Lanta 5: Eyes of Bitana
Freya Idun was born in the city of Histrid, a city that never wanted her. One that saw her leave without a single frown. Born fourteen years ago at the center of an unexpected breakdown in government, Freya was all that was left of her parents after they were hung for all to see in front of the Gaitrin Soldiers’ headquarters. Her father, Gejena, and her mother, Evelyn, were what remained of the campaign to rid the city of orcs. For as long as anyone can remember Histrid had allowed orcs and half-orcs into the city if they had left their tribes, which laid west in the Great Damalien Mountains. Gejena was a member of a very public anti-government organization that was convinced orcs were pure evil. Her mother was a devious woman who did everything she could, legally and illegally, to get more members into their group. When Freya was only ten, her parents gathered all members outside the headquarters of the city’s beloved Gaitrin Soldiers and barricaded them inside. Preaching for the destruction of all orcs, the two ordered their servants to protect them from all incoming threats, but the humans that followed the zealots were no match for the furious and outraged orcs that came plowing through their ranks. They simply overpowered them all and reached the two, wrapped ropes around their necks, and hung them.
But it was not an ordinary hanging. With the soldiers on the inside calling for the violence to end, the orcs knew they had to act quick before the two were saved by soldiers that were ordered by law to do so. The head of the mob, a visiting orc from the city of Deraton, named Kezik, wrapped a noose around each of their necks and, with his immense arms, pulled them off their feet, holding them in midair…until they fell limp. Kezik then ran away from the building and out of town. As the soldiers gave chase, the remaining orcs did their best to nonviolently stop the them. It worked, and Kezik fled back to the peaceful and neutral city of Deraton. The orcs who were apart of the mob were charged and thrown in jail. The ones who were members of the Gaitrin Soldiers saw their race unfairly treated and stepped down from their positions, weakening the massive army by a third. As the city and its leaders desperately tried to herd the orcs back, they lost place of the little orphan Freya and she was abducted by the very orcs the army was trying to recover. They peacefully took her north of Histrid to the Three Red Towers, a fortress that served as a gathering point for the Gaitrin Soldiers of Histrid, the Dragon Raiders of Castor, and the Aruclam Army. They left her some fifty feet away from its gate, then escaped back to Histrid.
Freya was picked up by a platoon of Aruclam soldiers when they saw her crying just outside the fortress, ignored by the armies inside. She cried as she told them to keep the horrid orcs from her. When they offered to take her back home, she became even more distraught. Looking to each other for answers, the soldiers had no idea what to do. One of them mentioned an orphanage in Aruclam that would take a child of her age. Though it did not seem like the place for her, she gave them little options. As they traveled back to the capital, they continued to talk with the troubled girl, discovering she had a deep hatred of orcs. Her parents were famous, even as far away from Histrid as she was, and the soldiers knew the conflict they had been leading. The prejudice made sense, but it was so sad to see it in a girl so young. The human soldiers tried to comfort her rage while the orcish ones did their best to stay away from her. By the end of the travel, their feelings were mutual.
Freya knew little about Aruclam before arriving, only that it was the capital of Makarin and the largest city on the planet. She was nervous to say the least, but there was nowhere she could have been that would have calmed her. Her life was ruined and nothing the soldiers or anyone else said could make things better. The orphanage they took her to was run by two female gnomes, Belna and Gisba, whose antics to cheer her up also did nothing, but unlike the soldiers, they did not give up after failing. She was taken in and given a room with another girl who was also stricken with a deep sadness. Her name was Daisin, a one legged half-elf who spoke very little. The two had a very silent introduction, with only Daisin saying ‘hi’ in a voice unheard. But it did not take long for Freya to accept what had happened; she had always been a strong girl, both mentally and physically. With little else to do, the two bonded in their room. Freya opened up right away admitting her prejudices and family history. Both shocked Daisin. She, however, was harder to get to, but Freya’s prying eventually got the best of the girl.
Daisin was the granddaughter of Tel’a’jan’a (Tel’a for short), a wizard from the city of Dira’ma who was once the Head Master of the Western Mage Guild in Aruclam. When he died, the position went to Yulaf Cloan, the man who was Head Master of the Eastern and Southern Mage Guilds. Master Cloan now controlled all three, something that was rumored to be his only goal. He threw out Daisin and the rest of Tel’a’jan’a’s family. None of them were rich, relying on Tel’a for support, and so none of them could take his orphaned granddaughter, who was then sent to the orphanage. Freya continued to ask questions about the girl’s parents and grandmother, but all Daisin could say was that they were all dead, unsure of how any of them died, even Tel’a. It was said he died in his office, either of natural causes or an accident caused by his own fault. The lack of a funeral and burial sight had the whole family asking questions, which were deflected and left unanswered by Yulaf. They were left nothing, had nothing, and were given nothing but dirty looks by their new neighbors as they spread out over the city taking any housing they could afford. Daisin had been abandoned by her family, which left her alone and depressed…until Freya came.
Heironeous and his church had always been deep in Freya’s heart. Her parents, as hateful as they were, had claimed they were doing the will of the good god, casting away the normally evil orcs. This passed to Freya who looked at it unquestionably. Daisin saw this and found that by concentrating on helping Freya see the good that orcs could achieve, she could ignore her own pains. At first her roommate ignored her arguments, laughing at such ridiculous thoughts. That was until Daisin finally coaxed her into coming to the Spiral Temple, the largest temple of Ehlonna in Aruclam. Ehlonna’s teachings were foreign to Freya. Nature had played little part in her life since she had spent her entire life in a city. Perhaps it was the dozen spiraling towers, or the crystal and green front doors that captivated her, but something attracted her to it. She began attending masses with Daisin, her only friend, and soon found herself caught between two faiths. Two answers. Two ways of life. And for some reason, only one could be chosen.
Her outlook changed when one of the masses was led by an orcish cleric, one who claimed to be from the very plane Ehlonna lived on: the Beastlands. Freya’s memory of her parent’s death returned and it was soon joined by her anger and intolerance. As the orc, Ozuk Kufel, continued, he brought up Daisin’s name and her family’s history. He called to her and she stood, aided by her crutch. When Ozuk told her to come up and be blessed by Ehlonna, she turned to Freya and asked for help. Freya was hesitant at first, knowing she would have to walk up to the altar where the treacherous orc stood. The worshipers waited in silence, not even the choir sung anymore. Pressured and embarrassed, Freya put on an uncomfortable smile and assisted her friend up the aisle. When they were with an arms distance of Ozuk, he put his right hand on Freya’s shoulder and kept it there as he read a prayer in the elven language. His hand seemed like it was made of iron, grasping her tightly even as she leaned away from him. The chandelier that hung above shined as the prayer was read and grew brighter as Ozuk’s voice became louder, till his bellowing words drowned all other sounds and sights. All were standing in the wilderness alone with the Spiral Temple out of sight. The forest had nothing but plants blowing in the wind, yet their stomachs grew full, their muscles were energized, and their spirits were hopeful. When it was over, all returned to their seat with a collective sigh.
The crowd stood up, dazed and eager to discuss the bizarre occurrence, but Freya responded differently. Instead, she was filled with guilt. As if her every breath killed an innocent stranger, a problem with no answer. Ozuk stood majestically, piercing her with his gaze, waiting for something. Soon, the three were the only ones left in the sanctuary. Nothing had changed physically; Daisin’s leg was still missing and she had gained no signs of becoming blessed. It was inside Freya where the change spawned. She saw a chance of peace with the orcs. It was just a small chance; perhaps only with some orcs. Kezik was lost. Orc or not, what he did was unforgivable, but Ozuk clearly was not like him. To Freya, he was a creature seeming to have the qualities of a saint, despite just meeting him. Maybe this was Ehlonna’s doing. Perhaps he was a message from the Goddess herself.