Two people whom you consider your family have just collapsed, as though the strength in their legs simply vanished.
“Looks like it didn’t work out after all,” Blood says with tired resignation.
“We refused to give our souls to the Goddess of Undeath as we promised 200 years ago,” added Mary. “And our drive to defend the High King’s seal is gone.”
You’ve just defeated an avatar of Stagnate, the Goddess of Undeath, herself! This shouldn’t be happening! It couldn’t!
“Th-this is a joke, right…?”
“The gods are already showing us mercy,” Mary answers in sad firmness. “You’re a smart boy. You understand, don’t you?”
“Is there…anything…we can do?”
“No,” Blood says. “Besides, it’s like you told Stagnate: Live well and die well. We just took 200 years longer than most people.”
“It’s natural for a parent to pass away before their child does,” Mary says with tenderness.
She’s right. But…
Tears flow from your eyes as you fall on your knees.
“No…no…I…I…d…don’t want you to die! I want to come back someday and spar with you again, Blood! I want to do chores with you again, Mary! I promised that I’d show you my children and grandchildren! I…I…How am I supposed to go on?!”
You feel two light knocks on your head.
Emotions rush through your mind and you cry even harder than before.
You feel a hand on your shoulder.
“William, there will still be people in this world even when we’re gone,” says Blood. “Go out there and make some friends…maybe even pick up a few chicks!”
“Don’t encourage him to do anything sacrilegious, Blood!”
“Love people and forgive sin, Will,” Mary continues. “Yes, you will find betrayal, despair and loss, but happiness, hope and other good things are here as well. May the gods be with you always.”
Despite not being related by blood and them being undead, they are your family in every way.
That night, Blood and Mary lie in repose and you give them final blessings as they pass into the gentle caress of Gracefeel, the Goddess of the Cycle of Life and Death and your patron deity.
Watched over by the ghostly Gus, your only remaining family, you spend the night burying your foster family’s bodies at the top of the cliff overlooking the City of the Dead.
Despite your grief, you feel something else as you watch the sun rise.
The Faraway Paladin (最果てのパラディン Saihate no Paladin?) is a web novel, light novel and manga series written by Kanata Yanagino (柳野 かなた, Yanagino Kanata).
One fateful day, the evil High King and a massive horde of demons attack the capital city of the continent of Southmark. Eventually, over a hundred heroes fight against the High King’s forces until only Blood (a warrior), Mary (a priestess of the Earth Mother Mater) and Augustus (a legendary sage) remain. Unable to vanquish the High King in battle, the three heroes instead magically seal the King beneath the earth. Despite this, the remnants of the demon horde threaten to overwhelm the heroes. At this moment, the goddess Stagnate arrives and offers the heroes a deal: her aid in destroying the demons and turning them into undead guardians of the High King’s seal in exchange for their souls at a later date. The desperate heroes quickly agree.
The Southmark continent is gradually abandoned by humanity and the now-ruined capital city becomes known as the City of the Dead, inhabited only by mindless undead and the three undead heroes guarding the High King’s seal. Almost 200 years later, the heroes find an abandoned human baby boy. They name the baby William and raise him with love and care while teaching him everything they know.
When William turns 15 years old (the age when a child becomes an adult), the heroes tell him their centuries-old tale and William reveals to them his greatest secret: he is a reincarnated shut-in from another world! Shortly afterwards, Stagnate’s avatar arrives to collect her debt. Determined to save his surrogate family, William battles the avatar. During this, he has a vision of Gracefeel, the goddess of the cycle of life and death, and pledges himself to her service. William manages to defeat Stagnate’s avatar, and the goddess of undeath furiously vows eternal vengeance. Later, Will makes his final preparations and leaves the City of the Dead for the first time in his life.
During his travels, William meets the half-elf hunter Melendor and prevents him from raiding a village out of desperation. William and Melen then travel together to Whitesails, the northernmost port city of Southmark. On the way, they meet and join up with the halfling troubadour Robina Goodfellow and the merchant Antonio. At Whitesails, William and Melen kill a wyvern attacking the city. As a result, William is appointed as a paladin by the Duke of Southmark. Deciding to tame the Southmark wildlands, William leads many expeditions to hunt demons and local beasts, making the land safer for settlement. He is eventually appointed as feudal lord of the newly-founded community of Torch Port, a restored town not far from the City of the Dead.
William Gus Maryblood, former shut-in, priest of the goddess Gracefeel, paladin of Southmark and lord of Torch Port. Benevolent, determined and forthright, he fights to protect others and make his world a better place. As a result of his upbringing, he is a skilled fighter, priest and wizard and possesses near-encyclopedic knowledge about many topics including geography, history, magic, mathematics, monster lore and religion. Having recently left his childhood home, William is still somewhat innocent, but he is slowly growing out of this as he gains real life experience and makes new friends. He carries both the dwarven magic spear “Pale Moon”, his main weapon, and the demon sword “Overeater”, a demonic weapon once used by the High King himself. William chose his middle and his last name to honor the three heroes who raised him.
Melendor (“Swift Eagle” in Elvish), a half-elf adventurer and hunter. Blunt, independent and somewhat reckless, he is a proud man who likes to tease others but doesn’t like showing his softer side. Born in the grasslands north of Southmark, Melen was born to an elven mother who passed away soon after his birth. Ostracized by the other elves, he took up adventuring and travelled through many lands for decades before arriving in Southmark. Melen is an expert archer and is skilled in wilderness survival. As a result of having elven blood, he has a strong connection to fairies and can call upon their wind magic to aid him. Because he has elven blood, he is far older than he looks and potentially has several centuries of life ahead of him. Melen often acts as the more worldly counterpart to the idealistic, intelligent William.
Robina Goodfellow, a halfling troubadour and poet. Cheerful, charming, curious and passionate, she spreads word of William’s deeds to encourage the gradual re-settlement of Southmark. Through her songs, Robina wants to ensure that heroes of the past and their deeds are never forgotten and inspire those who hope to become heroes themselves.
Antonio, a travelling merchant. Cautious and diligent, he travels Southmark in the hope of finding new opportunities in an untapped market. After William was appointed as lord of Torch Port, Antonio has worked to create supply routes to enable faster immigration throughout Southmark.
This story focuses on empathetic growth in people and coming to terms with an imperfect world. Every character here faces their own problems and tragedies, but persist in order to improve their own lives and those of others. Examples include William’s wish to defend the helpless, Melen’s wish to make amends for nearly becoming a bandit, Robina’s wish to not let heroic deeds be forgotten and Antonio’s wish to build his business.
There are many life lessons in this story, particularly on how to live as a good person. The main character William is a representative of virtues such as compassion, cooperation, friendship, patience and wisdom, which befits the holy knight archetype of many fantasy stories. This is tempered by his understanding that the world isn’t perfect and that he will face many, many hardships during his journey. Despite knowing this, William soldiers on in honor of both the family that raised him and Gracefeel’s creed on the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Whereas Stagnate, the Goddess of Undeath, believed that death is a horrible, tragic fate that must be avoided at all costs, Gracefeel and William believe that immortality just leads to life becoming merely existences void of meaning. Having lived his life on Earth as a depressed, listless shut-in, William feels that he must actually live his new life, not just survive it.
We all have parts of our lives that made us happy and comfortable, such as the times when we were carefree children with our beloved families or as newly graduated students with our careers ahead of us. It’s a simple fact of life that nothing lasts forever. This world has the very real capability of hurting us through many means such as human selfishness, financial distress, disease and natural disasters. Still, we must never let fear or cynicism overcome us because there are many good things in this world as well. Hobbies, video games, books, sports, careers and accomplishments that improve life are here as well! Writing this blog is one way I enjoy life because I hope to make a helpful difference to someone in my own way!
Life is more than just survival. Get out there and live it!