The Temple of Elemental Evil
High Castle Paladin to Heronious The Invincible
His very first memories are those of his greatest passion in life. Those of combat in all of its glory. The metallic clash and brilliant sparks of swords connecting at their sharpened edges. The dull thuds of blunt weapons landing on defending, battered shields. The creaking of bows after arrows have been notched and drawn. Followed by the soft whispering hums of those arrows flying swiftly through the air towards their targets. Battle cries soaring ever higher of those whom are fighting for their cause. Except this time was different. Much different. He was but only a small child when his village was laid siege upon by the very forces he would later swear to defend against.
This time he was consumed with an uncontrollable fear as he cowered with his mother in the corner whilst his father stood armed with only a longsword to defend his family. This overwhelming terror that gripped him heightened his senses. He could see the same fear that overcame himself in his father’s widened, flinching eyes. He could hear the sounds of battle all around his family’s house. The horrifying screams of innocents being brutally slaughtered, raped, and beaten. The raging blaze of fires that crackled and popped as they engulfed the village’s houses and huts without prejudice. The sounds of agitated, panicked village livestock and pets rustling in their enclosures and pens. The bursting and splintering of wood as his family’s barred door as it was smashed open with great force. It was now upon him, his horrors realized. Time ground to a halt and simultaneously passed by in a single instant in the moments to follow. It was over before he knew it yet he would be able to recount every detail in its immensity to the last of his days. Before his family stood two men wearing dismal colored, unfitted armor full of rust and neglect. Blood dripped from each of their weapons onto the wood floor of the house. Through the caked on dirt and dried blood on the men’s armor he could see what looked to be a skull crest worn by each.
His father lunged in but was no match as he was quickly slain with a splattering, misty crimson hue. His mother chokingly sobbed at her loss as she shielded her son behind her. As they approached the two of them she forced her son aside away from the danger closing in. She screamed for him to flee between sobs. He could hear the disparity echoing through her voice. She hurled herself at the threat to her son. She knew it was vain but in a selfless act of love she fought for any and every second she could to afford her son time to escape. With his back turned and dashing toward the gaping hole in the wall where the door was once fixed upon its hinges he heard a final shriek from his mother that resonated in his bones and he knew she was lost.
Scrambling toward the opening over the slain corpse of his father he saw the longsword that was once wielded in his defense. He and everything around him stopped and he was now faced with a decision. Run now and be caught or face his enemy. Slowly he turned and knelt reaching for the sword. Though he did not yet know it and possibly from the moments to follow this would become his weapon of choice. The chill of the cool night air seeped in at his back sending chills down his spine. He grabbed the handle of the sword. It was heavier than he thought. There was no time now to abandon his decision to face the evil that had just claimed both of his parents. He heaved the sword up, facing it toward his attackers. Amused at his efforts to lift the blade and at the idea he could face them they smirked to one another. The two furthered their entertainment with the child by knocking his sword away only to watch him struggle to pick it up once again. He was thrown outside, slapped to the dirt, and kicked. This beating repeated to the two attacker’s joy. The boy, unyielding in the face of defeat, would always stand and hoist the sword up. After some time he managed to cut one of the men. Being only a slight nick, the small flesh wound didn’t dissuade the man. Rather it infuriated him. His rage only furthered by the laughter of his companion who had fallen to his knees in his fit mirth. With his teeth gritting and eyes bulging the “wounded” (pride most of all) man charged, kicking at the boy and planting his foot squarely into his small chest. The child was sent hurdling back landing on the frosty earth. Laying there grasping for his air that had escaped him he could see the stars above. His teary, wincing eyes only made the shine brighter. He knew this would be last he’d see the night sky or anything at all.
Just as he felt the last of his hope draining from him he heard the sound of a horse’s gallop rapidly approaching. He turned in its direction to see one of the largest horses he had ever seen. It was clad in a finer armor than any knight the boy had ever admired. The steed’s armor was bested only by its rider’s. He was donned in ornate plated armor without so much as a single scratch or ding. The two of them were brilliant and gallant as they lead the charge towards the village. They glowed with intense radiance as the rider dispatched the two men with ease. He commanded his force to drive back the horde and retake what was left of the town. He dismounted and approached the child. Just before the child lost consciousness the knight knelt down placed his hands on the child’s bruised body and the child was instantly filled with a soothing comfort as his pain eased.
The child awoke in a confined quarter with only a bed, small wooden table and chair. He had been bandaged and changed. His tattered clothes had been washed and placed neatly folded in the chair. Upon the table was a bowl of stew, some bread, jug of water, and cup. He quickly rose out of bed and with some soreness dressed himself. He proceeded to open the door only to find a guard posted outside. The guard kindly with a gentle voice implored the boy to eat and regain his strength. The guard then instructed the child to patiently wait as he would be summoned to be questioned about the events of the previous night. Over the next few hours the boy learned much from this friendly guard. He learned that his village had been attacked by the Boit people. He had been brought to High Castle at Verbobonc to be healed and cared for. High Castle is the temple of worship for Heronious the Invincible where knights and clerics alike are trained to combat the forces of evil in his name. The boy ask about his savior and had even caught a glimpse of him once on his way to the privy here in High Castle. Even this time when the boy spotted him he was just as magnificent as the first night he saw him. He was informed that this man was Tanner Brightblade the temple paladin. The boy listened wide eyed and amazed to the guard’s stories about the noble deeds that had been done by him in the name of Heronious. He told his guard he wished to become just like Sir Brightblade. Encouragingly, the guard responded to the little lad if he trained hard and devoted himself to Heronious the Invincible it could be so.
Finally the time came and the boy was brought before a handful men. He couldn’t recall exactly how many as all of his focus was on Tanner Brightblade. The men questioned him about the events the night he was rescued. After some deliberation by the men they arrived at the conclusion it would be best if the boy were taken to the next village over to live at the orphanage. His town was beyond repair. The few remaining survivors had already abandoned it. They had dispersed for lands elsewhere with what little they could carry under an escort of High Castle guards for fear that the remaining Boit attackers would try to finish what they had started. The boy, being upset with this decision, for the want of becoming like his idle, pleaded to stay. He promised to devote himself and work hard. His begging only landed on deaf ears. The men refused and sent him out. Before he was escorted out of the room he heard a voice he hadn’t heard through the entire questioning. Sir Brightblade spoke up with a commanding, yet peaceful voice “If I may?” That was all the boy heard him say before he was escorted outside the room and the door was closed behind him.
The boy sulked about and moped around in his room all evening until that night when he we was brought out of his quarters before a magnificent statue Heronius. In the center of the temple. He was informed that if he wished to stay he must give himself completely to Heronious. He would be taken care of in return for his service in the name of Heronious and of those he provided to High Castle. He was told that his training would start tomorrow at dawn and if he wished it to be so he had only to kneel and say the words…
“I, Fennec, do on this day swear until my last, to honor the strictures of this sacred legacy and promise by my faith to be loyal to Heronious and High Castle, maintaining my devotion against all persons without deception or forethought. Further, I vow to promote and uphold the principles of Valor, Honor, Honesty, Generosity, and Courtesy and to solemnly and faithfully follow the edicts of Hernoious the Invincible my Lord and High Castle my temple. I take this pledge of my own accord, without coercion or prospect of reward, sworn before his hallowed image and the holy witnesses before me and in sacred memory of those soles who have perished in glorious combat in his name.”
It wasn’t until much later that the boy now becoming a young man realized that it was Sir Brightblade’s input on that night that changed the minds of those decided on sending him away. He isn’t sure exactly which words were said on his behalf. However, he imagines that Sir Brightblade saw something in him while he fought courageously fending off the two Boit attackers. A great potential that he would soon come to realize in the days to follow…