Chapter 4

 

Chapter 4

Here is a summary of Earnests and Jasper’s lengthy talk. Earnests first duty as Warden would be the “Tour of the Ward”. After a few days to rest and get acquainted with the Central City of Governing where Earnest would now live, there would be a grand tour of all the territories by the Warden. Earnest would meet all the people groups and meet all their respective leaders on this tour. After the tour as Warden, Earnest would take council from his advisers and decide what to do first. There are many languages in the Ward most of the people groups speak more than one. The common tongue sounded to Earnest like English going in his ears and sounded like English coming out of his mouth. Other Wardens with different native languages have always spoken the common tongue as if it were their native tongue. None of the histories or annals of knowledge indicates why this is the case only that it has been so for as long as there has been reliable history.

Earnest learned that God is known to the people groups of the Ward and is revered. In general God’s moral law is followed and God is respected and obeyed on a personal level. There are churches, places where people gather to worship, and celebrate God. The bible of Earnest’s world is known of and some passages are referenced but only through the memories of previous Wardens. Scholars of the Ward are aware of the appearance of “the Christ” through the memories of Wardens. The people of the Ward have no known prophecies as to his potential appearance in the Ward. Some scholars suggest that the people of the Ward have not fallen in the way in the manner that the people of earth have. There is much spirited debate as others claim that since the people of the Ward do not follow God perfectly they are fallen as well. There are no “Bibles” in the Ward it is said that the word of God exists through his will when people conform to it. There are writings discussing doctrine’s etc which are respected and held in high esteem but there is no one central work or collection of works that is considered sacred in the Ward as the Bible is on earth. God is God how can we explain him? The best we can do is serve him. The public law is based on the moral law of God and has punishments for disobedience. There is also the personal law of God and the punishment for disobeying that is administered by God himself. (No one is ever perfect in following the personal law of God and God is known to show grace and mercy despite non-compliance). The further one goes form the Ward the less God is revered and obeyed. God deals with the people of the Ward as a nation (as well as individually) differently than he deals with the nations on Earth. He will continue to deal with each person anywhere on a personal level as well.

Jasper spent some time describing to Earnest how he would not fail the people of the Ward. Earnest did not consider himself to be a good choice for Warden. Too much trouble, bad decisions and failures in the past. To encourage Earnest, Jasper comforted him with considering of the loyalty of the peoples of the Ward. The loyalty of the people of the Ward is great, such that whoever leads them can be assured that their goals would be accomplished in a reasonable manner. So even if Earnest was found to be an inept leader the people are not and the Ward would prosper despite anything Earnest may have to do with it. Earnest also learned that there is also magic in the land. There are magical objects and creatures as well. There are also magicians and conjurers who attempt to practice control of magic. Magic while in existence in this world is rare and it is practiced with great caution. Magic is very dangerous. Very few have shown the ability to wield magic. Even fewer have shown the ability to control it.

There is also science in the Ward some of it very advanced. Some of the advances in the Ward have been lost due to wars between the Ward and the Wild. The most advanced sciences are that of healing and that of agriculture. There are many detailed historical accounts of the Ward some of them very ancient and isolated. Current history dates back to 250 years to the great migration across the Great sand desert. The Ward had been suffering greatly because of the attacks from the Wild and from decay within. It appeared that the Wild would soon overrun the Ward, as the Ward did not appear to be able to defend itself for much longer. It was suggested by one of the Governors of the time that a mass retreat to a different land would save the Ward from destruction. The Ward was undecided about this idea. There were just as many interested in the idea as chose who were opposed. The retreat plan was for every man woman and child in the Ward to cross the Great Sand Desert. It would be a previous journey for even the stoutest of the people that would take 6 months. Let alone children and the elderly. Then there came the great push of the Wild. A large massing of Hoard armies gathered on 3 sides of the remaining Ward. The only options were to face the massed armies hopelessly outnumbered or to retreat through the Great Sand Desert. One night the night of sorrows, it was apparent that the Wild would overrun the Ward with a mass attack. Some of the Ward stayed to battle the Wild, others seeing no hope in winning such a battle without a Warden and having already prepared for a journey left in the night. Masses of people, city by city fled none daring to look back. The black smoke of the fires in the distance let it be known to the people that fled that those who stayed behind were not able to turn back the Wild and that they had been destroyed. Those who stayed behind did manage enough resistance that millions were able to get enough of a head start to out distance the armies of the Wild. Some accounts say that the crossing of the Great Wand Desert took 6 months (based on orders of Governor Artang sent with the reserve guard who escorted the people through the desert). Others say the migration took a year. (This is based on the Sands of Sorrow an epic story from Regent Snoffel’s personal log). Most of the people of the Ward who attempted to make the trek died. The Great Sand Desert supports no vegetation and has no water, only sand and wind. It is believed that the wind covered tracks of those who fled which lead to the safety of the people in the crossing. To this day there has not been an organized advance from the Great Sand Desert in pursuit of the Ward that is known.

Jasper the current head Regent of the Ward was recruited to the House of Saints when he was no more than 24 years old, very young for a Treep. He spent the next 150 years studying and coping current known histories and Annals of knowledge as a scribe in the House of Saints. Because of his great learning he was selected by the House of Saints as the current Head Regent when the previous Regent Festinakor the youngest son of Kestel (one of the last survivors of the great migration breathed his last. Jasper has been Regent for 3 years and there has been continued peace and safety since the Great migration 250 years ago. Earnest was told that most of the people of the Ward could be trusted. They are in general an honest and loyal people. The Governor’s are honest men as well but are ambitious and that as Warden his best advice would likely come from the Head Regent and the closest members of his household (for example Shea). The Warden is revered outside the Ward in the Near Wild (an area just out side the Ward that is not part of the Wild) however; the people who live in the near wild are less trustworthy. But even though in general the loyalties of the peoples in the near wild are less than that of those in the Ward there are some who’s loyalty should not be overlooked.

That night as Earnest lay in bed he thought “I can’t do this… God? Whats is going on? Plans for me or plans for the Ward?

‘Are you not involved with plans for the Ward?

What do I have to loose anyway? Everything back home is gone. I will try but, I’m gonna need lots of help because I can’t do it alone.

how many are there that serve the Warden?’

Oh yea… Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

‘…Maybe you shouldn’t….’

Earnest drifted off to sleep. In the morning Earnest woke to the smell of fresh bread as he lay snug in the comfort of the softest blankets that he had ever drawn against his skin.

“Come! Come! my master! There are many who wish to meet the new Warden.” Said an enthusiastic Shea.

“Aren’t you Jasper’s servant?”

“Yes! Yes! But he has released me to you until you decide to make other arrangements. A loyal servant is easy to find. A servant befitting a Warden is maybe no to easy?” Shea’s self compliment drew a smile across his own face and across Earnests as well. “Oh these are such wonderful times Warden Earnest for now we have a Warden again! It has been so very long, so very long the people are so excited. Please suffer their enthusiasm with grace.”

With as much as I can muster.” The taste of warm bread with fresh melted butter on the crust was was followed by a glass of passoon juice that entered the hungry Wardens eager mouth. While he ate Earnest was attended to for his clothes by the adept Shea a most excellent servant worthy of service to a Warden.

The meetings with the governors that morning along with the tour of the Central City of Governing were not as tedious as Ernest had feared. The governors while formal were cordial and accommodating. A pleasantly diverse group of peoples awaited him on the tour. Ernest looked forward to spending time with each of them at length when he was able to take his “Tour of the Ward” in a few days. The company of the governors with their stories and sayings helped to time during the city tour pass enjoyably. When the Governors’ weren’t being entertaining and savvy in the awkward moments Shea was there with advice on proper customs and in one case a towel. Shea’s timing and soft touch were impeccable. It did not take Earnest long to be able to trust that Shea would keep him from miss stepping in formal situations. This allowed Earnest greater confidence that in turn endeared him the respect of the Governors quickly. The Governor’s where eager to give that respect, as they were hungry for his favor.

The Tour of the Ward began three days later. As each territory was visited a few of their number were added to the Tour travel party and it would continue to grow from territory to territory. It became quite a procession as the days passed. Earnest began to enjoy some of the attention he received as Warden. The place of honor at the feast tables, the ability to speak his mind on small issues and that would settle the matter. Even though he enjoyed the attention at times he also feared it. From time to time, with Shea’s help he would get away from being the “Warden” and just try to be Earnest. Because his face was currently unknown in the Ward he could accomplish this but soon this luxury would not be an option.

Cling, cling, clang came the sound of swordplay from the other side of the tent. Earnest went to investigate. There in the early morning sun were two men practicing their skills with the sword. Earnest watched intently.

Do you like watching?” said the first.

I would much rather be able to display the skill that you two fine fellows have shown.” Said Earnest.

You know the sword then?” said the second.

I have never laid a hand on one” replied Earnest.

Charlie take a break and leave us your sword” Said the First

By all means…” then suddenly recognizing that he was in the presence of the Warden bowed both out of respect to Earnest and eyed as much mockery as he could to his training partner. Then without the protocol of formal title calling and bows the first nonchalantly walked up to Earnest with the sword.

My name is Hector”, knowing full well that he was in the presence of the Warden, “ this is the sword of the Plains Riders of Pampas. The plains Riders of Pampas are the first to engage the enemy on horseback. You begin by holding the sword like this… now take your first swing like this…” Earnest made training sessions with Hector and Charlie a regular diversion from his stately duties. Hector continued to engage Earnest w/o the pomp and circumstance of the tour and did what he could to keep their training session a private and discreet as possible. Earnests willingness to wake up at the crack of dawn helped matters. He was however, respectful, gracious and most certainly genuine. His treatment of the Warden placed him in the role of teacher. Despite his enjoyment Earnest did not show much initial promise with the sword. A few days into Earnests new hobby Charlie, Hectors training partner, said “Can’t you teach him any better than that? We can’t have a Warden with a wimpy sword! Maybe you aught to show him the bow.” Where Earnest struggled early with the sword he excelled with the bow. It was not long before he became proficient enough to go on the hunt as the procession traveled between territories. Hunts were occasionally needed in order to provide fresh meat as the size of the company grew.

Now at a further distance you want to aim a bit higher as the arrow will drop the further you are from your target.” Earnest adjusted his aim and skewered a passoon fruit at 25 paces. “Excellent! If you want to make your aim even truer just picture Charlie’s head and think of his comments about your studies with the sword.”

Hey I heard that!” Shouted Charlie. Earnest and Hector looked at each other and smiled.

Hector said “I have a feeling that Charlie will grade your sword play much higher in the future.” Earnest laughed in fact, everyone laughed. Within a few days Earnest could skewer a passoon (a pear sized fruit) 2 out of three times from 50 paces. A full-fledged bow master of the plains riders of pampas could do the same at 100 paces seated on a moving horse. For Earnest, it was certainly good enough to hunt fowl and small game in between the cities of the Ward during his tour of the territories. Soon, the hunts Earnest took with Hector were the talk of the dinner feasts because his hunting successes were often the main course.

During the tour of the Ward each governor stayed in his own territory. It was the dignitaries who were sent from each territory and joined the entourage as each stop was made. Along the way Earnest began to develop some friendships. The closest of which were Shea, Jasper and Hector. Earnest enjoyed his time with Hector the most because the burden of the “Wardenship” was much less around him. Hector was not part of the “who’s who” in the entourage. He was just part of the soldiers from the Plains of Pampas. While Hector was not of rank in the army of his territory his fighting and tracking skills were highly respected among his peers. The Plains Riders of Pampas were proud of their fighting skill and respect was not easily earned. While respected among those who knew him, Hector was not well known among the rest of the Ward. His relative anonymity was comforting to Earnest when he wanted to get away from being Warden.

Along with the feasting each of the territories immersed the Warden in their cultures with the time that they had. That is to say all but the territory of Treeps. The visit to Treepland was more like a walk in the forest with the occasional wandering Treep waving at the noisy entourage in the quiet forest from a distance. After the passing of Treepland only the territory of the Millnucks remained in the tour of the Ward.

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