Our fast-paced journey across the grassland continues when we leave Vrem. We spend another night in the wilderness, and I take the night watch. The mountains grow steadily closer until we finally reach their foothills.
The town of Susanik is nestled at the base of the towering peaks. This is one of our final nights in an inn here on Linea, so you take full advantage of the warm food and comfortable sleeping arrangements.
* * * * *
In a bygone time, there was a young man named Gorden. He was planning on apprenticing with a bower, but the elvirian monarchy desperately needed more soldiers. He was strong and able, so he was recruited. He had just finished his training and was about to join the battle for the first time.
While many of Gorden’s comrades had chosen this career and were eager to fight the mellowmira, Gorden was reluctant. He didn’t want to hurt anyone, and he certainly didn’t want to get hurt himself.
Gorden made it through his first couple battles, which were really more like small skirmishes, but that didn’t make him any less terrified. If anything, the horror of being out on the battlefield amplified his fear. He needed some way to get discharged.
He tried everything: fake injuries, fake mental breakdowns, disobeying orders, feigning incompetence. None of it worked. Gorden was punished for his lies, and he was left with two choices: desert the army or find a way to get over his fear. If he deserted, he would have to live in hiding for the rest of his life. He wasn’t sure that was preferable to fighting. Instead, he decided to find a cure for his fear.
The next time Gorden’s band of soldiers stopped at a sizable town to stock up on supplies, Gorden sought out a blacksmith. He requested a sword that could be imbued with magic that would influence his emotions. The blacksmith told him it couldn’t be done. Gorden asked every blacksmith he met for the next month, and he got the same answer. He was on the verge of giving up and deserting when he found a blacksmith on the edge of a town. This was an unusual location for a business, so he decided to investigate.
This blacksmith was a woman. She told him she could make his sword, but it would come at a great price. At this point, Gorden was willing to pay anything. It cost him all of his wages and three days, but he finally got the cure he was looking for.
As soon as Gorden touched the hilt, he felt a surge of confidence and bravery. He felt like he could defeat anything.
Gorden took his new sword into battle, and he was able to fight his enemies without fear or reservations. His comrades thought he had finally accepted his job and that was why he was suddenly performing better. He did so well that he worked his way up the ranks and eventually became a general.
But there was another price to pay. While Gorden wasn’t afraid when he held the sword, he had nightmares about the battles and the lives he took every night. The only way he could sleep was if he had a hand on his sword hilt. He couldn’t function without the weapon.
Gorden continued to fight well, but his reliance on the sword took its toll on him. He was pale, didn’t have an appetite, and spent all his free time closed up in a tent. He was a shadow of his former self.
Because of this, many thought it was a blessing when a mellowmira killed him. Gorden was no longer dependent on his sword because he no longer had anything to fear.