A Paladin's Making - Not This Campaign

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A Paladin's Making - Not This Campaign

Postby Guest » Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:22 am

Slowly the purple light of predawn faded as the sun crested the mountain above the small peaceful village. Soon a single ray of sun light lanced down into the village, striking upon a man clad in yellow robes, with red trimming along the hems. The man’s long white beard and hair was well groomed, the fellow villagers had gathered this day to pay homage to their god, Lathander. As the sun’s rays came over the villagers, they lifted their voice as one, giving praise to the Morning Lord.

The year had been quiet, and uneventful. The winter mild, and as the spring thaw had come, the villagers where able to break ground easily, planting crops of corn, wheat, barley, and oats. Tending the fields early in the morning, pausing only to praise Lathander for such a wonderful spring, their lives remained peaceful through the spring and into the summer.

One of the young men in the village had recently come of age. His parents had spent many days teaching him the ways of the land. They taught him of the value of hard work, and sacrifice. The young man had been born on the Summer Solstice in another year which was similar to this mild year. His birth was taken as a token of the Morning Lord’s favor.

While he was young, he had an energetic and sunny attitude, never causing much trouble, but always seeking out adventure. There we many times were the boy would be dared by others to do things many considered dangerous. One such occasion was when he was dared to sneak into the elder’s home, and filch the elder’s holy symbol. Even though the boy did not care for the idea of filching the elder’s holy symbol, he went anyhow. When he first arrived at the home that evening, there were no lights on. He took that be a sign, and slipped inside the house through the front door. In a child’s innocent, he didn’t wonder about the door being unlocked.

As the young boy crept through the house, he looked around nervously. Soon he made his way towards the second room of the elder’s house. This room was rumored to be the elder’s study. As the boy crept into the room, he thought he heard a creak. Just as he was about to close the door, the elder called upon Lathander to illuminate the room. Startled by the sudden light, and the elder being in the room, he quickly tried for the door. Unfortunately for him, the elder had closed the door, keeping the boy contained within the room. It was with a smile that the elder regarded the boy, with his golden hair, and bright blue eyes.

“I’ve been waiting for you Ziffnab.” The elder said quietly, in his aged voice.

Ziffnab simply stood there, stuttering out an apology to the elder, to which the elder only smiled more.

“You see, Ziffnab, the Morning Lord has a plan for you. He has given me the chance to teach you the beginnings of your life. I will speak with your parents further about beginning you learning.”

The elder escorted Ziffnab back to his parent’s home, and filled them in on his plans for the boy. So it was that Ziffnab began having classes with the elder every night with the elder. He learned his letters, arithmetic, and other scholarly pursuits. In addition to these basics of society, he was taught about the Morning Lord. While he was taught about the Morning Lord’s tenants, he also received instruction in fighting.

As the boy grew up, he began to become more serious, devoted to the Morning Lord, though he never shirked his chores or duties to his family. With all this heavy work, and teaching, Ziffnab grew into a big man. His sandy blond colored hair reaching to top out at 6’ 6”, his shoulders almost as wide as the village blacksmith, he was still a jovial man, his sunny disposition and energetic nature still abounded. Upon his eighteenth birthday, as the village elder led the village in their Summer Solstice prayers, he called Ziffnab forward. As Ziffnab approached, he noticed something behind the elder on the stage. Could it be Ziffnab thought, armor and a weapon? It turned out that Ziffnab was right. As he approached, the Elder smiled to him, gesturing slightly to the armor.

“Today we recognize one of our own. Ziffnab has spent many days and nights learning the ways of the Morning Lord. It is with pride that I grant him this boon of the Morning Lord.”

As Ziffnab came to a halt beside the armor and weapon, he parents came forward from the crowd to help fit the armor to his body, and belt the sword to his back. Tears of thankfulness coursing down Ziffnab’s face, unashamed of the tears in the moment of greatness.

“It is with the Morning Lord’s blessing that I name you his champion. Wear this armor with pride and honor, defend the weak, banish evil, and always honor the Morning Lord for his blessings to the world.”

Ziffnab continued to cry, his mother and father also shedding tears unabashed. It seemed the world exploded, as the whole village broke into clapping as Ziffnab drew the sword forth, and sank to one knee, the morning sun light glistening off his golden hair. His hands rested upon the hilt of the sword, the tip digging softly into the ground. His voice rang out over the village.

“Lathander! Great God of the Morning, I shall serve unto my death, this I pledge, with all my heart, soul, and mind. My life is yours, My God!”

The village had gone silent at Ziffnab’s first words, was once again jubilant at the ringing announcement of intent. Rising to his feet again, Ziffnab wiped a tear from his face once again. His childhood friends came forward, clapping him on the back, and shaking his hand, as though this single act had changed him into something more than the village.

As dusk came, the village gathered once again for prayer. They sang hymns to Lathander, and those that have departed this world for the next. Ziffnab participated in all this, his heart soaring as the day came to a close. He could not wait for the next morning, which would bring another day of glory for the Morning Lord. Soon after dusk, the villagers began to turn in, as tomorrow would be a busy day, to make up for the loss from this day of celebration.

Ziffnab returned to his family’s home, carefully taking off the heavy armor and sword, laying them out upon his bed. He carefully polished each, knowing that only the greatest of care would see these works through the years. After polishing the sword, and armor, he packed them into the trunk at the foot of his bed. He once again prayed, thanking the Morning Lord for his blessings and for the chance to bring His glory and protection to others.

The next morning found Ziffnab hard at work out in the sun, weeding the southern oats with a hoe, and singing a soft hymn to Lathander as he worked. The day went on smoothly, as had all the days prior. The day turned into weeks, and soon it would be that the weeks turned into months. With Ziffnab’s continued service to his family, he did not neglect to continue his studies with the Elder. As summer turned to fall, the families had a bountiful harvest, with Ziffnab swinging a scythe day after day, his strong arms and back part of the reasons for his family’s success.

A few weeks passed, and it was closing in on the midwinter festival when the village first saw signs of imminent attack. While out playing, a couple of children spotted what they thought was an orc, which caused them to run quickly home. This alerted the village, and they began sending out parties of men to scout the country side for possible orc attack. Ziffnab always volunteered to join the scouts, never thinking twice about his own safety, only the safety of his family and village. It was while out on one of these scouting missions that the orcs attack the village. It was not a horde of orcs, as is often the case, but rather a small group of 20 to 30. When the scouting party was returning, they smelled smoke in the air, more heavily laden than was normal for the area. All the scouts rushed home, and saw as the last few of the villagers were running from the attacking orcs. Only one person remained standing against them, the arrows and bolts of the orcs never coming close to him. It was the village elder, holding off the orcs with his faith and the power of Lathander.

The last of the orcs, the leader behind them charged the elder as Ziffnab cried out, racing to protect the old man. The Elder was able to hold off many of the orcs, killing all but 2 or 3 as they closed. As those last couple closed the gap, Ziffnab watched in horror as they brutally struck upon the Elder. Against what seemed like all odds, the Elder kept standing, it seemed the light of Lathander was with him, finishing off two of the orcs which had made it through to him. The last orc, the leader of the raiding party, did not go down under the Elder’s might, instead cleaving the Elder’s hand from his body, nearly destroying the holy symbol which granted the Elder his strength. Ziffnab raced up behind the leader, slamming his shoulder into the back of the orc, and throwing him to the ground, as the Elder crumpled there as well.

Ziffnab paused to check on the Elder, while the orc leader regained his feet. A quick prayer to Lathander was all he could offer for his elder, praying to heal the Elder’s wounds. As a wonder when his call was answered, the blood flow from the Elder’s severed hand stemming. Ziffnab turned to face the orc leader, his face no longer joyful, his blue eyes hard as the sapphires they were colored.

“You have brought destruction to this village. You have cut down our sacred leader. For this you must pay. I challenge you.”

His voice was cold with fury at this orc’s obvious distain for human life. The orc leader only laughed at Ziffnab, seemingly brushing him off.

“Prepare thy self.”

Ziffnab advanced on the orc leader. The orc leader was not completely stupid, and he knew that he must kill this boy, and finish off the Elder before anyone else became brave enough to challenge him. The orc leader picked up his heavy axe, which he had dropped when Ziffnab had knocked him to the ground. As he picked up the great axe, he charged Ziffnab, hoping to take the boy by surprise.

Ziffnab was not surprised by the treacherous orc leader, and stood ready for him. Ducking slightly to the left, the great axe just missing him by a hair’s breadth, Ziffnab lashed back with his sword, scoring a hit upon the orc leader’s shoulder. This infuriated the orc leader, causing his swings to become more erratic, though gaining power behind the swing. Ziffnab watched the orc leader’s moves carefully, dodging to the side just in time, and each time scoring another hit upon the leader, until finally Ziffnab finished the orc leader with a thrust through the chest, right through the orc leader’s chest.

The villagers were stunned at this turn of events. Two families had lost their homes, but luckily only a few had injuries from arrows, the majority of the damage having been aimed at the Elder. Ziffnab turned back to check on the Elder, noting his severely weakened condition. The fires from the homes were quickly put out, and the orc bodies burned in a field.

The village held a quick meeting of the older men among them, quickly deciding that the Elder would need to be taken to the nearest large town that housed a temple capable of restoring him to his full abilities. The nearest town was that of Never Winter. After a quick debate, in which Ziffnab took no part, it was decided that Ziffnab would accompany the Elder to Never Winter.

When Ziffnab’s father found him, he kneeled beside the Elder’s bed. He told Ziffnab of the counsel’s decision, and that the village would send a small token of men with his son to accompany the Elder. Ziffnab nodded his agreement, moving mechanically it seemed to care for him.

The next morning arrived cheerfully bright, as though nothing terrible had happened the previous day. As a few of the villagers help Ziffnab load up the wagon, and prepare to take the road leading to Never Winter, he couldn’t help but look to the area where the Elder had bled upon the ground. Ziffnab’s parents came out to see him off, his mother hugging him, and giving him a kiss upon the cheek. His father merely clasped hands with his son, shaking it solemnly. Ziffnab mounted the wagon, where his mentor and leader rested, and clucked softly to the horses. The horses pulled them both towards the far off city of Never Winter.

The road was long, though there was relatively little activity. As the wagon was pulled to the city, Ziffnab contemplated his future. Would he return to his village, to continue being the farmer, or would he stay on in Never Winter, to serve as one of the adventurers he had heard so much about while growing up. He figured he would ask the Elder once he was recovered.

They arrived in Never Winter late in the after noon, on a dreary day shortly after midwinter festival. The gate guards listened carefully to the story Ziffnab told, backed up by a couple of other lads that had accompanied the Elder to this place. The guards gave him directions to the temple of Lathander, and sent them on their way. Ziffnab guided the wagon to the Temple, where a couple of young acolytes helped to unpack the wagon and bring the Elder inside.

Once inside, the Elder was taken to the High Priest, while Ziffnab was brought to the Temple common. Ziffnab knelt before an altar bearing the symbol of Lathander, and began to pray. Unbeknownst to him, the High Priest was busily healing the Elder, returning him his hand, and his health. Ziffnab prayed through the night, and it was in the morning that Ziffnab felt a hand upon his shoulder. Ziffnab looked up, as the sun crested the horizon, once again beaming down upon the Elder.

Ziffnab once again cried as the Elder was restored to health, hugging the Elder’s legs in relief from his kneeling position. The Elder stroked back Ziffnab’s golden locks of hair, smiling down at the man that had been almost as a son to him. After a few minutes of this, the Elder knelt down to bring Ziffnab to his feet.

The Elder smiled to Ziffnab, speaking softly, “I know what is in your heart, my Son.”

Ziffnab looked slightly startled at this. He opened his mouth to reply when the Elder continued, “Your heart is young, and it seeks to know more than the simple farm and village of our home.”

Ziffnab looked down, as it shamed him slightly that the Elder had seen into his heart so easily. He would never leave off his duties to his family and village, unless told to, no matter how his heart yearned to see more of the world.

“You see, my Son, it was Lathander’s will that has brought us to this place.” The Elder paused to watch Ziffnab’s eyes rise questioningly to him. “Lathander knows your heart, my Son. He revealed to me that your help was needed else where. So it was that I was unable to completely defend myself, and had to be brought here to be made whole again.”

“Lathander wishes you to stay on here in Never Winter, my Son. He wishes you to spread His glory and name to those that would deny the Light.”

Ziffnab quietly prayed to Lathander, thanking him for understanding and asking for guidance. The Elder simply smiled to the boy that was now a man.

“I leave for the village again in a few days time. I shall enjoy your company until then.”

Ziffnab spent the next few days with his mentor, praying to Lathander for protection for his family, for a bountiful harvest again next season, and for guidance upon his new road. It was with a heavy heart that Ziffnab stood at the gates of Never Winter and watched the wagon which had brought him to this town. Turning back, Ziffnab surveyed his new home, though it would never truly be home in his heart.

Ziffnab turned to the gate guards, “Where might I register to help the peoples of this town?”

The guards looked Ziffnab up and down, and pointed towards Adventurer’s Hall. As Ziffnab turned, he took his first steps into his new life as an adventurer for Never Winter.

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