Eberron - Return of the Lich Queen
Origins Kohl Part 2
…and justice for all
Kohl road next to his father, Kor Ikao, towards the mountain fortress of Joruuk Kakar; as emissaries of the Church of law from Paln Kaimar; where Kohl’s mother sat as Magnan-Kael of the monastery, and his grandfather was the current Magna-Koak of the church of law.
Kohl had just been inducted into the Paladin order of Torval, and had been asked by his father to accompany him to the mountain fortress.
The mountain fortress of Joruuk Kakar was one of Shilunds largest military training camps. It was run by Kor Ikao’s long time friend, Torum Gad, a warrior of great strength and renown, a harsh and stalwart follower of Vadjna. Torum had asked Kor to come to Joruuk Kakar on a matter of dispensing justice, normally this would be held internally by the military. Kor had been tight lipped about the matter when Kohl had inquired.
They had traveled for three days, stopping to visit minor monasteries along the way; including the town that Kohl’s uncle lived at, Ound Kaar, and it’s monastery, Paln Kaar.
The two brothers, Kor and Navaan stayed up late into the night discussing church and state politics. Navaan had walked away from such a life years ago and was now considered one of the prominent Kael scholars in all of Shilund, the library he had built at the monastery rivaled even that of Paln Kaimar.
He had removed his daughter, Taveah, from church tutelage; the typical method of schooling for Kael children, settling for instructing her himself. She was a fast learner from everything Kohl had heard, and she had adopted a more nature oriented lifestyle.
Kohl’s cousin was not home that evening, she was off somewhere in Shilunds wilderness, so the three men sat around the dining table, sharing a late meal and catching up.
“I have always trusted your judgment brother, you are the scholar, but don’t you think she would have wanted her daughter to have been taught traditionally? Your daughter holds no standing in the church! She is an Ikao! You yourself at least became a master Munk!” Kor said.
“Kor, you are a man of action, Torval bless you, for your light would burn bright in the darkest of places. I am, and always have been, a follower of Ashianka, but even more so, I didn’t want to force Taveah to do anything that wasn’t in her soul to do. When she was born, none of the priests felt that she was long for Ound Shyr, none of them, and she has bested all of their judgments. Even Froduur, when he journeyed here all those years ago, he placed the final blessing on her forhead! Her own grandfather, Archmaster of the Church of Law divined wrong! No brother, Taveah will do as she pleases, I can only educate her as best I can, and as far as I am concerned, she doesn’t need standing within the church, she has all of you for that, besides, it’s not like I have not been training her, she just has not attended school in a monastery.” Navaan turned to look at Kohl with Ightful eyes and continued.
“You and Taluune have raised the next generation of church leadership. I can see it in Kohl’s eyes. He has his fathers spark.” Navaan said while patting his nephew on the back, then standing he added.
“You are both tired, visit with me and Taveah for more than a few hours on your travel back from Joruuk Kakar…why is it old Torum asked you to come from Paln Kaimar? What is so important that he could not dispense with justice?”
Kor looked to Kohl then shared a look with his brother.
Kor changed the subject as he stood up from the table, motioning for Kohl to do the same.
“I can’t say why Torum called us, not yet. As for visiting on our way back, we will. Kohl will be attached to the church guard for the Shilund Embassy in Storms End. He’ll be up there for two years.”
Navaan looked to his nephew with a look of concern.
“Two years in the city of storms? Be mindful, that city can change you, but on that note, enjoy it as well! Those that come through the Sister’s grasp can offer many interesting stories, I am jealous!”
“Thank you Uncle. We travel by ship next month. I have only read about Storms End. It is a city of many wonders!”
The three men continued with their conversation as they made their way back to their bedrooms, the next morning, before Navaan awoke, Kor and Kohl were on the road.
Navaan steps outside to bask in the morning sun.
“Justice never waits.” He says.
Kor and Kohl continue on to Joruuk Kakar for the next day and a half, where they arrive early in the evening.
From the time Kor and Kohl left Ound Kaar, they travelled up into the mountain range where the mountain fortress was held. Sharp peaks, deep chasms and unforgiving cliffside pathways gave way to the imposing sight of Joruuk Kakar.
“Had you not shown such a knack for working with the divine, this would have been your home as you trained as a soldier.” Kor says to his son, who was in awe of the fortress.
“As good as you are with a blade Kohl, your faith is your truest and most formidable weapon. Always remember that Kohl. Even when you are surrounded by darkness, when all hope is lost and despair begins to creep into your very soul, look to Torval, he will be your guiding light to victory.”
“I’ll try to remember father.” Kohl laughs and continues.
“Why haven’t you told me why we are here? Who are we judging?”
“I feel now that we are on the threshold of the fortress, I can tell you. The individual inside that is to be judged, will be judged by you. You have been chosen to test your resolve and commitment to the order and your faith.”
Kohl reigns in his seluuki.
“Who father. I am no child. I have spilled blood in the name of Torval. I have been judged in the eyes of Torval, he has found me worthy. Why do you and the church have doubt that you must still test me?”
“We do not doubt you Kohl, but there are things that have been attached to your birth that not even the highest ranking members of our church have been able to divine. You were born under Kaimar’s Star, an omen if you are Oud Kael, but to the Koas tas Kael, it is considered…questionable. Historically, most Koas tas Kael that were born under Kaimar’s Star have, well they have burned brightly for a brief period then burned out shortly after. Those born under Kaimar’s eye, bear his mark, have you ever wondered why your celestial burns had sharper angles, and seemed to take up more space than everyone elses? That is Kaimar’s mark. All of the Oud Kael from Mormyr are marked as such, the Koas tas Kael have more subtle markings. Also, for the first month of your birth, your eyes were not silver as they should be and as they are now, instead, they were crimson red, they appeared as pools of molten iron.”
“I have tried to temper your inner fire, the one that tells you to assault without tactics, to drive your enemies into the dirt without regard for collateral damage; I have tried to show you to find solace in your prayers instead of allowing your celestial rage to take over. You will always be tested son, this test now, won’t be easy.”
Kohl is quiet for a time, looking up into the early evening sky, he draws a breath.
“Who am I judging father, and why?”
“Your cousin Marluud. He was having an affair with a woman found to be a Dhaarkeshi witch! She burned at dawn yesterday; your sword will execute Torval’s judgment on Marluud today.”
Kohl’s heart sank. Marluud was a childhood friend; the two grew up together within the Ikao palace. He had excelled in his sword work; even the House Ikao sword master had stated that Marluud would be his replacement someday.
“Come, let us enter the fortress.” Kor urged his seluuki forward.
The fortress is massive, partially built within a mountain, Joruuk Kakar houses at any time, five thousand soldiers. As the two Ikao’s ride through the gates, they are ushered to the main building’s entrance where a group awaited.
As they ride through the large court yard, Kohl notes an executioner’s platform, near by, was the burnt remains of a post in the ground, 2 shackles hung from the top of the post.
“Welcome!” A powerfully muscled Kael dressed in black leather armor and a red tabard approaches the two riders.
“Torum, it has been too long friend!” Kor says as he dismounts from his seluuki. Kohl does the same as two stable hands come up and guide the two animals away.
The two older Kael clutch each other’s arms. The general and commander of the fortress turns to Kohl.
“So this is your son, he doesn’t look like you at all! Unless the gods were lenient and gave him all of his mother’s looks!”
Kohl steps forward smiling, offering his arm, it is taken by Torum and squeezed. Kohl almost buckles under the commander’s raw strength.
Kohl looks to his smiling father, smiling back, he then turns to Torum.
“Commander, may I see the prisoner?”
It is Kor that answers.
“I’m afraid not Kohl. You are to be the instrument only. You will conduct the execution only.”
The three men and Torum’s command staff re-entered the command building of the fortress. There they spent the rest of the evening discussing politics as well as Kohl’s future in the church and his upcoming assignment to Storms End.
After a heavy meal, they retired to their rooms. Marluud would be executed at sunrise. Kohl, prior to retiring for the evening, took a long walk to gather his thoughts, and to visit the chapel.
A heavy knock at Kohl’s door awakens the Knight, opening the door his father stands before him, white robes folded neatly in his hands.
“We should talk while you get ready.” Kor says as he enters the room past Kohl.
Moving over to a table he sets the robes down and pours himself water from a decanter, turning, he sits in a near by chair.
Kohl takes the robes and walks over to the wash basin.
“Marluud was found guilty of heresy against the Church of Kael. He was seduced by this witch, who had been tasked to infiltrate our military, although they never determined for what reason. She lived in a cave near by; Marluud would sneak off while on patrol to meet her. From what I have learned, he is unremorseful for his actions.”
“Do not put much thought into this, he was your friend, and he was your cousin. He has betrayed all of us for what ever was between that witches legs.”
Kohl listed to his father, but he had emotionally shut down. With each spash of water on his face, he became more detached and subsequently more focused on his task.
Kohl pulled the executioner’s robe over his head, the robe was magical, when he looked into the mirror he could not see his face, it was replaced by a blinding light. Kohl completed his uniform by strapping his sword belt to his waste.
Outside, 3 horn blasts broke the morning’s silence.
“It is time son.” Kor stood and motioned for his son to exit the room.
The two men walked out to the courtyard. Kohl’s cousin stood, blindfolded on the executioner’s platform.
Kor left his son’s side and joined Torum and his command staff. A priest moved to join Kohl, offering blessings for Torval’s quick justice.
The Kael Knight walks up to the executioner’s platform with the priest, the priest moves to escort the condemned over to the block and removes the blind fold.
“For the crimes of high heresy to the Church of Law, Marluud Kaotar, you have been found guilty, you have been condemned to death by decapitation.” The priest announces and pulls out a vial of liquid. Uncorking the bottle he flings the liquid over Marluud while reciting the words to a ritual of damnation.
“Marluud Kaotar, for bedding with a Dha’Arkeshi witch, an enemy to not only Shilund, but our Gods, your soul shall be damned; you are barred from any Kaelish afterlife.”
The priest motions for Kohl to step forward.
“Commence.” The priest moves out of the way as Kohl steps forward to stand next to Marluud.
“May I speak?” Marluud asks.
“No one will listen.” The priest exclaims.
Kohl draws his long sword, the priest notices that the blade is pitted badly; a practice sword, dull and not meant as a lethal tool.
“Traitors to the faith do not deserve an honorable and quick death!” Kohl spits.
He brings the blade down onto his former friend’s neck, the blade bites into flesh; snapping the spine, not from the cut of the blade, but by the shear impact of the blow.
Kohl furiously chops at the neck of the condemned traitor, one, two, three more slices with his blade and the head is not severed and Marluud is bleeding out, his eyes wide in terror.
Kohl stops his assault, throwing the longsword to the ground he moves to stand in front of Marluud and removes his hood. Kohl lowers himself so his cousin can look into his eyes.
“You are a fool and a traitor!” Kohl hisses, spitting in the dying mans eyes. Kohl then stands and turns to address those witnessing the execution.
“This thing does not disserve the death of a soldier, he does not disserve the death of a citizen. He gave up those rights. His very soul has been damned. I have sent him on his way to oblivion, but I will not be the instrument to get him all the way there! He can do that on his own!”
Kohl walks off the stage, never looking back at his former cousin, he enters the command building, leaving those to witness as Marluud chokes on his own blood, finally dying.
Several hours later Kor and Kohl were mounted on their seluuki mounts.
“Are you sure you wont stay for the day?” Torum asks.
“Thank you for the offer Torum, but I must make my way to Storms End.” Kohl answers.