While waiting at Lord
I saw a small company of guards enter the courtyard surrounding a strange
little man. The guards only appeared to be escorting him, but I had the
distinct feeling that he would not have been allowed to leave. Intrigued,
I followed at a safe distance.
They went south past the stables, then up into a guardroom.
The man was brought back to the dining area and sat down on a bench. All
of the guards then left but two. I caught the attention of one as he was
leaving and asked him who the man was.
"Who, him?" He asked pointing toward the
dining area. "He was a member of that group who caused those earthquakes.
He left the group and asked us for protection." I asked if I could
speak to him. The guard hesitated, then said that he saw no harm in it.
I noticed he remained to keep an eye on me though.
As I entered the dining area where the man sat, I
looked him over. He had dark hair that had grown to a long, unkempt length.
Short whiskers adorned his chin. He wore simple clothes that would have
allowed him to blend with your average city crowd. He watched me warily
as I entered and sat down across from him.
"Who art thee?" he asked.
"Just someone who's curious about things," I replied. "I
was wondering if I could ask thee about thy..."
"My what?" he interrupted. "If ye mean the Followers
of Armageddon, I'm no longer with them."
"Followers of Armageddon? But I thought..."
Again he interrupted me, anticipating my thoughts. "Nay, we changed
our name a full cycle ago. Just didn't bother to announce it, 'tis all."
"Why the change?" I asked.
He shrugged. "It has something to do with wisps. And that they
were the ones who brought the armageddon spell into Britannia. Makes
no real difference to me any more what they call themselves."
He reached across the table and pulled a bottle of ale closer to him.
This is when I noticed he was missing the thumb and index finger from
his left hand.
"Aah," he said, "I see ye've noted my hand. 'Tis why
they call me Branson One-Thumb. Lost it when I was a mere lad. I was
in the smithy with my father. He was crafting some daggers to sell at
the market. I remember him telling me to sit still. I reached up onto
the anvil to try and see what was happening. My pappa didn't see my
hand until it was too late. They had to remove what was left of the
thumb and the finger."
I winced in sympathy as he told this. "Why did ye leave the Followers
of Armageddon, Branson?"
He suddenly looked embarrassed. "Well... uh... I... um..."
He looked around as if trying to find an escape route, but a guard blocked
the one door out. "I..." he started again, "I fell in
love." He looked sheepishly towards anything but me.
I have to admit, I was a bit nonplused. Of all the possible reasons
I had considered, this was not remotely close to expected. "You
fell in love? Why did this cause you to leave?"
"Well," he responded, "I don't exactly want her to be
smackered when they cast that spell. What kind of love would that be?"
Difficult to argue with such logic. "Tell me more about the Followers
of Armageddon," I asked Branson.
"There's not much more I can tell ye. I know they want to cast
that spell, but I don't know why. I never thought much of it - there
aren't many who will give work to someone with only half a left hand.
But they did." Branson paused, looking at his mangled hand. "Few
indeed. I learned to hide and spy on those they told me to watch. Quite
I nodded understanding. 'Tis often a cruel land, and those who miss
a single step can easily stumble and not get back up.
At this point, a guard entered the room and spoke
in whispers to the other guards. He then walked over to me. "Thou
hast had time enough to ask thy questions. I must now insist that thou
I nodded and stood. As I did so, they began to usher Branson out of the
door. I quickly called out to him, "Branson! Who's the leader of
the Followers of Armageddon? Who's behind all this?"
"W..." he began. Without warning, he stuttered
a bit and his eyes flew wide open. A trickle of blood formed on the corner
of his mouth. He collapsed, and then I saw the kryss handle protruding
from his back. The guard who had come in at the end was fighting off the
other guards and then disappeared with "Kal Ort Por" echoing
off the walls. I stared at them all in complete shock as understanding
began to worm it's way into my head. Kneeling down beside Branson, I slid
his eyelids down over his eyes. He was now truly free of the Followers
of Armageddon. I felt an intense chill run down my spine as I walked out
of the guardroom and left the castle. I needed an ale as quickly as possible...
From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online, Wednesday, August