Angeli de Ganis
Human Favored Soul
For years Angeli’s mother had told him that he was a prince. Never once did he believe it. Always he put it off as his mother’s pride. The day she sat him down and explained his heraldry was a day that Angeli would never forget. She told him about the week where Gandil de Ganis took her away to be married. She told him about how she had conceived on their wedding night. She named him Angeli because of the providence that provided this heir to a throne that for the time being sat in ruins. It was the last conversation mother and son would have. She explained the importance that no one should know who he was until the time was right.
For the entirety of Angeli’s life he had lived in hiding amongst her mother’s second cousins. Sabrina ta’Ganis provided the best Governess available. He had weapons training as soon as he could hold a wooden dagger. Sabrina herself taught Angeli the word of the Gods of Light. When Angeli was fourteen, he was hunting with his cousin when he was met by a man in white robes. Angeli was cautious yet bold as he confronted the man. He looked at Angeli for several minutes without seeming to breathe. Finally, he spoke. “Angeli, do not fear. I am your father. I have traded my life for yours. Use it well.” In the time that confusion took hold of Angeli’s mind, the man disappeared.
Sabrina and her son were tolerated in their sanctuary. The matron started out being very hospitable and ever accommodating to her royal guests. Her husband had other ideas. He had always lusted after his second cousin, and welcomed her into his home with the design to bed her. He was patient and for ten years did little to push himself. Yet once the Kalaman presence became burdensome his attitude changed. He would constantly press himself into the personal chambers of Sabrina. Never once did she succumb to his ever increasing advanes. When this started the matron of the manor grew cold toward Sabrina, assuming that the indiscretion of her husband must be because of Sabrina’s flirtations. Both Master and Matron were losing their minds due to the stress.
During the years there were many tax collectors who would force themselves into the manor and would stay for weeks looking for the royal heir. Rumors were unavoidable. When Angeli was fifteen tragedy fell. The Master of the manor attempted to rape Sabrina. She defended herself and the master of the manor was wounded. The Matron betrayed her cousin to the usurping house. Sabrina and Angeli fled the manor that night, fearing that their time of safety was done here. Their flight was a mere handful of hours before the betrayal became complete.
The next few weeks were mind-numbing from the fear, never a warm bed and never enough to eat. Sabrina would not stay in inns and the harsh treatments of the usurpers toward their subjects left few commoners willing to let strangers stay.
When they finally crossed the border into Estewilde they were able to find sanctuary within a band of bandits who terrorized the Kalamani patrols. It was here where Angeli’s education was completed. His time spent in the raids of the bandits. His fondest memory of the time was fighting alongside Marcus and the other heroes who travelled with him.
Sabrina grew old. She aged not with years, but in worry. She died when a Kalamani spy confronted her about her son’s identity. The spy forced a deal from Angeli. Angeli would travel with the spy to Kalaman and there be the guest of the Cardinal, or his beloved bandits would be hunted down and exterminated to the last man.
Angeli’s stay in the hospitality of the Cardinal has not been bad. Of course the teachings of the Cardinal’s priests are ever a trial of perseverance. Their assurance of their correctness is always impossible to stomach, but to argue with them is never fruitful.
Angeli has met with the Cardinal, but always late at night in a dark study. The only lights casting light only on Angeli. One day a scroll containing Angeli’s pedigree from both parents appeared in his room. Never had his mother confided in Angeli her heritage. It was nonetheless a shock to learn that she was the last of the ruling House of Kalaman. A note with the chart said only that Kalaman no longer has a royalty, and that Branchala rules in Kalaman as he will in Nordmaar. The conversations with the Cardinal were polite but Angeli knew they were to remind him that it was the Cardinal’s will alone which allowed Angeli to live. The first meeting the Cardinal explained that his blood would serve Nordmaar well if Angeli would pave the way for complete dominance for Kalaman.
Angeli was sure that had not the Baliforians invaded Nordmaar when they did that the Cardinal’s troops would have marched to Nordmaar within the week with Angeli held at the front as the returning king. The Baliforian invasion caused the Cardinal lost interest in Angeli, either because of too many balls to keep juggling or simply biding his time was anyone’s guess.
At this time the “protections” of the Cardinal became non-existing. Angeli was free to leave the manor where he was kept, and he spent much time in the city helping his subjects as best he could. He understood that the Cardinal was evil, and that he should start learning how to defeat this usurper. Angeli knew of the rebellion, but knew that there was little chance of him gaining their trust. So he worked alone in his efforts to feed the poor, clothe the naked, and to keep morale as high as he could.
Angeli de Ganis sweat out the frustration he felt with his sword, no other possession of his could bring him the peace he desired. This had felt a contradiction to his ascetics, a weapon such as the exquisite long sword his father had given him could bring peace to his soul. He knew the precepts of Kiri-Jolith was strength and war, yet through necessity only. Now that Angeli had grown to understand life more completely he understood that the exercise was the cause of the peace, and the sword simply a tool of that exercise — yet there was still solace in simply holding the ancient weapon.
Angeli remembered well the lessons taught by his hold weapons tutor the many years ago when Angeli was very young. He could remember his mother watching his training with a bitter sweet smile. He knew she did not like his learning such a violent trade, but she was pragmatic enough to understand that the son of a prince would know strife.
Angeli thought about his frustrations. No matter what he said to the Cardinal’s advisers about the rampant inflation in the city, they continually lied to him thinking that he was too simple to understand that they lied. They believed that Branchala’s will was to allow the inflation to cleanse the city of the unrighteous. There was nothing that he could see to do through the political route, and his stipend that the Cardinal allowed him was only sufficient to buy a beer at the tavern these days. Of course Angeli knew that the Cardinal’s spies had reported that he had given most of his money to the poor for the past few years and so had completely disregarded Angeli’s attempts to obtain more money.
Once again he considered opening a shop in the market to sell his craft, but he knew that although many people would want his art, the Cardinal’s spies would set fire to the shop the first night and although he couldn’t prove that they had done it the first time he wasn’t willing to make the mistake again. He had sold the sculpture he had made to help pay off the debts of a blacksmith before they all started disappearing. He then helped the smith and his family to escape on a merchant’s ship to Sanction. At least there the blacksmiths weren’t just simply vanishing.
Angeli stopped his forms and with the drop of his sword into the ground in benediction his frustration evaporated. Now his prayer was able to contain only gratitude for the small victories that he had wrought in the city. The gift of healing for the family who had eaten the tainted grain and without Kiri-Jolith’s blessing their whole family would have perished. The priest who had been beaten near to death the day before yesterday and whom Angeli had come across just after the Cardinal’s men had left him for dead. That had taken all the skill he had to keep him alive. Yet he lived now. The boy who had crossed the plaza and would have been trampled by a patrol leaving the plaza had Angeli not pulled him out of the way — Angeli still had the bruise from the well placed boot to his neck. It had been a miracle that Angeli had been able to find the boy’s mother in the city. The battle between the Mao Feroz and the Mao du Deus was terrible. The wounded on both sides were terrible, yet the gratitude of both groups was equal. Men who are close to death are never without gratitude when they are snatched from it’s grasp. There were scowls from the Mao Feroz healers who I assisted that I would help the Mao du Deus men. Only after pointing out that these men were not the true enemy and kindness should be given to all did they leave me to my task. I think that had I not treated the Mao Feroz first that I would have had to fight them off to give aid to the Mao du Deus.
It was never enough, but it gave hope, and Angeli was humbled by the trust that Kiri-Jolith had placed in him. Angeli had heard the rumors of the White Woman who had helped in the birth of so many. He had also heard rumor of a dragon’s shadow being seen flying over the city, but no one that Angeli had talked to had seen either a dragon or the shadow.
Once he had completed his prayers he made his way in to the library of the manor where he was given to stay. Here he would spend the morning reading. Then he’d spend some time on his artwork. Someday he might even be able to sell it for enough to really help someone. Till that time, he did it for his mother. She had always dreamed that he’d have a piece put into the Gallery in the Conservatory.
Angeli would spend the rest of the day searching the city for the Knight of Solamnia he’d seen going from tavern to tavern asking about a man with a brand on his hand. Angeli wasn’t sure if he’d tell the Knight about the brand on the captain’s hand. It wouldn’t be very courteous to bring trouble upon a stranger. Also if Angeli had seen the trademark of the Knighthood that the Knight obviously tried to hide, then the spies in the city would have already reported him. Perhaps while he searched for the Knight he’d have better luck finding the tattooed man who’d been sneaking around the market. That man made Angeli curious. Not often do you see Estewilde men in Kalaman. They usually had more sense then to come here.
While sitting and reading, the Archbishop — whose hospitality Angeli enjoyed, came in. The Bishop often did this, and although it interrupted the flow of the story, Angeli did not mind too much.
“My son, that book is on the Cardinal’s list of books to burn. You have seen that list, and yet you read the book. Put it down and repent of this transgression.” The Archbishop usually entered this way. For some reason that Angeli did not understand, the Archbishop’s library was full of books on the burn list.
“Ah, your eminence I welcome your company this fine morning.” Angeli stood and kissed the ring of his priesthood, and when the Bishop had sat reseated himself. The book sat closed between the men. "In my emulation of your eminence I try to see what salvation can be found for those who read such books. Take this book here; it is full of degradations of the poor class with the idea that it is merely their own choice that they are in there position. Although that opinion is detestable I too can see the man’s point and it has merit, yet short sighted and is an attempt to shift blame from the author to the poor for his disdain.
“No, the true error in this book is the author’s disdain for nobility whom he blames for his own detestable living conditions. It is evident in the protagonist’s struggle to overthrow the king in the story. His portrayal of the nobility and especially the priesthood that allows the dominion of them is detestable. I completely understand why the Cardinal would want this book burned.
“This man could be saved with the proper respectful education. He is not without great merit to his craft, and would be a tremendous force for good if his flaws could be salvaged. Yet it is often more important to understand those who are found reading this book. They too can be salvaged with that same respectful ministration. It is well that you seek this insight, but I overstep my place to mention your eminence’s grandeur.” The Archbishop smiled at Angeli as a doting grandfather. He rang the bell that had sat next to the chair, and a young man came instantly to his side.
“Wine, boy.” the Bishop asked Angeli with a glance if he wanted some too.
“No thank you your eminence, I am fasting for the souls of those who will starve today.”
“Ah, the King would not have you waste your strength in that way.” the Cardinal’s followers were fond of this name for Branchala. “Too much suffering already occurs because of the cleansing, you cause yourself distress and lesson your own efforts for something that is unavoidable and caused by their own unrighteousness.”
“Oh, you’ve heard of my efforts? I will have to try harder for anonymity. Yet the fast is the only way my soul finds rest in these terrible times. It is the only way that I see to help them. I guess I too fast for the swift completion of the cleanse so that the righteous may be spared any more distress than does their soul credit. And every time I minister to those in need within the city; I see those that I think of as unrighteous taking up arms against those who are, simply for bread.” Angeli watched the Archbishop’s reaction carefully. This subject was very near a disagreement that he had taken before to Angeli’s unswerving belief in the Gods of Good. The servant reappeared with the wine for the Archbishop. Who took a careful sip and nodded before the boy left with prostration and a kiss of the ring.
“Yet your belief in Kiri-Jolith does not show that it is the righteous who pick up arms and survive in this environment?” Yes, there it was. The twisted way the believers of the Cardinal had in using the tenets of the Gods of Good. That belief was closer to those of Sargonnas.
“No, your eminence, the Sword of Justice does not flame for survival over others, but in defence of good and holy. There are tears in my Lord’s eyes when he looks down upon this city. He does not condone the brutality he sees here.”
“Oh, Prince Angeli, it pains my heart that you continue to believe the lies spread by the Disks of Mishakal. Here, I have another copy of the tenets of the King for your edification, since you have obviously misplaced the last one I gave you.” the Archbishop drew a simple black book from within the folds of his vestments. This book drew goosebumps from Angeli’s skin.
“No need to give me another, your eminence; I have the one you gave me here. Angeli patted a pocket in his robes that had the shape of a book. I followed your advice and decided to keep it close at all times.” Angeli hoped that the man would not ask to see it, since it was heavily wrapped in blessed leather to contain the evil that emanated from the volume.
“A word of warning for your excellency. The streets are getting more violent as you know. The Cardinal has asked that I remind you of your greater duty to the people of Nordmaar. It would be a deep shame to your House if you were to become a victim of this war. Who would end the strife within your own borders?” and without further delay the Archbishop left the library in a swirl of blood red robes.