On the West Coast Tour, I was taken off-guard by a fan who asked me rather bluntly: "Paragal, I don't understand--he had everything--why'd he do it? Why'd he betray King Eliam?"
After an awkward silence, my first thought was something like, "Well, what do you mean, why did he do it? He's a villain. That's the kind of thing that villains do." But as soon as I thought it, my mind reprimanded me quickly, and I realized, no, there's a lot more to it than that's just what villains do. And I think we Christians have a bit to learn from Paragal's fall, his betrayal, and his descent into his new identity.
So, at the risk of weirding some of you out a little bit, I've chosen to allow Paragor to appear as guest blogger today. He will answer the question for us: Why'd you do it? And after you read, if you have questions for Paragor, submit them as comments, and Paragor will respond. Read on, but don't be surprised if you recognize a bit of yourself in Paragor. Learn from his mistakes. For him, it's too late, but not for you.
EnterTheDoorWithin (EDW): We have the unusual experience of welcoming Paragor, the Prince of Paragory to the blog. Paragor, thank you for taking the time to visit with us.
PARAGOR: It is no noble impulse that drives me here…a respite, nothing more.
EDW: Before we begin, readers will want to know…well, how can they trust anything you have to say?
PARAGOR: All has been laid bare. His light is so terribly brilliant. I am impelled to tell the truth.
EDW: Paragor, why do you think King Eliam chose you to be Alleble's first Sentinel?
PARAGOR: I always assumed my prowess in battle was the principal reason. Among the Elder Guard, I was best with lance, sword, and bow. I always loved the competition, and drove myself to be unsurpassed. In the end, no one even came close to my skills at warcraft. And when others shrank back from terrible dangers, I forged ahead. No one in the history of the Elder Guard achieved skills and valor as I did, and as I said, for most of my time in the Realm, I believed that is why I was chosen Sentinel over the others. But since then, I've had quite some time to examine the events of my life more closely. And though it horrifies me to admit what I have discovered, I must admit it now. King Eliam chose me as Sentinel because…he loved me.
EDW: He chose you out of love, but…you betrayed him. And King Eliam knew you would...
PARAGOR: Press me no more! Your words burn as unquenchable fire. And yet, it is true. Even as I held the Blue Blade aloft above his neck, I saw love in his eyes. In his infinite wisdom, his timeless perspective, King Eliam knew I was not worthy of his love, and still, he gave it.
EDW: You saw love, but went through with it anyway. Why?
PARAGOR: I had to find out.
EDW: I don't understand…find out what?
PARAGOR: Of course you do not understand, and nor will you if I explain.
EDW: Please, go on. Maybe someone will read this. Maybe it will--
PARAGOR: Enough. I have no pity. But neither have I pride…any longer. You wish to know how I could slay King Eliam in cold blood even though I saw that he loved me still. What you do not understand is that I had already travelled so far down the bitter road, that I had to find out if the end would bring me what it promised.
EDW: I still don't--
PARAGOR: No, you wouldn't...not yet. You see, I did not just wake one morning and think, "Ah, today I shall go and kill the King of the entire Realm." It does not work that way.
EDW: I think that's what our readers really want to know. What changed you? Why weren't you content with your position? What happened?
PARAGOR: Your questions allow me too much grace…as if I am somewhat of a victim in all this. Make no mistake, I made the decisions all along the way. I chose the path I trod. It began I think early in my career as Sentinel. It was little things, really…things I should have guarded against but did not. King Eliam gave me the privilege of reading all the scrolls in the Library of Light. This was ecstasy for me as my thirst for lore could hardly be quenched.
I read and read and read and found myself drunk with the adventures of the Realm. And suddenly I realized that I was not as great as I first thought. In the span of history, my tale was just one among many. I should have been content. But I was not. I felt drawn to greater things, which is again one of the reasons King Eliam chose me as Sentinel. It was a strength, but every strength, like a sword, has the other side of the blade. It cuts just as deep.
I began to gain audiences with rulers from other kingdoms: Frostland, Clarion, Baen-Edge, and others. My wisdom was to them very great. They coveted my thoughts on even the most idle subjects. I found I enjoyed the authority and notoriety. And again, I felt the need for more. They began to deliver unto me riches and countless relics of their kingdoms, and my treasuries began to grow. I began to make trips to the armory and enjoyed what I could purchase. Somehow there always seemed to be a new sword or a novel piece of armor I had not seen before. Of course, I had to have them.
With my own coffers filled to overflowing and with countless Glimpses coming to me for counsel or simply to enjoy my presence, I began to look over my shoulder. I was Sentinel, but how much did I really rule? King Eliam was always greater, and it was simply understood by all. I shook such thoughts away. Comparisons are seldom of any noble use. But I did not push the thoughts far enough away.
In weak or tired moments, I welcomed them back and played with them in my mind. What if Paragal had more power? What if Paragal wrote the next scroll of Alleble? What if Paragal sat on the white throne? Each time, such thoughts came with persistent guilt. "Ah, what madness am I thinking?" I would say to myself. "No, I am fortunate to be so honored by the King. How dare I think of more?" But they were wisps of smoke, shadows of my former character as it slipped away.
Soon, aside from duty house, I began to spend less and less time with King Eliam. Of course, I was at my post…always on time if not early…there for all to see. But at the changing of the guard, I vanished, finding far too much pleasure alone. I began to seek a little more of everything. More. It was what I always sought but was never quite able to grasp. I should have learned from the smaller failures, but I did not.
King Eliam came to me several time, wondering if I was well. But in my mind, I made him a villain, pestering me, prying…accusing. By making him out to be the problem, I was better able to justify the new and somewhat disturbing ideas clambering into my mind. I began to make secret alliances and agreements. I found the promise of wealth and power was not just of interest to me and so my plan grew.
Ah! How many times did I second guess myself? I could have stopped the wheels of my plot so many times, but it took on a life of its own. Even as the Elder Guard and their families were rousted from their beds, I could have stopped it all. I remember hesitating at the rear throne room door. I stood at the bottom of that winding stair and gazed into the torchlight. I wondered how history would record my actions, and for the briefest moment, I regretted the path. And yet, nothing in my pride, nothing in my reputation, nothing in my past successes, nothing in my treasuries could quite satisfy me. Surely, this last deed would grant me all I'd ever wanted and I would be satisfied. I took the stair and never looked back.
EDW: Well, did it? Did the end of the road deliver all that it promised?
PARAGOR: I would laugh were it not for the wrenching in my gut. NAY! That road has no end! I slew the King, but that was not enough. I had the Elder Guard left, and they would contend. I put them to the fire. And then, there was the First Scroll in the locked chest on the ninth level of the Library Tower. And even with knowledge of my own future, I could not be assuaged. Oh, misery…I chased…I grasped and clutched. There was nothing to gain and everything to lose.
EDW: I'm sorry.
PARAGOR: And to think…I might have been loved.