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The Wayward Lamb

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If there was anything known among the peers of Granthas Wyrmfist, it was that he was a piss poor healer.  It had been a fact of life for as long as as anyone could remember, even in his earliest days in service to the Order.  The Light answered him with a ready fury when it meant violence or the shielding of another, but dwindled to naught but a trickle when it came to aiding the sick and the wounded.  His bandages had always proved to be too thick or too tight, and his stitching both clumsy and often ugly. After the Second War he had almost always been assigned a medic whilst working in the field to cope with this glaring weakness, a decision that had actually served him and those he led well.

Now though, Granthas was not in the field.  The old paladin had pushed past sixty in recent years, and had been forced from active duty after the campaign in Northrend.  He moved too slowly now in the heavy plate his order wore, and his body was no longer up to the rough duties of war after so many years of service.  His knees rapidly became a swollen mess after any amount of marching, and any time his shield arm took a blow he could feel the bones in his shoulder cry out in protest. There was some joy in having survived as long as he had, and being able to teach the younger generations how to fight and wield the Light properly filled the old dog with hope and pride.  There were moments though, like his current task, that filled him with little more than dread.

The paladin trudged stoically behind his horse, the litter he had managed to strap to the beast's saddle heavy in his hands.  Even with the influence of the Argent Crusade and the Silver Hand, the Plaguelands were no place for the unarmored and the wounded.  Granthas had little choice in the matter though, he was not about to abandon his charge.  The sin'dorei in front of him lay unconscious, a pained expression on his features.  The male was no paladin, and if Granthas was going to hedge any bets, not even a warrior any longer.  Aside from the fever flushed cheeks he was deathly pale, and it had taken all of the old dog's might just to keep him in that state for their journey.  Now his only real protection was a thick fur cloak, and the paladin knew how well that would work.

To focus on his task, Granthas had fallen into the citadel of his mind.  There, he could block out the pain on his weary and aching frame.  There, he could insure the pair would make it to Light's Hope and that his work would finish.  The paladin focused on the movement of his breathing, keeping a familiar rhythm as he sucked air into his lungs and then pushed it back out.  It wasn't much, but it was enough.  At least, it served until interrupted.  Wyrmfist's attention was drawn upwards by the canter of pounding foot on stone, drawing closer from the direction he was heading.  When he picked out the source, the pace of the old warrior and his horse slowed to a halt.

"Instructor!" shouted a heavily accented voice.  The rider stopped his elekk short of Granthas and his burden, leaping down from his mount with a heavy thud.  "You were expected hours past, what has happened?"  The draenei vindicator approached slowly, concern etched onto his features.

"I found a wayward lamb while I was out, Ahkarn.  I've no intention of letting him fade on me."  The timeworn paladin set his end of the litter down softly so that he could speak freely, but launched into a coughing fit when he stood back upright.

"You should have informed us my friend, I would have rode out immediately had I known."  Ahkarn continued his approach, softly chiding as he moved around the horse and shifted his attention to the wounded elf.

"I don't take the blasted stone when I go fishing,"  Granthas shot back with an agitated look, "I like to have a few hours a week where there's no one complaining or asking me for instruction."  The words drew a frown from the draenei, but his inspection of the old man's burden did not halt.  The vindicator knelt down next to the elf, cautiously lifting up the cloak to inspect what exactly was amiss with the dark haired figure.  If it was possible, the elf looked even worse beneath.  The scale armor he wore had been scorched by fel fire, and if the torn scales were any indication, something had violently removed his right leg recently.  The wound had been mended as best a healer could manage, but the scar was fresh and the recent wound was inflamed.

"You found this" Ahkarn asked skeptically, concern and uncertainty in his voice.

"No, I found him in a brothel out here in the Plaguelands Ahkarn."  The old dog's voice was testy, anxious to get going again as the cloak was tucked back around his charge.

"There is no need for anger, Granth..."  The vindicator paused, and his brows furrowed as he inspected the sin'dorei's face.  "...wait.  I know this elf, or at least his face."

"That makes two of us."  Granthas' face was stony as he spoke, not reacting to the to the surprised turn from his draenei peer.

"He is not a follower of the Light, Granthas, he is not even a Blood Knight.  He is a ranger."  The protests fell on deaf ears however, as the old paladin crossed his arms over his chest.

"I know what he is, Vindicator.  I'm taking him to Light's Hope whether you like it or not.  I owe the bastard too much to do anything else."  It was the use of his title that softened the draenei, forcing a shake of his head as the huge male stood and then moved to unhitch the relatively light burden from Granthas' horse.

"I only remember his face from the Shattered Sun,"  Ahkarn said, glancing up to see the wizened warrior working to free the other side of the elf's litter.  "You did not work with the Offensive, how and what do you know of him?"

"His name is...or was Kreyen Streamsong,"  Granthas said, angry concern finally bleeding into his tone, "and his blasted arrows saved me from orc blades twice.  Once at Dun Algaz, and again at Lordaeron."

"Lordaeron?" the powerful Draenei asked, quizzical as he got his arms beneath the broken elf.  There was a long moment before understanding dawned on him.  "The Second War?  But he seems young...for an elf."  Gingerly, Ahkarn began to place the litter behind his saddle and secure the elekk to its new burden.

"What does it matter?  I'm vouching for him Ahkarn, just get him to Light's Hope."  Granthas wore a stoic grimace as the draenei nodded in his direction, then turned to mount his elekk.  "Stick him to my quarters, and just put him on the spare bed while I find Baressa.  Hopefully she can put things aside long enough to keep him alive."  As the weary man moved to mount his own steed, he either managed to miss Ahkarn's concerned gaze or ignored it entirely.  Granthas knew the quel'dorei priestess was going to be testy about this one no matter what he did, but she owed the battle worn paladin favors.  Hopefully, it would be enough.

Edited by Kreyen
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The quarters of Granthas Wyrmfist were spartan.  The man had never married, and hadn't ever been one to keep much in the way of trophies.  Only a few bookshelves were scattered about the place, with large rugs covering most of the floor space.  The small room the battered sin'dorei had been placed in was small, and even only with the presence of a small bed and rocking chair the room felt cramped with the three adults lurking inside.  Ahkarn stood in the doorway watching, arms crossed over his chest as Granthas and the priestess stripped the ranger of his armor and tried to pin down the unconscious elf's condition.

"I swear he hasn't seriously upgraded his armor in decades,"  Granthas complained absently, finally managing to unlatch and remove the scale shirt that covered his former comrade. At his side was Baressa.  The sleight elf woman had her hair up in a tight business-like bun and wore a scowl that could have curdled milk.  Were it not for the expression she would have been attractive even by elf standards, even missing half of her left ear.

"Do be quiet Wyrmfist," she growled, and her narrowed gaze cast a scrutinizing gaze over what was left of the ranger's right leg.  The limb truncated approximately three quarters of the way down his thigh, and had either been clean or cleaned up enough already.  Someone had already done the stitching and applied the subsequent healing to seal the wound, but by the swelling and bruising it couldn't have occurred more than few days past.  The fact only seemed to increase her ire.

"By the Light,"  the aged paladin muttered, finally able to inspect Kreyen's torso for damage.  A ragged scar ran horizontally along his chest, about six inches long and more than half an inch wide. "What did that?"

"It doesn't matter," Baressa said coldly, "It's long since healed.  Focus Granthas, is there anything else wrong with him?"  The priestess summoned two spheres of light to the palms of her hands, bringing them to the end of the ranger's leg before merging them together.  The spheres bubbled outward as they connected, enveloping the wound in a dome of healing energy.

"Has he even been wounded otherwise?" Granthas asked, standing back and looking skeptically at the wounded elf.  Aside from the nasty looking scar, the only new mark on the ranger was a small tattoo on the inside of his left forearm.  It appeared to be a depiction of a stone ring, with earth and a strange looking seed in its center.  "Did he retire?"

"Look at him," Baressa said testily, gesturing in the unconscious male's general direction.  "Does that look like the body of someone who isn't physically active?"  Being forced to make the observation again seemed to irritate the healer, and the flush of her cheeks seemed to cow her human companion a little.  "Or look at his right hand.  The ring and middle fingers are still calloused from work with a bowstring."

"Is it just the leg then?  That seems to have been healed."  Granthas stepped away from the bedside then, tossing what was left of Kreyen's armor into a heap.  The paladin moved to lean against the wall then, watching like Ahkarn as Baressa worked.  

"It's a mix," the priestess said quietly, her voice stern but no longer reproaching.  She left the dome over his leg and shifted her attention to his chest, flicking her wrist and summoning forth a white disk of holy energy.  Moving the spell over the ranger's chest, Baressa took a moment to catch her breath and calm down as the diagnostic magic set to work on her patient.  "Dehydration, blood loss, and exhaustion seem to be the more recent culprits.  He shouldn't even be on his feet even with significant healing efforts, his leg couldn't have been lost more than two weeks past."  She paused then, cocking her head to the side as something caught her attention. "There's something else."

"Infection?" Ahkarn asked, speaking for the first time since the priestess had arrived.  The word drew the bearded paladin's attention and a furrowed brow, it was not what he wanted to hear, even with Baressa present.

"No," she said quickly, "It's...almost like a parasite..."  Her irritation faded as she spoke, shifting abruptly to curiosity as the her hand and the hovering disk beneath it drifted towards Kreyen's face.  " isn't hurting him, it's just..."  Baressa leaned closer as her curiosity intensified, the disk swirling as it gave off a subtle pulse.  A shriek filled the room the instant the disk made contact with the ranger's face, both it and the dome at his leg shattering and fading into motes of dust as the quel'dorei priestess leaped away from the body.

"Baressa!" Granthas shouted, catching the priestess as she flew away from the bed, blinking rapidly and swiping at her own face as though they were covered in cobwebs.  Ahkarn drew upright at the sight, concern etched onto his features as the old paladin tried to calm the healer down.  "Baressa, what's wrong?  What happened?"  A gibbering mess, it took a slap from Granthas before she was torn from the shock of whatever she'd encountered.  When her eyes refocused, they first showed recognition and then shortly after filled with rage.  She returned the flushed mark she bore on her cheek in kind, though with enough extra force to make the vindicator wince.

"Do not ever touch me like that again Granthas Wyrmfist,"  she said icily, her eyes displaying an unspoken promise of what she would do if he did not heed the words.

"What happened?" Ahkarn asked, paying little mind to Granthas or the hand the instructor had brought to his face to rub the injury.

"Whatever he has working inside him has a hold on his mind,"  the priestess said shakily.  "When I tried to look closer at it..."  Baressa struggled for the words, turning to look at the ranger quietly, " was like a bear protecting her cub."  She frowned, seeming to come back to her senses as Granthas shot Ahkarn a disgruntled look over her shoulder. "I can work with the injuries and weaknesses he has, but I do not know what effects it is having on his mind.  Hopefully he can tell us when he comes to."

"You don't mind looking after him?"  Wyrmfist asked, skeptical.

"I will set aside my past differences with your ranger friend aside for now," she said carefully, shooting a steely look of agitation at the man as she moved back towards the bed.  "But once he is on his feet, you can find someone else to look after him."  Baressa turned her attention back to the broken elf then, starting to reconstruct the dome of energy around his wounded leg once more.  "Go look after your charges, Instructor." 

"Do you need anything?"  The paladin asked, collecting himself to leave as Ahkarn moved away from the door and into the main room of the apartment.

"I will be fine until after you give your lessons," she said quietly, "Go."  The response drew a frown across the old man's features, hardly obscured by the bushy beard that covered his mouth.  Granthas didn't argue however, nodding before following his draenei companion out.  As gruff as the quel'dorei could be, he knew it was at least partially a mask.  Real concern had lingered behind the anger, for someone who'd once been more than just a comrade in arms.  The human set his face in its usual stoic gaze as he left, trying not to worry about what lay ahead.

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Days later, Baressa strode out of the chapel and into the yard.  In spite of the cold, the sun shone down brightly onto the plague choked earth.  Younger recruits hefted supplies off of a caravan of wagons that had arrived that morning, and the usual mix of adventurers and craftsmen mingled towards the entrance of the compound. The freshest recruits trained in a small ring nearby, led by a patient looking Granthas.  It took the hawk-eyed woman a few moments to find at least one of the things she was looking for in the milieu, a firey haired half-elf of average build. The priestess approached quickly, trying to spot the other half of her quarry as she moved.

"Where is he?" she asked as she drew up behind the other woman.  The priestess's question received only a glance at first, fel-tainted eyes registering the source of the question before the athletically built woman raised a hand and pointed towards what remained of a tree stump.  The dark haired elf Granthas had pulled from the river sat in front of it reading, seemingly uninterested in the swordplay that took place within the ring of fences before him.  With Baressa's help, in the few days that had passed since is arrival the elf made something of a remarkable physical recovery.  "Has there been any change?"

"No," the half-elf said with a terse shrug.  "Today he decided he wanted to do some reading, but otherwise he seems fine."  

"I meant his memory, Teliere."  Though impatience showed quickly on the priestess's face, there was a resigned element to the severity of her expression.  This was not an attitude that she was foreign to.

"One would think I would have sent a runner, had there been any change there Mother," the warrior woman shot back with wry glance.  Teliere didn't smile, but enough amusement glittered in her eyes to suffice for one.  The gentle ribbing only seemed to irritate the quel'dorei further, but the setting of Baressa's jaw only seeming to entertain the half-elf further.  As the younger of the pair turned her attention back to Granthas' instruction in the ring, the elder's focus remained on her patient.

"What is he reading?" Baressa asked after a long moment.

"History."  Teliere's tongue slathered the word with disapproval, though her lack of immediate elaboration did not immediately establish why.

"History of what?" The priestess's tone drew even shorter, quickly growing tired of her daughter's reticence to provide any substantial amount of information.

"The Order."  Teliere turned to look at Baressa again at the statement, "I've taken him to the library twice today, and whenever I'm near he peppers me with questions.  I don't care about the Scarlets or how they operated, much less the time to explain how the Argent Crusade was structured.  What matters is the fight in front of us now, and how we deal with it."

"Wait, why would he be interested in the history of the Silver Hand?"  Baressa asked, seeming almost to be confused by the statement.

"Something about trying to orient himself."  Teliere offered with a shrug and a wave of her hand at her explanation, not seeming to care. "He said that there was something about Wyrmfist he felt he could trust, but the rest of us seemed...'a bit off in the head'."  Irritation marred the half-elf's features then, her suddenly striking an eerie resemblance to her mother.  "Prick."  

"I did warn you about him,"  the priestess said, returning her daughter's once wry look with a smile that brightened her features.  Baressa's attention shifted back to the crippled elf then, and found that he was no longer reading.  At some point in their conversation, Kreyen had taken notice of her arrival begun to watch the pair talk.  Upon being noticed, a cheeky smile drew across his lips.  It faded quickly with a shake of his head, and the ranger's eyes dropped back to his book.  "He wasn't always the most talkative in the past, but he also isn't particularly guarded about his opinions.  Prying at him might not get the answers you're looking for."

"You're saying his honesty is a problem?" Teliere asked incredulously.

"It annoyed you, didn't it?"  Baressa didn't wait for a response from her daughter, and instead began to stride over to the cripple herself.  Kreyen struck a strange sort of air in the squire's clothes, one the priestess wasn't sure exactly what to make of.  The warm wool clothing wasn't what she would have called his style during the war, and he had hardly been a follower of the Light.  Still, whether it was not knowing anything else, a preternatural comfort with himself, or some other obscure reason the outfit seemed strangely fitting.

"Miss Dawnwake," he said in greeting, taking note of her approach despite his focus on the book.  "Time for another round of treatment?"

"Am I not allowed simply to check on my patients, Kreyen?"  The question drew the hunter's attention, one singed eyebrow arching upwards curiously.

"I wouldn't presume to know what you're allowed to do," he said carefully, "but your presence does seem to line up with a peculiarly specific set of circumstances.  If I didn't know any better I'd say you were avoiding me otherwise.  I still think I must have done something to you before all of this...nonsense." He drew a note card from behind the book's cover as he queried the priestess, sliding it in between the open pages and then sealing the book shut with a soft pop.

"This again," Baressa said with an exasperated sigh.  She moved quietly for his crutches, picking them up and standing them to either side of him to grip.  "Fine, if it will get you to drop got us both into a great deal of trouble some time ago, and if I'm honest I had hoped never to see you again."  Baressa watched as confusion set across the injured elf's features, weathering the discerning gaze he cast without retort.

"Would it help if I apologized?" he asked in an uncertain voice, reaching out for the crutches and starting to hoist himself up with a grunt.  The effort failed initially, drawing a look of supreme frustration from him before he attempted again.  The second time, he did not fail.

"How can you apologize if you don't even know what you did?" the priestess asked dryly.  She waited patiently until the other elf was fully on his feet, stepping away while she watched for him to be ready to follow.

"As sincerely as possible, I suppose."  Kreyen required a moment to catch his breath as he stood, and then a while longer to adjust his grip to accommodate the book he carried as well.  "Besides, if you're rooting around in my head for how to fix me, it seems prudent to make sure you aren't cross with me."  Seeming sufficiently recovered by that point, he began to move after the quel'dorei slowly.

"It doesn't do an apology much justice if you have ulterior motives behind offering it," Baressa said dryly.

"Any apology is going to have an ulterior motive, Miss Dawnwake,"  Kreyen shot back quickly.  "Alleviating guilt is just as much one as not wanting someone to scramble your mind up.  I don't see any reason why it's bad to want to do both, much less be honest about it."   He caught up to the other elf rather quickly, though it took some effort to do so. 

"Still, omitting such details might be prudent if you actually want their forgiveness."  The priestess's gaze was even as she spoke, giving a subtle nod to Teliere as they passed the half-elf and drawing the injured male's guardian into the procession.

"Maybe,"  Kreyen said thoughtfully, "But at this point it's not like I have a lot to lose either way.  I've only got one leg, and all of the things I know about myself are things you and Granthas are telling me.  There's not much point in beating around the bush."

"You don't trust us?" Teliere asked, interjecting herself into the conversation.

"I don't know.  I don't think you're trying to hurt me, anyway." The crippled elf cast an uncertain glance at his half-elf caretaker then.  "Looking at it, the Silver Hand has a message that makes sense, but you lot are awful cranky."  His words drew a shrug from the young woman, but no reaction at all from her mother.  Sighing through his nose, Kreyen followed them back into the chapel.  For the time being, all he could do was follow his gut.

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"There has to be another answer."  Agitation had begun to creep into Kreyen's voice as he loped along behind Granthas and Teliere.  With Baressa's daily attention, the sin'dorei had regained a significant amount of strength.  Use of his crutches had become markedly easier, almost able to keep up with his half-elf guardian's pace.  Sweat clung to him as he moved, fresh from training with her under Granthas's watchful eye.  The ranger couldn't spar or run, but he could participate in weight training and do body weight exercises for as long as he could handle them.

"There isn't," Teliere said coldly, casting a glance back at her irksome charge.  

"Oh, come on," Kreyen insisted, undeterred. "I'm not a child.  It cannot just be belief, there far too many different orders and churches that wield the Light for it just to be a matter of faith."  His statement drew a wry look from Granthas, a smile lurking in the old man's eyes despite his momentary silence.

"They aren't all so different, are they?" he asked, prodding at the impatience of the elf.

"The Scarlet Crusade was and is nothing like the Silver Hand, or the Argent Dawn.  The closest thing to their order is the Blood Knights, which is another incredibly different organization.  The Scarlets are actually insane, and the Blood Knights somehow brute force their use of the Light."  As the trio continued on towards the mess hall, Kreyen's ranting did not slow.  "Even just looking at the Sunwalkers versus the Church of the Light it cannot be just belief or faith alone.  So what is it?"  Teliere rolled her eyes at him, but Granthas only seemed amused.

"When you find your answer Kreyen, let me know."  The old paladin only smiled at the crippled elf, offering no immediate wisdom to clear things up.  Granthas received a grimace as a reward for his reticence, as the ranger struggled to grasp the relationship between the Light and its warriors.

"I just don't get it."  Frustration lined his features, for what was now the third time.  Kreyen had raised the conversation and his concerns with Granthas twice already during their time together, and each time had only seemed to wind up with more questions.  In every instance the ranger had found himself more lost and needing to dig deeper into the histories to try to find the answers he was looking for.  "What's to stop someone like me from wielding it?"

"Nothing."  There was a look in Granthas' eyes that seemed satisfied, as if it had been the question the old human had been waiting for Kreyen to finally getting around to.  The agitation in the sin'dorei's features shifted rapidly to a resignation upon noticing it, unsure if he should engage the human any further.  The once subtle prodding seemed painfully obvious now, and with the bait exposed he was no longer sure he wanted to take a bite.  Granthas turned back around and pushed the door to the mess hall open, leaving his sullen charge to simmer and stew in the discovery until more questions could bubble up.

They'd had similar conversations in the distant past, though at the time the ranger had been markedly less serious about the subject.  Back then, Granthas had suspected the elf of merely looking for a way to tease him, but something was decidedly different now.  Perhaps it had been the few brief discussions they'd had during the elf's recovery or  just the ranger's natural curiosity, but Granthas wasn't going to complain one way or the other.  With a prosthetic and even half of what the old paladin remembered the elf having skill wise, he'd be well above the other recruits if he chose to follow the path.

"Grab a seat,"  Granthas told the elf, "Teliere and I will go grab some food."  As Kreyen nodded and turned to leave, the old paladin paused and began fishing around in his coat for something.  "Wait, take this.  Runner brought it while you were working."  Granthas drew out a letter and handed it over to the crippled ranger, receiving a nod of thanks before he started to wander off towards a table.  As the human and half-elf pair moved towards the line for food, Teliere's attention lingered on the companion they'd left behind.

"What was that?" she asked calmly, starting to collect trays for herself and Kreyen.

"Letter from his betrothed."  The old paladin frowned at the statement, but didn't seem particularly concerned about the detail.  The nuance of his expression was not something that was lost on his companion however, and drew a narrowed gaze from Teliere all the same.

"Is that the third then?"  The pair slowly started to slide in front of the prepared meal as the question was broached, cautious concern creeping into the half-elf's voice.

"I believe so,"  Granthas said evenly, focusing more on gathering the meal he wanted than the conversation at hand.  "He's been pretty slow to respond from what I've seen, but that may be because they're throwing him off a bit when they come in."  The paladin's mustache twitched side to side as he finished speaking, a clear sign to the half-elf that he was not being entirely forthcoming with information.

"That's an easy fix," Teliere stated more calmly, "I'll run him through some more drills after he goes through his session with my mother this afternoon.  That should take his mind off of it long enough to clear his head."  The younger paladin took a few chicken breasts onto the plates in front of her, making sure to load up her ward with what he'd need to start putting on weight.  "Has he spoken about the letters, or her at all?"

"No."  Granthas shook his head as he continued to shuffle down the line, getting the last bits of what he wanted before moving out of the way.  "Almost all of our conversations are him asking questions.  Not a lot about himself, or even how he used to behave mind you, but about history or philosophy.  About either the Silver Hand, or the Church mostly.  Maybe I'm off, but it seems like the lad is trying to find something to ground himself with."

"Every time I come get him for training he's got his nose in a book, but if your hunch is right I'm not sure what exactly he's looking to ground himself with."  Teliere finished gathering food for herself and the ranger then, casting a dry look at the waiting paladin before following after him.  "Most of it is going to get pulled out from under his feet as soon as his family comes and picks him back up."

"Perhaps,"  Granthas granted, his shoulders rising in a shrug as they made their way over to the table. "If there's a chance we can prevent that though, I think we should try.  Things will be rough enough on him with the loss of his leg, regardless of what prosthetic he can get."  The old paladin grumbled something inaudible afterwards, his attention fixated on the dark haired sin'dorei across the room and the lost expression he bore as he read the letter once more.  "It would be good for him to have something to focus on other than just his recovery."

Teliere nodded, but remained silent as they approached the table.  Whatever thoughts she had on the matter were left hidden behind the stoic mask she bore, dry consideration in her eyes as she slid the tray in front of the distracted sin'dorei.  Granthas was probably right.  Something would need to be done.

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"Have you made a decision yet?" Granthas peered across the chess board at Kreyen as he moved his piece forward, casting a shrewd gaze at the sin'dorei as he voiced the question.  The game had become a nightly ritual for the pair during the ranger's time at Light's Hope, a last bit of activity before the pair turned in for the evening.  A fire warmed the room from behind its hearth, offering most of the illumination for the room.  Kreyen didn't immediately respond to the question, his dark green gaze studying the new position of the pieces and their implication moving forward.

"There's not much of a decision to make yet, is there?"  Kreyen asked as he scratched his goatee idly.  His expression was noncommittal as he picked up a piece of his own and slid it forward into play.  Afterward, the ranger's attention drew up to the aged human with a wry caution.  Their daily talks had proved to be more helpful than his reading or exercises with Teliere, gently hammering out his opinions by forcing Kreyen to think about the decisions he was making ans what lay before him.  "It's not like I can even run yet, much less fight."

"Be that as it may,"  Granthas said with a grin, "you'll have to make a decision sooner or later.  You can't tell me you haven't been brooding about it."  The paladin chuckled at the ire that rose to Kreyen's eyes, a mild admission that wouldn't have been present years ago.  The ranger had been too guarded then, too set already in his ways to let on such hints if he'd chosen.  

"I'm not confident yet the Light would respond to me if I tried to use it anyway."  Kreyen's brows furrowed together as Granthas shrugged and began to move another piece.  Their slow games had ended in the same manner every time thus far, with the weary paladin teasing new strategies out of his older but more youthful opponent before crushing him.  For once, the ranger wanted to win.

"You say that now because you're still weak,"  Granthas said with a wave of his hand, "But even that is just because you're missing a proper replacement for that leg.  Once you get something that can stand up to what you want to do with it, you might be even stronger than you were before.  What are you going to hide behind then, Kreyen?  Are you scared the Light might not hear you?"  The paladin laughed at the thought, reaching a hand out for the tumbler of whiskey that sat thus far untouched on his side of the table.  His gaze was amused as he brought the glass to his lips, smiling behind the scraggly grey beard.

"I guess not.  I'm no less worthy than others who've wielded it,"  Kreyen grumbled.  His research had clearly shown that wielding the unearthly force had little at all to do with being 'good'.  Plenty of others had used it for questionable reasons and dubious goals.  The only constant had, it turned out, been belief.  A will and confidence in their ability to bring the searing force to bear on their enemies seemed to be all that was truly required.  "I just don't know what would give me the force of will to believe enough in my ability.  I certainly haven't shown any aptitude thus far."

"You haven't even tried," the paladin scoffed as he set his glass back down, silently inspecting Kreyen's choice of movement on the board afterward.  After a moment, the warrior's mustache wiggled back and forth in consideration of the problem his pupil posed.  "We established yesterday that the Light needs all sorts to fight for it, didn't we?"  Granthas crossed his arms over his chest at the words, settling back into his chair as his focus shifted more towards the conversation.  "Once you can do so, what's to stop you?"

"A damn thick skull,"  Kreyen said quickly, reaching for his own glass and draining half of it as Granthas picked his next move with a hearty laugh.  The ranger swirled his whiskey as the sour expression ebbed from his features, shrugging, "I don't know, I just don't see why the Light would need me specifically to fight on its behalf.  Why it would need a cripple that questions every version of its faith is beyond my immediate comprehension, Granthas."

"I think you're just missing what's going on on the ground in the Isles, Kreyen,"  the paladin said patiently, watching as the ranger set his glass back down and fidgeted with the simple prosthetic he was wearing.  Kreyen's agitation with the clumsy aid shone through for a brief moment, drawing a sympathetic look to the paladin's grey-blue eyes. "We're making headway, but all factions are losing members about as fast as they can train them.  If Baressa or your family can get your head on straight enough to bring your combat experience back, you'll be better off that just about any of the lads or ladies I've sent out over the past few months."  There was a grumble from the paladin then, casting a hard gaze on his guest.  "Even during the war, you were a better soldier than I was.  You could do a lot of good."

"Perhaps,"  the dark haired sin'dorei said in a quiet voice.  Consideration twisted Kreyen's features, but whatever thoughts lingered behind them did not seem to suffice enough to calm his concern.  Granthas left him to stew for a moment, then moved another piece forward on the board.  "I've still got no idea how to direct it though, and if I'm the field it's going to be difficult to spend much time here to have you or Teliere teach me."

"If you have the desire, I'll send Teliere to you, Kreyen,"  the paladin said offhandedly.  He paid little mind to Kreyen's next quick motion, only a modicum of amusement entering his gaze as the sin'dorei sprung his trap.  "She's under my command still, and it's about time she had a squire of her own.  Churning out recruits is one thing, but someone who's as much of a pain in the ass as you are will actually test her ability to teach."  Granthas reached out and picked up his piece quietly, placing it into the final position to secure the game.  "Checkmate, by the way."

"Godsdamnit," Kreyen swore, his eyes quickly scanning the board to figure out how he'd managed to fall into the old dog's trap.  Resignation loomed quickly in his features, and with a shake of his head the ranger reached out for his glass.  After draining it, his chair pushed away from the table and he replaced the glass with the cane he'd been forced to start using.  "You're still toying with me," the sin'dorei said reproachfully, standing shakily on the crude dwarven construct.

"You're learning," Granthas granted with a tickled smile, studying his comrade carefully.  "Maybe you'll remember how you used to spank me once Baressa gets your head unlocked."  The smile widened into a grin, but only seemed to draw more of the ranger's ire as he began the slow trek to his guestroom.

"Good night, Granthas,"  Kreyen said testily, making his way away as quickly as he was able.  There was still a good deal to consider, as Granthas' offer had only made things more difficult for him.  With each step he took the prosthetic hissed and clunked, causing it's wearer to set his jaw as he struggled still to get used to the addition.  If he'd been allowed, Kreyen would still be on crutches, but he'd been instructed that now that he was well enough to begin using one, at least the acclimation process needed to begin.  Once there was time, he could find an engineer who could produce something usable.  Kreyen closed the door behind him quietly, grateful for the bit of solitude his nights provided as he thumped slowly towards his bed.

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