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professor_curly
Mar 4, 2016

There he is!



Daren Sunsworn
Paladin-in-Training
PDF and Orokos

"This is foolish."

There is a subtle shift among the group of armored figures, men and women who had been slouched in their saddles perking up ever so slightly. They are not a large band, numbering only eight knights in gleaming full plate, but even this is an imposing sight for those they pass by. The effect is ruined somewhat by the lack of helmets, removed and hung on belts so the riders can enjoy a breeze on their face while the horses amble along at a leisurely pace.

All eyes are focused at the front two riders. To the right is an older man, brown hair just beginning to have streaks of gray and a serious face criss-crossed with wrinkles from a lifetime of scowling, shouting and furrowed brows. To the left is a boy that could have been childhood portrait of the older man, already adopting his own resting frown and scrunched up brow.

"Did you say something, initiate?" the older man asked, his voice low and threatening, not even turning to look.

"This has nothing to do with the order. Rank is of no consequence, father," the boy narrows his eyes, but also refuses to look, a small power play in this brewing argument.

Wordlessly, soundlessly, the rear riders begin exchanging coins as bets are settled.

"We are not discussing this again."

"Of course we aren't, we never discussed it at all. How could we discuss it again?"

"Clever wordplay is not going to change anything. You are staying at this camp for the campaign season, perhaps until the campaign is done."

The boy clenches his jaw, grinding his teeth in silence for a minute before resuming, "Do you not have... confidence, in me?"

The man sighs and rubs his temple, shaking his head slowly, "You know that isn't what this is about."

"Then what is it about?"

"This is a crusade. It is no place for children," he cuts off a protest with a sharp raise of his hand, "And you are still a child. Why not embrace it? Go be among your peers, make friendships. What do you think you're going to find on this battlefield that is so alluring? Are you wanting to prove yourself? Are you hoping to gain glory? Fame? Is there some bloodlust festering in your heart?"

The words are sharp, frustrated and the young man flinches and turns away. His voice is quiet when he responds, "Do you really see me as vain and bloodthirsty?"

"No, of course not. That was unwarranted, and I apologize. But I simply don't understand. No initiate is allowed on crusade. You know this. Why do you resist it so?"

The young man simply nods without turning his head back, "No, you were... You were right."

"Daren, look at me. Look at me.," the emphasis is enough to get Daren to look back at his father through the corner of his eyes, "I have tolerated this dissent with patience but I will not suffer lies. I have waited patiently for you to tell me what is troubling you, but if you start lying to me I will strip that sword off your belt."

Daren's hand instinctively goes to the hilt of his sword, a defensive instinct he can't control.

"Well?"

"I'm scared. There, the truth. Does it please you to hear it?"

"Scared? What are you afraid of? The camp?"

"The last time I was left behind, you came back and mother... didn't. Now I'm being left behind again, and I'm scared you won't come back either."

Daren's father reaches over and puts a hand on his son's shoulder, "I won't promise you that I will return. You know that isn't a promise for me to make. But since you shared truth with me, I will share truth with you: I am not fighting in this war for the Light, I'm fighting in it for you."

The young man's head snaps up, his eyes widened by shock at this revelation.

The older man continues, "You are everything to me, and I am proud of the man you are becoming. Knowing that I am protecting you, I would march into the gates of the hells themselves. That is my purpose. One day you will find a purpose too - but it isn't in textbooks or old men's sermons. But the only way you'll find it is by living - so go and live, make friends. Fall in love, have your heart broken, go on adventures and find what your purpose is. Do you find yourself equal to this task, initiate?"

Daren nods slowly and smiles, "I don't know if I understand... but I will do my best."

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