What Blood Forges

  • The golden statues of Sentinel rose before Charon. These depictions were crafted in the image of the conquerors from Yokuda that invaded several eras ago. They defeated the natives with ease and forced them to build this grand city, now deemed the Jewel of Alik’r. And what a fitting name it was, for the Alik’r was a place of bloodshed and it was through bloodshed this city was built. That’s what Sentinel was: a bloody jewel.

                   And Charon had come to take that jewel from the men that held the throne, men that ignored the bloody hands that crafted such luxuries and symbols of power. If men cannot respect their history, they still must accept it, Charon thought making his way up the steps towards the cathedral.

                   The cathedral was the place of ruling here, as anyone could tell at a glance. It rose above the city itself, sunlight beaming down and reflecting off the shimmering gold that comprised most of its surface. The Yokudan warriors had little use for gold at the time, but they saw how the natives treasured it and so they melted it down and built idols from it. But the natives never fought back, Charon thought, so did they really care so much for it?

                   “Charon,” said Bouris. “Think it’s time I head to my new stations.” Charon’s Nord bodyguard was an intimidating man, dwarfing even other Nords. With his unshaven beard, sunburnt skin, and chitin-plated armor, one would expect him to be a brutish oaf. And while he was no scholar like Charon, he had a surprising amount of wit in his own right. He was always quick to understand Charon’s schemes and was able to follow them often perfectly. Charon also discovered he was a very convincing man in the right environment, such as with other soldiers or in bars.

                   Truthfully, Charon found the man very interesting. He had the guise of a barbarian, but was very much a talker. He acted the anarchist, but he still followed certain traditions of his homeland, even retaining his people’s propensity for fur clothing despite the heat of Hammerfell.

                   “Some in the barracks are volunteers within my fold,” Charon said. “I trust you will be able to communicate with them subtly.” Bouris nodded. “Good, farewell, my friend.”

                   Bouris and his crew were to be ‘gifts’ to the king while acting as a spy. This was a common political move, so the king would likely pay Bouris for secrecy, confident that he could outbid Charon. Which he could, of course. Charon didn’t pay Bouris at all, though he did pay the crew.

    Bouris may also serve another purpose, if things didn’t go according to plan, Charon mused.

                   A small, pale man, a Breton, approached Charon. He was dressed in modest clothing compared to most of the passing nobles, but compared to Charon’s own drabness, he would’ve looked almost kingly. It was really no question who dressed more ornately. The Breton was splashed with blue and gold. Golden piercings dotted his face and ears. Piercings were common in certain extravagant cities. I wonder which High Rock lord asked King Gharenhal to take in this man, Charon thought, and what he obtained for doing this service.

                   “Lord Charon, I presume,” the Breton said plainly. “His Highness requires you to be clean for your audience. Please, follow me.”

                   There certainly wasn’t anything hostile about the man. But still Charon disliked him. Of course, he couldn’t let the man know that. “As you say,” Charon said, following him.

                   Trailing behind the man, Charon wondered what would happen during his audience with the king. Truthfully, Charon wasn’t entirely sure what he would do upon seeing the king. He hated the man. But he had never spoken with him. I have seen what has happened under his rule, Charon thought.

                   The Breton led him to a small wash room. There was a table in the corner with a variety of razors and other tools. Bottled oils lined the walls, but the Charon never much cared for them. “Please clean yourself in here, if you need assistance-” he began to say.

                   “I should be fine, thank you,” Charon said, perhaps a bit too impatiently. But the Breton simply shrugged, bowed, and stepped outside.

                   Charon looked into the mirror. He saw why the Breton was so forceful about him getting cleaned. His beard was long and unkempt and his hair was equally so, despite the braids trying to keep it together. And all of it was covered in sand, an unavoidable result of traveling the desert on foot. Yes, I think a good cleaning is order, Charon thought.

                   After shaving away most of his beard, combing and rebraiding his hair, and washing the sand away, he could finally get a proper look at his face. His skin was rough, his lips cracked, his eyes red, and even a few scars made their way onto his face. Still a mess, Charon thought, but it’ll have to do.

                   Apparently sensing that Charon was finished, the Breton entered. “Are you finished?” He said. Charon nodded. “Then please, follow me.”

                   The Breton once more led him down an enormous hallway. Charon was almost impressed with the architecture. The slaves that built it must’ve been skilled craftsmen. Any man in his right mind would be in awe. I have gazed upon the Iron Sea and the Starfall, Charon thought recalling his visions, and beauty has lost so much meaning since then.

                   They finally came to a pair of double doors, golden once more. The Breton turned to Charon as the doors slowly opened. “I trust you are familiar with speaking to a king,” he said.

                   Making his way through, Charon said, “I’ve spoken with many a king, yes.” Charon was glad to be rid of the Breton.

                   The High King was speaking with a foreign diplomat, another Breton from High Rock, and one of his chief advisers, the king’s own brother.

                   The king himself was a tall man; it was noticeable even sitting in his modest throne. His face showed clear signs of the stress that came with ruling, as wrinkles and streaks of grey plagued his face and hair. His long beard flowed freely over his kingly attire, a red robe with golden embroidery.

                   His brother was quite different, however. Just as clearly as the king was a man who had never seen true combat, his brother was clearly a soldier, or once was. His attire was simple and made of leather; not the strongest of material but it would serve a veteran well enough. Unlike the king, he seemed to have shaved his hair away, leaving only stubble. Scars plagued the man’s face as wrinkles plagued the king’s. Perhaps his most noticeable features where his eyes, however; a sharp, intense gold. Charon had seen yellow eyes, but these ones had a certain shine to them that he had never seen in any other beings.

                   The brother was the first to notice Charon’s arrival. A soldier indeed, thought Charon. The man stood in between Charon and the king. Charon stopped, of course; glancing at the man, he said, “Are you an advisor or a bodyguard?”

                   The man folded his arms. “I am Teryod Gharenhal, the chief advisor to King Gharenhal. What business do you have here?”

                   The king seemed content to let his brother interrogate Charon. “I am here to legitimize my following,” he said.

                   Teryod didn’t give. “Your following?”

                   “My religious following,” he said. “I’ve been spreading my teachings around Hammerfell. And I would like them to be recognized by the ruler of Hammerfell.”

                   Teryod turned towards his brother, who nodded, and Charon was ushered forward.

                   The king, still sitting, looked up at Charon. “Why do you seek my recognition?” he said. “You understand it will likely alienate you from the many Crowns that dot this land?”

                   Charon began pacing, as he often did when lecturing. “You are the ruler of this land. This is supported not just by the politics of your world, but the teachings that I follow. And as a ruler, I believe your word carries a legitimacy with it.”

                   The king nodded. “You mentioned teachings. What are they? I’ve heard you are quite popular with the Crowns, though if I give you recognition I suspect that will die down. Do the Crowns support teachings that would validate my rule, the rule of a Forebear?”

                   Charon, still pacing, said, “Oh yes. Because what my children seek is not based around politics as the Forebear and Crowns are. My children seek hope. The future hidden in our past.”

                   “A future hidden by our past? I am afraid I do not understand your riddle,” King Gharenhal said. “But I believe your teachings may hold value in these troubling times. I must look further into these teachings of yours, lord Charon, but-”

                   The Breton diplomat interjected for the first. “Charon?” he said, as if some great understanding finally hit him. He turned towards the king. “Your Highness, this man is wanted by several lords of High Rock.” The Breton, equally as pale as the steward that greeted Charon, was a short man, dwarfed by the king and especially Teryod. But still he spoke confidently, betraying his youthful appearance.

                   Teryod glanced at the man. “Do not interrupt the king, master Erelie,” he said quietly.

                   Erelie bowed to the king. “I’m sorry, my lord. But this man is dangerous,” he said turning towards Charon. “He is wanted for the murder of several High Rock diplomats and several rebellions near our border and we suspect elsewhere.”

                   The king’s face was impassive. “Bold claims. Are they true?” He was looking at Charon.

                   “Yes,” Charon said, no longer pacing.

                   “Oh,” Gharenhal said. “I see. Would you try to justify these actions?”

                   “Only that the diplomats I killed were actually enslaving the very people I was preaching to.”

                   “If my people near High Rock were being enslaved so fiercely, I would have word of it.”

                   “They weren’t your people,” Charon said. The king looked confused for the first time. “The slaves came from wandering tribes, not the cities.”

                   Lord Gharenhal sighed. “I cannot spare you from the High Rock lords. Defending barbarians who don’t accept the rule of a king is not sound enough justification to satisfy them.”

                   “But they do accept you, accept the kingship. After I taught to them. They believe in you now,” Charon said. “They acknowledge the king.”

                   The High King of Hammerfell sat pondering. “I must consider all this. Teryod assemble my other advisors. Lord Charon, master Erelie, follow the guards to your separate quarters. Do not leave.”

                   Master Erelie looked about to protest, but was silenced by a glare from Teryod. Charon left accompanied by a squad of guards.

                   In his private quarters, Charon sat in silence. What now, Charon wondered. He didn’t expect the king to be so open to any of this. If it weren’t for the intervention of this Erelie man, he may have already been convinced, thought Charon, but now I must improvise. The king was shocked when told about the tribes’ belief in the kingship. This could be used as an advantage, no matter the outcome. And I still have one last trick to fall back on, Charon noted with a smile.

                   A slight motion in the darkness of his room caught Charon’s eye. Instinctively, he almost called out to Bouris. Right, I gave him away, thought Charon standing to his feet. A flash appeared a few feet in front; a dagger. Charon blindly dove out of the way. Now he could hear the footsteps. Charon bumped into the desk on the far wall. He desperately grabbed for something to defend himself. His hands found his dagger. Damn, Charon thought, I hate daggers. Not having time to ponder why he even brought it, he once more dove to the side, this time closer towards his traveling items. This time the assailant hit the desk. The dagger must’ve temporarily embedded itself into the wood because the follow up was delayed.

                   Charon simultaneously reached for his pack and held out his dagger towards his assassin in attempt to block an attack. Charon felt something slice into the back of his hand, making him drop the dagger, but it was too late, Charon found what he was looking for. More confidently, Charon spun around, a short pole in his hand. The staff extended and waves of fire pulsed from it. The fire illuminated his assailant, who was now screaming and trying to put out the fires that latched onto him. Charon struck him in the head with the staff and the figure crumpled to the ground...

                   Guards rushed in afterwards, finding Charon with a bloody hand and his room ablaze. He was once more meeting with the king. This time they were meeting in the king’s study, a medium-sized room with all entry ways blocked by guards. Once upon a time, Charon would’ve enjoyed searching through the contents of the room.

                   “Do you know who the assailant was?” Gharenhal said.

                   Charon picked at the wrappings around his wounded hand. “No. I have many enemies.”

                   “It was master Erelie,” the king said. Charon looked up, admittedly surprised. “Apparently he was a trained Nightblade. The Breton are famous for them.”

                   “I see,” Charon said. “I trust you now see that the Breton ‘nobility’ are the real barbarians up north.”

                   The king sat solemnly. “I cannot excuse master Erelie’s actions. But his death cannot go unredeemed.”

                   Charon frowned. “Redeemed? He was just a diplomat. There are thousands plaguing High Rock.”

                   “A diplomat was his cover. In truth, he was a prince. And his family is old, powerful, and dangerous. Some say they met the Warrior Wave gleefully, eager to fight. And they say his father is the finest lord the family has seen in generations.”

                   Charon quickly understood the ramifications. And what the king was implying. “I am to be punished, I assume?”

                   “Not by me. I must hand you over to Erelie's family where you will be executed. I am sorry, lord Charon.”

                   “Do you agree with this, your Highness?” Charon said. “Do you believe I should be punished for defending myself?”

                   “I do not,” the king said. “But it is out of my control. To challenge these accusations would mean to challenge the power of High Rock.”

                   “The power of High Rock?” Charon said, his eyes now wide with anger. “I had hope for you. I inspired people, inspired them to believe in a king. You are not worthy of them.”

                   The king looked up at Charon in surprise. “Hold your tongue! You are not speaking to some Breton diplomat.”

                   “I might as well be,” Charon said, advancing on the king.

                   The king flinched for a moment, until Teryod stepped in between them wielding a simple iron mace. He glared at Charon.

                   Charon looked past the taller man at the king. “My influence is greater than you think, Gharenhal, and it will guide the people forward once you fall. I shall make it so that our people have no need for kings or Way-Makers.”

                   Realization, quickly followed by anger, dawned on the face of the king. “Way-Maker? You’re that terrorist that has been slaughtering my people, your people?” The Way-Maker had become an infamous figure in Hammerfell. A prophet of evil's bane that protected the outcasts. However, there were also darker tales that tell of murder and savagery.

                   “I have killed those who stood in the way of the future,” Charon said. “And make no mistake, I do this for the future of the true Redguards.”

                   “You are a murderer and a terrorist,” the king said. “Teryod, kill him. Avenge our brothers he has killed.”

                   Teryod didn’t move. Charon looked at him calmly. “What does it mean to believe, Teryod?” Charon said.

                   Teryod stood silent for a moment. “To fight,” he said. He spun around and, without warning, struck his own brother in the head with his mace.

                   The king crumpled bleeding to the floor, but remained conscious. Teryod was clearly restraining himself, Charon thought. Gharenhal looked up incredulously at his brother, before looking around the room. “W-why?” he managed to say with a broken jaw. The injuries were clearly visible. A wide bruise covered most of his face. Blood dripped from the wound and his mouth. The eye on the side of the impact looked glazed over; Charon assumed he was blind in it.

                   Even now Teryod retained his cool composure. “You are not fit to rule, brother,” he said. “I hoped you would be. This was a last resort.”

                   Charon saw many emotions flash within the king’s eyes: anger, fear, betrayal, desperation. But he couldn’t act on any of them. Instead he strained to find his voice once more. “Guards,” he said, struggling.

                   None of them moved. They stood as still as the statues leading up to the cathedral. A door opened slowly and Bouris walked into the room, the bones chained to his fur armor rattling as he came. “At ease, boys,” he said, smirking. “Our king is in attendance.”

                   The king cringed. Another betrayer, he must’ve thought. “I b-b-bought you…”

                    “This is why I take payment in advance. He’s all yours, Charon. All the guards are either with me or sick in their beds,” he said. “Some devilish and stoic god-among-men must’ve slipped them something. Oh, they’ll be eager to get revenge on the poor bastard that poisoned them and killed their great king.” He looked to Charon now. The king followed his gaze, confusion becoming the dominant emotion on his face

                    “Yes, I’ll be quite the fugitive after tonight,” Charon said, answering the king’s unasked question. “Luckily your honorable brother has already vowed to hunt down the murderer who killed his brother. As high king of Hammerfell.”

    This time the king said nothing. He simply laid there silently. Teryod studied the mace that now carried his brother’s blood. Almost reluctantly, he handed it to Charon. “I do this for Hammerfell.”

    Charon accepted the weapon and stood over the fallen king. “I did have hope for you, Gharenhal. Your brother did as well. He persuaded me to try and spare you. But,” Charon said, raising the mace over his head, “you are weak. You are not Redguard.” And he brought the weapon down.

    Puddles of blood formed on the floor. Charon ripped the crown free from the king’s crushed head. Eyeing it over, he handed it to Teryod. “This is only the beginning,” Charon said, addressing his men. “Blood forges the brightest jewels. We were all forged by it and now the world will be as well."


  • Serevus
    Serevus   ·  March 16, 2016
    Also struck me as uncannily similar to Petyr Baelish, with his masterfully crafted schemes.
  • Serevus
    Serevus   ·  March 16, 2016
    Well damn. I imagined Charon as looking almost like Anthony Hopkins while reading this. This is awesome, I'll have to read further into this on Charon's scriptures, if there are more readings. I do hope there are more 
  • Matt Feeney the New Guy
    Matt Feeney the New Guy   ·  March 13, 2016
    Thanks, Borom and Phil! Don't have any story ideas at the moment but Charon's job is far from finished. No way I could drop him after this. He just fits in so nicely because he's basically the ultimate Redguard traditionalist while being, you know, a mani...  more
  • Borommakot
    Borommakot   ·  March 13, 2016
    Excellent,excellent piece, Matt! I love stories of Hammerfell, and Charon is wonderfully menacing! I noticed a couple of grammar hiccups; near the beginning where "anyway could tell at a glance" and during Charon's fight with the Breton Lord, when Charon ...  more
  • Paws
    Paws   ·  March 13, 2016
    Awesome Matt! You have any more coming? I feel a certain connection to Mr Al-Rihad and am invested
  • Matt Feeney the New Guy
    Matt Feeney the New Guy   ·  March 13, 2016
    Redguards have weird names. Cyrus, Shinji, Hunding, Namir, etc. All really different to my ears.
    Unless you mean like an actual title replacing the word 'king.' It seems like Redguards have mostly been pretty straightforward with their ruling titles...  more
  • A-Pocky-Hah!
    A-Pocky-Hah!   ·  March 12, 2016
    I don't know much about Hammerfell royalty but I thought Hammerfell's ruler would have an arabic-like title in their name.
    Still a great read. And I thought Orcs were the bloody bunch.
  • Matt Feeney the New Guy
    Matt Feeney the New Guy   ·  March 12, 2016
    I doubt I'll be letting go of Charon anytime soon, Sotek. He's got some pretty big plans. Though I've also been considering writing a story about my Dragonborn. They can probably intertwine pretty heavily though since Charon is, in my mind, a pretty big t...  more
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  March 12, 2016
    Holy shit Matt. Nice to read one of your blogs. 
    That was, bloody, and cool, and full of redguards. 
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  March 12, 2016
    Great to see this up Matt. Will you be carrying on with this or writing a new story?