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Garden of Heroes

At A Glance

  Winter had settled into the Temple Ward. Already beset by daunting edifices of elegant and sharp architecture, the invasive whisper of howling wind seemed to make the visages within the reliefs of the stony structures mutter incoherent prayers. So says the priests, of course. Groaning in protest, the iron gate swung open as I made my way towards the figures in the snowy mist. My feet carried me down the cobbled path that weaved its way through this leafless park. Like wicked fingers, the branches of dormant trees swayed in shuckling prayer. Once a calm stream, the waters that weaved beneath the small footbridges and around the gazebo had fallen to an icy stillness. Citizens knew well that this place was charming in the sunnier seasons, yet remarkably melancholy before spring returned. As such, the park was left in my and the elusive groundskeeper's stead. The Garden of Heroes was a place quite familiar to me, for these statues, despite the groundskeeper's best efforts, began to concede to the weather.   The visages of these stony people, ten to fifteen feel tall, often observed me tossing seed to the birds, wondering if I would pay my respects. Often, I did, but not to those that had already been left flowers or incense, no. Each of the names were known to all and many prayers were said heralding their titles and deeds- Saints and martyrs, heroes and adventurers. My query was always the solemn figure that many have long since forgotten. On the farthest end of the park where the path had rolled into gravel then dirt, was a hero undeserving of such solitude. A beastly man, he was proudly displayed wearing the mantle of some hellish beast that he often donned. The groundskeeper had neglected him, so I sought to it that he be preserved as was deserving.   Water within my pale had already begun freezing as I poured a small bottle of vinegar into it, stirring as I felt the gaze once more. It was as though the winds themselves carried the message of defiance as I began to scrub the mold and grime away from the dais he stood so proudly upon.   "Boy," a raspy voice beckoned, "pray, what are you doing?" Surprised, I shot to my feet to face the fellow. I knew well of the groundskeeper, and it was not he. Standing rather tall beneath his heavy woolen cloak, he watched as I faffed at mustering a response. Instead, I was affixed on his strange appearance. In front of him were his gloved hands clasping a walking cane. What lay beneath his cloak looked like evening formal wear with an emerald green tie that heavily contrasted the blue and gray of the sky and city streets just beyond the iron fence. His face was long and gaunt with a dark, well-groomed beard and mustache against his sickly white skin. "Speak lest I lose my patience."   "Forgive me, master," I stammered as I stood before the statue, "I was merely tending to... to him." While the weather hadn't yet cut through my garments, his furrowed yet condescending gaze he cast upon me was enough to tear through my coat and send a chill up my spine. With a mere gesture of his eyes, his lightless eyes, I knew to make myself scarce. Taking my bucket and rag, I briskly traveled down the path and back towards the iron fence. Leering, the heroes of yesterday silently pleaded for me to remain yet I could not allow myself to tarry, for the deathly aura of that man seemed to cacophonously lurch at my heels as the gate clinked shut. Heaving in relief, I felt a great weight escape my lungs as I began to cough.   Something was dreadfully wrong; perhaps there was a reason that statue was left untouched.  


  The Garden of Heroes was erected nearly a century ago by the people of the Temple Ward as a means to pay respects to heroes and good citizens that have helped to protect or maintain peace and safety particularly inside the Temple Ward. In the past decades, more statues have been erected of heroes that sought to protect the city as a whole from threats that would bring about its destruction.  

Rumors & Secrets

  Such a place is often under heavy scrutiny by the locals and religious figures alike. They fear that some of the individuals represented are not worthy of such a home and that the statues erected in their name should be destroyed. As such, many officials recommend that the citizenry only visit the Garden during the day, as they cannot assure the safety of those that visit after dark.  
"The forces of devilry are at play in that Garden yonder. I fear that such a place, intended for praise and thankfulness, has fallen to darkness."
- Brother Mathias of the Temple of Hannan
  Rumors have often plagued many places in the Temple Ward, yet no place can compare to the yarn spun about the Garden of Heroes. Many tell tales of poltergeists stalking and haunting the place; the vengeful spirits that were slain by the champions displayed.    
"...I know well what I saw there! It were apparitions that snuffed out the candles and sequestered their light into the pitch of nothingness."
- Odrich Garretson, Temple Ward Guardsman
  Another frequently discussed topic amongst locals is why exactly the Garden of Heroes is all but abandoned in the winter time. Many believe the place to be cursed and many report sightings of strange figures coming and going without ever making a sound. Many believe these figures to be the groundskeeper or even ghosts as previously mentioned, but many suspect it to be a more sinister force.   The groundskeeper is a strange fellow, as none know his name and even fewer have seen him. Some often speculate that he may not even exist at all though it would be difficult to explain the pristine conditions of the park during the warmer seasons. For such reasons, many gossipmongers refer to the supposed hauntings as the groundskeeper's doing.            
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Author's Notes



This article was written by the creative and talented Sols & Duun and edited for world and game use by Graylion. To see more writing and world building by Sols & Duun, visit Vhosparus.

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10 Mar, 2022 03:41

A great layout, and very interesting story.

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