- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 1 – The Spear and the Sword
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 2 – The Candle
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 3 – The Stones
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 4 – At the Foot of the Stairs
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 5 – The Price of Entry
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 6 – The Grand Melee
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 7 – The Broken
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 8 – A Lively Feast
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 9 – Hospitality
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 10 – A House with a Big Hole in it
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 11 – The Art of the Sword
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 12 – The Bearer of Bad News
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 13 – A Farewell to the City
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 14 – The Leader of the People
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 15 – A Dark Place
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 16 – Into the Abyss
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 17 – The Deadlock
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 18 – The Art of the Deal
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 19 – What Was Seen in the Darkness
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 20 – Graveyard of a Thousand Unburied Demons
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 21 – In the Twinkling Stardust
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 22 – “Ass Water”
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 23 – Crossing the Line
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 24 – The Tables of Death
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 25 – Waking the Son
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 26 – Arrival (Part 1)
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 27 – Arrival (Part 2)
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 28 – Departure
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 29 – Two Arms!
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 30 – Something Foul in the Air
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 31 – Chaos and Order
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 32 – Dal Segno al Coda
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 33 – And Then You’re Gone
The careworn veteran of the Crusades could no longer distinguish the far-off incessant bustle of the Beneficia festival-goers from the forever-agonized gnashing of the lesser demons who still crawled through the lands. Such was the state of the man who foolishly agreed to set off from the White Walled City without stature or status, who survived his many tours only to gain short-lived, hollow praise. He received only a fleeting fraction of the reward that was promised to the veterans. His noble brothers-in-arms didn’t enjoy the same discouragement. Lucky them.
Fridok was born a bastard and he fought like a bastard for years in the Lord’s service, but he learned quickly and harshly that no amount of “thank you’s” for the scars he carried would ever disinherit the bastard from his name. Fridok the Houseless decided it would be better for him to make his own fate in the wilderness than to wither away in the squalor that he had so confidently and foolishly thought he would rise above. The game was rigged, and no amount of service to the Torian cause would make the fat lords give him an ounce of their vast inheritance.
Fridok allowed himself a moment of bitter reflection for all of the things in his life that had brought him to this point. The Lord, in all of his wisdom and grace, had shared with him many things on his journeys through the fallen world. The Secret Techniques of the physical and spiritual weapon arts came as naturally to him as the beard that covered his face. Though Fridok was not Gifted like the Lord and his many growing children from his growing collection of wives, he could wield Soul-arms at a level rivaling El Hijo himself. He may not have been able to shatter the earth with the touch of his fingers, but it would be a cold day in the Cataclysmic Lands before he would allow any big-headed rich boy to buy the blade which was rightfully Fridok’s, for a tiny fraction of a wealthy family’s vast coffers. He didn’t fetishize his sword like Alaric did by giving it a name, but it was a part of his very identity now.
The night sky was lit up as always by the Great Band, the twinkling ocean of spirit debris that once made the boy Fridok look upon it with wonder as he fell asleep hungry time and again, believing that it held some magic for him if he would just wish upon it hard enough. When he first learned the cold truth of the mystery behind it, what the glistening field of moving stars truly was, the magic was in an instant lost to him. Now, gazing silently up at that same light above him, he understood better the greater machinations of the world that the Namer had created, the legacy of destruction He created.
There was nothing magical about Great Band. Not anymore. That field of moving stars was in fact only what remained after all life was stolen from something majestic and beautiful that ruled the ancient sky above, all for the good of mankind.
Fridok dwelled upon the great nothing above, feeling quite like the scattered celestial remains. He closed his eyes and imagined himself ascending into the air to take his place, scattered among the debris. He could do it, too. He could toss himself from the highest cliff and dash his head against the rocks below. The worn out and scarred body would die, yes, but his soul would undoubtedly live on and he would be free from all of the make-believe self-importance that the people in that city were still so sure meant something. It really didn’t matter how he did it, as long as he didn’t let his Soul-arm do the job. There would be no “after,” after that.
But mankind mostly chooses to continue to live on in the same fashion as long as some minor comfort has reassured them of their place. Call it fear of the unknown or of failure. Call it a cosmic false permanence – the end state of a free radical that no longer has energy to overthrow the force of order.
Fridok rejected the place set aside for him in the great scheme, but he wasn’t about to die.
He looked again down at he city below. The White Walled City was undeniably beautiful despite the sinful ways of those that lived in it. It was considered an unforgiveable sin to speak the name of the city outside of it, lest the demons hear it and learn of it. The world may be safer now because of their efforts, but demons still existed in the far reaches and the deep ocean and under ground. Any one of them with the knowledge of the city’s True Name could learn to use it and bring about the end of everything.
The Lord may have disregarded that danger being surrounded in his comforts, but Fridok didn’t. He wouldn’t rest until every monster was crushed into the dirt. He had his motive, his training and his sword. And now, he had the Spear as well.
For such a powerful and instrumental weapon to be so easily taken from El Hijo’s possessions, it proved to Fridok that it was meant for him. The Lord was too busy ruling the City and making offspring to finish the quest – he probably never considered that someone would walk right into his quarters and take it.
They’d never suspect it was the retired war hero Fridok, he was sure of it. They had all written Fridok off in their daily lives because he wasn’t a player in their game. After all, they all had big important political duties now, even Alaric. Damn him. The war was essentially won and it was time for reconstruction, now, he had said. What use to a politician was the weapon of a warrior, other than to place it upon their mantle and share stories about it?
As Fridok entertained himself with the ideas in his head about how they would react when they found out the spear was missing, he noticed movement in the fields between him and the White Walled City. He instinctively placed his hand on the golden hilt of his Soul-arm, ready to vanquish any foul thing that might have caught on to his scent. He had spent too much of his life in the wilderness to not be constantly alert and ready to fight. It was only when he noticed that the figures carried lit torches that he fully understood what had happened.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” Fridok said aloud. He smirked and readied the speech he had prepared in case he was caught. If there was anything that Fridok was good at outside of fighting, it was rallying others to fight alongside him. Maybe he would have company, after all.
He knew he had to meet these men. Surely, they would understand once they saw it was he who took it. At worst, they would scold him. With any luck, he could commandeer the unit and force them to come along. It was always better to have others alongside him to watch his back, after all.
Fridok, so sure of himself, took a deep breath and rode down to meet the men.
It wasn’t until it was almost already too late that he realized these men already had a commanding officer. These were Consul High Guardsmen on armor-clad horses. There would be no time for talking here. He swore colorfully to himself and abruptly turned his horse around as several arrows landed within ten feet of where he was standing.
Fridok rode his mountain breed stallion as hard as it would go, but the other horses had greater momentum by this point. Within seconds, the men surrounded him, keeping a safe distance but preventing his escape. Fridok considered that perhaps these men would try to peaceably subdue him after all, but that perception was proven wrong as one of the horsemen unsheathed his sword and attempted to strike Fridok down from behind.
That’s when, for the first time since being entrusted with his Soul-arm, he committed the one act he swore he would never do. As soon as Fridok felt the wind from the soldier’s narrowly missed strike, he instinctively swung his nameless blade at his assailant. The strike was successful, immediately causing Fridok to shudder. The regret hit hard and fast as Fridok felt the familiar surge of energy and strength pour through him. The man was no more for this world or the next.
Fridok didn’t have time to think about what had happened. He transferred all of the fool’s soul power into his horse which enabled it to burst through the line of unsuspecting guards in a blast of white light that blinded them as he rode through. Fridok continued toward the mountains in the North and put a great distance between himself and the soldiers before gathering the courage to look back.
The whole unit continued to chase after him with the commander at the front, although there was no chance they would catch up to Fridok now. There was no mistaking the golden hair that flowed in the wind behind the man in front, nor the horse that he named Ignis or the Soul-arm he named Daemonore. Fridok knew all of them all too well.
It was Alaric.
There would be no going back now. Not after this. All he could do now was continue riding and embrace the fact that there was no longer a place for him among men.