It was a strange sight to see one of the Cause walking slum streets, let alone the slums of New Reachert. His shined leather boots kicked up the excrement that pooled on the cobbled walkway, while the sharp click of the heels brought the lonesome people of the slums moving from their filthy and disease ridden homes.
They gazed at him with their broken and soulless eyes wondering when- if ever- they could steal something from the man, perhaps a coin or a piece of his expensive jewellery, just something that would make their hellish life easier.
But they all knew the price of stealing from one of the Cause. You'd be strung up by the neck before you even had a chance to mutter your last prayer to your favoured member of the Seven. Therefore, they stayed hidden in their crumbling homes, watching, but not daring to touch.
The man of the Cause didn't meet their hungry gazes. They were the ones who remained untouched by one of the Seven, the forgotten and abandoned creations of the Gods. Men of Cause are above all other servants of the Seven Lords.
The man stopped outside a building so dilapidated it was hard to believe anyone could live within it, but the man knew someone did, after all, it was the inhabitant of this house he was after. Under the flickering street light a dark touch of inky black could be seen peaking up from underneath the mans collar.
The touch of black was small enough to notice, but not big enough to decipher it's exact pattern. The people of the slums knew of course what it was, how could they not? A man dressed as finally as him could only be only one of the Cause, one of the men with the ultimate touch of the seven; the mark of blood and power.
The beaten door of the building was locked, but with the state of the wood it took only one swift kick to make it cave and splinter in every direction.
Brushing a few splinters off his shoulder he stepped through the mangled and destroyed doorway into a dusty and deserted hall. Stairs on his right showed signs of recent use, the dust had been displaced and upturned by the flurry of feet.
Stepping lightly he began to ascend the stairs, light leather boots not making a sound on the twisted and knurled wood.
A voice could be heard from above, soft and short spoken. The man paused for a moment in his advance and titled his head to the side. Strands of his feathery blonde hair fell into his enchanting blue eyes, much too old for a man of only eighteen. Cool as ice and sharp as a hawk, the eyes didn't miss anything, nor did his ears.
"Twisted tree, blackened rose, land of Crone," the low voice kept repeating over and over again like a haunted mantra "Twisted tree, blackened rose, land of Crone. Twisted tree, blackened rose, land of Crone…"
The hall at the end of the stairs stunk of vile rat droppings and rotting flesh. Stepping carefully the trained warrior followed his ears towards a door located on the left of the hall. The door was opened to reveal the sad and pathetic man within.
With hair as greasy as lard and skin drawn so tight it resembled stretched leather the man was a sight to put pity upon. Pressed against his chest was a crusty and bleeding stump- the source of the sickly sweet smell of rotting flesh. The sickly man didn't even stop his mantra of 'Twisted tree, blackened rose, land of Crone,'.
"I am Nolan, son of High Marshall Eric," the voice of the man was clear and sharp, much like his eyes "Warrior for the Cause, keeper of the peace" His only response was 'Twisted tree, blackened rose, land of Crone,'.
"You have broken the law by crossing into the Land of Never without proper authority. A crime punishable by death. Do you accept these charges?" Nolan questioned, hand resting on the hilt of his ornate sword.
"The blackened rose will weep," the man said suddenly, locking eyes with Nolan "The rose isn't supposed to weep,"
"Do you accept the charges that have been pressed upon you, Resput, son of Tristan?" Nolan repeated.
It was if the sound of his name made the man suddenly become drawn into attention. It was as if he saw Nolan for the first time. Resput's eyes where an odd mixture of brown and honeysuckle, a colour so vibrant it made the brown look as uninviting as the point of a sword.
"I saw it, my lord," Resput whispered with the accent of a man from the south "The Crone showed it to me. The lies of the Seven, the lies of the High Marshall, the lies of the scripture, I have seen it all,"
"You have seen none of it," Nolan let his calloused hand rest on the hilt of his sword "And you would do well to hold your tongue,"
"Bring more, she said," Resput's odd eyes had settled on a point above Nolan's shoulder "Let them see, she said,"
"Under the law of the Land of Seven you are to be tried before the High Marshall and hung before the eyes of your favoured if the High Marshall so chooses," Nolan no longer felt pity for the man. A man without the Seven is worth no more then a fly on a wall.
"I have no favoured," the man let out a sound that was a mixture between a garbled sob and broken giggle "She showed me. Enlightened me more then my favoured Seven ever could. They lied, she said, the High Marshall, the Seven, everyone-"
"Watch your tongue," Nolan barked at the man "It is one thing to forsake the wisdom of the High Marshall, but it is another to insult ones father,"
The mans lucidity seemed to be slipping as he said; "The blackened rose is strong, it's roots deep and thorns sharp. But every flower can be uprooted and replaced,"
"Stand," Nolan ordered.
"The twisted tree. Follow the branch of the twisted tree," The man began rocking back and forth "Twisted tree, blackened rose, always listen to the Crone,"
"Stand," Nolan ordered again.
"The Crone knows. She always knows. She knows more then the High Marshall, The Cause, she even knows more then Perater," an insane garbled chuckle escaped the mans lips "Perater the creator! Creator indeed, of the lies I see. The lies you believe, the ones you bleed-"
"You know not when to stop," Nolan drew his sword, angered at the slandering of his favoured "At one more insult I will have your head and take it home as a trophy to be placed upon the pikes,"
"Quiet the nonbelievers, shun the unmarked," The man smiled up at him "Leave people in poverty while the ones with roses are left fat and old, with only bastards to carry on their legacy,"
At least it was a painless death for the man. With fury broiling in his blood it had only taken one hard swing to take the mans head off his shoulders. It fell to the floor with a wet thump, while the body slid against the wall until it to hit the floor. Looking at his thin blade he watched the scarlet blood glisten in the moonlight before wiping it on the outside of his canvas sack. The blade slid easily back into it's sheath with a near silent hiss.
"If you have forsaken the Seven, then I pray for the Seven to forsake you," Nolan said to the head of the man before picking up the head by the oily hair and stuffing it into the sack.
The man of the cause left as silently as he had come. Out in the street the people of the slum still watched him, eyeing the bag as if it was filled with gold pieces-not knowing that within rested the head of a non-believer. Men who forsake the Seven did not deserve the gift of life- nor were they allowed to poison the mind of the other residents in the Land of the Seven.
That is the word of the High Marshall, and in the Holy Land of the Seven, The High Marshalls words are law.