Side by side the four captains walked back to the village with the boy trailing along. Still fearful that they might decide to slit his throat, he lagged behind, keeping a wary eye on soldiers. The captains had already called their men to attention by the time the boy reached the town square. He watched as Demetrios calmly explained their predicament to the others. Again, he suspected rage, fury and perhaps violence but the soldiers were men of valor. They did not spiral into hatred or lash out in anger. They accepted their fate with courage and honor. It was only when Demetrios gave the order for those whose fate had not been sealed to leave did the outcry of objection sound. There was a resounding “No”, called out from those free of the curse.
“What happened next shocked the captains. The young villager nearly fainted,” Grandpa expounded.
His audience was captivated. The children stared up at him, holding their breath in anticipation. Erica kept checking her watch as the second hand ticked on and on past the children’s bedtime. She gave her father the universal symbol for hurry up and he nodded. Just to see their reaction, he made a dramatic show of looking at his own wristwatch.
“Oh my!” He exclaimed. “It’s way past your bedtime. I guess we can pick up here tomorrow.”
“Dad!” Erica squealed. “That’s not funny. You tell them what was so shocking first and then bedtime. You used to do that to me all the time when I was little and it drove me crazy. I’d be up all night wondering. I am not going to stand by while you rob my kids of their sleep. So, out with it! What was it that shocked the captains and nearly made the village idiot faint?”
The children cheered and the old man laughed at Erica’s outburst. Even Grandma came in to see what the commotion was all about.
“I was only teasing,” the old man laughed. “I just wanted to see if the kids were still paying attention, that’s all. No need to get so worked up, Erica. Now, when the other men realized that their comrades were cursed, I’ll bet you were thinking they’d be relieved. Most people would have breathed a sigh of relief and high-tailed it out of there, thankful to be spared. Well, these men had all fought side by side with each other and developed a bond a tight as brothers. The ones who had avoided the cursed blade before were overwhelmed with guilt. All of them had repeated the words because they believed in their cause and they believed in each other but some of them had chosen not to pierce their skin either because they felt it was unsanitary or they didn’t much care for the sight of blood. Unwilling to abandon their brothers to fight, the men demanded Eleon’s tainted blade. When he refused, they rushed forward and snatched the knife from him and bound themselves to the brotherhood for eternity. It was that day that they came up with the name: The Brotherhood of Eternal Glory. One of the men was commissioned to create a coat of arms, sigil, and emblems to represent their new crusade against evil. Their banners were a deep crimson to represent the blood they freely offered emblazoned with a black curved blade of the demon horn knife. Once it had been a symbol of evil but their pledge made it a symbol of hope and honor. They embroidered the name of the brotherhood in a gold thread to represent both purity and refinement through fire. From that day forward, all men of the brotherhood could be identified by the unique scar on the palm of their right hand and the badge of their order.”Despite wanting to hear more, the children trudged off to bed while the old man fixed himself a cup of tea.