This is Part Three of the story. Part Two can be found here.
"So you were raised in the temple?" Nadia asked, the eyebrow over her visible eye raised. Her other eye was covered by a leather eye patch, as it always was when she wasn't belowdecks. On many women, the patch might appear unseemly, but it seemed to further add to the charm of the lively woman, an accomplished warrior that was in charge of the ships' defenses.
Garek nodded. "Since I was young, yes. When I turned sixteen, I applied for squireship, and was apprenticed under High Paladin Alteris, and when I was twenty I was named a full paladin."
"So...have you ever lived outside of the temple?"
"When I was young. But not in many, many years."
"That sounds incredibly boring."
Garek chuckled. "Not at all. The library at the Temple of the Silver Wing is very large. Besides, I keep myself busy."
"Oh?" the woman asked. "A great many female companions for the mighty paladin, no doubt."
Garek frowned. "No. I've had precious little time to waste on such frivolities."
Nadia laughed, letting loose a musical, pleasing sound that Garek had found he quite enjoyed over the last few weeks. "One of these days, Garek, you're going to have to stop taking life quite so seriously. When's the last time you enjoyed yourself?"
"I've had more important things to deal with than having a good time. There are grave evils in the world, and for others to have their good times, I must sacrifice mine. Trust me, nothing of value is lost."
She rolled her eyes. "And you have to be the one to vanquish all of the evil in the world? It seems quite the feat."
Garek sighed and moved past her to the edge of the deck. "If I don't," he said, after a moment, "who will?" He turned his gaze to her once more, and she felt her blood chill by a few degrees as she saw his eyes.
When Nadia was seven, her father had taken her on a trip to the country of Echorigon, and, during her time there, she had discovered that slavery was, although restricted, perfectly legal. It was her first trip outside of the Vigilant Empire, and it shocked her to her core.
Luckily, though, she hadn't had the misfortune of meeting anyone during her short stay that owned any slaves. As long as she ignored the various signs of slavery about the port town they had stayed in, she could pretend that nothing was different there than from back home.
Until the day they left, at any rate.
As they waited on the docks for the chance to board their vessel, a slave ship began unloading. A large orc, with lean muscles and an impossibly thin frame, was imprisoned in a small steel cage, being pulled by two sailors. His bony hands were wrapped around the bars of the cage, and spittle flew from his mouth as he roared in anger and hopelessness. But that didn't compare to his eyes.
His eyes projected pure, unadulterated rage, malice, enmity, and absolute hatred. The mere sight of his eyes caused Nadia's breath to stop, her heart to skip a beat, and her bladder to loosen. Now, almost twenty years later, she had completely forgotten about those eyes, until she saw the same raw emotions exploding from Garek's.
"That's how I have to live my life," Garek said, his voice the sound of a blade of ice slicing through the air. "Because if I don't, no one will. It's been proven before, and once I'm gone, will undoubtedly be proven again." He turned and began to walk towards his small quarters. "If you'll excuse me, I've praying to do."