lördag 23 november 2013

The Trail Of Koronus

Karhellion limped down the mountainside towards the simple structure that was the shrine of Koronus. Of course it was not one of the great shrines, Koronus had few great shrines, the temple in tor achare was unique in that respect. No this shrine was little more than a cave that had been extended with an atrium. The southern kingdoms deemed the simple shrines of Koronus as barabaric, as they did many of the customs of Chrace. Of course they never said anything about the equally simple shrines of Isha that could be found everywhere on Ulthuan. The cult of Isha had held little power since the time of aenarion but the elves had long memories. Karhellion staggered under the weight of the white lion on his shoulders. The southerners belived thta only those seeking a place in the pheonix king's white lions did the rite known as the trail of Koronus. They understood so little, a fair few chracians attempted the trail and while only those who who had conquered the trail could join the phoenix king's legendary bodyguard there were other functions that also required it. Such as becomming a priest of Koronus, like the old elf that rose to meet him from one of the benches before the temple.
Haraldar was not specifically the priest of the shrine, the shrines of Koronus had no permanent priests, anyone may make use of them, all those who had undergone the trail might count themselves as priests of Koronus in some respect, except those sworn to other duties that was, and thus kept an eye on the shrines they happened to live nereby or travel past. Only the great temple in tor achare had a permanent detatchment of priests. Haraldar had gone further on the path of Koronus than most however, Karhellion's father even said he might one day become the high priest of the cult. Karhellion felt fortunate that such an esteemed man may be in charge of his trail.
The old elf stood, the elves lived long lives, and when one was old enough to truly show age then one knew they were truly ancient.
”The young hunter returns” He said with a smile, Karhellion was a bit disturbed by the fact that he seemed to have fangs like a canine. His voice was unlike the soft voices of most of their people it was a deep rumble almost as if there was the roar of a lion somewhere deep inside it. The old elf was quite unlike the priest of other realms to haraldar had served as a white lion for twohundred years before dedicating himself to the god, he was the largest most muscular elf Karhellion had ever seen, even in chrace and his eyes reminded the younger elf of a bird of prey. Two others emerged from the shrine, other who had undergone the trail and begun down the path of Koronus, but no one related to Karhellion. That was by tradition, though no living relative of his had gone through the trail anyway.
”I have slain the beast” Karhellion gasped and let his burden fall on the ground. It had not been an easy fight, the ancients claimed that once the trail had been undertaken with ones bare hands, and they say that the current captain of the White lions had done it that way, but today most wielded the woodsman's axe. Even then a white lion was a fierce and merciless opponent. ”I have beaten the trail of the god” he roared in satisfaction lifting his axe to the skies.
”Not yet you havent, boy” one of the others said he was a fairly young elf perhaps ony a century or so older than Karhellion himself but with a massive scar right across his face, Karhellion didn't know his name, it was not required of him to know their names, he had been told that the lion cloaks around their shoulders was all he needed to know. But from the scar clearly made by a weapon and not by a beast and his bearing that he was a warrior, perhaps even one of the white lions. The old priest nodded.
”You have killed the beast, but Koronus is the good of the hunt not the good of killing, if it is that elation you seek only the cyrathii can slake your thirst. The goods of the Asur will never ask you to kill for the sake of killing”
”I don't understand” Karhellion respended confused, he was standing there bleeding from a dozen places and the priest wanted to discuss schemantics.
”The hard part of the trail is still before you” the last of the older elves, he was older than the scarred one but yet his hair was still brown rather than white as the priest, the priest was large but this elf was even larger. Karhellion entered the shrine with the two older elves followign him. There were no chairs in the shrine intead there were animal hies left there was offerings by hunters in ages past, the two older elves sat down on them, and so did the young hunter. Then the priest entered with a bowl in front of him. He sat down on the hides so they formed a circle with him right across from Karhellion and set the bowl seemingly containing blood in the middle. He removed a few obejects from his robes and handed to the other two elves.
”You must never speak of this part of the ritual” the scarred one said.
”Just like you came here unknowing of what this trail was truly about, so much all others come here unknowing” the other elf said.
”You may turn back after we have explained, there is no shame in it but you will not have passed the trail unless you go forward” the priest said.
”I mean to go forward”
”Never promise to make a decision until you have heard the terms of it boy” the scarred one growled. In this light with the light from the candles on the wall playing in his eyes he looked almost as a lion himself.
”You will go into the realm of spirits daemons and gods, and face the spirit of the lion you slew...” the large elf began.
”The realm of chaos?” Karhellion asked terrified.
”Not the realm proper, into the border that separates this world from that one, the spirit of the lion has not yet passed through to the realm of death”
”It is dangerous, you may end up dead, or a drooling maniac with all sense blasted from your head, or possessed by the very animal you killed hunting the wilds as if you were a lion” the scarred elf said, but for some reason the large elf shot him an irritated glance. But the priest acted as if nothing had happened.
”Do you mean to go forward” the priest asked ”You may leave if you wish, you may come again as many times as you need but you'll need to redo to the first part of the trail again. No one has suceeded after having turned away twice”
The large elf muttered something under his breath, did he say something of Khaine? Karhellion wondered.
”I mean to go forward” he said again.
Good, then this is what you must remember” the priest began.
We serve Koronus the lord of the hunt” the large one said and put the obeject he had been given, and small bone brick into the bowl.
But all elves are of Isha” the scrred one growled and put what he had been given into the bowl, a small tuft of hair it seems.
And what is given can never be taken” the priest finished.
The last part was a part of the prayer of Isha, 'Isha who are one with the elves and ulthuan gives us freely what we need, what's given cannot be taken. And what has been given must eventually be returned' A reminder of that however long lived the elves were still mortal, and when they died returned all they were to Isha and Ulthuan.
The priest put his hand over the bowl and it seemed to ignited into flames.
Breethe deeply and face the what you have taken” all three of them said. Karhellion bent forwards and ihaled the smoke, and the the world seemed to disolve.

He awoke many hours later, on the floor of the shrine, alone. Yet not alone. He stood wearily. That had been rough, the older elves had been right slaying the beast had been the easy part, this was so much harder. He was Karhellion, yet he was no longer Karhellion, what had been taken had been given.
He left the shrine, the large elf sat outside in the sunlight, now thathe knew what to look for he saw the similiarity to a big cat bathing in the sunlight. The elf didnt open his eyes as the younger elf approached. ”The others are hunting, so how did it go?”
We are one” the elf who was once Karhellion said and sat beside the older elf.
Of course” the older elf laughed, and the younger elf realised he had canines to. ”had you not become one you would both have been torn apart by angry daemons”
You didn't tell me that”
Suprisingly few fail, those who did would have been lost to Khaine anyway. Bloodlust is in our nature but if we cannot controll it... how did you do it”
I surrendered” Karhellion said ”Eventually” he then admitted.
I fought my beast for hours and hours, neither giving in, chaos had a grip on that ones soul, and perhaps khaine a firmer grip on mine that I would have admitted, but we shed ourselves of that as we fought and finally we realised than neither could conquer the other, not in that realm, and became one”
A chaos touched lion... you are Korhil” the younger elf gasped. The captain of the White Lions himself.
I am Charandis too, but I dont need to explain that to you”
What of the others?”
I have never asked Akenash, of his fight, I did not stand for him, Haraldar stood for me, he spoke to his beast rather than fighting it, he always does”
You have stood unto the path of the great hunter, every time you hunt and slay a beast part of it will become part of you. Nothing as deep as the lion you are now one with, but still a feeling that you will come to know. Come now young cub it is time for us to join the hunt” he stood offering the young elf the skin of the lion he had slain. The skin he had once worn and would now always wear.

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