CH 2 – The Paladin
Paladin walked through the quiet town, glad to have some peace after the brutal battles against Jack and his forces. He'd recently begun buying homes and shops here in Snowspire, convincing the original owners that life would be easier paying a modest rent to him than large payments to keep the building under their ownership. With times as rough as these, it hadn't required much persuasion.
His latest acquisition was the clothing shop next to the tavern. The owner had thrown in a house up near the Tattoo Shop as part of the deal. Now, Paladin was on his way up to that house to inform the residents and reassure them that everything would be fine.
He arrived at the small, comfortable-looking home to find it locked and the residents absent. He took the key that the old landlord had given him and unlocked the door to step inside. The furnishings were snug and warm. It looked like the sort of home he'd like for himself someday. It occurred to him that, as the new owner, he had every right to evict the current residents and live here himself, but such actions went against his principles, ideals, and the very core of what had earned him the title of Paladin.
He took note of the open wardrobe. It was full of women's clothing, all one size, leading to the conclusion that there was a single woman living here. The only men's clothing around was all in boxes like the ones in which clothiers and seamstresses kept their wares.
The thought of a seamstress invariably brought his thoughts back, once again, to Amelia. He recalled the friendship they'd built over those several years, only to lose contact with her during his imprisonment in Bargate. He also recalled the development of feelings stronger than mere friendship for her. Over the year after his defeat of Jack, he'd searched for her, using Oakvale as his headquarters, but the only trace to be found was rumors by some that she'd left for Hook Coast. He knew she wasn't there. He'd carefully checked the place already. He'd hoped perhaps to marry her, or at least to see if there was a chance that events could go in that direction, but that obviously required her presence. He resolved once more to resume his search for her.
Ironically enough, the subject of his thoughts entered the house at just that moment, rather surprised to find someone standing there. He recognized her as the seamstress who ran the clothing shop, though this was the first time they were close enough to see one another's features clearly.
Amelia, in turn, recognized the Ranger in the Paladin. The face was a bit more scarred, the hands a bit rougher, but other than his hair, it could only be the very man she'd been thinking of on her way here.
Neither could speak for a moment. Then both began at once. After a few seconds of trying to be understood, they both stopped, and Paladin gestured to Amelia to begin first. She expressed her surprise that he was alive, since, to the best of her knowledge, no one had ever escaped Bargate. She asked to know about his adventures since then. He agreed to tell her, provided that she join him for dinner and tell him about her life since that time.
The dinner was largely an excuse to continue in each other's presence, only to be picked at whenever their stomachs managed to pry them away from their conversation. They talked until the wee hours of the morning, at which point, Paladin left Amelia's house for the night in order to preserve her good reputation.
The next day, about midday, Paladin appeared at the shop and told everyone it was closed for a lunch hour. She'd laughed at his exercise of ownership, stating that he was the boss, and left with him up the hill. On the way, they flirted and joked, talked and played. It was plain for anyone to see that both were interested in each other.
It was during lunch that Paladin slipped up and hinted at his interest in Amelia. It wasn't much, but it was enough to give her the confidence to hint at her own feelings. They began to reveal more and more, until it was plainly known that they loved each other.
The shop never did reopen that day, but one merely had to stop in at the tavern and see the most brilliant ring in Albion adorning Amelia's finger to find out why.
Four Weeks Later
Briar Rose stepped off the Cullis Gate platform into a sea of excitement and confusion. She could barely see the Map Table for all the servants, apprentices, and Heroes gathered in the chamber. It took her a good three minutes just to find Guildmaster Weaver.
He silently pointed to a card similar to those used to write notes about Quests on the Map Table. She picked it up and read it silently, then asked, "Is this for real?"
He smiled and gestured to the crowd. He didn't need to say a thing. After all, it wasn't every day that the Head of the Guild got married. "Are you going to attend tomorrow?"
"Of course, I will." she smirked. "Someone has to warn the bride what she's getting into."