The Paladin and the Teir-dal
There has been talk that goodness can be found in any creature of Norrath. That this goodness needs only exposure to the light to over come the darkness in some souls. I don't know about that, but I do remember this old story from my youth.
Once upon a time in Norrath, there was a bright and shiny barbarian Paladin traveling through the forest looking for quests to complete, wrongs to be righted and damsels in distress to save. After a while he came upon a bridge. As he started to go over it, a large and ugly troll appeared and demanded a huge sum to cross.
The Paladin was sworn to poverty and only had enough to maintain his armor, horse and sometimes a squire, so he boldly said, "The price you claim is much too high for crossing your bridge. I refuse to pay it." And gripping his sword, he began to dismount.
As his feet hit the wooden deck of the bridge, two more trolls appeared from the far side of the bridge and joined the first.
"Good," replied the first troll, "Then we will have something to eat tonight!"
All three trolls advanced on the Paladin, salivating as they approached. Now the Paladin was a good fighter, and he was no coward. He knew he could kill one troll, and maybe two, but three were too much for him. He leapt upon his warhorse and fled to safety down the road whence he had come.
After a while he saw a rider coming down the road ahead of him. The rider wore a dark cape and covered himself in a deep hood. The Paladin moved to the side of the road and waited. The dark rider soon stopped within hailing distance.
"Hail stranger," the Paladin greeted him, "If you plan to go on, you should know that there are three trolls at the bridge. They are hungry and lay in wait for travelers."
The dark rider sat on his horse for a while and then said, "I thank you friend for your warning fair, but I must travel on anyway. Perhaps if we teamed up, we could over come them."
The Paladin saw the wisdom of this, but felt uneasy with the stranger. "I would agree with you," the Paladin replied, "but that I do not know who or what you are."
"Will it matter? Very well," the dark rider answered. With this, the dark rider reached up and removed his hood revealing his snowy hair and dark blue face.
The Paladin drew back his horse a pace. "I see and know you for who you are Teir-dal! I will never team up with you!" the Paladin exclaimed, "For you would abandon me in mid-battle if not kill me yourself." The Paladin half drew his sword.
"Nay, good Paladin! "the Teir-dal yelled, "You have been listening to stories told by others who distrust my race and seek to discredit us. I give you my word that we would fight together for victory or defeat."
The Paladin resheathed his sword and considered this. He had never actually met a Teir-dal before, but his mentors had been very explicit in their instructions concerning them. To trust a Teir-dal was death. And yet he was a follower of the Tribunal, the Judges of Law, the maintainers of the Balance. Should not the Paladin judge purely on the facts?
The Teir-dal saw the Paladin waiver and told him, "I do not know what you have been told of my people, but as you see, I am not with them. I have left my people in search of the light and goodness. I treasure the open air and love life. I have never been but honest with you, and though we have just met, what harm or falseness have I done you? It is in my own self interest to be true to you, since I could not over come three trolls myself."
The Paladin could find no falseness with the Teir-dals words and said, "Very well, we will fight the trolls together that we might reach the other side."
The Paladin and the Teir-dal rode together toward the bridge. As they approached, the three trolls appeared to block their path. "So, we will eat tonight after all!" the trolls exclaimed.
The Paladin charged the trolls, the Teir-dal slightly behind him. As the two sides met, the Paladin engaged all three trolls with difficulty while the Teir-dal continued past.
"Wait!", the Paladin cried, "You must help me!"
"Nay, good Paladin", the Teir-dal replied, "as you can see my way is now clear. I can cross the bridge and continue. I thank you for your help."
"But you gave your word! I trusted you!" The Paladin said.
The Teirdal smiled as he turned his horse to go. "You knew me when we met. I'm Teir-dal; it's my nature."