Abeline’s voice was the first to break the silence. “Tall and pointy, aren’t you the least bit curious about Short and Shinny’s origin?”
“Well, yes, I suppose I am.” I wasn’t sure if I was lying or not. Part of me wanted to hear the story of the armored stowaway, part of me wanted to forget I had companions and wander aimlessly through the woods.
There was another moment of silence. Abeline was about to speak again but Ashe interjected with the same dutiful voice he has answered me with before.
“I have no reservation in regards to the details of my origins, provided my new comrades retain its confidentiality. “
He came to a sudden stop and looked at us both very seriously with a face most grim. His eyes, once stoic, sank into disdain, and then further sank into deep sorrow as he reached back into his memories.
Oshrildin, the god of justice, boasted the largest temple in all of Trondelag. Its outer walls towered over nearby buildings and were gilded in intricate designs of saints, judges, and serpents. Oshrildin is commonly represented by the double headed snake; often one head will represent divinity with an adorned crown, whilst the other wields sharp, vicious horns, representing judgment and death. Artists have taken liberties in recreating “The Patient God” as statues, tapestries, and so on, all over Trondelag. The temple of Oshrildin and its affiliates were held in the most luminescent light, as Trondelag entrusted all manners of justice into their hands.
“Are you prepared Ashe? You may very well be dropping your first axe tomorrow.” The old priest eyed an ornate, ceremonial golden axe, encased in crystal behind the altar.
I responded “I am ready, I have seen my share of war, this temple is my new home, and I am prepared to act as a vessel for Oshrildin.”
“You’re paladin roots serve you well. You’re father would be very proud of you Sir.” He made his way back towards his chamber door, still talking. “There is no better way to serve the Holy Knights than to become a Hand of Oshrildin.” He closed an enormous mahogany door behind him; it was plated with a large metal ornament, shaped like a crown, under that was a smaller ornament, shaped as horns. The clergy lived very well here indeed.
I made my way back to my quarters; tomorrow I had to act for the first time as a Hand of Oshrildin. I looked into a large portal mirror, which hung across from my bed upon entering my room. I was more presentable now than I have ever been. My face was cleanly shaved, for the first time since I was able to grow a beard, some four or five years ago. The golden emblem of Oshrildin was handsomely mounted upon my breastplate and my hair lay gently and neat against the sides of my face. The room was large, filled with furnishings, including prefilled bookcases. I however, could read only simple phrases so I left those books unopened. My life was spent on war-fronts and absent of schooling.
I intended to spend that night very casually, as I made myself comfortable in my new home. I changed into soft, neatly tucked linens, and made my way down to the dining hall for supper. I went, I ate, introduced myself to whomever I felt carried a warm presence, and made my way back to my room. As I was climbing that last set of marble stairs, I bumped into a familiar little figure.
A soft innocent voice spoke nervously. “Excuse me, I didn’t… Sir Ashe?” A cloaked, slender, slightly shorter than normal girl looked up at me curiously for a moment before allowing her face to explode into a grand and ecstatic smile. “Ashe, it is you! You’re back for good this time. And look how handsome you are; I barely recognized you—not that you weren’t handsome before! You were… you’ve always been very handsome. Oh gods! I’m sorry I didn’t mean to sound forward, I just… I…”
“Calm yourself Merette.” I placed my hand on her shoulder, looked into her forest brown eyes, and embraced her, perhaps for longer than some clergy would deem appropriate. She dropped down her hood and let her shimmering brown waves spill out.
“You’re here now for good. I’m so excited, I can barely stand it.” She grabbed my hand and tugged me up the stair case and down the hall as she talked. “Mother has been dying to see you—oh, my birth mother, not the priestess. I suppose I really ought to keep those two straight when I say ‘mother’ now.”
“And I her, it’s been ages. But Merette?”
“Yes?” She continued tugging me along.
“We passed my room.”
She had gone on apologizing at a rapid pace as we walked back to my chamber. We discussed all that has happened over the last two years, since I have last been home from war. She had become an acolyte of the holy mother of Trondelag. She spoke of enlightenment, righteousness, and justice when she spoke of taking up the cloth; however, I had a more probable reason in mind. In Trondelag, clergy could only marry within clergy, and as a Holy Knight, and a Hand of Oshrildin, The Order definitively classified me as clergy. This was not at all upsetting for me, for I did truly intend to wed Merette.
We continued talking and laughing, every now and then we’d enjoy a quiet moment in blissful silence. She told me she was in the temple delivering a message to brother Jatuaf; however, I knew her far too well… and besides, Jatuaf lived on the first floor, but I didn’t feel the need to share this knowledge.
Eventually, as the sky began to show signs of dawn, I saw her out, and kissed her goodnight.