A few weeks ago, I participated in a little guild short-story prompt about your character as a child – you can read the first response here.
**A guildmate of mine recently opened a “challenge” ficlet thread, where we were supposed to write a short (less than 2 pages) scene from our character’s childhood. It was supposed to be either pivotal or revealing of something about their character. I think Aely is about 7 in this, maybe a little older, and while I’m not sure it’s a particularly *important* moment from her childhood, it does tell about her family. That, and Brother Olfric, who is probably to be credited with her becoming a paladin… but that’s another story.**
Many of you asked how Aely ended up becoming a Paladin, so I figured I’d write up the rest of it – or at least the next part!
Brother Olfric didn’t believe in coincidences.
Not anymore, at least. 50 years or so of service to a tiny mining town had taught him a lot about providence, and sticking together, and about the rugged, simple strength of the people that showed up week in and week out at his tiny, wood frame church.
When the huge, old tree outside had fallen, and the sons and daughters of the town came to chop it into firewood, he had been sad – it’d been like an old friend, watching over the cemetery. But that firewood had been an unexpected blessing, bringing not only him but also another family through the worst set of blizzards on record.
He’d thought he would miss chasing the kids out of it, but it turned out they hung around anyway – especially Aely. He had a soft spot for the girl, as much as he tried not to play favorites. She’d stop by in the afternoons after school, helping out the hunched priest with his daily duties, caring for the only things of monetary value in the entire building – candle holders.
“Y’ken, Aely, now that you’re done, there’s two beautiful things in m’church,” he’d said once – and she’d laughed.
She reminded him of his wife, or maybe his daughter – he didn’t know. Both gone with fever on to the next world so long past. But she was kind and quick to laughter, and seemed genuinely to care for the arthritic old man he’d become.
So when it was time to make the trip to Stratholme for the Spring Fair and get more candles and oil, more incense and maybe some new linens, and catch up on the news coming out of Lordaeron, it was no coincidence that he asked the teenager to go with him.
She was, of course, thrilled – and her enthusiasm was infectious.
Olfric figured she’d probably been all the way to the city only a handful of times in her life, and this time she’d be going without her family. And this time they’d be there for two whole days.
Lars Hansson had asked him to their home for dinner the night before they left, and he’d accepted gratefully. Their home was peaceful, and Aely’s mother was a fantastic cook. The kind of cook that could take a cabinet full of nothing and turn it into a meal for six – which she needed, since Leofred was turning 14 this year and eating like his legs were hollow. A huge meal of stew and potatoes and warm, fresh bread would set them off on the right foot the next morning.
Stratholme was as it always seemed to be during the Spring festivals. Crammed with people, sheep, goats, oxen, carts, and every other manner of everything you’d want to find in a big city that was just waking up from being snowed in for 4 months. The redheaded girl was easy enough to find – she was taller than most, and her hair made her something of a beacon.
And then Sunday afternoon, after they’d bought all he’d need for the church for the next year and were packing up the horses to head back, he noticed her watching something.
“What d’ ye see?” he asked.
“Procession a’ some sorts?”
“Aye, th’ Order’s makin’ another Paladin this noon, an’ they’re sayin’ Uther Lightbringer his own self’ll be there. Ye want t’ go watch?”
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