Written By: Govannon Mac Lyr, Steward of Mythndale
The remnants of a soft golden light shimmered in the air about the old smiths' foot as Gabe leaned back, watching yet not seeing the man before him. He saw glorious battles, dragons and damsels, knights in shining...
His reverie was broken as the smith grunted in relief, snapping Gabe's attention back just in time for the dragon in his mind's eye to fade into the unsightly wiggling of Aedric's toes.
"M'thanks again, young master! I'd best be gettin' back t'the forge straight away, lest the fires cool too much!"
"Do try not to drop any more ingots on your toes Aedric, that's the third one this week!"
A heartfelt clap on the back was Aedric's reply, and he rushed out the door with a wink. Watching him go with a sigh, Gabe wondering how he'd ever vanquish a dragon if all they taught him here was patching up a few bumps and scrapes. He'd thought training to be a Paladin would be much more... exciting.
"Not what ye thought it'd be, eh lad?"
"Milord Edwin! I... I didn't know ye were... erm... it's not that, it's just..."
"I think it's time we had a talk. Ye've got your Book of Chivalry, the one purchased from the Keepers here in Luna?"
Gabe nodded his head, wondering exactly how much trouble he'd gotten himself into. Luckily, he'd remembered to leave an offering at the shrine, "tithing" his gold to the large stone ankh that sat in its alcove on the upper floors. The gold was put to good use, so he was told, though he wasn't exactly clear on the reason behind it. He assumed it to be a show of goodwill, demonstrating one worthy of the ability to invoke the Paladin's skills. Not that it would help him here. He was in trouble for sure this time.
Just then, Edwin reached out to clasp Gabe's wrist in one hand while resting the other atop the hilt of his broadsword. Gabe flinched in fear, and when he opened his eyes the only thing keeping his knees from buckling beneath him was Edwin's solid grip. Luna's sandstone walls were gone, replaced by a ramshackle little village nestled upon the shores of a large lake. Belatedly, he realized Lord Edwin had invoked the Paladin's "Sacred Journey," a chant all Paladins learned when their initial training was complete and they were sent into the world for the first time.
"Don't worry lad, ye'll get used to it. Now come along."
They strode into the village, two sentries bowing respectfully as Edwin approached. Gabe stopped, rooted to the ground, eyes wide as his teacher conversed with the meer.
"M... Meer..." he stammered in disbelief, eliciting a chuckle from Edwin as his mentor turned back to him.
"Come lad, I've something to show ye."
Gabe followed dumbly, watching the meer in awe as they walked by. He'd never seen a meer before, he hadn't even known if they were real until now; only whispered of in tales told at the fireside. Now this was adventure! He couldn't wait to return and tell the other neophytes what he'd seen!
It was then that he saw true agony for the first time in his young life.
"The meer are tied to this land, Gabriel, and many unscrupulous fortune hunters bring war upon them for the satisfaction of a few magic trinkets. This is what they leave behind in their wake..."
They both looked through the doorway of a small bungalow, where a young meer woman sang softly, sadly, as she tended the meer lying abed before her. His body was wracked with pain, the very bones grating outward against one another in ways too gruesome to imagine. Gabe blanched at the sight; it was as if a great storm tossed the bones about within the meer's body, and his soft moans were but the sound of the winds escaping from within.
"He's cursed," whispered Edwin through clenched teeth, "the meer requested our aide, for their magic has no ways of fighting off the necromancers' spells."
Edwin paused a moment, watching the warring emotions cross Gabe's face as he took in the scene.
"What do you feel, Gabriel?"
Images flashed through Gabe's mind... horror... anger... fear... all flooded through his thoughts, tumbling over one another in their rush to escape... and all were washed away when his heart spoke true.
"I feel... Compassion."
Edwin rested his hand atop Gabe's shoulder, a slight smile creasing his concerned frown.
"Then there's hope for ye yet."
Weeks had passed since that fateful visit to Lakeshire, and Gabriel had outstripped his fellow initiates in the classroom and on the training field. That night, Edwin had initiated him into the arts of Chivalry. Close Wounds, and Sacred Journey... they were but chants that drew on the power behind the Paladin's belief... but in removing the curse upon the meer, Gabe had taken his first real step along the path of chivalry. Each chant he would learn was but the extension of a Virtue, the guiding principles of the land.
Gabe had learned the chant that drew forth the powers of Compassion that day with the meer, 'Extermo Vomica.' In time, he came to learn to draw on a power that eluded many who would follow the Paladin's path: Humility. To cleanse one's self with fire was to humble yourself before the powers you served; to know that the power of Virtue flows through the Paladin, not from him. These chants formed the cornerstone of his initial training, along with the closing of wounds, for without Compassion and Humility, a Paladin is just a warrior.
His skills as a warrior, however, grew in tandem with his study of the Virtues. His stamina held out long after his fellow trainees had tired themselves out, for he had spent time honing his "focus," his mind and body refreshing themselves even as he pushed them to their limits. Lord Edwin smiled on from the sidelines one day as he saw Gabe reciting the oath of Honor while saluting a fallen sparring partner. "Consecrus Arma!" "A sword wielded with Honor is more powerful than an army of spears."
Shortly thereafter, he had achieved his status as a Novice in the Order, nearly half way to his goal of becoming a Grand Master. He was taught how to travel by channeling the power of the Virtues upon a runestone. For the first time in many months, he found himself alone. His Sacred Journey had taken him to the steps of the Dungeon Despise, where, armed with the cry of Valor, 'Divinum Furis,' he descended into the darkness. There his apprenticeship would be completed only when he'd discovered the path of Justice, and could dispel the evil that lurked within the mountain, Honestly and openly facing down his chosen enemies... the 'Forul Solum...'
-Govannon Mac Lyr, Steward of Mythndale