Jack

fallsilently


Fall Silently

A fantasy story by Itsasu Deauxnim


Prologue
Jack
fallsilently

“Congratulations, my son,” Erich Wulfingrad stared at the medal on his son’s chest, glittering from the light.

“Thank you, father,” said Andrej Wulfingrad softly, kneeling in full armor save the stuffy helmet under his right arm. The medal, he noticed, gleamed brilliantly in the perfect sunlight, the inscription “Royal Academy of Lerciveu” clearly visible. “It is my honor.”

“Rise, Andrej,” Erich said. “Your brother would be so proud of you! Rising so fast in the academy and joining the Remuldian Order! Fantastic job.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You give pride to the name of House Wulfingrad.”

“Thank you, father.”

“Your brother would be so proud.”

“Yes sir.”

And no words came after those. Silence only followed after, and though each tried to break the frozen wall, neither find how to. Andrej stood up, turned around and walked through the door. Outside into sunlight, not the simulated light of torches and lamps powered with magic. “Goodbye, father,” he said as he opened the door. He walked outside then, and softly closed the door behind him.

Andrej shielded his eyes from the strong June sunlight—and painfully realized the gleam of his new shining armor from below may have just made it worse. “Folly,” he whispered, and rather than taking off his gear, he decided to get used to it, for this is how it will be in the battlefield.

Possibly worse.

His garden is beautiful.

This he noticed as his eyes adjusted to the cruel sunlight. Yes, compared to his father’s mansion, dirty with cobwebs and the smell of oblivion and neglect. With no maids employed but a first-rate gardener, there is no wonder why this strange contrast exists. What Andrej wonders, however, is why his father refuses to hire maids. Such a shame, a mansion wasted away by time, it seems.

“Young Master.”

The head gardener, Conrad McCullen, bowed and paused from his work as Andrej stepped out, his gardening shears still in one hand. Beside him, a marvelous sculpture made from shrubbery, possibly a warrior atop a horse. “Mr. McCullen,” Andrej replied.

“Young master,” McCullen scolded, though playfully, “I must ask again, what will people think if they know the heir of the prestigious House Wulfingard calls a commoner—his gardener, even—mister?”

“I don’t much care, Mr. McCullen,” Andrej replied again. The both of them chuckled at the statement. All a daily recurring joke between the two. As they were, this daily joke gave a fresh transcendence to the normality and formalities of life.

“I see you graduated from the academy, young master,” McCullen remarked as he continued working on the sculpture. “Mind I ask, will you be deployed to the battlefield soon?”

“Next month,” Andrej answered. “Deployed with the Remuldian Order’s Buffalo Brigade with the rest of the fresh graduates.”

“Aye, aye,” McCullen said, “Remuldian Order… Just like Master Mathias.”

“Brother… yes. Just like him.”

“Was it your father’s idea to send you to the order? Or did you have other plans in mind?”

“Well…” Andrej began, “Actually… I didn’t really want to join the order…”

“Oh?”

“I wanted to be a mage, actually.” Andrej said while crossing his arms. “Or a scholar. A sorcerer or something. To tell you the truth, well…”

“Yes?”

“Keep this a secret from father, but I don’t think I’m suited for the sword.”

“Ah, I understand. You were always so different from Master Mathias. He’s the older, strong-willed, louder, brash side of the family. Must take from his father.”

The two laughed.

“Don’t tell the Master I said that, lad.” Andrej nodded. “You, however…” McCullen paused, looked at Andrej and continued.

“You’re more of the quiet, stoic, intelligent type, you are. I remember, sir, when you were young, when the other boys were playing with wooden swords, you had your nose buried in a book.”

“I remember that.”

“Of course, you were lucky!” McCullen exclaimed. “You were born to nobility! A family that can provide your hunger for knowledge and words! You learned to read! My, my, do you even know how lucky you are?”

“A lot of my classmates in the academy do not know how to read either, so I understand.”

“If you were born to a commoner, ach! I dare not imagine the suffering your brilliant mind would go through. Without books to supply the hunger and literacy to feed it!”

“Yes. But still…”

“What?”

“I’m a soldier now. Not a scholar or a mage. A soldier. My path was written for me twice in my life. When I crawled from the union of my mother and father, I was written to serve Lerciveu Empire. When Mathias died, I was destined to be a soldier. It is a given destiny.”

“Now lad,” McCullen said, “Your father can’t be deciding everything you do, now, eh? You’ve got to decide for yourself—by the gods, you’re seventeen now!”

“Aye, I understand,” Andrej answered, “But this is the fate I chose myself. I have no regrets. Now, if you’ll excuse me Mr. McCullen, I need to head outside.”

“Well, all right then, sir. Just think about what I said.”

“Aye, Mr. McCullen.”

Andrej walked through the gates and McCullen locked the fence behind him. Beyond the wall, people stared at the giant green sculpture beyond, comments ranging from “spectacular” to “a work of true artistry.” Andrej stared back at the sculpture, its awe-inspiring effect on his mind dulled slowly because of everyday viewing. He looked back in front of him and turned right to another mansion on the horizon. House Steinheim’s mansion stood in front of him, large and loud. A merry celebration held in its vast garden to celebrate the knighthood of their youngest son. Andrej walked faster towards the house—proved difficult to do in the heavy armor suit.

Better get used to it, he thought, and he continued running. And as he ran the street, the presence of commoners and merchants grew stronger, each thinking, with a large celebration, come many people; thus many potential customers as well. Andrej walked slower to take a look around the stands, fascinated by each lively transaction and calling.

“Andrej!” Someone from behind him tapped him on his back. Tapped hard enough to shock him despite—or because of the heavy armor. Andrej looked behind him and saw a man clad in armor, also shining new, though he wore his helmet proudly on his head. While the helmet in Andrej’s hand was a simple functional tool, an iron covering with a flappable visor for sight, his was decorative. Devil’s horns adorned the crown while the rest was filled with spiked decorations, obviously used to inspire fear in enemies. The helmet came with a mask that covers all of his face, save holes for eyes, breathing, and a window for a mouth.

“Tristan,” Andrej replied. “How are you?”

“As you can see from my house,” Tristan Steinheim answered while removing his devil-helmet, “There is a celebration in my mansion!” he said while holding the medal, hung on his neck with his free hand. “You must join! Come, come! This is as much your celebration as it is mine!” Tristan grabbed the medal hung on Andrej’s neck, pulling his head forward suddenly. He then hung the two identical medals on that strong hand of his. Tristan smiled.

“Very well,” Andrej answered, taking back his medal from Tristan’s clutches and let it hang free from his neck once more. “I was planning to join anyway.”

Tristan put his arm around Andrej’s shoulder. At that moment, looking how far down Tristan’s arm went to reach his shoulders, Andrej realized again how short he is compared to Tristan. “That’s the spirit!” Tristan said. “Come, let us drink and be merry.”

“Thank you, friend,” Andrej replied, and they walked together towards the Steinheim mansion. Andrej looked back to the streets toward the commoners and merchants as Tristan led him inside.


?

Log in

No account? Create an account