“Brynjïr is becoming quite a brilliant young man,” Elder Eira says, approaching Halvor, a middle aged man taking a break from his smithing work, watching his son play in the distance.
Halvor stands as he notices the simply dressed yet most revered of the Elders. “Yes, indeed Elder Eira, the pride of the Northern Dämlik.” The two lightly grab the back of each other’s necks and touch their foreheads together for a moment before releasing their grasp. “He is everything that I could hope for in a son and he has a bright path ahead of him. It’s not every day that we get a personal visit from one of the Elders. Is there anything that I can do to be of service?”
“It is because of your son that I am here. Come Halvor, we must speak,” Eira says, motioning inside his home.
As they enter, Halvor calls to his wife, Tove, and informs her of their visitor. Halvor pulls out a bottle of wine and pours a glass for everyone. “Please, enjoy, Elder Eira, it is called Illian Rare, it is supposed to be some of the finest wine in the world. We picked it up from that young Ymeric merchant a few weeks ago.”
“Thank you Halvor,” Eira says and accepts the drink, “ that is very kind of you. I have come to share with you the will of Lomira. The goddess has chosen your son, Brynjïr, to fulfill a role that has been unoccupied for many years. He is to be the protector of the Godborn.”
Taken aback at this news, Halvor asks, “Are you sure about this? We are smiths, not warriors.”
“Lomira of the Ten Truths was quite adamant about this, All the Elders have received the same vision: the boy with the mark of the divines upon his neck. Your son has a greater part to play in this world and we believe it’s best to prepare him as soon as possible.”
“Halvor, if this is the case then we must tell Brynjïr,” Tove says excitedly. “He has strong faith in the Ten and has always had a way of protecting those he cares for. This must be Gods’ way of rewarding such faith and trust.” Halvor sits silently, saying nothing as Tove goes on. “Dear, I know he is your apprentice. Much will change but there is something else awaiting him in this world. Your legacy will continue with our other children. Brynjïr’s fate is elsewhere.”
After another moment of pause Halvor responds, “My love, you speak the truth. If this is the way things are supposed to be then I will help in any way that I can. Elder Eira, I wish I could say that I can train my son in the ways of combat but my knowledge in that regard is very limited. He could train with his uncle in the guard, but I won’t lie, we do not face many threats and I am not sure the training he would receive there would be of much use to a person as powerful as a Godborn.”
“Yes, Halvor, we have taken that into consideration and we will do what we can with the resources that we possess now,” Elder Eira sits back, relaxing, but her eyes are still focused. “While we are not usually one for outsiders, we will send for a master capable of teaching Brynjïr the ways of a true warrior chosen by the Gods. Brynjïr’s young age at the moment gives us some time to find a suitable teacher, but that does not mean he shouldn’t learn the basics now.”
Halvor, nodding a few times, says, “Yes, I agree. But please do not tell him exactly why he is doing this yet. Let him enjoy his childhood a few more years and let him show us if he is truly destined for this path. I do not wish to force the boy.”
In the following years, Brynjïr trains with his uncle. Although Brynjïr isn’t sure why he stopped his formal apprenticeship in blacksmithing to learn combat, he is sure of one thing: he finds joy in it. He takes to his new training well and never feels so free and focused as when he hefts a blade. If he weren’t so young, he would have given the best guardsman a run for his money. After a few more short years, a more appropriate teacher is found and welcomed into the city. It is at this time that Brynjïr is informed of the role that he has been given and asked if he would take this responsibility upon himself. He accepts eagerly. Almost too eagerly.
Training under his new master is a struggle. It is nothing like Brynjïr has ever experienced before. Physical training is tempered with philosophy. Not only must one master combat, but one must also master when to seek peace. Through his master’s tutelage, Brynjïr learns to control his body in ways he never thought possible. By focusing his mind and body, Brynjïr could elevate himself to a state of pure instinct. As combat rages on, so does the fire within Brynjïr. He taps into an inner ferocity that gives him strength and precision beyond his limits.
It takes Brynjïr many years of work and effort to be able to consistently go into this higher state of mind. Although it gives him a great advantage in combat, this ability is also dangerous. If Brynjïr is not disciplined in both body and mind, he could lose control and be overcome by his inner fire.
The training is harsh and though it takes years of blood and sweat, Brynjïr eventually becomes a warrior fit to protect the Godborn. By the age of 24, Brynjïr has progressed so far that his teacher declares him a master of his art and concludes his training.
In the time before setting off to find the Godborn, Brynjïr becomes part of the city guard and quickly grows to be beloved of all people in his city. Mothers often try pairing him up with their single children, but Brynjïr only has eyes for Runa, one of his own squad mates. To him, she has a beauty unlike any other, and a brawn that was only ever out done by her intellect. The two fall into each other too easily and, to Brynjïr, everything is perfect. Until the fateful day comes.
“Are you ready for patrol Captain?” Elend, Brynjïr’s childhood friend, says, nudging Brynjïr with his elbow.
“Yes, quite ready in fact. My legs could use a good stretch. Runa, will you gather the others?”
“Yes, darling—” Runa responds, then abruptly changes her tone. “I mean, yes sir.” Without another word, she leaves the two by themselves in the command tent.
Leaning back in his chair, Elend gives a laugh. “When are you guys finally going to make things official? Everyone sees it coming. You aren’t exactly stealthy about it.”
“It’s complicated.” Brynjïr replies, “and you know what’s expected of me, and my departure in search of Ironbane, the last Godborn, is fast approaching. What would you have me do? Tell everyone then leave?”
“No, tell everyone and then take her with you. She can hold her own.”
“I can’t ask that of her.”
“I’m willing to bet she would accept that offer without a pennig.”
“That’s enough for now.” Brynjïr says with a stern look, “let’s just focus on the task at hand and we can talk about this later.” As he finished his sentence, Runa came back through the door with their other five squad members and two new recruits.
Seeing them enter, Brynjïr addresses the recruits directly, “I’m glad you could join us today. You both excited for your final training patrol before being assigned to your squads?”
“Yes sir!” they say in unison.
“Good, I like your enthusiasm. Reminds me of myself a few years back when I joined the guard. You both have been exceptional during our time together. I have been thinking of recommending you to my uncle’s squad. He’s short a few members and some new blood would keep him on his toes. Can’t have him getting soft can we?. Now,” Brynjïr faces the group as a whole and continues, “as you all are aware, we are to patrol the east road. There has been some bandit activity in the area so be wary. Runa you take two and grab some horses, you’ll be our scouting team. Elend and the rest are with me in the main group. Let’s move out.”
Scrambling out of the tent, the squad sets off. Brynjïr and his group travel for some time before Runa and the others return with the location and number of bandits up the road.
Brynjïr addresses the group as they come together again, “We are going to take care of these brigands. Fiske, Calder, dismount and give your horses to the new bloods, Runa will lead them up from the rear. Everyone else will fall in with me.”
They don’t encounter any resistance along the way to the bandits’ camp. From a short distance away, Brynjïr sees the bandits lying about, then turns to his group, speaking quietly, “They haven’t seen us yet. Elend take Fiske and Baelon and come in from the left. Calder you take the right with Garth and Jari. Runa you and the new bloods take care of any stragglers.”
Olin, one of the new recruits, looks to Brynjïr and says, “What about you ,sir?”
“Oh, me,” Brynjïr replies with a smile, pulling out his great axe, “I’m the distraction. I go in from the front.”
“Always the show off,” Elend chuckles.
Once everyone has moved into position, Brynjïr slowly makes his way into the camp and, after getting their attention, cockily says, “I’ll give you all one chance to surrender peacefully.”
The bandits exchange looks of amusement before one replies, “Now, why would we go and do that? I don’t believe you can count young lad. There are twenty of us. What are you and your little horsies going to do about it?” He gestures to Runa and the recruits in the distance.
“So, I take that as a no to the surrender then? Very well, which of you all would like to go first?” Brynjïr roars and suddenly there is a glow of radiance around him, concentrated along the blade of his great axe. At the sound of the roar, the other members of the guard charge in as Brynjïr is already taking on four of the bandits. The battle is over in no more than a minute and everyone starts cheering. Everyone except Brynjïr. Standing silently, his radiance fades and his aura darkens.
All Brynjïr sees is dark threads, moving threateningly around him. Unaware of his surroundings, Brynjïr feels his body spasm and jerk of its own accord. The dark, whirling threads offer little resistance beneath the blade of his axe.
Then, in a moment, the darkness is gone. Brynjïr’s mind awakens to find himself tearing his squad apart. He urges his body to stop but he has no control of his movements. His body moves as if being pulled by an unseen puppeteer. He looks down to see his axe buried in Olin’s chest. Tears roll down his face as Fiske’s blade slashes across his back. Without missing a beat, Brynjïr brings his axe around, cutting off Fiske’s arm. In a flash, Brynjïr is above Fiske, bashing him into the ground. Picking up a nearby warhammer, Brynjïr smashes it into Fiske’s face. He turns to his two remaining comrades, Elend, and someone on the ground just behind him, barely moving. Brynjïr drops the warhammer and approaches.
Elend, scared and confused, yells to Brynjïr, “Please stop, why are you doing this? This isn’t you. Look what you’ve done.” Elend steps to the side, revealing Runa to be the one on the ground. She’s still moving, but very injured. “Don’t come any closer! I can’t let you harm her anymore. You love her!”
Brynjïr’s body continues to move toward them, tears still streaming down his face. I don’t want to hurt anyone else, he screams within his mind.
His body stops just as he lunges for Elend. Elend seizes the brief moment of hesitation and plunges his sword into Brynjïr’s chest. Brynjïr looks down briefly before feeling his arms jerk toward Elend, grabbing him by the neck. Straining to stop himself, Brynjïr hears a sharp crack and watches Elend’s lifeless body fall to the ground.
“No!” Brynjïr bellows. Whatever has been possessing his body finally relents and he can control himself once more. On his knees, he looks to Runa, then fades into unconsciousness.
Brynjïr jolts awake, alert but confused. As he gathers his wits, he discovers he is in a cell. Then, realizing what happened was real and not just some trick, he bows his head in shame, silently weeping for his comrades.
It isn’t long before he is brought before the Elders. Some of them are familiar, others not. One speaks up, “Brynjïr, before we render our judgment we would like to know exactly why you did what you did.”
Brynjïr does the best he can, relaying the plan, the events of the bandit camp, then the fugue that seemed to take over. He falters as he remembers the dark threads cut to ribbons before him. The Elders are silent for a moment before one asks, “Is there anything else you have to say?”
“Runa, is she—”
“Yes, she is alive and recovering,” the Elder responds. A tear rolls down Brynjïr’s cheek. “Unfortunately none of the others were so lucky.”
“Elders, you know what has happened and I ask you to punish me to the full extent of the law.”
“Give us a brief moment before we make our decision.” The Elders nod amongst themselves, then leave Brynjïr alone in the room. It’s some time before the Elders return.“Brynjïr, it is decided that you shall be exiled. Under guarded supervision you may gather any belongings and say your goodbyes.”
Brynjïr thinks to himself, I should be executed for what I did, but he doesn’t argue.
Brynjïr is led to his home to gather his things and say goodbye to his siblings. His parents accompany him to where he will be released, giving him a chance to tell them of what happened. He slips a note to his mother, asking her to give it to Runa. They approach the edge of the city, the site of his departure, and see Elder Eira waiting for them.
She approaches and speaks, “Brynjïr, you have been spared that you may accomplish the task that has been given of you. Go and protect the Godborn, do not neglect your duty.”
“Yes, Elder Eira,” Brynjïr responds. With sorrow in his eyes, Brynjïr looks at his parents for a long, silent moment.
“Son,” Halvor says, breaking the silence, “hold your head up and know that we love you.” Halvor takes a sack off his back and opens it as he goes to hand it to Brynjïr. “This is armor I have made for you to give to the Godborn.” The beautiful craftsmanship and work of the highest quality remind him of his childhood and the time he spent with his father. Tears stream from Brynjïr’s eyes. “It is made of the strongest and lightest metals in the world. I made it in hopes that it will aid you and your mission.”
“Thank you, Father,” Brynjïr says, grabbing his mother and father by the backs of their necks and touching his forehead to theirs, “I’m going to miss you.”