A bevy of emotions rushed through Uther. Intense pride. Immense sadness. Unbreakable resolve. Inadequacy. Righteous anger.
“What if I did give you that sword and shield? Would you use them?” Archbishop Alonsus Faol had asked him the evening before. Uther had answered at once. He did not make idle promises.
The Scarlet Monastery was a huge, sprawling mass of structures. The Abby had living quarters for many thousands, though it currently held tens of thousands of refugees from the ruined kingdom of Stormwind. The chapel was just as large and grand, capable of seating upwards of two thousand. It, too, was filled to the brim with people.
All of them with their eyes on Uther, soon to be the first Paladin.
Pride. Uther had always lived to serve those around him. From a very young age, his innate altruism had set him apart from the other children. Nobody was surprised when he showed boundless aptitude in holy magic. This lack of surprise continued when he chose to become a priest of the Northshire Abby. Now he was to be the inaugural defender of the entire human race by the Archbishop of the entire Church of the Light. An unbelievable honour.
Sadness. That it had come to this. That he, a priest, a healer, would be required to don armour and weaponry. That so many had already died. That more would die. It was inevitable.
Resolve. He was to be a paladin. A defender of the light, a bulwark against the darkness. He would not allow more death. He would stand at the front lines, unmoving, unshakable.
Inadequacy. He was one man, made of flesh and bone. He could be killed so easily in any number of ways. He was weak. He could feel fear, his heart pounded with it at the orcish war cries. He could break, would break, and all would be lost. He was absolutely not ready for this responsibility.
Anger. Anger at the orcs and whatever dark masters they happened to obey. For the senseless loss of life. At himself for allowing the war to continue as long as it had. He should have done something, could have done something.
He would do something.
Alonsus Faol was speaking to the assembled crowds. This was to be the day of triumph, the day the war turned. Today, in this chapel, victory began.
Uther was called upon.
He faced the thousands gazing at him with… awe. Hope. Trust. Faith. How could all these people put their faith, their very lives, in the hands of a total stranger? It was a humbling thought.
He turned to the Archbishop, he knelt before his mentor.
He began to speak.
“I, Uther McConnohie, vow on my life, my word, and my sword, to uphold the code of the paladin. I will help those who are in need. I will protect those who cannot protect themselves. I will conduct myself with respect, with tenacity, with compassion at all times. I will fight for honor, for truth, for justice. I am bound to defend all that is holy, to avenge those I protect, to bring unwavering retribution to those who would threaten the innocent. These duties I assume willingly.”
Alonsus was beaming. “Rise, Lord Paladin Uther McConnohie.”
As Uther began to stand, the clouds of winter outside broke apart, scattered by a sudden wind. Sunlight, pure and intensely bright, beamed directly into the chapel, illuminating the entire interior of the structure with powerful light.
Uther’s armour glittered in the sunlight, which inexplicably seemed centered on him.
The chapel erupted into applause.
“It seems the Light itself has given you its approval, Lord Paladin Uther.” Alonsus said.
Uther, for his part, felt utterly overwhelmed. He had used holy magic most of his life, lived side by side with many strong casters and wielders of the Light. None of that compared to this. The Light pierced him, scoured him, blasting through every fibre of his being. He felt… immense approval from… something.
As fast as it had come, the feeling faded. He felt… clean. As if his soul had just been polished to perfection.
“I… yes.” Uther agreed, finally able to speak. “It seems it has.”
Alonsus’ eyes twinkled knowingly. “Now, Lord Paladin Uther, what shall we name this new order of holy warriors you have founded?”
Uther turned, sweeping his eyes across the cheering faces. Every one of them believed in him utterly. “I… I am not…”
“Speak from your soul, Uther.”
“… Yes.” Uther took in a deep breath. “I shall call it the Order of the Silver Hand.”
Alonsus nodded. “Excellent. Shall we continue?”
Between them, Alonsus and Uther had chosen several other men and women to serve as the first members of the Order. Including Uther, there would be twelve paladins in total.
“Step forward, Tirion Fordring.”