Here I go again. Entering this great palace I call home. Climbing the one hundred and sixty three stairs and meet my father and brother again. But this time, I come with my head held high.
I come with my bride, and also my friends and heroes of the land. Of course I must stay modest and give credit to my brother. I don’t want the throne, and he’s the Crown Prince anyway.
With that thought, Chris climbs the stairs to the throne hall, hand-in-hand with Eloise. He glances at his wife for support, and Eloise smiles back at him, redoubling his courage.
As Prince Cristophe walks into the hall, loud, thundering cheers come from the people inside. Emperor Sage even stands up from the throne, extending his hands, saying,
‘Welcome and well done, Cristophe! My son!’
Chris approaches his father with Eloise, and they both kneel before the throne. He puts the Shield of Faith and the Helmet of Truth in front of him, and then extends the Sword of Justice Excalibur, presenting them to his father.
‘Your Majesty, father, I come home, bringing you the Arsenal of Light which Vadis lent us.’
‘You keep them,’ Sage says, ‘You have the right to borrow it and use it to fight the Dark Forces. Use it well.’
‘And father, this is Eloise Galford from Lore, my wife.’
Sage glances at Eloise then says, ‘Come hither, child.’
Eloise comes before the Emperor. Sage observes her for a while, then holds her hands warmly, saying...
‘Welcome, Eloise. You are now member of the house of Deveraux, the Princess of Arcadia.’ Then Sage turns to the crowd and announces, ‘From now on, Eloise Galford-Deveraux is also known as the Duchess of Redne-Voyeux, consort to the Duke of Redne-Voyeux, Cristophe. Ladies and gentlemen, people of
The crowd cheers, ‘Long live the Emperor! Long live Prince Cristophe and Princess Eloise! May Vadis bless
Only few of them cheer ‘Alexis’ or ‘Crown Prince.’ Alexis himself doesn’t move at all from his seat. He just watches the whole thing and smiles back when Chris smiles at him. Today, he’s virtually invisible. Talbot du Bois, the Chief Royal Advisor also keeps his tongue inside his mouth this time.
‘Come, child,’ Sage guides Eloise to his side. ‘Sit by my side.’ The princess does what was told, and Cristophe sits by her side.
Emperor Sage IV observes around like an eagle searching for a prey, and speaks.
‘I see the Heroes of Light, the Paladins are all present today. As we are all aware, the Heir of Vordac is still at large. And these heroes have fought long and hard, expanding their abilities beyond known limits and contributing significantly to eliminate the latent danger.
Though they didn’t complete their mission yet, we ought to acknowledge them. Let their deeds be an example for us all. Let their fighting spirit motivate us.
The White Archmage Azrael once prophesied that when the seal of Deathblade is broken, the Paladins will return. And now, we will fulfill that prophecy. Behold, the Paladins are here among us. And I, Sage of Arcadia, descendant of the Paladin Sage the Fireheart and servant of Vadis shall dub them and all of you here will bear witness. Lenowen, the palace scribe will call out the names, so that the Paladins will come forth and be acknowledged.’
The palace scribe comes forward, opens his scroll and begins to read.
‘Alexis Deveraux, Crown Prince of
Alexis stands up, then goes to his father and kneels before him.
‘He slew the Chimera in Enia’s Sanctum and helped claim the Arsenal of Light. With his twin swords Im’colath and Im’htaloc, he always won in any fight. Anyone hearing the name “Red Prince” will tremble and lose courage.’
Emperor Sage puts his sword on Alexis’ shoulder and declares.
‘By Vadis, I dub you a Paladin. Serve the light, fight the darkness from now on until you die. Rise!’
Alexis gets on his feet and stands on the far side of the platform stairs. The scribe then calls the next name.
‘Robert Chandler, a knight from Lore, member of the Order of the Lions. He started out as a scout in the army then changed profession to a bounty hunter. He has done heroic deeds in Enia’s Sanctum, gained trust from the Ancient Dragon Algaban to wield the saber Grimlock, one of the twelve Adair’s Arsenal.
He was accused of murdering Pope Xylen Felicitia, and later was found not guilty. The Dark Forces attacked him at least three times, and he survived. He was named “Orcbane” from the many orcs he slew; from now on people will call him a Paladin.’
Robert Chandler kneels and the Emperor dubs him the same way as Alexis. Next, comes the third Paladin.
‘Cristophe Deveraux, Prince of
Just recently, the Sword of Justice elected him as its new master and the Heir of Vadis. He ultimately secured peace between Lore and
After the Emperor dubbed him, Chris stands beside Robert and shake hands with the other two Paladins with friendship and respect. They now watch the fourth Paladin coming forward.
‘Adler von Bachmann, the Statesman and Viscount from
Adler joins Alexis in the corner with his face full of pride.
‘Don Hernan y Parvaez, a noble from Escudia-Corazon. Owner of the Mythril Armor of Eil’thanath, symbol of the old alliance between humans, dwarves and elves, and wielder of the legendary Mythril Sword, Albatross.
His contribution in Enia’s Sanctum was essential.
Hernan modestly accepts the acknowledgment, and congratulates the other Paladisn as he joins them.
‘The next one is naturally a dark elf, Son of Adair. However, his deeds proved that he belongs to the Light as a Paladin. Kyflynn the Windwalker opened the path for the others in the Wind Tunnels of Enia’s Sanctum. He walked by his principles consistently and defeated the strongest assassin of the Dark Foces, Oliver MacLair. With the twin daggers Maraj’vriad on his hands, Kyflynn is undisputedly the fastest creature of this planet – so far.’
Kyflynn can’t believe his ears: He who should’ve been a Dark Paladin is accepted in the Light Side? Just when Emperor Sage dubs him without any sign of doubt or regret, he smiles with relief. Which side he’s in isn’t important for him. The most important for him is freedom: Freedom to follow his principle. His principle is to respect life and freedom of others.
Robert gives him a warm handshake, which he takes as a sign of friendship and trust. The scribe calls out the next name.
‘Lavennia Iris, an archer and an enchantress from Thyrine. In a natural sense, a Paladin is a hero well-versed in the lores of martial arts as well as magic. And Iris is perfectly fit in that sense.
Not only that, she helped in Enia’s Sanctum,
After the dub, Iris stands far away from Cristophe, avoiding his gaze. Looking at his ex-girlfriend’s behavior, Chris is somewhat sad and he understands. Next, comes the eighth Paladin.
‘Desmond Edmundsen. Formerly a blacksmith from Bjordan, now a monster hunter. Together with Kyflynn and Agustina, he contributed greatly in Enia’s Sanctum and
With his strong physique and his great hammer, Terra Nakroß, Desmond finished missions and carried out strategies brilliantly. A hard worker who strives to protect his comrades, a trait worthy of recognition.’
Desmond joins Iris on the other side of the platform. The next one is the apple of his eye.
‘Agustina Vyrakova from Val’shka. A sorceress by discipline, a hunter by trade. Her cold composure and ice magic froze any foe she came across. A heroine of few words, Agustina’s cold-headed analysis and her perfect sense of space and time saved may lives in Enia’s Sanctum and
As Desmond had expected, Agustina stands beside him. But, she doesn’t respond to his ‘congratulations’, just staring straight coldly like a statue (as usual). If Robert is regarded as ‘cool’, then Agustina is ‘frozen’.
Next, comes the tenth Paladin, the third Deveraux.
‘Carolyn Deveraux-Deneuve. Daughter of Thierry Deveraux and named after her grandmother, the Elf Queen Carolyn the Green of Thyrine. When she was an apprentice sorceress, Carolyn won favor from Aegis the Thunderbird and did great things in Enia’s Sanctum. She was also a great help in
Her intelligence and unfathomable courage are an example for us all. We give salute also for Carolyn’s magical and clever pet, Chiel the micha.’
Carolyn rubs Chiel’s fur lovingly as she walks to join Iris, murmuring, ‘You’re now a hero too, Chiel, the first animal in the world with such recognition.’
‘We call forth Father Andreas Marvellini, formerly known as Rollo Bigstumble of Grad. As a cleric, servant of Vadis, he protected and healed many and rarely killed.
Being a hero doesn’t always mean killing lots of enemies or resorting in many ways of violence, but more into saving lives and protecting them. Most heroes killed many to protect the other. Judging from the many lives he saved, Father Andreas is truly a hero for heroes, a true Paladin.’
Father Andreas redirects that acknowledgment to Vadis – as for him only is all the glory and honor. The scribe continues.
‘Last but not least. We call Eidos Crydias of Parthenia, an inventor, a scientist and a Chronomage. His ability to control time and space was essential in Enia’s Sanctum as well as the other missions he was in.
With his masterpiece, the Airship
The Emperor dubs Eidos, then announces to the public,
‘Behold, the Twelve Paladins of Light. The Champions of Vadis. The fulfillment of prophecy, the Heroes of Virtue. They’re our vanguards against the Dark Forces’ threat.
Our duty is to give them the support they need, directly and indirectly. For starters, the Army of the Empire of Arcadia is ready to fight alongside the Paladins whenever necessary.’
Suddenly, a thunderous shout interrupts that speech.
‘So, this is going to be a party. To bad I must break it.’
All the audience looks left, right and around to search for the culprit who uttered indecent words just now.
The Emperor scolds, ‘Sir Foucault! How dare you speak of such blasphemy! Don’t you know it’s punishable by death?’
Sir Foucault, an elderly knight with long, bushy blond beard responds, ‘Sir Foucault is DEAD! And that’s not the only surprise I have for you today! LOOK!’
The old knight begins to writhe and shudder. His body becomes misshaped and grotesque, and then becomes bigger, taller and more muscular, breaking the armor he’s wearing to pieces. His skin also turns blood-red. His beard is gone, and face turns... devilish. To complete the transformation, a set of dragon wings sprout on his back and a set of great horns on his head. A devil.
A great, black scythe materializes on his hand – summoned from far away. His lipless mouth shows only big, sharp teeth that utters,
‘I am Arachus, Lord of the Pit. And I am here being a gift... of death!’