A heated morning had descended into a chill day of confusion.
In the stronghold of the Azeroth Templars, high in the Alterac Mountains, Reviresco had found himself accepted into the order, welcoming smiles and warm words inviting him to be part of their Brotherhood. Doorknocker in particular seemed to have taken great satisfaction regailing ainy Templar who'd not been present with the tale of "young Revi's trial of entrance."
As days went, it had been an odd one. After passing the trial by going against what he thought was expected, Revi had found himself second-guessing everything. Trust would likely not come to him for some time. They had broken their fast, and he'd been shown around the monastery by young Priestess named Cygnet. The dwarven woman was pleasant and well spoken, answering his many questions - why does such a thing work, how is this and that thing achieved. The place seemed to be full of things he didn't understand, moth the mystical and the mundane.
He'd seen the laboratories of the Arch-Mage Kinsul, bubbling brews and potions filling his nostrils with a pungent scent of scalded earth that endured for much of the day. He had also been shown - although not permitted to enter - the workshops of the resident engineer Jeppa. His lack of knowledge of such things placed him on the list of "people deemed best-not-to-enter" in pure gnomish - that is to say, more likely to damage something, or themselves. Still, even from outside the door, soot had managed to gravitate toward him and coat his skin in an oily residue.
Throughout the day he was introduced to numerous members of the Order, many of whom he forgot immediately upon learning their names. They were just too numerous, even with many out questing. Templars were coming and going all the time - by foot, mounted, or by means more magical in nature. Cygnet was proudly showing him the grounds when another dwarf entered the compound, huge sword slung across his back, bearing the head of some hideous reptillian creature before him. Other dwarves cheered in their own tongue, which Cygnet was kind enough to translate (albeit a little loosely) as "They said that it's a head worthy of Dwarven Stout, so let's go get some."
Throughout the course of his tour Revi began to become more relaxed with his surroundings. The people seemed to be friendly, the locale pleasant, if a little foreboding. When Cygnet bade him farewell at the evening meal he found himself content to sit with others and make conversation - a skill he thought he'd lost long ago.
Toward the end of the sitting, Doorknocker found him, beckoning him to follow. The two men made their way from the central hall through vault ceilinged corridors into the heart of the Monastery.
"Where are we going?" asked the young recruit.
"It is time for you to begin on your path." replied the older man. As they walked, the Paladin turned his head slightly to look at Revi. Nerves were still apparent on his face. "Don't be afraid. There's only so much that I can do to help you on your path, and that doesn't include prompting your first step."
"I thought I was already walking my new path... you said..."
Doorknocker cut him off. "I said, back in Dun Morogh, that I could help you. And I will. But first you must truly see your way. Once you can realise the road ahead of you, your need for guidance will be lessened. I can't show you the way if you've not yet been given eyes."
Revi dispaired at the metaphors - if that's what they were - and trudged behind the Paladin. He'd already vowed to give himself over to the Templars heart and soul, what more could they want of him?
Reaching the end of the corridor, Doorknocker stopped before a dark oak door. He raised his hand, paused with a little smirk, and knocked. Within the chamber beyond, a chair scraped against flagstone. Heavy steps sounded, nearing. Latch lifted soundlessly in oiled perfection and the portal swung open. A huge figure was silhoetted in the doorway.
"Good evening child." said the figure. Doorknocker bowed deeply. "Long has it been since you graced my door. Too busy battling for the Light to meet with me and break bread?"
Doorknocker seemed to blush a little - totally at odds with how Revi had seen viewed the man for their short acquaintence. "Master Talgol," he began, "I bring before you the newest recruit to the Order. It was my hope that you..."
The shadowy figure spoke over the Paladin. "Yes yes, I know. Leave us, and we shall speak. But you must return to me before you retire for the night, for there are matters of great import we must discuss, and they are not for the ears of one so young."
Inwardly, Revi bristled at being spoken about as if he was not present, but he prevented the emotion from showing as best he could. All but dismissed, Doorknocker stepped aside, motioning Revi into the room and closing the door after him. The huge shadow moved away, back to the centre of the room and the wooden chair there. He sat before a roaring fire set under an unadorned mantle. "Come boy. Sit. Enjoy the warmth of the fire."
With the absence of any other furniture in the room, Revi sat on the floor. It felt like sitting once more in a schoolroom, and he was not comfortable. Lit by the rich red blaze, Revi realised that the figure's bulk came from the full plate armour that he wore. It made no sound, seemed to have no weight and yet seemed the least comfortable choice of attire that anyone could make for an evening in the safety of the Monastery. His gaze wandered up from the armour to rest on the man's face, and he found he could not bring himself to look away.
"I am Talgol." The man spoke with a soft voice that matched the calm of his sea-blue eyes. He seemed - to Revi at least - to be ancient, leathery skin etched with lines each possibly marking a decade of existance. The young man had no idea what to say - he was stuck dumb by the man's commanding presence. "Do you know why you are here?"
"Good. The best ones have no idea what the Light has in store for them. Rumor tells me that you are a warrior of some prowess, is this true?"
"I understand that is what they say, my lord. I have spilled a lot of blood."
The old man grunted an almost-laugh. "I can see it on your soul boy. It is a stain on you. Athmet saw it this morning and has made his feelings known on the matter. But don't let that concern you. And don't call me Lord, it offends my ageing sensibilities."
The man leaned down, grabbing a jug from beside his seat and taking a swig directly from the vessel. He coughed a little and set it down once more. "You have moved around these walls today. You have met your new brothers, you know what we do here, in loosest terms. Tell me: what did you see?"
Revi considdered the question. Nothing here should be taken at face value, but he had no idea what the old man wanted to hear. "Men and women of the Alliance races. Preparing for battle, praying, eating, making things. What should I have seen?"
The old man nodded sagely, not answering the question. "And having seen these things, having vowed your allegiance to the Templars, do you regret your decision?"
"No." Revi was sure of his answer. "My life was over. I felt... broken in my heart and soul. For want of a better explanation, there is no avenue open to me other than this, and... it just feels right somehow."
Again the answer summoned a nod from the armoured man. "The Templars here are a result of one man's nightmare vision of the future. Kurel Ironfist saw what lay in store for the world and brought us together to combat the things he prophesied. We fight evil with its own tools - a tactic that the official church has yet to grasp. But it is the only way." He paused for a moment. "What do you know of the man they call Doorknocker?"
"Very little my... erm, Talgol. He has not spoken much of himself. I know he wields the power of the Light directly, a Paladin. I know his faith is strong. And not just in the Light - I see that he has faith in me too, and that more than anything is what brought me here."
"Yes, yes." Talgol gazed into the fireplace, pondering the young man's words. After a time he spoke again. "It is not my place to speak of his past if he has not done so himself. But it is fair to say that each Paladin that I have ever known had something in his history - some event - that led him to the Light. It may be that "Doorknocker" sees in you something that he recognises from his own beginnings on the path."
Revi was confused. "Talgol, I am no Paladin. I haven't the faith, I think. And it would be... I don't know the right word. Improper? False? It would be wrong for me to even contemplate such a hypocrisy as taking on that role. I was too close to evil."
Talgol barked out a harsh laugh. "Ha! You do like the sound of your own voice boy! That entire statement was utter goatsfleece and you know it! It flowed out your lips like the muck shoot at Stormwind keep. All I heard there was "I was a naughty boy... but I'm very excited that you might be able to clean up my soul, pat me on the back and make me a nice proud shiny Knight" isn't that right boy?"
Revi blushed furiously, hoping against hope that the firelight would obscure the rapid change in his face's colour. "Yes sir..." he mumbled.
"Ah, some honesty. No pretense with me boy, that's what I expect." The man lapsed into a short fit of coughing, lunging for his jug and taking a deep slug of water. When he regained his composure, he sat looking at the young man. "Truthful answers now. What do you want?"
"I don't know."
"Lies. What do you WANT?"
Revi looked into Talgol's eyes once more, and they pierced his soul. It felt like they were boreing into his mind, and he wanted just to cry like a scolded child.
"A purpose. I want to be told what to do, because I just don't know anymore."
"So you're a sheep then? You want to blindly follow a shepherd? I'm sure Aegis could use you as front-line fodder for Goblin Cannoneers. Or is it more than that? What else is it that you want?"
Revi's head dropped down as he quietly answered.
"What boy? I didn't hear you. Speak louder!"
"Atonement!" Reviresco almost shouted it out. He thought back to his recurrent dreams of the mountain of bodies. "I want to take back what I've done."
"You know you can't do that. A man's actions cannot be erased. Atonement is not about undoing. That is impossible. Nor is it about covering over the past's blemishes. You cannot ignore it. You have to accept the past and move on. What is it you did?"
"I stole and I lied and I... I don't know? What do you want me to say?"
Talgol stopped his tirade of questions, his look softening. He sat back in his chair. "Do you know what made you do these things? It wasn't a demon. It wasn't the world around you. It was just you. You are the man you are, Gar Fisher, and just changing your name and joining up with a band of do-gooders won't change that. You have to embrace what you are and build on it - only that can offer you redemption when you face the Light. Do you understand me?"
Young man and old sat in silence. Revi's mind raced, images and concepts flying through his head. His memory drifted back through the events of the day to Cygnet's tour. He had seen a young Disciple of the Templars seated at a bench in the Monastery's small garden. Next to him had been a demon - Cygnet had named the creature a Succubus - and the two seemed engrossed in conversation. The Dwarven Priestess had explained that the creatures dominated by the Templars' Warlocks were bound and not a threat, but the sight had perturbed him until now. Realisation dawned on him and he looked up.
"I am Reviresco. I am a reformed killer of men, thief, cheat and liar. I have vowed to protect the Light and so I shall, but nothing will change the man that I was, only the man that I will be. I can come to terms with that, and I shall use my past to reflect on how best to serve my future self and how best to serve the Light."
The ageing Paladin looked long and hard at the newcomer until at last a smile made its way to his lips. "Exactly. That's exactly right. Everyone's path is different, boy, every Paladin bears a different tale, but that is yours. I am glad I was able to speak with you - it has been refreshing."
Revi was puzzled by the statement, but did not respond. Talgol stood up. "It has been a long time since I had to guide a Paladin from an origin such as yourself. So many come from the orthodox Church now that I had forgotten how refreshing reform can be. But your path from here will not be with my assistance. I urge you to look to Doorknocker for guidance and will reccomend to the Council of Commanders that you are appointed his Student. I feel that soon he will require your assistance too, for matters beyond his control will soon conspire to place him where he does not wish to be."
Talgol walked to the door and opened it. The atmosphere in the room seemed to change as soon as it parted from the frame, the man's demeanour changing to that of a man of station and command. "Go now, and think on what has been said here this night. mastering your path will be long and arduous, and your spirit must be fortified. Go with my blessing. We will not speak again."
The man made a small gesture, bathing Revi briefly in golden light as he stepped into the hallway. Although he turned to give his thanks, the door was already closing.
The next day the old man left the Monastery, having spent the rest of the night in conference with Doorknocker. The older Paladin seemed ill at ease for days afterward until, at last, word came that Talgol was no more. Doorknocker was summoned before the council, leaving Revi concerned for his new mentor, but soon they were silently reunited.
That same day they left the Monastery to start Revi's training in the field.
He never spoke of his conversation with Talgol.