Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Holy Books: The Life of Orlandus -- Part 1

The following text is from the Life of Orlandus, a hagiography of the founder of the Order of the Forge Divine, which is revered as one of that sacred knighthood's most holy writings.

Orlandus, Lord of Sunhome, founder of our Most Beneficent and Mighty Order, was born to a humble country knight. It is from beginnings such as these that the Smith forges into the greatest of heroes. By alloy and tempering, the High God reaches out and remakes his chosen. Such are the blessed strictures of the Golden Bands of Law! Joyous are our hearts, as he gives us joy.

Orlandus was born near the end of the Eighth Age of men, in the Kingdom of Wilderlund. His father was a knight minor who served the house of Queen Evandyn the Just. They were an impoverished family, granted only a single estate near the ancient city of Toleiere. At court, Orlandus learned the measure of cruelty and barbarism when Queen Evandyn was murdered by her sister. The coup cost Orlandus' father his life, and Orlandus was expelled from the royal court after the accession of Queen Mir.

This is where the extraordinary Life of the blessed knight begins. Until that time, he was merely a boy, but after he escaped the Night of Tears and the Hall of the Drawn Knives, Orlandus would be a boy no longer. No, for he watched his father die defending Queen Evandyn, and saw the queen herself cut down by none other than Ghuron the Butcher. Friendless and hunted, Orlandus fled the palace into the city, seeking refuge.

Refuge, he found, in the form of a temple devoted to the Hammerer. Our lord fled westward, passing ever farther from the danger of Queen Mir and her faithful right hand, the Butcher. So it was that he came at last to the kingdom of Byrne upon the Rootwood. After many long months of travel, our young lord entered the service of Timarus the Leper in the city of Vectedréa, who was then the Metropolitan of that place.

Though he had been noble-born, Orlandus feared to speak his father's name, for the agents of Queen Mir roamed far and wide, and the Kingdom of Wilderlund was one of the mightiest of its day. So he called himself Roland and served as an acolyte in Timarus' temple. But there came three signs of his fated destiny.

The first was the touch which healed Timarus of his leprosy. The ancient priest had suffered from the wasting death since he was a young man, but one afternoon in the enclosure our lord placed his hands upon Timarus and they prayed together to the Hammerer in the way that Timarus had taught him. When they rose, the old man suddenly found that he could feel the fire in his joints, the pain in his fingers, the cold in his toes. Lo! They thanked the Hammerer for the display of a miracle, and Timarus turned his eye to watch our Orlandus, who was called Roland.

The second sign came when a storm collapsed the ancient dome of the Vectedréan temple. It had been built long ago by the Milean emperors, and a stroke of lightning sent from the vault of heaven smashed the stone and sent it tumbling to the earth within. Several acolytes were cleaning the temple hall during the storm, and one among their number was our lord Orlandus. He saw an acolyte struck by falling stone, felled like a cow hit with a pole-axe. He rushed to his companion's aid, and where his hands touched the bloodied head, they came away clean; the boy was healed, and he survived to become a smith in the city.

The final sign came in Roland's sixteenth year. Ghuron the Butcher had been dispatched by Queen Mir to find and murder all the exiles of Wilderlund that they might not form a league abroad and convince the king of Byrne to make war. Ghuron's assassins fanned through the city, seeking many who had come with our lord Orlandus. When the Butcher arrived at the temple, he came in the guise of a penitent, but he concealed a sword beneath his cloak.

Roland, he recognized amongst the acolytes at once. He drew his blade and lay into the boy, who was struck by the poisoned edge; the blow, which should have split his skull, merely ripped open his scalp and sent him plunging to the floor. Ghuron escaped before the temple guard could apprehend him, certain that Orlandus of Wilderlund had been slain. For three days and three nights, Roland lay in fevered dreams. No medici of the city could help him. Even Timarus did not have the power to put the poison out of the boy's body. But lo! On the third day, Roland awoke, saved by the grace of the Hammerer, a scar upon his brow.

Thus, after the third sign, did Timarus tell Orlandus that he had been chosen by the Hammerer for great things. The boy was given arms and armor from the vaults of the temple. Timarus told him: "Go forth, boy, and bring his light into dark places."

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