Gerrard fell back and walked beside Krell for a moment.
“So, Krell, how do you know about the Forge Father and all that? Never heard you say anything like that before, you know?” Gerrard smiled up at him.
Krell laughed. “It’s true enough, Gerrard, that my education could best be described as lacking. Most people say I don’t know anything. I grew up alone, you see, so nobody taught me anything useful. I had to learn it all myself.”
Gerrard looked at him questioningly. “Alone how? I can’t see humans, even as insane as they often are, abandoning a youngling to grow up alone.”
“Oh, I had a family. Still might, somewhere, maybe. But I was lost at sea when I was young. Not sure how young. Washed up on an island somewhere and spent a bunch of years surviving.” Krell looked up at the sky. “My memories there are… poor. Can’t remember much, but I remember the cold, the loneliness, and the hunger. Those stand out in my mind.” Krell shook his head and frowned.
“Olgar taught me basically everything I know, aside from how to survive alone. Whatever knowledge I have is thanks to him, and one thing he made sure I knew well was who all the gods and their followers are. Paladins apparently spend a lot of time in conflict with faiths other than their own.”
“Ah,” said Gerrard, nodding in agreement.
Krell shrugged and looked back at Gerrard. “Whatever else I am, Gerrard, I’m a survivor. Maybe that’s why ReckNor chose me to be a paladin. Maybe he wrecked the ship on purpose to see if I had what it took. Maybe he didn’t. Either way, I hear the call. My blade is in his service, my will is his will. His voice thunders in my head, making his will known to me.”
“Wow. You know, Kraven’s right, you are intense!” Gerrard walked along in silence for a few minutes next to him. Then he turned and said, “That sounds really hard, having another voice in your head all the time.”
Krell laughed. “Nah, it’s really easy. When he tells me something, I do it. When he doesn’t say anything, I do whatever I want.”
Gerrard frowned. “I thought paladins had all sorts of rules they had to follow.”
Krell grinned at him. “You’re thinking of followers of Hieron the Honorable, lord of justice. There’s a big temple of his in Heaford, just up the coast, where the duke holds court. I’ve never met one of his followers, but apparently he loves calling paladins, and they’re pretty common in that faith. Most paladin stories are about paladins of Hieron.”
“Not common in ReckNor’s faith, though?”
“Not remotely. Apparently, Olgar can’t remember the last time ReckNor called one. He’s… well, most people think he’s insane, and that if you don’t appease him, he’ll destroy you. A cult of sailors and the mad. That he’s temperamental enough that even if you appease him, he still might destroy you. Which is all… somewhat true, I’d say.”
Ahead, Tristan laughed. “You’re telling me you think your god is insane?”
Krell shook his head. “No, but temperamental? Absolutely. Appease him or else, which is how his faith works. Sailors and those who live and work on the sea pay homage, though for many, it is out of fear. He’s often thought of as a survival-of-the-fittest sort of god.”
Krell noticed they were all looking at him now. Orca looked unhappy, Kraven appeared to be controlling his laughter, and Tristan and Gerrard were looking at him like he was dangerous.
“So… what does ReckNor teach, then?” asked Gerrard. Krell thought about it, and Tristan looked like he was dreading an explanation. Better to keep things simple for now, he thought.
“Basically two things. The first is that the seas and skies are his, so make offerings when you use them and he’s happy. The second is that he takes joy in the freedom of choice.” Krell went silent, and they walked on for a few moments before anyone said anything.
“I thought you were going to drone on incessantly about your god and how great he is all the time,” said Tristan. Krell looked at him and smiled.
“I’m a paladin. If you want that, go talk to Olgar. I’m here to show the faith of ReckNor through action, not through words.” Thunder rumbled in the distance as if on cue, adding ominous weight to his words.
Gerrard snorted. “Did ReckNor just add some thunder in the background to make you sound more intimidating or dramatic or something?”
Kraven laughed, and Krell joined him. Orca said, “That’s ridiculous!” at the same time Krell said, “Probably!”
Beginning of Arrogance
A Paladin’s Journey
Publisher: Fat Paladin Incorporated
Date of Publication: June 30th, 2022
Number of pages: 410
Word Count: 125,476
Cover Artist: Vilenko Vujicevic
Tagline: Paladins are nothing but trouble
Paladins are nothing but trouble. Stories about paladins are everywhere, noble warriors riding magic steeds into battle against terrible foes. Champions of their gods. Heroes to everyone, except those who already have everything. Paladins are notorious for upsetting the balance of power, to the detriment of any who don’t worship their deity.
So when Krell is called to service by the capricious god of the seas and skies, ReckNor, those with wealth and power can’t help but be concerned. ReckNor hasn’t called a paladin in years, and his nature is ever-changing and erratic. The fact that Krell is also an uneducated nobody with a stubborn streak as wide as the sea turns their concerns into fear.
All of which matters less than the threat clawing its way from the waves, ready to turn the ocean red with spilled blood…
Bryan Cole is the author of the Paladin’s Journey series. New to the writing world, he spent years working in the enterprise software space, focused on quality assurance and delivery of software applications. Which is weird, because that has nothing to do with writing fiction.
For that, we need to go back – way back – to his first experience with Dungeons and Dragons. His friend Chris brought over the box set for Myth Drannor, eager to play. Together, they realized they had no idea what they were doing, because neither of them owned a copy of the Players Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, or the Monster Manual.
From those incredibly awkward beginnings, a lifelong passion for epic science fiction and high fantasy adventure was born. Everything from his grade 4 teacher letting him stay after school to play a video game where you were the wizard on a quest, defeating monsters by answering math problems, to some truly memorable movies like Willow that showed him a world bigger and more exciting than the real one.
Of course, Star Wars and Star Trek have had a major influence on him. Want to get in good with Bryan? Lead with a Star Wars meme.
From one of the good movies. Otherwise, your plan will backfire.
Bryan is also an avid gamer, and enjoys video games, board games, and tabletop roleplaying games.
These days, he lives in Toronto with his wife and daughter, and his adorable cat.