I really have no idea if anyone is really reading these… or if maybe people are just waiting until I put it all out there… well at least my stats say about 8 people have at least viewed the pages that this thing is spanning over!
Plan is currently:
Release Part Four tomorrow.
Part Five probably on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Then I will put all Five of the Parts into one post sometime next weekend for those who want one giant go at reading it instead.
Also decided to give links to previous Parts!
Part One is here.
Part Two is here.
Anyway!!! Enjoy part three!
Her Holiness, Lady Alistra Bamlan, Chosen of Alddar, if it were not for her holy powers the best thing she would be known for right now in her life is the fact she is the twin sister of the Divine Commander of the Paladins. But ever since she was a small child she had the fortune, though she sometimes considered it the misfortune, to be able to create holy miracles. Though she only personally considered two of these so called miracles to have been actual miracles and the rest she just considered superstition of the commoners going out of control.
The first of these miracles was when she was only a young child of five or so and she had never told anyone of it. But from what she recalled of that incident a brave man had protected her from certain death but in the process had perished himself. So she cried for hours or days she was never sure which pleading for the man to return when finally he breathed again. Though the man was different from that day on she was happy to have saved the one who had saved her.
The other was ten years ago when she was recognized as the Chosen of Alddar. She had just had her sixteenth birthday and everything was going fairly normally until all of a sudden she had started floating in the air glowing and speaking with another voice about some sort of end times. At least that is what she was told since she didn’t remember a thing from that day other than it was when her life changed to be the head of the church of Alddar.
One day while idly relaxing in a white velvet armchair next to the window while playing with her blonde curls she noticed something peculiar. Normally one probably wouldn’t have even noticed such a thing but after so many years Alistra had noticed that not much around her physically changed. So when one day all of a sudden there seemed to be far more of her brothers Paladins around she started to get curious. One of her few, at least she liked to seem it was one of only a few, failings she had was being too curious for her own good. Thus she created a sect within her church that gathered information not only from the city but from all over Avol.
Lightly ringing a bell that sat on a table near her chair she stood to face the chestnut haired lady that entered the room silently.
“Yes, Most Holy?” the chestnut haired girl said bowing to Alistra.
“Catherine. I have told you many times I do not like being called that.” Alistra puffed her cheek out protest.
“Forgive me, Most Holy.” Catherine replied with an innocent smile.
Alistra sighed, “Whatever. Catherine can you do me a favor? It seems my brother is bringing a fair amount of his Paladins into the city lately. I would like you to look into it for me.”
Catherine bowed deeper, “Of course. Is that all?”
“For now… Oh wait no, call for Falstam. I would like lunch.” Alistra seemed to remember at the last moment.
Catherine smiled before bowing again and leaving the room as quietly as she had arrived. Alistra twirled around, her white dress billowing out, as she headed to the window to look out across the city that the window conveniently provided her. She didn’t know what was going on but she personally felt like something big was about to happen. Her innate curiosity seemed to set her spirit on fire at the very thought of it all.
The following day it was hard for Alistra to stay calm through her usual morning ceremonies. The entire time she felt like she may say wrong line or whatever else and have the entire town throw a fit at the exchange. But she was able to manage barely even though she could have sworn she heard some in the front row chuckling about her performance today as she got off the podium and headed into the hallway that led to her rooms in the cathedral.
“A moving ceremony as always.” A familiar voice called out to her from behind her.
Turning her head she saw her brother Vathar wearing a white doublet with gold trim and similar hose walk out from a side passage. His golden hair as always framed his face and fell across his shoulders. She barely saw it out of the corner of her eye but she was sure he hid something behind his back as she turned. Looking her brother in the eyes staring hard into their blue depths she gave a soft smile.
“I have been doing it for many years now Vathar.” She replied politely.
Vathar chuckled lightly, “Of course. Ah just so you know Alistra. I will be leaving tonight for some… business. I will return in a few days. Just wanted you to know.”
Alistra smiled lightly, “Do be safe then. I will pray for your safe return.”
“Then I will be the safest man in the world.” With that he turned on his heel and walked down the hallway.
Alistra watched him walk down the hall until he had turned and left into the main hall before she shivered lightly, turned, and headed for her rooms. In her rooms she saw Catherine waiting for her.
“Most Holy.” Catherine said bowing politely.
“Please do not do that right now Catherine.” Alistra said curtly holding her arms.
Catherine’s eyes shot up, “Is something the matter?”
“I met my brother in the hall. Something felt… weird about the whole ordeal though.” Alistra threw herself into her chair, grabbing a cookie that lay on the table next to it.
Catherine seemed to be lost in thought before replying, “Would you like to know what I have found out milady?”
Alistra looked sharply at Catherine. Rarely did she ever take her advice and not call her Most Holy and even rarer was it she called her milady. Silently and slowly she nodded to the girl.
“I do not know all the details I am afraid as those Paladins seem very tight lipped compared to usual. But all of them feel off to talk to and I am fairly certain every Paladin in the Order is currently in the city.” Catherine reported.
Alistra’s eyes went wide. The Paladin Order was possibly the third largest organization in Alddar behind her own church and the army. She didn’t like the sound of all of this especially given what happened around ten years ago.
“That is not all milady,” Catherine continued, “It seems the Grand Duke has sensed something amiss as well. He sent a group of well experienced… I suppose we could call them adventurers out to investigate what has been happening at the countryside shrines and small churches. He also has recalled most of the army into the city and what couldn’t fit inside the city is currently being set up outside of the city.”
Of course Alistra had heard about the shrine and church incidents. She even ordered her brother to have it investigated. So why was the Grand Duke interested in it now? Did her brother not do anything about it? She looked up at Catherine.
“How is the army being here being handled?” Alistra asked quietly.
Catherine shrugged lightly, “One half seems to believe it being a relief to see family and friends before some large scale mission. Others say it is not that but some sort of training exercise.”
Alistra nodded. Taking in all the information she just received trying to make heads or tails of it all.
“If that is all milady. I would like to rest if that is all right with you?” Catherine said bowing her head.
Alistra noticed now that Catherine did look tired and smiled, “Of course Catherine, rest well. On your way to your quarters send up Lisbeth. I wish to speak to her.”
Catherine bowed deeply before leaving Alistra alone in her room. Alistra’s thoughts were in turmoil over all of the information. Mainly because she could not make heads or tails of it all. She screamed in frustration as everything hit its boiling point to which she ended with a sigh as she draped her body on the cold stone of her balcony. She looked gloomily over the city at its peak just before the midday wondering what could be in store for the future.
The following days seemed to be a complete blur for Alistra. Among her followers in the church were very strong and able individuals, many who had kept their martial training up to date despite becoming one of the cloth. She tasked the individuals to begin keeping an eye on the Paladins as well as quietly defend the cathedral and herself. She didn’t like to seem paranoid but there were far too many pieces in play for her to sit by idly anymore.
Other than that though nothing seemed to have changed. Her brothers Paladins seemed to be idly passing time or so it seemed while the army continued its forced increase in city guards and training outside the city. On one evening nearly a week after all these events started Alistra got a message.
“Most Holy,” Catherine began her usual greeting with a slight bow, “Lady Liara wishes to speak to you about an urgent matter.”
Alistra blinked her eyes, “Liara… I do wonder what she would want.” Alistra pondered for a moment before sighing, “Even if it is Liara my nerves are at wits end right now. I will meet her but have the sisters gather in the main hall. We will do it there.”
Catherine bowed before leaving the room. Alistra donned her usual ceremonial white robes and strode confidently to the main hall where Catherine waited for her with seven others. A quick order from Catherine had all but herself and Lisbeth, another of the sisters, go to the shadows in the room. Alistra nodded once before Catherine left to lead Liara in.
Alistra noticed though Liara was not alone. She was followed by a red haired half elf female who seemed to have a confused look on her face as she looked at another of their party, a man, who had his green cloak pulled to the point it shrouded his face. There were also two other men an elf covered in many battle scars, his look bored yet curious. The last man was a tall and handsome man who wore the same armor as his brothers Paladins.
“Lady Liara. To what do I owe the pleasure?” Alistra said as calmly as she could manage.
“Most Holy.” Liara bowed motioning for the others to do the same, “I have news… but I would prefer it to be for your ears alone.”
“Forgive me Liara.” Alistra replied curtly, “My nerves are on edge lately. I will not be alone right now. You can speak freely. My sisters will not allow news to travel out of this room.”
“All eight of them?” the hooded man’s voice rang clearly.
Alistra’s eyes went wide as she stepped backwards. Catherine and the other sisters stepped forward brandishing their weapons.
“I am sorry Lady Liara, but even if it is you I will not hesitate if it is to protect Alistra.” Catherine’s eyes were hard as stone as she eyed the group.
The hooded man pushed himself forward, “Let us stop these silly games already and talk.”
The man pushed his hood back revealing crisp white hair that seemed to glow even in the faint light of the evening. His red eyes pierced through those that looked at him. An audible gasp came from Alistra’s throat and she nearly screamed, her eyes bulging out of her head.
“You!” Alistra couldn’t believe her eyes as she rushed over to the white haired man grabbing his face pushing and pulling it this way and that.
Mostly everyone in the hall had the same incredulous look on their face as they watched the exchange between one most considered the Most Holy of their religion and what appeared to be nothing more than a nameless nobody.
The man grabbed her hands gently pushing them down, “There can be time for that later Alistra. We need to talk. I do not care if your subordinates hear it honestly.” He turned to Liara and nodded.
Liara coughed uncomfortably as she fished an envelope out of her pouch and handed it to Alistra, “You may want to read this.”
Alistra grabbed the envelope and read the letters it contained. Her face paling the further she read and when she finished she crumpled the letters and threw them off to the side. She did not turn to face the others as she asked, “How much evidence did you find?”
The white haired man replied first, “Enough to know it is true.”
Alistra gritted her teeth as Catherine walked up to her, “Most Holy?”
Looking at Catherine all Alistra could do was sigh before turning back to Liara and her party, “Honestly with everything that has been going on lately. I am inclined to believe you all. Even if it is hard to swallow.”
The white haired man smiled sadly and nodded. He was about to speak when a loud crash could be heard at the entrance of the hall that made them all whip their heads around. Entering the hall a group of five Paladins entered led by Vathar. They were all in full armor with their weapons brandished out in front of them. Vathar looked coolly across everyone gathered and laughed lightly.
“Oh my,” Vathar’s voice coolly rasped, “What a welcoming party.”
“Vathar.” Alistra’s voice dominated over the Paladins, “What is the meaning of all of this?”
Vathar stared at Alistra his stare icy and piercing, “Be silent sister. If you stay silent I may offer you a painless death.”
Alistra’s eyes widened, she had never heard her brother speak this way.
“You scum. You dare speak to the Most Holy like that?!” one of the sisters yelled before charging at the Paladin.
Vathar simply stared at the girl who charged at him. Before the girl reached him though one of his Paladins deftly struck the girl in the side with his sword. Cleanly the girl was cleaved in half given she wore little in the way of armor and the large Paladin’s sword was used to cleaving through plate armor. A shrill scream erupted from Alistra’s mouth at what she just witnessed.
The white haired man grimaced before stepping up, “What are you after Vathar?”
Vathar’s icy gaze was leveled at the white haired man as a wicked grin spread across his face and he raised his arms in the air. What happened next no one would believe, even those who were there hardly believed it, as the white and gold armor of the Paladins began to blotch and darken. White giving way to a pure black like obsidian and the gold melted into a red that seemed to be the very color of blood. The crosses that adorned their armor before twisted and churned until their final forms were grotesque skulls impaled on spikes. Vathar’s golden hair and skin drained of color until it was a pale grey and his blue eyes glowed an eerie ghastly light.
“Death, friend of Darian. I am after the desecration of life itself.” Vathar’s voice was hollow as it echoed across the stunned and silent room.