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Join date : 2009-10-14
Age : 35
Location : Massachusetts
|Subject: Skass Riddari, the Paladin Prince Tue Oct 20, 2009 9:14 pm|| |
To say that my early years were spent solely in the pursuit of pleasure would not be completely true. Most of my actions were for pleasure, but some were simply to torment my father. My name is Skass Riddari, the only child of Drottin Riddari, the Duke of Keldaerin. My mother, Moradin keep her safe, was the first wife of my father and only thirteen when they wed. After only a single year of blissful marriage, she became pregnant with the child my father longed for, but that his wife would never look upon. At the tender age of 15, she was just too young to survive the birthing process. They did everything they could but in the end her fragile body could not take the strain and her heart gave out. My father loved my mother dearly and, as such, spoiled the only part of her that was left, their son, me. I was given anything I asked for. Over the years, it turned from “asked for” to “demanded”. I became self-centered and cruel. I took what I wanted, be it from my father or the people he lorded over. I wore the best clothes and had the finest sword in the city hanging from my hand-crafted leather belt. Of course, the sword and the belt it dangled from were not meant for me. They were actually a wedding present from a blacksmith to his daughter’s new husband, but that didn’t matter to me. I thought it looked stylish and that was enough for me to take it. The blacksmith couldn’t deny me it, not with my father being the lord of the city. The sword was marvelous, and deadly. I still bear a scar on my left arm from when I almost cut my hand off. You see I never actually learned how to use a sword. Why should I? No one would dare challenge the son of Drottin Riddari and I reveled in that fact. That is until about a month after my twelfth birthday when I made a “purchase” from one who did not care who my father was, Dougan Hammerfoot.
The morning started as any other. Waking up at whatever time pleased me, ordering around the castle staff because my breakfast was not waiting for me when I stumbled out of bed well past any decent hour, donning my expensive clothes and sword, and heading out to the marketplace to see if any new wares had arrived that might catch my eye. A dwarven blacksmith had set up shop in my father’s city a few months before my birthday and I felt that I had given him enough time to create something of high enough standards to suit my rank. He had, and it was indeed of exceptional quality. A warhammer, simple in design yet flawless in craftsmanship. A weapon most worthy of a noble, such as myself. Therefore a weapon designed for a noble, and as such I assumed a birthday present for me. Regardless of its original purpose, this is what it became, a present for me. As always, I simply walked over, picked up the hammer and proceeded to walk away, swinging my new toy about with no regard for the safety of the people around me. If they got hit, they should not have been standing there. The next instant, I had the privilege of having the most disgusting thing stuffed into my mouth, horse manure. I was now lying flat on my stomach with my face in a pile of not quite fresh horse droppings. To say the least I was not pleased. I stood up to see what happened and to throw someone in prison, regardless if they had anything to do with my fall. Or at least I tried to stand up, but a rather heavy object was on my lower back and prevented me from moving much. The object was raised and I was told to roll over onto my back. “Told”! No one told me to do anything! I rolled onto my back, not because of the command, but to see who it was I was going to throw in prison. As soon as my back hit the ground, the heavy object was once again placed on me, but this time on my stomach, affectively knocking the wind out of me. I wiped the manure from my eyes and was amazed to find the heavy object to be the foot of the dwarven blacksmith. I never knew something so small could be so heavy, but now I knew why he was called “Hammerfoot”.
“Now lad, I believe you have something of mine,” was all he said. No “sir” or “my lord” or “I’m sorry for standing on you”! Who did he think I was?!
“I believe you are mistaken, dwarf. This hammer now belongs to me.”
To my disbelief, the foot got even heavier. “Now where would you get an idea like that, human? I do not recall sellin’ it to you nor anyone else for that matter.”
“My father happens to be the Duke of these lands…”
“And I happen to be the owner of that there hammer, lad. And I’ll be wantin it back… or I can put my full weight behind me foot.”
Needless to say, I gave the hammer back. I could have him executed for treating me in such a way, but that would mean telling my father what happened, and I couldn’t bear the shame of being beaten so easily. The matter was never known to anyone but me and the dwarf. A few days later, I cautiously approached the dwarf’s shop. Without even turning from his smith I was hailed.
“Back for a rematch, lad?”
I rubbed my still sore stomach and told him “No… sir”. Sir? I call him “sir” now?
“Ah, so what would you be wantin from an old dwarf like me then? I’ve been told you don’ pay for nothing, so you might want to find another shop. Unless his lordship wants another snack. If that be the case, I think there’s a fresh pile 2 feet to your left, my lord.”
I looked to my left and found a still steaming pile of horse manure. After a quick glance, I turned and walked away, while the dwarf chuckled under his breathe. Over the next few weeks, I watched the dwarf work his skill with metal from afar, never getting close enough for him to notice me. His skill amazed me, to be able to devote that much of oneself into anything escaped my understanding. After all, I had never tried that hard at anything. But one day, I arrived at my usual hiding spot, and he was not bent over his work. I crouched down and waited, trying to determine where he was.
After only a short time, I got my answer. “You could learn a lot more by standin closer, and even more by talkin to me, lad.”
I turned and came face to face with the object of my fascination, the dwarven blacksmith. “I did not mean to steal anything, sir.”
“Of that I’m sure of, lad. Especially since you’ve been camped here everyday for almost a month. Now why don’t you come back to my shop with me and we’ll see what we can make o’ you.”
I did not know what else to do, so I followed him. We talked the day away, the dwarf banging away at his metal, and me simply content to listen and ask a few questions. I learned that blacksmithing may be his livelihood, but his true calling was being a paladin of Moradin. He told me that fighting and killing was not his style, so he made weapons and armor for those whose it was. Not that he could not fight, of that I was certain of. When it got close to sunset, we said our goodbyes and I made my way back home, after promising to return tomorrow. It went this way for five more days, until suddenly Dougan asked me what I wanted from life. “After all, lad, stealing from good hard-working folk and watchin’ me work, can’t be all you want.”
I had never thought of it, after all I was only twelve, and told him such. “That’s no reason to not know where yer goin’. Hell when I was your age I had already started swingin’ a hammer. How bout you go home and think about that and we’ll talk more tomorrow.”
It was only mid-day, and quite hot, being the middle of summer, so instead of going home, I turned towards the river that ran outside of town for a quick swim. I swam for hours, and thought about what Dougan had said. What did I want from life? Being the son of a duke, I supposed I would one day take over for my father. But is that what I wanted? To sit in my study and tell other people what to do, never seeing anything but this one city? Close to sunset, I finally had enough of swimming and headed for the clothes I had stripped off and hung from a low-hanging branch, only to discover I was not alone.
“It’s not safe for such a young pup to be out all alone. Especially one with such rich clothes.” The voice was hard, like Dougan’s, but with none of his warmth behind it. Instead it was cold and unforgiving, with four more voices behind it. Robbers, five total, and me naked and unarmed. Of course being armed would not have helped me much, not against five, probable not even against one. By the time they were done with me, I was still naked, but now also bloody and bruised. They took everything I had and then had fun using me as a punching-bag. I stumbled back to the only place I felt safe, not home, but Dougan’s. I barely had enough strength left to knock on the door before I passed out in his doorway. Dougan wasn’t home, he was at the tavern, but luckily he arrived home shortly after to find my unconscious form stretched out, blocking his entrance.
“Well now. Looks like you’ve had a fun day, lad,” he muttered into his beard. He picked me up, carried me into his house and laid me on his bed to spend the night.
I slept until the next evening, when I woke and found almost every inch of my body in pain. I wanted to die. Dougan heard my groans and came in to check on me. “So care to tell me what happened, lad.” Straight to the point as always.
“Five robbers beat me and stole everything I had.”
“Well this I can see. An awakening was it?” “What do you mean an awakening!? I was beat close to death and robbed!”
“Aye lad, that you were. Did it ever occur to you that not everyone cares that your father is Duke Riddari? Or worse, they only care because that means you’ll have a fat purse?” I groaned aloud from the pain and because of the realization that what Dougan was saying was right.
“Remember when I said I was a Paladin of Moradin?” I nodded. “Ever wonder what that means?”
“I was told Paladins are holy warriors that fight for the good people”
“Aye that we are. But we can also heal.”
“Watch and learn, lad.” And with that he came to kneel down next to the bed and speak softly. I could barely hear him, but the one word I could hear was “Moradin” and “Destiny”. When he finished talking to himself, he nodded, as if to give a positive answer to a question that only he could hear. “Agreed.”
“Are you agreeing with someone I said, Dougan? Because if you are, I am confused. I did not say anything.”
“Not you, lad. Not you.” He paused for a minute, deep in thought. “Stand.”
“Dougan, I can’t, I can barely sit up.”
“Try again. And don’t argue.”
“Dougan, I ca…”
I stood. And there was no pain… “How?”
“I have a better question. Do you know the difference between right and wrong?”
“Yes… I do.”
“So stealing is wrong. Even if it’s from people who work for your da’?”
I bowed my head, “yes.” I felt foolish and knew that I had deserved everything that had happened to me by the river.
“Do you feel that, lad. That is called shame. But as bad as it hurts, this is a good feeling. It proves that you finally understand the life you have led so far. I, and Moradin, see something in you that may be great.”
“I don’t understand, Dougan.”
“You’ve watched me work on weapons for awhile now, right. Allow me to explain it the only way I know how and in a way you might understand. To make a well crafted weapon, you need to start with a lump of iron. It doesn’t look like much at first, but once you heat it up and start hittin it with a hammer, it can turn into a fine piece of work. This process is dangerous though, sometimes it destroys the iron in the process, so you have to go slowly or you lose everything. This is like you. Right now, you are that lump of iron. But if you want, we can work together and turn you into a powerful weapon of good. I know you haven’t been honest or decent in the past, but think of your trial at the river as a new beginin’. Now are you willing to do this.”
“There is no maybe, it’s either a yes or a no. I’m gonna go sleep now, and you should to. I healed your body, but your mind and spirit are what really need mending. So sleep now and we’ll continue this discussion tomorrow.”
The next morning I felt more awake then I ever had before. I had the most vivid dream of a powerful dwarf with a beard and hair made of fire wielding a giant hammer. Under his hammer strokes, a lump of metal slowly took shape until finally it bore two arms, two legs, a torso and a head. When he was finished, a man jumped down from the anvil and slowly began to walk towards me. When he got within ten feet, I realized that I recognized his face. It was me! When he got five feet away from me, he stumbled and fell. I longed to run to him and help him up but found that my legs were stuck in quicksand. I called out for him to get up. But he could not. I then turned to the giant dwarf and begged him to help, calling him by name although I had never met nor seen him before.
“Moradin, please I beg of you. Help this man who stumbles and falls.” With a booming voice like a thunderclap he answered me. “Why should I? If you are too weak to help yourself, why should I help you?” I looked again at my feet, still stuck fast in the quicksand, and suddenly looked through the sand! It was an illusion, thought up by my mind to keep me from helping myself. I had always had people waiting on me, giving me what I wanted, that I had forgotten what it was like to do things myself. I began to dig. I threw large piles of sand aside until suddenly I was free. I ran over to the fallen man and helped him up. Once I got him to his feet, I looked down at my hands and saw that there was no sand on them. The sand had never truly existed.
Moradin then walked to me and proclaimed “You have finally understood what it means to help yourself. Dougan Hammerfoot has vouched for you and for that I will give you a chance. But remember this; if you stumble during your training, if you turn away from a person in need or an enemy that is threatening the innocent, I will turn away from you. Be strong and live your life the way you now know how to. Listen to Dougan’s teachings for they are My teachings and you will begin to see a world that you have only dreamt existed.”
And with that I awoke, refreshed and ready to begin my new life as a paladin-in-training for the god, Moradin. But first I had to explain myself to my father. I thanked Dougan for his aid and promised to return tomorrow once I had explained everything to my father. He said that he understood and made me promise also that I would tell no one of my dream. Upon asking him how he knew about my dream, he simply gave me a knowing smile and made me promise. I did and then headed to my father’s castle.
I arrived at the castle shortly after, wearing a shirt and pants borrowed from Dougan. After being questioned by my father’s steward about why I was dressed in such a manner, I immediately began to speak against him and tell him that it was none of his business, then remembered my promise. I answered his question politely and received a very confused look in return and was told that my father was in his study, as always. After stopping to change into something more presentable, as was suggested by the steward, I made my way to my father’s study, where I found him patiently waiting for me, his steward by his side. The steward had already filled my father in on why I had been out all night and my appearance when I finally did arrive home. Instead of being upset about me being away so long, he was grateful that I was home safe, and also to Dougan for taking care of me. This made my next question easier, he already liked Dougan.
“Father, Forgive the intrusion but I wish to speak to you about my future.”
“Apparently this Dougan Hammerfoot has had a positive influence on you. That is the most polite I have ever heard you talk. And I hear that you were even polite to my steward, a feat that has never occurred. So yes, you may speak to me about your future.”
“Father I have a drea… I have made a promise that I do not wish to break.”
“And what is this promise?”
“I wish to train in the ways of a paladin for the god Moradin.”
“Moradin? But that is a dwarven god, Skass. How is it that you even know this name?”
“Through Dougan, sir. Bothe Dougan and Moradin have helped to show me the errors of my life and I wish to continue this education and training. I believe it can only help.”
“The way of the paladin, no what god they follow, is a very difficult one, fraught with danger. It will take years of training, not just of the body, but of the mind and spirit as well. Are you truly willing to devote your entire being to this calling?”
“Father, I do. And I have come to understand all of the dangers associated with this path.”
“Over these short months I have seen the change that has been occurring in you, and I must say I am pleased. So yes, I give you my blessing and Dougan’s as well. Visit when you are allowed, but only when you are allowed. I eagerly await the day when you may call yourself a Paladin.”
“Thank you father. I will not fail you.” And with that I left my father’s house. I would return only a handful of times over the next 6 and a half years, but my father understood and was proud to see the man his son was becoming.
My nineteenth birthday was only 4 months away and, under Dougan’s constant training, I had grown into a strong, just young man. Working as his apprentice blacksmith when I wasn’t training in the ways of Moradin had given me a basic knowledge of the art and strengthened my sword arm. I was not the skinny twelve year old boy anymore; I was now a 5 foot ten inch, 190 pound young adult. My black hair had grown long over the years, it now reached past my shoulders and my skin was tanned from constantly being either in the sun or near a furnace. I could proficient in the use of a warhammer, this being the preferred weapon of Moradin, and also in the use of a shield. Oddly enough, I particularly good with a trident. It was an unusual choice for a paladin, especially one that was trained by a dwarf, but the weapon had just always felt right in my hands and Dougan recognized this from early on. I was also well versed in Moradin’s teachings and felt at ease speaking to my god about any number of matters. Dougan said this was a good sign and that it meant that my training was nearing completion. I felt bothe overjoyed at this and extremely nervous. It meant that soon I would adventure into the world without Dougan to keep me on the right path. When I spoke to him about this, he told me not to worry.
“Since that day over six years ago, I have yet to see you perform a dishonest act or to waver in your calling. Just because I am not there does not mean that will change. Moradin goes with you always.” And so I kept at my training right up until the day of my nineteenth birthday. “The time has come, lad.”
“The time, sir?”
“The time for you to become a full paladin of Moradin. I know you are ready and so does Moradin himself.”
“What must I do, sir?”
“There is a temple to Moradin only 3 days journey from here. You must ride there and spend an entire day and night praying. Moradin will let you know when you are ready to exit the temple and reenter the world with Moradin always at your side.”
“When should I leave, sir?”
“First go to your father and advice him that you will be gone for a week. When that is done, come back here. Everything will be ready for you to head out.”
“Yes, sir.” And with that I headed up to my father’s castle for the first time in over a year. I explained everything to him and he understood what I had to do. He wished me luck on my journey and would be eagerly awaiting my return as a Paladin. I returned to Dougan and informed him that I was ready. He handed me a map, and showed me to a horse he had rented for my journey. He had already packed the saddlebags with enough provisions to get me there and told me I would be able to restock when I left the Temple. At this, he said he would see me soon and went back into his house. With nothing left to do, I saddled the horse and rode for the Temple.
The journey was uneventful. Robbers look for easy victims, and although I did not appeared armed, I was far from an easy victim. It took me a little less than the three days to reach the temple due to good weather and, after a few polite questions, I was welcomed with open arms into the temple of Moradin. I was not there for a day and a night however, but slightly longer. Moradin and I spoke for a long time about my life up until this point and what my life would be once I left the temple. I did not know how long I spent speaking to my god, but was not surprised to find that I had been in there for almost three days when I finally emerged. The dwarves of the temple were not surprised however. They had been informed by Moradin that I was safe and well. Upon exiting, I was given a hearty dinner and told to rest that night and leave in the morning. I was grateful for the hospitality of the dwarven followers of Moradin and thanked them for the meal and the rest. In the morning, I awoke to find my horse waiting for me with once again full saddlebags. I thanked my fellow paladins again and proceeded on my way back to the city of my birth. The return trip took slightly longer but this had nothing to do with the weather or bandits. It was simply because Moradin had given me a lot to think about and the open road is a great place to think. I arrived home after a 4 day return journey to find Dougan not at his house. I asked the nearest merchant if he had seen Dougan and was informed that he had headed up to the castle that morning. I was perplexed by this but decided to head to my father’s castle. I was met with fanfare. Apparently Moradin had informed Dougan that I would be arriving that afternoon and he rushed to tell my father.
The whole castle and most of the town was there to congratulate me, even those I had wronged in my youth. Every time I started to apologize to one of them, I was told not to worry about it. That it was “water under the bridge” and that I was a very different person now. It was also to be a birthday celebration since I had headed out to the temple the day of mine. I politely declined all the presents from the different merchants, stating that I had taken enough from them over the years but thanking them for the offer. From my father however, I was told to follow him into his study. Once we were there and alone, he hugged me, something he had never done before. He told me that he was proud of me and that he had a gift for me. He pulled a sheet off a humanoid shape to uncover a beautiful suit of full plate armor, complete with shield and helmet. I was awestruck, but shook my head “no”. My father did not understand why I could not accept this gift.
I explained. “Father, I thank you for the gifts but I can not accept them. I have come to understand the value of life as well as objects. I know now that you must earn the things given to you and I have not yet earned a suit of armor of this quality. With your permission, I wish to go to the armory and choose a suit more fitting my low rank and experience.” He stated that he understood and that was fine. After returning from the armory, I now wore a well-worn breastplate with matching greaves and helmet. They were worn but still in good shape and would protect me well until I had earned better armor. I also carried a large slightly dented metal shield. With these pieces of armor, I headed back up to my father’s study. He approved of my choices and told me that I had grown much in the past 6 years. I thanked him for his gifts, but was informed he had one more.
“I had hoped you would make the decision you did, and so kept one gift hidden from you. I have been told that you favor the trident so I had this brought up out of the armory and cleaned and polished for you. It has seen many battles, and although it is not magical or special in any way, it will serve you well. This is my last gift to you and I hope you do not use it lightly.” I accepted the trident and thanked him for all his gifts. “Nonsense, you are my only son. I am allowed to give you some things, if not all. Now, let us get back to your party and celebrate one of our last nights together, for I see in your eye that you will not be staying here long.” I chose not to answer but followed him back to our guests.
By the time the last guest left it was well past sunset. Now all that remained were, my father, Dougan, and myself. I said farewell to my father for he was correct and I would be leaving in the morning. He embraced me again and told me to return whenever I had the chance. I would always have a bed waiting for me and a good meal. “Aye after a long road you can not ask for anything sweeter, lad” was Dougan’s only farewell to my father. I stayed at Dougan’s that night and after being on the road so long slept soundly in the cot that had been mine for the past 6 years. In the morning, I was busy packing when Dougan came to talk. I assumed it was only to give me a few more tips on how to “keep me hide in one piece”, I was wrong. It appeared that even Dougan had a gift for me.
The warhammer that had brought us together all those years ago. “You tried to take this when it wasn’t yours to take. Now you’ve earned it, and I give it to you gladly. It’s well made and will serve you, of that I’m sure.” I thanked him for both the hammer and for everything he had already given to me, the least not being a purpose. He told me that if I walked Moradin’s path without wavering than that was payment enough. He embraced my arm in friendship, said “May Moradin watch over you and keep you safe and may the roads you walk eventually lead you back home” and with that, turned and walked into his house, and I was on my own.
That was four years ago. I’ve grown in both my understanding of Moradin’s teachings, and in the way to best express them. I travel now with a group of adventures and seek to spread the good word of my god. Some of my companions do not share my beliefs, but that may someday change.