The Origins of our Honor Shield
Jarof, son of Joval, a rich tradesman in the far off land of Han, was becoming a man today. It was his 13th year in these planes, and today there would be a great celebration. His two brothers had recently returned from a great hunt in the Mythical regions of the Nexus, bringing with them scars, but also great tales. Jarof's mother, Iun, had prepared a feast to end all feasts, for this was her last born, and after he left home in a few years, there would be nothing but an empty house, for her husband was often away. His brothers included the oldest, Kait, and the next in line, Fal. Kait brought with him a helm made from finely woven materials, and the strongest metal basing. Fal brought to Jarof a ring of such exquisite beauty that the maidens in the town would no doubt gawk in jealousy. While these gifts were extravagant and pricey, Jarof was not phased by them, sure, he feigned excitement and enthusiasm, but to him, they were nothing more than cheap trinkets, no, he awaited the gift which would make them all pale in comparison, the manhood gift from his father, Joval. Joval had given Kait a doubled edged sword, with a handle carved into which were lavish designs. It was made of the finest ivory, studded with jewels, and the blade made of the strongest fine metal. Fal had received a large plate of armor, from the moons, inlaid with gold, silver, ebony, and many other amazing materials. Now it was Jarof's turn, and oh, how he could not wait.
When Joval finally entered the large room in which the celebration was taking place, he brought with him a fairly long box. Placing it upon the table, he nodded to his son, and began to speak.
"Today is the day that I, as a father, die. My third and final son has now reached his manhood, and soon, he will leave my home. It is a sad day, but alas, a mighty one. My son has bestowed on me the greatest love and affection, and I will never forget the times spent down in the fishing pond, laughing and carrying on. But those times are over. He is a warrior now, destined surely to provide defense to these kingdoms, and beautiful grandchildren to myself and my wife. It is in this spirit that I dedicate this gift to my son, Jarof."
Jarof arose quickly, attempting to look as though he was doing so slowly, and could barely stop himself from leaping to the box. What could be inside? A sword? A fine dagger? Gold? Beautifully carved jewels? Who knew! As he laid his hands on the box, his father stepped aside, looking on in joy. Jarof now broke the seal, and opened it, and, much to his dismay, a long, clunky shield lay in the box. It was not laden with jewels, did not have ivory backing, or even a speck of gold. It was made of wood, plain and simple, with iron backing. Was this a joke? A funny prank played by his father? Would his real gift be awaiting him elsewhere? He turned to his father.
"Well, what do you think?", his father said eagerly.
"What do I think? I think you are joking. Tell me father, where is my real gift?" Jarof began to chuckle slowly, but, seeing no one else do so, stopped. "Tell me this is not my true gift, father! You are a wealthy tradesman, this shield is fitting for a peasant to wear!"
"Son..." His father's eyes died, looking on in disbelief of his own son's greed.
"What? Say it! Because I have nothing to say to you! How dare you insult me like this! Do you hate me? Is this your way of telling me I am unwanted? Well then I shall leave!" Jarof began to storm out, but then stopped, turned and went back to the box.
"I shall take this with me, to remind me of why I am alone. Because I am hated."
He snatched the shield from the box, slung it around his arm, and left. Once he was gone, he ran into the city and through the streets, not stopping until he reached a fairly large building with a sign post out front reading "Recruiting Office". Then, he stopped, sat on the front stoop, and wept.
Three years later, Jarof was a ranking Lieutenant in the Queen's army, having three tours of duty under his belt. The shield had been with him on all of these, as a reminder of why he was there, why he had exiled himself from his spiteful father and his spoiled brothers. He had grown to become a vengeful man, quite often brutalizing his enemy before cutting him loose the mortal coil. It would be on this day, that he would once again meet his brothers, but in battle. Their village had left the Han Monarchy and allied themselves with a small group of rogues, calling themselves the "Guides of the Sun", or 'GoS', and taken up arms against the Queen. Jarof's division was sent in to quickly dispatch the problem, and he went in thinking he would do so with no complications. That day in the woods surrounding his old home, he had met them in battle, locking swords ferociously. As they laid into each other, they grunted back and forth semi-coherent speech.
"Father...loved you...you brat!" Fal spat
"No.....he... spat in my... face with this... shield!" Jarof countered.
"Fool! That shield is... more than... you deserve!" Fal was getting impatient.
They clanked their blades against each others' and locked into combat. As they did, Jarof slowly gained the upper hand, eventually knocking Fal's blade from his hand. Kneeling before him with his blade to Fal's throat, Jarof looked up briefly, and as he did, he saw his mother again. She was being beaten by two servicemen, and his father being dragged away with equal detail. Swallowing hard, Jarof looked back down to his brother, blocking out these images.
"Kill me then, brother, you dishonorable wretch."
"Excuse me? Who has served three tours of duty in her Majesty's service, and who is a dirty rebel, seeking more than he needs?"
"Dirty rebel? Do you even know what is going on in your capital? Corruption runs rampant, power is bought with money, not work, and the common folk are trampled on."
Jarof looked up again, this time seeing his mother huddled on the ground, crying as she bled. He dropped his blade.
"Honor? We shall see what honor is brother."
Jarof slowly drew his military-issue dagger from his vest and ran to his mothers assailants, who then stood over her, taunting her. As he ran, his shield hit his side, and when he reached them, he quickly slit the throat of the first, and engaged the second in combat. He quickly dispatched of this one as well. Helping his mother to her feet, he kissed her gently, and apologized for himself. He then went off, to find his father.
"Come out! Where is my father? Where have you taken him?" Jarof cried into the bloodstained streets. Finally, a man came from a building, and looked at Jarof questioningly. He told Jarof his duty was not to find his father, but to kill rebels. He scoffed at him, and returned to his building. Jarof approached the building and knocked down the door. There stood the man, and behind him, Jarof's father, tied to a seat, seemingly being interrogated.
"Leave now, soldier! That is an order!" The officer looked at Jarof in contempt.
"Take up a blade, officer, because I shall not leave without my father."
The officer laughed heartily, and took up his large broadsword.
"So be it," He smiled, and lunged for Jarof.
Quickly stepping aside, Jarof parried his attacker's blow and began to duel him, rapidly, splittingly, and honorably. As they battled, Jarof began to be forced into using his shield more and more to parry blows, for the man was just too tricky, using tactics such as spitting in Jarof's face, and attempting to trip him. Jarof refused to sink to his level, and kept his fight up, courageously. Finally, the man struck the shield so hard it stuck to the wood for a moment, and as he pulled it out, Jarof came around again this time swinging fiercely, and took the mans head clear off.
Dropping the blade taken from the soldiers, Jarof stepped to his father's side, removing his gag, and slicing his bonds with his dagger.
"Why, son? Why?" His father began to weep.
"I was spoiled, father. I didn't understand why you would give me such a worthless item, when you had bestowed upon my brothers such beautiful items. I realize now that this doesn't mean anything. You are still my father, and I apologize. But it still plagues me; why did you give this shield to me? It is so cheap." Jarof said, looking puzzled.
"Take another look, son." His father was crying now, but nodded to his son's shield.
The shield had now taken on an extravagant white glow, shining from head to foot, made of some strange and amazing material. It was almost glowing, a thing of beauty. Jarof could not speak, he was so awe-inspired.
"You were simply not ready for it. You are now." His father stood up slowly, and they hugged.