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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The Judge of Charity

A young nobleman in both dress and stature went to see a soothsayer about his fortune one day. The soothsayer read his future and told him what it held. “You will come into a great deal of money soon. But be warned. For if you are too greedy, the sound of a crow shall spell your doom.” Though enchanted by her words at the time, he did not take them to heart:

A few years passed and the nobleman—having forgotten the soothsayer’s warning—had indeed come into a great deal of money after his father passed away. Now the owner of his father’s fief, he had amassed a great deal of wealth, yet he refused to invest it in the well-being of his land, and instead demanded more labor from his subjects.

As he was riding along a road one evening, he saw a beggar on the side of the road who asked him for anything he could spare. She looked to be a kindly old woman, with wrappings over her right eye, and yet the noble laughed at her and threw mud in her face. But, as he rode off, the sound of a crow echoed across the plains, and darkness fell soon after.

Alas, as he could just see the lights of his fiefdom, bandits beset upon him in the night. Swift and silent they were, taking everything that he carried, including his noble robes. Now, with mud on his face and torn undergarments for clothes, he looked nothing like the nobility he once was. It was a lucky twist of fate for him, however, for that very night when he entered his home, his people were in a riot, out for his blood. Using the secret entrance to the keep he slipped inside, only to find himself held at spear point by his own guards.

He spoke with them, explaining his true identity, but had nothing to prove his claims.  The guards were left unswayed, and demanded that he be taken into custody. As his desperate pleas became howling demands, a crow’s call echoed through the keep. It was then that he remembered the soothsayer’s warning, and quickly turned to run, only to be stabbed by his own men. And as he lay dying on the ground, the crow swooped in and plucked out his right eye.

This is the type of story that children of Feorbeund grow up on: a cautionary tale of the power of spirits, as well as the type of people that they hunt down.

Aelmesa is one of the seven Screaming Barons: a group of some of the most powerful, most evil spirits in Feorbeund. They meddle often in the affairs of humans, and deeply enjoy seeding turmoil among those too weak to stand up against them. They often take the form of a crow when they aren’t in the form of a human.

Aelmesa, specifically, is the Judge of Charity, meaning she seeks out those with greed in their hearts and strikes at them with anguish, betrayal, and anger until what they had has been passed off to others. When in human form, she always has one eye covered.