The Order of the Torches
My time in Wyldshire was eye opening for me. I had just been a Savior of a city whose Council sought to use me and my companions for their own gains. I had lost a friend and acolyte of the Church due to my own short sightedness and the dealings of a man I once admired so much. I had imprisoned a Mage and given him into slavery to the people of Valencia. A vile act that should never be practiced again. And it was in Wyldshire that a sister of the Church helped me see the Light.
After the attacks from Raxis and his ilk (and that is not a denouncement of all Dragons mind you), I was in need of finding some healing solutions for my companions. I could not always be around, and at the time, I rarely had the ability to quickly get to them if needed. I walked down the narrows stone halls until I finally came to what seemed to be a large store room with just a single table. The long stone table with many papers, scrolls, and forms, mostly kept to record what was going in and out. Behind the table was an Half-Elven woman, her long white hair neatly put up, and her cleric garments were white and pristine.
She looked up from her forms, icy blue eyes piercing the dim anti-chamber but there was a warmness in her tone, very motherly, “Hello young Cleric. How can I help you?”
“Hello, I’m looking for some healing potions for my companions.” I looked around, astounded by the stores kept.
“My boy, you’re a walking healing potion.” She said almost incredulously, “I don’t get much work down here for Clerics, just Templars who don’t have the patience to learn healing, just hack and slash, Light bless them.”
“Ah, well I have companions who I’m not able to get to sometimes, or we get separated, it would be helpful to have some.”
“Hmmm, so be it.” She turned around and began to sift through some healing potions, “So you’re Santos huh? Liam’s boy.”
“Um excuse me?”
She returned with a crate of what appeared to be healing potions, “Liam, tall man, scarred, good looking besides that, knows how to swing a sword with the best of them.”
“Oh yes, but his boy? We’re not related.”
She looked at me cross, “You don’t say?” That time I knew she was being sarcastic. “Blood is hardly a thing to keep a family together. I got disowned by both my human and elf family. Church took me in. Templars to be exact. Saved me just after the Mage Rebellion. I’m sure I was the spawn of some human boy who thought he’d never go home, took my mother, and well the elves aren’t exactly forgiving of that kind of behavior. Some new Templars took me in. Brand new. Been working here ever since. So the Church is my family young man, so we’re family. Mother Maili. Everyone called me ‘Ma’. So I have many children in the Church. We are all one.”
“Well it’s nice to meet you ‘Ma’. So you’ve been around the church long?”
“Oh yes, a while. Long enough to see Ruger climb the ladder. He seems to favor you a deal. Don’t know whether to congratulate you or pity you.”
“Hmm? How so?”
“The hands that help you up the stairs have eyes on their fingers dear. Never forget it. The higher you climb, the more people can see you.”
She chuckled slightly patting my hand on the table top, “Get out of Wyldshire. It may seem like too big a place to get noticed, but there are more eyes here than anywhere. Just stay out in the world. Put the sword to every damns thing that lives out there.” The last part took me back a bit.
“Well that doesn’t exactly sound like the ways of the Light.”
“No? Well it ought to be. And whether you like it or not, it’s the only way things get done. It’s why I like Templar like Liam. Clerics can spend all day debating power and morality, but you know who goes out and kills the damn necromancers and demons? The Templar.”
“But if we act rashly, and with force we’re seen as thugs or corrupt.”
“And if you debate your actions innocent people die while you sit and chat. I love a good debate darling, try this. It’s not hard to see a demon, and Templar are itching to slay them. You point them in the right direction and let them do their Light given duty.” It seemed odd, this sweet little lady advocating violence before reason.
“But then the Templar become enforcers.”
“Darling, the Peacekeepers are enforcers and they’re not all that wonderful are they? The Templar are good men and women. The Order of Templar is a mess, but if you talk to the individuals, they want to do good.”
“But if we resort to violence then we’re no better than those we seek to destroy.”
“Yes we are.” She walked around the table and led me to a small bench, “Now here is some advice because you’re Liam’s boy. You ever negotiate with a demon? Don’t answer, no you haven’t and no you shouldn’t. So what do you do? You kill them, banish them, whatever you have to do to keep people safe. Do you think that kind of death is called justice?”
“In the name of the Light, to kill a demon is justice yes.”
“You can’t fall back on the Light sweetie. You are responsible for your own actions. You want to ask Light for forgiveness, I bet he will, but you kill a demon. That’s murder. You kill a Dark Bringer? That’s murder. Whether he was a bad man or not, his bad family is going to miss him. But death is a part of life. And don’t think for a second that that demon won’t kill you without a second thought, or worse.” It was confusing, it was like there was not good or evil, just life and death.
“But then how do you deal with a world like that? How are we different?”
“The Church must destroy its true enemies, strong, righteous and true, without mercy. The sword should be blazoned with holy fire. The difference between us and them is once the enemy is vanquished, knowing to put the sword away. We rightly decimated those mages who sought to undo the world. We rightly destroyed them at the spire.” She softened again, reflecting almost ashamed, “And then, we didn’t put the sword away. Was the thought of more free mages scary to the world? Yes. But they weren’t the enemy any longer. They were a threat but not an enemy. Instead we hunted them all. Enslaved them. And so do you know what will happen when they are freed, or escape, or refill their numbers?”
“No. They’ll unmake the world. Death will become a sweet release, and Life will seem a horror.”
“And that’s the Church’s fault?”
She shifted somewhat, realizing words had gotten a little dire quickly, “Not entirely. The world was at fault. We let our fear of a group of mages spill onto all of them. We lost reason. We kept the blade unsheathed. And to be honest, it still is. Pointing a flamed tip towards Wizards, Dark Bringers, or anyone else who dares question us or seek power of their own. You can’t live that way.”
She walked back around the table after patting my shoulders. “So you can take these and get out of here sweetie. You don’t want to be here. You can’t help here. It’s out there. Find it, destroy it, without a second thought. And when the deed is done, put your sword away and help create a better world for those you leave behind. You’re a healer, kill the disease, spare the body.”
I know much more now than I did then. The Templar have been used as a strike force, an extended arm of the Church to do its bidding. This is not the way. But to suggest that there is not evil in the world that can only be met with force is fool hardy. There are things in the dark that will seek to snuff out the light, and we cannot sit idly by while that evil envelops people who seek innocent lives of peace. Now with Pelgrane, I will let him head the Torches; a group of elite soldiers that train to seek out evil with exceptional ferocity, find it, destroy it fully, and upon the deed being done sheathe their weapons and return home. Lodestones will help rebuild, Vigils can help protect, but no one person can do it all. We stand together, and the Torches will be our flaming swords to pierce the Darkness of the world.
Torches should never be taken lightly. To send the Torches on a mission means that something or someone will die by the end. Thus, Torches are not used as honor guards, not at body guards, not as enforcers. They are killers. This may seem heavy handed and harsh, but this world will not be plagued with demons, and I will never make the error to think that we can ever truly purify this world. If we want there to be Light, we must accept that Darkness will be there as well. And if it should rise up, and seeks to destroy our world, we will obliterate it. And with that done, put our swords away, and heal.