For Mike!

One week ago

Akademos had called you over to the Orpheus barracks in the Military district. Although you have frequented the district many times, and pass through on the way to the Commercial district, it always surprises you how the city slopes down before leveling out for the barracks. Mecone is built on a large outcropping of rock that is hardly symmetrical and, for whatever reason, no attempt was ever made to level or make even the districts. Perhaps that is why the two highest points in the city are dedicated to the Great Houses and the Inner City; so that the Achaeans may truly rule over the city from on high. Whatever the case, you have no particular objection to it as you walk into the Orpheus barracks.

House Orpheus does not have the largest or most prestigious barracks in the military district. It holds the troops and dedicated guards that Orpheus contributes, which is to say very few. No matter, you think to yourself, we provide them their food and furs. What more could they ask?

Akademos stands before the guards, speaking to them as a commander and leader of men, and they give him their full attention. You stop a little ways back, watching Akademos and listening.

“The city thinks of us only as scouts, as rangers, as troublemakers. They think of us only as a tool to be used. But I will show them how strong we are, not just as hunters, but also as warriors! I need your help, for each of you represent our strength, our capabilities in the coming days. And I want each of you to remind this city that House Orpheus does not just hunt; we fight! For honor and glory! For the dead and gone! For Orpheus!” The guards cheer and raise their swords to Akademos who nods them off and lets them return to their duties. When Akademos sees you, you waves you over to a map of Skarragh.

“It is good you are here. I have a dilemma.”

“Anyway I can assist my lord.” You bow slightly before Akademos and wonder why he has brought you before a map of the farmlands in Folkvangr. Has something happened there to which we must respond?

“Tell me, my loyal blacksmith, what is the source of all cowardice?” Without a moment’s hesitation, you respond. “Inaction, my lord.” Akademos nods in approval.

“Then tell me, why are you a blacksmith and not a warrior?” Your cheeks redden at the implication but Akademos stares at you with unrelenting eyes.

“I am not a coward. The city does not need my strength right now—” Before you can finish, Akademos turns to face you fully and looks at you with ambition and inspiration, his fist raised to his chest and promising power and dominance.

“No! The city does need your strength, the strength of our House! But it would be squandered if you were just a guard, or some layabout here in Mecone, wouldn’t it?” You nod, pleased that Akademos has decided not to insult your abilities. But where is he going with this?

Akademos sighs. “Now tell me, has House Orpheus ever had a Hersir?” The legendary military commanders who fight alongside their troops and inspire all with their bravery are beloved and revered in Mecone.

“No, my Lord. We have never had a Hersir in our House.”

“Until now.” Akademos looked at your with curiosity and waited for your response. It did not come. “Listen to me, a Hersir would make our House strong and respected, it would show we aren’t just a house of rangers and tricksters! And who better than you to be our first Hersir? Is there a braver man, a man more suited to lead his troops into battle? I have some property in the Folkvangr that you would control and a small segment of shops in the Commercial district, but from there we can expand.”

Akademos continues for a while and you are not sure what to say. Of course, it’s a great honor, but to commit myself to a stagnant military? You think for a while, still without much to say. Akademos finally stops and looks at you with wonder. He rolls up the map of Skarragh, no longer needing to point at it.

“Think about it. I can’t make you say yes, but ours would be strong with you leading their swords.”

Akademos walks out of the barracks and you look out onto a group of soldiers training. They practice shieldwall techniques. You already see several flaws in their execution; gaps between some soldiers, feet turned the wrong way to prevent being unbalanced, sword arms to far back so that retaliation is unlikely. You wonder if that is your fate; to train others and lead them to their glorious deaths.

You decide to answer Akademos at a later date.

For Mike!

Gylfaginning huntedbuddha