(( Before i start, i will say now this is still a work in progress. I will also say, i have never played a WC game, all knowledge i know i've had to cram into my cortex through reading, however, comment's and such are welcome, tips and pointers and all sorts of advice i'd be grateful for. Hope you enjoy what i've got so far, if you don't, blast me to high hell with comment's telling me why ^^ ))
The proceedings had gone just as they always did, He had spoken, and they had listened. Old Santaria had managed to hide his fears, his doubts, and give hope to the people of Hillsbrad fields once again.
But he cant hide them from me... I can see that glimmer of fear, in even his eyes. thought Saronius'
"And now, my friends, i ask that you return to your work, so that another harvest can prosper." Wheezed Santaria, smiling down to the crowds.
Saronius' stepped aside, and hid himself against the wall as the people marched out, pushing and shoving, as always, it had become a common ritual to him, the endless shoving press of people murmering and chattering, smiles on their faces.
But there are less smiles this time, the murmering of chit-chat has turned to the spreading of fears and doubts. They know war is coming.
Eventually, the hall emptied, and so Saronius' made his way up toward the alter where old Santaria was busying himself with the books and scriptures he had used as references, as Saronius grew closer he took notice of the footsteps echoing through the hall and looked up, smiling in recognition.
"Ahh, young Saronius' Im pleased to see you could make it"
"I wouldnt miss one of your readings if the sky fell down around my ears, sir."
"Sir? Come now, surely we can be done with formalities, i've known you all your life, Saro', you're as much a friend to me as your father before you."
Saronius' nodded lightly, ten years past, and still it hurt to think of his father's passing, but he managed a smile looking up into the face of the old man.
"You've done another great job of settling unrest, Sant'"
"Pah!" The old man waved his hand dissmissively "I've kept them in order for another week or so, but how long can it really last? War is coming, and even those whose wits are addled know it, it is only a matter of time before discord breaks out."
Saro' could only nod again, he couldnt deny it, as much as he felt the light burn within him, as often as he had healed and helped old Santaria heal wounds, he was gripped with fear as much as everyone else, Word had reached even the small village.
Stormwind had fallen to an unknown race refered too only as "Orcs"
"Shouldnt we try to warn them? Give them advice on how to protect themselves better...?" said Saro', looking at the ground.
There was a pause long enough for Saro' to look up, to see old Santaria smiling down at him wistfully.
"And if we did, then they would turn to us for more and more of their problems, and i fear problems are all we may have for a long time to come... No, it is best we let the militia take those who want to fight, who feel the need to fight, and show those who want to remain behind how to defend themselves, and we, the church, will be hear to infuse hope with their newfound strength and skills."
Santaria continued to smile as he returned to packing away his scriptures, leaving Saro' to think on it a little.
He smiles, but i can see the pain and hurt in his eyes. He wants to do more, knowing he cant, Sant you old fool, stop torturing yourself.
After a few more moments passed by, Saro' gave the old man a hand finishing up, they cleaned the hall of the chapel together, then collected their coats and walked outside, the day had moved on to a mid-afternoon glow, not quite dark, but still not its lightest. Santaria reached down the neck of his worn preachers robes and pulled out a dull brass key, he slid it into the chapel door, and twisted it, the loud "click" reassuring them both that the doors were locked tight.
Santaria spun around, replacing the key down the front of his robe, looking up he stopped, and squinted over Saro's shoulder, breaking out into a wry smile.
"It seems one of us has a visitor, and i very much doubt it is i." whispered the old man
Looking over his shoulder, Saro' couldnt help but grin, feeling his face turn hot and red as he saw the slender, fair haired woman waiting for him holding the hand of the small child grinning back at him under his thick black hair.
"You have let me keep you from your wife and child far too often these past weeks, my friend, go, be with them, we'll talk more tomorrow if you still feel troubled" said Sant', patting Saro' on the shoulder he walked past, showing none of his age or infermness.
Still smiling Saro' briskly walked down the steps, as he reached the bottom the boy broke free of his mothers grip and sprinted up the small path, past old Santaria, and leapt at Saro', catching his son he broke into a wide smile, holding him close.
"Hey there, lil' soldier, anyone would think i'd been gone a week not a few hours!"
"I still missed you Dad... You always spend so much time here..."
Saro's smile almost faltered at that, he knew he spent too much time at the Chapel, but he couldnt help it, he was worried, more worried than he had ever been, if anything were to happen to his Wife and son, he wasn't sure he could forgive himself.
"I know, Andy, I'm sorry, We'll spend a little more time together over the next week, eh? How about some fishing at Southshore in a few days?"
His sons eyes brightened and he burst into a beaming smile at the idea "That sounds great, Dad! I cant even remember when we last went fishing!"
"It was last year, when you were too afraid to even touch the bait"
"I wasn't afraid!"
Saro' couldnt help but laugh at that, tousling his sons hair he walked down the path, carrying his son in his arms, smiling at his wife.
Feina, My love, how could i ever go a day without you?
Smiling, he leaned in and kissed her cheek, "Was everything okay while i was busy?"
"Of course, Saro', im used to you wanting to spend as much time as you can with Sant', but you really do have to realise, just because he's getting old, doesnt mean he's going anywhere just yet."
They began to walk down the road, toward the town square and beyond that, their home. "I know that, Fein', I know."
But i know you cant see the weariness in him like i do, he's a failing man... If only he would let someone help shoulder his burden.
Thunder and lightning. The rain was hammering down outside for three days now, thudding against the windows and roof loud as a regement of Cavalry. Saro' looked outside grimmacing, tomorrow was market day, and no one liked getting up early to a morning of rain. He saw her reflected in the glass of the window before he felt her touch, a hand resting lightly on his shoulder, the other sliding around his waist, he smiled as he chin rested on his free shoulder.
"Saro'... you should get some sleep, someone has to oversee the market tomorrow with Santaria feeling poorly, and the people have come to rely on you much more these past few months." murmered Feina in his ear. She was right, of course, Sant' had taken ill two weeks ago, and the people had turned to him in a flood.
How the old man was dealing with all this from the people is beyond me, is that why your poorly Sant'? Have you worked yourself half to death already and not let anyone help untill now? But it was best not to think like that, so he smiled lightly and let out a sigh.
"Of course, Fein', im sorry, im just... worried is all"
"Your always worried these days Sant', it worries me, and Andy to see you so worked up, can't you let the world be? just for tonight?"
It broke his heart to know his wife and child had worried over him, that was the last thing he wanted, that was why he was trying to shoulder as much of the upcoming burden as possible. So he let out another sigh, and let his troubles ease away with it "Alright, for tonight, no worries beyond what we have for breakfast." With that he turned, and took her in his arms bringing her close, taking in the scent of her hair and kissing her softly.
And for that night, untill he awoke just before dawn, he let the world be.
Chaos, Thats what the market was, absolute Chaos, the rain hadnt let up all night, leaving the roads into Hillsbrad thick with mud, Cart's were backed up from the gate, A Cart wheel had broken on hidden rocks and needed to be fixed as soon as possible, just to get the endless press of horses and goods into the small town and keep things on time. Everything had been fine for the first few hours, the first sets of carts had been brought in and were already set up now ready for the days market. Then a cart had gotten stuck no more than twenty strides from the main gate, of course, instead of lending a hand, the other carts had attempted to squeeze by, and thats when another cart's wheel had broken, turning the stream of merchants into an angry press of arguing, shouting, and even a brawl or two. The town guard had already seen to those though, and with luck maybe they would be the only one's locked up for the day, and a day without income would teach them a lesson.
Saro' trudged up the slippery cobblestones of the main street heading for the stable to get more horses to help pull the stuck cart, his wide brimmed had pulled low in a vain attempt to keep even remotely dry, just as the stable door came into sight, the pounding of boots stole his attention, looking up he saw a man, running toward him, hat pulled low like his own, as he grew closer and Saro' saw his face, he recognised him.
"Mister Mekelowe! Sir!"
Aber Treaker, a good man by all accounts, liked his ale but none the less was a good man. "Morning mister Treaker! Whats the hurry?"
He was truely out of breath when he drew close enough they could talk without raising their voices, giving him a patient moment to catch his breath Saro' couldnt help but wonder when he had become known as "Sir"
"Please, Aber, call me Saro' like everyone else, there's no need to be formal"
Nodding, the messenger continued.
"Mist-... Saro', Santaria is asking for you, he's said for me to take over from you and if you could see him right away."
Fear suddenly gripped him "Aber, is Sant' Alright? He's not...?"
"No, No he's fine Mist-... Saro', Sorry to worry you, he's just said it was private so i've no idea what he wants to talk about."
Feeling the fear leak out of him, he nodded and handed over a list of things that needed to be done, soaked through, but still readable, and headed toward the old man's house, built right next to the chapel it was small and plain, but that was all Sant' had ever asked for. Reaching the door, he knocked twice and looked around at the well kept garden.
Peacebloom, Silverleaf, Briarthorn you do like to grow your herbs, dont you Sant'?
Saro' turned sharply as the door creaked open, and there stood Sant' smiling as always.
But he looks older now. So much older.
"Saro'! My dear friend, please, come in" he said as he stood aside and gestured down the hallway.
Stepping in out of the rain, Saro' looked over the old man, his preacher's robes hung slack on his gaunt frame, his skin was pale, and his hair which had always been salt and peppered white and dark gray was now lank and silver.
Two weeks Sant'. Two weeks and you look older than ever. You old fool, you should have let someone else step in sooner.
Saro' followed his friend down the hallway and into a small room consisting of two chairs, a desk, two bookshelves on the back wall, opposite the window, and a fireplace, already roaring. Scriptures and books lay open on the desk, alongside letters old and new.
"Come, my friend, Sit with me, i trust your wife and son are doing well?" Sant' wheezed as he eased himself into the larger chair behind the desk and infront of the window.
Slowly sitting down himself, Saro' waited untill he was sat comfortably before replying "Feina and Andy are fine, thank you Sant', Although Andy has had a bit of a cough the past few days, no more than a cold we think, due to the weather. What about you Sant'? How are you feeling?"
Still smiling and leafing through some of the letters, Sant' took a moment to answer. "I'm feeling much recovered, thank you Saro', You dont need to concern yourself over this old man as much as i know you have"
Starlted, Saro' wondered who would have noticed his worry.
Feina, of course, seeing me worried over him you'd want to check on him yourself to reassure me, wouldnt you?
"I'm not going to feel sorry for worrying over you, Sant', Your almost like a father to me, or an Uncle... or much older brother" he said with a smile.
"Of course, i wont ask you to be sorry, and i am touched by your concern, but try not too worry yourself so much, eh Saro'? Especially when there are other things at hand to worry about..." he trailed off.
Staring dumbly, Saro' waited a moment for him to continue, when the silence grew almost to breaking point, Santaria sighed and slid a letter across the table. Taking it with clumsy fingers, Saro' fiddled it open, taking note of the broken seal signifying a letter from the Church of the Holy Light across the back, he drew the letter out and skimmed through it, then paused and had to read it again.
To Santaria Collirand, Priest of Hillsbrad, of the Church of the Holy Light
We are deeply sorry to hear of your recent illness, and wish you a speedy recovery.
As you already know, from previous letters, the Kingdom of Stormwind to the far south has fallen to a horde of bloodthirsty beasts known only as "Orcs".
This information was brought to our attention by Sir Anduin Lothar, Champion of Stormwind, regrettably, King Llane Wrynn, Monarch of Azeroth, was slain by assassins and is now one with the light, please hold a moment of silence to honour and remember those who have passed in the tragedy that has fallen the Kingdom.
We also bring you more News, in light of the recent events, King Terenas Menethil of Lordaeron has began preparing his armies to match the orcish horde, he seeks council with the other kingdoms and hopes to create a force powerful enough not only to defend our lands against this most terrible threat, but to drive them back.
To this point, King Terenas has asked that we provide whatever aid we can, after much deliberation and council, we have come to two certain decisions, First, That each church, Chapel and abbey are to give two to three of their own to comfort the refugee's from Stormwind, then, when the time comes, we will also aid with the coming battle against the Orcs. The ways we will do this are two fold, one shall see priests of our order healing and tending to the wounded. The second, was perhaps our hardest decision, but may prove to have the greatest impact, The Church of the Holy Light shall work with the armies of Lordaeron, giving birth to a new order "The Knights of the Silver Hand", An order consisting of warriors and priests alike, and our newest form of warrior, what we have decided to name, The Paladin, men and women alike who are of warriors strength, with the ability to wield the light to heal, and destroy the evil that approaches our lands.
We humbly ask that any you deem fit to become one of these Paladin's is sent within a fortnight of recieving this letter to Stratholme, and any of the priesthood you are able to spare should be sent a week to two weeks after that, to give you more time to think upon the matter.
Light be with you.
Arch-Bishop Alonsus Faol.
"... So... You wish for me to aid the armies of Lordaeron in the coming battle, Sant'...?" Saro' said, setting the letter down on the table once more, "I understand that healers will be needed... If that is what you wish Sant', i'll go... I'll talk to Fein-... What is it Sant'?" He suddenly blurted out seeing the old priest shaking his head.
"I'm sure you would do well to aid them healing, Saronius. But i think another path is what you are destined to tread..." Looking up to meet Saro's confused look, Sant' let out a small sigh and continued "... I wish for you to become a Paladin, my old friend... And join this new order, The Silver Hand."
It was all Saronius could do to keep his mouth from gaping, although he continued to stare at the old man for a good half a minute, a look of incredulous suprise plastered over his face.
He has to be kidding... He Can't... Surely..."I Can't be one of these Paladin's, Sant'! I... I dont think i have it in me to take on such a role!"
Santaria only chuckled lightly, however, even then he descended into a light coughing fit, holding up his hand, his palm upraised as Saro' started to leave his seat to help in anyway, after a moment he looked up and spoke again, a little quieter "You, Saronius Mekelowe, are a man who has never failed in something he has set his mind too, and now, you shy away from an opportunity to fulfill a role many others will fail to become? I have the utmost confidence, in you, my friend."
"But, Feina an-"
"I have already spoken to your wife of it, and she too agrees"
Utterly defeated, Saro' sagged back into the chair and pressed his palms against his eyes.
"When am i to leave...?" Saro' said quietly, almost a whisper.
"In one week, you are to be escorted to Stratholme along with one other who i've decided to send"
Saronius pulled himself forward "Who else are you sending, Sant'? Deeson Nighn? He's been itching to leave here for a while now..."
The old man pursed his lips before replying "No, He shall be sent along with those of the priesthood i send, The other i am sending will be Wilhelm, Wilhelm Jones, you know of him?"
His brow furrowing lightly in concentration "Yes... He's Vintus and Samaria's lad, But... He's still a boy, Sant'!"
"He is in his eighteenth summer, Saro', and he is strong... The Light courses through him like few others i know of, It graces him even more than it does you, or i"
A little startled by the last statement Saro' simply sat and looked once more at the letter.
"I also know that you will guide him, Saro', and watch over him as he grows. As i said, i have the utmost confidence in you."
Looking up once more, Saro' caught the warm smile on the old man's face, as he looked at him with almost fatherly care.
"Alright, Sant', if you really feel i'm up too it, then i'll go with Wilhelm... If you wouldn't mind, i'd like to spend as much time with my family as possible before i leave"
"Of course, Thank you Saronius. I will see you in one week." Gesturing that he may leave, the old man continued to smile. Nodding lightly, Saronius stood and left the room, Left the House, Left the Garden. And trudged back through the rain to the market.
Someone has to keep this damned market from falling apart first, Fei', i'll be home soon, i promise.
For three more days the rain beat down on the town of Hillsbrad, turning the surrounding fields boggy, and making travel harder and harder for travellers, on the fourth day, it had eased, and even stopped. By the time a week had passed, the Sun shone in the almost cloudless sky, and a warm wind carressed the small band as they prepared to leave, only a few puddles were all that remained from the heavy rain that had doused the town and made travel along some of the more precarious of roads all but impossible.
The small band gathered at the gate preparing to leave probably the only thing noticable in the morning light, Three guards, and the two priests, An odd looking sort of band, now he came to think about it, Three armoured men escorting two other's away from the town. Almost like we're royalty... Or prisoners... With every day that had passed Saro' had become more and more uncomfortable and nervous, he'd never even seen an unsheathed blade before, let alone swung with any intent... and now he was off to train, to fight in a war? He looked over to Wilhelm and grimaced, the lad was white as milk, dark ring's below his eye's where he'd likely had no sleep last night. The poor lad was sat, staring at his saddle, his hands clenched tight around the reigns, to the point his knuckles were turning white. In short, he looked about as scared as Saro' felt.
Taking a deep breath, Saro' took a few step's away from his horse and reached up to rest his hand on Wil's elbow, the lad jumped at first, seeming startled by the sudden touch, perhaps he'd thought he was dreaming... maybe he'd hoped he was.
"How are you, Wilhelm? You look a little sickly..."
The lad stared for a moment before swallowing and looking back at the gates where Santaria was talking to the guards, then turned back to Saro and took a few deep breath's before answering.
"I'm... I'm alright, Mister Mekelowe... Sir... It's just..." He looked back at the gate again, Saro' knew exactly how he felt... leaving behind all he knew.
"You know, Wilhelm, You've got to have fear, to have courage." Saro' gripped his elbow a little "And when the time comes, and you've been given a task, you can only do your best at it."
He seemed to take heart from that, nodding lightly, his eye's turning from the gate, toward the road, he swallowed once more and set his face into a determined frown. Saro' almost believed he was fine, if his hands hadn't been shaking on the reign's.
It was that moment he saw movement in the corner of his eye and turned back toward the gate, Sant' was still talking to the guards, Feina was stood just behind the archway, talking to Wilhelm's parent's, seeing the wet path her tear's had left down her cheek's nearly broke him, but he managed to grit his teeth as his eye's searched the rest of the area, nothing out of the ordinary... The few shrubs and larger bushes outside would have been poor cover for anything looking for a way into the town, he was just getting jumpy was all... Nervous about the trip ahead...
The guard's were wandering over now, climbing up onto their mounts, he figured it was best to follow suit and climbed up into his saddle. He looked over his shoulder, back at the gate, where Feina was crying again, Old Sant' was placing a reassuring arm around her shoulders, looking at him with that sad smile on his face, silently letting him know everything would be fine while he was gone, Saro' nodded once, then turned, and set off along with the others.
He'd watched it all, from his hiding spot, here in the bushes, outside the town wall's, Mom said he'd not been allowed to come, that he wasn't old enough, well he still made it, and on his own too! Wouldn't that mean he was old enough for sure? He thought so.
He'd watched it all, How Dad and Mister Jones had knelt before Old man Sant' whilest he waved his arms about a little, saying something, sounded like a poem from here, he didn't know why the old man was telling Dad poem's, though.
Dad had tried to explain it all, a couple days ago, That he was going away for a while, so he could be made real strong, and he was going to fight some green forks, something like that.
He'd watched Dad, talking to Mister Jones, Who seemed real sick, he was whiter than the peacebloom petal's from Santaria's garden, and they were pretty white, they were.
Whatever Dad had said though, it looked like Mister Jones was feelin' better, but Dad was like that, he could always help people out, just by talkin', Course he could, he was the best, after all.
He'd almost died when he sneezed though, and Dad looked his way, no one else seemed to notice, But Dad had looked right at him before turning around when the guards started coming, That's when he'd managed to breath easy again, at least, his heart was still pounding in his ear's like a toy drum was strapped to his head though.
When they started to ride away, he snuck back through the bushes, to the grate in the wall he knew opened up not far from home, He couldn't help but grin to himself.
His Dad was the best after all, and when Andy grew up, he'd be just like him, no doubt about it.