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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 11:24 am 
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Location: West Los Angeles, California
((I wrote these letters just after the launch of Wrath of the Lich King, in late 2008. I believe they've never been posted. I might as well, since I am playing the two characters once again.))

Priestess Hallya Andor felt moved to reread her letters again, to remind herself of her struggles and her joys of years past. She opens up her drawer at her bedside, and pulls out a simple pink box. She opens it, revealing the letters from both herself and her brother, collected together in sequence, and carefully held together by a frilly blue ribbon. She unties it, and opens up the first letter. She smiles in remembrance of the day she received it.

My dearest sister Hallya,

I, your brother Rorlann, have finally returned from the plagued north. After a search for survivors of our family, you seem to be the only one that remains. Though this greatly saddens me, I am also uplifted that you, of all the Andors, are alive and living well in the safety of Stormwind. I will say, without exaggeration, that your survival bears witness to the supreme power of the Light.

I know you must wonder where I have been these past years after marching off to war with the Argent Dawn. The sad truth is, I had been captured by the Scourge. I will not burden you with the details of my wretched life during those years. Although all hope was lost, my memory of you remarkably didn’t fade. The luminosity of your spirit remained my only recollection through those nightmarish times, and now, released from the Scourge’s grip, it serves as a beacon to reclaim what I had utterly lost.

When we parted ways in Lordaeron, I told you that I would see you when the war was over. This promise will come true, but I must warn you, Hallya. I have changed much due to my captivity, and I fear that if you were to now see me, it would break your heart. Though you might think that your abilities as a priestess of the Holy Light will be enough to overcome any challenge that you will face – you might not be prepared, or even able, to help me. I do not want such a cloud to overcome you, to damage your faith, and to turn you towards a darker path. This would be a double tragedy.

But believe in your heart that the Light does prevail over darkness, even in the most desperate of times.

I will love you always. Your dear brother, Rorlann


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 11:29 am 
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Rorlann!

This is the most remarkable news I have ever received! I can say with conviction that I am the happiest woman alive. I’ve been running all over Stormwind waving your letter, kissing strangers, and yet my slippers haven’t yet touched the ground.

I cannot tell you how lonely I have felt in this world without family, and it matters little to me if you are disfigured or damaged. Regardless of what the Scourge did to you, you will always be my beloved brother. Nothing could ever change that.

Please do not remain hidden or distant. I cannot bear the thought that you are alive, yet alone and suffering. This is in fact the very duty of all holy priestesses - to heal the deepest wounds - physical, emotional, and spiritual. Of all times, I think this is the time you need me. As you used to say, where there is Light, there is hope. Nothing is impossible if one has faith.

Come forward and let me at least embrace you. It’s something I could never imagine possible. Please, Rorlann, I need to see you, for both of our sakes.

May the Light bless you, Rorlann! I will pray for you night and day.

Your sister, Hallya.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 11:34 am 
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Dearest Hallya,

I have no doubt that your prayers for me are strong, but please do pray for yourself, Hallya, for the days ahead will be difficult for us both.

As in my promise to you years ago in Lordaeron, I will see you when this war is over. I solemnly swear, in the memory of my beloved wife and three daughters, in the memory of our siblings and parents, in the memory of our good neighbors, I will bring Arthas to justice. Be comforted Hallya; the lands of Lordaeron will be restored to their former beauty.

About the farmstead, I visited it not long after I had been freed from the Scourge. I found an old, dried bouquet of flowers on what was our dining table. They looked like they were white roses. It actually served as an indication that there was at least one surviving member of our family. Can I assume it was you who left those there?

And Hallya, do not be afraid that I would reject you for anything that you may have done during those troubled times. I do know that you had entered into the service of the Scarlet Crusade after my deployment. Despite your turn toward zealotry in those dark days - zealotry, which I might add, was reasonable considering the horror that you faced - I have nothing but the utmost respect for your accomplishments upon those grim battlefields. I believe that the Light which poured forth from you was enough to turn back the Scourge. Your survival is proof.

Your brother, Rorlann.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 11:41 am 
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Dearest brother Rorlann,

You found the flowers! I had forgotten I had left them there. I placed one white rose for each member of our family, even one for you, of course. I was inspired by that picture you painted for me, the one I hung in my room, with the beautiful white rose in the middle of the dark thicket. Sadly I couldn’t find the painting in the rubble. Perhaps it had rotted and split beyond recognition, like so many things in our old house.

I was hoping you wouldn’t find out about my time as a priestess in the Scarlet Crusade. I am somewhat ashamed of my involvement with them. The fact that you found out makes me a bit apprehensive, for I didn’t think it was common knowledge.

And about beguiling the Scourge by the power of the Light – you know me too well, Rorlann! But I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, it was you who taught me to embrace the Light and reject all shadow. I have walked this exclusive path ever since, without deviation, and it has served me well.

I rarely tell this story to anyone, for fear of sounding boastful. But once, our Scarlet battalion engaged the Scourge army just north of Corin’s Crossing. It was lead by a monstrous death knight, Scourge Commander Blackheart. His sadism was boundless, and I have seen with my own eyes the horror of his unspeakable acts. Tragically, our battalion was routed by the unrelenting onslaught, until finally I was the only one left standing in a field of dead paladins. With that blind zealotry so typical for us Scarlets, I stood my ground and shot him through with holy fire. Blackheart simply stood motionless, staring at me through his dark helm. The death knight's mindless legions lingered by his side, ready to leap upon slight gesture. This went on for what seemed to be an eternity. My zealous roasting and smiting seemed not to harm him in the least. I finally exhausted myself, and I sank to my knees. I tried to say my parting prayers, but my mind went blank. I knew this vile death knight was simply toying with me, and that my life was about to come to a horrific end. I don’t know what went through me, for I was entirely numb, but something must have happened, for instead of killing me and pressing on towards Corin's Crossing, the commander mounted his deathcharger steed and slowly withdrew northward, taking his undead army with him.

The crusaders made it sound like I was a saint - that I alone turned the Scourge forces back, putting an end to Blackheart's relentless march through Lordaeron. It certainly allowed the crusaders to quickly regroup and fortify Corin's Crossing. They even inducted me into the Order of the Scarlet Circle, an elite cadre of crusaders who demonstrate remarkable bravery against hopeless odds. In fact, I still wear the Order’s ring on a necklace, tucked out of sight of course. But I know it wasn’t the strength of my prayers that saved me, for I couldn’t manage to pray. Perhaps the Light was so strong in me that I needn’t have prayed at that moment, though that sounds haughty. But if this is so, then the Light wouldn’t have been that strong in me if it weren’t for you and your influence on my life. In a way, you saved my life.

At least now I have the opportunity to tell you how grateful I am for your guidance when I was young in my faith.

Your loving sister, Hallya.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 11:46 am 
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Rorlann,

I have been talking with a good friend of mine by the name of James Chronicle. People often call him by the nickname Cogitatus, since he tends to overthink every minute detail of any given problem. I told him about your letters, and the fact that you do not wish for me to see you, at least not yet. On a hunch, he made the suggestion that I go to City Hall and search the registry of death knights who are now in the service to the Alliance. I thought it was a silly request, but when I saw your name and signature, “Andor, Rorlann ‘Cdr. Blackheart’” - I honestly can’t tell you how I felt, for words truly escape me.

Usually it’s a priest’s job to help people during difficult emotional times. In a twist, James is helping me to accept what has happened. This will take time, Rorlann. A long time. But as in your first letter, I will not let this hamper my adherence to the Light. In fact, I have never been so sincere in my embrace of it. Although I may not be able to restore you to human form, I can try to restore your humanity. It will be a difficult and painful journey for you, as it will also be for me. I have never been faced with such a challenge before, and to be honest, I do not yet know how to move forward. As you suggested, my prayers for you have now become prayers for myself.

Hallya.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 11:52 am 
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Dear Hallya,

Reading your account of that battle, and now that you know I was Commander Blackheart, I must make a confession. I do remember seeing your lone, defiant face upon that field of slaughter. Just like that picture I painted for you so long ago, I beheld a strong vision of a brilliant white rose surrounded by a dark thicket. I felt the sharp stings of a thousand smites, like the many thorns on that tangled rose bush. The vision was mesmerizing, as was the pulsing burns of your holy wrath. After being so dazed, I simply walked away.

Despite my ruthless triumph on that battlefield, my failure to show you no mercy, as well as my disoriented retreat, were enough to be marked a traitor to the Lich King’s absolute will. Now for the painful part of my confession to you; had I known the extent of torture that I would suffer on account of my act of disobedience, I would have shaken off the vision and brutally killed you, thereby completely finishing off your entire battalion and denying the Scarlet Crusaders any hope for even the smallest of miracles. I hope you can forgive my frailty.

Rorlann


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 11:57 am 
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Rorlann,

What you described in your letter is a human frailty - an avoidance of punishment, and the desire for self-preservation. This is true for any living being. I am greatly encouraged. It proves to me that it is not impossible for you to reclaim your lost humanity.

And Rorlann, how much do you remember of your death and reanimation? It might do you some good to talk about the event, and it would also help me to understand what happened to you, if you wish to share.

You sister, Hallya.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 12:02 pm 
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Dear Hallya,

I remember my death and reanimation well. It is an experience like none other, so I will provide you with some detail and depth, partly as a confession, but also for you to understand this morbid transformation, which is nothing short of a nightmare.

When I still had a beating heart, I marched with the knights of the Argent Dawn throughout the east. We had received alarming news that Darrowshire was in need of immediate assistance. We attempted to come to the aid of the distressed citizens, but we found that the town was entirely cut off in the north. We decided to gain the upper hand by coming down from the southern hills into the embattled town. After a difficult march, we found that we were too late to save Darrowshire due to the unexpected sabotage among the citizenry. We were quickly overcome by a rising tide of skeletal champions whom had left the town in utter ruins, as well as the reanimated corpses of the fallen. I held the line as best as I could, but an exhausted dip in my shield was met with a great hammer to my side. I hit the ground hard, and I was trampled under the bony feet of the unliving.

As my departing prayer played upon my lips, I beheld a beauteous beam of Holy Light shining from above. My spirit lifted from my broken body and began to ascend, joyously wide armed and arrayed in the sterling armor gifted after death to the Light’s champions. I was at full peace, knowing that I had died a good and noble death. It was in this fleeting moment that I experienced a true and transcendent happiness like none other I had felt in life.

The glorious beam soon became tinged with a putrid green coloration, and a black vapor crept into the folds of light. My incorporeal lips became paralyzed, and I could no longer form the prayers of the righteous. I could not raise my spirit’s arms to meet my rightful destiny, for the befouled light had become burdensome and heavy. I hung limp in mid air, spinning slowly in the sickly wisps that bound me like subtle chains to the bone encrusted ground. As I continued to regain my physical senses, I realized that my body was no longer splayed upon that plagued battlefield. It had been stolen and secreted away into the corruptive encasement of a necropolis.

My conscious struggles for freedom were forcibly subdued by the heavily breathed, foul incantations that pulsed through my mind. The bellowed voices suddenly ignited within me an icy fire, smoldering and spreading from bone to skin. To the rhythm of dissonant chanting, wave upon throbbing wave of seething hatred began to emanate from my defiled soul. Its raw power granted my body a new life as I jerked in grotesque spasms. My contorted face froze, fixed into place to preserve for all eternity the occasion of my ugly rebirth. I greeted the excessive pain as if it were my only friend, and the sole sensation I felt was the lust for suffering.

Released from my metamorphosis, I fell before Instructor Razuvious for judgment. As I prostrated before the instructor, an enrapturing inner voice – that of Arthas himself - beckoned to me. I was compelled to utter the hideous words, “I return from the grave to do my master’s bidding.” I thereby embraced my new existence, that of a death knight. My obedience was eager and absolute.

On that day, your beloved brother, Rorlann Andor, died. All that remained, without ambiguity, was Scourge. Nearly every memory of my former, mortal life became meaningless. The only thing I could conceive with my mind was the future annihilation of all life. I could never believe that my destiny would be any different than the one dictated by the Lich King.

And now I hope you can appreciate the magnitude of this miracle - that I have been released from the Lich King’s domination, and with free will I am able to work tirelessly to destroy my former master.

Your brother, Rorlann.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 12:09 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2005 11:26 am
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Rorlann,

It is now obvious to me your penance. It will not make you human again, but it will lead you to heal from your experience and regain your humanity.

First, you must re-experience the life you had lost, and support those who had lost everything. I make the demand that you settle down in a cottage and grow flowers in a garden. You will then sell the flowers to the florists in Stormwind. All proceeds must go towards funding the orphanage in the city. The mortal Rorlann would do this without question, and he would certainly find pleasure in it.

Second, you must begin to value the nature of your previous character. I order you to begin playing the flute again. The mortal Rorlann was adept at playing many lovely folk songs, and music does soothe the soul. I can purchase a flute for you if you like, one that is similar to the one you used to play.

Third, I also want to see you attend cathedral services at least once a day, if not more. The mortal Rorlann was very fond of listening to sermons, even to the point of sermonizing others! Being surrounded by holiness will strengthen your instinct to perform righteous acts.

Fourth, you must begin to value the life around you. I will make the suggestion that you spend time meditating on the beauty of life. The mortal Rorlann was strikingly attuned to its wonders. I also forbid you to kill anything that lives. This includes vermin, insects, even thugs and enemies. You must begin to see the value of all life, even if it is not to your liking.

Do these deeds, and you will be on your way to healing from your dreadful affliction.

Your sister, Hallya.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 12:15 pm 
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Hallya,

Please understand, I am no longer that brother you once loved so long ago. Although I wish for some remnant of humanity to return to me, I cannot do as you ask. Prepare your eyes, for the truth will surely sting them.

This is no affliction that can be dispelled. I am a different being, with dark needs and impulses that cannot be sated or diminished by meditation and music. Even though I am single mindedly loyal to King Wrynn and the Alliance, I still fight like a knight of the Scourge. I am a machine of destruction, spreading filth and disease wherever I go. Sadism invigorates me, and I indulge in the same unspeakable acts that so horrified you on that battlefield. I am still the masterful necromancer. Ghouls and geists are my constant companions, and I desire the company of the damned.

I am deaf to music, to poetry, and to all that can soothe and comfort. The Holy Light burns me, and sermons seem meaningless. I radiate unholiness, and I defile all that surrounds me. I desecrate the ground with my every step. Because I purge the Light with my presence, I am entirely unwelcome in chapels and churches. Alas, the Light has truly forsaken me, Hallya, and I find my home in the shadows that you so rightfully reject.

What may disturb you the most, Hallya, is that I wouldn’t want to be any different. I enjoy my great power and immortality, and I know I wouldn’t be half the warrior that I am today without the cursed gift of Arthas. This is an essential part of my new destiny, and I thoroughly embrace it.

You can injure me with your fire and smite. You can spew me with insults. As part of my new nature, I am titillated by hatred, especially if it's directed at me. Attacks against me provoke excitement, perhaps the only real feeling of joy I have left. I can easily take anything that you can throw at me. Know this, I will never stop loving you. This one feeling is the only shred of humanity I have left.

I hope you might one day forgive me, Hallya. If you cannot, I understand and fully accept your rejection. The one thing I do hope for – and perhaps the one thing I have managed to pray for – is that these strong feelings that might overtake you will not harm you or your faith. As I said long ago in my first letter to you, this would be a double tragedy.

I hope you may find peace in spirit, despite these harsh words and hard reality.

Your brother, Rorlann.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 12:22 pm 
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My dear brother Rorlann,

I have read your letters again and again, attempting to comprehend what has happened. I am trying to accept who, or what, you have become.

I claimed that nothing the Scourge could do to you would change the fact that you are my brother. I admit that I am hanging by the skin of my teeth on that statement. It seems to be a difficult promise to keep, but I am working hard to honor it. I have shared my feelings and thoughts with the clergy at the cathedral, and am trying to forgive and accept. It hasn’t been easy. I have had very difficult feelings, and I have honestly wanted to round up what's left of us crusaders and hunt you down like a malevolent beast. Those feelings come and go.

The clergy have asked that I get to know other death knights first before meeting with you, as a way to ease myself into acceptance. I have found the guild you belong to, “House Mallaithe.” I have begun to aid them in their tasks. Professor Morrogan Nethercall, an old friend of mine and also a mage in your guild, is helping me to overcome my feelings. I witness these knights using the same tactics that I once had to defend against, and I often feel like deserting their side. I have managed to stand and pray for their well-being, including their mindless ghouls. In order to do so, I have had to step outside of myself, putting aside all rational thought and tender emotion. Perhaps one day, I will be able to perform my priestly duties with sincerity.

As you used to say to me so long ago, faith grows stronger only when challenged. This is the greatest challenge I have ever met. My faith is being severely stretched and strained. I keep telling myself that if I survive this, I may become a stronger priestess. That’s often the only belief that I can hold onto in order to move forward.

I also wish to apologize for that letter I sent to you regarding your penance. After reading your account, I immediately rushed to the pen and parchment and stuffed the result down the mailbox. I thought I was being perfectly logical in my penitential remedy, and I hadn’t realized that my heart was too stunned. I now realize how silly that letter must have seemed to you. Please tear it up, and pay it no thought.

Priests often say, “I will pray for you.” This now takes on a fresh meaning for me, since I know you are unable to pray or enter the cathedral. I hereby choose to share your burden, as a fellow Andor, a loving sibling, and your spiritual counsel. I now pray in your stead, as your representative in the Light. I tell people during church services that the spot to the left of me is taken, even though it remains empty. You see, one beautiful thought you gifted to me when I was a young girl is that, although hope is intangible and may seem pointless, there are deeper realities which we cannot easily perceive or even understand, where hope is truly substantial and essential.

The Light forsakes no one. You used to believe this long ago, and I have faith that this is the truth. The Light still guides your path, Rorlann, as it has guided you back to me.

Your loving sister, Hallya.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 12:28 pm 
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Dearest sister Hallya,

Your zealous, unflinching courage that you demonstrated before me on that battlefield is still alive and well in your dealing with humanity’s deadlier foe of loathing and unforgiveness. You are a true bearer of the Light, Hallya. I would suggest that you take the ring of the Order of Scarlet Circle off that secret necklace, and wear it openly upon your finger with pride. There are very few of your order still left in the world, and even fewer who struggle as hard with your faith as you have in these past few weeks.

As you might know already, I did meet with your friend James Chronicle. It was his assessment that you are a very strong woman, and that I should not treat you as someone fragile. I can now see that he was right. I would now welcome a visit when you feel ready. I am currently stationed at the Shadow Vault, in Icecrown. The Knights of the Ebon Blade still refer to me by my Scourge name, Blackheart.

You continue to amaze me, Hallya, as you always have.

Your brother, Rorlann.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 12:33 pm 
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Rorlann!

The gentle love that you so eloquently exude in your letters to me, Rorlann - this is a most treasured human quality. Never give up hope for redemption. It may not be the type of redemption that many envision, but certainly you bear the seed of a greater transformation.

I have no business in the Shadow Vault, as you believe you have no business in our cathedrals. Let us meet in Darrowshire, the town where you fell and rose to the Light. Allow this place to be the platform for your new rebirth. I now cannot wait to see you.

Your sister, with great hope, Hallya.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 12:39 pm 
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Blackheart,

I don't know how to ask a former Scourge Commander for forgiveness, without it sounding absurd.

With naivete, I came to Darrowshire seeking my brother Rorlann. Yet what I saw was far from the memory of my blessed brother. I recognized only the signature ominous stature of Blackheart, poised with your typical malice. And your face, the color of bone, streaked with darkness and twisted with hatred, it was not the face of my brother. Blackheart, you had not changed one bit from your battles throughout Lordaeron. I couldn't help but feel disgust. I shook and cried not because I was afraid. I simply couldn't believe that the man who wrote to me all those beautiful letters was still a true monster. I had the terrible thought that you were toying with me.

It's what happened next that I believe I need to apologize for. Indeed, I soon felt a Crusader's righteous rage. Before I realized it, I had launched into that same holy frenzy, with those furious Scarlet battle cries, just as I had upon that battlefield so long ago. In fact, I could almost see the piles of your victims - my dearest friends and colleagues in the Light - surrounding me. My only desire was to burn you into a smoldering pile of ash. I was compelled to throw everything I had at you, mustering my full strength as a priestess of the Holy Light. I proved powerless, just as I was on that battlefield near Corin's Crossing.

I did have to run away with great urgency, and I am glad you did not pursue me. It wasn't out of fear that you'd return my wrath and kill me. I just didn't want you to watch me fall apart. I have never sobbed so uncontrollably. I couldn't even get up from the ground where I finally fell in despair. I now know how it feels, to have my heart entirely broken. My grief for the final loss of my most beloved brother ran so deep. For the first time in my life, I felt hopeless. The Scourge had finally defeated me by getting past my defenses. I hadn't expected or prepared for this betrayal.

I hurriedly went home and reread the letters many times over. My tears unfortunately caused the ink to run. The words seem so genuine. And James did tell me that you are sincere in your concern for me. I now realize, I should have been brave and welcomed you back into my life. I entirely lost that courage when I faced you. It was unbecoming of a virtuous priestess of the Light, or of a supposed heroine of the crusade. I am so sorry. Forgive me.

Hallya


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 12:45 pm 
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Dearest sister, Hallya,

I knew this would prove to be the most difficult challenge in your life, beyond anything you had experienced during those epic battles. I ask that you do not despair or give up the fight. Allow James, Professor Nethercall, and the clergy to continue to help you in acceptance.

Never think of yourself as powerless, Hallya. The burns I sustained may be insubstantial to me, but they are a strong testament to the passion you have for upholding virtue and defeating darkness. Your path is the way of the passive warrior. You might not hold a sword or a shield. You might not shed blood and cut to the bone. Instead, your weapon is your faith, and you have a way of slicing though total hopelessness. The way you have chosen to live your life, with unyielding devotion to the Light, this influences all around you, in both obvious and subtle ways. Look at how it caused me to stop in my tracks, how it led to my search for you, and how it has brought me back. You indeed have defeated Blackheart. Battalions of battle ready paladins couldn't do what you have done.

I shall admit, however, I wasn't expecting to see you transform back into that fierce, defiant Scarlet Crusader in my presence. Despite my appearance of enjoyment at your outpouring of hatred, I was actually shocked and worried for you. And no apologies are warranted. I was not harmed, not in any way that mattered. In fact, it is I who must apologize for my reaction. I honestly cannot help myself.

Allow the included gift to help you understand that I am still your brother, despite my hideous presence and behavior. I had it commissioned for you at great expense.

Your brother, Rorlann


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