A continuation of the Arkenheart story line, in which I write about a cheesy high school pep rally.
She wasn’t the only one being sworn in that day. Recruitment Day only happened twice a year, usually resulting in a very large number of successful candidates.
Recruitment was ongoing, of course. Any member of any rank of the greater military whole was liable to be recruited at any time, and frequently especially skilled civilians found themselves recruited into the Order.
Blood knights were more than just soldiers. They were the best of the best, in whatever field was necessary. Warriors, brilliant tacticians, highly skilled healers, all could find a home within the halls of the Order. The only real requirements was a strong desire to serve Silvermoon and the ability to wield magic, at least in a rudimentary fashion.
Recruitment Day was merely a day set aside where Recruitment was completely open to the public. Anyone who wanted to could try to become a famed blood knight. The key word being try.
Training was brutal, ruthless. It would push an elf to their absolute limits in stamina and discipline. Only the best made it through, though this was usually a moot point, considering only the best were ever recruited.
Thousands of elves signed up on Recruitment Day, only five hundred and forty four made it through testing week.
Make it through testing week, and your membership in the Order is assured.
Arkenheart let her eyes wander around the massive hall she and her fellow (soon to be) Blood Knights occupied. The air was positively vibrant with conversation.
Every person in this hall had either survived testing week or was already a full fledged Blood Knight of some sort. Scarred veterans laughed and shared their war stories, new recruits glanced nervously around, told jokes, and positively bubbled with sheer excitement.
All this died immediately upon the entrance of Lady Liadrin. The entire room fell completely silent, every conversation ending in an instant.
The supreme leader of the Blood Knight Order, Lady Liadrin was dressed in full battle plate, sword at her side, seemingly glowing with raw holy power. Seeing her so was one of the absolute greatest honors a blood elf could experience. Conversing was impossible in her presence, such was the awe she inspired.
Standing on a massive podium, she spread her arms.
“Armor is but a myth,” her voice boomed through the massive hall, “Sword and shield but tools. True strength, true power, comes from the Light itself. We are the wielders of this power. We are the Blood Knights, and we…” she lowered her arms, “are unstoppable.”
A massive roaring cheer filled the hall, meeting her words. Arkenheart could not help herself, she could feel the raw power blazing through the room. She could feel the huge amount of energy filling her, a massive, barely restrained power, hers to command… to control…
Raising her arms again, the room fell into silence once more.
“Recruits, at attention.”
As one, all five hundred and forty four recruits snapped to attention.
Slightly different than the other wings of the military, for Blood Knights, this meant hands clasped behind the back, legs spread somewhat apart, back straight, eyes forward. Most military wings used this as the “at ease” stance, not so for the Blood Knights. Symbolically, this was intended to show the superiority of the Blood Knights to all other wings of the military.
“The paladins and warriors that came before you are gone. Their blood has dried, their strength long since spent. But they live on. They live in you. They shall never be forgotten, just as none of you will be forgotten. Their sacrifices are remembered, as will yours be. Their deaths will be avenged, and so shall yours.”
Golden, glowing wings burst from Liadrin’s back, her entire body emitting a blinding, holy glow.
“We are the Blood Knights, and though we have lost much, our vengeance blazes as the rising sun! Repeat after me!”
Liadrin’s eyes, little more than orbs of fire, seemed to meet each recruit’s eyes simultaneously.
“I am the shield that guards my people!”
“I AM THE SHIELD THAT GUARDS MY PEOPLE!” Arkenheart’s voice roared out, the entire room echoing with the screaming voices of hundreds of elves.
“I am the sword in the darkness!”
“I AM THE SWORD IN THE DARKNESS!”
“I am the light that brings the dawn!”
“I AM THE LIGHT THAT BRINGS THE DAWN!”
“We are the Knights of Blood, and we will NEVER FALTER!”
“WE ARE THE KNIGHTS OF BLOOD, AND WE WILL NEVER FALTER!”
Seemingly exhausted, Liadrin’s arms fell to her side, the holy energy that had consumed her body slowly fading. Smiling faintly, she said “Your oaths sworn, you are all now full members of the Blood Knight Order. Enjoy your training.”
And with that, Lady Liadrin left the room.
Arkenheart was breathless. What had happened, just now? It was as if she was possessed by something supernatural, and she felt… exhausted. Whatever had happened, it had taken a lot out of her. And yet, there was the unmistakable sense of such raw power, as if a massive, unquenchable force was quietly waiting to be unleashed, and all she had to do was tap into it.
She had never felt such incredible power before. She had held another’s life in her hands, true, but even that paled in comparison to this. She had summoned holy energy before, she had used it to lend her extra strength, or to lessen the impact of a hangover.
All of that paled to what she had just felt. She could increase her strength a hundred fold, effortlessly lay waste to an entire army, completely shrug off blows that would kill a god. Was that what the Light was? Was that the level of power she could command?
She had known the Blood Knights would make her stronger. This was incredible. She had expected martial training, to learn how to empower and hone the skills she already had. Not to tap an entire energy source she was just barely aware of.
Nervous conversation was sparking up again. The veterans smiled knowingly as the new recruits looked around in shock and amazement. So she wasn’t the only one who felt… whatever it was.
Some of the older knights were shouting, waving forms and lists around. Living assignments for the new blood knight adepts. They were all to be paired off into same-sex dormitories, two knights to a room.
Arkenheart was apparently paired with someone named Triss Brightsword.
Idly pondering what type of person this Triss would be, Arkenheart filtered out of the hall and made her way to her newly assigned room.