Age of Vengeance Part 3
Rodin's party of Viking raiders was defeated by a Templar force led by a seasoned Templar named Nathaniel. Now, Rodin is a prisoner of the Knights Templar and has been stripped of his magic in a rite that disturbs even his captor. While he lay bleeding and broken on the floor of his cell, a voice called out to him. It offered him life, freedom, and power, but Rodin refused. Suspecting the identity of the voice's owner, he claimed he would rather die. Then, the voice offered to reunite him with his son...
Nathaniel paces in his quarters, troubled by the events that had just passed. An older, seasoned Templar, Nathaniel was no stranger to violence. But, he had never done such things before. His manner of violence was one honed on the field of battle, not the torture he had just witnessed. Was this truly God's way? He had never before questioned his purpose as he did now.
Images flash in his mind of the Viking being thrown into the ritual chair. The spikes that aligned the seat, back, and arm rests pierce into the man's skin as two Templars tie him down. He remembers standing back and watching the man howl in pain as the elder chanted the old words to begin the rite to remove his magic. Nathaniel remembers gripping the Satan’s Paw as he walked up to the man and tore the flesh of his arms and chest. The screams of the Viking echo in Nathaniel's mind as he envisions himself and his fellow Templars bleeding the magic out of him.
Nathaniel shakes his head to rid himself of the visions. Feeling his faith shaken he decides to seek the counsel of Father Daniel, his elder mentor. Father Daniel's quarters are down in the courtyard, near the front gate; adjacent to the tower imprisoning Rodin. He knocks at the door when he arrives.
"Father Daniel, It's Nathaniel." He calls out. Father Daniel answers the door and Nathaniel is reminded that it was Father Daniel that performed the rite. The memory of his mentor placing his hand on the heathen's head at the close of the ceremony plays out in his mind. He recalls Father Daniel whispering a prayer and the blinding light that erupted between them as the Viking screams crescendoed and then went silent.
"Yes my child," the priest responds. "Come in, come in." Nathaniel walks in past the priest and pulls up a chair at a wooden table. "What seems to be troubling you?"
"It's the Viking, elder." He pauses for a moment, unsure how to explain his doubts without upsetting his mentor. "I am troubled by the rite." He casts his gaze to the floor, unwilling to meet Father Daniel's eyes.
"Of course you are troubled." The priest replies calmly. "No man should look upon such horrors and return unscathed." Nathaniel looks up to meet his eyes. The kind expression there comforts him and reminds him of a time he sat in this very chair seeking the counsel of Father Daniel as a child. His mentor was always there for him.
"Then why, Father?" He asks in earnest. "Is there no other way?" The priest just smiles and places his hand on his old pupil's shoulder.
“We are Templars, my son.” The priest says with conviction. “It is our duty to persevere through these hardships so that we may serve His plan. The greatest evil of all is not that which dwells within the hearts of evil men, but that within the hearts of good men who stand by and do nothing.”
"I understand” says Nathaniel quietly. "I'll not speak of this again."
A lone Templar stands guard outside of Rodin's cell. With the prisoner so weakened the duty only requires one man. Pacing along the walkway and watching the ground below, he notices a strange sound. He hears it once more before realizing that it is coming from the wooden door to Rodin's cell. He slowly walks up to it and grips the handle. The biting cold causes him to jerk his hand away. The wood around the handle frosts over and begins to spread until it coats the entire door.
Consumed by his own curiosity, the guard slowly reaches up to touch the door, disbelieving the sight before him. Just as his finger makes contact, the door explodes outward into splinters. The force of which sends the guard hurtling backwards. The enraged Viking steps through the wreckage of the doorway. His flesh, though still caked in his blood, begins to heal itself as the wounds knit themselves closed and leave behind scars in their place. The display brings a look of horror to the guard's face as he looks up at the revitalized warrior. Rodin looks down upon the face of one of his tormentors as the memory of the Templars slitting the throats of his brothers in arms plays out in his mind as it had done a thousand times since it had occurred. He sees the terror on the Templar's face and smiles.
Just as Nathaniel closes the door to Father Daniel's room he hears a scream coming from the prison tower. Chunks of wood and ice rain down from the walkway as Nathaniel casts his gaze towards it. More screams echo from the open doorway of the adjacent tower that leads down to the courtyard. Sensing the presence of great evil, Nathaniel concludes that the Viking must have gotten free. Although he has no idea how the man could have the strength, he rushes through the doors at the base of the tower and begins to climb the winding staircase.
The body of a fellow Templar, impaled with his own sword, comes tumbling down the stairs at Nathaniel. Almost knocking Nathaniel off balance, he dodges the body and continues his ascent. A stair freezes over just as Nathaniel steps on it, sending the Templar crashing towards the ground. As he begins to right himself, a Templar blade comes barreling down towards his head and he barely manages to unsheathe his own blade to defend. Unfortunately, the act of blocking the blow knocks him off balance once more and sends him falling down the steps with Rodin in his wake.
The amount of energy Rodin has is overwhelming. He feels as if he could never tire. Stalking from the doorway of the stairs out into the courtyard, Rodin glares menacingly at his opponent. Oh, how eager the Viking is for his rematch. Circling one another, they stare deep into each others eyes. Each of them waiting for the other to make the first move. The energy and power bubbling within him exhausts Rodin's patience and he lashes out with his stolen sword. Nathaniel manages to block in time and sends the Viking careening backwards. Nathaniel is surprised at the vigor of his Viking opponent. He thought that no man could withstand the torture of the rite and stand again for several days time. Rodin lands with both feet and hands to the ground and stares up at his prey from his crouched position. Nathaniel would have been impressed if it were not for the bloodlust in his opponents eyes. Using the force of his landing, Rodin pushes off the ground and lunges into the air at Nathaniel, spinning his blade wildly.
Leaping backwards, Nathaniel dodges the attack and prepares to block the wild blows he is sure is to come. Instead, the Viking takes the stolen blade in both hands and stabs the ground in front of him. Frost extends from the blade across the earth before coming to the Templar's legs and freezing them in place. With a look of bewilderment, Nathaniel struggles for a minute. Having caught the Templar off guard, Rodin takes advantage by running forward and throwing all of his might into a right hook, breaking his icy shackles and knocking the Templar to the ground. Nathaniel slowly stumbles to his feet on the other side of the courtyard.
Rodin holds his hands out in front of him, one atop the other, and focuses intensely. A small crystal of ice forms in the air between his fists. Slowly, it expands into the hilt of a great ax. Swinging it around his head, he looses it at his opponent. Nathaniel throws himself to the ground, dodging the massive blade and it buries itself into the wooden door behind him. Looking back from the ground at the ax, he sees its frozen edge pinning his mentor, Father Daniel, to his door.
An explosion brings Rodin's attention to the docks. The Templars were burning the ships to ensure Rodin could not escape. The image of his wife and son in his mind forces Rodin to decide that his revenge is less important, so he runs with all his might while his opponent is distracted. Nathaniel's gaze shifts from his mentor to the escaping prisoner and back again. He hesitates for a moment, unsure of what to do, before rushing to his Father Daniel's side.
“Help!” Nathaniel screams. “I need a healer here! An elder has been injured!”
“Quiet down, son.” Father Daniel whispers.
“Save your strength, Father.” Nathaniel cautions. “We'll get a healer over here soon and we'll patch you-”
“No,” The priest interrupts. “It is my time Nathaniel. I have accepted this.” Nathaniel tries to protest but Father Daniel remains insistent.
“Who am I to deny His call?” he asks rhetorically. He clears his throat before looking Nathaniel in the eye. The Templar can see his mentors strength fading. “Nathaniel, you have always been a just and loyal servant of the Lord. I have always sensed much greatness in you,” Blood begins to fall from his lips as he coughs. “As my time here comes to and end, so must yours. We all have our own paths to walk and yours, I feel, is far from these walls.” Nathaniel leans forward and rests his forehead against Father Daniel's.
“Go, my son. Leave and follow your heart, for He will never lead you astray. Search long enough, and His plan may be revealed to you. Be strong, my son. You are a Templar. Deus Vult.” Nathaniel closes the eyes of his fallen mentor and sits down beside him. He closes his own eyes and weeps for the only person, save God, he has ever loved.
To Be Continued
- Age of Vengeance Part 4
Having escaped imprisonment, Rodin returns home. His only wish is to return to his old life and family, but fate has other plans. The Danelands harbor only tragedy for our viking warrior.