Snakes and Ladders…Jaiden’s Tale.
It was colder than one would think as I move through the streets of Tamsinar. I’m up in the northern polar regions of Shaelani. This is a rich land, it’s also home to the most die hard conservatives in the Shaelani culture. The region is called the Saltlands and is one of the biggest suppliers of salt to the other clans.
The entire region is based on a very saline sea that makes up the northern pole of this moon. The politics here are from the older courts, Lyam’s people and supporters, White, Skywood non-natives came here and developed the tribal lands and over thousands of years here changed the local culture. Men rule everything here, women do nothing but breed and raise the children here and menial tasks, they aren’t even allowed to show any more flesh than hands and feet.
Needless to say it doesn’t sit well with the rest of the clans, but in a desert world salt is important.
Actually Salt is important everywhere in the Sylvan realms. Only here, L’honei, Rymora, and Skywood have salt water oceans. Take what they use aside and the other moons and the holy planet’s population too…
Lyam and his royal house controlled all the salt on Skywood.
I get to a place where I can watch some of the comings and goings here obscure by the cover of night. Some sugar and spider webs blended with some sugar cane juice and I rub it on my palms and say a few incantations to bring out the definitive parts of the components and I climb up the blind wall of one of the towers of the tax collectors here in the city. It’s a good choice for an outlaw most official buildings are, this in particular is a good choice. Tax men love to remain close to the trade markets and…who likes the tax men enough to really look at their buildings for more than a rude gesture. High above the wash of the street lights I can see the goings on in the city and be fairly stealthy.
There was a rumor that there’d be money, serious money to trade hands here tonight. Lord Gilden of Skywood had been suffering labor problems with his workers and instead of dealing with the mining guilds he fired many of them outright.
Another rumor said he was building dormitories right in the mines. That meant indentured workers. People from Ajania and Marahaesh fleeing the social strife there to go to other moons or the Holy Planet for better lives. Neither the Ajania or the Marahaesh allowed their people to leave if they were set into serfdom.
So they pay smugglers of flesh to escape to places like working for the Skywood nobility in hopes they can pay off that debt and begin to live free lives. The only time I’ve ever seen it happen is with the few thieves and smugglers that I work with. Just one more thing amongst my many crimes.
So why am I getting involved with this?
Simple Gareth Gilden, the lord in question is a conservative. He’s of the old blood that’ll never change and he used to be a supporter of Lyam. I served with Aerik Gilden as a squire when I first ended up at Uncle Lyam’s.
I’m sure they’re funnelling monies to Lyam and trying to keep in good with him in case that his bid for power finally succeeds. Here is supposed to be a safe place for them because the Saltlander’s want a rulership where they can be ascendant instead of the trading clans. This is pushed of course by the Saltlander temples that worship strange gods left over from The Great War.
Lyam’s using his black allies to smuggle them here and taking the money to hire mercenaries, buy loyalty and to cause havoc. His spies are in the old money places of the kingdom. Barristers, Guildsmen, Bankers and more he comes in like a misunderstood knight and buys out debts of businesses and lesser nobles and those on the edge owning them. And it’s never too hard to find those that get desperate enough to turn to him and his for aid. He’s just like a devil making a deal.
Without legal proof there’s not much to be done. I settle in to wait and drift back on memories.
*** Skywood nearly seven hundred years ago…
I look at my brother excitedly as the page ceremonies when on. We were just finishing our training as pages and were passing on into being squires where we’d be chosen by and trained to become knights under knights of long service.
My brother, my twin wasn’t anywhere near as happy as I was at the entire thing. He fidgeted and tugged at his collar and looked miserable. I wish I knew what was going on with him. The last two years he’s pulled away from me and he’s gotten into such a funk that it’s disturbing. I know it’s over some girl…he’s been staring at the girls of the court mooning over them and brooding and there’s been the whiff of perfume in his rooms the odd time or ten…
But for him not to talk about it.
I tried several times and there are times where I can tell he’s scrutinising me. Watching me when I’m with my friends and having fun. Over the last two years he’s stopped trying to make friends, he stopped joining into games and having fun with us.
I shake off the funk that I swear I’m picking off of him and watch the events going on and waiting. There a lot of pomp and stuff but there’s a lot of excitement too. We get to compete against each other and show off the skills we have to attract a knight that’ll want to train us.
When it comes to my turn I do really good or I thing I did good. I’m good with a sword and I’m really decent with spear and staff and the bow.
I’d like to squire to several knights, there are many that are true heroes. I didn’t know that my fate was set in stone and that my uncle had spoken for me in the tradition of the old ways. My father was King and he couldn’t be my knight master but it was considered a Grace in the realm of court politics if the crown’s second that being the ruling prince of Skywood was the willing knight master of the king’s children.
While there had always been a distance between my uncle and father from father being chosen to be king rather than him this would set things much more aright.
Illian was outstanding; whatever has been riding him it has sharpened his edges to a fine honing of his skills. Before he’s been my lighter half. Laughing and having fun until this girl that he seems to be obsessing over.
It was a proud moment when we were chosen by uncle, we took the tabards that were offered with his symbol on them of the black dragon rampant on a red field.
The first two years in Castle Skydancing were good. I loved living there it was so magical just living on Skywood. Long ago during The Great War a terrible magic was used by The Enemy and the moon was nearly blown apart. Some powerful force had wrought a spell so strong that all the land masses rendered to float like clouds, it’s a moon of endless oceans underneath and sunshine and clouds and beautiful islands and small continents floating in the sky.
It denied physical laws but it was beautiful. Court on the other hand. Court was hard and strange, the Skywood nobility were just that. Because they lived among the clouds it had ingrained into them this attitude, this arrogance that me and Illian had never known growing up under the ways that our parents had taught us.
Illian was getting even more dark and intense and he was seldom from my uncle’s side. It started to become that we were rarely speaking to each other.
It was in my seventh year as I squire when I was in the stables when uncle came in. He was drinking and he was laughing with several of his knights. He looked at me strangely and he walked over and he grabbed me by the hair and kissed me.
I was shocked!
Here was my uncle a steadfast conservative, one that spoke of noble traditions and values treating me like some tryst? I struggled but then I was still young, he belted me across the head with a strength I’ve never felt.
I reeled and the next thing I know the knights are holding me down and there’s a rag in my mouth and my uncle is shoving himself inside of me. I cried and tried to fight I tried to scream but nothing worked…I heard him chanting over and over. “You’re mine you little bastard, you’re mine, I own you. You say anything and I’ll ruin you, I’ll tell everyone what a little pixie you are and bring shame on your family. You’re mine, oh Jaiden you little pixie hole is so tight, just like your mother I bet.”
He used majik to keep himself going, I was hurt inside and I was bawling. My mind was reeling at his words and what he did and he pulled out and the others took their turns.
I feel the sorcery being worked on me. I tried to fight it but my majik was so small and untested then. I felt this haze like a drug come over me and part of me just went on automatic, I couldn’t fight back or talk just make sounds like moans every time I tried until uncle Lyam shoved his dirty..my..dirt…thing into my mouth and down my throat!
He was my uncle, he was family. He was a knight!
They were knights!
They were laughing!
And after awhile being so young the feel of that spell fading into the abuse…your mind plays tricks on you. You might think you might…like it?...like maybe this was…
Illian…I see him out of the corner of my eye.
I plead with my twin; try to reach that bond of ours. But there’s this look, like I betrayed him. Like I was enjoying this! There was this sneer on his face, this look of hate there and ….and…he turns his back on me and he leaves me.
That hurt me so much and it shocked me to the core and I fought, something went feral inside my heart and thrashed against the spell.
Lyam…Uncle was first…I clamped down my mouth filling with blood as I bit the top three inches off his cock.
There was blood everywhere, thick and black, burning me and reeking of something like tar, tar and rotten eggs. He fell back and his eyes changed to something red and reptilian.
My mouth was burning, literally burning my throat as I swallowed some of the blood.
The two knights holding me let go and were cursing and I spit the blood on one of them by accident and it burned like a fire breathers trick lighting him on fire. The one inside me pulled out on shock as much as his friends did and pointed at uncle Lyam whose cock was regrowing itself… he yelled “Demon!, Monster!” pointing at Lyam who laughed and said “Not quite.” And he let loose this thing a sphere of solid air? And it hit him in the chest hard enough to collapse his ribcage.
I ran…I ran and took a sword from the knight that I had burned and ran. The next thing I know I’m being chased through the streets by the royal guards and two of Lyam’s other knights being accused of the murder of the three that were at the stables and firing them to cover my tracks because I was found out to be a dirty tryst and was trying to cover it up with murder and arson.
Illian, my twin brother was bearing as the witness.
The royal guards were trying to detain me, but the two knights were trying to kill me. I killed one of them in the street in self defence but the crowds would report that I ambushed him…like the assassin they call me.
I hurt several guardsmen and was nearly taken if it hadn’t been foe a Dark-elven thief, a rogue and a lower island and city smuggler by the moniker of Bandit.
Hunted, wanted for murder, framed by my Uncle and my twin brother I left Skywood with Bandit and joined his little band of mercs and thugs and disappeared.
It took a long time before I came to terms with my brother, and a long time I thought he was just as bad as Lyam…
The night of my rape.
He murdered our Aunt, Lyam’s wife Fayaelle…a really kind and sweet woman who likely was in Lyam’s way. He did it wearing my clothes and that too I caught the blame for…he had raped her as well…beat her skull in with a fireplace poker.
I still don’t know why, if it was him and his tortured soul or Lyam’s orders.
I was hunted, Lyam hired mercenaries and sent servants and creatures after me and I tried to survive, tried to get proof of his wrongness, sent letters or tried to… to father and but Lyam was cagey and smart and then there was Illian always pointing at my evidence and saying I’m lying, that I’m tainted and was trying to rip the family apart.
What really undid Lyam was my parents. Illian and I are the first born and Illian might not ever claim the throne and I as an outlaw wasn’t able too so it put Lyam in a pretty good place. Until my parents kept having children. Elves are notoriously fickle breeders, our women because we are such majikal beings are tied to their children. If there isn’t a warm and loving atmosphere around them it restricts the spirit and the energy flow which is just as important as the food and life blood.
No love, too much stress…no child. That’s why it is so hard for some in a culture where arranged marriages are common.
Mother and Father had after Illian and I, Brennan, Galadriel, Amerantha (died in a rockslide age 11) Gabriel (Died of a food allergy while on Kyu nari.) then Kailynn who is the baby of our family.
That’s seven of us and five still living, and with them being High King and Queen and the stress levels…they must really love each other.
When Kailynn returned to court after the death of his beloved Lyam took the chance to raise his faithful and used the festivities and having so many people in one place he attacked the palace.
I had got wind of it and had sent warning letters to father. It turned out he had been listening to the ones I’d sent, the ones that had gotten through that is. I hit them with bandit and the others from behind and between the Knights of Highwood and the Thieves guild we sent them running away and revealed Lyam for the traitor he is.
Me for my crimes I’m still hunted, and not just for the ones from then but I’ve broken more laws more times than I could be bothered to count. Why when I could be pardoned by my father.
That’s one reason right there, because he’s my father. Secondly here I’m a greater asset to the family.
Speaking of assets.
I smell his perfume first, Gareth Gilden and he’s waiting on his horse with his attempt at desert robes with a good twenty of his houseguard just as amateurly disguised. On the other end of the street I see about a hundred grey robed “devout followers” of Anubis one of the Saltlander gods. They have escorts of mailed warriors in shrouded desert garb with the look of Lyam’s followers and a couple of Saltlander nobles or knights too with two jackal masked priests. I see the really large payment in a coffin to go to the temple with Gareth.
I pull my blaster and flicker the laser sight. I see Bandit signal back. I grin and wait for the timers to go off. The two groups are together for about a minute before the flask bangs go off and we move in. None of them will like us bloodying them or taking their monies or stealing their wage slave workers.
I like pissing these people off.
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