Who We Are
A/N: I’m generally proud of this one.
Dai was exhausted after an entire day of walking. To make matters worse, Stephanie was literally holding onto his heel with one hand. Then, after an hour of this state, Dai kicked her off.
“Walk for yourself!” He exclaimed. Stephanie rolled a little off the path they were on. She dusted herself off as she stood.
“I’m tired! And, a child!” She exclaimed.
“That doesn’t mean you can act like dead weight!”
“No, you listen!” Dai interrupted. Before he could continue, Stephanie jumped him as lightning cracked and thunder roared. Stephanie was stretching Dai’s face as he stumbled around.
“No one interrupts me! I will end you! You’re the reason were lost in the first place! We should have waited for another train!” She exclaimed as Dai tripped and fell off the path and rain came down.
“I wasn’t waiting four days for another train, and sitting in the damn thing for a fifth!” Dai exclaimed as he pulled her off and rubbed her head with his knuckle. Their fighting caused them to roll down a hill quickly. They went back and forth between each other until they landed at the bottom of the hill. They landed two feet away from each other and were covered in mud. They both stood up quickly and charged at each other. Before they went to blows, they noticed that they landed right in front of a two story inn, with a small sized stable next to it. Its walls were white and the roof was red. Above the large door was a sign that said ‘Mountain Hearth’.
“Beds?” Dai asked.
“Most likely.” Stephanie answered. “Food?”
Inside the Inn:
The inn was common, but it was a good place to rest. Against the left wall was an L-shaped bar with all sorts of wines, liquors, and other drinks. At the end of the bar, there was a door that lead to a kitchen. Opposite the bar, on the right wall, was a modest fire place that warmed the room. Next to the bar was a staircase that lead to the rentable rooms. Across the space between the bar and the fire place, were several tables, which were mostly filled by patrons.
Dai and Stephanie walked in. They were both covered in mud and dripping wet. While most would be mocked for this spectacle, the cloth of a paladin was a warning to tread lightly. Both of them walked to the bar and sat at the end. As they did, a silver haired man, with a slight stumble and brown eyes walked to them. He wore a classic bartender’s outfit, with a white shirt, black pants, and a black apron.
“What will it be, sir?” He asked.
“Two-bed room.” Dai said. The bartender nodded and went to get him a key. “I’m going to change in the room. You change after I’m done. In the meantime, order dinner.” Dai said as he stood and the key was handed to him. Dai walked off with the bag he was carrying and up the stairs.
“Okay,” Stephanie started. “The moron will have ale and a steak. I’ll have milk and hot wings.”
“Well, we serve pretty hot wings. Maybe…” Before the bartender could finish, Stephanie grabbed his collar and pulled him close.
“If I say HOT wings, I mean HOT wings.” Stephanie said, then she let got. The bartender ran off in a panic to fill the order.
Twenty Minutes Later:
Dai walked down the stairs. His robes were in his hands and he was now wearing a new attire. It was blue pants, a long sleeved buttoned up white shirt, and common black shoes.
Dai looked over to see Stephanie already eating. However, she was being adored by an elven woman. Her skin was flawless, which indicated she was a high elf. Her hair was black and tied into an elegant ponytail, with little strands of silver flowing through it. A typical elven touch. She was wearing a white duster, with no sleeves, and a top half hugging her torso tight. Below her waist she had loose grey pants and brown sandles.
“Oh, you are just the most precious child ever~!” She exclaimed.
“Leave.” Stephanie said, with a wing in her hand.
“And, so tough~!” Dai walked up behind her and said,
“Please don’t make her mad. It’s unpleasant for you, and for me………….well even more unpleasant.” Stephanie replied to this with a rude remark that could not be made out, because her mouth was full.
The elven woman turned around, revealing her violet eyes.
“Oh, are you her father?”
‘By the One, if one more person says that, I will jump off a cliff’. Dai thought.
“No,” He said. “She’s my ward.” The elven woman nodded to this, but then noticed a pendant hanging from Dai’s neck. It was a silver circle, with a red cross inside.
“Wait, that’s the Templar school pendant.” She said. Dai raised his eyebrow to this.
“How do you…” Dai’s began, but his answer came prematurely as the elven woman pulled a similar pendant out. This one had a golden caduceus.
“Because, I’m from Hospitalier school.” She said.
“Ah, you’re a Paladin as well.” Dai said. The elven woman nodded and put her pendant away.
“Well, just a basic medic. I have no Bond.” She said.
“Have her fix your crabby attitude.” Stephanie said between bites. Dai walked around to her. He took a bottle of hot sauce next to the plate and poured it all over the wings. Stephanie gulped and looked at him hesitantly.
“You think that scares me….” She said, then took a bite.
“Well?” He asked. Stephanie looked up at him with tears and red lips.
“I’m fine!” She exclaimed. Dai rolled his eyes and walked to a table with the elf.
“Better put this away. Hate it when people see I’m a Paladin.” Dai said as he sat down.
“Yeah, people wanting to hear stories.” She said as she sat on the other side.
“More than that.” Dai said as he put away the pendant. “You have to worry about Clerics and mages.”
“Oh, yeah. That.” She said with a somber tone, but then she perked up. “Anyway, my name is Vrilla. Vrilla Dorsyen.”
“I’m Dai Crolot.” He said as he leaned back. “So, care to have dinner with me?”
“I’ve already ordered.” She replied with a smile.
“Then I’ll pay.”
Later that evening:
Stephanie, stubborn as ever, had eaten every single wing. Her mouth burned from sauce and her eyes burned from tears as she walked to the room with a glass of milk. Dai and Vrilla remained as the late night drinking crowd showed. The two were talking about past exploits, with ten glasses and a pitcher before them.
“That star-nosed mole chimera was the most disgusting.” Dai said, with a buzz blush, before drinking his fifth ale. Vrilla shivered at the image.
“Vile. And, you had to bait it with beef you buried in the dirt for five days?” She asked, barely influenced.
“That scent was daisies compared to the lair it dragged me to.” Dai was a little hazed as he stared at Vrilla’s chest. “Vrilla….”
“You having trouble breathing?” He asked. Vrilla looked puzzled.
“Pretty forward there, son!” A loud exclamation. Dai slowly looked up. He saw a middle aged balled man with a full brown beard and blue eyes. He wore a red coat over a black short with brown pants and boots.
“Son?” Dai said.
“Forward?” Vrilla said.
“Name’s Gregor. Mind if I join you? Everyone here is a bunch of light weights!” He exclaimed for everyone to hear.
“Up yours, Gregor!” Someone from the bar yelled.
“I don’t mind.” Vrilla said with a smile.
“Just don’t call me son.” Dai said as he drank more of his ale.
“Sure thing, kid.” Gregor said as he sat down. Then, he pulled out a deck of cards. “Interested in a game?”
--an hour later—
The crowds had thinned and Dai and Vrilla were now flat broke, with a mountain of cash in front of Gregor.
“That was for my homage.” Dai said with his chin on his hand.
“Mine too.” Vrilla said, with a defeated look. Gregor was too busy jingling all the coins too hear them.
“Well you kids sure are generous.” At that moment, Stephanie walked down wearing a blue nightie.
“Dai, I’m going to bed.” She said.
“Fine, I’ll be up in a minute.” Dai said, then Stephanie went back up.
“Is that your daughter?” Gregor asked with a sincere smile.
‘That’s it. His asshole act, taking my money, fine. But, I refuse to be thought of as blood related to her.’ Dai thought as he stood to kick Gregor’s ass.
“I remember my daughter. The way she smiled…..”
“Where is your daughter?” Vrilla asked.
“With the One.” He said. Dai stopped immediately, gritted his teeth, and sat back down.
“I’m sorry.” Dai said.
“Its’r shlk lhyvt shly” Vrilla said.
“Don’t worry about it. Now, would you kids like to win your money back?” Gregor said with a mischievious look.
--half an hour later—
Besides the bartender, the three at the table were the only ones left. Gregor had challenged them to strip poker. Dai had been playing good hands and won back some of his money. Vrilla had lost a few rounds, but had gotten away with just taking of jewelry and shoes, but that option was running dry.
“I’m out.” She said as she tossed her cards on the table. Dai was staring Gregor down. He had two pair and he was not about to lose again. Dai laid his cards on the table and waited for Gregor, who had a serious look on his face. Dai felt it. He had won the hand. Then, Gregor grinned, and laid his hand down.
“Five aces, my boy!” He exclaimed. Dai’s head hit the table as he groaned. “Time to pay up.”
Dai lifted his head up. Not wanting to lose any more money, he decided to do what Vrilla did. He took off his Paladin’s pendant and lied it on the table. When, Gregor laid his eyes on it, his face turned grim.
“You’re a Paladin?” He asked.
“Yes, Vrilla is too. Does that bother you?” Dai replied, tensing up. For a split second, the tension was suffocating, then Gregor smiled.
“No, of course not! In fact, I’ll give everything back! You deserve it, brave Knight.” Gregor said as he stood and walked out of the bar. “Good day to you!”
“That was nice of him.” Vrilla said as she collected her things.
“Maybe.” Dai said as he did the same.
Outside, Gregor stood with his back to the inn. He had a furious expression on his face and his fists were clenched.
‘To think I was sitting next Paladins! Murderous bastards!’ Gregor thought. He slowly looked up to a second floor window. ‘That girl….must be his Pure. I won’t let it happen to her! Not to a child that young!’ Gregor then walked off into the woods.
----two in the morning----
Dai, who was now wearing no shirt and had on blue pajama pants, was sleeping in the bed next to Stephanie, who was center in her bed, under the covers, with a pillow. Slowly the window opened and a shadowy figured stepped through. It crept slowly to the space between the beds. It reached out to the mound that was Stephanie, then Dai shot up from his bed, with his knife thrusted at the figure.
“Tardi.” The figure whispered, with a flick of it’s other hand.
Suddenly, Dai was moving slow. He could feel the power of his thrusts, he could see the figure moving normally, and his thoughts were going through his head as normal, but his body was not keeping up.
“It’s a sickening feeling, I know. Knowing there’s nothing you can do, but the world goes on like you never mattered. I felt that, when my daughter died.”
‘Gregor.’ Dai thought.
“You probably figured it out.” Gregor said as he turned around to reveal his face. “You also now know I’m a mage. One of those people, who hate Paladins with a passion. Truth is, I once thought you were noble. True crusaders, champions of the good, vanquishers of corruption. That changed thirteen years ago.”
“Dai…” Stephanie groaned as she pulled the covers over, revealing her tired face and messy bed hair. She looked at the situation, then jumped to help Dai, but Gregor caught her by the neck.
“Please don’t. I really don’t want to hurt you.” Grogor said.
“Screw…..you….” Stephanie groaned.
“Allow me to continue, Dai. My daughter, who I wanted to be a chronomancer like me, choose to become a Pure. I even had the ‘privaledge’ of meeting the young man she made a Bond with. Good lad, glad he’s dead.”
“My deal, my deal is my daughter left her entire essence to a novice, who died while Bonded.”
‘Damn…..’ Dai thought.
“Yes…..child, do you know what happens when a Paladin dies, while Bonded? The Pure’s essence just drifts around until the body of the Paladin goes through a special rite. But, the bodies of that twon were so mutilated, that the rite was impossible to perform. My daughter, can’t even know peace in death, because a Paladin filled her head with grandeur ambitions of a Pure.”
“Boo….hoo……” Stephanie said.
“You’ll see. I’ll show you.” Gregor said, as he moved to the window. “Goodbye, Dai. This way, I won’t have to dirty my hands in your blood and you can never have your Bond again.” Stephanie started really fighting to get free at this point. Gregor then raised his finger to her forehead. “Lassitudine.” Suddenly, Stephanie felt her body get weaker and weaker. She raised her hand toward Dai, with a defeated look.
“Dai…” She whimpered. In that moment, a single memory went through Dai’s mind.
---3 years ago---
In front of a massive temple adorned with angels at the top, images of paladins in the middle, and ghouls at the bottom, a younger Stephanie, with shorter hair and in a pink sundress, was hiding behind the statue of a knight with a lance and massive shield.
Dai, whose hair was more neat and was wearing a white robe, walked up to the statue. He leaned on it in the front.
“Well, that was a spectacle.” He said.
“I don’t care.” Stephanie said.
“It’s okay to be sca…”
“I’m not scared!”
“Yes you are. I know fear, that was fear.”
“I’m just, thinking.”
“If you don’t want to Bond, it’s fine. I could be a Legionare.”
“Stephanie. Just tell me.” There was a silence for awhile, only interrupted by Stephanie trying to speak. Then, she finally spoke.
“They say, you stop existing. I don’t want to not exist.” Stephanie whimpered. Dai reached back and held his hand out for Stephanie. She took it and walked out in front of Dai, who knelt down.
“You don’t stop existing. You become apart of me. Is that really different from now? You’re still going to be nagging me non-stop.” Dai said. Stephanie huffed and turned her head.
“Jerk.” She said. Dai held her head with both hands and turned her back.
“I’m not going to stop protecting you, even if you’re not next to me. Cause, when we’re Bonded, the stakes are higher. I’ve fought for the two us since the day we met, and I’ll never stop. But, I still need you to be strong, cause you’re going to be my strength from here on.”
Stephanie was stunned for a moment. A tear ran down her cheek, but she quickly wiped it away and got a smug look on her face.
“Yeah, guess you’d be useless without me.” Dai groaned at this, and messed up her hair.
“Come on. I can hear the Elder swearing from here.” Dai said as they walked away.
Dai was kneeling on the ground, the spell just lifted. That memory burned in his mind. Gregor had kept him from keeping Stephanie safe and literally made her weak. There was now little mercy in Dai’s heart. He gritted his teeth and barged out of the room. He walked down the hall to the inn keepers room and kicked down the door. The inn keeper stumbled out of his bed and crawled to the corner. Dai picked him up and held his knife to inn keepers neck.
“Where does Gregor live!?” Dai exclaimed.
“What?” The inn keeper asked, shaking in place. Dai plunged the knife into the wall next to him.
“Where does Gregor live!?” The inn keeper started crying as he replied.
“Over the ridge to the west…” Dai freed his knife and let the inn keeper fall to the floor. Dai went back into the hallway and Vrilla, wearing a loose top and pajama shorts, was there with a worried look.
“What’s happening?” She asked. Dai walked by her and went to his room. “Dai?” A minute later, he returned fully dressed.
“Gregor took Stephanie.” He said as he walked down the stairs. Vrilla followed closely behind.
“Why would he do that?”
“He’s a mage. His daughter died, while bonded, and he wants to take it out on me.” Dai said as he left the inn. He looked to the west and pointed. “He’s in that direction. I’m going on ahead. You go get dressed, grab your medical supplies, and follow me.”
“What are you going to do?” Vrilla asked. Dai pulled his knife out.
“Make him pay.” Dai then ran to the west.
Inside the small white cabin with the black roof, Gregor had pushed all of his furniture against the walls and place Stephanie in the center of the wood floor inside a blue magic circle. Stephanie was cringing and struggling. Every once in a while, a small blue spark would dart through her.
“You’re a strong child. Great will and sharp focus. Would have made a great mage, if that Paladin hadn’t stolen you from your true purpose.” Gregor commented as he paced back and forth.
“Being with Dai…argh! Is better than being………a mage……..douchebag…..” Stephanie said through a pained voice.
“Insolence.” Gregor said as he knelt down to the magic circle. “I’ll just have to amplify it.” His finger slowly inched towards the magic circle, then Dai burst through the front window. He grabbed a large piece of glass in the air and threw it at Gregor. It hit his left shoulder and he stumbled to the wall. With his concentration broken, the magic circle disappeared and Stephanie was free of it’s hold.
Dai rushed to grab her.
“You okay?” He asked in a frantic tone.
“Took……too….long……moron……” She said, her eyes never opening.lass in the air and threw it at Gregor. It hit his left shoulder and he stumbled to the wall. With his concentration broken, the magic circle disappeared and Stephanie was free of it’s hold.
Dai rushed to grab her.
“You okay?” He asked in a frantic tone.
“Took……too….long……moron……” She said, her eyes never opening. Dai lifted her up and ran towards the door. As he did, Gregor slowly stood and looked at them with a grim stare. He raised his hand and said,
“Vidit Corruptionem” He said. Then, a black void shot from his hand. Dai was already out the door, which the void hit. Instantly, the door rotted and the metal latch rusted away. Then, it was like it never exsisted. “You really have left me no other choice.”
----In The Woods----
Dai was crouched down in a dense grove of trees, with a cringing Stephanie curled in his arms. Then, he heard something approaching in front of him. He pulled out his knife, ready to fight. Suddenly, Vrilla appeared riding a chestnut horse.
“What the….” Dai said.
“I explained what happened to the inn keeper. He offered me his horse.” Vrilla explained as she got down.
She then raced over, with a satchel baring the Hospitalier insignia, to check on Stephanie. She knelt down and felt her forehead with one hand and looked for a pulse on her neck with the other. “Her heart beat is irradict.” Vrilla pulled out a white stone and held it over her heart. It began to vibrate and jerk on multiple directions. “Gregor tried to focus her magical powers so she couldn’t be a pure. She fought hard, but now her untapped magic is agitated and doesn’t know what to do, if we don’t calm it will continue to build and destroy her from within.”
“Do something, then.” Dai said.
“I can’t heal her here and certainly not by myself. All I can do is this.” Vrilla took out a small hatchet and cut the stone down the middle. She held one piece over her heart and the other on her back. Stephanie jolted, then fell asleep. Her shaking had subsided. “This will by her time.”
“Main Cannon….” Dai said. “Half a day’s ride by horse.” Vrilla looked back at the chestnut. Then she looked back with a smile.
“Even less for an elf.” Dai nodded and handed Stephanie to Vrilla, who got her ontop of the horse. Dai tied her down as Vrilla mounted behind her.
“Don’t stop for anything. And, when you get to Main Cannon, flag down a range-guard if you can.” Dai said, then looked at Stephanie one last time before sending them off. As the sound of the horse’s hooves faded, it’s sound was replaced by another. That of trees falling from the direction of Gregor’s home. Dai raised his blade and looked back.
“You will pay.” Dai said as he walked toward Gregor.
Gregor was firing his decay attack in every direction. Trees collapsed at the base and fell all around him.
“Trees and little girls. It must be fun hurting things that are that much weaker than you.” Dai said as he emergred from behind a tree.
“Far less heinous than anything a Paladin has done.” Gregor replied.
“You know, you keep blaming Paladins. It’s a two way street. Maybe your daughter was just a lowsy Pure.” Dai said. Gregor screamed in rage and fired another decay void. Dai started running, dodging void after void.
“You dare insult my daughter?!” Gregor exclaimed as he chased. Dai started jumping up into to the trees and across branches.
“After what you did to Stephanie, I dare! You made her weak, the only thing that’s ever given her pain! You think your magic circle would prove a point!” Dai said as he stopped, when Gregor lost track.
“I would make her a chronomancer!” Gregor yelled as he fired randomly.
“She’s not a substitute for your daughter! And I tell you this, she would have died fighting before she became some disgusting idol! And, you would have let her die.” Dai felt sinister at that last comment. Gregor turned to the tree where Dai was, finally finding him.
“If it means less mages become Pures, then so be it!” He then fired another one. Dai, did not leave the tree as it wavered upon its decaying base. Gregor smiled, there were no more trees to jump too and he walked to finish Dai off, when he fell.
The tree was about to give way, but Dai stood his ground. He waited for the perfect moment of Gregor approaching and the tree moving to the right position. Then, Dai heaved his weight towards Gregor, causing the tree to fall in his direction. Gregor tried to tunr back, but Dai sprung himself off the tree, which caused it to fall faster. The top branches landed right ontop of Gregor, who fell over with a pained groan.
Dai fell to the ground with a roll, recovred into a walk, and went to Gregor. He was bleeding, broken, and trapped.
“So…..*coughs*….this is it…..” Gregor said. Dai didn’t respond, he just pulled out his knife. “At least……I’ll *coughs* have…..peace…..” Dai raised the knife and went to strike.
----Next Morning: Inn----
“Master Paladin.” The inn keeper asked behind the bar. He and Dai were the only one’s there. Dai had pack his bags and was just getting a quick drink before leaving.
“I’m sorry about last night.” Dai said. The inn keeper waved his hands.
“No, no. Given the circumstances, I’d say it was justified. Actually, I wanted to ask, why did you let Gregor live?” He asked. Dai took a good gulp of his ale and looked at the shallow liquid.
“Don’t know. I had the knife, but all I could do was deck him.” Dai then sat up and paid for his drink and the horse. He used money he took of Gregor. “I can see how it could be sympathy or mercy. But, I also knew he would be in more pain alive than dead.” He walked towards the door.
“The duke’s men took him this morning. He’ll be sent to Merlin Isle. I hear awful things about that place.” The inn keeper said.
“You should.” Dai said as he left. As Dai got back onto the road, he thought to himself.
‘People think that Paladins are immune to hate, because we do what others can’t. But, the way we do those things is why we are hated.’
‘I will die hated by the majority of mages,’ The image of the smiling Gregor he first met came through his mind.
‘by people who expected more,’ Then it was an image of Vrecho and Bresh.
‘and by those who simply can’t understand’. He last thought of the people from Dorien Village.
‘I carry this because I am a Paladin. By my hands, Corruption dies’.
A/N: Please review! Also, this is what Vrilla said.
‘Your sorrow be mine’.