The Story of Tryrayl

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
The story of how a peasant farmer became a king. (Part of my series of short stories detailing the history of my fantasy world.)

Submitted: July 07, 2015

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Submitted: July 07, 2015

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Tryrayl had sworn never again to raise a weapon against another person unless it was to defend himself, and now the Leader was demanding that he use his ax to claim more lives. He turned away from the center of the village where the Leader was rousing the hatred of the people for another nearby village.

“We lost many of our animals this frozen season,” the Leader reminded them. “They have many more than they need. They will not give them freely, so we must take them by force!”

“Their animals, another village's fruits last hot season,” Tryrayl grumbled to himself. “Another's grains this dying season.”

“Don't allow him to hear you.”

Tryrayl spun around to find the source of the voice. In the doorway of a nearby house stood a young woman close to his age. He recognized her as Fyonia, one of the village healing women. She was giving him a thoughtful look, her brown hair falling into her sharp blue eyes. Nothing could ever be missed by a healing woman. They were almost as nosy as the priests.

“Are you going to tell him?” he asked, slightly worried.

She laughed. “No. I agree with you, but I won't let him hear that, either.”

“What should I do?” he asked, hoping she might have some advice. “I don't want to kill.”

“What is your solution to the killing?” she asked in response.

He did have a solution, one he'd been trying to tell others about for three full turns of the seasons. “You'll think it's foolish, just like anyone else I've told it to.”

She smiled. “We won't know unless you tell me.”

He ran a hand through his hair as he considered her words. It only took a moment for him to decide and he stepped closer to explain quietly, “I know that our village has weapons and tools that are better than what others have. Others have more animals or more plants to harvest. Instead of killing each other, we should find a way for everyone to live well. We could teach others how to make better weapons and tools, and they would give us animals and teach us to grow food better.”

“It seems wise to me,” she said thoughtfully. “It could be called 'trade' after you.”

Tryrayl laughed. “I don't need anything named after me, especially not something that will never come to be. Leader Thandian would never consider such a change to our ways.”

“He won't be Leader for eternity,” Fyonia pointed out. “Perhaps someone more open to change will come next.”

He snorted. “I won't bother to hope. I'll just go on trying to farm what plants I have.”

“Will you go to fight this time?”

“No. And if that means I am killed for not killing, so be it. I've had too much of the life of blood.”

She smiled. “I am no priest of the gods, but I believe this will be a good choice.”

He returned to the farm that he worked with his parents and siblings, and placed his ax on the floor in the corner of the small shack they lived in. He had no intention of lifting it again.

----------

Two nights later he was shaken awake only a short time after laying down for the night. Above him loomed his father, his normally tired expression transformed into one of anger.

“Why didn't you join the fight against the other village?” he demanded. “Now Thandian is demanding you present yourself to him."

Tryrayl rose and dressed. There was no reason to explain himself to his father, who had been questioning him since the fighters had left two days ago. He hadn't offered a reason then, and he surely wasn't offering one now. His father was the first to call his idea foolish to begin with.

Several men stood outside the house with torches. They grabbed his arms and pushed him toward the center of the village. He had no doubt that Thandian would kill him for not fighting. He'd seen it done to another man last dying season. The man had an injured hand and couldn't hold an ax, but Thandian had killed him for not fighting anyway.

Unlike him, though, Tryrayl would die for an idea, one that he was determined to share before he was killed.

Thandian stood before a large fire in the center of the village, along with many of the villagers. Some were still armed and bloodied. They had clearly just returned from fighting.

He also saw Fyonia, who had a fierce look in her eyes in the light of the fire in the center of the village.

The men escorting Tryrayl pushed him down to his knees before Thandian, then released him. He knew, though, that they would be ready to catch him if he tried to run. And where would he go? It was too early in the birthing season to live away from a shack so unprepared. Though at the moment he hardly felt the cold of the night.

“You did not fight with us,” Thandian stated, gazing down at Tryrayl. “Why?”

Tryrayl looked him directly in the eye. “I do not kill when it is not needed.”

The Leader kicked his knee. “Feeding your village isn't need enough?”

“Only if the fight comes to us first,” Tryrayl replied, trying not to show his pain.

That earned him another rough kick. “You must have a better way to get what we need then, don't you?”

Tryrayl knew that Thandian didn't truly want to know what he had to say, but he said it anyway. “Yes, I do. I call it 'trade'. We would share what we know with others, and they would share what they know with us. We teach and we learn, and we also give and receive food. Why kill, or have others kill us, when we could freely trade?”

Thandian laughed humorlessly. “Because that is cowardly. You are a coward.”

But Tryrayl heard murmurs in the crowd. It almost seemed that some agreed with him. Too bad they hadn't agreed with him before now. Maybe he could at least plant a seed of change in the village.

“At least I don't kill for the joy of it,” he spat. “The gods did not create a world for beasts such as you, they created a world where killing was only for survival.”

This time Trandian hit him across the face with the handle of his ax. “If we do not kill for food, we die, fool!”

Tryrayl tasted blood and it only made him feel braver. “We must kill the animals and the plants that we eat. We do not need to kill other people.”

“You do not understand the world, boy,” Thandian growled. “How many frozen seasons have you managed to survive at your mother's breast? Ten?”

“Nineteen.”

“And still you know nothing.” Thandian put his ax away and motioned to the others. “For your insults I've decided that you will have an agonizing death, not a swift one. Throw him into the fire.”

Tryrayl did his best to hide his renewed fear as he was dragged to his feet and toward the great fire behind Thandian. Knowing that he had gotten some people to accept his new idea was enough to help him accept his fate. Somehow, he knew that this night would change things here.

That was the thought that kept him from letting the terror overwhelm him.

He vaguely heard voices crying out, asking if this truly needed to be done and if he couldn't be spared. He was certain his mother's voice was among them.

More hands grabbed him and he was being lifted and moved ever closer to the heat of the fire. He closed his eyes in acceptance and sent one final prayer to the gods to help his people escape this life of killing and dying, to give them something more than Thandian and his cruel ways.

The hands released him and he was falling.

The heat was suddenly overwhelming and he could feel the flames burning his clothes and his skin. As hard as he tried he couldn't stop himself from screaming.

It was then that a wave of coolness enveloped him and a smooth, gentle male voice spoke in his mind. He knew that it must be Eryf, god of death, welcoming him to the spirit realm. But the words didn't seem right for such an event.

“Open your eyes, my son. Death is not part of the game this night.”

Tryrayl opened his eyes and found himself lying naked on the packed dirt of the center of the village. His skin wasn't burned, though his clothes and hair were gone. He sat up and looked around. The fire was gone, in its place only dying embers. The people of the village were still gathered, but they were utterly silent. And they were all kneeling, even Thandian.

When Tryrayl finally saw the figure to his right, he scrambled to his knees as well. It was the figure of what he assumed to be a man, going by the flat chest and the voice in his head – and the short beard that framed the face. The man was dressed in a red garment similar to a dress, however, and it was adorned like nothing Tryrayl had ever seen before, in blues and violets so vibrant they nearly hurt the eyes. On his head, over his short black hair, was a matching hat that looked incredibly strange, as it wasn't the wide kind useful for keeping the sun off. And he realized he could see the colors so well because the figure seemed to exist with his own light, almost seeming to glow from within.

Before him stood a god, and the god had saved his life.

“I grow weary of the constant war among the very people my mother created with love,” the god declared. “You have grown near to the gods in your skills with language and thought, but you are still far from our wisdom. That is clear. It saddens me to see such blind desire for blood when you were created for peace.”

He went to stand directly before where Thandian knelt. “You are not deserving of the title of 'leader'. You care only for power, not for what is truly needed by your people.”

When Thandian was visibly shaking enough for the god, he stepped back to address the crowd. “Let it be known that the only one worthy of being a leader here is this man, Tryrayl. He is the only one who desired to help his people in the best way possible. Because of this he will rule a kingdom, villages united as one nation.”

He turned to Tryrayl and placed something soft over him. Tryrayl was afraid to move, but could see that it was a cloak of red to match the god's strange clothing.

“You will be known as King Tryrayl and your kingdom will be known as Phelin. It will span from the river in the east, to the mountains in the north, to the sea to west and south. You will travel to every village in that area and find a way to bring them all together. Everyone you encounter will know you as the emissary of the god Raoifsi, by this cloak and by the visions of the priests. Begin your journey with the sun, and find a place to make your capital city.”

And with that, he was gone.

The village broke from its trance and everyone began speaking at once, asking what the god meant and what Tryrayl's plans were. In truth, Tryrayl didn't know the answers to those questions either. What river was he speaking of? How would he know it? What were mountains? And what was a sea?

“Let me tend to you,” a familiar voice said gently.

He looked up at Fyonia, kneeling beside him. “I'm well,” he managed to say.

She smiled. “If anything, you are too stunned to do anything. You'd best cover yourself with that cloak before you have every woman in the village begging to marry you. Blessed by the gods in more ways than one, I'd say.”

He quickly pulled the cloak around himself with a scowl. “Thank you.”

“Are you going to address the people?” she asked.

With a nod, he got to his feet, still keeping the cloak around him. Everyone fell silent as he stood. Suddenly, words and ideas he had never known before came to him. “I will need others to come with me. People who are hunters, for food and for protection from the wilds. Healers, too. Stores of food and waterskins. But I don't want the entire village to come. Someone will need to be a leader here while I'm gone. I will leave that choice to you, but Thandian is banished from this village.”

He looked around, but thankfully the former leader was nowhere to be seen.

“Those who wish to join me may meet here at dawn. Until then, goodnight.”

----------

The journey began at dawn, and lasted several years. They visited every village, trading knowledge for knowledge. Village Leaders agreed to recognize him as king and not to fight among each other, so long as they maintained control of their lands. To this, Tryrayl agreed.

Others joined the group as they traveled, offering to serve him in whatever way they could. They soon had a group of fighters he called an army, which defended him and each other during times of violence. Thankfully, there was little of that, but Tryrayl knew that peace would never last for eternity. He would need an army to defend their lands someday.

He also made it a point to learn from every villager he met. Some taught fighting with strange weapons called bows or swords. A man joined him to draw what he called a map of the kingdom, drawing on a collection of papers everywhere they went. Another small group of men and women, who called themselves scholars, joined them to write accounts of his travels. They claimed it would be useful for future generations and the general population of the kingdom. He let them do as they wished.

A woman named Cala showed him a system of keeping count of days, what he named a calendar. She had created a time called a year, which she then divided into the four seasons. Each season was then divided into three months, each day of each month with a number. This allowed for better records of history and would be highly useful in trade. She joined the travelers as well, and taught her system to the scholars.

He learned how to ride a horse in a village at the foot of the great mountains. The animals made travel much faster, and could carry supplies as well as humans. He tried new crops, food, and drink in every village. He was quick to learn that anything called “fermented” would lead to a strange feeling of weightlessness that he didn't much enjoy, though others did.

Many women wanted to marry him for the status it may give them, but he kept them all away, except for one. Fyonia had come with him as a healer, and after several months their relatively new friendship became something far stronger. She bore him two children before they finally selected a place to call the capital, after visiting every village they could find. It was a gently sloping hill that ended abruptly at a cliff above the river. It seemed like a good place to establish the ruling of the kingdom.

Fyonia named the land Ryal, something else based off his name. A sprawling village was built with a large house at the top of the hill for them. There was an elaborate ceremony in which Tryrayl formally wed Fyonia, and where they were both given crowns of gold – something that would last longer than the cloak. That was the day that Cala and the scholars declared the first year of he Third Era in Phelin.


© Copyright 2018 Ryder Bailey. All rights reserved.

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