Please permit me to present my as yet unnamed paladin:
High on a mountain side near the city of Tantras stands a white stone keep. In the depths of the night it shines with a soft, pure light, as if a star had been plucked from Shar’s cloak and worked into a castle.
The bell in the western tower chimed ten times, indicating that the middle of the night had come. Selune was a thin silvery curve low on the horizon, trailing shimmering tears wept for the pain of the world.
When Selune set, it was said, the Goddess of Hope would not be present to protect those who slumbered and those who worked honestly in the night. The people of this castle, however, would not let their vigilance flag. The knights of the golden lion stood the towers and walked the walls, unblinking, untiring, lest the dark things of the mountains descend upon Tantras unawares.
Within the chapel, a twenty one year old maiden stood a different vigil. Clad in only a white cotton shift and soft leather shoes, she waited before the alter on one knee. Long waves of fiery hair were arranged artfully around her shoulders. Her hands clasped a heavy steel flamberge. Dusky pink lips moved in quite prayer, reciting the Catechism of the Vigilant, the Canticle of Loyalty, and the Penance of Duty.
All and all, she seemed a beauty better suited to Sune’s priesthood—or perhaps, the muscles enhancing her curves hinted—Lady Firehair’s Knights of the Ruby Rose.
The tolling of the midnight bells found her seventeenth repetition of the dogma. The redhead paused before beginning again, and spoke more loudly. “Torm—my god, my teacher—if in the quiet of this night I cannot speak my heart, I fear it will be denied me forever.
“When I was a girl, the false priests of Tantras were the greatest tyrants I knew. My uncle--who I know in my heart now feasts in your halls—died on a needless and impossible crusade. When my father dared question the false priests and was flogged for his devotion to his brother.
“I hated you with all my heart.” Unshed tears shone in her eyes. “The Time of
Troubles began and the world fell into madness. I learned that the gods faced mortality and I prayed to the empty heavens that you, too, would meet your end in exile.
“You knew my heart, but you did not forsake me.
“You knew my sin, as you knew the sin of the false priests, but you did not abandon me when Bane marched on my home. When I saw your titanic form stand against the Tyrant, with the body of a man most perfect and the head of a lion, I knew my error My hate was lifted from my heart…”
The redhead’s hands trembled on her sword and a tear ran down each cheek.
“You and the tyrant were slain on each other’s blades, and I knew the full injustice I had wrought with my selfish prayer.
“You died protecting me. I loved you then, with the devotion of the faithful, but also the pure love of a girl. I prayed to the empty heavens and exiled gods to trade my life for yours. My prayers were answered with your restoration, and my life was spared.
“I love you still, my Torm, with the passion of a woman grown. As the heaven’s answered my prayer, I keep my promise.
“My life is yours.”
Come the dawn, the maiden was knighted a paladin in Torm’s service. She was entrusted with a flamberge of the finest steel, armored in a fitted breastplate, and given a helm in the form of a lion’s head.