Cat’s Keep

Many of the stories told today begin on great fields of battle where a dashing, young soldier distinguishes themselves through acts of daring valor. These stories follow the gallant blade as they returns to their lord’s keep – massive citadels of stone and loyal men – to receive land and title for their bravery. Perhaps the story will even contain a subplot where the newly anointed lord undertakes a bit of court intrigue and roots out the corrupt cabals within their noble master’s home. Such tales are enjoyable and easily excite young dreamers who dare to believe they can become more than their station.

The story I am to tell is not exciting. It does not follow a young, handsome lord on a quest of gallantry or love. It won’t be one that the village schoolmarm tells the children in an ill-fated attempt to calm them for instruction. You won’t read it in heavy tomes or upon an ornate tapestry. No wizened scholars or court scribes have any knowledge of this tale. It has long since been buried and those who speak it are quickly discredited. But the story I am about to tell is possibly the most important of our history. It is the story of an empire’s rise and a new world order.

Before he was made a lord, Sir Wyman Felclaw was an aged knight. Wyman had lived a pathetic life: he had been born a freeman to parents whose names have been forgotten by history. After reaching the age of true life, Wyman enlisted under one of the more desperate valley kings during the Consolidation War for promises of land. In his first skirmish, a mace connected with his temple and at the tender age of 17 Wyman became Skytouched.

Wyman’s story isn’t an odd one – the valley kings fell one-by-one and after a year the Consolidated Republic was born. While the Gryphon Knights and the newly appointed Integral Senate undertook the busywork of planning their new nation, the young Felclaw man confusedly stumbled around Torcha looking for work. After 20 years of odd jobs and the occasional bit of charity, the middle-aged Wyman found stable employment as a messenger to the Steward of the Good Lord Tellen of Anshrew. Sir Wyman earned his knighthood in the year 304 by betraying his employer and forging the Steward’s name for Keeper Oswalt, the one behind the Noble’s Plot that threw the country into disarray.

After the Siege of Astare and the abolishment of the Senate at the hands of the nobility, Sir Felclaw found himself, yet again, at a critical point in history. In the chaos that followed the Noble’s Plot, Wyman’s knightly charge was protecting a simple bridge on a small mountain road outside the capital. The last few surviving members of the Senate would take this road to seek refuge. Instead, they found Wyman. Simple to a fault, the armed knight and his retinue would not allow any of the old senators across the bridge he called his charge. Senators’ Bridge, as it is now know, was where those last few politicians were taken into custody.

In reward for his service in preventing a prolonged conflict, Sir Wyman was granted a lordship by the newly-anointed King Leohoc I. A modest parcel of land, it was declared, would belong to Wyman and his descendants for the rest of history.

The land that Catskeep would be built upon had exactly no business being a holding. Far from the fertile valleys in the mountains, the soil was hostile to most crops, lined with heavy rocks, and nearly impossible to till. There were no mighty rivers to fish from, no vast oceans or roads from which trade could flow, scant trees from which to gather wood for fires or building, and just enough game to provide for the handful of peasants Lord Wyman had brought with him.

The one resource that the land had in plenty was cats. Upon his arrival to his new fief, Lord Wyman Felclaw saw dozens of cats sunning themselves on a rock by a creek and immediately declared them as his protected creatures and proclaimed a nearby tabby as his house’s sigil. So unusual and sudden were these proclamations that nearly half of his peasant workforce fled that night for fear of a rumor that their new Lord was a cat himself bringing fresh meat to his kin.

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