ancient armor black and white chivalry

7. Temptation

This entry is part 7 of 9 in the series Flash Fiction February

This is how the paladin fell.

“…and lead us not into temptation…”

Javid didn’t know much, but he knew the Dawnfather brought the light, brought good, brought hope. Most of all, he knew the Dawnfather saved his mother when she was near-death after eating destroying angel mushrooms when he was too young to know the difference between mushrooms that were safe to eat and those that could kill you. That single event, almost killing his mother through his own ignorance, changed his life, and set him on a path to earn the Dawnfather’s respect.

Javid wasn’t fit to be a priest. He never took to reading books. But he was large, and he could use his size to his advantage. While the arcane arts eluded him, the straightforward world of being a holy warrior in the Dawnfather’s name took to him like a glove.

“…as we forgive those who trespass against us…”

For years he trained at the temple under some of the best, the most reknown fighters on the coast. He was good, and he knew that he was good when one after another of his sparring partners fell under his — albeit wooden — blade. The elders deemed him ready to go out, to spread the Dawnfather’s word and fight in his name, and Javid did.

The beginning of the end was exceedingly simple in contrast to the devastating outcome. Having fought their way down through a series of interconnected caverns and ancient dwarven ruins, Javid and the four others he’d been traveling with came upon an encampment of subterranean dwarves, their gray skin matched by their disturbingly pale eyes. The dwarves offered safe passage through their camp in exchange for destroying the undead things occupying a quarantined section of ruins, and Javid’s companions agreed. Javid’s fingers tightened around his blade in anticipation of bestowing the Dawnfather’s almighty light upon these foul, undead monsters.

Things started going badly when they encountered an angry, ancient dwarven spirit, who possessed his companions and left them with streaks of white in their hair. They continued going badly when Tessa, a small thief with a habit of going after the treasure before fully evaluating their situation, spied a lockbox underneath what appeared to be a very old, dwarven bed, and was almost smothered to death by a large, animated rug.

But the moment things went truly afoul wasn’t until they found the ancient library, and its occupant.

“…deliver us from evil…”

Listening at the door, Javid heard the sound of a woman’s sobs. Fearing a prisoner in distress, he immediately opened the door. Inside the dimly lit room full of dusty, old books sat a woman at a table. Long, flowing black hair draping over her shoulders as she looked up at him, her eyes glistening. “Help me! You must help me!”

Before his companions could speak, Javid entered the room, kneeling behind his sword and bowed his head.

“Of course, my lady. What do you require?” Javid wasn’t entirely sure that this was the right thing to say, but it sounded officious, and that’s how the priests at the temple spoke, so he trusted what he knew.

“I am a prisoner. I have been bound to this room by an evil sorcerer. His chambers lie below. I must read and transcribe all these books for him. I know not why…what is your name, sir knight?” Her voice was velvety, and a quiet part of his mind fought the sensation that he was being lulled. It was, it must be said, a very quiet part.

“My name is Javid, Paladin of the Dawnfather.” That same, doubting part of his brain thought that he saw a quirk of her lips at the word “paladin.” He ignored it. This was his moment to bring glory to the Dawnfather. This was–

“Come here, Javid.” The words filled him like ice, interrupting all other thought, and Javid felt his heart began to race. His feet pulled him closer to her even as the quiet part of his mind began screaming at him to stop. Her story sounded reasonable, she was obviously in peril, why was he worried? And anyway, surely rescuing fair maidens like the one before him…these were the perks of being a hero of the Dawnfather, right?

“Kiss me, Javid.” Somewhere, very far away, Javid heard the others yell in protest. But so far, far away. They almost didn’t exist. He obeyed the command even before he knew what he was doing. Javid had never kissed anyone in his life except, perhaps, his mother before joining the temple. This woman’s lips were soft and wet and hot like fire. He felt his body turn to ice in contrast. She pulled him closer and, instead of continuing the frantic pace it had previously been setting, he felt his heart begin to beat slower, and slower, and felt the ice fill his veins. His vision began to cloud, then fade, and then he didn’t feel anything at all.

And that’s how the succubus killed Javid, Paladin of the Dawnfather.

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