Inclinding his head towards his squire, he speaks in a scratchy voice, as though it were being forcibly ripped from his chest. "Give us a little privacy."
The Squire faces Nimrod and replies, "My lord, the elf has asked that we cast no spells in this tavern. She says there are protections cast about it, and that it would give itself away regardless."
Nimrod looks carefully around the room. Grunting, he speaks to no one in particular, "Well, perhaps it is safe enough right now. But elf ears are sharper than human, and no one will approach unheard."
Concluding this with a slight nod of finality, he waves his squire back to his seat, which he had not in fact vacated, and turns back to Esperance.
"Elf, I am not familiar with the courtesies of your people, so please consider them duly bestowed. I hear that you are contemplating helping us in our quest, or at least a portion of it. Very well, I suppose I ought to tell you a little of the order to aid you in your choice."
"My tale begins many years ago. Doubtless you have guessed some of the latter bits from the events that have taken place in this tavern, but the rest will surely be new to you."
"I was born in a small town not too far from here. I do not know exactly where, as the geography of these parts has changed in the past eons. In my youth, I studied much and travelled much, and the more I travelled this world the more I felt it limiting me. I gained power, and gained mastery over it, and over time the power begin to gain mastery over me."
"I was concerned about this, for whose power was I wielding if I did not control it? I became captivated by this mystery, and sought the answer in many places. I walked the far planes, and tread over countless reaches, beyond the ken of any of my countrymen. Finally I found the answer, or a part of it, and I was horrified."
"You see, there are powers in the universe beyond you or I. Well, perhaps you are familiar with them as well, but they played a much bigger role in our lives than I realized. Call them what you will, angels or devils, creatures of heaven or hell, the bottom line was that my power was not my own."
"I am possessed of a few faults, human frailties if you will, and one of them, alas, is my pride. I was driven to oppose these powers, to prove that humanity could hold power in its own right. I forswore allegiance to any power outside my own. The order was conceived in that moment."
"We are, ultimately, a humanistic order. We set ourselves forward as free men, beholden to no angel or demon, no foreign oppressor or occupier, no creature of power. We seek to wield human power in the hands of humans, and we seek to free humans from the clutches of these fell beasts that seek to dominate us."
"We were reasonably successful at this for a time. We studied and learned, we sought knowledge and wisdom, and we fought and won victories. At one point, we had freed large sections of this land, and we protected these men and women night and day. For seven centuries we presided over the affairs of this world, letting free people follow their own courses, and thwarting the fell designs of other creatures."
"But it was not to last. We humans, whatever power we might achieve in our prime, are limited by our mortality. We had used our power to conquer our physical age, but time and trial wore down our minds and souls. A man cannot always walk down the path of freedom, and at last we fell. I was not the first, nor was I the weakest by any stretch, but I had too long been wielding far too much power, and at last something slipped."
"I cannot describe how it happened. I had control of it, for years I had mastered it, but then at some point....my memory fades. I remember sliding, as though under the waves. I had been riding them, thinking I controlled them, but they only carried me, and when I fell I was at their mercy."
"They were strong waves, and they battered me. They battered me against one of the few remaining meddlers left on this world, a creature of darkness, who enslaved the people now called the men of Westerfield. At that point, we had freed many people from his clutches, but we had never defeated him. Well, I do not know what happened, but before I knew it I was alone, deep in his fortress, destroying everything about me. It was the greatest feeling in my life, and the worst. The power! The horror! I could do anything, but I could not do anything!"
"At last he came to me. I...I saw him. Not with human eyes, but with the eyes of my soul. We wrestled, with body, then with mind, then will, then...then soul. I was beaten, imprisoned for an age and a half of this world, cast from the sight of gods and men, frozen in a horrible living hell, with no light or comfort or peace...the final resting place of a ravaged mind."
"But it was not final. I was freed...or did I free myself? I am not quite sure..." He trails off, biting his lip and suddenly looking confused.