THE TARTAN TEMPLAR
THE MOST UNBEARABLE RESPITE
When the ancient arcana bloodline dipped briefly into the Scottish clans, specifically Clan MacGregor, a small thread of families was seeded and the fruits were Roylock's great-grandfather and his descendants. Originally known as Roy Locke MacGregor, he was born on 14th October, 1878. He grew up learning his family history, traditions, and divine duty, never being spared by his father, grandfathers, and uncles from becoming a prominent warrior, leader, and templar. From childhood into teenhood, he soon married his predetermined bride and carried on the family lineage alongside his three older brothers and their children, as well as their baby sister, who remained unwed yet not unloved. Unfortunately, in a huge alchemist attack against their chateau (country house), the entire clan was almost lost; All survivors were taken in and sheltered by Roylock's grieving family. He also never saw his sister again, although he suspects that she is still alive somewhere in the world, being cared for directly by God's angels and set aside for a future purpose of His choosing.
As a short, sallow 32-year-old man, Roylock was neither barbarically ugly nor gentlemanly charming. His dark orange hair was clipped in the front, forming a sharp widow's peak, and became longer in the back as elaborate braids of flame. Like a wildfire, pointy muttonchops dominated his cheeks, united by a well-groomed, mustachioed bridge; Such unchecked burnt orange likened his obnoxiously bulbous and hookish nose to a broken spigot. His bronze buttonlike eyes seemed perpetually squinted under the weight of his bushy, cranky eyebrows.
As fatally observed in Beijing by Chinese asylums (and a few of our unlikely asylum heroes currently in Louisiana), this 4' 7" and 108-pound Scotsman was built for warfare; His stocky body was gaunt and sinewy, as though he kept himself purposely starved of luxury. He wielded heavy hands that were large-knuckled and calloused, much like his personality and short, pointed speech. His legs, chiseled by long fast-moving marches, were highly conditioned against exhaustion. Although a quiet little soul who spoke with a soft, musical accent, a throaty undertone marked him with an insidious edginess that could suddenly brandish an intimidating, coercive authority – his foes would had never thought that someone like him could harbor such vocal cords.
Deep in the Scottish highlands in a most discreet location, even sheltered by prying eyes in the sky, a small but well-made log house rested on a foundation of sturdily chiseled and refined bauxite, the grass around it green and wet. To ignorant eyes, it would seem the house might belong to a hermit, but in reality, it was a mysterious shrine; for upon closer inspection were various symbols and such etched into the wooden structure, as well as the stone pillars within. It was of course a rainy day, the sun peeking through dark clouds as faint tear drops fell, greeting the many inhabitants below with a wet embrace. This included a small man, busily chopping firewood for the evening cold that would come. Dressed simply with boots, leggings, and tunic, the Scot's ax gleamed as he raised it by a worn handle--a plentiful stack of 'quartered' rounds behind him to show his work. Bringing it down perfectly, one half felt compelled (by force no doubt) to make some distance from him, in fact, it hurled toward the back entrance of his shrine.
He grunted, picking up the other half, but then stopped immediately instead of retrieving the strayed piece. Roylock had felt it before he saw it, but it was still rather fast. Though tensed by the abrupt arrival of another person, it was not with a sense of anticipation, nor dread--he knew who it was, but for the lack of a better phrase, he was still mad at him. His beady, squinted eyes watched the heavily armored man, cloaked in the shadow of the shrine, bend down and pick up the quartered wood. Holding it out to him, an unseen smile spread over the guest's face, subtly veiled madness furling underneath like the muscles under a jungle cat's fur.
Roylock ignored the offer, instead opting to share his disapproval through a proper stare. It would perhaps be amusing to see such a tiny dwarf staring up at a very tall, very well-built man known to some as the TITAN TEMPLAR and others as the GLASS CANNON OF THE HOLY ARCANA. Indeed, Damien Lucilius stood a towering 2 or so feet higher than his fellow arcana--but not that Roylock cared, for to him all foes (friends and otherwise) were insects and weeds.
That is all: insects and weeds, for he was the gardener.
"Oh, Roylock, have you still not let go of your anger against me?" the man asked quietly, his voice strong but measured, "It was for our own good, you know...it was not yet time for those filthy sinners to feel our full strength..."
Roylock grunted, a shrug to his shoulders indicating his indifference. As he turned his back to Damien and tended to his stack of wood, the offending scene had already began to flashback in his mind:
As if reading his mind, Damien reinforced the necessity, "And that time is still coming, in fact it is nearly upon us. Though, Roy, where are your bondservants? Haven't you read the reports they've brought here?"
"......We need to return immediately.......everyone back to the temple RIGHT NOW!"
The Titan Templar suddenly screamed, forgetting about everything and anything; they only had one concern along with the fear that it was probably way too late.
Adhering to his commands all nearby Arcanas instantly began to retreat, all except MacGregor whose anger towards the asylums had only elevated to a point where all rationality escaped him. He was in fact almost foaming at the mouth.
"The time to fight will come, but right now we must tend to our fears. So let go of your anger and follow us!"
Damien replied angrily, holding the Tartan Templar by his collar and instantly pushing him forward, after which both of their bodies began to radiate in a blinding light and before anyone could even think of apprehending them, they were gone.
"Home. An' no..." Roylock replied lowly, his tone almost a growl.
Damien clicked his tongue, shaking his head as the two of them retreated into the shrine, Roylock's arms loaded with a heaping stack of wood. Tending to an unlit stove, Damien sat with his back against the wall across from his friend, his armor clinking against the interior stone wall. His mind was racing; how could he calm his brother in arms and rally his enthusiasm for the war to come? For indeed, it was war... perhaps the one thing that MacGregor lived for.
Damien smiled. "The treaty between A.M.R.O. and our Holy Arcana was officially severed some time ago..." those powerful words washed over Roylock, his very body stiffening to the impact of their meaning.
Still kneeling, he looked over at Damien, a glint of excitement in his slightly-more-open eyes. A grin tugged at the left side of his mouth. "It is true," Damien nodded, "So you have much to be thankful for, Roylock, as do I..."
"Amen," Roylock nodded, turning back to his firemaking.
"Amen," Damien repeated, a chuckle under his breath.
"Still, the latest report brought by the Spider Templar's scouts troubles me. It seems the Asylum scum are equally clueless regarding that 'plague'... I do not know what this means for us, but we cannot afford to let it grow any larger than it is... so..." Damien explained, then paused. Both men knew what was coming.
It was a documented fact that while the arcanas fought to exterminate the asylums and rid their insanity-inducing alchemy from the world, the world itself--meaning animals and regular humans--would suffer many causalities; arcanas often destroyed entire towns just to be sure all alchemists were obliterated. As a self-styled and large-scale land-sculptor, Roylock had seen the state of Louisiana... its swampland would make for an interesting ... project.
"Yer..." Roylock gestured with a hand, indicating for his friend to carry on. He sat back on his haunches, watching the fire glow to life.
"We may yet run into some interesting... weeds..." Damien grinned, using Roylock's personal diction, "when we arrive. From Beijing, if you'll recall."
Roylock chuckled, nodding. "And their shed blood will have washed away this most unbearable respite for us, hm?" Damien concluded.
The Scot looked at Damien squarely in the eye, and muttered, "Damn righ'..." as he pulled out a piece of floss and cleaned his teeth.
The fire burned with delight, the dirty bark within cracking under the might of the hungry fire's intense heat. This would soon be the literal parallel for our asylum heroes in that dinky ol' town.