Brennan Rising

Cover image by Pete Linforth

The city of Septa was filthy, and it was getting dirtier every day. Men and women in the streets, sinning before The Creator and their fellow man. Whores wandered the boardwalks between the deep city canals, laughing brazenly as they tempted men to sin. Men, oh so willing to follow them.

Brother Brennan walked through the boardwalks of the city, eyes down with his black hood over his face, lest he be recognized. His face, pockmarked and hard as carved stone, was far too recognizable.

There was a time when holy men like him didn’t have to hide their faces. They could walk the boardwalks in the open, given the respect they were due. There was a time when the streets were filled with nothing but pureblood Septans. Creator fearing men. Clean women who understood their place.

The fall of the city was the fault of the Mestonie family. The self-proclaimed noble family, who’d sworn to stamp out the Monks of the Silent Path. They weren’t Septan, they descended from an invader, who traveled over the Wolf’s Teeth mountains to destroy the holy city.

This had become more and more clear, ever since the monks had taken Brennan in as a boy.

Oh, how he’d been heralded as a hero then, with the blood of the Elder Sister still on his hands. This action, riding Septa of the false woman who claimed to speak for The Creator. Now, his actions were condemned. Now, his fervor for justice, for keeping Septa clean, was seen as a deficit.

Still, he walked the boardwalks every day, hood covering his head. Things were looking up, at least. People in the city were rising up against the false king. His daughter, the whore princess Lenore, called herself Creator touched with her glowing thread. And the fools, blind as they always were, confused the Creator’s grace with garden variety magic.

But she was a woman, as weak as any of them. When the city started fighting against her family, she had fled to Montelair with her wolf humping husband, abandoning the city. Good riddance to her.

Coming down the boardwalk towards him, Brennan saw two men. There was something about them that pulled him out of his musings. They were young, barely more than boys. They were laughing, their faces aglow.

Then, in front of The Creator and a boardwalk full of decent people, children even, one of the men reached out and interlaced his fingers with his companion. The fellow, in turn, kissed him on his mouth.

He’d been warned to stop lashing out in public. After the last time the elders had been forced to break him free of a worldly prison, he’d been warned to keep his temper.

But this he could not abide.

He pulled a mace from his belt, and swung before the men, the fags, knew he was there. It collided with the first one’s head, and he screamed.

The second one screamed, but Brennan brought up his mace and caught him in the throat.

People were screaming for the guards. Worthless peons, they hadn’t said a thing when the two fags had begun sinning right in front of them. Brennan had known that this would happen, the ungrateful filth. But he’d known that would happen. He also knew it would do him no good to run. So he just kept swinging, turning the men’s heads to nothing more than mush.

The guards certainly didn’t have any gratitude for him. The hit him hard with their batons, bruising his shoulder and rendering him semi-unconscious. “I suppose you would rather I’d have left those two out on the boardwalks to rape little boys?” he howled. But that just made the guards hit him across the face to silence him. Then, they pulled him to the nearest guard barracks and tossed him into a cell.

Brennan sat with his back against the wall, taking care not to put too much pressure on the shoulder the guards had bruised. His fury was abating, and the reality of the situation was sinking in.

The elders had been clear, they wouldn’t be able to save him again. They were right, he knew they were. He risked their great plans by causing this trouble, even if he was doing the work of The Creator. He knew what would happen the next day. The guards would speak with a worldly judge, who would feel that he had no choice but to sentence Brennan to death by hanging.

But then, why would a holy man fear death? He was ready to meet the Creator with a clear conscious. His hands might be dirty, but they were dirty with good, hard work.

Brennan lost himself in meditation and prayer as the sun set outside of his cell window. He could do nothing but wait for the dark to subside and the blessed light to return.

Some time in the night, though, his meditations were disturbed. He heard a man cry out for just a moment before he heard a heavy thump. He opened his eyes.

One of his brother monks, Lorenzo, was trotting to his cell with a set of keys. “Are you well, Brennan? Did they hurt you?”

Just a bruised shoulder,” Brennan said, standing. “What are you doing here?”

We are here to liberate you, of course,” Lorenzo said.

No, don’t be foolish. The elders have made it clear, I could not expect their aid any longer if I lost my temper.”

“The elders sent me here. They are stepping aside for you. Some voluntarily, others less so.” He opened the door and stepped back. “Right this minute the whore princess is sailing for Septa. One of our brothers has had a vision. If something isn’t done, she will sit on the throne. This will mean the end of Septa as we know it. We cannot allow this to happen, Brother. We need a new leader. One who has never been afraid to do what needed to be done in service of The Creator.”

Brennan stepped through the door. “That whore thinks to rule in this city, in the seat of The Creator Himself?”

What would you have us do?” Lorenzo asked.

Brennan put a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “Many, many things,” he said. “Let’s get started.”

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