Monday, June 16, 2008

On Guard!

"Maybe you just weren't meant to be a Paladin, Gerald."

The two men sat on a cold stone bench in the courtyard of a great library. The speaker was older, his face was hard. The younger man looked up at him, his black hair just beginning to show hints of gray at its edges.

"Do you really believe that, Tarsen?" The younger man asked.

"It's your temper, Gerald. If you don't learn to control it, it will lead you to the path of the Shadow."

"Something is not right here." Gerald began, "That group of refugees..."

"were infected by the Plague," Tarsen cut him off, "or would you have given the Undead shelter behind our very walls!?!"

"Individuals are to be quarantined for 30 days to see if they show signs of the plague!", Gerald rebutted.

"Don't quote the Code to me, Squire Gerald! I taught you the Code, I taught you everything you know! You were given and order. An order that came down from the Highlord himself, or do you fancy you can discern the living from the dead better than the High Inquisitor herself?"

"I don't think the High Inquisitor and the Highlord are completely stable."

Tarsen's voice got very quite. "You speak dangerous words, my young apprentice." Then he raised his voice. "You were given an order, and you disobeyed it."

Gerald could feel the rage begin to burn inside him as he looked at Tarsen. "I will not strike down an innocent man, who did nothing more than come to our gates asking for food and shelter!"

"You were given an order, Squire, and you disobeyed it. Now I have been given an order." Tarsen stood and drew his sword from its scabbard.

"Tarsen?"

Tarsen's voice became almost mechanical. "Squire Gerald Trueblade, you have been found guilty of dereliction of duty, insubordination and treason against the Crusade. You are guilty of being a Undead sympathizer. The punishment for your crimes is DEATH!"

Gerald reached for his own sword. Tarsen took one step towards him and then stopped. Suddenly, he features began to deform, and a moment later. Gerald was staring at a sheep.

A Draenai phased into view. "Aoes?" Gerald asked.

"You were expecting someone else?" Aoes replied. "Look, I can keep him like that for a very long time, but you've got to get out of here."

Aoes handed Gerald a small sack. "Here, it's an entire set of Scarlet Chain, well, minus the boots. It's even got a tabard."

"Thank you, Aoes. I don't know how I could ever repay the kindness you've shown me today."

The Draenai put his large hand on Gerald's shoulder. "You are a good man, Gerald. There was a time when a Dwarf, and Paladin at that, did a similar kindness for me."

Aoes began an incantation and a few seconds later a portal appeared. Inside Gerald could see Dwarves walking around.

"Ironforge?" Gerald asked.

"Yes, talk to Griffon Master, he can give you a Griffon that will take you to Southshore. There, look for a man named Raleigh." Aoes turned as the sound of metal boots on the hard stone floor filtered into the courtyard. "He can help you, but you've got to go now!"

Gerald stepped through the portal and immediately the smell of soot and smoke assaulted him. He found his way to the Griffon Master, and took the flight to Southshore.

He found Raleigh upstairs in the end and relayed his story.

"That's quite a tale, Gerald. I once served the Scarlet Crusade with honor, loyalty and pride. I believed their cause to be a noble one: to rid Azeroth of the undead. But as I spent time at the Monastery I realized that their grasp on reality was slipping. They now think everyone is plagued who doesn't wear the tabard of the Crusade. Innocent men and women were tortured because they were supposedly plagued. The Scarlet Crusade must be crushed in the name of the Light. You must help destroy the deranged regime.

"Raleigh, I'm not so sure that the path of the Paladin is the one I wish to follow. First Arthas, now Tarsen and the Crusade. The power of the Light is too much for some men to bear."

Raleigh looked over Gerald for a moment.

"Perhaps you are right, Gerald. I sense you are a good man with a deep sense of honor and a capable fighter. I want you to go to Northshire Abby, near Stormwind. The Crusade wouldn't look for you there, but nevertheless, you might want to come up with an alias to help hide your identity. Speak to a man named Llane Beshere. I think he can help you find your path."

Gerald went back to Ironforge and took the Tram to Stormwind. From there he walked north to Northshire Abby. There he found Llane Beshere.

"Bah, you're no Warrior. Look, I don't know why Raleigh sent you to me, but if you want to make yourself useful, take that sword and shield of yours and go see Deputy Willem."

Gerald walked outside and found the Deputy just a few steps from the Abby.

"You Deputy Willem?"

"I am"

"They call me Honorsguard, and I'm reporting for duty."

"Honorsguard, eh?", Deputy Willem paused for moment, "Well, I guess we can't be too choosy these days, and  I doubt you'll survive long enough for it to matter. I hope you strapped your belt on tight, Honorsguard, because there is work to do here in Northshire, and I don't mean farming. The Stormwind guards are hard pressed to keep the peace here, with so many of us in distant lands and so many threats pressing close. And so we're enlisting the aid of anyone willing to defend their home. And their alliance. If you're here to answer the call, then speak with my superior, Marshal McBride. He's inside the abbey behind me."

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