Miles Cloudchaser || Shepherds of the Wayward Suns ||

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We were all lined up on deck of the Bachelor's Delight. Some stood sharp, others slumped and weary, but all were stoked with anticipation. The Quartermaster worked his way down the line. A quick bark of the man's name, a quick reply of confirmation, a small purse of coin was given to the crewman, and then the Quartermaster moved on to the next man in line. This repeated time and again out of the corner of Miles’s eye. It had been another easy grain run to the North. No pirates want to raid a grain merchantmen. They don't carry valuable goods, treasure, or anything else that sells on the Black Market. Try to get a Black Marketeer to buy a ship load of grain? Good Luck with that! “BOSUN'S MATE MILES CLOUDCHASER,” Shouted the Quartermaster, standing in front of him. “AYE!”, Miles reported and stepped forward. A small coin purse was placed in his outstretched palm and the Quartermaster moved along down the line to repeat the process all over again.
  A crooked smile cracked onto Miles’s face. Last night the crew had all talked about what they were going to do when we reached port and got paid. Gambleing, drinking, whoring, reuniting with family, and one guy was going to the local temple to pray. But not Miles. There was a once in a lifetime moment in this town. A local nobel was feeling charitable and was temporarily allowing the general public to view his collection of Dwarven art and devices. The entrance fee would take most of the pay he just earned. Thinking to himself, “Women and drink are important, but an opportunity to see the craftsmanship and physical history of another race? That is worth more than these coins are worth. Soon the crew would be released. I can rush to the wharfs bathhouse. Once there, a quick scrub and change into my best clothes. A short journey to the Nobles Quarter and then…” The crooked smile on his face spread into a toothy grin. “Today is going to be a good day,'' Miles muttered as he looked out over the ship's railing into the town in front of him.
    “You know you didn't have to hit him,” The robed priest chastised Miles. The man gingerly placing a poultice on the laceration on Miles forehead and wrapping a linen bandage around his head to hold it in place. “I know I shouldn't have. The beating wasn't going to make the moron any smarter. But in my defence, he shouldn't have made all those disparaging comments about the Dwarves. They craft such wondrous things.” Miles replied as he sat on the bench outside of the temple. The priest finished wrapping the head bandage and took Miles’s hands into his own. Examining the bloody knuckles and shaking his head. “And I would wager that you were drunk.” Leaning forward and sniffing his mouth.The priest quickly recoils back. “Spirytus? Really Miles! That horrid swill is used to debark the local trees. They water it down just enough so it won't kill a man. Don't tell me you enjoy the stuff?” “You know me well enough to know I prefer Ale and Brandy. But I spent most of my purse on the viewing of Dwarven art. It’s all I could afford last night.” He sheepishly replied.
Spreading more of the herbal poultice across the knuckles and wrapping them with bandages. “There. That should do it.” The priest finished and packed up his healer's kit. “So are you going to come in and see the children, Miles?” “Not today. I would rather that they didn't see me like this. My shipmate deliver the toys to you yesterday?” Sitting down on the bench next to Miles.“Yes he did and the children are very happy with them. Your wood carving has improved. I could actually figure out that one was a horse. But some were disappointed you didn't deliver them yourself.” “Well, it's better they don't grow too attached to me. I'll be wrapping up my duties with the Bachelor's Delight soon. A merchant has paid to have one of his sons take my place. The Captains a good guy and made an arrangement with the Captain of the Golden Hind to take me on. She does a goods run to the East. The Golden Hind bypasses this port, so I wont be casting a long shadow on your bench anytime in the near future.” The priest quipped. “Well then I guess I am going to have to learn to whittle now. Thanks Miles.” Both lightley chuckling. The old wood bench creaking under both their weight. The priest looks over at Miles. “You still can't remember my name can you?” Miles, “Nope. Been trying all morning.” Priest, “You're hopeless Miles.”
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The fog bank wasn’t strange in anyway. A bit odd for this time of year, but not impossible. The helmsman had reported it to the First Mate and the First Mate, Miles Cloudchaser, checked the charts. Confirming the passage to be obstacle free. The order was given to stay on course and proceed into the fog. The smell of rotting fish first assaulted the crews nose as soon as they entered. The deeper the Royal Fortune cut through the mist, the more intense the smell became. Men began to wretch and gasp for breath, but each breath worsened the problem. The crew abandoned their posts hopelessly searching for clean air. The ship's Surgeon rushed on deck. His nose and mouth covered with a dripping rag. From a bucket he passed out wet rags instructing the crew to breath through them. Miles quickly applied the rag to his face and took a deep breath. The stench was still there but the effects of the gagging subsided. Slightly recovered Miles yelled orders for the crew to return to their posts and to have more men placed around the ship as lookouts. Minutes passed and the majority of the crew, now with sopping bandit masks, had regained control of the ship. Some of the crew had not been as lucky. A few had choked and died on their own sick, the Captain included. There was no time to mourn their deaths. The threat was still there and the Royal Fortune was in the thick of it.
Lookouts reported flotsam and debris ahead. Gaffs were issued and the crew dredged what they could as they sailed threw. Large heaps of kelp were lifted on to the deck. Some of the crew got to the task of untangling items from the knotted mess. Crude harpoons, broken shields adorned with seashells, and fishmen body parts were produced from the kelp masses. The ships Surgeon identified them as Kuo-toa, but the crew did not care. The order was given to toss it all over the side and that weapons be issued. The wind picked up and the Royal Fortune sailed on.
The fog was starting to wane and the sun began breaking through the heavy mist. Thankfully the wind had been with them and God’s willing they would be free of this hellish fog. It was then that the wind stopped and the air felt oddly still. Time crept by and everyone was on edge. What broke the silence was a single sob and when all turned towards the rear of the ship to see who it was, they all saw it. Two huge red glowing eyes in a hulking shadow appearing in the mist behind the Royal Fortune. The size of it! So large it was blocking the wind, but the fog still clung to it. Hiding any shape or detail. The colossal shadow slowly began to rise, causing waves that bucked the ship about. The two glowing eyes now towering above the ship, gazing down upon them all. A full panic spread amongst the crew. Some started to get the small launches ready to abandon ship, a couple dropped to their knees and started to pray, and a few drew their cutlasses and assaulted the phantom with harsh language. But it was all for naught. The mighty creature turned its eyes away from the chaos it had created and began to move. The Royal Fortune didn't have a chance. Treating her like a toy in a bathtub, it pushed the merchant ship aside. The mighty force splintering the hull, causing the ship to roll over, and sending her quickly to the bottom of the sea. The few surviving crew lashed what they could find into a makeshift raft and gathered any supplies found afloat. The fog left with the monster and thankfully no Kuo-toa appeared. The Gods were smiling on these men because a few days later they were rescued by a passing ship.
  “Now that is the story of the fate of the Royal Fortune.” Looking at the small throng of old and young sailors drawn to his tale and with a smile Miles leaned back against the tavern bar. “You don't think we believe such a tall tale do you, mate?” A young sailor questioned. A murmur of approval to the question rumbled through the group. “I don't need you to believe it. It happened. I was there and that's all that matters. It's not my best story.” Turning and looking at the two scantily clad women, plying for business, on the stairs that lead up to private rooms. “I save the best stories for the more interested individuals.” Winking at the ladies. The group of salty dogs grumble at this and disperse. Going about their drinking and shenanigans. Miles turns to the Barkeep. “How much for a room, a bottle, and the opportunity to regale my exploits to one of those nice girls all night?” The Barkeep stating without pause from pouring tankards. “Five silvers, for everything, upfront.” Miles reaches into his vest pocket and withdraws a large crude gold ring, places it on the bar. “Then I’ll take two. And you good sir can keep the change.” Reaching behind the bar and taking two bottles of brandy and turning towards the stairs. Taking the ring and biting it. The Barkeep smiled with surprise. “Where did you find this?” Miles shouts over his shoulder as he struts towards the awaiting ladies. “Did I fail to mention that some of the Kuo-toa parts wore jewelry? I always forget that part of the tale. I must endeavor to do better next time.” Following the cooing ladies up the stairs to the rooms. “Now ladies shall I tell you about the tale of the Qorvi Princess I taught knot tying to? You see she had an odd fascination with rope…”
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The moon hung high on a clear night and the local taverns door bangs open. Two men stumble out the door laughing at each others drunkenness. Each placing an arm around the other to steady themselves as they made their way up the street. “Okay, okay, okay. So i’ve guessed Conrad, Derwin, and Eldridge. I was sure it was Eldridge. You sure it's not Eldridge?” “Miles! Eldridge is not my name! I know my own name and you have yet to come close. Almost twenty years we’ve known each other. We go for a drink and we play this game. You guess all night long, the next morning I tell you, and we have a laugh. You ship out, eventual comeback, and we start the game all over again!” Joyfully exclaimed the disheveled priest. Miles tried his best to guide them both towards the middle of the cobblestone road. “Shhh! Not so loud. No need to make all the townsfolk aware of my shortcomings. I have a reputation to uphold.” Miles and the Priest burst out in laughter. Recovering after each of them wiped away their tears, they staggered together up the road towards the temples tall spires.
  At the fork a figure emerged from the shadows.“Spare a coin misters?” A sing-song voice asked. The drunken twosome halted and looked at the figure. The individual was about average size.They wore a large dark hooded cloak that hid everything except the one hand, outreached and open palmed. “Coin?” It repeated. Miles patted his puse and found it empty. “Sorry, but im all out of moneys and my friend here has taken a vow of poverty. Hence why my purse is empty, because I buy all his libations.”
The priest released himself from Miles’s arm, taking a step back, and did his best to stand up straight. “My good sir! Doust you deny those tankards you bought and I consumed were not just offerings to my God?” The priest announced with words dripping with sarcasm and mockery. Miles joined in on the overacting, bowed deeply, almost falling over doing so. “Forgive me your holiness. I repent and wish only your blessing.” Miles heard a ruffle of cloth and a loud gasp. When he bent back up the cloaked figure was standing in front of the priest. The priests eyes were wide and his mouth agape. His body crumpled to the ground, both hands pressed over his gut. A dark crimson running through his fingers and staining his robes. The cloaked figure turned towards Miles and a glint of moonlight reflected off a small blade in its hand. Miles lifted his foot and kicked it in the chest with all he had. The body flew through the air, slamming against the near wall, and collapsing into an unmoving heap. Miles rushed to the priest and pressed his hands against the priests blood soaked hands. Looking down at the wound. “Not today my old friend. You're not dying today.” “HELP! I NEED HELP!” Miles shouted. Miles pressed harder. The priests lifeblood pooling beneath them. “This is not good. Your losing too much. Too fast. I need help. Please. Anyone. Help. Help me. Help him...” Miles whimpered. Closing his eyes. Tears running down his cheeks. Miles felt a trickle of warmth that turned into a throbbing heat fill his hands. He opened his eyes to see his hands glowing briefly in a golden light. The bleeding had stopped and he removed his hands. The priest, now awake, breathing heavy, and wincing in pain sat up against Miles. “Miles, you never cease to amaze me.” He groaned in pain and rubbed the sealed wound. “I think you broke my arm you bastard!” Hissed an angry voice behind them. They turned and saw the thief slowly stager and stand up. Grasping at his left arm dangling limp in its sleeve. “I was going to kill you quick like and loot yeh, but now. Now i'm go’n to make it hu..” Miles had leapt up with surprising speed. He had traveled the distance between them in a heartbeat. The thief didn't understand what had happened. Both of Miles’s hands, still slick with blood, were clamped around his throat. He clawed at them with his one good hand. But it was no good. He tried to kick him, but it made no difference. It was like kicking a boulder. His vision began tunneling and all he could see was Miles’s eyes. The rage, the hate, the fury. His last thoughts were of fear as his neck snapped. “Miles! Miles! He's dead Miles! Let go!” The priest had his hand on Miles’s shoulder, shaking him violently. Miles let go of the corpse and it flopped to the ground. “Let's go Miles. A little bit further and we’ll be at the temple. Come on.” The priest spoke calmly and took him by the arm. Miles said nothing, but followed his lead. They arrived at the temple shortly. The priest sat Miles down on the wooden bench outside the temple doors. “Wait here friend. I’ll be right back.” He patted him on the shoulder and went inside.
  The remainder of the night passed in a blur for Miles. The temple had instantly become a beacon of activity. Sometime during the night acolytes escorted him into the temple to a private room. They provided a washbasin and clean garments for him. Miles disrobed, washed, and slip on the simple clothes. There was a light knock and the door opened. A bright faced acolyte boy shuffled in, collected the pile of soiled laundry, and quickly left. The door closing lightly behind him. Not surprisingly, the room was spartan. A desk, an oil lamp, wooden stool, and a simple bed. Miles crawled onto the bed and tried to sleep, but slumber never came. He watched the morning sunbeams shine threw the window and travel across the far wall of the room. It was late that morning when there was another knock on the door. “Miles? It’s me Dermitt. I am coming in.” The door opened and in walked his friend the priest. Sitting up in the bed. “Dermitt? Really? I was so close with Derwin. Shucks!” Miles and Dermitt chuckled. “I brought you your laundry. The acolytes did find this with it.” Dermitt placed the folded clothes on the foot of the bed and withdrew a small pendent from his pocket. A small grey polished stone with a hole worn through it, dangling from a blood stained leather cord. “I think it might be the thief’s. Your hands were clenched so tight I bet it got tangled up with you.” Laying it down next to the pile of clothes. “You okay Miles?” Miles got up and started to change into his clothes. “You know Dermitt I have never killed a man before. I’ve roughed some guys up in the past and I have taken a good beating, too. But everyone always lived another day.” “But Miles your tales of sword fighting fishmen, spearing dire sharks, and that time with the zombies on the shipwreck? I know those weren't exaggerations. You killed them.”
Continuing to get dressed. “But they weren't men! They weren't humans, elves, dwarfs, goblins, you know? People!” Miles now fully dressed flopped onto the hard bed. “I’ve never killed a person, Dermitt. Before they were animals or things. This was different.” Dermitt chuckled and shook his head, “Miles, you are a complicated man. I thought you were having a breakdown over the healing miracle you performed and what it meant for you. But here you are in the middle of a moral crisis regarding an act of self defence.” “Shut it preacher! I don't need your platitudes right now. You know I don't believe in your hookum anyways.” Miles spat with indignity. Dermitt patted Miles’s boot, “Come on you old salty dog. You can debate the moral consequences of your action later. I hate to break this to you, but you have more important problems to deal with. The gift you were given access to last night is powerful. Power without control is dangerous. That means you are now considered dangerous in the eyes of this Order and the State.” Miles eyes grew wide and started shouting,“What in the Seven Hells! I didn't ask for this! This is your fault! You are responsible for this somehow! I know it!” “That's correct Miles. I have the power to choose who gets chosen and I picked my drinking partner who doesn't trust religions. We done? Now. Get up! We have to see the High Priest of this temple. Your miracle was brought to his attention and he needs to explain how you will be ordained into the Order of Anubis. Welcome home Brother.”
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Miles felt ridiculous. There they sat on the floor of the classroom. Miles in the center, surrounded on all sides by dozens of them. Young fresh faced babies not much older than he was when he left home to start a life at sea. He looked like an old gnarled oak tree in a field of freshly bloomed flowers. It was their first day of training and the children were excitedly chatting with each other, introducing themselves, and forming into groups. They all avoided looking directly at or speaking with Miles. “God’s. What did I ever do to deserve this.” Miles grumbled quietly. A freckled little girl close by turned towards him. “Excuse me sir did you ask me something?” Miles raised his hand bashfully and began to apologize, but behind him a snarky high pitched voice interrupted. “Oh great! We have an old pervert in our class! Don't get to close girls, I bet he’ll steal your under linens!” A chorus of laughter followed the quip. Slowly turning his head to look behind him, Miles was greeted with the sight of a handful of boys laughing. They looked like they could be the oldest kids in the class, possibly in their early teens. Well groomed, hands not callused, and pale skin. “Great! Noble kids. This just can't get much worse.” Miles thought and turned back to facing forward. The Order had a rule regarding titles and class. Once you enter the Order, all of that stayed at the door. Everyone started equal and promotion was based on skill and merit. It was one of the few tenets that Miles respected about the Order. That and the lack of strict restrictions on drinking and Lady Favors. The door to the classroom opened and a line of stoic priest shuffled into the room. Introductions were made, slates with chalk provided, and sleeping quarters assigned. At the end, the Headmaster entered and welcomed us all, he reminded everyone about the rules again, and closed with a decent speech. The end of day bell rang and the class was dismissed for the evening meal. “Not a bad start.” Miles mused.
  He tied his grey hair back with a strand of leather and awaited his name. “Pleb Cloudchaser. Come Forward!” Shouted the priest. Miles stepped forward to the line dug in the gravel training yard. A scorched boulder protruded from the ground a mere hundred feet away from him. He raised his hand and pointed his palm at the large stone. He began to speak hushed words and a swirling golden spiral formed in front of his palm. With the swift closing of his hand into a fist, a bolt of golden light streaked out of the spiral, striking the boulder in its center mass, splashing shards of rock around the training yard. “Good. Return to the line.” The priest ordered.
As Miles stood there in formation watching his fellow classmates try to cast spells, he thought how these past months had passed by so quickly. At the start, everyone avoided him like he was a man eating minotaur. But as time went on curiosity got the best of the brave ones and they started talking to him. I answered their questions about who I was, where I am from, and I sprinkled in some of my tales from time to time. Age appropriate ones, mind you. I'm not a deviant. They told their friends about our conversations and word got around that I wasn't someone to fear. As time went on more of the class would come and ask me for help. Simple things like understanding the daily lesson, advise on how to cast a certain spell, or just to hear one of my tales. Its when they started calling me “Pops” that he knew the fear was gone and that he had been accepted. Miles frowned. Well not all of the class. He watched one of the Noble kids step up to the line to cast a spell. They just wouldn't change and if anything, they had gotten worse. Less of a group now and more of a gang. The “Foolish Five”, as he privately called them, harassed and lorded over everyone when the priests were not around. A few of the harassed kids had come to him asking him to intervene on their behalf, but I had refused them. Explaining that, “I wouldn't be there in the future and it would be best that they learn to handle situations like these themselves.” The look they gave me broke my heart and had tested my resolve. Shaking his head. “Well. What's done is done.” He mumbled. The midday bell tolled and the class was dismissed. With lessons done for the day Miles looked forward to start his daily routine. A few hours in the library, a couple more working in the smithy, a quick wash-up, and then the evening meal.
The school had a great library. Everything from religious texts, geography, philosophy, mathematics, and best of all history. Miles had already read the few books available on Dwarves and was moving onto the section on Orcs. He understood that the mind is a muscle that requires exercise regularly. He had yet to meet a respectful ship’s Captain that didn't have a mind as strong as his body. After a good read Miles made his way to the smithy. He had bonded easily with the schools Blacksmith. They were nearly the same age, came from similar “no nonsense” backgrounds, and most importantly liked a strong drink. The Blacksmith had tried to teach the basics of smithing to Miles, but he was still unable to make a proper iron nail much less anything that required skill. But Miles wasn't there to learn a trade. He wanted to sweat. He hammered the hell out of anything placed in front of him. All he wanted was the heat of the forge and the opportunity to swing that hammer to keep him from getting soft. The setting sun told Miles it was time to call it a day. He replaced the tools, said his goodbyes, and then headed to the washrooms. As he scrubbed the sweat and grime off his body, Miles felt content with where he was currently in his life. Not happy he realized, just content.
  “So, this is what it took to finally get you to do something?” Miles thought to himself. Shaking his head side to side. “This isn't the time for that. Focus on the task ahead.” He looked down at the girl curled up in his arms as he swiftly carried her to the infirmary. “It'll be okay Freckles we’ll get you some help soon.” Miles said. Trying to sound as calm as possible without betraying his fury and rage erupting inside him. He entered the infirmary and gently placed her on an open bed. He looked her over. Her robes were torn and spattered with blood. One of her eyes were swollen shut, lip split, and the way she held her side I would bet a rib or two were broken. A priestess hurried over and Miles explained that he had found her in the washroom in this condition. She called over others to treat Freckles and asked him to wait outside. Miles went outside and tried to calm down. The rules were clear. Unsanctioned violence against anyone in the Order will result in a tribunal and can carry a punishment of death. Killing of a member of the Order is punishable by death and eternal damnation. Eternal damnation was the only thing restraining Miles from action. Before he joined, eternal damnation were just words, but these priests have a way of making it really happen. Miles reached up and ran his fingers over the symbol of Anubis that hung around his neck. “Well here goes nothing.” He thought. Miles began to pray. He spoke the passages that were taught to him and asked for guidance. He waited. Time passed. Nothing happened. Miles’s hand pushed aside the symbol of Anubis and felt the smoothness of the stone pendent he wore behind it. The smooth grey stone with a hole in it, the pendent the dead thief once wore. He didn't know why he had kept it at first, but it had become a reminder of the man he had killed and what it had cost him. As he stood there, he began to hear the sobbs of Freckles now echoing from the infirmary.
“Seven Hell’s! I am just too old for this shit.” Miles cursed and headed off down the corridor in a run. It had not taken long to gather what he needed and he knew where to find them. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, then opened the door to the bedchambers and stepped in. All of the “Foolish Five” were there laughing and carrying on. He carefully closed the door and realized he had entered unnoticed. Miles reviewed the boys in room. They all had speckles of crimson on the bottom of their robes, one of them had the beginnings of a black eye forming, but one of the kids knuckles were bruised where as the others were not. Miles could never remember this kids name, so he referred to him as Rat Fink. Rat Fink was the leader of the gang and the nastiest of the bunch. Miles dropped the large burlap sack to the floor. The contents clanking loudly together, quieting the room. The startled gang looked at Miles standing there, oil lamp light flickering shadows across his dower face. Only Rat Fink spoke. “What are you doing sneaking around old man?!? We don’t want to be diddled by you Pops, so leave us pesant!” Mile just stood there.
“I ordered you to leave, scum! Leave or we’ll make you!” Rat Fink shouted and stood up. The others standing and taking position behind him. “The girl is in the infirmary. You guys roughed her up pretty good.” Miles stated in a dark tone. “Well she started it! She hit Allard and we defended ourselves. It was self defense.” Rat Fink stated confidently. “Ahh. I understand now. Thank you for explaining it so clearly to me. One little girl, alone in the washroom, attacked you five strong lads, for no reason, and you needed to protect yourself.” Miles replied with no emotion in his voice and walking deeper into the room towards the desk. “Yeah. We did nothing wrong. It was justified.” Said Rat Fink. The others all nodding in agreement. Miles nodded his head, looking at the flickering oil lamp in front of him, “Justified? I see. Well then there is nothing more to say about it.” He closed his eyes. “Have I ever told you boys about the tale of the Qorvi Princess I taught knot tying to? You see she had an odd fascination with rope…” Miles quickly reaches out and snuffs the wick to the lamp. The bedchamber instantly goes pitch black.
  Miles had forgotten how much he missed the open ocean. “Do you understand how much I miss the sea, boys?!” Miles yelled. Reaching down in the courtyard and picking up a handful of small stones. “There is nothing like it! The air is clean and the horizon never ends!” Miles exclaimed and threw rocks up at the building. Miles stood in the main courtyard of the school facing the two storied stone building that was the students dormitory. It was a simple building but very well made. The bedchamber doors in the dormitory all faced the courtyard and in front of these entryways were beautiful archways that filled the length of the building. Between these arches there were stone sconces and embedded iron rings that held flagpoles to decorate the structure. But today the flags and their poles were nicely packed away and stored. What replaced them were five naked boys, balancing barefoot on the stone sconces, with the secured iron rings fastund around their necks. Miles continued to pelt their pasty naked bodies with the small stones he had collected. “Now boys don't lose your footing, because if you do your necks will snap! And we wouldn't want that now, would we?!” The sun was beginning to rise on a new day and Miles had run out of stones to throw. “Well then! Since this might be my last day alive, let's not waste it!” Miles chuckled and started towards the dining hall. Since his arrival at the school Miles had been flirting with a bluxom half-elf woman that ran the kitchen. She had reciprocated with an equal amount of playfulness and an occasional peck on the cheek when he helped with unloading the supply carts. With a new found hop in his step and twinkle in his eye, he hurried on to the kitchen.
  “I would ask you if you understood how much trouble you're in, but I feel there’s no need since we found you in the afterglow of your Last Hurrah, as it where.” The Headmaster strongly stated. He stood up from behind his large desk and walked over to the window. Miles stood at attention in the center of the room. He had never been in the headmasters office before. Unlike the other rooms at the school this one wasn't spartan or minimalist. It had full bookshelves, nicknacks, and tapestries hanging on the walls. This room would be a pleasant place to read a good book and enjoy a brandy, but sadly today was not that day. The Headmaster reached up and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I have one beaten Pleb in the infirmary, five naked Plebs attached to the dormitory, and you standing here in my office. I have heard the testimony from the girl, the boys, and now you.” Turning towards Miles. “I have been aware of the five boy’s behavioral problems and we were using methods to guide them towards the way. But we did not foresee the assault of the girl. If we had, actions would have been taken to protect her. She will not be punished and hopefully she will continue on her way to be a valued member of the Order.” “What about the boys?” Miles inquired. “The boys? You should be more concerned about yourself!” The Headmaster sighed. “They will be given a tutor and a more stringent regime. Our work has just begun. I foresee a long road ahead for them.” The Headmaster turned back to look out his window. “Now to you. What am I going to do with you Pleb Cloudchaser? I’ve spoken with your instructors. You do well in your studies, are well liked by your classmates and fellow priests, and except for this one incident a spotless record.” “It is the only spot on my record, sir” Miles interjected. The Headmasters head snapped to face Miles. “This incident has gone beyond your personal record, Pleb Cloudchaser! It has made it into thee Record Book! This will be forever recorded as a lesson for future Headmasters! It has been recorded that it happened on my watch! I have been shamed Cloudchaser! Forever Shamed!” The Headmaster yelled and then strode up into his face. “Understand that you are on the razors edge right now! I have the authority to decide your fate! I am your superior and you my lesser! Don't you forget that!” “Yes, Headmaster.” Miles replied. Stepping back and walking slowly to the window again. The Headmaster stood there watching something happening outside the window. “I’ve made my decision. You will be transferred to where the Warriors of Anubis are trained. Pleb Cloudchaser you lack discipline and I have faith that they can instill that into you there. Go and pack your things and say your goodbyes. I will have your travel papers and escort ready for you within the hour.” “By your order, Headmaster.” Miles bowed slightly and headed for the door. “Pleb Cloudchaser.” The Headmaster called, with his emotions back in composure, and still looking out the window, “How did you get the iron ring around the boys necks? It is too small to go over their heads or around the shoulders.” Miles walked over next to the Headmaster and looked out the window. The unfolding scene in front of him brought a smile to his face. The Headmaster had the perfect view of last nights handiwork. Scaffolding had been built up the side of the dormitory to provide an area to work from. Cloth had been draped over the boys, providing some semblance of modesty. A cluster of Priest had gathered around the Blacksmith in the courtyard and were in a heated discussion. Miles read the lips of the participants. The priests wanted the Blacksmith to cut the rings from the boys necks, but the Blacksmith was explaining the iron is too strong and would need to be heated. They would have to pull the secured rings from the stone and bring the boys to his forge. And even then he was unsure how to heat the metal enough without burning the boys or accidently chiseling their necks. “I used the Mending Spell, Headmaster. I broke and removed the iron rings first, arranged the bastards in place, making sure the ring was was around their neck and in the correct position, then cast the spell.” Miles explained. “Interesting. I have never heard of that spell being used in such a way. How did you plan on removing the rings?” Quired the Headmaster. “I didn’t.” Miles said and walked out of the office.    
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