t the end of last year I was invited to a meeting in Ironforge. The meeting, "the 68th Call of the Silver Hand" was a type of meetings I had never attended before. We have been notoriously bad at reporting on religious news which is why I extended an invitation to an interview with some of the people present at the meeting. This article is the result of one such interview.
Traditional Silver Hand prayer: Holy Light, help us to keep to the codes of our order. Temper our language that we may remain respectful. Strengthen our will that we may remain tenacious. Clear our minds that we may remain compassionate. Steady our arms that we may continue to protect. Sharpen our aim that we may bring retribution. Bastion our souls that we may remain holy. Stay our hands that we may seek peace. Balance our steps that we may bring justice. Soften our hearts that we may remain altruistic. Help us hold these codes clear... In our mind... In our heart... In our soul... By the Holy Light, May it be so.
H. Lester: "The formal stuff first - can you tell the readers who you are?" Avohna Whitfield: "I am Dame Avohna Whitfield, Knight of the Silver Hand and unit leader of the Hand of Reckoning." H. Lester: "Hand of the Reckoning, a unit under the Silver Hand then? what does a typical day look like for you?" Avohna Whitfield: "Hand of Reckoning, no 'the'. And indeed, it is a unit within the Silver Hand. The typical day is actually training, martial, spiritual and intellectual. We do our best to remain always prepared to serve on a moment's notice, whenever and wherever we are called. Next to training, we usually have lighter duties as well. Helping around the Cathedral, or the orphanage, or Northshire abbey and any of the churches and institutions thoughout the lands. Patrols of the Kingdom, and simple travelling from town to town to see how we can be of service." H. Lester: "Id like to delve a bit deeper into the spiritual and intellectual parts. Martial training is something most people know about these days, in one way or another. But spiritual, tell me, how does your connection and commitment to The Light impact your life?" Avohna Whitfield: "For me personally, being a Paladin is as much a spiritual calling as it is a martial one. One of our foundational texts, the Tome of Divinity, calls on us to reflect the Light in all things. That means, striving to be good in all actions." H. Lester: "Who or what defines what it means to be good?" Avohna Whitfield: "That means that I try to always be better today than I was yesterday, to meditate and devote time to introspection and to commune with the Light for clarity and guidance. The path of the Light, its Five Principles, Three Tenets and Three Virtues are not fixed rules to be followed to the letter. They are a framework, a perspective, that helps us inspect our actions and motives and bring them closer to the holy ideal. But in the end, we always deal with messy, real-world problems and the teachings of the Church provide guidance and perspective rather than concrete answers most of the time. So I can't really answer your question, as there is no one person who dictates what is good. It is an ongoing conversation that has been going on for three thousand years, and will continue until the end of days." H. Lester: "Alright, so intellectual work? debates? reading? what else?" Avohna Whitfield: "On the spiritual side, it is indeed debates, reading, studying Light's philosophy. But there are also more practical aspects. For example, I am sworn to protect the innocent. All the innocent, and most of them aren't human. And so I spend a lot of time studying and trying to understand other cultures. We also face diverse and ever evolving enemies, and so I study their tactics and weapons and how best to face them." H. Lester: "I can't help notice you are a worgen. Does that make it easier for you? or harder? I imagine your work requires a lot of self-control, do you think you have it more difficult than other races, due to that affliction?" Avohna Whitfield: "Its hard to say, but I think most of us have some demons we struggle with. While I have to control my rage, others struggle with the grief of their loss, for example. But being a Worgen certainly doesn't make it easier." H. Lester: "So you recently went to.. Northrend was it?" Avohna Whitfield: "We went to Pandaria." H. Lester: "Silly me, yes. Pandaria is where the insects are. Can you tell me a bit about that mission? what was the goal?" Avohna Whitfield: "How detailed do you want this explanation to be? I assume most of your readers might not know what a Mogu is." H. Lester: "We did a short article a while back on some Pandaren history, but you can go over the basics again if you want." Avohna Whitfield: "The Mogu are an ancient race that once ruled Pandaria with an iron fist. They have enslaved the other races of the continent and wiped out their language and culture, and they have also used powerful blood magic and flesh-sculpting to create entirely new races to serve their empire. They were overthrown by a slave revolt started by the Pandaren, but despite of passage of millenia they have not lost their arrogance and are always scheming to regain their dominion over the continent." H. Lester: "These are the almost feline creatures right?" Avohna Whitfield: "I suppose you could describe them as slightly feline, although a picture would do a much better job if you can place it in your paper?" H. Lester: "I am sure we can manage that." Avohna Whitfield: "One of their clans, named the Dokani, are expect blood mages and flesh-sculptors and maintain that part of the Mogu dark legacy. To do their magics, they need life-essence they drain from living creatures. The Hand of Reckoning was pursuing a slave-trading ring for a while, and we have discovered that they sell to a group of Dokani Mogu hiding out in the Dread Wastes of Pandaria. Or mission was to travel there, locate the Dokani, free the captives and if possible put a definitive end to their operations." H. Lester: "How many of you went? All Hand of Reckoning? or do you work with other units?" Avohna Whitfield: "It was five of us from the Hand of Reckoning, and a sixth knight who often works along side us. We do not regularly work with other units, sometimes we do, but in this case we decided on a smaller group." H. Lester: "How long where you gone for?" Avohna Whitfield: "The Dread Wastes are still dominated by the insectoid Mantid, and a smaller group can forage more easily and evade detection. We were gone for three weeks." H. Lester: "That is a long deployment isn't it? how about logistics?" Avohna Whitfield: "That is why we chose a smaller group. We arranged for a local Pandaren ship to ferry us to the coast of the Wastes, where we hid spare armour and weapons and additional supplies, before heading out. Before the deployment, we have trained for survival in tainted environments of Lordaeron. So we were prepared to make the most of what supplies we had, and forage for the rest." H. Lester: "So take me through it, maybe not all the details, but some highlights. How did the mission go?" Avohna Whitfield: "It was a challenging task. Usually, we are sent to deal with an enemy whose location is known. Here we had to navigate a hostile and uncharted lands looking for our adversary. The only clue we had, was that the Mogu were training for their slaves mostly with Troll slavers. So their outpost must be near the coast. And so we started with combing the coast. Usually, as Paladins, we do not hide from the enemy. But in this instance, the Mantid Empire was so much more powerful compared to our force of six that we had to avoid their patrols and hunting parties." H. Lester: "You can be stealthy in plate armour?" Avohna Whitfield: "One of the 'highlights', if you can all it that, was hiding out in a muddy cave for almost two days to avoid a significant Mantid force that made camp in the area. Oh, it is not the storybook stealth that you think of. You can't tip-toe behind somebody in plate armour, or meld into the shadows. But against an enemy who relies on scouting from the air, we could pick paths that provide us with cover." H. Lester: "Two days in a cave sounds horrid, but then again, I am a city man" Avohna Whitfield: "Probably one of the biggest hardships was denying ourselves any open fire. You can imagine how a pillar of smoke would attract an enemy scouting from the air." H. Lester: "Mm cold food, no coffee?" Avohna Whitfield: "Indeed." H. Lester: "So besides hiding, being clever, avoiding the enemy, I assume there was combat as well?" Avohna Whitfield: "Indeed, although I will get to that in a second. Another surprise, and a definite highlight, was encountering spirtes. Sprites are dimunitive fae creatures native to Pandaria, among other places. Our research into the Dread Wastes did not turn them up, so encountering them was a definitive surprise. At first they thought us hostile and ambushed our camp, which for that night we in our ignorance made in the ruins of their village. Destroyed by the Mogu, incidentally. But fortunately we managed to clear that up, and find a way to communicate and even help each other against the Mogu." H. Lester: "A bit of diplomacy you could say then?" Avohna Whitfield: "Indeed. After all, Peace is one of the tenets of the Light. Once, we also could not evade a Mantid patrol and had to fight them. Since they can fly, some of them escaped and alerted the others. Once again we had to hide out for a while to avoid detection. But it was an enemy unlike most we had faced before. Imagine a swarm of young, untrained individuals led by a few experienced and battle-hardened veterans. Our first confrontation with the Mogu was actually us walking into their trap. They were deliberately killing Mantid patrols near an abandoned Mantid village, we thought it was because they made camp in the ruins of that settlement. So we approached that great tree, the Mantid make their homes in giant Kypari trees with trunks as wide as Stormwind Keep. And were immediately pinned against the tree, surrounded by carefully prepared traps, and attacked by their warriors." H. Lester: "Yikes." Avohna Whitfield: "But, we managed to hold out, maintain good order, and retreat from the trap before our conflict would inevitably attract the Mantid. Once the swarm appeared on the horizon, both the Mogu and us retreated to cover to avoid detection. Sometimes, destroying the enemy is a victory. In this case, withdrawing while preserving our strength, and without casualties and serious injuries was very welcome." H. Lester: "Mm it sounds like a very nerve-wrecking mission, with a lot of situations where straight up fights didn't win the day" Avohna Whitfield: "But, this encounter allowed us to gain intelligence on the location of their hidden camp. Before the Mogu built the great wall of Pandaria, the Serpent's Spine, they tried to conquer the Mantid. And some of their old forts and vaults, or rather their ruins, still exist in the Wastes. One such was located in a deep canyon, indeed opening out to the sea." H. Lester: "The Mantid served the Old Gods yes?" Avohna Whitfield: "Yes, indeed. They are servants of the Void. So, with some magical help with the Sprites, we managed to enter the Mogu vault undetected. It was a one-way thing, but fortunately we brought a potently-inscribed Scroll of Teleportation. Not that it would do us any good at the moment, as the vault was warded against such. Most important places are. Once inside, we knew that it was only a matter of time before we would be found out. And once found out, most likely over-run. Fortunately we quickly found where their captives were kept. I will spare you the details about the state we found them in, but the Mogu definitely lived up to their cruel reputation. Once the enemy became aware of our presence, they rallied to destroy us and activated countless traps hidden throughout the ruin. In the chaos of battle we faced against the warriors, their Blood Sorcerors, and the monsters they created with their blood magic and flesh-sculpting." H. Lester: "What sort of monsters are those?" Avohna Whitfield: "I am afraid I am not entirely qualified to speak on it with any authority, but I think the level of their expertise has either diminished enormously since their glory days, or the ruin they occupied did not have the right equipment for it. What we faced were rather misshapen creatures created from the Worgen from among their captive. Greatly empowered, but uncontrollably ferocious and torn by wild and uncontrolled mutations. Or perhaps their expertise is just fine, and that is exactly how they wanted them." H. Lester: "Sounds horrible. Poor people." Avohna Whitfield: "Indeed, I've seen a lot, but rarely have I seen such cruelty. But imagine fighting a battle, in an unknown building with a mystery behind every door, and potential traps under every tile, against an enemy who knows the ruin like the back of their hand. We knew we could only hold out for so long, so we focused on keeping the captives safe, disabling their anti-teleportation wards, and getting any evidence that may help us unrave the rest of the slaver network." H. Lester: "Mmm I'm surprised you are alive to talk about it. It must have been close?" Avohna Whitfield: "In that we succeeded, although not without some serious injuries. And it was very close. With the wards down, and evidence secured, we read out the scroll to teleport away. Of course, I've immediately relayed the where-abouts of the facility to the Pandaren defenders. I pray that they will dismantle that house of horrors, and bring the Mogu there to justice. We intend to return to help assist with that, should our assistance be needed." H. Lester: "So a successful scouting mission then?" Avohna Whitfield: "A succesful scouting and rescue mission, we came back with the captives, with the location of their base, and with information that will help us pursue those who sold them slaves." H. Lester: "What about rewards, is the mission reward enough? you gain promotions? medals?" Avohna Whitfield: "There is no reward. One of the principles on which the Silver Hand was founded by the Archbishop Alonsus Faol was to forego all pursuit of wealth and personal glory." H. Lester: "The deed is reward enough in itself?" Avohna Whitfield: "But the actions of each knight during the deployment do reflect on their character and their skill, and are looked back upon when advancement is considered. Indeed, it goes back to the foundational truths of the church. To sacrifice for the good of others." H. Lester: "When is your next mission then?" Avohna Whitfield: "Right now, several knights are heading out on smaller missions that do not require the whole unit. But I expect our next deployment as a unit will be in a week or two once the information we recovered has been translated and studied. And we will pursue those who assisted the Mogu in acquiring their captives." H. Lester: "Okay. Thank you. I don't currently have more questions, is there something you want to add?" Avohna Whitfield: "Yes, I think I do. To many, the Silver Hand exists to fight Undead, Demons and the abberations of the Void. But our vows are simply to vanquish evil and to protect the innocent, to spread Light's wisdom to our fellow man. Sometimes that does mean fighting that trinity of evil forces. But sometimes it means going after slavers, or simple bandits. To be there with soldiers fighting on the front lines as we did during the Fourth War. And, well, sometimes it doesn't involve fighting at all. Before I joined the Silver Hand, I met a Knight who remains an inspiration to me to this day. Sir Arlen, he devoted himself to Westfall, and simply helped the people there. Sometimes against the local threats such as gnolls, but more often just by being there for them, healing the sick, delivering children, and fixing barns. When great upheavals happen and demonic or undead armies are coming for us, then that's what we must fight. But I see that task of helping people as the ideal." Avohna Whitfield: "Do you perhaps any further questions, if not about the deployment, then about the Order, or my unit, or just about myself personally?" H. Lester: "Not currently, but I may get in touch as I start writing the article if I want something expanded upon" Avohna Whitfield: "Of course. Well, thank you for the interview. It was certainly a lot more pleasant than I was led to fear." H. Lester: "No, thank you for taking the time to talk to me, and the readers about your work and what it means to be a paladin, something I hope I can expand more on in the future." Our intention remains clear, we want to expand our coverage of religious events, happenings and organisations this year, and we have also started planning some debate nights hosted by the Lion's Roar with a focus on religious scriptures, morals and interpretation. We extend a hand to all members of various religious communities and hope we can help educate and inform people about religious movements, beliefs and traditions.