The Hero's Journey

Throkriel’s Story

Throkk Longspear was tired and cold to the bone. As he entered the hearth hall of his Earls’
longhouse, he could feel his body yearn for the warmth of the fire and whatever food might
be left in the larder from that evening’s meal. His mind pushed that yearning aside. Such
exquisite luxuries would have to come later. He was a servant, and his duty was to his Lord.
He approached the high table and knelt. Without looking up, he knew Earl Rufas was
drinking. That was what his Lord did this time of night. Throkk also knew the Earl’s son, Sir
Simen, and old adviser, Vennriel, were awake and in attendance. The Earl hated to drink
alone.
A time passed. Throkk cleared his throat.
“My lord.”
“I am aware of you, beast. I am neither blind nor deaf. Make yourself useful and fill my cup.”
The Earl waved away his young page. Throkk stood and took the jug from the boy, who was
clearly grateful to be heading to bed.
Throkk poured the stout into his Earl’s cup. It smelled malty and rich. Throkk thought of the
underfed townsmen who had just rode and fought beside him, and of their families
surviving this harsh winter on little more than stale bread crusts.
“My Lord, the raiders are scattered and long gone. There is no sign of them within six miles.
The breach in the wall is repaired.”
Earl Rufas was a tall, thin man; age turning his dark hair and long moustache to salt and
pepper. He regarded Throkk with blue eyes pale enough to be almost colourless.
“Yes, beast. I see you have returned in one piece. Do you seek gratitude for performing your
function to a minimum standard?”
“No, my Lord. But your men, and more than a few women, who fought and worked beside
me this night…they fought well, my lord, on very little food. This is the third raid they have
seen off this winter. I wonder, my lord, if you might offer some of your stock. Two or three
of your pigs roasted tomorrow eve would bring much cheer and nourish their strength….if I
may be so bold, my lord.”
“If you may be so bold?” The Earl laughed his contempt. “Vennriel, you have taught this
savage too well. He has spent far too much time in your library, and now thinks himself
lettered enough to fancy himself a courtier and advise his Earl on stewardship. You have
foolishly schooled him beyond his station and his nature.”
Vennriel, the elderly half elf, who had first come into the service of the Earl’s great
grandfather, spoke with practiced patience.
“Throkk makes an excellent point, my lord. You have taxed your people robustly now for
three years in the cause of protecting them from winter raids, yet it is the people
themselves who do the protecting. You have provided no arms, no additional guardsmen,
and barely enough sustenance to survive, my lord. It is no small miracle we have not been
overrun.”
“It is no miracle, old fool. It is my stewardship. Are the peasants dying in droves for want of
food? If not, you cannot say they starve. They are hungry, yes. Hungry men fight stay alert.
They fight hard. Feed people too well, they grow fat and lazy, like my idiot son here. My
treasury must grow. If I am ever to pass this shitpit of a town onto a deserving heir, I must
marry again, and I intend to marry well this time. To win a lady I need wealth. A true blood
lady will give me a strong son.”
Sir Simen attempted to interjected. “Father, as your firstborn, my claim…”
“Silence, oaf. Your succession depends on your survival. Once I have another son, any son at
all, you will ride beside my cup-bearing two-legged hound here at every sign of trouble. I’m
quite sure your first real fight will end you. If the savages’ axes don’t find your fat heart,
you’ll likely shit your guts out with fear.”
A pained silence filled the hall.
Throkk spoke, carefully.
“My lord, if you are concerned about Sir Simen’s skill at arms, perhaps I could begin training
him, just as I have trained the townsfolk. He is well built; he has your strength. I’m sure a
little seasoning and schooling will make a fine warrior of…”
“SILENCE, BEAST!” The Earl stood, striking Throkk across the face with his steel goblet.
Throkk looked down, blinking the warm stout from his eyes. The Earl gathered his breath as
the empty cup rattled across the stone floor. “YOU DO NOT ADVISE ME. Not on this. Not on
anything. You are a savage. A beast. A dog kept to chase off wild dogs. I have graciously kept
you and your monstrous sister under the roof of my stables for five years and fed you from
my own larder. Clearly, I have been far too kind. You and the she-beast will leave my lands
tonight, and never return.”
“My lord, this is rash.” Vennriel stood on frail legs, his old back audibly cracking. “Throkk is
the sole reason Thorn Hill has endured safely these last five years. In four generations of
service, I have never known a man-at-arms, a Captain or even a knight so brave and true. To
dismiss his service would be beyond unwise.”
“Beyond unwise, say you? I see.” Earl Rufas walked towards the old man, menacingly. “In
your venerable wisdom, old man, why do you suppose my home has become a nest of
disloyalty and betrayal?” The Earl stepped close to Vennriel, and shock filled the old man’s
face. The Earl stepped back, pulling his bloody dagger from his servant’s belly.
For Throkk Longspear, time stopped for a moment as he watched his beloved mentor
crumple and fall. Throkk went cold, then hot. He could feel the rage of his father’s blood and
the touch of his ancestral god upon him. He stepped to Earl Rufus, seized the right hand
holding the dagger, and punched it into his Lord’s belly. Again. And again. And again.
Throkk came back to his senses. He let his blood-soaked Earl and the dagger fall to the floor.
Throkk knelt next to Vennriel, taking the old man’s hand. He spoke to Sir Simen behind him,
without turning his head.
“I have murdered my lord. There is no fouler crime. I will take my life at your word, but I beg
mercy for my sister and care for Master Vennriel.”
Sir Simen stood beside the kneeling Throkk.
“Ummmm…no. No, I don’t want your life. But you have to go. You and your sister. You must
leave Thorn Hill tonight and never, ever, return.”
Vennriel smiled weakly up at Throkk. “Go, my boy. Go and live. You are good. You are better
than this, than all of this. Go and live and be what you are. Be strong. Be good. Protect.
Provide. Shine as a light of hope.”
“On my life, teacher. On my life.”
*

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valensonek Gehrigan

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