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Fantasy Paladin, Paladin, Where do you Roam?

TheDarkButterfly

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Paladin had never intended for his life to be this way. He had never intended to slip away into the night, leaving his whole life and all his friends behind. He didn't have any family, he hadn't in a very long time. So perhaps it had been all too easy to set aside his sword and slip out the night of the Coronation unnoticed until it was far too late to find him. He didn't want his friends, his party members, to discover the truth. He didn't want them to discover that he had become half of the man he used to be. After that, he roamed the lands for a year or two before being taken under the wing of an old man and his granddaughter struggling with the physical labor that caring for the tavern entailed. They paid him well and welcomed him as family and now he had been staying in this village near the outskirts of the border for nearly 5 years. They also helped him when the poison in his veins grew too much to bear alone.

Everything had been fine until that fateful encounter with the Demon King. With the threat of the demon invasion looming, a party had been formed with the crown prince himself at the helm to sneak in and defeat the Demon King. Paladin had been placed in this party, vital to it in fact, because of his great abilities with holy magic that could ward off demon tricks. During the final battle with the Demon King, when Paladin had struck through his core he had taken the full backlash of the demon magic exploding, nearly killing him as consequence. It wasn't until after he had been awake for a couple of weeks that he realized that all of his magic and abilities were now gone. Ashamed and dishearted he had left the castle without a word to anyone, leaving his sword behind. He hoped they would never learn of the truth. It wasn't until he had been traveling a while on his own that he realized that the poison in his veins waxed and waned opposite of the moon. At full it subsided, and at new the poison would subdue him more often than not. It wasn't exact, but he at least knew to expect it.

Now he quietly tended to the tavern, helping out the people of the village where he could in thanks for them being willing to take in a complete stranger. All he wished for at this point in time was to lead a peaceful life and for the happiness of all that he cared for. Though he hadn't heard his patron's voice since his injuries, he still hoped that the Goddess of the Moon was still listening and watching over him and his people. He couldn't ask for anything more than that.
 

Shy2Infinity

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The demons had been at war with human-kind for as long as he could remember. His father had been adamant about the complete annihilation of the humans, so had his grandfather, and then his great grandfather. And even after his father died, that role went to his brother. They were taught that the humans were a scourge upon the earth, wasting valuable resources and killing innocents. Sure, the demons couldn't claim to be a noble sort, but they certainly figured they were better than mere humans. With their unholy powers and royal bearing...

In truth, at first, he didn't care much for the war. All he wanted was to wile away his time on personal voyages, laze around the kingdom, and partake of the most extravagant luxuries that could be afforded to literal royalty! It was something that endlessly annoyed his brother. "You need to do your part!" "What are you going to do if the humans make it here?!" The latter thing made him balk. How could humans ever even dream of making it through their tight defenses? Suffice it to say, he ignored his brother's warnings. Something that would end up having grave consequences for him in the long run...

It was on one of his short trips from the castle that he was jumped. It was a short distance from the castle, not to mention he had a couple of well train guards, so he didn't expect the attack. His two guards were taken down before he fully realized the situation, and a person was holding a sword to his throat. It was a short scuffle before he as defeated, and then the nightmare began. Tortured for days on end about things he should know, about the Demon King's plans. His brother, as much as they cherished each other, would have never given him the tiniest morsel of information. But that mattered little to his torturer.

In the end, he was left for dead. His magic never quite worked the same since then and all he seemed to have left was the desire for vengeance burning beneath his breast. Soon enough, the humans had decided to storm the castle with a party of their very best! The nerve! Though it was then that he brought up a risky plan to his brother. He could pretend to be his brother, the Demon King, and murder them where they stood. He was confident that he could do it even without the easy reliability of his magic. No, more than that, he would do it, no matter the cost.

The plan infuriated his brother, but he knew better than to argue. Not when he could see that look in the Prince's eyes. The King made to escape the council and the Prince took his place. And when the 'heroes' showed up, he gave a spiel, monologuing to them about how it was the humans turn to perish to usher in a new dawn. However, he couldn't care less about the humans, really. All he cared about was the one familiar face among them... The captain. A face he saw in his nightmares and in the waking day. There was no getting past it without killing the man that had started it all.

Perhaps that obsession, in the end, was what led to his near death. He focused far too much on the captain, not enough on the other insects. One of them got too close and stabbed him through. He remembered standing there, staring up into a face that was filled with confusion. And all he could utter was a simple, "Oh..." Before he collapsed. Again, that was where he should have died. Again, no one thought to check for sure. His memories of the rest of that night were vague at best. He remembered somewhat gathering himself to his feet and staggering off, snatching a bunch of potions and medical items from the medical wing, and stumbling into the night.

After that, he mostly wandered from place to place, never staying for long. Shape changing potions allowed him to hide the more demonic parts of his appearance and with his magic still permanently damaged because of the trauma he endured, it was highly unlikely that any mage would have recognized him as a demon; highly experienced or not.

Which led to today. A cloak masked his form from head to toe as he pushed into a tavern. He could feel the impression of a tail flicking and his lips curled bitterly as he wondered what these humans would do if they were to discover that there was a demon among them.
 

TheDarkButterfly

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Something pricked at Paladin's senses as the cloaked stranger walked into the tavern. While it wasn't unusual to have someone like that pass through (that was part of the tavern's duties to provide rooms when needed) there was something about this stranger that triggered something wary within him. He narrowed his eyes slightly, casually glancing them up and down. No, it must be his senses that were off, not the stranger. It was waning closer to the new moon and he could feel it in his bones every day as the poison within him grew stronger. He could feel it in the slight shake of his fingers as he wiped down the bar amongst the chattering locals seated there.

He nodded in welcome when the stranger came closer. "Hail, stranger. What can I interest you in? Food, drink, or rest?" When he had first started in this place, the old man that had taken him in had drilled into him how to be a little glibber with strangers that wandered in. Paladin was not naturally one to warm up immediately, causing the first few times that he uttered these words stiff and exceedingly rehearsed. It took some time and a lot of lecturing from the old man before he had gotten this smooth.

The granddaughter of the old man flitted between tables, serving what was needed while the old man himself sat by the hearth, smoking on his pipe. He only stepped in when it got too busy or when Paladin fell too ill to work. Paladin always got a little restless among the crowds the closer to the new moon they grew. This month was no exception. The old man may look as if he was quietly dozing, but Paladin knew that sharp eyes lurked beneath half-closed lids, keeping an eye out for trouble. Apparently, the old man had been a top-class swordsman during his time and though age had slowed him he was still as sharp as ever when it came to sniffing out trouble.

Seeing that the old man didn't react to the stranger, Paladin relaxed and brushed off the feeling. If the old man thought nothing of the stranger, then there was nothing for Paladin to think about either other than gaining their patronage.
 

Shy2Infinity

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Wary eyes crept over the tavern patrons, not letting a single thing pass without studying it. The noise of the chattering grated on him, odd considering the place he came from. There was no shortage of noise within his kingdom. After a certain point, it just becomes useless background noise. In fact, he could hardly sleep in the past if there wasn't at least some noise. But now, as he drifted through the room, it was all he could do to not turn tail and flee. The thought was a bitter thing and he wondered just what his brother were to think, if they could meet now.

And then... Silent as a shadow, he was before the man overseeing the counter, a jolt going right through his body as he immediately recognized that face. His hand twitched and he had to fight the urge to reach for the sword at his hip. It was him. The one that had stabbed him through. It was only when he tasted blood that he realized he was biting his tongue. Would the man recognize him? His fingers squeezed the folds of the cloak tighter around him, but even as he was hesitating, his brain already put together that there was no trace of recognition in that gaze.

Forcing himself to relax somewhat even as his heart continued to pound he reached for the pouch hanging at his waist. Soon enough, coins were spilling onto the counter, "'Rest' sounds like a good option, for a traveler," his voice took on a soft, measured lilt. Even if the Paladin couldn't see to recognize his face, he wasn't about to risk letting him recognize his voice. Maybe it'd be easy, since the paladin had only really heard him at his most arrogant.
 

TheDarkButterfly

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Paladin nodded and swept the coins away, counting them. "There's enough here for two weeks with board and access to the baths. How long will you be staying with us?" Part of him wondered how this stranger had obtained so much money. Maybe he was an adventurer of some sort. They had seen that type every so often, crossing the border for various quests and hunts. The draw of included board and bath usually hooked such type in and they would patronize them again on their return trip. It was simply good business.

A dull ache started faintly in his scars, as if in response to the stranger but Paladin simply brushed it off. It was nothing unusual after all. There was something about the person that felt familiar, but it was hard to say for sure. While the face looked close to the Demon King, it was on an altogether human-looking body. He was sure that the Demon King had been killed, anyways, or at least mostly sure. The resulting magic backlash had left him unconscious the moment it had thrown him against the wall. It had taken his Party a lot of effort to take him from the castle and save his life.

Besides, what good would be a demon masquerading as a human in these parts? He didn't think their pride would ever allow them to get to that point in the main cities, let alone in a small village like this far from and place of real consequence. No, if they were to disguise themselves it would be someplace that would be beneficial to act human, he was certain. With how at odds the two races were, it would be very surprising for a demon to with to look like and mingle with humans.
 

Shy2Infinity

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The paladin working at this tavern in particular was almost enough of a revelation that he was tempted to take his money and find another tavern, but wouldn't that make him all the more suspicious? The sight of him standing behind the counter, oblivious, made his scar itch. But more than that, was the thought of his dearly beloved captain. A man that annoying would never be that far behind. If he stayed around long enough, would that captain come slithering out of hiding? He'd thought that he'd long pushed any thought of revenge far out of his mind but that forgotten desire had been stirred up once more, all because of an oblivious Paladin.

Maybe... Maybe if he killed the captain, the one that had done this to him, he could finally put such a miserable defeat far behind him. But there was still no guarantee that the captain was nearby. And besides, why was the Paladin working at a tavern?

... A couple of minutes had passed before he realized that he'd yet to give the Paladin his answer. And since he wanted to see if the captain would come out of hiding, his answer was obvious. A smile crept across his face that lacked any sort of humor as he lilted, "Two weeks sounds perfect. And I was wondering if you'd... Bring my dinner to my room? I'm, uh, well. Don't like the noise, you see." That wasn't a lie, and in fact, admitting the truth colored his cheeks. It was strange, ever since the captain had tortured him, he could scarcely stand to be around other people. Human and Demon alike.

It wasn't like he could expect anything less. His kind were at war with the humans! Torture was bound to happen! And yet...
 

TheDarkButterfly

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He quietly nodded at the stranger's request. It wasn't that unusual that there would be some that could not handle the bustling tavern and he wasn't exactly going to tell him no and to deal with it or leave. Maybe some would, but that didn't exactly garner repeat customers. He put the money in the pouch at his hip. "There's a free room up the stairs, third door on the left. Dinner tonight is a barley stew. It'll be up there soon."

With their conversation ending Paladin got back to servicing the bar, pouring drinks and exchanging coins like he'd been born to do it. It had taken a lot of practice to get to this point. Soon the stranger's meal was out and ready and Paladin momentarily excused himself from the bar to take it up, the old man taking his spot behind the bar. Paladin climbed the stairs and went to the room he had given the stranger, lightly knocking on the door. "I have your meal here." He said just loud enough to be heard within the room.
 

Shy2Infinity

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His shoulders began to relax. Somehow, he'd expected the figure to somehow recognize him as the 'Demon King' from all that time ago. It didn't matter that he technically wasn't the Demon King, others would finish what they started once they found out. With their conversation at an end, he turned to make his way up the stairs. However, something stopped him. It wasn't the prickly sensation that gripped him every time he was in the presence of others. It was a... Foreign desire, to one normally so cautious.

In the end, he shook his head and took the stairs two at a time. "You have a good business here, Paladin." But saying such a thing would be basically the same as admitting his true identity. Even if the paladin didn't immediately guess his true identity, he'll likely get suspicious. He... He couldn't let anyone else find out who he was. He liked to think that it was because he didn't want to cause his brother needless trouble, but the truth might have been far more selfish.

When he made it to his room, he didn't even bother to change out of his (probably) sweaty clothes. Instead, he fell onto the mattress and soon dozed off. It was when a knock came that he woke up, fingers twitching. Letting out a drowsy groan, he swayed to an up right position. Looking around blearily, it took him a moment to remember where he was.

Right. The tavern. Pushing himself to his feet, he snatched his cloak and threw it around his shoulders. As he opened the door, the hood was back in place over his head. "Thanks," he yawned and took it. Though, something wouldn't quite let him leave the paladin be just yet...
 

TheDarkButterfly

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Paladin nodded, releasing the bowl once the other grabbed it. "Just leave the bowl outside the door once you're done. Breakfast is served from six to nine in the morning. If you miss it, you're on your own. The bath is available for use whenever you want it. There are instructions there on how to turn on the magical device to heat the water. Soap and towels are provided." He droned on a little blandly, clearly running through a script. "If you need anything clean, we provide those services every three days for a small fee."

Once his script was over Paladin looked at him a little curiously. "Since we'll be seeing each other for the next two weeks, introductions are in order. My name is Paladin, a bartender. You will meet the owner and his granddaughter later I'm sure." He bowed slightly. "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance." There was clearly some proper training in the way that he held himself and greeted him, something more than one would find in this small village.

It was clear by his demeanor that Paladin did not recognize the one before him at all, and didn't even suspect that he was a demon at all. If he had, he probably wouldn't have extended the same curtousy. No one in the village would have. The conflict between the two races had become too heated for something like that to happen. Though it was very unlikely that a demon village would treat a human traveler well either. Such was the way of war, though.

Paladin hadn't been a fan of the conflict and had been unwillingly dragged into the fight due to his abilities and position. Now he had given up his position and his abilities were gone. A part of him felt it was exactly what he had deserved.
 

Shy2Infinity

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The more he studied the Paladin, the more he was certain that he didn't recognize him. It relaxed him some, it wouldn't do to be recognized before that pitiful captain made his return, after all. He pretended to listen to the paladin's boring spiel, eyes glazing over as he glanced elsewhere. Of course, he gave an answering hum whenever necessary. Though his focus abruptly zeroed in as the Paladin gave his name and, well...

"Pffft..." Juggling the bowl into one hand, he hurried to cover his mouth with the other. A Paladin named 'Paladin', the heavens certainly had a sense of humor. Or maybe his parents really wanted a Paladin. Hell, maybe he even chose it himself. In which case he had to wonder why. He so dearly wanted to ask but the temptation was not worth the risk of exposure, no matter how much the question itched to be answered. Once he was sufficiently under control, he cleared his throat. "That's... An interesting name. My name's..." Thinking about it, perhaps he shouldn't give out his real name. It wasn't that he figured 'Paladin' understood demonic naming conventions, but a prince's name would probably be easier to recognize, no? ". . . Kravin."

That might have been all. He could have very well stepped back and shut the door, but he still wanted to fish for answers. While he couldn't let the man know of his true identity, there still should've been something he was able to do. It didn't take him long to get an idea. Looking both ways conspiratorially, he leaned close to the man and whispered, "You didn't hear this from me, but I heard on the grapevine that the paladins were in town, including their captain." Leaning back, his lips split into a wide, nonchalant grin, "I wonder what they could be in town for, there's not really anything special here~ Though, of course, it could just be a rumor."

His voice took on a slightly suggestive lilt, "You've been here a while, I'm sure. Have you heard anything~?"
 

TheDarkButterfly

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Kraven likely found what he was looking for in the way that Paladin's facial muscle jumped just a little before he schooled himself. It was a worrying thought that he could be found, however. He was likely to receive punishment for leaving, regardless if he still had his abilities or not. Not to mention the trouble it would bring this village and it would likely bring his Party rushing in including the King which was likely to give most of the villagers here a heart attack at best. He hadn't been exactly trying to hide his name, which in retrospect was probably not the smartest thing he had ever done.

"No, I haven't heard of any Paladins being in town, lately. There's not much in this place other than simple farmers and civilians. I doubt that they would find much of interest here."

Other than himself, of course. The Paladins would likely be very interested in him. Firstly for the fact that they would be likely to sense the distinct lack of powers he now held, and secondly for the poison that now coursed through his veins. He hadn't run into any Paladins since he had mostly recovered after killing the Demon King, somehow avoiding detection. He supposed it was a blessing. Otherwise, he likely would have been outed right away, and he didn't think he would be able to live with that shame of being surrounded by abilities that he well should have himself. He wasn't even sure what they would have done with him if he had stayed and been discovered.

"Either way, it's of no consequence where Paladins roam. I must get back now, Kraven. Have a good evening." Paladin excused himself, expression and voice carefully schooled. He didn't think it likely that Kraven would have noticed his twitch from before unless he was specifically looking for it. With his last words, he turned and left Kraven to his meal, returning to the bar downstairs.
 

Shy2Infinity

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He innocently let the Paladin continue on his way, an unnervingly cheery, "Have a good night~" trailing after him before he stepped back and kicked the door shut. His back rested against the door as he thoughtlessly shoveled food into his mouth. Whether Paladin realized it or not, he'd unintentionally given him the answer he was looking for. By his shocked reaction, he had to wonder if Paladin was actively avoiding his own group. But why? That was the question... He trailed one end of the room to the other, thinking over the man's odd behavior. There'd been no trace of excitement in his face when he mentioned the captain.

He sank into the firm bed, only just managing to keep the stew from splashing onto the floor. Though the thought made him ache in reminder, he couldn't help but think back to that night just a couple of years ago. The night when, to the whole world, he'd lost his 'life'. His fingers clenched into the bowl, nails scratching along its surface and giving a nearly earsplitting shriek.

"Brother, let me do this." Unlike before when he brought up an asinine plan to his brother, there was no trace of any nonchalance in his gaze. Just resolute determination; the look of a man that was ready to die upon the hill he'd made. "Our King should not be forced to deal with such miniscule insects," he crossed his arms behind his back and tilted his head, as if to try and force him to acknowledge the truth.

The man before him had dirty blond hair. His face was more androgynous than 'Kravin's', and if it weren't for his title as 'King', no one would have known his own gender. There was a gentleness to his expression that belied his usually harsh expression. Now, that gentleness was gone, and anger harried to replace it. Hands clenching tightly, he whirled on 'Kravin'. "Killian! This plan is the worst one you've ever come up with! How could you ever expect me to run and leave you behind, perhaps even to your death?!"

For the first time that day, the man truly known as Killian gave his brother a crooked grin. "You possess so little faith in me~" He lilted. "When even our father complimented me for my magical prowess and ability to turn the tides. "Please, place your trust in me just this once. I know I'm usually the lazier of the two of us, but even I can squash them where they stand!"

The other's lips pursed and his hands clenched tighter. For a moment, Killian was even afraid that his brother would punch him! But after a moment, his shoulders sank and he let out an exhausted sigh. "Fine. But I'll be watching from afar, and if I so much as think you're losing, I'm coming back."


In the end, he'd lost. And he'd been forced to flee himself.

Much more somberly, he forced himself to finish his stew. After placing it outside of the door, he sat beside the window and gazed out into the night. His brother probably thought he was dead. Maybe... Maybe he should have stayed. But letting his brother see him at his worst felt terrible, like he'd failed him.

Brushing a hand through his hair, he shook his head and let his thoughts wander.
 

TheDarkButterfly

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Paladin picked up the bowl left outside the door once the tavern had closed for the night, later than usual as a group of the villagers had gotten themselves into a game that the old man was participating in and therefore not willing to have it broken up. It was late, but Paladin had shooed the other two off to bed before cleaning as much as he could for the night. That included finishing up any of the dishes that were left in preparation for tomorrow. He could feel the ache of the poison even with the moon at its peak in the sky, shining softly through the windows. He paused before one, watching the moon for a moment and sending a silent prayer to the Goddess that he hoped she could hear. He hoped that she would make it so he wouldn't be caught.

He turned back away from it and finished his tasks for the night before crawling into his own bed. He had to do what he could now before he was taken down for a few days at the new moon. The old man had been more than curious about his cyclical affliction. In fact, he hadn't even believed Paladin at first until he had collapsed from fever and was bedbound for five days during the new moon. After that, the old man had been careful to watch him when the moon neared that part of its cycle, chasing Paladin off to rest when needed.

He would likely reach the peak of his affliction in six days or so. Some months were easier than others and he hoped that it was one of those months. Especially if what Kraven had been saying was true and the Paladins were in or around this village. If he was delirious in bed, there really wasn't much excuse he could give at that point.
 

Shy2Infinity

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The next morning came with it a string of misfortunes. Ever since that night so many years ago, every time he thought about the captain he suffered various kinds of nightmares. Not to mention the way his old wounds itched at the reminder. No matter how much he tried, he just couldn't ignore what had been done to him. And so, because of such nightmares, he was left drowsy and with a shorter fuse than normal. It was hours before the tavern had decided to awaken before the day and so, he decided to spend a majority of his time beside the window.

Rubbing his arms of the chill that refused to leave, his eyes narrowed on the scene that was presented to him through the window. It was quiet. Normally that wouldn't have bothered him. But there was a hum to the air that he didn't quite understand, as if some primal instinct was telling him to run. That a predator was on its way. He huffed at it and cast a wary gaze over to the sword standing against the wall next to him. Even without his reliable magic, he wasn't without a weapon.

And so, he was getting up to go downstairs for breakfast, when that chill solidified into an omen of danger. When he glanced outside again, he saw why.

There was a person heading into the tavern by way of its front. They had a proud, almost arrogant air about them, their chin eternally lifted so they could stare down their nose at others beneath them.

Slowly, an uneasy grin curled his lips. Found you.
 

TheDarkButterfly

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Paladin had felt....restless for the rest of the night after he had gone to bed. It barely felt like he had slept at all before he was up and starting the fires and doing the cleaning for the morning. Something prickled at him, but whether it was the poison or something else he could say for certain. Either way, it felt like a portent of something to come. What, he couldn't say. He did his best to shake the feeling but it still lingered through his breakfast and washing up for the day. It would be about time for the patrons that stayed the night to start filtering down for their breakfast and someone had to be at the counter. While it was too early for any alcohol, they needed someone to keep an eye on things.

It was the feelings of days like this that made Paladin wish he had taken his sword along with him rather than leaving it behind. Granted, there were other things that would have happened if he had taken it. Mainly, not being so welcome during his travels. It was of little consequence, though. There hadn't ever been a need for his sword since they had defeated the Demon King. Everything had gone pretty quiet for a while after that, not even the bandits daring to poke their noses from their mouseholes for a while. Besides, not even the bandits around here were so daring to try and take on a whole village, let alone this one near the border. There were fatter prizes to be found elsewhere on more affluent roads.

Paladin gave himself a shake before unlocking the door for the day. Sometimes the villagers would come in to buy some breakfast, especially those that didn't like to cook for themselves. Plus it brought an interesting traveler in, here and there. This done, Paladin moved behind the bar and started tending to some mugs and glasses as sleepy patrons began to stumble down the stairs and get their food. The old man was still in bed, but his grandaughter was deftly flitting between tables and dodging sleep-drunk bodies.
 

Shy2Infinity

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Intuition. Fight or Flight. Call it whatever you would, but he had known that the person he was looking for would be here. Even if only subconsciously. And now with every step taken towards his door, the thrill of the hunt was beginning to settle into his bones, promising bloodshed for the one unfortunate enough to cross him. Oh, but he wouldn't kill that man. Oh no. Kravin would make sure that the captain knew true terror and pain, such that even the light of his goddess would feel like ice.

He was on a single minded mission as he snatched up his sword and swept, quiet as a shadow, out his door and down the steps. A thrill went down his back as he imagined all of the cruel methods he could do to the captain. Should he go classic and do the exact same things that were done to him? Or maybe he should keep the captain for days, weeks, months, maybe even years and do whatever came through his brain. Surely, his brother wouldn't mind if he indulged himself in this. Maybe his brother would even want to join in on the torture; heavens knew he'd always been a tad overprotective.

The chatter of the tavern drifted up to him as he knelt on the stairs, peering out into the room below. So early in the morning, there was scarcely a soul to be seen, but he had no eye for them. His eyes were on the front doors, watching... Waiting... He was poised to strike, a hand turning white on his sword hilt. His pulse thundered in his ears, an insidious voice drifting through his mind that said, Do it. End it here. The air around him crackled, and he couldn't man handle his magic if he tried.

Any second now...

Thump... Thump... Thump...


Just when he was beginning to think that those doors would never open, they did. And just so suddenly, the fight left his body. His hand was still on his sword, and magic still crackled around him, but when he saw that face that had put him through so much hell, he froze. He swallowed thickly against the emotion ever deepening the pit in his stomach; one that he just refused to put a name to. Sparks danced along his veins, adrenaline shooting through his body in quick spurts, but even so all he could do was crouch there in the shadows, staring at the person that had ruined his life.
 

TheDarkButterfly

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Paladin lifted his head at the sound of the door to welcome who ever had come in, stranger or friend, when his hand cleaning the glasses faltered. Paladin stood painfully still and sheet white. He knew that face and he knew there was no getting out of what was to come.

The granddaughter, Marianne, noticed his ridged stillness and looked at him with concern before her eyes traced to where Paladin was staring. She called a greeting to the stranger, unable to help but notice that he carried himself in the same way Paladin did.

Paladin remained behind the bar, lips pressed to a thin line. Part of him wanted to bolt from the place but he knew there was no point in hiding now. The Captain had already spotted him. It was only a matter of time before either he was dragged back to the capital or his party came flying here. Either way the truth he had so carefully been hiding would be out for good and there was no longer a way to avoid it. Maybe he should have remained a wanderer but it was too later now for those kinds of thoughts.
 

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