AR 1210-05-23 Wolf Ask Sparky About Being a Paladin
Wolf let out a small grunt as his boot popped off. “See, I told ya it weren’t that bad.” Sparky looked down at the ankle that had swollen to twice its original size and the boy who was trying to force a smile through the pain. “It is that bad and I told ye ta quit moving, we need ta check your head for any signs of concussion.”
Wolf gave a sign of resignation, found a rock to sit on, and stuck his leg out for examination. “I bet ya that if we found a way to make the landin softer, we could turn that into a real fun slide. Hell, we could probably…”
“Are ye daft! Ye managed ta mess up your ankle, we both got all bruised up, and we’re lucky neither of us got seriously injured. And that was with takin precautions! What makes ye think it’d be a good idea ta do that for fun?”
“I was just thinkin we could invite some of the younger kids…”
“NO! There is no way we’re bring more people down here ta get hurt like this.”
“But if we could just…”
As Wolf leaned back against the rock in defeat, Sparky began her examination of his ankle. As much as she hated to admit it, there was a certain excitement she had felt as they were sliding down the rocky slope, but the loose rocks at the bottom were far too dangerous. If Wolf hadn’t managed to throw himself between her and the rocks, she probably would have ended up in the same injured state.
“Hey Sparky?” Wolf’s voice broke through her thoughts, while the serious look on his face took her by surprise. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about somethin.”
After a small pause, Sparky responded, “Ye had plenty of chances ta talk, what’s tha matter?”
Wolf shyly looked towards his ankle, “Well, it’s kind of a private conversation between, and Yari just wouldn’t take a hint. Besides, it’s…uh…it’s a bit embarrassing.”
As Sparky’s mind wandered, her heart began to race. He couldn’t mean…
“I don’t know if you know, but I’ve kind of been watching you lately and I’ve been having these conflicting feelings and all…”
No, there’s no way he’d be so forward. Then again, he was rather blunt. Sparky wasn’t ready for this conversation and was trying desperately to find a way out. Unfortunately, with Wolf hurt, she couldn’t just run away, and Yari wasn’t around to distract him. Why did Yari have to choose today to visit his girlfriend.
“Well, ummm…what’s it like being a paladin?”
Distracted by her thoughts, Sparky responded with the first thing that came to her mind, “I don’t think it’ll work out. We’re first…Wait…WHAT?”
Sparky’s mind spun with a mixture of emotions as her anxiety quickly turned to frustration and embarrassment; Wolf only providing a perplexed stare in response. Unable to meet his gaze any longer, she snapped back to the swollen ankle, and gave it a quick squeeze.
“Ow! What was that for?”
“Just making sure it ain’t broken and need ta be set before I heal ya,” Sparky responded in a dry tone. It wasn’t a lie, she just didn’t need to use anywhere near that much pressure. He wasn’t just blunt, he was dense too. She continued to examine the ankle for a moment, using the time to calm down before responding.
“What’s it like being a paladin…That’s not an easy question ta answer. It’s kind of like asking the question, what’s it like ta be a dwarf. You’re not likely ta get an answer that’ll mean much and seeing as how I haven’t been anything else, there’s not much I can compare it to.”
Wolf seemed to ponder the answer before continuing. “How did you know you wanted to become a paladin?”
“Basically, when I was younger, I felt me calling and took me oath with Berronar. That was when I started me path ta bein a paladin.”
“But, how did you know that the calling was from Berronar? What did it feel like?”
“For me, it was like an urge, like someone was pushing me in a direction. As far as knowing it was Berronar, it was just something I knew, there was never a question.”
Wolf went quiet again for a minute, giving Sparky time to think. In all the time they had known each other, she had never heard him ask so many questions. Having finished checking his ankle, she sat him up and moved to checking the wound on the back of his head.
Just as Sparky was about to ask him why he was so curious, Wolf continued his line of questions. “What happens if you don’t do what Berronar want, or you do something she doesn’t like? Does that mean she takes away all your powers?”
Sparky thought about it for a moment, “Do ye remember that time at the circus when I was hanging out with Verona and refused ta help?” Wolf nodded. “Well, right after that, I felt terrible, and not just because o’ guilt. Berronar was lettin me know she wasn’t pleased with me actions. If I was ta continue doin bad things, or I did something truly evil, then yes, Berronar would stop allowing me ta channel her power.”
“Does that mean you have to have her power to be able to fight and protect people?”
“No, I’m still me regardless of her power and me wish to protect tha clan is mine. It’s more like her powers enhance me own abilities ta make me better; kind of like how me grandmother used to be an elf and now she’s a dwarf. Making her a dwarf didn’t change who she was, it just made her better.”
Chuckling a little, Wolf responded, “You know, I bet there’s still enough elf in you that you could go into the elven forest without getting into trouble.”
With such a sharp turn in the direction of the conversation, and onto an idea she had never really thought about before, Spark broke into a laugh. “There’s no way they’d let me in there. At best, maybe me pinkie toe might still be elven.”
“That’s it!,” Wolf exclaimed. “We need to go to the forest and see if we can stick your pinkie toe in without getting in trouble.”
Sparky giggled at the thought, but replied “I wouldn’t want ta bring me da any trouble. He’s worked out a good deal with the elves and we don’t want ta break it.”
Just as she was finishing checking his wounds, she felt the muscles in his back tense up. “Hey Sparky, if the dwarves have so many issues with the elves, why does your dad let them stay in the forest?”
Putting her hands on his shoulders, “It’s not as simple as that. The elves help keep the forest healthy, providing us with meat and lumber ta help support tha mines. In return, we provide them with ore from under tha mountain and vegetation they can’t grow on tha surface. If we were ta drive them out of tha forest, there wouldn’t be anyone ta help keep it healthy and eventually it would die off. Besides, tha ore they ask for is really common, so they’re already getting swindled.”
Wolf looked completely lost in thought as he muttered “So, it’s better to use your companions to reach your goals. Does that mean that you can’t ever have real friends and that everybody just becomes a tool?”
The question hit Sparky hard. She had been so focused on finding friends who weren’t trying to use her status to further their own, and now Wolf was questioning if he should use everyone in the same way. For a moment, she wondered how lonely her parents might be.
She knew she was in line for the throne and that she should be able to answer the question, but she didn’t want to face it yet. “You know, that’s more a question that kings and queens need to answer, not adventuring students like us.” She waited for the response that anyone would give, that everyone always gave, but it never came.
As she stood behind him, Sparky simply watched as he stared off at some dark corner, contemplating who knows what. She said a small prayer and Wolf’s wounds disappeared. He jumped to his feet, almost hitting Sparky in the face as he did, bounced around on newly healed leg a few times, and threw on a boot, all before she could get to her feet.
Wolf turned around to face her, picked her up in a big hug, and declared “You’re the best, Sparky! Thank you! Hey, I think there’s a river a little ways away. I’ve been listening to the sounds of the water for a while now. Let’s go!” With that, he put her down, turned around, and began towards a tunnel leading off into the darkness, as Sparky stood frozen in place, jaw dropped, staring after him.