Teveriel (prime)/A Paladin's Twilight, A Warrior Renewed

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30 Jastatos, 5121

Still lost in thoughts of his past, Teveriel's reverie was broken when a familiar presence entered his thoughts. "Would you like to join me in the Garden of Ancients? The trees seem to mitigate the rainfall." The rainfall, he thought bleakly as he peered at the window nearest to his table. It had continued unabated for the past month, heralding a number of portents that ultimately led to Caligos and that accursed eel. But after tomorrow, assuming all went well...

He dismissed that thought from his mind. It was pointless to consider any other possibility. Instead, he picked himself up from his chair and offered Malwith a word of thanks before making his way out of the inn.

Drawing the leather hood of his coat over his head, he didn't bother sending a thought in reply as he made his way down the rain-shrouded var; it was not a long walk to the Hall of Arkati. The lamps that lit the way offered scant illumination; he mostly relied on the intermittent flashes of lightning to guide him to the vine-covered arch leading to the walled gardens.

Uniana stood off to the side of a carefully assembled altar, centered by a burning ebon candle and incense burner. Off to one side was a dragonstalk blossom, and the other was flanked by a silver griffin's feather. Closest to where she stood was an obsidian locket on a silver chain. She turned at his approach, reaching her hands out towards him. He gave her a look of wonder as he moved to meet her, taking her hands in his. "What is all of this?"

Uniana spoke carefully, her head tilting upward to meet his steel-grey eyes. "I will never be able to atone for my part in all the pain that was caused to you and your family," she explained with sorrow in her eyes. "But I would like to permit you the chance to grieve." Her voice softened as her violet-shadowed eyes lowered. "I would like to keep a silent vigil with you in honor of the family which was lost."

Teveriel felt the sting of her words as keenly as if they were crossbow quarrels. He shook his head in protest. "Lady Le'Gondren, I have never blamed you for what befell my brother and our lord father." Turning an encompassing gaze around the small shrine she'd made for them, he added with a note of wonder, "But you honor me with this."

She kept her gaze averted, her tone taking on a sullen quality. "That will be one of my aims for the remainder of my days, Lord Anduin. I am sorry it came so late."

Teveriel squeezed her hands in his, lifting them together to press a tender kiss to her knuckles. Still avoiding his gaze, he thought he heard her sniffle through the crash of thunder that filled the air. "Then let us keep vigil together," he offered gently. There was another flash of lightning and a metallic glint caught his eye--the locket he noted upon entering. "But what does this represent?"

Uniana looked abashed, pursing her lips for a moment. "Something I will wear from time to time to remind me of the cost of selfishness." He gazed at her in wonder, uncertain of her meaning but chose not to press her. Instead, she turned away and knelt in front of the assembled items, keeping her head lowered. He watched her in wistful silence for a long moment, then lowered himself to his knees to join her. She kept her head down as she moved her right hand outward towards him in an almost unnoticeable gesture, and they joined hands. They closed their eyes in silence for what must have been several minutes. "Would you like to say some words?" she prompted at last.

Several lightning strikes nearly blinded Teveriel as he opened his eyes, settling on the dragonstalk, a token that repreosented the signifier on his father's crest. "Father," he began quietly. "My most fervent hope is that you are proud of me as I am of you, and all of the sacrifices you made to provide for Tayin and myself." His voice was steady and calm, though all he could see in his mind's eye was the twisted and grotesque mockery of his undead father's face screaming at the end of his blade. "I know you are at peace--I saw to it myself--and reunited with Mother at long last."

He felt Uniana's fingers squeeze around his hand, and he glanced in her direction to see a stream of tears begin to fall from her pale cheeks. His expression softening, he turned his gaze to the silver feather that represented his family flourish. "Tayin, there is much and more that I would say to you were you here." He paused for a long moment. He knew his brother would likely -not- be proud of him. Shaking his head as if to dismiss the thought, he continued. "I hope that you will forgive me. I was never meant to inherit the lordship of our noble family, and the estate that was yours by right of birth is lost to us now. But I promise that our legacy will live on. And an Anduin will sit on the Council of Regents ere long. Let that be my restitution, brother."

Catching movement beside him, Teveriel glimpsed Uniana giving a firm, resolute nod. I am so fortunate to have your support, he thought as he gave her a sidelong glance. Then he lowered his head again, closing his eyes in silent repose. Uniana was stroking the interior of his wrist with her thumb. He took comfort in her quiet touch; between that and his own resolve, he felt the weight of his words lifted from his brow, no longer drawn with anger or pain but replaced with a serene confidence. "Lady Le'Gondren, I think perhaps I am finished."

Her voice was soothing, assuring him. "We can leave whenever you would like, Lord Anduin." But he shook his head, prompting a questioning look.

"That is not what I mean." He half-turned in her direction, clarifying, "I swore my blade solely to Voln, seeking to become the instrument of his wrath." An incredulous note creeped into his tone. "I forsook my home to pursue that path. But what has it brought me? What has become of that home now, in my prolonged absence?" Uniana's brow knit slightly as she listened to his words with intense focus. Bitterly, he answered his own question. "A ruined estate, and a notable lack of leadership on the Council that is supposed to advise our Sovereign on matters of security."

Uniana brought Teveriel's hand to her cheek, giving him a tender gaze that he knew was meant to mitigate the bitterness she sensed in him. Relenting somewhat, he gave her a resolute nod. "My purpose is clear to me, now more than ever. It is not to wander the continent, slaying undead in ever-increasing numbers. It is the purpose I held long ago: to protect -this- land, to assist in leading -our- people."

At those words, her gaze turned to one of pride. "I will aid you every step of the way, however I may."

"I will be counting on that," he replied truthfully. In many ways, though she denied it most vehemently, it was she who had renewed his confidence and helped him see how far he had led himself astray. "But have you concluded your own vigil, my lady?" His eyes strayed briefly to the locket. "I am in no hurry to depart if you have anything left unsaid, silently or otherwise."

Lowering his hand, Uniana fixed her eyes on the locket. "If the pain we endure makes us stronger, then perhaps the pain we inflict can make us wiser," she reasoned. "I will never be ignorant to the consequences of the pain I inflict again." Teveriel squeezed her hand, but lowered his head and remained silent to give her the same respect she afforded him. Her gaze drifted to the dragonstalk and feather as her voice sank to a whisper. "There are no words that I know of in our language to communicate the depth of my remorse." She paused a moment before adding, "But I will watch over him in your stead." She closed her eyes, then, lowering her head as if in prayer. Teveriel clenched his eyes shut, moved by her vow, and gave her hand another squeeze.

They kept a silent vigil together through most of the night before returning to the chalet. The next morning, Teveriel rode to Fearling Pass to visit his Order's monastery. There, at an altar not unlike the one where he pledged his blade, he found the spiritual connection he had with his Patron had already been severed. All of the powers bestowed upon him as a Paladin, gone. Even his own spellcasting, as he discovered upon attempting to cast the once familiar spell of Spirit Defense, was greatly diminished. Yet somehow, he felt renewed and in his unshakable confidence he knew that he could work to overcome these shortcomings and become the warrior he once was. The one he was meant to be.