The Journal of Lord Rafael Nisley Raudsdale

Campaign: Heavy Skies

A Rebuttal
A Rebuttal

My Lord Varen, I put forth this rebuttal to your musings, to bring sharper point to the piercing of thy reasoning and a finer edge to the sword of thine consciousness. They are, admittedly, from not as lofty a station as that which thou doth hold, but as thou shouldst truly know, those below seek the example of those above, as do all Rykerrians seek to emulate the prophet Torin Lawbringer and bring themselves nearer to the most holy essence of Ryka.

It is the calling of those of noble birth to lead those not of noble blood. Within the ranks of the nobleborn, there is a purity of essence, marked out by Holy Ryka, and that some vessels doth hold an abundance beyond the measure of their station, whilst others are have barely a glimmer when they should be a beacon unto all others. Such is the nature of man, and such is the nature of the gifts of Ryka, that not always does the lush tree bear ripe fruit. Being of noble birth does not make a man Noble, but it does imprint upon a man the responsibilities of being noble, to lead by example and by command. For no matter how faint the light of Ryka may shine within the lamp of the nobleborn, the hand of Ryka has not snuffed it out. Therefore let no man who has not had the gift of Holy Ryka laid upon him rise up above the ranks of His Chosen without trial, let no common-born man claim higher privilege than the lowest of the nobly born before proving their worth in the scales of Ryka’s judgement. And likewise, so that all of Rykerria not fall into chaos and sloth, let no nobleborn son of Rykerria throw off the duties to his blood and House. Let every noble be thine watchdog, lest we all fall into irresolution. Let no high son of glittering bloodline be allowed to go wither and dither without holding accounting to his heels of his actions, word and deed.

Duty. Faith. Sacrifice. Integrity. Humility. These are the echoing hallmarks of a truly great soul worthy of Holy Ryka’s blessings. Courage is meaningless if there is no Faith in a greater cause. Valor is empty if there is no Sacrifice. Honor is the plumage shown in public, the fanfare of praise. Does the Man who has sagas sung of his courage in battle, in casting down Evil, have more Honor than the man who helps his neighbor harvest the crops? Integrity is what is not shown to the world, the hidden measure of the soul. There is no Loyalty without Duty, and Duty calls for responsibility from the nobleborn to lead the lesser man, and asmuch, gives the common-born the loyalty of the noble and the noble the loyalty of those common-born.
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Tags: nobility , Rykeria
Prelude, part III
Rafael tightened up the cinch on his saddle. The horse snorted and looked back at him. He continued on to check the straps on the saddlebags. The ivy-leafed motiff of House Raudsdale wound across the well-maintained leather. Absently he followed the branching with a finger. He turned to find Gregory, the house steward, standing in the stable gateway.

“Whatever it is you have to say, you know this is what must be done,” he said carefully.

“I would not dream of trying to persuade you otherwise, young Master Raudsdale. I have just come to suggest a few things I think you should have. Better they ride with you than stay under this roof. If you will follow me? I am certain Anthil will make sure Faran is ready for your journey.” Gregory nodded at the small boy perched on the ladder to the hayloft who watched the men.

Rafael followed the steward into a side entrance of the manor house, out of sight of the main entrance. “These are the hereditary arms of the Raudsdale family. Your father has no use for them now, and the women… do not know of their existence.” The old man grabbed the bundle on the floor.”Your armor. I would suggest you get it fitted properly at once. You are a tad bit larger than your grandfather, the last to wear it.” He turned again. “Hedera, the Scythe of Dudenfall. If I recall the family history rightly…”

Rafael interrupted, eyes riveted to the gleaming wood and metal, “The weapon used by Raud Blackhammer, founder of the Raudsdale line, in defense of the Heir of Nevinor, Geloni Tyrimus Sotorios, during the campaign against the Pogethi Sak Chan incursion in 933. Blackhammer stood over the wounded Sotorios heir against the Pogethi horsemen after an ambush wiped out most of the family guard. When the rest of the Nevinor forces routed the Pogethi, there were over twenty horses and nearly fifty men dead around the pair. Geloni elevated Raud and granted him the valley we stand in now under the Ivy banner of Raudsdale.”

Gregory placed the long-shafted weapon in Rafael’s hands. The wood haft was covered in deceptively gentle carved ivy leaves, inlaid sporadically with traces of silver that glinted like dew on the leaves on a misty morning. The head of the ransuer flowed out as a three bladed leaf, the points sharp and the edges gleaming. Beautiful and deadly, Rafael felt the depth of his family’s strength and purpose flow through him as he held the weapon his line had been forged from.

“Now, you should be going. At some point this morning those women will arise, and it would be best if you were out of earshot. I will send word if your father…” Gregory trailed off, his grey-framed face at a loss.

“As my lord and father commands, so shall I obey, as a dutiful noble son of Rykerria.” Rafael almost kept the sarcasm from his voice. “Keep the women from bankrupting the estate. No more than what they need as traitor’s widows with no prospects.” He turned with Gregory’s bow and headed back to his horse.

Along the way, Watch Strativos fell in step beside him. The Watch was all that remained of the household guard, grey-haired for as long as Rafael could remember. In his gravel-rough voice he coughed out, “When you get to Nevinor, seek out Master Centurion Glendenfir. Tell him Strativos vouches for you.” With that he clapped a heavy hand on Rafael’s shoulder and turned away.

Rafael rode out of his family home as the sun crested the mountains behind him. His shadow stretched out before him. He raised Hedera, the Raudsdale banner snapping out in the rising breeze, and rode south.
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Prelude, part II
It was raining. Rafael didn’t mind the rain itself. There was something soothing about watching the water run down the panes of the window. The humidity that came after was what he dreaded. The close confines of his cell just made it worse. The two weeks since he had been imprisoned awaiting his trial seemed like an eternity. The food wasn’t bad, but he could barely take three strides within his confinement. He’d finally been notified his trial was for the morrow.

So much had happened in those two weeks. Actually, most of it had happened before then, but Rafael was only aware of it now. He had gleaned some information from the servants. He found it hard to think of them as jailers. They’d overheard him singing; his golden tenor voice had won them into his confidence. From them he found out the gist of what had happened, the truth behind the rumors he’d heard before being seized.

About three weeks before, a trio of Burgöendian dignitaries had destroyed an undead sorcerer that had been manipulating the King’s Court to supplant the Crown. The lich had been masquerading in plain sight, submersing its aura and feigning life, operating unnoticed in the highest rings of society. A young priest from that southern realm had somehow sought the creature out; wine cut with holy water and a toast to the Crown Prince Harrick dropped its disguise. Many nobles had been implicated in the investigation following the discovery, apparently his family as well.

His trial, when it came, was brief. The Crown Prince Harrick led the tribunal as the self-appointed Chief Investigator. He sat on a raised dais behind the panel of Law-Bringers. It was still raining, and apparently the Prince didn’t like the rain; he shifted uncomfortably under the ornate robes of the Law-Bringer. Rafael found the rain steadying. He could feel the Gaze of Ryka pounding at him, any falsehood would be a death sentence, and perhaps even the truth. A few direct questions and it was obvious to all that Lord Rafael was uninvolved in the plot.

As the Law-Bringers conferred after the interrogation, Rafael stood awaiting the outcome. Prince Harrick spoke with a vicious smirk. “It appears, young Raudsdale, that Ryka smiles upon the simple. These esteemed Judges can find no fault in you, in regards to this investigation of treason against the Crown, regardless of how much I favor your inclusion by guilt of family. You, it would seem, are the good apple in the bunch, as the saying goes. You will not be stripped of your title, your holdings will not be seized by the Crown, and you will not be executed as a traitor.”The prince’s words released a pent-up tension in Rafael. He let out a breath he hadn’t been aware of holding.

“It is unfortunate, for your family, that your brothers will not share your absolution.” The prince continued, a harsh glint in his eye. “Were you aware that your brother, Verigo, was slain defending that monster in our midst? His guilt is irrevocable and his ashes already mingle with the mud beyond the wall.” Rafael nearly fell, clutching the rail of the stand for support; he'd had no word his brother was dead! “Ah, I see you didn’t know THAT bit. Well, we’ll see to it that you are kept informed; you’ll be attending the sentencing of your brother Marcuso.” With that he motioned for the guards and Rafael was escorted out of the chamber.
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Tags: Background , law , Rykeria
Prelude, part I
Rafael was studying a scroll, trying to grasp the lesson his instructor had tried to impart before storming from the small classroom in exasperation, hands raised beseeching Ryka for patience. Studying may have been too optimistic; Rafael was staring at the swirling hen-scratches on the paper that supposedly were words in the Elven tongue. He wasn’t any good at language. Rykerrian was about the extent of his capabilities. He knew a few words in most of the known languages, but mostly just barely enough to make it known he didn’t speak it.

He could sing any number of Church hymns, Dwarven chants, or Burgöendian drinking songs with near perfect inflection – he simply did not know what he was singing if it wasn’t in Rykerrian. Fellow bardic classmates called him Mockingbird. He didn’t resent it. Truth was truth, and Rafael was honest enough not to hold any false pretentions about his abilities with other languages. His gift lay in song, not in language.

There was a sharp rap at the door Master Tolendo had slammed behind him in his exiting tirade. Rafael hoped it brought a release from this torture of his marginal intellect. He knew his arithmetic and history, but why in Ryka’s name did they want him to learn these foreign tongues when Rykerrian was perfectly suited to the task?

The door opened without waiting for Rafael’s answer. Two armored knights entered with swords drawn, the Royal crest emblazoned upon their surcoats. Their visors raised, stern visages regarded the youth half-raised from the desk. “You are Lord Rafael Nisley Raudsdale, son of Earl Petras Melikyan Raudsdale.” Rafael thought for a question it was rather matter-of-fact.

“I am the son of my father, the Earl of Raudsdale, known as Rafael. How may I, apprentice Bard that I am, be of service to you, Sir Knight to the Crown of Rykerria we both hold in loyal service?” Rafael kept his voice calm, even as his gaze never wavered from the glint of the sword pointed at him. Rumors had been running through the halls of the College for a week now, and with royal Knights standing here now, the whispers of treason found voice.

“Lord Rafael Nisley Raudsdale, you are hereby under arrest by Royal Warrant for suspicion of collusion in treason against the Crown of Rykerria. You are ordered to remand yourself unto our custody as authorized representatives of His Majesty’s justice, to be transported to the Halls of Ryka, to be put to … question… until the truth of your collusion is found under Holy Ryka’s guidance and sentence passed, at which time Justice shall set the course of your Fate. Do you … resist?” The Knight’s hope for resistance was nearly palpable.

Rafael swallowed to clear his suddenly dry throat. “No, I do not resist. I will abide.” He had been trained as any noble’s son with the blade, but against two armored Knights he stood little chance. That, and his sword was in his room a few buildings away on the campus. The face of the Knight who had spoken grew a little sullen as he realized he wouldn’t get to run Rafael through but kept his blade raised. The second Knight sheathed his sword and pulled a bundle of chains and manacles from behind him. In quick order Rafael’s hands and feet were shackled and he was led from the room, rattling and clanking behind the Knight who held the chain.

Rafael tried to pay no attention to the faces that peered out at him as he was led through the halls and across campus. He tried to not hear the murmuring. He tried to walk upright and with dignity, but the Knight would occasionally tug harshly at the leash of chain, causing Rafael to stumble and shuffle. Hampered by the closely linked chain of the shackles around his legs, he had to hop-run in an unseemly gait to keep from falling. He was sure if he fell he would be dragged without a chance to rise.

At the gate exiting the College’s campus grounds, the Knights stopped. Rafael looked around the armored figure blocking his view to see Master Ira, his Instructor of the Lute, barring the way. “Pardon this most humble servant of the Crown, Sir Knight. A question I pose to you for the benefit of those that remain, having witnessed your most honorable Sherriffs remove this… student… from our esteemed and revered Bardic College. The question posed, is an inquiry as to the necessity of the volume of chain draped upon young Lord Rafael’s person? Is he truly a depraved, treasonous villain, rising up against the glorious Crown of Rykerria, abhorrent in the sight of our Lord God Ryka, capable of vile mischief and cruel maliciousness should his form be not hindered by bindings of steel? Has his guilt already been determined in the Halls of Ryka, his deeds so atrocious and reprehensible that there is no necessity of the trials that serve Justice, the stern Mistress of our magnanimous Ryka, to establish his culpability and collusion in such deceitful actions? If that be the case, and Lord Rafael is not to be extended any formality or benefit of rank, and hereafter be referred to as simply ‘traitor’, then carry on with your duty. But I advise thee that if in fact, as we all standing here know to be truth under Ryka, that indeed his fate has NOT been determined, then I abjure you, Sir Knight, to refrain from further misuse of the young noble’s person for if he is found to NOT be such a villain, his rancor at the injury his honor has received may vex you in ways more deadly than the blade that hangs from your side. Young Lord Rafael is of the Bards, Sir Knight, our tools are song and saga as much as bow and blade. Be content with performance of duty done well and honorably. Do not disgrace yourself with overmuch zeal to perform the task set forth, nor take the hands of Justice from Ryka – he grows wroth when other men claim what he holds as his own, as does any man worth calling Rykerrian, and his wrath is not to pursued by men of honor and chivalrous action.”

Master Ira stepped aside, and knight responded, “The bindings of steel are necessary, Master Bard, for the crime is severe and the Law demands such actions even if the man within does not. Your words are wise. Perhaps the chains were designed for one not of such stature of the young Lord and fit not well. To delay would be to force this lordling to endure the chaffing of this ill-fitting necessity. To such an end, haste seems the most beneficent of behaviors to extend to this … student. Once he is ensconced with the Halls of Ryka for the trial required of him, the necessary forms shall have been observed and honor, if ravaged, shall be restituted.” With that, the knights began moving again, although the pace was much subdued.

Rafael looked back once at the gates of the Bardic College. Master Ira stood watching, a straggle of students gathering behind him. Rafael never had been very good with the lute.
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