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For a brief moment, the world fell still, and Thorn felt as if he was frozen in a picture. Above the worn stone ring, the bright silver moon hung low in the dark, star-dotted sky. A light breeze kicked up a bit of dust, blowing past Thorn’s silver clad figure. Held in his outstretched arm, a hulking, brutish monster wriggled with the last vestiges of his strength, unable to withstand Thorn’s might.

Behind him, the statue of Hati stood atop the black stone altar, shining eyes fixed on Thorn. At its feet, countless Wolfkin warriors lay, groaning and cursing, their forms without strength. Next to them stood a tough-looking Wolfkin in dusty armor, his hand resting on his sheathed sword, protecting an elderly Wolfkin mumbling prayers.

In the sudden stillness, Thorn heard the wind most clearly. It slid around the ring and wrapped around him, climbing from his feet to his head. With the wind, a faint voice rose in Thorn’s heart, whispering quietly in his ear.

‘Kill him. If you don’t, he’ll recover and challenge your rule. Leading the Wolfkin is your right, ruling them is your destiny. You must crush anything that stands in the way of that. Otherwise those around you will make use of your weakness. You must rule them tightly, or they will turn on you.’

The whisper grew in volume, causing Thorn’s hand to twitch, squeezing Gelish’s neck until the bones in his spine creaked.

‘That’s right. Just one simple movement to smash out dissention before it grows. If you leave him alive, he will not thank you. He’ll just lead his race to fight your rule. Kill Him. KILL HIM!’

Shivering, Thorn’s hand started to tighten again when a thread of clarity bloomed in his mind, and his body froze. His eyes, which had briefly flashed blood red, returned to their normal color, and Thorn woke from his daze with a start. Loosening his grip, he turned and dragged the defeated Head Disciple to the ward of protection around the statue.

As Thorn walked into the influence of the ward, a cool feeling washed over him, like a summer night’s breeze. Thorn could feel it driving away another influence which had clung to him like thick, sticky syrup without him realizing it. Feeling much better, he held Gelish until the enlarged Wolfkin had been purified and had regained his normal size. Tossing him onto the pile, Thorn was happy to hear the sound he was waiting for.

*ding*

Cleanse the Corruption - Completed

The Madness of the Moon has taken hold of many of the Temple of the Moon disciples. As the Avatar of Hati, it is your job to cleanse the corruption, removing the influence of the Betrayer from the Wolfkin. You have chosen to remove the corruption instead of killing the corrupted.


Corrupted Wolfkin Cleansed: 35/35

Source of Corruption Cleansed: 1/1


Reward: [Disciple] - Class


Reading the last line of the quest, Thorn was taken aback. A class? Why was he getting a class? Wasn’t the point of the quest to gain the allegiance of the Wolfkin? What did getting a class have to do with it? His brow furrowed, Thorn stared at the pop up that followed his quest completion notice.

Class - [Disciple]

You have been chosen as a disciple of the Temple of the Moon. Unlike ordinary monastic orders, the disciples of the Temple of the Moon are warrior monks who serve Hati, the god of Night. Tasked with destroying evil and holding back those who seek to disrupt the balance of the world, they work in the shadows as the counterpart to the Paladins of Skoll, the Sun God.



Accept [Disciple] Class?

Yes

No


[Accept it, my avatar.]

Just as Thorn was about to hit no, turning down the class, a majestic voice echoed in his ears. Startled, Thorn paused and looked up. The statue of Hati that had stood frozen atop the black altar shivered with a silver light. As the light ran over the well-polished statue, its fur began to tremble in the night breeze.

Warm eyes looked down on Thorn as the wolf came to life. After a few seconds, the wolf looked at Elder Havva, whose eyes were screwed tightly shut. The old Wolfkin had certainly heard the voice of Hati, but rather than look up, he crouched even lower, prostrating himself in front of his deity. Next to the trembling elder, Captain Del’har fell to one knee, saluting with his fist over his chest, his head bowed. After a moment of staring blankly, Thorn snapped out of his daze and accepted the class with a shrug.

“In for a penny, in for a pound, I guess,” thought Thorn. While it was not what he had planned, everything Hati had given him thus far had served him well.

*ding*

Class - [Disciple]

You have been chosen as a disciple of the Temple of the Moon. Unlike ordinary monastic orders, the disciples of the Temple of the Moon are warrior monks who serve Hati, the god of Night. Tasked with destroying evil and holding back those who seek to disrupt the balance of the world, they work in the shadows as the counterpart to the Paladins of Skoll, the Sun God.

Your journey to martial mastery has just begun. Disciples practice one of the four martial forms of the Temple of the Moon and can use any basic monk weapon and any basic armor.


Disciple Abilities:

[Martial Form: Unselected]

[Basic Weapons Mastery]

[Pack Travel]


Mastery Ability:

[Form Mastery (locked)]


After Thorn accepted the class, the wolf turned its eyes back on him. Nodding its head in what Thorn could only assume was appreciation, the wolf stood still, its fur reverting to stone once again. As it changed, Hati’s voice rang out once more.

[Thorn, Lord Greymane, Avatar of Hati, Disciple of the Moon Temple, has won the challenge. The ancient laws have been upheld and the winner of the trial has been determined. Thorn has shown wisdom, restraint, and martial skill, saving the lives of many of his fellow disciples. For this, let him take the mantle of the inheritor.]

*ding*

Title: [Moon Temple Inheritor]

You have been chosen as the Inheriting Disciple of the Temple of the Moon. Unless you lose this position, you will be treated by all Wolfkin as the next leader of the temple.


Slowly, the radiance around the wolf faded, leaving behind the well-worn stone statue. The bright moon in the sky lost some of its silver luster, and the cloudless sky began to fill with dark clouds again. With a slight pop, the shining ward disappeared, and Elder Havva lifted his head toward the sky with a sigh.

Fumbling around for his cane, he rose to his feet. Captain Del’har saw him struggling to stand and hastened to help the elder Wolfkin up. Around them, the collapsed Wolfkin struggled up as well.

“Greetings, Lord Greymane.” His attitude totally different, Elder Havva bowed his head slightly as he faced Thorn. “We have much to discuss regarding the words the Great Wolf spoke.”

*ding*

The True Lord Greymane: Complete

The elder of the Temple of the Moon has recognized you as the appointed representative of the Temple of the Moon and as Lord Greymane. Through your trial by combat and the words of Hati, god of Night, you have convinced them that you are the rightful holder of the Greymane title.


Rewards: Allegiance of the Wolfkin


Asking Captain Del’har to help organize the Wolfkin who were still trying to recover from their brush with the corruption from the Madness of the Moon, Thorn and Elder Havva sat down for a long talk. Settling himself on his rock seat, Thorn tried to wait as patiently as possible for the elderly Wolfkin, who was sitting in silence.

It was obvious that the Temple Elder was having trouble adjusting to what had just happened. Thorn did not know if it was the fact that the temple’s Head Disciple had turned against the teachings of the temple, embracing Karrandras the Betrayer’s power. Or maybe it was the fact that Hati had manifested, speaking directly to Elder Havva. Either way, Thorn was on a tight schedule and was getting a bit impatient.

“Congratulations, Lord Greymane.” Just as Thorn was about to start speaking, the elder began to talk. His voice was strained, but as he continued, his tone evened out and gained strength. “You have successfully passed the ritual trial and will be properly recognized as the Greymane. The Great Wolf has also granted you the mantle of the Inheritor.”

“What is that about?” Thorn scratched his head.

“To properly understand all of this, please allow me to give you an overview of the temple. That should make it easier to understand. The Temple of the Moon has a simple ruling structure. A single Temple Elder rules over the temple. In this generation, I am the Temple Elder. You might think of the Temple Elder position as an Abbot. I oversee the direction of the temple, help make executive decisions, and approve rewards and punishments.

“Under the Temple Elder are the four Path Masters, each ruling one of the four courts. The courts are divided into the Dusk Court, Full Moon Court, New Moon Court, and Dawn Court. Inside the courts are the Chamberlains, Deacons, Night Walkers, and Disciples. Each court is responsible for overseeing one of the martial forms practiced by the disciples of the Temple of the Moon. When a new disciple is admitted to the temple, they choose a martial form and join the associated court. This determines what role they will take in the temple and what their training will be like.

“Your position in the temple is a bit different, since you are both the Inheritor and Lord Greymane. The position of Inheritor is held by the disciple who is marked to succeed the Temple Elder as the next leader of the temple. For you to hold the title of Greymane as well as the title of Inheritor grants you significant responsibility and authority.”

“I meant to ask about that.” Thorn frowned lightly as he thought through what Elder Havva had told him. “What is the role of Greymane? I thought that Lord Greymane was just the name of the individual who ruled the valley?”

“Really, the position of Greymane is comprised of two parts.” Elder Havva gestured to the ring on Thorn’s finger. “The first part is the appointed title, held by the bearer of the ring. The last temple-appointed Greymane was corrupted many years ago and fled the valley, taking the ring with him. The second part of the position is the ruler of the valley, also called Lord Greymane by the people of the valley. To truly hold the title of Greymane, one must have both the ring and take possession of the Wolf Throne in Greymane Keep.

“Historically, the temple was divided into two sides. There was a public side and a reclusive side. The temple itself did not involve itself in any mortal affairs, sitting apart from the world. However, as part of their training, all disciples would spend a period of time in the world as Night Walkers. The Greymane was not only the public Elder but also led the Night Walkers. Greymane Keep was the place the Night Walkers lived while outside the temple and acted as the public temple. According to the ancient law, the Greymane is the public-facing Temple Elder.”

“Hold on, doesn’t that mean that if I am both Greymane and Inheritor, I’ll eventually be both the public and private Temple Elder?”

“Yes.” Elder Havva gave a long sigh. “The elders are called the Full Moon Elder and the New Moon Elder. You are already the Full Moon Elder since you hold the title of Greymane. That is why only I, as the New Moon Elder, am able to challenge you.”

“Huh.” Scratching his head, Thorn was lost for words. For a moment, silence fell over the hut where they were sitting as the two temple elders looked at each other.

“Regardless, we should now discuss the reason you came.” Shaking his head, as if it could get rid of the depression that shrouded him, Elder Havva changed the topic.

“Sure.” Thorn straightened and leaned forward slightly. “A few days ago, I cleared the current Greymane Keep. From what I understand, the existing castle was built on the ruins of the Temple of the Moon. My goal in coming here is to gather the Wolfkin, leading them back to the valley to rebuild the temple. The valley will be gaining a spawn point, and I think it is a good opportunity for the temple to rejoin the world. I have all the resources necessary to rebuild the temple apart from the workers, and I was hoping that you would be able to help with that.”

“Very well, we shall join you.” Without pausing, Elder Havva nodded his head.

“Uh.” Stunned, Thorn could only stare at the Temple Elder for a moment. He had expected some sort of negotiation and had planned out numerous convincing reasons why it would make sense for the Wolfkin to join him. In the face of Elder Havva’s calm acceptance, they all fell flat, leaving Thorn tongue-tied.

“Don’t be too surprised.” Elder Havva shook his head with another drawn out sigh. “You are the Greymane, your words carry weight equal to mine. You have shown yourself to be a warrior beyond compare in the holy trial. That alone grants your voice power. You have joined the Temple of the Moon, an honor never before granted to one of another race. You joined by the command of our god no less, showing that you have Hati’s favor upon you. You have taken up the mantle of the Avatar of Hati, becoming Hati’s voice among us, tying yourself to our race with a bond that cannot be broken.”

Slowly rising to his feet, Elder Havva made his way to the door of the hut, leading Thorn out into the main square. The Wolfkin had gathered into a group on the stone ring, standing before the altar in neat rows. The elder blinked his muddled eyes as he watched them.

“Our people have dwindled over time. There are less than six hundred of us left, with only three hundred warriors. The mountains are good for hiding, but they do not allow us to grow. Since you have cleared the werewolf threat, it is time for our race to venture out. We will either flourish, or we will die. Either way, we will follow you.”

Taking in the crowd of Wolfkin, each standing over a large pack filled to the brim with their possessions, Thorn could not help but swallow. Everything they owned was on their backs. Even the statue of Hati that had watched over the stone ring was being carried with them. Bright eyes, filled with excitement and anticipation, stared at him from the crowd. Children peeked at him from behind their parent’s legs, and elderly Wolfkin bent with age smiled excitedly. Facing the clear expectation of the crowd, the importance of what he was doing settled on Thorn.

To Thorn, this was a game. A series of quests whose failure would not, ultimately, mean much. He could simply try his best and not worry about the result. His life was settled and secure. The staring eyes of the assembled Wolfkin told him that their lives were anything but. They were walking away from their homes, their lives, to follow him. Their hopes, their ambitions, were no longer their own. Instead, they were betting on him, pinning those hopes on the giant in front of them.

“Salute the lord,” Captain Del’har’s voice rang out. With a loud thud, all six hundred Wolfkin fell to one knee, saluting Thorn together. “

“We greet Lord Greymane!”

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WildCard

Bio: My name is Seth Ring and I am a writer. I create worlds and tell the stories of those who inhabit them. I love exploring these new worlds with other people. I post a chapter every Friday around 12 pm EST. To get advanced access to chapters you can support me on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/SethRing.

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