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ℜ𝔢𝔫𝔞𝔲𝔩𝔱 𝔅𝔢𝔞𝔲𝔪𝔬𝔫𝔱

"Judgment in the eyes of the holy has been passed. You may pronounce divine judgment in the eyes of our god upon the next."
Releasing a breath he didn't realize he was holding, Renault felt something wash over him - a stirring of the heart, of the spirit. Stepping back from the bars, Renault's stance seemed uncertain, like he was afraid of falling.

Choosing instead to sit, Renault drew his knees in towards his chest and rested his head upon them, as if trying to imitate a posture of prayer. But no prayer formed, either on his lips or in his thoughts.

Quentin was next to be judged, and met his invitation with confidence born of apparent contempt. Mighty and indomitable as the gods were, the most irreverent of mortals only had to look up to spit in their eye. The priest's response was measured and thoughtful, echoing sermons of the temple. Though the more jaded among them might have found the priest's words to be not more than waxing theology, Renault felt a silent comfort. It was something beyond nostalgia...homesickness. He remembered the years spent in the temple back home, the fresh air perfumed by the censer's incense; priests in their ornate ceremonial robes, and Renault, himself in resplendent plate armor, bearing the sword-and-shield of his faith.

Then he remembered the sound of that same armor stripped and scattered upon the cold marble floor; his cloak torn from his shoulders, and his blade sheathed within the fabric. Grimly, Renault swallowed hard. No...this meant nothing.

Looking up to see the priest walk away from their cell, Renault could only hear his voice calling to Gorosk, offering Erithar's unbiased judgment even to one of 'cursed blood', as it was said. With the same words echoed now a third time, Renault knew only one remained: the pseudo-giantess Vah'Lux.

Puzzled, Renault was unsure on how a Goliath would perceive such a ritual, and how Erithar would reconcile it. The woman was silent, a stoic defense that neither admitted guilt nor professed innocence. She would not submit to justice or try to resist the spell, but simply weather it. Renault had to wonder if such endurance was a hallmark of her people, or a trait acquired through discipline and hardship.

With the words spoken a fourth and final time, both men withdrew from the prison and made way toward the entrance. Unable to discern what was being said, Renault reasonably pieced together that it had something to do with the test they had all been subject to, and what that meant for their final fates.

Rising again to his feet, Renault decided that he would accept his sentence with whatever small grace he could muster from within the cell. From the very first words spoken by the town justice, Renault found himself speechless aside from a choked sound he was unable to restrain. Innocent in the eyes of the divine. Renault struggled to even process the words as they were spoken. For seven years, he had felt his guilt upon his back, against his chest, and wrapped around his ankles. It was a part of him now. But for a moment - and only a moment - it felt as if the weight had been lifted.

"Have the guilty anything to say before the justice?"

Half-afraid and half-uncertain, the dangling glimmer of hope that their sentence held in front of it drew Renault's eyes, and with it, an assuredness he hadn't felt in years.

"We will not fail."
ℜ𝔢𝔫𝔞𝔲𝔩𝔱 𝔅𝔢𝔞𝔲𝔪𝔬𝔫𝔱

Was he dreaming? No...nightmare. Flashes of discordant sounds and images painted a horrific canvas; images that were so personal, yet tainted by sin and shame. In his head, he reached out, reaching for the one thing that could save him. But he took one step too far, and the ground beneath him fell.

Plummeting through shadow, his lifeline grew smaller, dimmer, heralded by a lone shriek.

A cloister bell began to ring.

"...Up, and up now." The ringing faded, eclipsed by the gruff voice of the jailer rapping his boot against the iron bars. With eyes weakly opening, Renault's lethargy lasted only a few moments when he saw who the jailer was accompanied by. A weight formed in his chest, followed by a tightening of the throat. This was it.

The nervousness he felt was only exacerbated by the first words spoken by the holy man: the Test of Purity. For ten years, Renault had seen such rituals performed by clerics, and even certain Paladins in the field. Their shared ability to ascertain one's motives and alignment all-but-trivialized many disputes, and hastened a process that could otherwise take days or even weeks.

Slowly rising to his feet on stiff, wobbly legs, Renault's mouth fell open as the priest drew back his hood and revealed the wooden symbol of Erithar worn around his neck. Overwhelmed with shame, Renault quickly bowed his head, as if subconsciously hoping the priest would not recognize his face. The absence of his own pendant made him feel naked, vulnerable.

Next came the words Renault had heard a hundred times a hundred different ways, yet this time more harrowing than the last. "May the holiest of holies, the name of our great sacred protector and judge of that which is righteous and good, find you all without stain in his vision for us all."

"May it be so." Renault responded, half to himself, and half to an unknown audience. Swallowing hard, he lifted his head to meet the priest's gaze. "I will go first." He said, the bravery in his voice wavering ever-so-slightly. "Judgment is an old friend." Taking one step closer towards the bars, Renault bowed slightly in deference, submitting himself.
ℜ𝔢𝔫𝔞𝔲𝔩𝔱 𝔅𝔢𝔞𝔲𝔪𝔬𝔫𝔱

What tensions had risen within the cramped confines of the prison dissipated just as quickly. With a heavy sigh, Renault seemed to visibly deflate, slumping against the wall and letting gravity take him down again. Even as he spoke, the words felt hollow coming out. How could one be expected to make the most of this - confinement. As it seemed, if the four of them weren't sentenced to death, it was just-as-likely they'd be left here to starve. Easy for a man to go mad within these walls that whisper such cruelties.

Though Renault had spent the last seven years trying to escape his past, coincidence -- or fate-- found him here with nothing else to draw upon. The Holy Order of Andallia taught him the value of poverty and humility. Noble sons that they were, those who joined were poor fellows united by faith and restrained by discipline. To live a comfortless life was devotion, and to deny yourself was to achieve closeness with Erithar.

So here he was: Andallia's most devout outcast.

Swallowing once, he mustered the breath and courage needed to speak again. "I've read about your people before - the Goliaths. Though more...conjecture than anything else, I suppose. What cruel fate brought you here?"
ℜ𝔢𝔫𝔞𝔲𝔩𝔱 𝔅𝔢𝔞𝔲𝔪𝔬𝔫𝔱

If realization hadn't told Renault that Gorosk was Orc-Blooded, then Vah'lux's response certainly did. The woman who mere moments ago was still and quiet as a statue, suddenly began spouting utterances in her native language. The words were alien to Renault, but one's tone-of-voice transcends language barriers, and Vah'lux was angry.

"I thought I smelled the cowardly blood of an Orc..." She finally spat in Common, venom dripping with every word. With hands clasped firmly 'round the bars of her cell, Renault wondered for a moment if she'd pry them apart in her subdued fury.

Blindly scouring his hand across the ground to find the wall beside him, Renault propped himself up to his feet, every movement drawing cracks and pops from his joints that were accompanied by an appropriate grimace.

The two began exchanging barbed remarks, and it was evidently clear that any experience Vah'lux had with Orcs was a negative one. Not surprising, perhaps even the standard. Orc war bands and raiding parties were sadly not uncommon, and Renault's blade had been called upon more than once to defend the unprotected villages. But a Half-Orc...Renault had heard stories of Orc warlords forcing themselves on female captives, whether a progeny was expected or even intended was a different story.

Putting the grim thought behind him, Renault moved until he, too, was pressed against the cold iron bars. "There's no use in quarreling here, we're all brothers and sisters in binds, now. We're going to be here awhile, best make the most of it."

ℜ𝔢𝔫𝔞𝔲𝔩𝔱 𝔅𝔢𝔞𝔲𝔪𝔬𝔫𝔱

Silence. Renault bowed his head, scooting away from the bars back towards his corner of the cell. The wall was clammy and uncomfortable, but at this point, familiar. Not much else one could do here than rest, or think. A man in his position might pray, but Renault hadn't prayed in a very long time. As if on instinct, he drew a hand up towards his chest, pressing against the fabric of his dirtied undershirt. They had taken his pendant. By the gods, was nothing sacred?

For so long, he had carried the weight of that pendant with him, part of him now. Why couldn't he remember them taking it? Resting the back of his head against the wall, Renault bunched the fabric of his shirt between his fingers, as though willing the necklace to appear. Hitching a lone breath, he let his hands fall to the floor.

"I am Gorosk." The words pierced the silence, seeping through the cracks in the stonework. It was the voice of his unseen companion, answering Renault's call intended for the newest arrival. For the few times Renault had spoken with the disembodied voice, its name was not one of the things revealed.

Gorosk...Renault hung on the name for longer than a moment, as though he were meditating on it. He wondered where he might've heard such a name, racking his brain for anything from his time spent in both Dorrathar and Andallia.

When another voice spoke to his left, Renault turned head towards his fellow occupant: the man with the graying black hair. Introducing himself as Quentin, Renault nodded once in understanding.

"Renault," he answered hoarsely, his own name sounding, for the briefest of moments, unfamiliar. All his old titles: Ser Renault of House Beaumont, Ser Renault de Andallia, now faded to dust. His family name was only a memory; who was he now but Renault Oathbreaker?

There was solidarity in the fact that this Quentin did not reveal his surname, either. Perhaps he, too, had something to hide, something that led him to this same cell. If so, then the two of them had more in common than Renault initially believed. But solidarity or not, Renault would keep his full name to himself, for now.

As soon as Renault answered, Quentin took to straining against the iron-wrought bars of their cage, as if strength and will alone would bend them. "Save your strength," he began to say, the harshness of his voice vanishing with further use. "If you couldn't bend steel before, doubtful you could now."

It was then the woman of mighty stature decided to speak, proving she understood Common, at the very least. Vah'lux. Like Gorosk, the name did not strike Renault as one being immediately familiar, but he knew that after taking one look at her. This woman had traveled some ways to be here.

Renault thought of something, some...word of encouragement he could offer; to her, to the other denizens of the prison. But no speech formed, no address of optimism, for there was none to be had. What had gone so wrong all those years ago - for a man of faith to find himself without conviction?
Thank you!!!
I'd like to have my Guild name changed to "Lord Wyron" please. Sixteen year old me thought Ghost Shadow was the coolest thing ever, but 22 year old me disagrees. Thank you!
ℜ𝔢𝔫𝔞𝔲𝔩𝔱 𝔅𝔢𝔞𝔲𝔪𝔬𝔫𝔱

"Not-- not a vagrant." was Renault Beaumont's lone defense to his charges, croaked through a bloody lip as the militia dragged him through the heavy reinforced door of the prison. He was unable to focus; everything around him a blurred, distorted mess. Was the world spinning from the wine he drank? Or the swift, merciless beating he received from his captors? Two were more alike than he knew, and at the very least, one did not avail the other.

Thrown into his cell with a discard that bordered on contemptuous, Renault groaned as his battered body met the hard ground. With the sudden motion threatening to expel the contents of his stomach, Renault clenched his jaw tight, not daring to so much as part his lips until the nausea passed. After a minute or two of measured breathing bolstered by sheer willpower, Renault let out a held breath, finally able to get his bearings. Moving into a seated position, Renault pushed himself back until he was pressed against the damp stone wall of his new home.

Though still dizzy and beset by what felt like a blacksmith's hammer pounding against the anvil of his skull, Renault could not stave away the fatigue that washed over him. Within minutes of sitting down, his eyes slowly drifted shut, and his head fell forward; a single snore heralding what would be a deep, restless slumber.

Upon waking, the consequences of Renault's actions had become more apparent. His mouth was filled with the taste of blood and bile, and a stiffness had settled into his joints, eliciting a dull ache every time he moved. The pounding in his head had grown incessant, boring deeper into his brain. Though sore and sluggish, instinct at the unfamiliar set in, and Renault's hand shot for his hip, catching air.

Remembering where he was and what had happened, Renault cursed under his breath before being wracked with a coughing fit that sent waves of sharp pain through his chest. Ribs were bruised, broken maybe; a souvenir left from the militia. For a time, he thought himself alone in the prison, its sole resident. How long would he be left here? Weeks? Months? Maybe years? Would he go mad, reduced to a starved, raving animal before expiring? Would be a fitting fate, he supposed.

A sensible man might have wept, or shouted, pleading his innocence against the uncaring stone. But Renault did no such thing, his sense long given way to brooding. He laughed bitterly to himself, huddling in the corner and resting his head against the dank wall. But soon he realized he wasn't alone, another was there with him, an invisible brother in chains.

The phantom voice tried speaking to him, and though Renault answered, he was not totally forthright. It was not for secrecy's sake, but for shame; cruel memories best not recalled. Renault would keep their bitterness to himself, leave the wounds to fester in his heart.

Time dragged on, and Renault could scarcely tell the hour, let alone the day. His only indicator of time was whether the prison was dark or...slightly darker. But when the militia came back and the orange glow of their torch-lights beamed through the barred windows, Renault perked up from a half-asleep daze; bits of straw stuck in his matted hair.

Any questions Renault had to the militia's presence were answered by the sight of a third prisoner being dragged through the front door: a weatherworn man, dark-haired and sun-beaten. Tossed into Renault's cell with somehow less care than they had with him, now there were two.

Not even a full day later, the militia returned a second time. This time their captive was a woman: tall and thickly made, she seemed a giant to the untrained eye. But a giant she was not, at least not fully. Though human in appearance, size notwithstanding, her skin was the color of slate, and presumably just as durable. Shackled, chained, and bolted, it was uncertain whether the woman was so heavily-restrained out of fear or necessity. Had she come willingly? Or were her hands stained crimson with the blood of the militiamen?

Led into a cell of her own and her charges announced, Renault noted no mention of murder or assault. Though perhaps rightly-feared, this woman, as far as he knew, was no active violent threat.

With their 'food' distributed and the entrance sealed, silence fell once more on the prison. A silence that one never grew used to. It was the silence of trapped isolation, of captivity. No warm bed to sleep on or furs to crawl under, no rest from a day's labor. It was stagnation in a five-foot square.

Crawling towards the barred door of his cell, Renault pressed his face against the cool metal, looking across the hall and into the dark void of the vacant cell. Licking his lips to alleviate their dryness, Renault asked a single question, letting it echo off the walls of the prison:

"What's your name?"
Been racking my brain for days and just haven't been able to settle on any ideas! I'm probably gonna back out of this one and free up space for someone who has a more solid character in mind. Good luck everyone!! :)
This is p incredible! I'm gonna do some character thinking over the day and hopefully, hopefully start on a sheet proper after work tonight :)
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