It happened once that there was a warrior, and he was the son
of a warrior, and the grandson of a warrior. He was a holy warrior, a
paladin in the service of the Elder God whose name had long passed into
mystery, but whose power is strong yet. And it came to pass that his quest
brought him to the edge of a valley, and his goal lay on the far side of that
same valley, and his path lay through it. He looked out over that valley
and saw that it was filled with the demons of darkness, who strove to
keep him from his goal. Undaunted, he strode down the path and entered
the teeming valley. The demons at the edge were great hairy monstrosities
with clubs of bone, with which they set upon him in a deathly silence.
The paladin brought his sword to bear and faced them down,
putting his lifetime of training and experience into his blows, and
slowly advanced down the path. With each step forward the demons
pressed in closer, the whistling of their clubs through the air the
only sound they made. The way grew harder, and the paladin felt his
strength begin to wane. Struck with the realization that his own strength
would not be enough, he reached deep inside and called upon the link that
bound him to his god, summoning the power of the divine. New strength
welled up within him, and his sword began to move faster. He found that
it moved without his guidance, blocking and parrying faster than his
reflexes could react. He fought to retain control, and felt the divine
guidance fading, his weariness returning.
He then realized that he must hold his faith strong, and allow
his sword to be wielded in his hands. And he concentrated on that faith,
letting it burn within him, and his sword and armor became imbued with
holy fire. The blows of the demons were easily deflected by the flaming
sword through almost no effort of his, and confidence surged within him.
Each parry came faster than the last, and he set forward on the path
again toward the far side of the valley. His attention no longer on the
attacking demons, he looked up to where the path led, a great temple of
gleaming white stone, bright lights streaming from its multi-colored
windows. And while he gazed and walked, a ringing blow struck him from
behind, bringing him to his knees.
The warrior staggered and rolled, dodging the flailing clubs
with reflexes alone, his concentration broken and the light of his
sword faltering and fading. Fearing all was lost he focused his
attention on the demons about him, his will to live giving strength
to his arm as he beat them back. Slowly he stood again, reaching down
within once more to find his holy flame. And as he drew himself upright
and that flame once more ignited his sword he realized that it was not
enough to defend him alone, that though it had become a tool of his
god, he must still wield it.
With new resolve he fought back to the path of his quest, and
began once more to advance along it, toward that distant temple. Each
step along it he knew brought him closer to his goal, yet he knew that
only by defeating the demons could he reach it. So he focused his will
and power to that goal, and his sword flared white as he cut them down,
one after another. The combined might of his warrior skills and focus
and his god's power were too much for even the strongest demon, and
the weak ones fled rather than face him. As the last demon to block
his way fell before his blade he climbed the edge of the valley and
saw once more his goal.
And so at last the weary paladin entered the temple on the far
side of the demon-possessed valley, and as he entered he felt refreshed,
the rigors of the struggle fading from his body. As he looked about the
marble pillars, an old woman approached him from the inner sanctum and
welcomed him. He asked of her, "To whom is this temple dedicated?" She
laughed softly and replied, "You wear his symbol on your helm, and yet
you ask?" And his heart was light as he knelt before the altar, having
found the temple of his god. But the woman continued, and spoke the name
of the god whose temple it was, and the paladin started and stared into
space with his mind in turmoil. For the name she named was his own.
This story was written for, and at the inspiration of, a good friend.
I include it here because I feel that it is worthy reading,
and perhaps the ideas it touches upon are applicable in TFC as well.
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