The Saboteur of Temperence

In a far away land, sitting between a massive mountain and hearty forest was a small plot of land overseen by a young, kind-hearted duke. The duke saw the suffering of his people, and was determined to help them.

“We shall begin building a mighty town, using the lumber from the surrounding forest.” the young duke declared, “This shall be a wealthy place, and we will thrive.”

The duke’s advisor, and older woman who had many a memory of the plight of spirits, warned him, “Be not so determined, else you bring great woe upon your people.”

But the young duke laughed, “Oh wise woman, do you not see? That is the opposite of my quest! My determination will erase the woe of this land!”

And so the duke set about to build housing for his subjects, stables for his flocks, and used the cleared forests to plant crops. Over the course of a year, that small plot of land became one of the grandest cities in the world, as people settled from every surrounding town, for this was a land of plenty.

The duke was pleased, and wanted to hold a festival to commemorate the hard work of his people, and their triumph over the darkness of the land. “Wise woman,” he called out, “gather the year’s harvest! We shall have a feast, and all of the town shall be invited!”

“But your highness,” the wise woman answered, “there is no harvest: your crops have all withered.”

Confused, but still determined, the duke replied, “No matter! Prepare the largest building, we will hold a celebration, to dance in our glory!”

“But your highness,” the wise woman answered, “there are no buildings: your creations have all burned.”

Fear crept into the duke’s mind, but he was quick to wave it off. Still determined, he demanded, “Wise woman! Gather my subjects, we have much to discuss, to rebuild what has been lost.”

“But your highness,” the wise woman muttered, “there are no subjects: your people have all perished.”

At this news, the duke’s determination became rage. He turned to the wise woman, only to see that she was dead, and in her place stood a blind man, leaning upon a harvest scythe.

“Who is this?” the duke demanded, “Explain yourself, foul one!”

The blind man said not a word, but touched the blade of his scythe to the supports of the duke’s house, which immediately erupted into flames, before walking silently away, and disappearing in the smoke.

It was then that the young duke realized what he had done: by gathering so much, he had only increased what he had to lose.

Another parable for the children of Feorbeund: warning of the power of spirits, and the types of actions that draw their attention.

Heolor is another of the Screaming Barons—a group of seven of the most powerful spirits that prey on mortals—whose title is the Saboteur of Temperance, meaning he seeks those with much to lose, and takes it all away. When in human form, his eyes are always fogged with blindness.

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