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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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