The Making of a Paladin
Date: Fri, August 24, 2012
Topic: Stories & Fiction

I killed my father.

It was the 15th day of Sunsebb, in the year 576 CY – a year ago, today. I sit here, in my cell, and relive the event as I listen to the clanging of metal against metal; a meditation which will last throughout this night.

            I also contemplate events preceding that act: My mother and younger sister were hounded and killed by the Priest of Rao and the townspeople of Miller's Crossing; a little place located along the upper reaches of the Neen River, deep in the Cairn Hills. They were mercilessly killed and their bodies burned, their immortal souls . . . lost.

            I am Ivon, a Cleric of Pelor, 'the Sun Father,' or rather, I used to be. I was serving my God at the great temple in Leukish and had just been given license to erect a small chapel and shrine to Pelor in the place of my birth – Miller's Crossing – and had headed home to do so.

            The incessant clanging intrudes upon my thoughts. You will forgive me if you find these musings slightly incoherent, but I find the continual pounding of the hammer somewhat distracting. He's to be finished with his work by dawn and I believe he is now putting the 'final touches' to it, as they say.

            As I was saying, when I arrived home the Priest of Rao and leading townspeople had already burned the bodies of my mother and sister. I had been too late to save them. They had been hunted and seized by the mob, though it seemed that my father had escaped their fury – along with a companion. I wasted little time in Miller's Crossing, immediately setting out upon their track.

            I pursued them for two weeks, as they fled into the southern portions of the Duchy. The trail was chaotic and arbitrary, as was to be expected of two persons fleeing for their lives. They were traveling from one town to another, spending mere hours in each. No one seemed to know from whence they came, nor even where they had stayed while visiting the town. Few could even claim to have seen them, but in each town and to every query I made, I heard stories of horror and nauseating revulsion – just as I had in Miller's Crossing – strengthening my determination to overtake them, as they fled from the Raoan's ire.

            As I said, at first glance their route seemed careless and unclear and I thought them fleeing into the Abbor-Alz. Soon, however, I realized that their true destination was a place of dread and loathing in its own right . . . Maure Castle. Thankfully, I caught up to them a full day's journey north of that malevolent place; though I would not have let the thought of following them into that den of iniquity deter me.

            Tracking them through the snow – in that lonely locality – had been relatively easy. How many wagons would you expect to find in that desolate waste? The wagon's tracks trailed away and around a hillside, but it had paused outside the mouth of a cave. Fresh footprints had congregated around it – appearing suddenly – and led off into the cave. There were no footprints to indicate that anyone had come back out.

            Of course, they had no reason to suspect that I was upon their trail, so there was no attempt to hide their tracks. And so, having found them, I tethered my horse some small distance away and approached their resting place on foot; shield and lighted torch ready, my silver holy symbol hanging outside my tabard, with mace and flasks at my belt.

            With the sun high in the sky, and my holy symbol shining with divine light, I followed their tracks into the cave. That cave, itself, was not very deep, nor very dark, but it was the best shelter they could find – it was a chance one took, when traveling through the wilderness. There were five of them now, others that they had picked up in Seltaren, judging from the stories I had heard.

            I moved silently amongst them, a bizarre and eerie panorama; five dirt encrusted coffins lying at the very back of the cave. I gently lifted the lid of one, then another – none arose. As I lifted the lid of the third coffin, I found my father, or rather, the 'thing' that had been my father. It opened its eyes . . . as I drove the wooden stake through its heart.

            You see, my family had been murdered about a week before I arrived home. I said that I had 'killed' my father, but perhaps 'destroyed' would be a better word, for my family had already been murdered by a passing stranger, one which they had mistakenly invited into their home. This stranger had been a Vampire and it had sought to set itself up as a Vampire Lord by creating Spawn for itself – my family.

            The Priest of Rao, together with some townspeople of Miller's Crossing, had caught the Vampire and the 'thing' that had been my father attacking a fourth victim and had driven them off, forcing them to flee. Upon investigating my parents' farm, the Priest had discovered recent and opened graves inside the barn and quickly realized that my mother and sister had also been 'turned.' These two were caught in the early morning light – asleep inside their coffins – and stakes were driven through their hearts. The bodies were burned so that they could not 'rise up' again – their souls having already fallen into Darkness.

            For myself, I managed to drive stakes through the hearts of two of them before the others began to bestir themselves. I threw two flasks of oil at the remaining three and attempted to set them afire, but only succeeded in partially igniting two of them. With a prayer to Pelor upon my lips, I drew my mace – which began to burn with holy light – and set about attacking them, calling upon 'the Shining One' for His aid as I did so.

            I was able to distinguish the Vampire Lord from its Spawn and letting my mace hang – it was tethered to my wrist – I threw a vial of holy water into its face. This would not be enough to destroy the creature, of course, but combined with the fire and my assault – sudden and unexpected as it was – I was able to drive two of them to the cave's entrance. Pelor's holy sunlight did the rest.

            I then turned to face the Vampire Lord, but it was already recovering from the effects of the holy water and quickly assumed a gaseous form, ascending into a crevice in the roof of the cave. I took that as a sign from Pelor that I had done enough. I had certainly accomplished my mission: the destruction of the creature that had once been my father. I took hold of the impaled bodies and drug them outside, into 'the Sun Father's' holy sight – just to be certain. With that act, the Vampire Lord's four underlings were soon nothing more than ashes upon the wind.

            I returned to the temple in Leukish and took the vows necessary to become a Squire within the Church's military arm. During the course of my training, I came to understand that I had made two mistakes.

            First, I came to understand the significance of the wagon’s presence. Second, I had failed to insure that the Vampire's coffin had been utterly destroyed. However, these two “oversights” had only served to give me my first mission. I vowed to Pelor to hunt down the Vampire Lord and put an end to its threat, once and for all time.

            I listen and hear nothing. The sudden silence now intrudes upon my thoughts and I am aware that the hammering has stopped. The quietude means that Brorudin Hammerfist has completed his work and that is a good thing, for the sun is rising now. Brorudin is the finest dwarven weapon-smith in the city.

            It's the beginning of another blessed day, the best of days and the day on which I take my vows of Knighthood. The Holy Sword which Brorudin has crafted, and which High Priest Deland has given his blessing, will be used to knight me and will then be presented to me. I will use it in my lifelong battle against the Undead, as I seek them out, searching the entire Flannaess.

                Today I modify my sacred calling. Today, I am no longer a Cleric of Pelor. Today, I become one of His sacred Paladins.

This article comes from Canonfire!

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