From Dirt

Following months of retraining during which Narus has not only met but overcome every obstacle put in his way, including the trio of shadow attackers that had originally beaten the Ikatanuan warrior down, it has been determined by Eron that Narus is now ready. As a result the Ikatanuan will soon be departing Penseleg. Before he does however he will first have one final meeting with the man, the monk, the senior figure within the Arci Order who has helped him reach these previously unknown and incomprehensibly lofty heights.

Narus would not say he is the same warrior who fought and was defeated by Scarius all those months ago. No, that man is long gone. Narus wouldn’t quite say dead, but definitely departed. That is why the tribesman wants this meeting almost as much as he wants to be on his way. After all, he needs to offer his thanks. Without Eron the probability of him ending up lying face down in the dirt dead would have been almost certain.

Still, Narus cannot help but first gaze out over the beauty of Penseleg, the place he would now be happy to call a second-home. The warrior could never call it his first-home. That honour will always remain, as it should, in the lands of his birth. Lands long held by the Ikatanuan tribe. It is the same territory that is now under the boot of the despicable Scarius, leader of the Veserhen. They are not a tribe and before coming to Penseleg and retraining under the monks of the Arci Order, Narus would not have dared to dwell on what, or more accurately who, the Veserhen are. But things have changed and Narus will freely admit now that the Veserhen are outcasts, criminals and murderers no longer welcome amongst the tribes that they had been born into, if they ever belonged to one at all.

But as the twin suns sit low in the hazy sky, Narus finishes ascending the steps to the space that Eron inhabits. The monks do not call these areas homes or adobes. They are simply inhabited spaces, passed from generation to generation of the orders members.

As Narus enters he finds that Eron’s is, like all the others he’s glimpsed, sparsely and modestly decorated. The Liege sat upon a cushion on the floor, his legs crossed as a small, low rectangular table stands barely a hands length before him.

This is part of a custom that Narus knows well now. When he had first glimpsed it this had been a curiosity to him. However, he is not a part of the Order and as such is not permitted to partake in what is being done here. That is why the warrior instead takes the position of the sole remaining cushion at the opposite end of the low table carved from some kind of wood. Except the wood looks more like rock with its lack of grain and smooth almost mirror-like polished surface.

Narus says nothing as he sits in silence, waiting. After a time Eron’s eyes flicker open and smile to see the sight of the Ikatanuan waiting patiently. Not because the warrior has learnt and come to understand the ways of the monks but because he regards Narus like a brother and yet this brother is not a part of their Order, of the future path that they will walk. He will depart soon and that brings more pain than perhaps it should. It may explain why the council of Liege’s had been wary to allow mingling between members of the Order and this Ikatanuan tribesman to begin with. Yet, they had collectively agreed that turning a blind eye would not suffice either and ultimately concluded that Eron would be afforded the gift of this interlinking of worlds for as long as would be necessary.

“Congratulations on your successes.” Eron offers with a warmer tone than Narus can ever remember hearing from the shorter, and yet far wise than he, man.

Narus does not speak at first. Rather, he bows his head. It’s the traditional sign of respect amongst the Arci and shows just how far the once blunt and brutal fighter has come in the time that he has lived amongst the monks in Penseleg.

“I am but a cipher through which the Arci teachings flow.” The Ikatanuan says soon after the completion of the bow. His tone is humble and sure. Nothing like when arrogance had afflicted him in the time before. The proof, not that he needs any, comes from the fact that Narus can very much hear the change in his own voice, as well as feel the difference throughout his body as a result of what he has learned.

Still, it marvels the tribesman and Eron would commend him for his continued astonishment as that proves that true progress has been made. At one time Narus would have argued the toss, and had, but he knows so much more now than he could have ever believed was possible before.

Eron smiles warmly. He’s pleased with his student whose development has been categorical. Though, he would be lying if he did not allow his mind to remind that all that comes must also be allowed to go. After all, Narus does not belong here in Penseleg. That is why Eron, feeling a need to himself move past this current limit imposed by himself due to the disappointment that impending separation of friends brings, declares, “We will take a walk. The evening is most suitable for it.”

Narus agrees and follows Eron after rising from his position atop the cushion on the floor without saying a word. Quickly the pair vacate Eron’s room and begin to wander down the stone corridors of Penseleg.

The two men walk side by side, though Narus is a half-step behind the Acri monk. Silence continues to hang in the air as they cross a stone bridge. Not long after they pass it Eron breaks the comfortable silence during which both have focused on things important to them. For Narus that is the prospect of leaving Penseleg so he may right the wrong that is the continued survival of Scarius and his Veserhen. For Eron on the other hand it is to simply return to how things were before Narus’ arrival. Not a lot will change with the departure of the Ikatanuan tribesman, which is why Eron is mainly considering the beauty of the place he calls his home.

“I have some information that should prove most useful to you.” Eron declares as he continues to navigate the stone passages of Penseleg, his hands clasped behind his back as they often are. His long brown robe flows and dances behind him as a result of his momentum.

“You have my interest piqued.” Narus replies in an almost equally calm and even voice.

“Word has it that Scarius and his Veserhen have set up in the old Palace Of The Hidden King.” Eron advises without delaying any longer.

“Truly? Can this be believed?” Narus questions unsure as to how it is that the member of the Arci Order, liege or not, may have come to possess this knowledge.

“It can, I assure you.” Eron replies with a hint of a smile on his pale lips.

Narus says nothing in reply but that does not stop the monk from feeling the pause as if Narus wishes to say something but is considering whether it would be correct to or not. So to ease the Ikatanuan’s over thinking Eron inclines him to, “Speak your mind Narus.”

“While I have no reason to doubt what you say I do wonder how it is that you and by extension the Arci Order came to possess such data.” Narus admits.

It is at that point that Eron stops, turns toward Narus and admits, “While Penseleg is indeed unknown to all those beyond its borders, with you as the sole exception, the same cannot be said about the world to the members of the Order.”

Narus considers Eron’s words for a time. When he is finished considering he issues a short series of nods to declare his understanding of what has been said by the Liege.

The response results in a smile forming across Eron’s face. He’s pleased with how far the Ikatanuan has progressed since he first woke here, which is why the monk feels it appropriate to offer another piece of advice.

“You would be best leaving Penseleg under the cover of night to avoid any unnecessary attention being drawn to yourself as you travel the lands the Veserhen now call their own.”

“Yes Liege, and I thank you and your Order for all they have done for me. I plan to depart within the hour.” Narus replies humbly in the moments before Eron nods once and then goes on to produce, seemingly out of nowhere, a long and relatively narrow box. The Liege presents it without hesitation to Narus who looks at the shorter man before him with confusion etched into his face. That is why when Narus asks, “What is this?” Eron is not surprised.

“The best way to answer that would be for you to open the package and discover it with your own eyes.” Is what the Liege of the Arci Order says in reply as a smirk tugs at the corner of one side of his mouth.

Knowing that he will not receive any further details in regards to the box that has been presented to him, Narus releases the latch keeping the box sealed. The latch itself is made from metal coloured white. Narus does not recognise the metal and so decides not to dwell on the possibilities of what it might be. Rather, he takes a hold of either corner of the box’s hinged lid and then lifts it. At first all he can see is shadow but as light slithers in the contents are revealed to be a brand new longsword. Narus can scarcely believe what he is glimpsing because of its beauty.

The blade of the weapon shines as though it has some sort of light radiating from deep within it. On top of that the cross guard gleams with silver beauty that perfectly complements the grip of the weapon which is itself a dark crimson colour. Yet, Narus cannot bring himself to touch the weapon as he stands there hesitant and fearing that he might blemish it if he lays his hands upon it. That is until Eron urges, “The blade is yours. Claim it.”

The Ikatanuan tribesman does as he is urged to, his fingers wrapping around the grip of the weapon, feeling the silky smooth wrappings along the length of the dark crimson grip.

Instantly the weapon feels like it has always been in his hand. It’s unlike a feeling he has ever felt before in his life, but when he lifts it he cannot believe how light and yet perfectly balanced it is. However, all he has done so far is hold it and so Eron again urges, “Test it. Is has been earned.”

And that is exactly what Narus does in the moment’s right after. He tests the blade, feeling that the weight isn’t just perfect but perhaps too perfect. Not in a negative way, but in a way that Narus never dreamed might be possible.

“Now the time has come for the condition to be given.” Eron says once it is clear Narus is able to focus on something other than the weapon in his hands.

The Ikatanuan had forgotten about the condition he agreed to without knowing what it was. Now that it has been mentioned however he feels an overwhelming urge, as he slides his new longsword into a scabbard also present in the display box, “What is the condition?”

“You may never reveal the presence of the Arci Order or the true nature of Penseleg.”

“You have may word in this life and every one that follows it that your secret will be upheld.” Narus assures before both bow to offer their respect toward the other.

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