(Warning: not sure there are triggers, but this does get a bit dark.)
Braghaman shook his head and let out a groan. Everything was blurry when he first opened his eyes, but he sat patiently and took a couple of deep breaths and waited as his vision came back into focus. He looked around and saw that he was in a small room, about the size of a novice’s bedroom in the Cathedral. There was no furniture in the room, just shadows cast by the afternoon sunlight coming through the small window.
He looked down and saw that his armor had been removed while he was unconscious. He had been left in his leather pants and cotton shirt. He started to bring his hand up to his head to rub the spot where he had been hit and realized that he couldn’t. Flexing his arms, he heard the familiar sound of chains behind him that bound his wrists together. Bragh let out a quick breath and frowned slightly.
“So here we are,” the paladin said quietly to himself.
Braghaman managed to pull himself up to a sitting position and then scooted back against the wall. He then sat quietly, facing the door, with his head bowed and his eyes closed. When he finally heard keys being inserted into the lock of the door, Bragh opened his eyes and saw from the deepening shadows that some time had passed. The door opened and Bragh lifted his head just enough to see a paladin removing the key from the lock before stepping aside. Stepping past him, Lord Shadowbreaker stepped into the room and looked at Braghaman sitting on the floor.
“Larethian,” Shadowbreaker said quietly. Braghaman did not respond. “That was a poor choice.” Braghaman didn’t move. “You’re in a good amount of trouble, brother.” Braghaman lowered his head and closed his eyes.
The paladin trainer frowned and shook his head. He took a deep breath and then let it out slowly.
“There’s someone who wants to speak with you, Brother Larethian. It’s in everyone’s best interests if you behave. Do you understand?”
Braghaman continued to sit against the wall with his head bowed and breathing slowly.
“This is a bad idea,” Shadowbreaker said, looking back to the doorway.
Bishop Lancaster strode into the room, glancing at Shadowbreaker as he passed, giving him the barest of nods. “You may leave us paladin.” he said as he looked around the room before leveling a disdainful gaze on the prisoner.
He waited until he heard the door close before addressing the chained paladin, “So you’re the husband.” he sniffed contemptuously, “You are what drives Sister Niviene to treason. I must say, I do not understand her reasoning, you look hardly worth dying for. But then, it is said that like seeks like. Tell me? Are you raising your children to be deserters too?”
He looked Braghaman over, his voice changing to a more conspiratorial tone, “Perhaps you can tell the little woman to attend to her duties to the Light. Demand that she pay homage to the Cathedral and her king. You are her husband, make her commit to service to the kingdom.”
Braghaman slowly lifted his head to look at the bishop standing in front of him. Without warning, Bragh lunged forward a few inches and flexed his arms to make the chains of his shackles rattle. The bishop fell back and quickly cast a spell, a pale shield appearing around him. The paladin leaned back against the wall and tilted his head slightly. The neutral look on his face never changed through it all.
“I don’t remember seeing you on any battlefields,” Bragh said quietly as he relaxed and lowered his head again.
Bishop Lancaster gaped at the paladin, forcing himself not to retreat further though he knew the shielding spell wouldn’t last long. He straightened, gripping his staff tightly, “There are many battlefields, you could not have possibly been on them all. I was there. I am always there. Serving the Light as is my sworn duty. As it is that of your wife.”
He moved closer, though not close enough that Braghaman could reach him. “Had I been in charge at the time you would have never been permitted to wed. Marriage, children, they are a distraction. A priest’s only passion should be the Light, their only desire to serve it. Until death.”
Emboldened by the safe distance between the two of them Lancaster sneered, “This is what comes of consorting with warlocks. The two of you stink of them.”
“No,” Bragh answered with a shake of his head. “You’ve never been on a battlefield. At least not until it was safe for you to be there.” The paladin closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall. “I do not work for the Cathedral and have not for a while. You have no say in what I do with my life. Same for my wife.”
“A priest dedicates their life to the service. That duty never ends paladin.” he sniffed self righteously. “I will not speak for your lot but my priests serve the Light, the King, and the Kingdom. There is room for nothing else.”
“Seems to be enough room for your ambition,” Bragh answered with a smirk. “And she was serving the Light and the kingdom, just not in the way you wanted. She didn’t need to walk out onto the field and sling the Light around to make Azeroth better. Some make things better back home, that’s what the Light calls on them to do.”
Braghaman closed his eyes again. The paladin said nothing for a few more moments, seemingly ignoring the bishop. Then he cracked one eye open. “Actually, I imagine she’s doing more out there right now than you’re able to.”
“Let us pray that it is not too little too late to save her soul from damnation.” Lancaster glared at Braghaman, “It is blasphemy that dares to know what the Light calls us to do. You are no priest. You call yourself a paladin but you are merely another thug, using the Light to sew destruction and chaos at every turn. I’ve heard of your exploits Larethian. You’re trouble.” he gave a bark of dry, mirthless laughter, “the two of you are well suited.”
He pointed a long, boney finger at the paladin, “I can do nothing for you boy, but I will save her. Even if it’s the last thing that I do.”
“I’ve heard that talk before, bishop. ‘You’ve been corrupted. We’ll save your soul. You don’t know what you’re doing.’ You aren’t the first to say that kind of thing in front of me. It’s no more impressive coming from you than it was coming from the others.”
Braghaman lifted his head from the wall and opened his eyes, staring directly at the bishop.
“You say you’ve heard of me, that you somehow know me. Then you know what I’ve done to the others that threatened my family. And no, that’s not a threat. It’s a clarification. You call me blasphemous and a thug, yet I’ve done more in the service of the Light than you have. I have put my safety on the line to protect others while you sit comfortably in the back waiting for the limelight. What have you done? Thrown others into the fire without any thought to them or their safety. Putting people on the line whether they were fit for the job or not. Sacrificing others for your own desires and ambition. Explain to me how that is not blasphemous.”
“And just for the record,” Braghaman started to add, leaning his head back against the wall and closing his eyes again. “She’s not yours. Not to order around and not to save.”
Lancaster laughed softly, nodding his head, “Aye I throw them to the fire. We are cleansed in flame. Those who do not survive are not worthy to call themselves children of the Light.” The laughter quickly ceased as the bishop looked at Braghaman, his face a picture of zealous fervor, “It is time she proves her mettle. The flames await.”
Braghaman snorted. “Trial by fire, eh? You sound an awful lot like Benedictus did. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s not the limelight that motivates you.” The paladin snorted again. “Willing to sacrifice the innocent to achieve their own goals. Yeah, sounds a whole lot like the old archbishop.”
Bragh opened his eyes a crack again and looked at the bishop. “And how exactly does that serve the Light, much less get the king back, sending innocent people to die in the ‘fire’? Not sure how much forgiveness there is in setting people up to die.”
“I would hardly call Sister Niviene innocent. She has cavorted with warlocks and trolls. She has served the shadow. Her soul is black as the abyss. But I can bring her back from that darkness. I will save her. But I will break her first.”
Lancaster turned toward the cell door, calling out to the guard, “I believe the good brother here has refused to repent. Be sure that he receives no rations for the several days. We’ll see if hunger can turn him.”
“Turn me, eh?” Braghaman repeated with a chuckle. “I didn’t realize you were trying to save me, too. Thought you didn’t care for my lot.”
“How right you are paladin. You can rot in the abyss for all I care. But I do gather some joy at the thought of you suffering. Joy is so hard to come by theses, one must take it where he can.”
Lancaster tapped a boney finger against his teeth, “Those children of yours… we will have to place them in the orphanage. No one will want them of course. They will be raised by the church. They will know what it is to serve the Light correctly.”
The bishop turned at a sharp rapping on the door, moving forward he leaned against the grate as a courier muttered to him. Lancaster chuckled and nodded, “Excellent. I knew she would come around.”
He looked at Bragh, a self satisfied grim splitting his gaunt features, “Sister Niviene has seen the error of her ways. She has thought for nothing but serving the Light, of caring for her patients. I am positive that by the time I am through with her, she will be through with you. She will return to the cathedral and service to me.”
“At least you’re being honest now,” Bragh responded, closing his eyes again. “This was never about the Light. It was always about you and what you wanted. Right, Benedictus? Especially if you have her taking care of patients. That was never her calling. But hey, as long as you get what you want, right, Bennie? Never knew someone serving the Light and also taking joy in people’s suffering. Oh, and you don’t need to worry about our kids. They’re perfectly safe.”
Braghaman shook his head slightly and opened his eyes again. “You don’t serve the Light in this. And all your posturing and bleating won’t change that. All you’re doing now is trying to punish people you don’t like.”
“In that you are wrong. I like Sister Niviene. I like her very much. She’s a pretty little thing isn’t she?” Lancaster licked his lips unconsciously, “She would be radiant were she to turn to the Light. I will see it done. I will cleanse her soul, I will save her.” he looked at Bragh, his muddy brown eyes shining, “I will have her.”
“So it’s not the Light you serve. Just lust. Lusting after another man’s wife, using whatever justification you can come up with you justify it.” Braghaman shook his head again, but his eyes were wide and staring at the bishop. “Not exactly the holy man that everyone should be looking up to, is it? I came here thinking you were doing this because you thought it would get you more power. Maybe you expected it would pave the way to being archbishop. I guess I was wrong. Your motivations look to be a lot more base.”
“I will have power. The power of the church, and power over her. I will bend her t o my bidding and together we will cleanse this kingdom of the filth that floods its streets and clouds the morals of its people. She will be the angel at my side, inspiring the masses to follow where I lead.” he looked at Bragh, down the length of his nose, “The first thing I will do is throw the paladin rabble out of the cathedral.”
“Paladin rabble, eh?” Braghaman repeated loudly. “You feel okay with that Shadowbreaker?”
Lancaster started to say something but was interrupted by the door opening and Lord Shadowbreak stepped into the room. “I can’t say that I am, brother. How’d you know I was out there?”
“Figured that you’d stick around to make sure I behaved,” Bragh answered with a smirk.
“Right,” Shadowbreaker replied with a slight frown before turning his attention to the bishop. “Rabble?”
Lancaster started at the sound of Shadowbreaker’s voice. He quickly gathered his wits and straightened to his full height, squaring his shoulders, “Rabble. Yes. If your men are an ounce like this one they must all be cast out. You do not deserve to walk the hallowed halls of the cathedral with your filthy boots.”
The bishop grasped hold of his staff and stepped forward, shoving passed the elder paladin. “Out of my way paladin. I am needed in the Shadowlands.”
Lord Shadowbreaker took the bishop by the arm and pulled him back into the room. “We’re not done here.” The bishop looked startled as he was almost taken off his feet, glancing at the gloved hand that was still holding on to him. “Guard. Get in here. Unlock his manacles.”
Another paladin stepped into the room and walked around the trainer and the bishop. He leaned down next to Braghaman, reaching behind him and unlocking the manacles around his wrists. Bragh stood up slowly and glanced between Shadowbreaker and Lancaster.
“Now, bishop,” Shadowbreaker said, leaning closer to the bishop. “You and I have some things to discuss. And I dare say the other leaders would like to be a part of this as well.”
The bishop jerked out of the paladin’s grasp, “By right do you detain me? This only proves my statement! I will have you out. All of you! Now get out of my way. I have to go retrieve my priestess.”
Braghaman lunged forward and pushed Lancaster in the back, sending him into the wall next to the door. The paladin then grabbed the back of the bishop’s robes and yanked him backwards, pulling him off his feet. The bishop fell to the ground on his back and before he could do anything else Bragh was on top of him with his left hand around Lancaster’s throat.
“I warned you not to talk about my family,” Braghaman said through gritted teeth. He brought his right hand back and then struck Lancaster in the jaw. He struck again and then a third time, causing a cracking sound to echo in the room. The bishop’s eyes rolled up into his head as the paladin brought his hand up to strike a fourth time. But before he could land another blow, he felt someone grab his arms and pull him off the prone bishop.
“Stop Larethian,” Shadowbreaker said loudly in Bragh’s ear. “Stop!”
Braghaman looked around and saw the paladin who had freed him holding one arm and Shadowbreaker the other. He looked down at the bishop who groaned as a thin trail of blood trickled down the corner of his mouth.
“We’ll deal with this, Larethian,” Shadowbreaker said calmly. “We’ll get your wife back and we’ll deal with him.”
Braghaman pulled his arm free and stood up straight. Eventually he was able to control his breathing, though the anger in his eyes didn’t fade.
“You’d better,” Braghaman said quietly, taking a step back from the bishop.