So a while back I wrote a story about my World of Warcraft character, Vrykerion the Paladin. It was mostly based around my guild’s storyline and my own absence for it while I have been playing Star Wars The Old Republic. However, I really really liked how it turned out so I decided to share it on here too. Sadly, the actual story is about 18 pages and that’s just for the first of two planned chapters. Since that is a lot to put into a single post, I decided to serialize it and break it up into little chunks. One coming out each Saturday until it’s complete. This here is part one.
You’ll probably need a little bit of background on this story to give it context, although most of it should make sense in the long run since after all it’s more about the character’s past than the actual guild story. But to shine a little light, my guild recently began a story where our guild leader, Shahrak, declared his intent for the guild to move to usurp Warchief Garrosh Hellscream. (This storyline was proposed the day before the news broke that Garrosh would be a raid boss in Mists of Pandaria – yea, imagine our surprise.) Vrykerion, being a devout member of the Argent Crusade, declared that while he took no qualms about battling evil, politics were a different matter, and this course of action violated what he viewed to be his strictly neutral stance on the Horde and Alliance. With that said, Vrykerion declared that he would not partake in this campaign and retired to Hearthglen. So we begin…
Reassemble – Chapter 1: Design
Vrykerion spread a clean piece of cloth across the desk of his room at Hearthglen. It wasn’t an impressive room by any measure, and it wasn’t meant to be. It was a practical room, just as much in his life was. It had a bed to sleep in, a desk to work at, and a small armoire to store whatever bits of clothing he had at the time. He didn’t need it to be much more than that, as his travels rarely permitted him time to stay at the Argent Crusade’s reclaimed home in the Plaguelands. He only came here to do two things: Report when summoned, and to think.
Shahrak was absolutely clear in his intent. Open war against the Warchief. Open war against the Horde itself was more like it. The scowl on Vrykerion’s face intensified as he opened up a small brown linen drawstring bag and poured the contents out on the cloth covered desk. Small gears and parts rained down creating a resounding cacophony of noise in the otherwise silent room. The idea seemed ludicrous. Kill the Warchief? Then what? They had no one to replace him. Worry about the details later? The very concept was so full of holes and overflowed with emotional impulse.
Vrykerion spread the pieces out across the cloth, making sure that each stood alone and untouched by its siblings surrounding it. He parsed them out by shape, size, color – anything he could easily differentiate the multitude of small parts with. Emotion. Maybe that was what caused him such anguish. Shahrak’s speech had been so full of it. That timeless, unyielding enemy of logic and neutrality. Vrykerion had spent years tinkering and wiring himself to respond to every encounter, and every battle with a cool calm sense of impartiality. He knew what Garrosh had done. He had lent his blade when called upon. He knew of the ruthless ways of the new warchief. But he also knew that this was not a matter for him to pass judgment on. The actions of man or orc are subject to perspective. Viewpoints can inform and lie. These mortal sins cannot be not true evil. Right?
Vrykerion sighed to himself, lowered his goggles over his eyes and put ink to parchment as he overlooked the presentation of small mechanical pieces laid out before him. “To understand the design, one must recognize each component as a necessary part of the whole,” he muttered to himself, reciting old lessons. He began to sketch each piece on the table, remembering each one once again.
It was only a few short years ago, but it felt like another lifetime. Vrykerion stood on the green grasses of Sunstrider Isle along with a dozen other potentials. His hair was longer then, worn back in a tail. His eyes still bright and glowing, hidden behind a shabby pair of flying tiger goggles, and a smile graced his lips as he took his place in the line to practice the day’s lesson. “Judgment. A paladin is capable of piercing the very soul of a foe and detecting their intent. Violence, injustice, hate – these are raw powerful urges that you can focus his righteous wrath on and pierce your foes with judgment.” The instructor called out. He was a broad-shouldered elf who stood tall, a large scar on his cheek that he supposedly earned battling the forces of the traitor Kael’thas for control of the Sunwell. Vrykerion didn’t really care about the old war stories. He just wanted to show his stuff. He had spent weeks studying tomes and scrolls about the art of judging one’s opponent and he was ready to prove that he had what it takes.
One by one the paladin trainees walked up and tried their hand at it. Some actually managed to forge the connection with the Light to call upon the attack to some extent and successfully managed to brush the target dummy with a flash of holy energy. Soon it came to be Vrykerion’s turn. He stepped up and began to mutter the steps he had learned under his breath. “Create a connection with the divine light and let it fill your mind with extra-sensory sight.” He felt his body become almost lighter as a powerful warmth spread through his body. It was almost like slipping into a warm bath. He stared at the dummy long and hard, forcing his mind to focus on it until it almost seems to emit a faint yellow aura.
‘Non-threatening,’ Vrykerion thought, ‘Of course it is. It’s made of straw.’ Now he began to realize the true point of this lesson – to force the connection with the Light when wanted, not simply when it was needed. He muttered again, “Focus your wrath on the negative. Cast out the divine on the target you know is guilty.”
He felt the light begin to swirl in his palm and grow in strength. Vrykerion gritted his teeth as he focused on the dummy harder, “Cast out the divine…” He raised his hand toward the dummy, “On the target.” Then suddenly he heard something. It was a small stifled giggle from behind him. He turned his head slightly to see a girl, a little younger than himself, with short platinum hair and shining emerald eyes looking at him. It was Calowen Brightbourne, one of the daughters of some noble in the Court of the Sun. Her hands covered her mouth to hide her smile and the faint pink growing on her cheeks.
“VRYKERION!” the instructor’s voice broke through the moment and tore into his concentration. The light fizzled from his hand as Vrykerion as his head snapped back towards the dummy and a very irritated veteran, “I suggest you try to get the Light in you up as apart to other parts of you while you are in my class.” A frustrated blush overwhelmed Vrykerion’s face as he stumbled back and releasing an audible growl. He stormed off as his classmates’ silent impatience for their turns broke in roaring laughter. Vrykerion clenched his fist to the point where his fingernails began to break skin. He glanced back, wishing only to release his rage as a divine blast against his classmates. But he only saw Calowen in the lineup of chortling adolescents with only a frown on her face. His hand relaxed just a bit.
He spent the rest of that afternoon sitting under a tree in the shadow of the academy. He had failed. That much was certain. His actions and subsequent departure ensured that it would take double the effort and no less than three times the studying to find his way back into the good graces of his teachers, let alone the respect of his peers.
He stood up and looked around. Spying a small squirrel nearby he began to repeat the steps again. He felt the warmth of the Light fill him. He focused on the small animal. Then nothing. Try as he might he could now let the Light flow from him into his hands. He repeated the steps several more times with less and less success each time. He released a frustrated grunt as he slammed his fist into the tree.
“You know, just maybe the Light doesn’t WANT to be used against small defenseless critters.”
Vrykerion perked up at the voice and spun around. It was Calowen, the girl that giggled. She had changed out her training mail and into a red short sleeved shirt with a gold-trimmed leather vest. Her smile, now unhidden, seems almost to glow as he felt a different warmth fill him. First in his chest, then his face. His brain, now tasked with figuring out two things, was able to quickly decipher that he was blushing. A lot. The second thing – what to say – was out to committee.
“I’m sorry about earlier. The laughing I mean. I just have never seen someone repeat their lessons out loud to themselves like that,” she said, stepping closer.
“You… you heard that?” Vrykerion shuffled his feet, attempting to figure if he should approach her as well, or perhaps lean back on the tree to impress her.
Her smile grew, almost as she was about to laugh again. Not that he would be opposed. Her laugh was like the graceful melody of a harp when contrasted with the bombastic hyena like noises of their classmates, “Mm hmm. And I think I know what your problem is.”
She stepped right up to him, their toes almost touching. She gently leaned up, inching her face closer to his. Vrykerion had long passed the moment where he was trying to decide what to say or what to do with his feet. His mind frantically raced trying to figure out what he should do NOW, let alone next. This kind of thing was supposed to happen to his older brother – not him.
As her face drew close enough to feel his quickening breath, her hand made an attack of opportunity and poked him in the forehead, “You’re using this too much.” She immediately withdrew back on to her heels, trying her best to not to burst out in laughter right in front of him. Her stifled squeals went quickly from being beautiful notes to razor sharp pin pricks as Vrykerion realized that it was an attempt at jest, not a romantic proposition. Though he would have been lying if he said it didn’t take a huge weight of pressure off his chest as his brain was able to slow and start taking inventory.
“I’m using what too much?” He finally spat out.
“Your brain. You’re thinking about it too much.” She said.
“What do you propose I use to think?” The idea seemed silly to him. Not use his brain? That was its purpose.
“Well…” She looked around for a quick moment, “I can think of a few other things you can use. But for now let’s start with your heart. Come with me.” She grabbed his hand and began dragging him back across the isle.
He stumbled behind, trying to keep his feet coordinated in an effort to keep up with both her and his hand. She stopped as soon they reached the target range, “Now. Try it again. But this time, don’t THINK the target is an enemy. FEEL it.”
“Why? What does emotion have anything to do with this? The Light is my tool. I should wield it like I do my micro-adjuster or my arclight spanner in my workshop,” Vrykerion said, trying to wrap his brain around the concept like a cat trying to make sense of arcane leylines.
“I bet your spanner gets lonely with you treating it like that,” Calowen said, “Think about it this way. You know how sometimes you want to tighten a screw but not all the way? Do you measure the torque of your turn or do you just FEEL how tight it is and SENSE when it’s good?”
Vrykerion opened his mouth to counter her argument, but then he saw those bright emerald eyes and closed it and nibbled on his lower lip for a moment. He let out a deep breath and turned to face the dummy again. This time he stopped thinking about what the target is. He just let his mind flow. His eyes trained on the stuffed man as a stray thought hit him. It wanted to hurt Calowen. He didn’t know where it came from, and it clearly made no sense, but there it was. Suddenly his palm swelled with holy energy.
Calowen slid her hands down his arm and lifted it so the palm pointed towards the dummy and whispered to him, “Now let it go.”
The holy energy of the Light was unleashed. A blast more powerful than he could have ever imagined formed into the shape of a hammer and slammed in the straw figure, ripping its post from the earth and falling back to the ground. Calowen smiled again and looked at him, her hands never leaving his arm, “See what I mean?”
Vrykerion looked at her and felt his lips curl into a smile of their own, “I see.” His eyes glanced down at her hands on his arm, “I see.”
To Be Continued…