Sunday, June 28, 2020

40 Minute Settings- Dying Kingdom

The Kingdom is old, and the light has faded. The oldest bloodlines of the Kings, known as the holy lineage, has long since been pissed away into the bellies of whores and bastards. The once proud connection to the land, the fisher-kings, who bled the soldier's blood and sweat the farmer's sweat, now are so far removed as to be parasites on the life of the land instead. The rules were simple; what a man did, his children did. The bloodlines and rules set by the Gods, the great feudal lines and traditions, were broken time and time again- societal change brought the ruin to the Kingdom. The lesser sought above their places, and in turn spoiled it. That may just be a symptom of the disease and not the cause, but none can be sure.

In the olden days, order and righteousness was brought to the land from the Gods above, granting mankind the divine spark. The divine mandate of heaven, which gave rise to the rulers, who tamed the savages who tamed the land. The earth was plundered for its riches in ores and jewels, laws and writing was made, and seeds were harvested for bread and ale. The times were good. Now, everything is dying. It's not all at once, your grandparents thought everything was dying too, and so will you, and so will your grand children. People still find joy in the little things, but it's clear that it's all coming down. The decay will destroy everything, and nothing we can do can stop it.

The capital city of Arvakus was once the shining beacon of the world, which is now a ruin. The fields and forests nearest to it, once carefully tended, now are stalked by corrupted beasts and the game-warden families who were once sworn to protect it. Now the game wardens look much the same as the animals they are to game. The city itself is a broken cobble, irreparable and ominous, monsters roam the streets and the only “citizens” that remain are the broken shades who go about their daily labors without any thought or understanding- undying and impotent. Nobody knows what is happening within the great castle of the highest King; is he aware of the suffering in his manor, or is it his doing? The corruption within makes the corruption without, so say the Gods.

Along the roads and forts of the land; the once proud Knights are now the worst terrors of all. Purging all perceived corruption and perversion from their lands, they too were the worst corrupted. Once their armor was shining white, now it is pitch black with the pyres they have made from the innocents. Their eyes are blind towards the great flying beasts and flayed ghouls who dance along the walls of the crumbling castle, but a defiant and proper peasant woman will be accosted and tried as a witch. It is obvious to all that the land and people are sick, and no one has the cure.

The Noble Families
The great city of Arvakus is the seat of the Holy Lineage, the first and greatest line. Along with this King, several noble lords were selected from the primordial pre-men that the Gods chose for their piety and pagan-righteousness. Among these families were the proud Camnus, the wise Obligurd, the brave Foreon, and the compassionate Silovan. These noble lords were given the land to split among themselves evenly, and each of them elected their favored champions to be their lords and vassals, and these vassals split their lands among the low folk, humble yet good, and all was well in the Kingdom.

But the rules were broken. Time and time again, the men and women of these noble houses allowed their desires of the flesh to take over their rational minds and pure hearts; they married commoners or among the other houses, diluting the holy lines that gave them their power and strength. The strength and honor of the Kingdom, the house of Camnus, once measured the average height of five cubits. Now, they are shrunken dwarves, hiding in holes underneath the ground to steal the organs from wandering passersby. The wise house of Obligurd, the keeper of divination rituals, caught heritable blindness and became fools. The Foreon, who once sailed in ships to the foggy islands outside of the land of the Kingdom to find new realms and see if anything would threaten it, retreated to the inwards most parts of their manor- they became so deathly afraid of water that they resorted to drinking the blood of their low folk, the vampires they became. Even the uncorruptable Silovan have fallen; still preaching purity and truth to the lands, but having become weak and impotent, their hands shrivel and fall off along with their teeth as soon as they reach the age to see the evil in the world and wish to stop it. The only house seemingly unaffected is the Holy Lineage, but none know or have seen what corruption lies with them, if any.

These noble families, once the greatest and exemplars for the people, have become so degenerated that the commoners no longer respected them. If a noble can lie with a commoner, then a commoner can lie with a beast. The offspring are twisted, but righteousness was so foreign to the people of the Kingdom that it mattered not. Half-mutants walk the streets in daylight now, a sign of our dying times, madness and melancholy reign over all over emotions and feelings. Children seem to barely be out of the flush of their youth when their wrinkles begin to set in, and men begin to cough dust as soon as they turn in their mid thirties, if not even earlier. Much of this only feeds into itself; the Lords tire of their wives quickly, and seek young peasant girls for their fix of beautiful love, only further driving a stake between goodness and honor and their own personal lusts.

The Broken Steel
Once, the steel of the kingdom (mostly made by house Camnus) was the greatest that could be imagined. Spectacular, immutable, well balanced and forged without a hint of rust or bend. But now, the tools and weapons created in the sooty forges are warped and weak; the blacksmiths sacrifice bone and blood to the fires, a pagan ritual that only strengthens nature, to improve their blades so they are not dull right after being sharpened again. The truth is that the steel is weak because the people are weak; even the most noble of knights seem to walk around with rusting, patchwork armor.

The good people, however few remain, are themselves weakly armed. Stunted and corroded steel is a poor defense against beasts with supernatural strength and aggression, but it is all they have.

Still, a few old gleaming forms remain. Perhaps in the old Arvakus castle armory, or perhaps hidden in some buried treasure chest; these gleaming swords are almost blindingly white like ivory, capable of destroying anything corrupted with a single strike. These highly sought after weapons are fewer in number every year, as a careless man will crack it in an awkward swing against a stone and watch the light fade from the alloy.

Silent Temples
Perhaps worst of all, the peoples' despair only mounted greater and greater as the temples were silent. Those who were humble priests, or the paladins and priest-kings of Obligurd, found their divinations less and less effective. The widest spread heresy was that the Gods lost interest in the corrupted and degenerated people of the Kingdom, but the church themselves blamed the people. Every sin, every perversion acted like a cloud of dust kicked up in the eyes of the Almighty, and it was the fault of the people the rulers and sages could not commune with the divine. That is when the great purges began, the corpse fires burning streams of smoke in the sky that never quite fully fell down from it later on, even now the sky is still dark even during the day, the sun itself eclipsed by the weight of the sodden Earth beneath it.

The Temple-Houses were also once were the money was made; holy money blessed by the Gods so it was never used and traded to a treacherous hand. However, a the temples became silent, the money fell out of favor. Soon, red coins made from the blood of beasts came into effect and was commonly traded in the Kingdom. Now, no one can tell if the bloody red coins were made from beasts blood, or the blood of man or woman. They are too dark and spotty to tell anymore; even giving money to the poor feels like a dirty act to simply touch such coinage, and so few wish to dwell on how it is made.

Magic in the Kingdom, which was too once a tool to better divine and know the will of the Gods, has been corrupted as well. Taught from the holy and lofty institutions that once kept it a secret from the masses, it became too widespread and impossible to control. Each person could interpret the laws and rules of magic their own way, and while each had the greatest of intentions slowly they changed from a tool of learning and communion with the divine to a tool of blind ignorance and domination. The men of magic now wear tattered yellowing robes, a far cry from the white healers smock they once wore, and now command fire and branch to their wills, instead of staring into the flames or counting the rings of trees to know the will of their creators.

Old Knight's Head
The people who still seem to have the most sense in their head are those who live in the middle lands. Not in the outskirts of the Kingdoms near the made, treacherous coasts where godless heathen sea-raiders come from a mysterious land to the south. Nor are those who live near to the heart of the Kingdom, in their treacherous and decadent cities overflowing with greed and sewage. No- it is those in the blissful countryside, free from all outside and inside corruptions, that seem the most at peace. But even their peace there is strife, as none are truly free from the taint.

Your village found it- the Old Knight's Head. Still in its helmet, the decaying head can speak. And it did, a simple hammer blow to the unbreakable metal dome and the mouth will split and tell tales of the olden days. It will harken to a time before children were born with split lips and backwards knees, to a time before the greatest knowledge wasn't in books of the past but in the field and learning of the day. The Old Knight's Head fills you with the strangest sense of nostalgia for a time before you were alive.

The Kingdom is dying. You feel the weight of your years even in your youth, your split leather shoes and gloves, taken from a calf who couldn't breathe after its birth, are your most expensive pieces of armor aside from your rusting and crooked sword. Only a few have thought to raid the oldest tombs of the Kingdom- not for treasure and greed as they were raided before, but for wisdom. Speaking to the old dead, and to the men who made this land great, and learning from them what has gone so wrong. The corrupted watch may not approve of your actions, madly declaring your insanity for wanting to fix this broken land, but you must not ere from the path. But even as you struggle, you feel the pit in your gut deepen as you know, somehow, deep down, that no one is watching your struggle and no one will let you succeed. You fight against forces that can't be beaten. You will fail. Your effort will only end in an inevitable death and further slide into barbarism and returning the world to the primordial muddy chaos from which it can't stray. Still, what else can be done? You will fail before you begin, or fail after you have tried your greatest. Is the struggle worth it?

No comments:

Post a Comment