Tiny violet flowers hugging short grasses sway gently in spring’s first breeze. Hammering is heard upon a rising hill. Men and women are laboring to raise the frame of a wall and hammer it upon supports. A lone wall stands.
Dressed in simple clothes, dirtied by a long day of work, Telgaunt hangs a crude sign upon the wall frame that reads, “The Fellowship.” The laborers lay down their hammers after a long day’s work and gather on the soft grasses to hear Telgaunt speak.
The priest clasps his hands and nods in reverence. He thanks each of the wide varieties of individuals with a warm gaze and smile. Each smiles back, sincerely.
He finally speaks, “We gather here today to celebrate the cold and unforgiving winter finally loosening its grasp upon the land. We gather here today upon Bryn Hill to thank the Widow Wynne for gifting us the land to build our first church to The Fellowship.”
The gathered crowd cheers before calming as the priest holds up his hand.
“I know it will take another few months to build our church, but here among nature coming back to life will suit us well in the coming days. However, I want you to ponder something my children. A question that I have been pondering myself.”
The Fellowship raises their brow and leans closer.
“What is the price of freedom,” asks the priest.
“The Widow Wynne has gifted us this spot to give her some sense of freedom from the loss of her dear Bryn and Jonathan. The cost of this fertile land for us to erect our church is her price to once again give her freedom and peace.
“I have another story of the price of freedom. A dark story, but very important to hear.”
“It may be no mystery to some of you that I have accompanied what I have dubbed the Nyrgärde – a band of heroes with a goal of ensuring the evils of this unforgiven land are vanquished. And vanquish evil, they have.”
“Just a few nights ago, we traveled to the Priestess Segolia’s temple. I’m sure many of you have visited her to cure any ailments or worse,” Telgaunt nods to a Fellowship member carrying a deep scar on his face, “you might have received healing for unfortunate accidents while you tirelessly work your farm to feed the people of Nyrheim.”
“It was that night we learned Priestess Segolia had a dark secret. She had been kissed by a vampyr most accursed.”
The Fellowship lets out a chorus of gasps.
“A hundred years ago she was cursed by the vampyr Asturiel and with his blood coursing in her body, she was forced to serve him. In those hundred years, Asturiel made her do horrible things. However, only recently she found a path to her freedom. She made a deal with the Lords of Nyrheim to give her prisoners of war – loathsome creatures that have acted to see our home burn.”
The Fellowship is entranced, worried.
“By sacrificing these vile creatures, she was able to ward off her master’s control over her and gained her freedom. In exchange for those already condemned to die, she vowed to heal and save many of us from sickness or injury.” Once again the priest nods to the deeply scarred Fellowship member.
“But alas, as you know, Nyrheim is safer – mostly in part due to the tireless efforts of the Nyrgärde. There were fewer and fewer creatures trying to burn us out of our homes. And that is when she refused to give up her freedom from Asturiel. She turned to kidnapping our brothers and sisters to sacrifice them for her continued freedom.”
A woman in The Fellowship cries as she holds her daughter close and rubs a locket, a memento of her dead husband.
“The Nyrgärde confronted her in the temple, and her blood boiling with rage, she attacked.”
Telgaunt lowers his head in reverence.
“What is the price of freedom? Was she vindicated in her need to sacrifice those foul creatures that intended us harm? What about her abducting and sacrificing those close and dear to us?”
He shakes his head.
“I don’t know. Could we have helped her to gain her freedom in exchange for her gift of healing? I wonder.”
He pauses, The Fellowship silent.
“The price of her freedom cost her her life and the lives of many others. I wonder if we could have shared in that cost and been free together. Now Nyrheim is one less healer. Where some would applaud this outcome, The Fellowship is uncertain. And where there is a void, The Fellowship has vowed to help those in need as Segolia once did. I am a lowly cleric but my goddess answers my prayers. Should the injured or sick seek refuge, The Fellowship will be there to help.”