On the frontlines
Beneath the flowing robes that marked him as a servant of Tai, Aithan wore a cuirass of enchanted steel. Unlike his brethren, Aithan felt called by the God of Remorse to minister in the back alleyways and on the battlefield. Rich wives wanting consolation for their trophy status sickened him. He did his best to hide his disdain for the rest of the order, but it was hard, so very hard. Wine, fine food, and distractions both carnal and otherworldly were the most common tools of those that served in the frescoed temples. All were irrelevant out in the field. Instead, Aithan trusted to spear, dirk, shield, and mace.
The reputation of the order preceded him, and he was usually greeted with hoots of derision. Magic was rare enough on the battlefield… exorbitantly expensive and most practitioners considered warfare too dangerous. There’d be the occasional mustard yellow turban that marked an acolyte of Tuan, the God of Healing, or the shimmering silks that signified a heretical follower of the Forgotten Ones. What use was a follower of such foppish, privileged god such where blood and steel contended?
Aithan rarely killed, that was true, for the dead did not call out to his Lord Tai. But the maimed, scarred and injured frequently became part of His flock. The damage one man’s weapons do in the chaotic maelstrom that is a pitched battle is infinitesimal it is true, yet the waves of visions and false prophesy he sent out caused many a sword arm to tremble and shield walls to crumble.
Even with the easier victories credited to him, commanders were loathe to have Aithan remain with their troops for long. Spoils go to the victors, it is true. But those who were all too willing to participate in the post-battle rapine (and other more unsavory acts) often found themselves in the dark of the night and in the secret silences within their souls inducted unwillingly into the flock of the God of Remorse. By then it was too late. The priest had moved on, and many sought solace – their only freedom – in the kiss of their own blade.
I’ve noticed in a lot of flash fiction challenges, people have recurring stories. This piece revisited a character from an earlier MWBB entry I did long ago.