This is part 3 of an ongoing series, started by a guildmate’s challenge to write a ficlet about your character as a child. It’s turned into the story of Aelflaed becoming a Paladin. You can see an index of entries on the Story Archives page, or just read Part1 and Part2.
The afternoon light streamed through stained glass windows, illuminating the floor and congregants in the Alonsus Chapel with bright flecks. Incense hung thick in the air, and even from the corner in the back where she and Brother Olfric had squeezed into a pew, she could see the Clerics of Northshire on the left of the center aisle and the Knights of the Silver Hand on the right. Someone was leading a choir in a soft chant, and the entire building fairly glowed with the occasion.
For only having heard tale of him, Uther Lightbringer was easy to spot among the Order. He was not the tallest, nor the broadest of the Knights, but his presence was unmistakable. His dark hair was greying at the temples, and there were streaks in his beard, but his eyes were warm, deep with thought and prayer. Aely gawked, openly.
When the singing stopped, a young man walked in through the doors of the chapel, standing with what could only be his family on either side. He was dressed simply – white linen pants and a tunic – his blonde hair combed back away from his face, and nervousness crinkling his brow. She watched as he walked up to the altar and knelt, and the Archbishop spoke words of blessing to him and to all who had gathered. As he began his vows, the young woman’s mind wandered slightly, wondering about the man who was joining the order that day as a Knight; where was he from, and how had he known that that was to be his path? She tried to catch a glimpse of his family to see if she recognized them, to no avail.
Brother Olfric elbowed her in the ribs and whispered fiercely in her ear, “Lass, pay attention now – this’s th’ part wha’ makes th’ whole bit worth it. Watch.”
As Aely peered, straining her eyes to take in as much of the ceremony as was left, the Archbishop looked down at the young man, kneeling before him, now wearing a blue stole and elaborate armor, with a Paladin’s hammer in his grip. “Do you vow to vanquish evil wherever it be found, to protect the innocent with your very life, and to serve always what is right, honorable, and good?”
His voice cracked. “By my blood and honor, I do.”
And then, almost imperceptibly, the Knights of the Silver Hand and the Clerics of Northshire raised each of their right hands in unison, many closing their eyes – and to her utter astonishment, their hands began to glow. Softly at first – and then the light streaming from their hands and down from the rose window behind the altar began to grow stronger, and the young man’s kneeling form was blurred by the beams of intensifying Light.
Aely blinked, trying to shield her eyes from the blinding glow. Next to her, Brother Olfric inhaled sharply, and she turned to him. “Ye a’righ’, brother? Do ye need air?”
He shook his head, a look of awe on his face that surprised her, given that she was sure he’d seen Paladins join the order before. “Nothing’s wrong, Lass. Look.” and he pointed at her hands. She held them up before her, wondering at the golden glow clinging to her own fingers.
After a few moments, the Light in the room dissipated, and the young man stood amid shouts of congratulations. Aelflaed sat dumbfounded, blinking at her hands. Brother Olfric, on the other hand, grinned like a schoolboy. “Come, Lass. I think ye may have found your future. Got folks ye need to talk at.”
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