tagSci-Fi & FantasyA Paladin's Training Ch. 17

A Paladin's Training Ch. 17

byAntidarius©

"Two suns will rise from the ashes, but the sky can only hold one."
-Unknown

***

The days went by quickly as Smythe occupied himself with carefully combing Ironshire for any dormant Gifted that may be residing in the town. A next-to-impossible task, to be sure, with the Gift being undetectable in a person until it awakened.

Jeira had been getting along much as expected from a woman who had lost her husband so suddenly; some days her spirits were up, others down, but her heart was healing slowly. Bella and Rayna spent as much time with Jeira as they could when they weren't working their crafts -- Bella was a weaver, and Rayna a seamstress -- which seemed to help Jeira no end.

Hamlin's service had been a simple affair, with just Smythe, Bella and Rayna present, along with a handful of folk from the town who knew the man and had come to pay their respects.

This morning Smythe had been out and about, as he had the last several days, feeling about with his Gift from time to time on the chance that he might sense a blooming Gifted. It was not a fine day in Ironshire; a late spring rain had set in, and the steady downpour had remained consistent the last few hours, effectively keeping indoors those who did not need to be outside.

Smythe pulled his collar up against the rain, though he was already soaking wet. His leather boots splashed through puddles as he strode down the cobbled street, keeping his Gift expanded for the enhanced awareness, despite the risk. He'd been at this for days, now, and turned up nothing.

"One more day, Henley," he muttered to himself as he walked, squinting against the rain. "Best to be sure. One more day." The last thing he wanted was to miss a Gifted due to lack of searching. Ironshire had a population of more than a thousand folk -- mostly humans, with the odd dwarf or elf getting around -- and Smythe wanted to be absolutely thorough with his search.

Before Aran, there hadn't been a new Gifted since Smythe had found Elaina thirty years ago. Then Aran had come along, and now Sara, which gave Smythe hope for the future of the Order.

As Smythe was trudging through the Ironshire town square, with the Iron Fountain decorating the centre, he saw something that made him stop dead.

Four people in red-lined yellow cloaks were dismounting their horses in front of the town hall, which lay on the southern side of the square.

Didn't Aran say that the Heralds of Dawn wore cloaks of those colours? What could the Heralds want in Ironshire?

Retracting his Gift, Smythe put the Fountain between himself and the Heralds and peered through the steady rain as they ascended the stone steps of the hall and entered through the arched double doors that always stood open during the day.

He considered going in after them to see what they wanted, but thought better of it; best they didn't see his face if they didn't have to. Perhaps it was best to lay low until he could learn what the Heralds were doing in Ironshire.

Smythe hurried home, burning to know the answers to the many questions racing through his mind.

*

Smythe remained around the house the next day, during which the rain continued, only seeming to get heavier as the day wore on. Truth be known, he wanted to be out seeking potential Gifted, or finding out why the Heralds were here, but his instincts -- which had served him well over the past hundred years -- told him to stay put for now.

Needing something to focus on, he fired up the forge behind the house and got busy in the smithy, working on a few orders that had fallen behind due to recent events. Ironshire knew Henley Smythe as a weaponsmith, and weaponsmith only, and it was important to keep up the appearance, especially with all the distractions he'd had lately. For each thing he crafted, he used just a touch of his Gift to improve the quality. Everyone knew that any weapon forged by Henley Smythe took longer to rust, and needed sharpening much less than normal. His reputation had grown over the last ten years as the best smith in the region, and folk paid well for his work.

Smythe lost himself in the repetitive ring of hammer on steel, the sound somewhat dampened by the rain hammering on the tiled roof of the smithy. The day was cool, but the work was hot, and he soon doffed his shirt to work in just his breeches and leather apron. Halfway through shaping a new sword for one of the guardsmen, a presence brought his head around.

Jeira stood there watching him work, arms folded and leaning against one of the timber uprights that supported the smithy roof. She looked beautiful, clad in a sheer white robe that only just covered her to the tops of her pale, slender thighs. Rayna had made the garment for her, and it was a fair approximation of the traditional robe that was worn by members of the Order of Aros.

'Too pretty to be a farmer's wife,' Smythe thought to himself as he appreciated the way her black tresses framed her pale, lightly freckled face and tumbled down over her slim shoulders.

Her dark eyes reflected the glow from the forge as she regarded him. She didn't say anything, and Smythe got the feeling she didn't want to talk just yet, so he carried on shaping the glowing metal, sticking it back in the burning coals and pumping the bellows when it got too cool.

He could feel Jeira's eyes on him as he worked, following his movements from bellows to anvil to quenching barrel. With the blade finished and ready to be fitted to a hilt, Smythe turned while reaching up with both hands to pull the apron's neck loop over his head, only to find Jeira standing inches from him, looking up at him with those deep, dark eyes.

His hands froze where they were, awkwardly holding the apron loop against his chest as he met her unblinking stare. "Are you well, lass?" He asked softly.

In answer, she nodded, and reached up to take the apron from his hands, her slim fingers gently removing his thick ones from the heavy leather. She let it drop, and the top half of the apron flopped down against Smythe's legs, leaving him bare to the waist.

Jeira's eyes left his face for the first time in long moments as she brought her hands up to run her fingers through the thick hair on his chest, not seeming to mind that the dense curls were beaded with sweat. Ever so slowly, her hands trailed down his flat stomach and around to the tie at the small of his back. She had to step closer to reach, and her soft breasts pressed into his chest as she deftly untied the string and let the apron drop to the ground.

Smythe wanted to stop her, or to at least make sure she was ready for this, but would she be doing this at all if she really wasn't ready? Using his Gift, he aligned with her to get a feel for her emotions. While not as accurate as a real Bonding, aligning could still give a fair idea of a person's state of mind. In this moment, he could feel Jeira's pain over the loss of her husband, but also, he could feel love, gratitude, and intense arousal.

Of course. She was Bonded to a Paladin -- Aran -- and so her desires were much more potent than they would be otherwise.

A sense of urgency seemed to overtake Jeira as she moved back slightly to get her hands down to his belt. When Smythe tried to help, she batted his hands away and shot him a predatory look that set his blood on fire. The look said; "I'm in charge, I want this. Don't get in my way."

Smythe suppressed a small smile as she bent to tug his breeches all the way down, enjoying the feeling of freedom as his hardening cock sprang free of it's confines, the cool spring air feeling good on the sensitive skin.

Jeira left his breeches around his ankles and remained in a squat before him. Her eyes were locked on his rising phallus and her hands had come up to his thighs, slowly stroking them up and down as she brought her mouth to the bulbous cockhead and opened wide.

"Fuck," Smythe muttered as he watched the end of his cock disappear into Jeira's mouth. She began to suck him earnestly, her head rocking back and forth and the little moans from her throat creating pleasurable vibrations. Her hands moved from his thighs, one to caress and fondle his heavy balls, the other one snaking around to squeeze his buttock, her fingernails digging in as her passion mounted.

The deluge continued outside as the smithy was filled with the wet sucking sounds of Jeira's skilled oral performance, as well as Smythe's grunts of pleasure.

Jeira's mouth popped off his cock to utter her first words since appearing at the smithy. "Come in my mouth, Henley," she panted before inhaling him once again.

Smythe had spent eighty or so years of his life as a Paladin, and could choose to spend his seed whenever he desired, but he didn't see the point in denying the lass her request, and so he allowed himself a release, bellowing with pleasure as he felt his nuts tighten and hot fluid travel up his shaft before erupting into Jeira's willing mouth.

She moaned wantonly as his come hit her tongue. Pulling her mouth free, she smiled up at him as she tugged on his pole, aiming his still-pulsating cock at her face, which quickly became spattered with his hot cream.

Quite unexpectedly, she began to laugh as his climax died down. Still clutching his cock with one hand, she stood, scooping some of his juice off her cheek and popping it into her mouth.

"Mmm," she murmured. There was a distinct twinkle in her eye as she made a show of sucking on her finger while slowly fisting his still-rigid member. Her hand never released it's grip, even when he bent to tug his boots off and kick his pants away.

Smythe reached out to the nearby shelf where he'd hung his shirt, and offered it to her so she could wipe herself down, but she refused, and with a wordless smile, began to walk backwards, leading him by his cock out into the pouring rain.

In seconds they were saturated, their hair plastered flat against their heads and water streaming off their bodies. Jeira laughed delightedly, her face turned to the sky, blinking against the downpour. Her robe had become completely transparent, molding itself to her slender frame and clinging to every graceful curve.

The cool rain felt invigorating after working the forge, and Smythe couldn't help but laugh along with the beautiful woman in front of him. She was a sight indeed, with her slender body dripping wet and her pink nipples hardened to points. The rain had done nothing to dampen Smythe's desire, and he wrapped her in his arms, interrupting her laughter with a fierce kiss.

Her hands instantly came up to his shoulders as she kissed back, moaning into his mouth as she pressed herself to him, telling him with her body that she was his.

Between the house and the forge was a small expanse of soft grass, which Smythe lay Jeira down upon. She opened her thighs willingly, inviting him to take her right then and there, out in the open and in the pouring rain. He did just that, untying the sash of her robe and parting it to expose her to his eyes before he smoothly slid into her waiting warmth.

Jeira clutched him tightly, her slim arms and legs trapping him in a most enjoyable prison. After giving her time to adjust to his size -- he could alter it at will, but sensed that this was what she wanted -- he began to slowly pump his hips.

Jeira whimpered into his ear as they fucked with a gradually increasing tempo. The rain continued to beat down on them, but their desire was running hot, and Smythe was not about to let something like a little rain interfere with his first time making love to Jeira.

He pushed himself up on his hands so he could look down at her pale, slender body. Her breasts bounced in time with his hips, and as his eyes wandered further, he could see his cock disappearing and reappearing between her slick lips.

Jeira's lust-lidded eyes locked onto his as her hands caressed his arms and shoulders, then moved to his neck before trailing down to his chest.

Feeling into her, Smythe read what she wanted, even though she didn't know it herself. Abruptly shifting the angle of his hips, he thrust deeply, his pelvis smacking into hers with a wet slap.

Her eyes came wide open at that, and her fingers curled violently, gripping two handfuls of his chest hair as she sailed into a quaking climax, her mouth open in a silent scream, her body tensed, her thighs vise-locked around his waist.

After long moments, she began to relax, and Smythe changed their position, gathering her up in his arms and sitting back on the grass, which put Jeira sitting in his lap, still impaled on his shaft.

She held his face in her hands, looking into his eyes. "Thank you, Henley," she whispered.

Her words were almost inaudible over the rain, but he caught it. "Thank you, lass," he returned, smiling broadly.

Their lips met again in another torrid kiss, and Jeira's hips began to move, aided by Smythe's hands lifting and lowering her bottom, as well as squeezing firmly.

Jeira broke the kiss and leaned back, supporting herself with her hands laced behind his neck, giving him access to her breasts, which he took full advantage of, quickly taking a hard nipple into his mouth and lashing it with his tongue.

Smythe didn't know how long they made love in the rain, nor did he care. Night had fallen some time ago, but the rain still persisted. At some point, he'd walked into the house, dripping wet and carrying an equally soaked Jeira, who was sound asleep in his arms. After toweling her off, he tucked her into her bed and quietly left the room.

Now that night had come, he would be able to walk the streets with less risk of being noted by the Heralds. It was time to find out what was happening in his town.

*

The news was worse than Smythe feared. After a few days of wandering around town and having discreet conversations with the right people, it looked as if the Heralds were petitioning Berrigan Stallen -- the Mayor of Ironshire -- for permission to open a chapter house in the town.

Smythe had stayed clear of the four visiting Heralds, but had seen them from time to time riding through the streets and looking down their noses at folk. Most stayed clear of the strangers, but some of the more foolish denizens of Ironshire seemed interested in the Heralds, or at least in the ridiculous stories they told of the Order of Aros being a perverted cult!

He shook his head as he recalled one of the Heralds he'd seen yesterday -- a beardless young fellow barely old enough to be called a man -- standing on the lip of the Iron Fountain grandly proclaiming that the Heralds of Dawn saved the world from the Paladins five hundred years ago!

Smythe had only just stopped himself from yanking the boy down from his perch and setting him straight. What was worse was the twenty or thirty folks standing around and listening!

Smythe loved Ironshire, as well as her people, but it was a relatively quiet and isolated town, and the residents were simple, well-meaning folk, who were probably just excited that there was something unusual happening.

It would be a shame when he had to leave Ironshire -- he never stayed in a town longer than about ten years; it got too hard to explain why he never looked any older -- Smythe found that he quite enjoyed the quiet places in the world. Steady work, a good tavern, and a pretty woman or two to occupy his time. What more could a man ask?

It would be easy to just disappear to some far corner of Ekistair and settle down in some town nobody had ever heard of and let the rest of the world go it's own way, but that line of thinking would serve him not. He was a Paladin, bearing the Gift of Aros, and so he would honour that Gift by serving.

The rain had finally ceased earlier that day, but the heavy clouds still remained, concealing the moon and stars. In the main streets, lamps had been lit atop steel posts at dusk, as they were every night, but in the narrower, lesser-used back streets through which Smythe was walking, the darkness was near pitch. It mattered not, with his Gift-enhanced senses guiding him safely between the tall brick houses with their sloped roofs.

The faintest scrape of boot on stone came from behind him, and before Smythe could turn, something struck him in the head. As he fell to the wet cobblestones, one last thought flitted through his mind before everything went black; why hadn't he sensed someone behind him?

*

Smythe floated in blackness, an empty void of nothingness that stretched on for eternity. With a smile, he imagined a comfortable leather chair, and into existence it popped. Taking a seat, he imagined a richly furnished study, with solid timber furniture, a fireplace, and fine paintings lining the walls, interspersed by bookshelves brimming with volumes.

He'd visited the Plane of Aros so many times now that creating whichever setting he desired was automatic, and done with only the briefest thought. He took this time to think about what had just happened in the waking world.

Somehow, someone had snuck up behind him and knocked him out, but how had his Gift not sensed them? The Gift had never failed him before. Smythe resolved to find out once he awoke.

Suddenly, a chair appeared opposite Smythe's, and a second later, a man was occupying it. A handsome fellow with clear blue eyes and shoulder-length hair tied back with a leather cord.

"Aran!" Smythe exclaimed, jumping to his feet.

"Hello, Henley," Aran said warmly as he clasped Smythe's forearm before they embraced in a back-slapping hug.

"It's good to see you safe, lad," Smythe said as they resumed their seats. "We were worried for a bit, there."

There was something different about Aran since last Smythe had seen him. Something had changed; it was in his eyes. While he looked the same physically, he seemed older, wiser, and more in command of himself.

"I am safe," Aran said, though his tone hinted that safety was a fleeting thing. "And Jeira?"

"Safe," Smythe replied. "Though I didn't get there in time to save her husband."

Aran nodded sadly. "I felt her pain, though I knew not what caused it." He met Smythe's eyes levelly. "I know you did everything you could, Henley. Thank you."

Aran had seen straight to the problem Smythe had been having; he'd been trying not to blame himself for Hamlin's death, but sometimes niggling doubt crept it's way into his heart. Still, Jeira held no grudge toward him, and Smythe really had done everything he could. Perhaps it was time to put this one to rest.

"She is still with you, in Ironshire?" Aran asked.

Smythe nodded. "Living with Rayna, Bella and I. You know, I've become something of a caretaker to your women, Aran." Like Jeira, Rayna and Bella were also Bonded with Aran.

The younger Paladin grinned. "I'm sure you're having a horrible time with that, too."

"Like you wouldn't believe," Smythe said dryly, unable to stop his own wide grin. It really was a wonderful thing, having three beautiful women to love.

Aran laughed. "I miss them, but I'm glad they're with you. They're in good hands. They're probably all curled up in bed with you now, are they?"

Smythe grimaced as he remembered the blow to the head he'd just received. "Actually, lad, I'm only here right now because I was struck from behind on the street and knocked out."

Aran's brow furrowed as Smythe added, "funniest thing, though; I didn't sense it coming, even through the Gift."

The lad sat forward at that. "Did you get a look at who hit you?"

Smythe shook his head. "I went down quick; it was a good blow."

Aran looked worried. "I nearly lost Sara in a similar way, except the man had a knife, not a club. She didn't sense the assassin, and neither did I."

Smythe pursed his lips. "I've never heard of anything like this, Aran," he said quietly. "Does Elaina or Amina know?"

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