The Queen's Crown

"Pissin' on The Crown" - A soldier’s term meaning "being exceedingly foolish"

...Moontower behind me, and the dreams of The Strange Strait a distant and fading memory, I continued over the Imperial Bay. It still astonished me, the amount of travelers who came along this white-stoned behemoth, flowing westward like a spring creek.

It was here, above the shining bay and just shy of my 7th tenday on the Crown, that I was greeted by some of the elusive group I had hoped to see during my round.

Backlit like a theater troupe, I saw them approach from the West. Their trimmed armor gouged and torn, a dull mirror to their own faces and bodies. Behind them they pulled a wrought iron cart twice the height of any person I had ever seen, wrapped with spikes and chains, it emanated the mute threat of an undrawn sword, of danger beyond my control. The stench which permeated from this foul buggy seemed to defy the wind, and invaded my sense like a dagger through the heart. Eyes down, hands moving in a multitude of blessed ways, citizens and pilgrims parted around them, as if they were boulders in this stream.

And so I stood in that setting light, the unplumbed depths of my favorite bottle singing a sailor's lullaby as the liquid within turned, and offered my company for the night.

My famous charms did not fail me that night, and my even more famous curiosity was finally sated at the fire we shared under the twinkling guidance of Insadod's Bow. Travelling the crown in spite of their rivalry with The Tollmen, this haggard crew had been travelling for three days and nights from Moontower, where a grieving noble had gathered the attention of The Quillion to an eldritch beast which stalked pious travelers along the road to Contath.

We talked at length that night, my new found friends and I. Once the wine had warmed through their bodies, they were a joyous, but oft somber band. We spoke of war, and of conquest. We laughed as we recounted friends long past. And we said our blessings and prayers for the times to come.

I often think back to this night on the Crown, as the tedium of the stone wore away the soles of my shoes in the year to come. I remember the good cheer of those soldiers, of the pride they held in their rank. I remember the tales of horror they recounted in their years as Slayers.

I can recall all-too-well the slaughtered beast, tied down with iron chains, it's jaws broken, teeth plucked. I had seen kin of this serpent before, though none I knew of would dare to challenge such a minacious devil.

And though the wine had dulled our senses, and the fire had bore away most of the retching stench, I remember most of all the fetid and rotting reek of the corpse they carried back, a brutal reminder of the strength of the Athalan Empire.

Heriburn Pebblesquabble,

From the book The Round, My Travels Along The Queen's Crown