tagSci-Fi & FantasyA Paladin's Training Ch. 15

A Paladin's Training Ch. 15

byAntidarius©

Hi readers! I'll start this chapter with a quick update:

Aran, Sara and Sorla have spent many weeks in hiding in the Hidden Temple beneath Maralon. The Heralds of Dawn have not withdrawn their search for Sara and Sorla, who killed three of their men. The Heralds have continued to scour the city day and night, making it nigh impossible for Aran to venture into the city in search of more Gifted...

A small clan of Druids have resurfaced after being in hiding for hundreds of years, their numbers a mere fraction of what they once were. The clan alpha, Braith, seeks vengeance against Aran for killing his brother, Aiden. The Druids attacked and captured Elaina, who escaped with the aid of the Wood Elves. One of the Druids has fallen pregnant, something which has not happened for decades. The Druids have retreated, for now, to ensure the safe birth of their newest clan mates...

Rodric Eames, Commander of the Heralds of Dawn - the rapidly growing society that believes the Order of Aros was evil and impure - has been granted military powers by the Council of Maralon, and is using the full extent of these powers to root out any potential Gifted citizens...

Elaina, after narrowly escaping the clutches of the rapacious Druids, is lying low in Ildernass, the home of the Wood Elves, and growing more fearful for Aran's safety by the day...

Maloth continues to move his growing army of Risen dead through Palistair, razing any villages or towns in his path, and adding their populations to his force. He plans to take Amindaer Fortress, which will allow him to secure his hold over the continent of Palistair. In an experiment with Kreya's powers and his own, Maloth has discovered a way to create stronger, more powerful Risen, called Morgai...

***

"And so, the Sunblade fell, tempted to darkness and drawn from the light,

And the Order would crumble in the wake of his betrayal."

Excerpt from "Light and Shadow," by Maigan Ezra.

***

Frantic shouts and clashing steel echoed down the gleaming halls of polished stone as Palavus cut down yet another brother taken by the Darkening. The fighting had been going on for hours, the whole Temple a scene from a nightmare; brothers and sisters of the Order of Aros murdering each other in their sacred home.

Tears streamed down Palavus' cheeks as he watched the robed Paladin fall to the ground, eyes already glazing over. His name was Emry, and they had fought side by side countless times over the past five hundred years.

Palavus felt nothing but intense sadness and despair, only heightened as yet another Paladin engaged him, this one a woman, carelessly stepping over Emry's corpse with her sword raised threateningly.

She had been truly beautiful, Delya, before the madness of the Darkening corrupted her. Now, her pretty, slender face was twisted with a dark rage, and she screamed wordlessly as she struck at him again, and again. Delya was garbed as Emry was, in the traditional transparent robe all Gifted and Servants wore, and so too was Palavus; the fighting had begun in the night, and he'd only had time to snatch up Eternal before joining the fray.

Palavus had been wielding a blade more than thrice as long as Delya had been alive, and she was no match for his skill. His chest was gripped with sorrow for what felt like the hundredth time that day as Eternal found her heart. He made it quick, as he had with Emry; there was no need for them to suffer.

Delya's corpse crumpled onto Emry's, a pool of blood quickly spreading around them in a grim halo.

Damn the Sunblade for this! It was bad enough, the man falling to darkness, let alone taking the whole Order down with him!

Palavus prayed to Aros that he found Darius before the Priests did. His former apprentice had much to answer for. Very much.

Leaving the two corpses behind him, Palavus trotted down the hall, following the sounds of the fighting, his bare feet slapping the smooth stone floor.

The chaos had come so quickly. First, news of Sunblade's disappearance, along with a woman soldier he'd rescued from the battlefield. Soon after, all of Sunblade's numerous Bonded women - Gifted, Servant, or otherwise - had begun to change, their hearts becoming dark, angry, and violent.

In turn, those Bonded to any of Sunblade's women felt the same shadow fall over them, which then fell over their Bonded, and so on, spreading through the Order like an infectious disease.

By a miracle of Aros, Palavus and Darius did not share any Bonds, which was remarkable considering the sheer number of women Palavus had Bonded over the years. He could feel all four-hundred and seventy of them, even now, scattered across the world, going about their lives.

Some members of the Order had considered it ridiculous to Bond so many women, but Palavus had never cared to place limits on himself. If the woman was willing and true of heart, why should he not share his Gift with her?

Rounding a corner, he came across High Priestess Amina - thankfully untouched by the Darkening - stark naked and defending herself against three attackers, all men. She glided smoothly among them, her blade finding it's mark with each elegant swing.

Even before Palavus could move to aid her, the men were dead, and Amina turned to regard him, not a scratch on her flawless pale skin. She was possibly the most gorgeous woman Aros had ever created, her beauty shining despite the sorrowful expression on her perfect face.

About a hundred years ago, Amina and Palavus had spent a night together, one that he would never forget even if he lived another milennia.

She ran to him as soon as she recognized him, throwing her arms around his neck and weeping into his shoulder.

He caressed her silky golden hair as he held her, knowing exactly how much pain she must be feeling, for he too was already far past heartbreak.

"We can't save the Temple, can we?" Amina sobbed, stepping back to wipe her eyes with one hand, her slightly curved blade still clutched in the other.

Palavus had already accepted this truth. "I don't believe we can, beautiful," he said gently. There were already too many fallen, too many corrupted. He had no idea what state the other Temples were in, but this one was lost.

Taking a deep breath, she nodded, some of her composure returning. "I will go into hiding, Palavus. I would suggest you do the same. If the Darkening has spread this fast, we need to be as far away from it as we can."

The last thing Palavus wanted to do was abandon what was left of his beloved Order, but the High Priestess spoke true. She always did.

Nodding, Palavus took Amina's hand and led her through the halls, keeping an eye out for any brothers or sisters in need, but sadly, they found none, only corpses, or more Darkened souls they had no choice but to kill.

***

"So, you begin to realise why this city needs us," Rodric Eames, High Captain of the Heralds of Dawn said patiently as he stood before the five members of the Council of Maralon.

They had resisted his requests for further powers previously, until he'd brought them the news that three of his men were dead, killed by two seemingly harmless women that had been in Herald custody.

Now, finally, the Council had begun to see the importance and urgency of the matter. Eames had been visiting with them weekly in attempts to convince them that the Order of Aros could rise again, and right under their noses, but they had not listened until now.

"As I have spoken of before," Eames continued with disciplined patience. "The first Heralds were the folk who rose up to quell the Order when the Paladins turned rabid, finally showing their true colours. Without the Heralds, the world would surely have been plunged into darkness."

The Council exchanged concerned glances with one another before Marrin spoke. She was the oldest and most astute member of the Council, with austere features, grey hair up in a bun, and hard blue eyes. Marrin had been the most difficult to deal with, and while all members of the Council were equals in power and authority, the others usually followed her lead.

"It would seem," Marrin began, her voice hard. "That we are left with little choice, Captain Eames."

A rare smile threatened to touch Eames' lips, but he suppressed it.

"Under normal circumstances, murders would be investigated by the City Watch, but as this particular crime affects your jurisdiction, you will be granted temporary martial powers," Marrin continued. "Including command of the City Watch, until you find your fugitives. While we are loath to go to this extent, we also cannot abide murder in Maralon, of Herald or otherwise."

"Maralon also remembers the Herald's sacrifice, Captain Eames," added Aegin, a portly, grey-bearded fellow on Marrin's left.

Maralon had once held an enormous Temple of Aros, which had been the first one to be razed to the ground. The first Heralds - Eames' ancestors - had built Maralon atop the ruins of the Temple, as a statement to the world that the Paladins no longer held sway.

Aegin was one of the few who had always remained true to the Heralds; much of the world, in the past three hundred years, had forgotten about the Heralds, and Herald numbers - at least until recently - had dwindled, but Eames would make sure they remembered. They would all remember.

Eames inclined his head respectfully. "Thank you. You will not regret this."

"See that we don't, Captain Eames." This from dark-haired, bearded Willem, who sat on Marrin's right. "We will expect daily reports of your activities within our city, including details of your use of the Watch."

Eames wanted to grimace, but kept his face smooth. He had expected this condition, and could work around it, and maybe even use it. "Of course. Is there anything else you require, your Honours?"

They shook their heads as one. "Not at this point, Captain," Marrin said. "You are dismissed. We hope you find these killers quickly."

Eames bowed, then turned on his heel and left, his red-lined yellow robe billowing behind him. Now that he had control of the City Watch, as well as the growing support of the people, the Council would soon have no choice but to bend knee to him, and Maralon would once again become a bastion of the Dawn, a place of sanctuary and hope against the Order of Aros, which was clearly rising from the ashes of history.

But first, he would find these two harlots that had taken the lives of his devoted men, and make a very public example of them.

***

Smythe sat bolt upright in bed, disturbing the two women that had been sleeping with their heads on either side of his chest.

Dark-haired Bella and fire-haired Rayna woke up, groggily asking if he was alright.

Unfortunately, he didn't have time to stop and appreciate the sight of the two naked beauties in his bed. Muttering something to appease them, he jumped up and began to dress hurriedly. Elaina had visited him tonight on the Plane with dire news; the Druids had reappeared, attacking Elaina and capturing her in order to find Aran, who had apparently killed one of them.

Thank Aros she had escaped. The news alone was bad enough, but to make matters worse, one of Aran's Bonded, Jeira - and her husband - were now likely in danger.

Smythe had tried to reach Aran in his dreams, but had had no luck, which meant he would have to look for this woman without help. According to Elaina, Jeira was probably somewhere in Ironshire, if she hadn't left already.

Snatching Lightbringer from where it was leaning in the corner, Smythe strapped the weapon onto his back and left the room, heading for the stables.

***

Berenor, King of the Dark Elves, grasped his concubine's slim hips from behind as he thrust deeply into her lithe, supple body, his pelvis slapping up against her tight, ebony rear again and again. He usually fucked his playthings at least once a day, but since Lady Shenla had visited him and showed him what pleasure really was, he'd been insatiable, taking his two twin servants - and whomever else was nearby - several times a day for the past few months, but no matter who he fucked, and how hard he fucked them, none of it came close to what he'd felt with Shenla.

Sweat beaded on his dark brow as he pistoned relentlessly into the girl's hot velvet channel, her pink inner lips contrasting sharply with the midnight complexion of the rest of her body. She had long since stopped pushing back against him, exhausted from his furious onslaught, her head and shoulders on the bed, her hips in the air, supported mostly by Berenor's grip.

The beauty he was fucking was called Evalys, and her identical twin sister, Avalys, was lying unconscious, face up on the bed beside them, her midnight thighs still spread wide, Berenor's seed still leaking from her hairless sex.

With a gasping roar, he reached his peak once again, jetting what small amount of come was left in his overworked balls into the slim girl before collapsing onto her back, pressing her into the plush bed.

No sooner had an exhausted Berenor rolled onto his back between the girls than the bedchamber door opened, admitting his Guard Captain, Edonys.

Edonys had replaced Peldin, the former Captain, who had accompanied Lady Shenla back to her home at her request. Strangely, Berenor did not remember agreeing to let Peldin go, but it was a small favour to grant for a goddess like Lady Shenla.

"Highness," the well-muscled elf said in his bass voice as he saluted.

"Speak, Edonys," Berenor commanded wearily, propping himself up on his elbows before sitting forward to listen. Edonys - one of the few elves who could enter his chambers unannounced - would not have done so unless it was important.

The Guard Captain was nude - as was the way of dark elves when underground - except for a light cloak denoting his station and a sword buckled round his waist. He proffered an envelope that he'd been holding. "This was received moments ago, Highness," he said as Berenor waved him forward.

Edonys stood patiently as Berenor took the letter, turning it over in his hands. The wax seal was stamped with a sigil he didn't recognise; looking much like the shape of a nude, voluptuous woman in a provocative pose.

Tearing the letter open, Berenor read the contents quickly. It was written in perfect elvish, so he had no need for a translator. A delicious smell wafted from the paper, a heady, feminine aroma that clouded his senses and sent a lightning bolt to his loins, hardening him instantly, despite his sexually draining afternoon with his concubines.

The scent of Lady Shenla was one he would never forget. The memory of his brief time with her came crashing home, that impossibly curved body, that soft, red skin, those lips that had sucked him so lovingly, so adoringly.

A smile broke out on his face as he read through a second time. "Prepare our forces, Edonys," he told his Captain, who was interestedly eyeing the sleeping women on the bed. "The time has come for us to surface!"

Edonys looked surprised to say the least. "Highness?" He asked quizzically, probably wondering why Berenor now sported a full erection.

"We march for Amindaer Fortress immediately!" Berenor snapped impatiently.

"Amindaer Fortress?" Edonys blurted. "But, Highness, with respect, no force has successfully assaulted Amindaer in three hundred years!"

Berenor met the other elf's gaze levelly. "Do you question me, Edonys?" He asked quietly.

"No, Highness!" The Captain said quickly. "I will prepare our forces at once, and send word to you when we are ready to march."

Nodding, Berenor dismissed Edonys with a wave of his hand before tucking the letter into the chest he kept at the foot of the bed and turning to regard the two sleeping beauties. Just one whiff of Lady Shenla and he felt like he could fuck for days; his cock throbbed with anticipation as he raked his eyes over their lithe forms.

With nothing else to do until he received word from Edonys, Berenor eagerly climbed between Avalys' silky black thighs, not bothering to wake her before burying himself inside her with one powerful thrust.

***

Two more weeks had passed in the Hidden Temple beneath Maralon, and Aran was growing more concerned by the day for two major reasons. Firstly, it was now too dangerous to risk going up to the city, as not only were Heralds patrolling at all hours, but it appeared the City Watch had now joined the search, working alongside the Heralds, of all things.

Secondly, Elaina had not yet appeared, and Aran had been unable to contact her on the Plane. With the Heralds the way they were, it was dangerous for Elaina to come to Maralon, and he desperately wanted her to know this before she walked right into them.

The Servants had also been unable to receive new information - which was previously being collected by Sylvia in the form of cryptic messages from various locations around Maralon - and so they remained largely in the dark about happenings above, and in the rest of the world.

To make matters worse, Aran had not only been unable to contact Elaina, but had also had no luck reaching Smythe or Amina.

Nevertheless, the small group remained positive, their faith in Aros outweighing their uncertainty.

Much of Aran's now idle time was spent with Sara, teaching her as much as she could absorb - which was everything, so far - and filling her spare time with chores, as Elaina and Smythe had done with him.

At first, the Servants had been mortified to see a Gifted doing their cleaning and whatnot, but Aran had firmly instructed them not to help Sara, as it was an important part of her training.

Keeping the girl busy with menial tasks also helped distract her from her increasingly prominent sexual appetites, and kept her away from the Servants, who continued to freely express their desire for one another - Aran included - out in the open, more often than not.

Several times he had spotted Sara watching the frequent lovemaking when she thought he wasn't looking, her sparkling sapphire eyes glazed with hot lust. Aran's training had installed in him firm control over his own desires, yet Sara's intense sexual aura was not lost on him.

Her body had also continued to change; her breasts were now a solid handful and sat proudly on her chest, and her hips flared beautifully from her slim waist into long, creamy thighs that went on for days. She would be nothing short of a golden-haired goddess when she reached her peak, so different to the dirty, malnourished girl he had found weeks ago.

Poor Erik didn't know what to do with himself; the older fellow's robe was constantly tented by his impressive manhood whenever Sara so much as glanced at him, and the female Servants were working hard - quite happily - to relieve him of his tension whenever required.

Naturally, Aran was forming close ties with all the Servants as time went on, sexually and otherwise. He had had time to better acquaint himself with all four of them, and their individual pasts were interesting and varied.

Erik was from a long line of scholars, and had taken up after his forebears in studying history. Aran had learned much from the dark-eyed fellow, who seemed to love nothing more than discussing the subject.

Lynelle was one-hundred and sixty-seven years old, and was born a high-elf, which was the upper echelon of elvish society. While Servants among elves was a rarity, Lynelle's mother - who had once been Bonded to a Paladin - had raised Lynelle as such, and in turn, Lynelle had raised Sylvia in the same way.

Sylvia and Aran had continued to grow closer, spending time together as often as they could. Aran had given more thought to Bonding the young half-elf, but had decided to refrain from asking her, for now.

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