Know Your Purpose

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A city floating in the center of a lake, Ravok is a place of dark beauty, romance and culture. Behind it all though is the presence of Rhysol, God of Evil and Betrayal. The city is controlled by The Black Sun, a religious organization devoted to Rhysol. [Lore]

Know Your Purpose

Postby Elias Caldera on November 1st, 2018, 11:13 pm

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15th day of Fall, 518 AV



The thud of the table hitting the floor was what woke him from his misery, but it was the smell of the feast assembled atop it that kept his bleary eyes open.

That, and the raucous din of the feast goers.

In a jarring instant, the once barren courtyard had gone from the tranquil and somber place of training to what could only be described as some kind boisterous bar room party, complete with belligerent hooligans howling and laughing as if they were sailors on shore leave. Though dazed and unfocused, Karth’s vision sharpened in an instant when he finally realized just what it was he was looking at. Food and drink had been assembled before him in absurd abundance, and only mere feet away from where he hung. With crusty, watering eyes, he could see everything from roasted duck legs, to boiled quail eggs and… if his nose wasn’t deceiving him, that pot near the end was filled with lentil soup.

He felt his stomach begin to do more than just rumble.

Miss Caska at the Commorancy used to make the best lentil stew, and she’d always give him an extra helping when it was his turn in line. ‘A big boy needs a big meal’ she’d say with a little smile as sweet as sugar. Karth had to wonder what miss Caska would think of him now if she saw him like this…

Gods how he missed the orphanage.

How long had he been up now? Was it two days or three? He’d lost track once the hunger pangs had really begun to take their toll. At first, he’d welcomed the pain. It gave him something to focus on, but in the end even that grew dull and ineffective against the sheer strife of his ordeal. The worst part was the weakness though. It wasn’t something you could simply shake off or fight through, it just took hold of you like a clammy hand and never let go. It brought tremors to his legs, a dizziness to his head, and left a weight upon his shoulders that demanded every ounce of his defiance of every chime of the day lest it finally find its opportunity crush him once and for all. It was a sensation he was not accustomed to, and he hated it all the more.

“Mmmhmmm!” Came a grotesque and exaggerated groan from table nearby. One of the apprentices was mocking him, Karth realized as he watched the bald-headed boy tear another long, juicy length of sweltering meat from the bone. “Rhysol preserve me, but this is petching goooood!” The bastard cooed as a sliver of grease slithered down his chin. Karth noticed for the first time he was drooling when the others clamoring around the table -eight in total- began laughing at him. The food was so close he could taste it on the breeze. The scent stung about as much as their sneers and mockery did.

It had been three days, he decided. Three days since he’d been allowed to eat. Three days since they had come to him with promises of purpose and whispers of glory. Three days and he was still here… Why?!

Karth began to feel the fire of something sinister growing in his belly, something that was fighting against even the hunger for dominance. Three days of this shyke! Three days and he no one to blame for it but himself!

With a groan, he slowly managed to turn his head for what felt like the first time in a lifetime. Next to him he saw another wooden pole, much like his own. Maybe ten feet tall, with notches cut out one foot off the ground from where they’d been staked and another much higher up towards the top. The former was where his bare and swollen heels had fit uncomfortably for the past three days, shuffling bell after bell in search of something akin to comfort that he knew was never going to be there. The latter was meant to be his handholds, and his fingers had long since lost all feeling in them having been raised over his head for so long a time. Jareth was standing there slotted in to both noctches just like Karth was on his own pole, and likely as much a sorry sight as Karth imagined himself to be at this point. He did not stir, nor had he even opened his eyes to the commotion. He was a big kid, bigger even than Karth and nearly twice as thick with lean, mean muscle. He barely fit on his pole, his feet dangling over the notch like two big, gnarly branches. Karth didn’t know how he’d managed to stay up this long, but he had, and now it looked as if the price had been too much. He wasn’t even sure the boy was alive anymore… Ossia on the other hand, her he wished would hurry up and just die already. She stood to his right, opposite Jareth, and after the first day when the rains had come and nearly chilled their bones to the breaking, had begun mumbling incessantly under her breath. She hadn’t stopped since and the sound of her voice in Karth’s right ear was like having an insect caught in there that he couldn’t dear try to pick out. She’d gone petching crazy and now her sole reason in life seemed to do the same to Karth.

Gods he hated this! He petching hated this!

Why was he still here!?

They had told them all in no uncertain terms that if their grip ever loosened or their feet ever touched the ground again, they would be done with them. There would be no ceremony. There would be no introductions. That would be it, after everything he’d gone through just to get this far, if he failed now, there was no coming back. All the trials, all the hazing, all the petching pain and torment, in the end had all led to this. He’d worked so hard for it, and now all he wanted to do was just let go and forget it had ever happened.

Why was he doing this? It was stupid, it was painful, and it was pointless. So what if he got into the unit, he didn’t need some special group to make it in the Ebonstryfe, and he definitely didn’t want to be part of any outfit that thought this kind of ridiculous test meant anything to anyone.

“Oh no, no, no I couldn’t possibly take another bite… alright maybe just one more.” That familiar, grating voice came again, dragging Karth’s haggard gaze back to the table, back the grinning, shyke eating face of the same punk that had been squealing in delight earlier. The sounds he made as he slurped down another goblet of wine… the way he was staring Karth in the eye as he did it…

“Whats the matter buttercup? Getting thirsty?”

That fire in his belly flared.

“Petch this.”

His feet hit the ground like a sack of stone, buckling beneath him and casting him hard to the granite floor. The laughter intensified, as did the jibes and the jokes.

“Ha! What did I tell you lot, huh! I knew the ugly one would drop first. You all owe m-!” That fire had become an inferno, and the next thing he knew, Karth was up on his feet again, charging the table with fists clenched and teeth bared.


WC - 1249
Last edited by Elias Caldera on November 1st, 2018, 11:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Elias Caldera
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Know Your Purpose

Postby Elias Caldera on November 1st, 2018, 11:18 pm

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It was the sound of it that karth savored the most.

The sound his fist made as it collided with that son of bitch’s jaw.... The sound of his teeth as they rattled around in his bloodied, wine sodden mouth. It was the sweetest of melodies, and it was twice as satisfying second time around.

Truth be told he had expected to be swarmed at that point. There were at least eight other apprentices there, all of which were older than him, and tougher looking to boot. They had a look in their eyes that told him they had seen some shyke before, not like the other raw recruits who called the barracks home. They could have downed him in a matter of moments, and with the way he was now, weak and pathetic like, there wasn’t a damn thing the orphan could have done to stop them. He would have greeted it with open arms honestly. He needed the rest.

But the blows never came, and Karth found himself staring at a table full of -not bloodthirsty or even angry faces, but… jubilant ones? They were excited, but why the petch would they be? Ugh, It didn’t matter, he was too damn hungry and too damn angry to be bothered with such a puzzle. With a growl, he lashed out at the table, seizing upon the roasted duck the bastard he’d just decked had been eating, pointed it at him like he would a sword, and after taking the biggest bite of his life out of the thing, cried out the muffled words “Petch you!” between sprayed bits of half chewed meat and spittle.

The punk moaned something from his spot on the floor in reply.

Karth was about to issue the same declaration to rest of his comrades when he noticed none of them were looking at him anymore. Even as he spun around wildly, meat flailing and legs trembling, their eyes were elsewhere.

When he heard the clapping, he realized why.

They were looking to their commander.

The initiate wasn’t sure how he’d missed the man. He’d been waiting in the shadows of pillars that lined the courtyard, but for how long Karth couldn’t say. Now that he was looking at the stryfer though, perhaps it would have been better if he’d gone on as blissfully ignorant of his presence as he had been. The first thing the orphan took note of was how pale he was. It was almost ghostly, and the depths of his pitch black armor only made the sickly nature of his skin all the more striking. His face was a mess of scars, marred by conflict and battles long fought, but it was his eyes that troubled Karth the most. Cold, hard, and shrouded in a darkness that was difficult to meet, let alone match, tyet hey were looking directly at Karth as his hands smacked together again and again.

He was applauding, the boy realized.

Applauding him.

“Rejoice, my apprentices.” Elias Caldera exclaimed, his voice carrying low and unnervingly light for how clearly it carried. “For we are complete. Our final brother has joined us at last.”

Karth felt the breath flood out of him.

“What!?”

For a tick he’d thought that had been his voice, for the very same thought had been edging its way unto his tongue, but in fact it had been someone else’s. Ossia, whose insane mumblings had been growing louder and more desperate as things unfolded around her, had finally snapped out of her inane trance in a fit of confusion and umbrage. “What do you mean he did it? He fell! He lost! I’m still up here. That other ones not even conscious anymore!” She practically screamed. “I did everything you asked, Commander.” Her voice quaked, mouth parched and tone pleading. The crazy bitch was right. Karth had failed clear as day. Hell, he’d earned a lashing or two on top of that thanks to his little outburst at the end. Was the commander playing with him then? Was this another test to see how he’d react, or how she would?

Elias turned to Ossia, almost sympathetic in his casual response. “You did, Ossia. You did everything I told you to and you never deviated once.” She smiled, her white knuckled grip of the pole loosening ever so slightly. “And that’s exactly why I have no use for you, my dear.” He snapped his fingers and a tick later two of the apprentices were pulling Ossia down from her perch. They’d had to pry her from the pole kicking and screaming. She had a surprising amount of energy left and most of it was wasted on hollering her desperate questions or brutal curses. Jareth followed suit, carried on the shoulders of another boy who bore his weight with surprising ease. He still hadn’t woken up…

“To the physiker with both of them. Make sure they tended to.” The commander ordered offhandedly as they passed, deaf to both Ossia’s hisses and Jareth’s own silent pleas. He returned his gaze to Karth after the two of them were finally gone. “Congratulations, young man. You passed. Though I have to say, I expected you to do that about two days ago. Don’t expect me to wait on you like that again.” There was a jovialness to his tone, a lighthearted demeanor that only served to baffle and unsettle the young recruit even more.

“Yuff cormandur.” Karth tried to say, realizing like an idiot his mouth was still stuffed with duck. He coughed, swallowed, and tried again. “Yes commander. Sorry commander. I… thought the test was see how long we could stay up there. I don’t understand?”

“Yes, you do.” Elias retorted flatly, and Karth froze. Something came over the pale soldier in that instant, and he recognized it for what it was; the hint disappointment.

“I’m sorry, sir?”

“Are you a sheep, Karth?”

“Wha-?”

“I said are you a sheep, recruit?”

Karth hesitated for too long, he could tell.

“That young lady they dragged out of here thinks the same thing I bet. She thinks that because I gave her an order to stand on that pole and not move an inch, that she fulfilled her mission and honored her oath to the Ebonstryfe by doing just that. She would have stayed up there until her final breaths if we hadn’t pulled her down, and she would have been happy with her fate too. She thinks she’s a good soldier, Karth… She’s sheep.” Elias was upon him now, voice still low but commanding all the same. It reminded Karth of the hiss of the river snakes that swam along the shoreline. Their warnings were quiet and often overlooked until it was too late, but if you were lucky or observant enough to catch it, you would often go silent just to hear it. So quiet the whole world became just that threatening hiss that told you in no uncertain terms you’d made a mistake and it was time to run. “There’s a fine line between a soldier’s obedience and slave’s submission and far too many of your peers never learn the difference. They don’t have the instinct for it.”

Elias had begun circling him, not unlike the instructors here at the training yards when they were giving him a dress down. He found himself straightening his posture and falling into attention out of an instinct that had been beaten into him over the years as a petitioner.

“But you’re different,” the pale man proceeded with a new air of admiration tinging his subtle tone shift. “You decided you’d had enough of following a foolish command, and so you dared to defy it. Why?”


WC - 1283
Last edited by Elias Caldera on November 1st, 2018, 11:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Elias Caldera
Playa
 
Posts: 902
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Joined roleplay: September 14th, 2013, 1:28 am
Location: Ravok
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Medals: 7
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Ravok Seasonal Challenge (1) 2018 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)

Know Your Purpose

Postby Elias Caldera on November 1st, 2018, 11:32 pm

Image

Karth didn’t have answer. Not nearly fast enough to stymy the onslaught that followed.

“When you left the orphanage, you could have done anything, been anything, but you joined the Order! Why?”

The words fumbled and fell flat halfway up his throat. He had done his research on him it seemed. Read some file in some dank and dirty vault somewhere that was supposed to sum up his past as if ink and parchment alone could suffice. It made the orphan feel naked, exposed. He despised that feeling. Told himself he’d never let himself feel it again.

“When you go above and beyond in your training sessions time after time, you marked yourself as worthy of special attention. You wanted to be noticed. You wanted to be seen. Why? You could have been like everybody else and settled for an easy life patrolling overgrown animal trails and frisking traders who wandered into the outposts.” Elias was in his face, yelling, roaring. Karth could feel the spit landing on his cheeks. Could smell the man’s breath hot upon him with each demanding cry. It smelt of iron and fresh blood. “What did you hope to achieve when you came here, hmm? What do you want!?”

“I wanted more!” Karth screamed. The words and the passion behind them had burst out of him even before he realized the need to stop it. “I wanted… more.” He breathed, feeling himself go dizzy again from the strain.

“You wanted more.” The commander repeated, straightening himself as Karth stared daggers of defiance back up at him.

“Yes.” He wheezed.

“You wanted something to be proud of.”

“Yes.”

“You wanted glory!” The Caldera’s eyes narrowed. It was plain as day he was studying Karth now, much a butcher would a slab of meat.

“Yes!”

“You wanted purpose!”

“YES!!!”

Elias paused for a moment, as if tasting the outburst, appreciating its flavor like one would a fine wine. Then he turned to the others and directed his response to them. “What do you think, Havok? Have we let a stray sheep wander into our ranks?”

A series of mocking sheep noises echoed in return from either side of him, and the orphan felt hands pushing, jostling him left and right in infuriating derision. He was shocked however to have found himself surrounded as he had. The rest of the apprentices had all arrayed themselves in a straight and narrow line of attention on either side of him, their hands at their sides and their chests puffed out as if awaiting inspection. In his stupor he’d lost sense of his surroundings, and only recognized the change when the others had broken formation to taunt him. It fueled the flame, but the boy grit his teeth and kept the heat in check. Now was not the time.

Elias bent himself forward once more, lowering his face against Karth’s. “Well then, what’s it to be, boy? Are you sheep, Karth?”

This time, the apprentice didn’t hesitate. “I ain’t no petching sheep… sir.” He snarled.

Elias smiled.

“Good.” He whispered. “Because you’re running with the wolves now, and there is no place for prey among my pack. Understand me, apprentice?”

“I understand you, commander.” Karth shouted back, with perhaps a bit to much giddiness in his voice.

“Do you hear me, Havok squad?”

This time the entire company of apprentices returned in unison with he same response, and the orphan was right there with them. “Yes, Commander!”

“You’re mine now, son. Mine until you’re dead or I find someone better to replace you! From this day forth you are the very tip of the spear! The vanguard that leads the way. The firsts ones into the combat, the first blade to strike our enemy’s heart, abroad and at home. I will turn you sorry lot into the elite among the elite. Yours will be the names our brotherhood trumpets in reverence and our foes whispers in fear. If you follow me, you’ll have no shortage of blood, mud and misery, but I swear to you this, I’ll give you the glory you deserve. I will give you the purpose you seek.”

Karth felt the words rush over him like the rapids of a waterfall, invigorating his exhausted body and pumping life back into it anew.

“In return, I do not ask for your blind obedience. I do not want it, nor do I have I need for it. Instead, I ask you for your trust. Trust that every command I give is for the betterment of Ravok. Trust that every time I lead you into the fray, it is for a reason worth fighting for -worth dying for. Trust that I will not squander your lives or your potential with trivialities. In return I will bestow upon you gifts that will serve you better than any blade…” Karth found his attention being directed over to the poles where he and his fellow initiates had been enduring their trial not moments ago. He noticed one of the apprentices standing next the middle stand -the one Karth had been clinging to- and watched as the boy wound back his fist only to then deliver a powerful punch into the wooden stake. Karth winced, expecting the telltale crackle of broken bones and the residual screech of agony that would follow, but instead his jaw went slack as he watched the apprentice’s fist crash into the pole, the thing being three if not four times as thick as his arm, and instead of shattering, went straight through it. It was a spray of splinters as the pole buckled before finally crashing to the ground, snapped in half by a single, inhuman strike. It was at that point the orphan recognized the one who’d performed the incredible feat had been the same punk who’d been insulting him earlier. The same one he’d sucker punched in the face… twice.

“Gifts that will help you serve your god and your people…”

He wasn’t sure how to react to what he’d just seen, and he’d hadn't been permitted a chance to as another apprentice had stepped up to him. A long haired and lanky limbed girl, she had out stretched her hand in front of him, and for moment Karth thought she was showing off the fresh looking scar that cut across her palm. She snapped her fingers a tick later and in her hand sprang to life a ball of sizzling red flame that sent the initiate’s eyebrows racing up his forehead and his feet taking an instinctive step back.

“I will give you these things and more, because in you I see what no other does. I see a passion for your nation unparalleled, and I see an ambition within each and every soul here that refuses to be stemmed by that nation’s failings. I see the future of Ravok standing before me! Am I wrong?”

“No commander!” the unit responded as one.

“Am I wrong?!”

“NO COMMANDER!”

“Then, tonight I want you to welcome your new brother, Havok. This day is yours to celebrate!” Cheers went up around the courtyard and Karth felt hands reaching for him once more, though this time they didn’t jeer or shove, but instead poked playfully and rustled his hair. Someone had even handed him a cup of water to drink, or least he’d hoped it had been water. He’d downed it so fast and so feral he hadn’t even had time to taste it. He smiled despite himself. “Drink, eat, be petching merry, for tonight is your night, apprentices. This marks the beginning of a new dawn for all of you. Be proud of what you are. Be prouder still of what you will one day become… and be ready in the morning, because training starts bright and early, recruits.”

A raucous and resounding cacophony of ‘boo’s’ answered back, but the Commander merely smiled knowingly as he watched the cadre of cadets fall upon the feat they’d prepared not to mock Karth, as the boy had originally believed, but in his honor.

The orphan watched as Elias turned his back on the group, apparently opting to leave them to their own devices. The boy stirred, wandering what he should say, or if she should say anything at all. He felt something hot and wet brimming around his eyes and he pawed at it anxiously. That fire that had been in his gut up until now had moved into his chest, and he felt himself swell with a kind of pride he hadn’t felt since sweet Mrs. Castia had told him how proud she was of him the day he left the orphanage and joined up with the order. That was a good day, he mused with a grin, but for first time in a long time, his thoughts weren't of the good days gone by, or the orphanage he’d left behind, but instead of the future that lay ahead of him. How did he put that into words Elia- his new commander could understand?

The Stryfer stopped suddenly, swiveling back around and affixing his cold gaze on the orphan’s once more.

“Oh and Karth," He said, "welcome to Havok squad, son.”

Then it came to him.

“Thank you, Commander.”


WC - 1492
User avatar
Elias Caldera
Playa
 
Posts: 902
Words: 1255874
Joined roleplay: September 14th, 2013, 1:28 am
Location: Ravok
Race: Human
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Medals: 7
Featured Character (1) Featured Thread (2)
Overlored (1) One Million Words! (1)
Ravok Seasonal Challenge (1) 2018 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)

Know Your Purpose

Postby Vanguard on January 10th, 2019, 11:51 pm

Judgment Is Upon Thee!



Elias Caldera
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  • Leadership +2
  • Teaching +2

Lores Learned
  • Leadership: A fine line between a soldier’s obedience and a slave’s submission
  • Leadership: Inspire by demonstration


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Testing Your Mettle
 
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