Burning Broken Chains: Rising Ashes

By J. P. Garland All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Adventure

Chapter 2: Tull Ricker

It’s a busy day in Quay Square of Rigtal, signs of either a trading day, which it isn’t or of a Culling.

I am standing on top of a large timber stage, overlooking the growing crowd of Pryias gathering in the middle of Quay Square.

Usually, the Cullings are decided to happen by bloodmages in consultation with the King or local councillors of a town or city. But lately I’ve been calling for the Cullings to occur, which would be against the laws of Cullings for a General to do so, but the King has temporarily granted me permission for a mission we have been working on for a while.

While I watch the Pryias crowd together in front of the stage, a large gust of wind comes from behind me and passes through, it sends a slight chill down my neck. I can smell the sweet freshness in the air that Rigtal has always been blessed to have even on a bad day.

I notice a Pryia mother crouching down to tell her child something and almost on queue when she stands up straight, the little one lets out a loud scream and begins to cry. The mother must’ve been explaining the Culling to the little one.

I don’t really like the idea of the Culling, personally, but we have to do what we have to do.

I turn to the man on my right, “isn’t it a beautiful day for a Culling, Caisen?” I say sarcastically.

My companion humours my comment “is indeed, General. By the way, I must ask, how has Cassie been lately?”

“Oh yes, she has been good and so has the boys.”

“Ah yes, Timort and Bradley. How old would they be now?”

“Timort is six and Bradley, eleven. Yes, we are very excited for them both. Bradley is to move to secondary education next year since he’ll be twelve by then.”

“Ah, blessed the boy. I should come and have dinner with you and your family again soon.”

“Yes, it has been a while now hasn’t it. Two years, right?”

“Yes, unfortunately so.”

“Let’s make a thing of it...how about next Healosday, shall we?”

“Would love to...um getting back to work affairs, do you think your plan will work?”

“It will either work in flushing out the Phoenix to capture him, or it’ll send a strong message to him, so regardless of the result, yes it will work.”

I’ve wanted to capture or kill the Phoenix for some time now. He’s been a thorn in my side and has been so even longer for King Salisera. He’s a self-proclaimed rebel, who “frees” Pryias from Houses and guides them to his small band of “rebels” in the Whendigo Forest.

“I hope for your sake the former is the case, as opposed to the latter,” Caisen says in a worried voice.

Caisen is a tall, skinny, dark-skinned man with a bald head only to see poking out from the grey robes he wears as a bloodmage. He is the city’s representative bloodmage, each city has a bloodmage who represents them in the council, and he must conduct the magic involved after Cullings to purify the blood collected.

If there is a danger in a city or town that shows itself to be too much for the local military, more bloodmages are ordered in to deal with the problem to reduce any more casualties. I personally can’t stand bloodmages; they’re always showing themselves to be more superior and privileged than the army.

Caisen, however, I don’t mind, we have grown a friendship since I started representing Rigtal’s military, a bond I hope will ever last. I’ve always trusted him with my personal and military affairs to hear his advice and involve him in my own troubles. I’ve never met any other bloodmage like him. He genuinely cares about others concerns.

I stare off into the background of Quay Square and notice a group of noble girls talking amongst each other. Interesting how the nobles regard Cullings as attractions and a place to conduct social events.

My eyes flicker to the left to watch a young man walking over to the group of girls, even more to my point, who is looking for a possible courtship at a Culling.

I’m no noble, so I’ll never understand the full lengths of how they work and why they do what they do at times.

Even though it’s 107 NM, the system that Calerian society runs by was created by the Monarch three hundred years ago or at least the concept of it. The system is the Kartom System or commonly known as the noble-Pryia system. However, there are three groups of people or classes within the Kartom System.

The first at the top is the nobles, the wealthy family Houses that own Pryias to do their jobs for them, nobles each make their money in their sectors or industries. So the wealth of a House is determined by the supply on demand of that particular product they produce, whether it be dyes, jewellery or dairy. Some are almost always rich because their sector is a fundamental part of society, such as dairy, meat and clothing. The more wealthy a House, the higher in the ranks of Houses they are. The Karsars are the most prosperous house in Rigtal from their enormous amounts of dairy farms. This immense wealth allows them to expand into other sectors, therefore creating competition with other Houses which makes the prices cheaper and makes the Karsars more wealthy. They are almost always expanding their range of sectors. I believe they had recently purchased some land to conduct the construction of an orange orchard. This wealth has put the Karsar House in charge of Rigtal as it’s representing House and therefore is in charge of the council. The House that “makes” council is in charge of the city’s politics.

Below the nobles are the Midzar, or middle class, who aren’t anywhere as rich as the nobles, in fact, they don’t control any sectors but participate in some. The Midzar do the jobs that nobles don’t do that aren’t involved in administration, politics or business leaders, but also aren’t the small man’s jobs that the Pryias do for the nobles. These jobs include soldiers, traders, doctors, chefs, blacksmiths, tailors and so on, as long as it’s more prestigious as anything a Pryia does. I came from a Midzar family of a doctor father and a chef mother, and I am among the few Midzars who rose through the ranks of the army to achieve a semi-noble status as a General. Midzars can afford property, but nowhere near as much as the nobles. There is still pride in being in the Midzar class in society, and if you are a very successful Midzar in your industry of work, you can find yourself among many nobles at nobility dinners and parties.

The last and bottom class is the Pryia class, who are the servants of noble Houses, they aren’t paid to work for the nobles, but are housed and fed by their noble Houses. Pryias are bought and sold between Houses, and when a Pryia gives birth to a newborn, that newborn will grow up to work for the same House as their parents. That’s if they haven’t already been sold off to another House by then.

I’m a supporter of the Kartom System because without it I wouldn’t have achieved such success in my life, and if I can then so can other Midzars. I do see problems with the system like I have said Cullings aren’t preferable to me and they are a result of the low position of Pryias in society, but they are a byproduct of the Kartom system’s answer for how to acquire purified blood.

I see myself staring at this young man who has walked over to the group of girls and shake my head to bring myself back to reality.

I walk over to the small, frail man, Emgland, who’s the head Religitie in charge of all church affairs in Rigtal.

“I think it’s about time to get this thing started, alright Emgland.”

“Alright General, I shall start the ritual,” Emgland replies.

I haven’t cared much for Father Emgland, but he has been Rigtal’s head Religitie before I was it’s General, so I’m the last one to be questioning his worth to the city.

I walk over to the middle of the stage with equal length space between Emgland and me as there is between Caisen and me. Then Emgland clears his throat and begins the ritual.

“Everyone please quieten down. I pray to the gods of Caleria, shall they bless this Culling and bless the blood of the Culled. I pray to the god of Rigtal, Varies god of the Smith, to help us all be better people and continue to work as effectively and efficiently as possible tomorrow as we were yesterday, thank you gods.”

Varies is the Rigtal god of the Smith, who as a statue looks like a blacksmith. Many Rigtal Calerians believe that his blessing makes those blessed extraordinarily effective and efficient at work.

I’m not a sceptic, but I do feel like the Religities go a little over the top with what the gods are capable of.

I yell out to the Rachkers who would bring in the prisoners who are to be soon Culled. Usually, we name Pryias from a list randomly, but a week ago we captured some rebel Pryias out in the plains trying to rob a House’s barn filled with grain. The rebels said that the rest of the Whendigo rebel band had perished at the beginning of this winter and so they were all who remained.

The Rachkers march out from behind the stage pulling along on chain links eight rebels, an equal mix of females and males. The crowd of Pryias gasped when they saw the rebels revealed.

The energy in Quay Square sure did change suddenly, the anxiousness of the crowd of Pryias has turned to silence with open gaping mouths. A small breeze blows in through the stage, picking up the dirt on the ground and rushing it past the two older men standing up here with me creating a small cloud of dust in front of us.

“These men and women who chose to become insurgents against the King are here to be Culled, none of you will be Culled today,” I announce.

You can almost feel the combination of sighs of relief and fear for the insurgents come from the crowd, these insurgents or Whendigo rebels were the last chance the Pryias had for their “salvation”.

“Now we must punish these last few Whendigo insurgents via the Culling to send a message that rebellion against the Monarch and the Kartom System will not be tolerated in Rigtal and Caleria.”

More gasps and sounds of fear and uneasiness sing through the crowd.

I’m about to signal to the Culler to start the Culling when I hear from across Quay Square “hey, you can’t do that.”

I look over to see the one who would be willing to defy me at a Culling.

I see the young nobleman from before, start walking forward with an older man yelling at him to shut up and go home.

“You can’t do that, just because they’re rebels doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be tried for their crimes first,” the young man yells towards me with confidence.

How dare this young man defy my authority and argue voice against me. If the courts try these rebels then the worst that could happen is life imprisonment, these Whendigo rebels are or were combatants. Therefore they deserve punishment, and it must be through the Culling.

I look over to Caisen and nod, Caisen raises his right hand, and with his left hand he pops open a phial of purified blood and spills some over his right hand.

Caisen then clenches his right hand into a fist, and suddenly the young man is lifted into the air about a length and a half high and is slowly brought over to us on the stage.

A length is a measurement used in Caleria. It’s a very confusing system for foreigners to understand since we’re the only ones who use it. The range of a length originates from when an old king used his arm as a measurement. From then on it became known as a “King’s Length”, later becoming a “length”. It measures roughly the average length of an arm starting at the wrist and ending at the shoulder. Another term used to mean the same measurement is Double Foot, in a sentence, it looks like “he’s a Double Foot away from me”.

The older man who yelled at the nobleman earlier starts chasing after him yelling and screaming.

Caisen flicks his left hand propelling a rock, that was on the stage behind us, towards the man.

It hits him in the head, knocking the man out cold on the ground.

The young man is brought up to me still hovering, and I stare him up and down.

I can tell he would be roughly seventeen to nineteen years of age, young, handsome looking fellow. He is about the same height as myself, hard to say which of us is taller. Lightly tanned skin and brunette hair bring out the blue eyes I can see on him. He’s wearing a fur coat over his leather suit overalls, it’s the sign of a young nobleman, along with his sword on his left side. Despite the current situation, I can’t see fear or weakness in him. I see determination, shame that that determination was wasted on someone like him.

“What’s your name, boy?” I command of the floating boy.

“Aron. Aron de Eramont,” he says in a restrained manner, possibly due to not being able to move his mouth easily because of Caisen’s magic.

“A de Eramont? So what makes you think a noble from a lower nobility House is going to start demanding of things to be changed?”

“I don’t, but I might be able to make others see some sense that this isn’t fair.”

“A martyr is what you want to be?”

“Would be fitting that I go up in a blaze of glory, wouldn’t it?” he points with his left-hand pointer finger slowly towards his sword where the de Eramont flame sigil is the pommel on the blade.

I smile and respond “such things can be arranged in private, you are aware?” I try to study his face for any signs of shock, yet none is evident.

“Oh that would be very kind of you, I’m not one to show off like some of us,” he replies in a sarcastically mocking tone.

I grab my sword with my right hand ready to pull it out when I hear humming, humming coming from the group of Whendigo rebels, then they begin to sing.

“Mmmmhmmmm mmmmhmmmm.”

“Hear the sound of our cries

Watch the faltering of the lies

Smell the aromas of battle

For we no longer are your cattle.”

They stop shortly. I’m about to yell to the Rachkers to shut the rebels up when they start again.

“Hear the sound of our cries

Watch the faltering of the lies

Smell the aromas of battle

For we no longer are your cattle

Beaten, broken and bruised

We’ll still fight against the accused

Swords in the skies

Shields at our sides

We may never change your minds

But we are a force for all kinds

Hear the sound of our cries

Watch the faltering of the lies

Smell the aromas of battle

For we no longer are your cattle.”

There’s silence throughout Quay Square, no one is speaking, coughing, whispering or even moving. You could hear a feather fall through the air.

“Men prepare the insurgents to be Culled,” I command.

There are screams among the crowd echoing throughout the town’s square. People are howling for the rebels sake; I guess they’ve decided they would preferably be Culled themselves than the insurgents.

The rebels are standing silently by, waiting to be Culled, staring into the crowd with blank faces as if they hadn’t just made a public performance.

The Rachkers start to line up the rebels ready for the Culler to begin Culling them.

I turn back towards the hovering de Eramont in front of me.

“And you will suffer consequences too, young man,” I explain to him.

“Oh we’re gonna roleplay father and son interactions are we, I guess your young ones would be getting to the age where they are a little more rebellious,” says de Eramont.

I look at Caisen and nod to him to give him the signal.

He nods back and readies his hand to flick so to perform some more blood magic, when suddenly he falls forward with such force, face first into the wooden stage.

The de Eramont boy falls to the ground, which signals the loss of control Caisen has over him. I stare with a shocked face at Caisen’s collapsed body, staring at an arrow sticking out of his back.

“He’s has arrived, at last.”

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