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The Paladin and the Ranger The Paladin and the Ranger walked amongst the trees in the forest. As they traveled they each told stories to pass the time. The Paladin talked of battle and princesses rescued, quests completed and monsters slain. The Ranger talked of the beauty of the trees and the swiftness of his arrows, foes cut down and trails discovered. Suddenly, from behind them, a Teir’dal complained, “For miles I have walked behind you two, the Paladin only talking about his bravery and the Ranger about the accuracy of his arrows. I wonder, which of you is better.” “It is not seemly,” the Paladin said, “to brag about one self or to claim superiority, but I would challenge anyone who doubts my bravery. Set me any test and I will prove it!” “And I can hit any target you point to with my arrows.” The Ranger replied. “This is a statement of fact, merely the truth. I challenge you to find something I can’t hit.” “You mean, Sir Paladin, that you would not shirk from any challenge? That you would brave any danger?” The Teir’dal asked with astonishment. “No test of bravery will I fail, no danger will I fear, for I have my faith to protect me.” The Paladin claimed with pride. “And you Ranger, no target you will not hit square? No aim that is less than true?” The Teir’dal asked with equal amazement. “Just say what to strike and my arrow will pierce it through without fail.” The Ranger affirmed. The Teir’dal smiled, his white teeth shining bright against his dark blue face. “I then in that case I accept your challenges. Sir Knight, I will see how brave you are, Ranger, how swift and true your arrows.” The Teir’dal reached into his tunic and pulled out a copper piece. It had a hole through it and a string that formed a necklace by which the copper dangled. It glinted in the sparse sunlight leaking through the leaves overhead. The Ranger turned to his Paladin friend confidently, “What? Not something smaller?” “I believe this will suit my purpose.” The Teir’dal said. “Sir Knight, will you stand facing that large tree there?” “You want me to attack a tree?” The Paladin asked incredulously. “Nay, nay,” The Teir’dal replied, “Just stand there for a minute. You are surely not afraid of a tree are you?” The Paladin looked at the Ranger. “Watch him,” he said, indicating the Dark Elf. The Paladin then walked over to the large tree and examined it. The Teir’dal followed him while the Ranger looked on. “Sir Paladin, you boasted you would match any test of bravery, is that correct?” “Yes, I did, though I see little challenge to standing here looking at a tree.” The Paladin sneered. “My challenge to you is to stand here, without moving, while you face danger. Can you hold your ground, face the danger and not shirk.” “I so swear.” The Paladin answered solemnly. The Teir’dal turned to the Ranger who stood several yards off. “And you, forest guardian, will you strike this small target clean through to prove your accuracy?” “What you ask is child’s play. Have you nothing harder? More worthy of my skill?” “I do not think you will hit this coin.” The Teir’dal smiled. “I will place my arrow through its center, I swear.” The Ranger said as he notched his arrow and drew. The Teir’dal quickly turned and placed the necklace over the Paladin’s head so that the coin hung down his back, directly over the Paladin’s heart. The Paladin started to turn as the Ranger yelled out. “Stand your ground Sir Knight or forfeit you courage! Take your aim Ranger or admit there is a target you cannot hit!” The Paladin faced the tree, sweat beginning to appear on his forehead. The Ranger drew back, a bead on the small copper coin. His hand trembled on his bow string. I think they are still there, one refusing on his honor to move, while the other refuses to shoot and miss. The Teir’dal? Well, he sauntered off whistling a dirge, at last done with all the boasting he had endured.

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