Short Story: A Paladin's Love

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swaswj

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Jorland Brae and Arturius Lightbringer were the Ultima Online characters of two of my friends, RPing as paladins. There's even a brief reference to my own character in this story, based on what the real Jorland said. Jorland was the person who first gave me the courage to show my writing to other people. Both of them were authors and there was a lot of narrative between their characters, so Jorland's encouragement went a long way. I still kept it very tight, though, only showing writing to people who I knew.

I wrote this as an expansion on something that Arturius said to Jorland in one of their stories. Jorland, distraught with thoughts of his first love, sought advice from his mentor and brother-in-arms, who replied with a self-assured, "Chivalry is a paladin's love."

I think that quote alone spawned at least three stories with me doing character analyses around the concept. It also began my character-driven writing, since this was the first time I tested a concept by putting a developed character in a situation and writing to discover how they would react.​



~ A Paladin's Love ~


Jorland strode through the jungles south of Trinsic. He had no destination, no purpose. He was lost, but it didn't matter to him. As he continued on, his eyes looked ever forward, open yet seeing nothing.

The paladin's armor made little noise, though it weighed down his every step. The armor was well taken care of, rigorously polished and oiled daily. Dutifully polished and oiled. Duty, chivalry, Honor -- was there no more for him than this?

All those years he had grown up with his family, all those years he'd spent on their farm in the Serpentspine Mountains, his father had told him so many stories. They were stories of past glory, of the Brae family heritage.

Up there, where he'd never seen anyone but his nearest neighbors, where he and his father worked the farm, where they took breaks to spar with one another, up there it had all seemed so easy. It had seemed so glorious. It had seemed so right. Jorland was no longer so sure.

There had to be something more.

An image of the woman flashed in his mind. He felt a sudden painful ache in his chest, and he stopped in his tracks, clutching at his heart. Forcibly, he put her out of his mind, and continued onward, to nowhere.

He was still so young when his entire family was killed, when his family's land was destroyed by that shadow, the Northern Darkness. It was another piece of his family's heritage, one he'd never been told of. It was one he had found out the hard way, the difficult, excruciatingly painful way.

It was one of many things he'd never been told of his heritage.

Jorland had escaped, or been let go; either way, he made his way down the mountain to Britain. The people there tried to help him, but none were willing to venture back to the Brae farmstead. Sometimes, circumstances cause people to grow up sooner than later.

All his life, he'd been told that he would have to uphold the Brae family name. All his life, he'd been told stories of the accomplishments of his ancestors, every one of them paladins of Montor, later known as Trinsic. He had nowhere to go and nowhere to go back to; he traveled to the city of Trinsic.

It was there that he pursued his family's dream of paladinhood. Jorland was refused for a long time. He was too young, untrained. None of the paladins had time to aid him. Discouraged, Jorland was taken in by the Order of the Blackguards. There he met companions who were willing to help him become what he needed to be.

Jorland thought of Will. They'd spent a lot of time together, sparring. The others were less willing to because of Jorland's choice of weapon: the bludgeoning maces and hammers were destructive, taking a heavy toll even in friendly bouts. Will... who had a definite sense of Honor, but swore himself to no duty.

While with the Blackguards, Jorland met Arturius Lightbringer. Arturius was a paladin -- a real paladin, not like the men who refused to take his oath. It was Arturius who took him in, taught him the ways of the paladin, and taught him the code. Arturius brought Jorland to the Paladin's Hall, standing over him as Jorland swore the oath, swore by the code.

When the Blackguards disbanded, Jorland went over to Arturius's guild, the Crusaders of Light. Most of the Blackguards did so as well; the two guilds had long been allies. Jorland followed Arturius, who became his mentor, his idol, and his brother.

Jorland paused, as he thought back on those days so long ago. He wondered if Arturius had ever questioned. Yet Jorland knew he had not. Arturius was the definition of a paladin: he took to the oath, the code, and the life of a paladin fully and completely. Jorland had always wished he could have that kind of dedication to chivalry.

Sometimes he was afraid he would never be able to measure up to Arturius.

Sometimes... sometimes he was afraid that he would.

Chivalry...

Jorland thought of all the times they stood together. Side-by-side, he and Arturius had fought back against evil and darkness. They had driven it back. It was their duty, a duty they upheld without fail.

Chivalry: a paladin's love.

When Jorland thought back, though, to those times, he realized something he never had before. The guild was always there. Will, Fu, Dumas, Aster, Dylan, Alyx, Arttoa... . None of them had given the oath, yet they all, for one reason or another, stood beside the two paladins. They all fought for the same causes, but the others were not honor-bound by duty.

A paladin's love? Why did he ever succumb to that?

All his life, Jorland had been fulfilling duty. He wondered, now, when would he be able to live?

There has to be something more... why couldn't he feel?

Jorland paused as he stepped into a splotch of sunlight. In front of him was a familiar sight. Wondering how long he'd been walking, Jorland looked down at himself. He was exhausted, drenched in sweat, covered in grime. A long time.

Even without direction, his footsteps led him here, of all places: the Shrine of Honor.

The eight stone pillars formed a circle around it. Jorland stepped forward, into the circle. The grey stone walls protected three sides of the shrine, leaving the side in front of him open. There was no roof over the large standing ankh.

Jorland pulled out his warhammer, holding it up in front of him. He took a few shaky steps forward, then went to his knees before the symbol of Honor on the stone floor. He looked at the chalice engraved in the jade tile.

The paladin rested the head of the hammer on the floor, wrapping his gauntlets over the handle. He looked up at the ankh pleadingly; hoping it could give him some kind of answer. He closed his eyes, placing his forehead against his clasped hands, and began to recite the mantra of Honor, with a prayer.

"Summ... may the day give Truth to eliminate the shadows.

"Summ... may the night give Courage to those who must face the darkness.

"Summ... may the proceeding dawn breathe Love into the hearts of stone."

Jorland's voice was shaky, hesitant, as he added another line to his prayer, "Summ... may Truth... give me Courage... to discover... Love."
 

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