The Fates chose that the Eternal Knight questions the stranger.
Distinguished, illustrious — nay — glorious Fates. Your votes are tallied and the course of our story is set. You have commanded our mortal Subject to converse. Well, action is overrated, although some who fancy themselves heroes may disagree.
I see the crowd is becoming fidgety. Wait… has the group grown already? Without a doubt! So many newcomers — welcome! I trust you’ve familiarized yourselves with the rules? Yes? Lovely. I see a confused face in the back. Yes, you. There’s no one behind you. I suggest you let your neighbor fill you in on the details.
For now, it is time we resumed the story. Where were we? Ah, yes. The Eternal Knight, washed up on the shores of Ferax, has met another mortal soul.
This should be fun.
The knight watches as the cackling old man searches for treasure among the corpses. The stranger’s hand goes in and out of gold embroidered black uniform pockets and belt purses. Mostly, he comes up water soaked and empty, but occasionally the knight sees a glint before it disappears in the man’s burlap sack.
“Where are we?” The knight’s deep voice resonates inside his helmet.
“Where, what, and why are my least favorite questions,” the old man huffs. “You’ve washed up on the forgotten shores of the old kingdom of Ferax, the most dangerous place in the world! Based on the plentiful wreckage around us, you may have been on a ship last night — as one tends to be when at sea. What a Ritain empire’s ship was doing this close to our cursed shores, is beyond me.”
“These were my compatriots, then,” the knight says, looking at the dead. “Will you bury these soldiers after you’ve robbed them?”
“Nope!” the stranger exclaims. “Dead is dead! Gold is gold! Rot is rot! A dead visitor isn’t much use to anyone now, is he? You, on the other hand, are free to perform any burial customs you wish.”
“I can’t recall who I am, much less remember burial customs.”
The stranger pauses his work and scratches his dirty beard in thought. “Didn’t know Eternal Knights could sustain brain damage. What with not having a brain.”
“I'm not in the riddling kind of mood, old man. What do you mean?”
Smugly, the old man straightens up, flicking mud off his long fingers and wiping the rest on his chest. “You’re an Eternal Knight. A soul bound to an armored construct. You have no body. No brain.” He cackles again. “Later, I can check your soul seal for damage, if you’ll let me. I have experience in curses. Those were better days... I was getting good at it too, if I say so myself. And call me Turcifa.”
Turcifa rattles the knight’s gauntlet in a rushed greeting, then lets out a squeal of happiness as he catches sight of another body half buried in sand.
Distrubed, the Eternal Knight tries moving inside the armor, to find a separation of body and metal, to feel his skin brushing against rough padding or cold plate. Nothing. The armor moves with him. Its joints are rough with sand, but their motion feels as much a part of him as flesh and blood. Turcifa, as crazy as he seems, is right. An Eternal Knight. A golem.
Wary, he studies the old man. In spite of the spring in his step, he looks beaten down and battered, favoring his left arm, the other hidden behind that stained rag of a cape. His enthusiasm for scavenging, suggests desperation. The shipwreck is a boon to Turcifa. One man's loss, another man's victory.
The old man notices the Knight’s attention and flashes a gap toothed smile. After a quick final survey of the beach, he beckons the knight to follow him. “Come, come. I’d be remiss if I didn’t invite a noble castaway to my humble home to stay the night. I shall be thy host! But before that… well, I may have something for you. Perhaps, perhaps. And maybe in return you’ll make yourself useful in some way... Eh?”
Together, they walk along the shore, the sheer rock face to one side, the sea to the other. Turcifa hops nimbly from stone to stone, following a zig zagging invisible path, humming a merry tune as he leads the way, alternately beckoning the knight to move faster and tut-tutting at his slow pace. The knight lumbers a few steps behind, his armor screeching against jagged rocks protruding from the ground. He struggles to keep his balance on the loose stones and sinking sand.
“The thing about Ferax,” Turcifa says, “is that things don’t just bite, chomp, and munch. The curse consumes all of you. It’s in the air.” The old man’s voice shifts into one used to scare children with ghost stories. “Who knows, even a metal golem like you might not be impervious to it...” Then he laughs again. “But you’ll still need something sharp for the things that do bite!”
He stops next to a flat slab of rock and lifts it awkwardly, with one arm. “I’d ask you not to tell anyone about my secret weapons cache, but there’s no one to tell,” he says as he reveals a hole in the sand constructed of a buried chest. “It’s taken forever to collect these, and I’m not a sharer. But you can take one. If you’ll do me a small, teency, tiny favor. What do you say, big fella?”
The Eternal Knight knows that small favors often become large — though he’s unsure how he knows. But as things are, being shipwrecked and uncertain about the lay of the land, agreeing with the old man seems like a fair price to pay for an edge. He looks into the sunken chest and grabs the weapon he feels instinctively most drawn to.
“Once more, the thread of this mortal’s life lies in your hands, esteemed Fates. Which action do you choose?”
Option 1: The Eternal Knight chooses a Ritannian short sword and a fractured shield. Humble, yes, but also practical. And who wouldn't want extra protection? There is no shame being smart on the Forgotten Shores of Ferax.
Option 2: The Eternal Knight chooses a two-handed Kaspian battle axe. Large, heavy, and wonderful for slicing your enemies in half. It requires a bit more elbow grease to swing one around, but even the larger monsters will feel the hit. No glory for cowards. Let's get hacking, everyone!
Option 3: The Eternal Knight chooses a wooden oar. Ha! Good one, Fates. Why would you choose this? It's obviously the worst option. Ever.
The chapter voting closes every Monday at 8:00 AM WEST (Lisbon, Portugal time).