She stared at her reflection in the small silver mirror that was propped up against her satchel. Swollen eyes looked back at her: swollen, red, teary and “too close together”. “Too dark” she recalled him telling her. She was too broad, too skinny; her hair was too brown, and too curly. She was too boisterous, and too tall. His voice echoed inside her head, and laughed at her through the small mirror; her mother’s gift to her for their wedding. She began to braid her hair in her usual way: tight plait in the Eastern style with tendrils feeding all through to hide her curls. The young girl continued to look at her from the mirror, eyes still swollen, and scared.
A Paladin does not fear. She remembers her faith, and it gives her strength.
She was not a paladin then. She was a young bride; far too young to know what it meant to be a woman or a wife… or a mother. She looked away from the mirror.
A Paladin does not cower. Tempus shines his light, and presents her true battle.
The girl in the mirror changed. Her eyes were now black and blue from bruises and exhaustion. She was still a bride, but also a fighter in training. “Can take down a grown man, but can’t seem to carry a boy.” Her mother’s cackling this time.
A Paladin does not heed the words of mortals, only Tempus’s might.
The eyes seemed darker now, and still damp and younger. “Briar, look at you, no wonder he wants the chambermaid.” Choking back her tears, she breathed in deep and picked up the mirror. She scowled into its depths, before throwing it back into her sack.
A Paladin is faith, and nothing less.
Balystia picked up her halberd, and walked out of the tent. Ciara had made breakfast.