician and soldier, while he himself carried dreams of a world order that kept the tyranny of wealth and power in check, all the while being the direct beneficiary of those very same things.

If it were written, he could only imagine it would be some tragic comedy. Perhaps the Gods were laughing. Whoever scribbled it down in whatever great book contained it all must’ve been having an absolute fit of laughter, he reckoned.

But he would see it through. He would show his father he was worth something more now. Worth attention. He would show the guards he wasn’t just a boy. He would show Jaedaxia he deserved a job alongside his peers.

And he would save lives. He would make sure the people knew these were just lands.

When all eyes turned on him, he suddenly realized his father had actually been serious about him leading the expedition. That…that seemed a bit…well a bit like something he’d rather not be. He could use his estoc, sure. He was educated, absolutely. In law. In language. Not in tactics and war.

He suddenly felt the weight of expectation, true expectation. He had to say the right thing now, didn’t he? It wasn’t the same as a mock trial or an oral exam. That was a game, an exercise of the mind and some saucy tricks and oratory. This was real. This was blood and fate. Life and death. This was existential.

He almost asked his father if he was absolutely raving fucking mad. But no. He had to hold that childish tongue he had already been reprimanded about.

His cerulean eyes took in the scene. Too many horses hooves, too much clanking armour. They could storm in, sure. Maybe with speed they’d take the bandits by surprise if they didn’t scatter to the winds before they got there. But that would only be worth something if the goal was to murder them all. Kevalin wanted to capture them, give them a chance to repent and redeem. Prosecute them. Not execute them.

If he was to be in charge, then he’d try to have it his way. He dismounted from his horse and held the reins out to be taken by one of the knights.

“If we go in like this, they’ll scatter before we arrive and the problem will just be pushed to another day.”

He took a deep breath and tried to imagine himself in a courtroom rather than the middle of a forest with knights and his father.

“People hang themselves best, most often. I’ll go in alone. I’m dressed more like them than any of you. I’ll lure them out and into a trap. You all set up off the road and when I’ve led them back to this point, we’ll surround them and encourage their surrender.”

It could be tidy, couldn’t it? Maybe they’d see themselves surrounded and outmatched by fine knights and guardsmen and simply accept their fate rather than fighting.

He looked to his father with hope and fear. Would Keldon laugh at him? Call him foolish? Undermine him?

“Join me, father? Not into the camp, just nearby.” He swallowed and glanced around, suddenly self-conscious it would read as him asking for daddy to hold his hand.

“My tongue might not be as silvered as I think, I may need you to wave your wand and port me out of there.” Also, kill them all.

He raised his hood over his head and waited for his father to dismount and lead the way to the bandit camp. Or tell him how it was actually going to go.
The senior guardsmen, experienced warriors with weathered faces and hardened eyes, looked to Keldon for guidance. They were well-versed in the ways of traditional military strategy, and Kevalin's unorthodox plan raised concerns among their ranks. They knew the risks involved, the potential for chaos and danger. But Keldon, the former Marshal, met their gaze with a sense of quiet assurance.

With a gentle nod, Keldon conveyed his trust in his son's ability to lead, or perhaps in everyone elses ability to adapt and change course if it went sideways. Acknowledging the concerns of the guardsmen while also recognizing the potential of Kevalin's idealistic approach. It was a silent affirmation that he believed in his heir, that their decisions were not solely his son's burden to bear, but also his own. The guardsmen, sensing the weight of responsibility, accepted Keldon's nod as a signal to proceed.

As the group ventured deeper into the forest, the sun's rays filtered through the thick canopy above, casting dappled patterns of light on the forest floor. The atmosphere was hushed, with only the occasional chirping of birds and the rustling of leaves disrupting the tranquility. The soldiers remained alert, their senses honed to detect any signs of danger lurking within the shadows.

It was then that Kevalin unfolded his plan, his voice carrying an air of determination and idealism. He dismounted from his horse, offering the reins to one of the knights, his gaze sweeping over the group, the weight of leadership settling upon his shoulders. The guardsmen listened, their expressions a mix of curiosity and uncertainty, as Kevalin outlined his intention to go in alone and lure the bandits out, while the rest of the group waited nearby to encircle them and encourage their surrender.

The guardsmen exchanged glances, their concern evident. This plan deviated from the familiar and well-tested methods of combat they had grown accustomed to. But Keldon's nod of approval, tinged with a father's pride and trust, gave them pause. They recognized the significance of this moment, the merging of experience and idealism, tradition and innovation.

However, Keldon knew that his son's plan carried inherent risks, ones that extended beyond Kevalin's shoulders alone. Stepping forward, he addressed the guardsmen, his voice filled with a quiet resolve. "I will go in as a faux-hostage," he declared, his one-eyed gaze piercing. "The risks we take are not just his, but mine as well. We will face this together." as the elf-lord started to unhinge some of the armor plates along with family heraldry giving clear indication of who he was.

His words hung in the air, an acknowledgment of the shared responsibility and the bonds of family. The guardsmen, appreciating the depth of their commitment, nodded in understanding, accepting the weight of the situation. For a brief few moments Keldon would take some dirt and branches and scuff up his hair along with armor. One of the knights handing their lord some rope and loosely tying up the marhsals hands.

The forest seemed to hold its breath, aware of the momentousness of their mission. The soldiers, their armor reflecting the dancing sunlight, stood as pillars of strength amidst the lush foliage, their hearts beating in unison. In this fleeting moment, the boundaries between tradition and innovation blurred, as a new chapter in their intertwined destinies began to unfold.

Kevalin Elsdragon

La vérité est un mirage
He saw the doubt, and he understood it. He really shouldn't be calling the shots, but from a certain perspective that meant that he should be. At least in his own mind. He was sure there were other ways. Perhaps they could charge in and run the bandits down. Maybe they could surround them in every direction but a single one, and when the bandits take the bait and run they could have men waiting in ambush. Or they could sneak up from every side and fill them with arrows. Or they could wait until they fell asleep, creep up, and kill them in their beds.

The problem was that all of those options saw all or most of those bandits dead. That might be good for a blood enemy, monsters, or inconvenients that needed to quietly disappear. It wasn't any good for a just and lawful society. Bad actors needed to see that bad action was caught and punished. Good actors needed to know they were safe and their good actions were rewarded by the social order being maintained.

The forest didn't need its ground soaked with blood for no reason. Neither did any of them need anything more to reckon for than they had to. He looked at those around him with a bit of pity. For all of them killing was a matter of course. Death was mundane. They forgot that almost every time they were choosing to do it. Not choosing to live or die in a single moment, but in a premeditated fashion choosing to kill. They had all forgotten they didn't have to solve things with death.

Kevalin was willing to be burdened with their displeasure that he still remembered to choose differently, if he could.

He nodded to his father and took the rope. He laughed a little and looked at the ground. Then the smile was replaced with unease and disquiet. He had, for a moment, thought it might be funny to bop his father in the nose and make the ruse all the more real. The thought, at first a moment of humour, morphed into disgust. That was his father. He loved him. How could he think a thing like that?

He checked the ropes to make sure his father could slip them easily when the time came, "Best to be sure," he muttered.

"Be prepared to close in on them from either side of the forest path. Stay just behind this bend here. The goal is to capture and put them on trial." His eyes went to their swords and lances and wondered if they even knew how to do that anymore. Had his father ever taught them how?

Kevalin nodded down the road and tugged on his fathers rope, "Let's get to their camp and see what tale we can weave."

With his free hand he checked his estoc and each of his throwing knives to make sure they came out smoothly. Then he started walking, taking in the silence of the forest and waiting for some sign of the bandits to show as he focused on transforming himself. He stood a little less straight, his walk became less smooth, his shoulders moved more, he relaxed his core, and brought tension into his arms. He switched Keldon's rope to his right hand and took a throwing knife out with his left. As they walked he began muttering in Charismean and practicing an accent typically found in the eastern harbours - a little rougher. He had to act the part, to get the part.
The guardsmen listened intently to Kevalin's instructions, their expressions a mixture of curiosity and concern. They had grown accustomed to a more straightforward approach, all of them well versed in the chaotic nature of the world. Where swords and lances were the primary tools of their trade.

As Kevalin checked the ropes, ensuring his father's freedom when the time came, the guardsmen exchanged glances, silently acknowledging the importance of their roles in this unconventional operation. They knew that their success relied on their ability to coordinate their movements and execute the plan flawlessly.

With Kevalin's words lingering in the air, the guardsmen nodded, their expressions determined yet tinged with uncertainty. They glanced towards their Lord who simply gave them a small nod. As Kevalin directed them to take positions on either side of the forest path, their swords and lances caught their attention. Doubts flickered across their faces, questioning whether those they sought had the necessary character to carry out a capture without resorting to violence. A sense of anticipation hung in the air as they moved away from Kevalin and Keldon, dispersing to their designated positions. They were aware that the success of their mission hinged not only on Kevalin's strategy but also on their ability to execute their roles with precision and restraint.

As they positioned themselves just behind the bend in the forest path, the guardsmen adjusted their grips on their weapons, their gazes focused and unwavering. Each of them carried the weight of their training and experience, their dedication to upholding the law and maintaining order driving their every action. In the midst of their silent contemplation, a flicker of doubt crossed their minds. They, like their lord understood the likely outcome and many were bracing for the struggle ahead.

Yet, with a collective nod, they reaffirmed their commitment to Kevalin's vision and the greater purpose they all served. They stood ready, their faith in their leader and their own abilities unwavering. The forest stood witness to their resolve, its ancient trees casting long shadows over their determined forms.

As the forest held its breath, awaiting the imminent encounter, the guardsmen steeled themselves for the challenges ahead. Their swords and lances, once symbols of authority, now became reminders of their duty to protect and serve with honor, compassion, and a commitment to justice.

Chapter 2: Into the Heart of the Forest

Keldon walked with purpose through the dense woods, his hands bound and led forward by Kevalin, disguised as one of the bandits. The scent of pine mingled with the cool evening breeze as they ventured deeper into the heart of the forest. The silence was broken only by the occasional rustling of leaves and the crackling of distant campfires.

As they approached the bandit encampment, Keldon surveyed the scene with a keen eye, his senses heightened despite the constraints placed upon him. Roughly twenty men were scattered throughout the clearing, their crude attire and mismatched weapons testaments to lives lived outside the boundaries of law and order. Tents, worn and weathered, dotted the camp, and the flickering flames cast eerie shadows on the faces of the bandits.

Among the chaotic arrangement of the camp, Keldon's gaze was drawn to a small group of captives confined within a wooden cage. Women and a few frail men huddled together, their expressions marked by fear and despair. It pained him to see their suffering, but he knew that his role as a pretend hostage was essential in infiltrating the bandit ranks and unraveling their nefarious activities.

Keldon's bound hands clenched tightly, a silent reminder of the risks they were taking. He understood the gravity of their mission—to rescue the captives and bring the bandits to justice. It was a delicate balance between maintaining the illusion of captivity and seizing the opportune moment to strike.

As Kevalin led him further into the encampment, Keldon studied the bandits closely, searching for weaknesses and gathering intelligence. The flickering campfires revealed worn faces and calloused hands, hardened by a life of crime and desperation. Their rough demeanor and hushed conversations spoke of a camaraderie born out of survival, yet their actions had caused immeasurable suffering.

Every step Keldon took, his resolve deepened. He knew that the success of their mission hinged on their ability to outmaneuver the bandits, to exploit their vulnerabilities, and to secure the freedom of the captives. He trusted in Kevalin's ability to maintain the charade, to navigate the treacherous waters of deceit, while he observed and planned their next move.

As they made their way through the encampment, Keldon remained alert, his senses attuned to the smallest details. The flickering campfires cast elongated shadows, dancing upon the tent walls, providing an ephemeral backdrop to the scene. The crackling of the fires and the distant murmurs of the bandits created an atmosphere tinged with tension and anticipation.

Despite the constraints of his bindings, Keldon's mind was sharp, his focus unwavering. He analyzed the layout of the camp, noting potential escape routes, and identifying the bandits who posed the greatest threat. The captives' eyes met his, filled with a glimmer of hope as they realized that help had arrived in the most unexpected form.

Keldon's hands may have been tied, but his determination and resolve burned fiercely within. He understood the risks they were undertaking, the delicate dance between acting the part of a hostage and seizing the opportunity to turn the tables. With each step, he moved with purpose, his silent presence a testament to his unwavering commitment to justice. They noticed a significant gathering near the center. A large fire crackled, its warm glow casting an eerie illumination on the faces of several larger men huddled together. The air around them seemed thick with authority, suggesting that they were the leaders of the unruly bandit group. Keldon's eyes narrowed as he observed their gestures and whispered conversations, searching for any hints of their nefarious intentions.

Their attention was then drawn to a chilling sight at the heart of the camp. A young woman was tied up to a central post, her delicate form contorted and exposed, bound to a pillory. It was a heart-wrenching sight that revealed the depths of the bandits' depravity. The woman's helplessness and vulnerability were painfully evident, and it didn't take much to connect the dots regarding the vile purpose to which she was being subjected.

A mix of anger and determination coursed through Keldon's veins. The innocence that had been violated before him only fueled his resolve to bring these bandits to justice. He exchanged a brief glance with Kevalin. They had to succeed in their mission, not only for the captives they had seen but for the countless others who had suffered at the hands of these criminals.

Though Keldon's hands were bound and his movements restricted, his spirit burned with an unyielding fire. The sight of the young woman's suffering fueled his determination to dismantle this bandit stronghold and put an end to their terror. With each passing moment, he felt the weight of responsibility grow heavier, and the urgency to act intensified. Drawing upon his connection to the unseen realms, he began to gather force energy, weaving it with practiced precision around the necks of those present. The invisible tendrils of power danced in the air, their touch barely perceptible, yet pulsing with a potent energy.

In the middle of the camp, a large fire crackled, its warm glow casting flickering shadows on the faces of the bandits huddled together. Among them, a group of larger men stood, their rough demeanor and commanding presence suggesting their leadership within the bandit ranks. Their hardened expressions revealed a lifetime of hardship and brutality.

Amidst the chaotic scene, Keldon's keen eyes caught sight of a young woman bound to a center post, her naked flesh exposed and vulnerable. A man walked away from her, leaving no doubt as to the deplorable purpose to which she had been subjected. Anger welled up within Keldon, fueling his determination to bring justice to these vile individuals.

The force energy coiled around Keldon's fingers, his grip tightening as he embraced the power that coursed through the force plane. He understood the delicate balance between justice and swift action, knowing that sometimes, the need for decisive intervention outweighed the desire for a trial. His unwavering commitment to protecting the innocent fueled his resolve, giving him the strength to act if the situation demanded it.

As they moved forward, Keldon's mind remained sharp, his senses attuned to the nuances of the unfolding situation. The force energy coiled around the necks of the bandits served as a silent reminder of the consequences they would face if they dared to harm the innocent or impede their mission. The power he possessed was a force to be reckoned with, ready to be unleashed at a moment's notice. He would support his son's plan, but if the situation demanded it, he was prepared to act swiftly and decisively, ensuring that justice prevailed.

A larger, more menacing figure approached them. He towered over the others, his broad shoulders and muscular frame a testament to his physical prowess. The rugged lines etched on his weathered face spoke of a life lived on the edge of lawlessness, where violence and survival were the only constants.

His narrowed eyes bore into Kevalin, filled with suspicion and hostility. The bandit's unkempt hair framed a face adorned with a scruffy beard, further accentuating his rough and intimidating appearance. Scars crisscrossed his weather-beaten skin, souvenirs of countless battles fought and won. His calloused hands gripped the hilt of his sword tightly, ready to unleash its deadly edge at a moment's notice.

With each step closer, his presence loomed larger, filling the air with an undercurrent of danger. His voice, gruff and coarse, dripped with hostility as he demanded answers. "Who the fuck are you, and who's this you're bringing us?" he snarled, his gaze shifting between Kevalin and the bound Keldon.
Top Bottom