A bronze roar across the rolling sea of swaying trees, its voice seeming to echo across the horizon to meet the dying sunset. The deafening voice tore across the green of Caerlyn forest in an instant, and birds took to the heavens in fear racing to escape the hidden monster. Behind the loud peel however was a more subtle song that seemed to hang warm and heavy in the evening air. It coiled around you like a soft silk cloth, and held all who heard it spell bound with ringing whispers.
It spoke of long summer evenings, of dusky maidens and soaring skies. Of love and joy and happiness and a golden future it echoed it whispered of glory, of fame, of vaulted spires reaching to the gods themselves. Of knights in silver steel, golden ale and mighty heroes it sang. Beyond the joy however the tolling song spoke deeper. Down into the depths of a person’s soul.It sang of never ending sorrow and a pain that would never end, to a world of ruination as the dream of golden futures fades to dust. It sang of days long past, of glory faded into ruin in the ceaseless march of time crushed into ashes.
The song cried to the listener’s very core whispering and roaring of bitter love, frustration and pain dredged from their souls to a world without joy. Hope was but a guttering candle alone on an island in an ocean of tears, wallowing in the darkness of despair. The last note hung in the evening air seemingly without end, before softening into silence like a lullaby to the gathering dusk. Sorrow, such bitter sweet sorrow. A single heartbeat of perfect calm, then the bronze road echoed out once again as the bell of sorrows tolled once more. Its roar rang out once again of love and loss, of glory undimmed until the ending of the world. The last golden ray of sunlight illuminated a solemn procession that marched in silence down a marble path among the overhanging eaves of gnarled oaks. The path was old and cracked white marble that stood stark against the dark greens of the forest. It stood stark against the long lines of figures that stood along it or perched in the old oaks eves in hushed silence, as tears fell like rain from a summer storm.
Armour clinked, and marching feet broke the silence as the knights of the order marched home. With gleaming helmets and uniform lockstep, the knights of the order looked every inch the image of chivalric power. Unfaltering endurance and unstinting formation ate up mile after mile, and seemingly unstoppable tide of green cloaked figures that would march to the very corners of the world. To those who perched in the eaves of the tallest trees with sharp ears, the order appeared as a mighty serpent with glittering scales shimmering in the waning light.
As one looked closer the illusion was shattered, and the glorious image gave way to tarnished reality. Beautiful armour gave way to scarred steel, mail links falling like seeds across the path, or in places simply missing altogether. Blood dripped onto the white marble from bandaged wounds, and the Knights were etched in pain and fatigue in listless faces. The smell of rotting leather and sickly sweet corruption of infected flesh filled the air. Any final remnant of Illusion was shattered by the dark shapes carried shoulder high in slow procession by tall knights in dark cloaks. Gone was the glory, gone was the gleaming ideals of chivalry, to be replaced by stark brutal reality. A weary honour guard carrying a brotherhood home on their final journey.
Oak coffins bound with the orders colours of green and black stood tall amongst the procession, dressed in the broken weapons of the fallen. Here the broken blades of Ser Rhodri and Ser Halvard cut down in the line, there, the shattered shield of Ser Durran who held the pass against all odds. Legends in their own lifetime’s these brave few now joined the unnumbered scroll of the order’s fallen. At the vanguard stood a lone flag draped coffin, its prow marked with garnished flowers and the shattered helm of the fallen lord.
The golden white marble of Meridian tower shone like a burning beacon of burnished gold in the waning light, set against the blood red of the curtain walls. As the procession made its final steps, the keeps oak doors swung open and custodians stepped forth in rippling mail and unsheathed blades. In silence they lined the final path to the opening vaults, blades held high in silent vigil.
One strode forth from the grim custodian formation, garbed in the emerald green of the order. A slight playful gust of wind tugged and swirled around the robe, and with a final sigh pulled free the wearer’s hood. Auburn hair flowed into the evening breeze framing a face of sorrowed beauty, of emerald eyes and falling tears. Midnight clad in darkened steel, Lady Clara Tawe knelt to one knee before her lord for the last time.
The Lord of Caerlyn had come home.
In the dying glimmers of sunlight, flights of white geese dipped low in the evening sky, soaring on, on onto the horizon of shimmering emerald…