Silver Hand, Argent Crusade
A stalwart paladin and champion of the Light
The Early YearsEdit
Born in Lordaeron about a year after the end of the first war between the orcs and humans, Aranath's home was in the city of Andorhal for most of his early childhood. At the age of five, his family had managed to save enough money to move to Stratholme; so as the Grand Alliance was being formed to combat the oncoming Horde, Aranath was settling in to a new life as a child in a big city.
Stratholme had all the luxuries a boy could ask for; wide avenues for playing, buildings by the score to climb and alleys to hide in. On many days, Aranath and his friends would venture out onto Darrowmere Lake and swim. There was never really any danger apparent, for the noble knights of the newly-formed Silver Hand patrolled the city dilligently, and even the shadier elements of Stratholme were caught up in the swells of national pride during the second war.
War, unfortunately, is more than just what happens far away from home, and Stratholme was eventually a victim of the violent conflict. With the Horde seemingly unstoppable, they managed to march an army far into Lordaeron and raze the city to the ground. Their main targets were the precious oil refineries Stratholme was known for, which severed the Alliance supply lines into Quel'thalas. Aranath and his family found themselves homeless, along with thousands of other men, women, and children. It was around this time Aranath got his first real glimpse of the grace of the Light as many of the Silver Hand and the priests of Lordaeron set up shelters for the displaced and destitute. He would marvel at the power the paladins radiated and at the sheer confidence in the voice of the priests. One paladin in particular appealed to the young man, and as most boys do, Aranath found himself trying to model himself after his new idol.
The Knight's name was Brand Hightower. A great bear of a man, Sir Brand carried himself with a quiet dignity that nevertheless shone forth in every word and action. He was in his early fifties, already a veteran of battles near and far. Brand had years before put aside his sword to devote himself to the priestly ways, but when Archishop Faol put out the call for men to take up the new mantle of paladin, he had heartily volunteered to become a member of the fledgling order. To his credit, Brand did not mind the affections the young Aranath heaped on him. He found the boy quite eager to help and open to the older man's instruction. Daily the two would be seen together: the hulking paladin administering rations and comfort to the refugees, the small boy trailing behind him, eagerly assisting.
Thankfully the Horde was finally pushed back southward, and the King announced Stratholme would be rebuilt farther north, near the border into Quel'thalas. After months of living in camps, the people of the city were overjoyed! Packing up all they had, thousands of Lordaeron's citizens began their journey northward. The reconstruction of New Stratholme was a project all took part in. The men of the city, along with many soldiers and laborers helped construct the buildings and walls, while the women and those too old for the physical labor aided by providing the workers with food and water. The city was rebuilt surprisingly quickly, and by the time Aranath was seven years old, his family had settled comfortably into their new home.
Not much changed for the boy in New Stratholme. He was still young, and there were still buildings to climb and alleys to play in. As the years passed by, Aranath grew in stature as all boys do, and his parents began to wonder what sort of future the young man might be headed for. His brother, who was a few years older than he, had signed up to be a guardsman of the city, so his future seemed set. Lordaeron provided well for those young men and women who volunteered themselves for duty. And while Aranath was proud of his brother, and the whole family "Ooed" and "Ahhed" over how dashing he looked in his armored uniform, the younger Turambar didn't believe guard duty was really what he desired of his life's work. So it happened one fateful night shortly after his twelfth birthday, Aranath approached his parents with the declaration that he, Aranath Turambar, wished to become a paladin.
You see, despite all the years that had passed between then and so long before when the young six-year old boy had trailed Sir Brand like a faithful puppy, Aranath's admiration and respect for the man had never diminished. In fact, while he and his friends had played "Orcs and Knights" in the streets of New Stratholme, he always refused to be anyone besides the noble knight, who would fight off the orcs single-handedly and save the fair maiden. Aranath was obsessed with the Paladins. He would travel to the Cathedral almost daily in the hopes of seeing one of them coming or going, and when he did, he wouldn't be able to stop smiling for hours.
Needless to say, his parents were taken aback. Becoming a paladin wasn't just something one did. It was a total commitment. In the years following the end of the Second War, the popularity of the Knights of the Silver Hand was as high as it had ever been. Men like Uther the Lightbringer and his fellows were legends. Plus, it was widely rumored that the King's own son was taking up the training under Uther himself! Being a paladin was one of the greatest honors a man or woman could obtain in Lordaeron. It also meant that for all intents and purposes, the Church would have more influence on the young boy than his parents would. Still, if this is what Aranath wanted, his mother and father did not mean to stand in the way of his dreams. Two weeks after their discussion, his father and he journeyed together to the Cathedral of Stratholme to see what the future may have in store for the boy.
It is important to point out that though Aranath Turambar desired to become a Paladin of the Holy Light, it was not simply a matter of signing a parchment and being handed a warhammer. Many young men sought out the life of the noble knight, but by this time in the Order's history, a regimented training program had been implemented to prepare those seeking, and to cull out those who would be unworthy. For the first six months after expressing their interest in becoming paladins, the candidates, be they as young as Aranath or men in their thirties and fourties, would be handed white robes and be made to report to catechysm classes daily. In between these lectures on the Light, its nature, etc, the men and women, boys and girls, would be handed chore after chore to keep the Cathedral spotless and running smoothly. This timeframe was a test of the applicant's resolve. Did they truly wish to become servants of the Light? If not; if comfort and home meant more to them, they would leave. Many did. After six months of lectures and cleaning, those who remained were appointed as Acolytes of the Church. They still were given tasks to aid the Cathedral, but their lessons turned from simple instructions on the Light to more focused, deeper theology. They were also permitted (and required) to assist the bishops in the daily services.
It was from the pool of Acolytes that many Paladins would begin to take squires. Most were young men and women around the ages of twelve to fourteen. In addition to being given more freedoms in the Cathedral, those Acolytes who desired to become paladins were granted access to the sparring grounds, and many would eagerly sign up for lessons from the resident master-at-arms. It was not uncommon for paladins looking for a new squire to stand around the sides of the grounds, observing the young trainees.
So it was that five months after he was made an Acolye, almost a year since he had come to the Cathedral, Aranath was in the training grounds working his forms with his practice warhammer, being observed silently by a giant bear of a man...
As Aranath lowered his practice weapon, his face covered in sweat, he heard the approach of someone behind him. Thinking it to be the Master-at-Arms, Aranath had half of the excuse for his sloppy form out of his mouth before he turned. His words died mid-sentence as he saw who it truly was that stood before him.
"Sir Brand!? What are you doing here??"
The shock in his voice must have been more than evident; the old paladin began chuckling merrily. The mirth on his face made him look a bit like Greatfather Winter, Aranath thought.
"What am I doing here, boy? I'm a paladin of the Light. Surely I don't need permission from an Acolyte to wander the Cathedral grounds, do I?"
Abashed, the young trainee lowered his head. "Of course not, sir! I only m-meant that I was surprised to see you here! Please forgive m-me!"
Fate, it seemed, was gracious; Brand had heard of the boy's joining the Church as an acolyte, and offered him now the opportunity that for years young Aranath had dreamed of: the chance to be Brand Hightower's squire.
The Trials and Tribulations of a Teenage SquireEdit
Despite it being his dream for most of his young life, being the squire of a Paladin was not glorious or neccessarily rewarding. By this point Aranath was used to cleaning and following instruction, but whereas before he did these things in the comfort of the Cathedral, he now found himself more often than not camping under the stars, his days filled with dusty roads and his nights with cold winds and the disettling quiet of nature that seems to affect anyone raised in a larger city. Nevertheless, Aranath performed his duties adequately, and as a reward for his good service, Sir Brand began to teach the young man in earnest about the ways of a Paladin, and what they believed.
Aranath had always known the Order of the Silver Hand stood for justice and the people of the Alliance, but Brand opened his eyes to a larger view. He taught him of the three Virtues, the tenents that the Order was founded on. He spoke highly of men like Uther the Lightbringer, and Tirion Fordring, who embodied the Tenents so faithfully it almost seemed like they were walking beacons of Light. He spoke of heroes like Turalyon, the lost member of the founding five, who had given his life so that the people of Azeroth could live. And the more Aranath learned, the more he wanted to learn. He began to look forward to his nigthly lessons like a starving man yearns for food.
Still, this time of enlightenment was not all roses. As he grew older, Aranath was at heart a typical teenager. As much as he adored his mentor, he still found ways to lash out and rebel from time to time. He spent too much time talking with girls, and he had a habit of pulling pranks on Brand and others that infuriated the old man on more than several occassions. Brand knew though, that at his heart, Aranath was a warm and receptive young man, and he felt confident that he would make a fine paladin someday.
That day finally arrived shortly after Aranath's eighteenth birthday. For over five years, the boy had served as an acolyte and squire, learning all he could of the Light, and serving however he was asked. He was about to see his dedication rewarded. The day of his knighting was a blur of activity, and even today looking back, Aranath couldn't tell you much about what he remembers. The first part of the ceremony took place in Alonsus Chapel, one of the few buildings to survive the razing of the Horde in the Second War and rebuilt completely in New Stratholme. After many hours in prayer and meditation, the young man donned his new set of armor and was blessed by the resident priests. After that, most of the processional to the Grand Cathedral and the ensuing pomp and litany are lost in the fog of a day filled with so much anticipation. He does remember that his entire family was able to be in attendance: his father wearing a smile that seemed too big for his face, his mother crying throughout the proceedings. Even his brother was there, his new wife at his side. Two portions of the ceremony remain abundantly clear, however: Brand Hightower placing the new paladin's pauldrons on him for the first time, and when all those paladins gathered cast their blessings on him, allowing the Light to flow through him for the first time.
Aranath had never felt anything like it. Certainly he'd felt the effects of the Light before; blessings from the priests, whenever Brand would heal him from some injury...but to feel the Light in him; it was incredible. He felt more alive then he ever had; able to do anything, unstoppable. The only way he could think to explain it was to liken it to that of a blind man instantly being given sight. And when the Archbishops announced him as "Sir Aranath Turambar, Paladin and Knight of the Silver Hand", he felt he truly belonged.
Service to LordaeronEdit
Aranath's dream had finally come true, and he truly seemed content to follow whatever path his life would take him now. He had no dreams of being some legendary hero of the realms, and he was quite content to serve wherever the Order needed him. So he found himself only a week after his knighting bound for southern Lordaeron and the Hillsbrad province. The southern regions were the sight of many of the Orc internment camps, and reports had begun coming in more and more of escapes and groups of Orcs actually violently attacking them. Aranath served loyally and bravely whenever he found himself in battle, and found many opportunities to use his abilities in the Light to heal his comrades. He didn't seem to feel the same anger and scorn at the Orcs that many of his companions did, however, and this fact caused him much good-natured mocking by his friends. They knew that they could count on the paladin when it came time, though, and in the end that is all that mattered.
It was about a year into Aranath's service to the Silver Hand when the first reports of the Scourge Plague began being widespread throughout the Kingdom. No one was truly too concerned however. It was announced that Uther the Lightbringer, along with Prince Arthas himself were handling the investigation into the matter. No one could have known what that would portend.
Aranath was still in Southshore when he heard the news: Stratholme had been destroyed. At first many were told different things; the city was burned to prevent this "Scourge" from taking it, or the new orcish warchief had burned it down. It was several weeks before the truth came out: Prince Arthas Menethil, Paladin of the Silver Hand, had ordered the complete destruction of the city AND all its people. Every man, woman, and child had been put to the sword. There was outrage, cries for vengance! How could the king have let this happen? How could Uther? The Prince had what? Suspended the Silver Hand from service? He didn't have the right!
Chaos and confusion struck the entire Kingdom. By the time Uther had spoken to King Terenas and gotten things set aright, Arthas was already well into his fateful journey to Northrend, and the people of Lordaeron still had the Scourge to contend with, though men like The Ashbringer and his newly-formed Scarlet Crusade seemed to be doing a fair job in holding the monsters at bay.
It was around this time that Aranath and other paladins were called northward to bolster the defenses closer to Capital City. Ironically he was stationed in Andorhal, the city of his birth. It was here that he got his first taste of battling the Scourge. It was also here that Aranath heard the horrendous news: Prince Arthas had returned from Northrend...and he had murdered his father, the King.
The Death of a DreamEdit
Lordaeron fell quickly after that. City by city they came; swarms of undead. Spreading outward from the ruined Capital, it seemed wherever men tried to fight them, they were just as quickly overwhelmed. A few bastions of humanity held out: Hearthglen, under the leadership of young Taelen Fordring, and Tyr's Hand...though both were under the banner of the Scarlet Crusade; an order more and more Knights of the Silver Hand were flocking to.
It was at Andorhal though, that Aranath remained. It was at Andorhal where most of the Paladins of the Silver Hand made their stand. Uther the Lightbringer, being forced to accept the falling of his prized pupil and the death of his king, was resolved to combat the Scourge there. He carried with him always the Urn holding the remains of the King until a proper tomb could be constructed to lay him to rest. It was at Andorhal that Arthas came looking for that urn...
There has never been a day so dark, or a battle so bloody as the one that ravaged Andorhal. The paladins fought bravely and well, but there was nothing they could do to match the sheer size and hunger of the Scourge. One by one they fell; and that day saw the death of the Silver Hand. Gavinrad, Ballador....and finally Uther himself: slain by the traitor prince. The forces of Light broke and fled southward...always southward.
Pockets of resistance would continue, but the fate of Lordaeron was sealed. What was once the grandest human nation in the world, and the cornerstone of the Grand Alliance was now ashes and death. In a twisted mirror of twenty years before, thousands of refugees made their exodus southward, to the new Stormwind, spreading tales of horror and misery as they went. Aranath went with them. He didn't know what else to do. Many of his brothers remained in Hillsbrad and the Scarlet bases, intent to wage war against the Scourge for all time, but he felt he needed to remain with the people. It was the duty of a paladin to defend those who had no defense, after all. Still, Aranath, like so many other paladins with him, felt an incredible loss. Not only had they lost their home, their families, and their king...they had lost their brotherhood; they had lost the Silver Hand.
A New DayEdit
Many of the refugees from Lordaeron slowly adapted to life in Stormwind. The people of that kingdom were warm and welcoming to their northern kinsmen, and as the weeks turned into months, and the months years, a large number were able to put the horrors of the Scourge in the past and make new lives for themselves. The paladins themselves found new orders to claim loyalties to. Some travelled back north to join the Crusade, others joined its splinter group, the Argent Dawn. Many travelled east to the newly-found Kalimdor and became part of Jaina Proudmoore's forces. Most however remained in Stormwind, and soon enough the Cathedral of Light was teeming with former Silver Hand paladins. The order of paladins would continue at least, if not the Order itself.
It was in these days, perhaps five years after the Scourge of Lordaeron that a hero emerged back into the spotlight. Tirion Fordring, one of the first paladins to take the oaths had been disgraced in the months before the Scourge truly broke out. In a lapse of judgement, Uther had stripped him of his rank and sent the man into exile. Tirion bore his sentence nobly, unjust though it was. However, he was forced to sit back and watch as his own son became more and more involved with the now-corrupt Scarlet Crusade. In an attempt to reconnect with the young man, Taelen was killed by his own allies, rather than they see him leave their ranks. In a fit of sorrow and righteous fury, Tirion slew his son's murderers and came to a revelation: all it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to sit by and do nothing. In that moment, Fordring announced the reformation of the Order of the Silver Hand, an order he believed no one was worthy to lead after the death of the Lightbringer, but he named himself Highlord anyway. Swearing away political leanings or any other mission but for Righteousness to triumph over evil, the new Highlord began to piece his order back together bit by bit.
It did not take long for the word to spread, and Aranath's heart lept for joy at the prospect of a reformed knighthood. He packed his things as quickly as he could and journeyed back into Lordaeron; into what was now the Plaguelands. After many weeks searching, he was able to find the Highlord, who himself was training his mind and body to more adequately lead the Order. Pledging his loyalty and heart to Tirion and the Silver Hand, Aranath promised to serve with all his might for all his life.
It is common knowledge as to Tirion Fordring's current location and purpose. Upon arriving at the scene of the Battle of Light's Hope Chapel, Tirion was able to cleanse the runeblade Ashbringer and challenge the Lich King directly. He merged the Argent Dawn and the Silver Hand into his new, glorious Argent Crusade with the express intent of bringing an end to the Scourge by bringing an end to the Lich King.
Aranath continues to serve the Silver Hand by working as its Steward. There are many young squires and paladins who seek to wield their powers for the good of mankind, and the Order remains to help them find their way. He believes that even though the Silver Hand has been absorbed into the Argent Crusade that Crusades do end, and the Highlord will need an order to return to. Aranath's goals now are to maintain the integrity of the Knighthood and to prepare those who wish to serve under the Order for the battle in Northrend. He fully intends to be side by side with his Highlord when the final assault on Icecrown Citadel begins.
Appearance and CharacteristicsEdit
Aranath is a man in his late twenties, though his beard may make him appear several years older. He stands just over six feet tall and seems to have grown into a "bear of a man" himself. He is bulky, but not fat. In his armor he can seem a very imposing figure.
Despite his appearance, Aranath is nothing if not a kind and compassionate individual. He takes the priestly part of his training very seriously, and minsters to the sick and infirm whenever he can. He also has a soft spot for orphans, most likely due to the loss of his own home during his youth.
The wisdom and teachings of Brand Hightower had a tremendous effect on Aranath , and he is never hesitant to speak his mind concering the Light, or any issue where he believes words can diffuse a situation or help correct something or someone he percieves to be in the wrong. However, in general, even when he is rebuking someone his tone remains calm and never hostile. Aranath is a man who would much rather settle issues with discourse over the sword.
Should combat be required however, Aranath is not afraid to take up his weapon. Years of serving as a Knight of the Silver Hand and as a paladin in Stormwind have tempered the man into a force on the battlefield. Many of his companions compare him to some light-infused juggernaught who leaves nothing standing in his wake. Aranath is just as quick to use his powers to bless and heal others however. And while he doesn't have the raw power that some heroes do, like Tirion and Uther of old, he likes to believe he might at least have a portion of their wisdom.
Aranath is a man who makes acquaintances easily, but to be his friend requires patience on the other's part. He is never shy in his views on the world or his duties as a paladin. But those who can tolerate his sometimes boorish behavior are rewarded with a faithful and stalwart friend.