Points of Light
LE Synthesist/Antipaladin of Ardad Lili
The years have taken their toll on the half-drow / half-human prisoner. The dark-vision so prevalent in his father’s race served him well in the light less cell that he has called home these last 1000+ years. His eyes have faded from the intense violet hue they once held to a milky white fringed with the faintest of mauve. His thick white mane has thinned through the ages and lies limp and rough-cut over his shoulders and back, the topknot still in place, a habit kept over the years and years. The ancient magic that has kept him alive to suffer what his jailors termed “eternal imprisonment” has helped him avoid the worst ravages of time, but still his lithe form suffers with a slowed aging. The old wound’s effect is evident as he favors the left leg; faintly a wheeze comes from the decrepit lungs as he stands before the guards; to those who notice such things, a steady tremor as he holds his gear in his hands; and, of course, those eyes – hazed with cataracts and glazed with advancing senility… yet somehow they track your movements, but always roll away toward the others as you try to meet his gaze, focuses on you when you turn your back again. Some intellect yet remains hidden therein…
His movements are slow and measured, his stamina has visibly waned, and his strength is little more than that of a Drow adolescent. All in all, his ancient enemies, all dead now, have left him a husk of a man, no threat to those righteous patrons of the long-gone gods.
“Last time. What is your name, condemned?”
His name was lost to the ages. Ground to dust against the stone and basalt of the closet-sized cell that had held him for these innumerable years. When he answers the captain of the guard, though, his reply is almost inaudible; his tongue hasn’t formed a syllable in decades, perhaps.
A name he chose long ago, before the Empire of Man had lapsed into this long-lasting slumber beneath their impenetrable domes of magic. In an age of War and Blood, he had chosen that name – in the ancient tongue it referred to “the archangel of forgiveness” – an intentioned perversion of the name – he had known it would bring him ire. Archangels hadn’t been known in the world for generations now, though. And the gods that had forsaken him then were lost to the ages now, as well. Good riddance. The Maiden of Purity, that Whore-Queen of old, was his patron ever since his Fall. He had thrown down the mantle of Paladin and taken up that of Unholy Crusader gladly. Not that it had spared him the last thousand (thousands?) years of imprisonment.
His eyes glazed as he remembered…
Holy zeal and years of training had hardened him into the perfect pillar of strength that was the Paladin he had aspired to become all those years ago. He rose through the ranks, spurred on by his own righteous fury, the love for his people and family, and the gifts bestowed upon him by the Light. The end came swiftly. His only daughter, firstborn to her grandmother’s noble line, was found with child – out of wedlock and with an unknown father, the circumstances were suspect, at best. It wasn’t until the child was born that the sacrilege was fully evident, as the child was obviously the offspring of some diabolic encounter. Through tears, she tried to explain the rape, the horror of knowing what she had carried to term. He had begged for mercy for his daughter and her newborn son, offered his own life for hers, but the Elders would have none of it and the priests excommunicated her on the spot. Don’t you know? For the greater Good, The Law has been and always must be unbending. At the break of dawn, the next day, the small babe was tossed to the flames, its mother thrown in moments later, but only after she had been made to see him burn.
The man who was Paladin was unmade that day. If there was no mercy for his only daughter and grandson, if the Law was to be kept above all else…then by every power in the multiverse – the Law would be upon the necks of every last man, woman, and child in the world. The Law would reign supreme – no matter the cost – and by the Fallen Angel of Innocence herself, the cost would become unbearably high – he would see to that. He prayed to Her that night for the first time… and she came to him, in all her unassuming beauty, Ardad Lili herself – tenderly took him in… From that night, he was forevermore unfettered from those lies that the righteous named “Goodness” and “Light”.
It took them a bloody and dark seven weeks to bring in the “Fallen Paladin” to face the Order Tribunal for his “crimes” against humanity. What they never would (or could) fathom was the purity of justice and the perfection of order that was inherent in every death, every decapitation, every suffocation, every poisoning, and every torture he carried out. They called him maniac, pariah, butcher, defiler, depraved, and devil-worshiper. Well… at least they got it right in the end. Maybe he was all those things. Maybe he was all those things all along. Certainly, grim justice was carried out by his steady hand – for what other kind of justice was there in the world?
No matter – he shifts his eyes back to the guard captain; he holds out a parchment with several poorly worded paragraphs inscribed upon it. The pathetic idiot was saying something again, “Do you swear to abide by the tenets of the contract as the Lord Jailor has laid them out? If so, answer ‘I so swear’.”
Oaths were a dangerous thing. He’d already swore one to the Dark Lady, and that Oath would bind him heart and soul until the end of time. But this “oath”, this poorly worded child’s text, was nothing quite as limiting or as binding.
‘…shall not murder or otherwise permanently and/or with forethought, harm your companions…’
‘…shall report back to the Order and… …communicate when ordered to upon the ….’
‘…shall render assistance and all aid accorded to the… …be of use and aid to those who can or will…’
Etc, etc, etc… Yes, there were loopholes enough, and he needed time to think, to plan, to strengthen himself in this New World. This World that had forgotten the damned gods of old, forgotten the sins of ages past, forgotten murders and genocide, …forgotten him. Yes, there would be time. Time to relearn a past life, time to relearn a past life’s skills, time to relearn past life’s mastery… and time to teach. To teach grim justice to this New World.
He smiled for the first time in centuries.
“I so swear.”