Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Scrolls of the Gatekeeper (Part V) Paladin & Pernicious

Scrolls of the Gatekeeper I: It's A Hellish Tale
Scrolls of the Gatekeeper II: An Unholy Union
Scrolls of the Gatekeeper III: Uriel
Scrolls of the Gatekeeper IV: Paladin

Paladin touches an open wound on his face. It runs from the bridge of his nose, diagonally, to the lobe of his ear. He sighs.

“A battle delayed your arrival?” asks Raynor.

Paladin nods and remembers the hours in the old forest before joining his fellow Warriors.


He wrestles with his own feelings and, yes, his fears. (Understand that a Warrior’s fear is different from that of a human’s, as it grows out of concern for others rather than for himself.)

“You cannot stray, Paladin, my faithful guardian,” the voice of the King whispers through swaying trees and speaks to him. “You are strong in mind, body and soul. Do not listen to the words of your enemy. There is nothing in their world you desire. Nothing.”

Nothing, Paladin thinks. He has only to take a good look at the decrepid form of Pernicious who now stands before him at the edge of the woods.

“Didn’t die? A little disturbing, I must say.” Pernicious squeals. He smirks and lets the strands of putrid spit drip slowly down his boney jaw.

Paladin approaches with great caution. Pernicious’ claw shakes uncontrollably with anticipation. He would not have to cross the Effervescence, which would only burn him. The Whisperer's enemy has come to him.

The faithful Guardian leaves his hooded cloak in the woods. His chain mail shirt is tossed upon it as he walks (almost leisurely) into the warmth of the river. At the lowest part of it, halfway across, he halts.

“Return his countenance as he was before,” the faithful Guardian requests of the King.

Pernicious grins with delight. “’Tis only fair,” he mutters.

The petition is granted, not for Pernicious’ sake. Transformation is swift within a blinding light. Paladin shields his eyes. A horrid scream pulsates through the Guardian's heart and suddenly it is his long-time friend, or so it seems, known as Talmud who stands poised for battle. The contest will be fair, even though in ages past, Paladin did not receive the same courtesy. In this hour, however, the Guardian is well prepared.

It is a familiar sight—Talmud, beautiful and strong. Yet something is different. Talmud is no longer filled with a sense of belonging and purpose. The Guardian sees the emptiness in Talmud's eyes. Appearance can so easily fool.

Talmud mocks Paladin by folding his arms, a show of pride, no doubt. The crystal waters of Effervescence start to boil, forming frothy white peaks. Talmud worries, unfolds his arms and moves away from the river’s power.

Wind escapes from the old forest and picks up the stray leaves blowing a path to Paladin’s feet.

The God of nature, with all its beauty and strength, whispers, “I am with you, faithful Guardian.”

Paladin once more searches deep within Talmud's eyes hoping to find evidence, any small sign of remaining goodness, but sees nothing. It is pure evil after all.

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