Story:Holy Opposites Chapter 14
Cavria sat back in the corner of the women’s quarters in the temple of Ryaire, feeling happy, eager nerves. She was taking her Oath of Devotion in an hour, and she had never felt so proud.
The Grand Cleric Solen had declared that her efforts in the raid on the gargoyle rookery had earned her the right to swear her Oath. She was rocking in her chair, twiddling her thumbs, and generally fretting away her time. She couldn’t keep a nervous grin off her face or a knotting out of her stomach. Axio had already wished her well and taken his place in the chapel for the consecration.
She rose and forced her heart to steady. She, Cavria, sin manifest, was about to be a Paladin. She had to show good face.
The door swung open. She jumped a foot. Triera popped her head in. “Hey, Cavria,” she said brightly. “Are you ready?”
Cavria smoothed her tunic. “Well, yes. I am ready. I’m a bit nervous, but I’m ready.”
Triera clasped her hands behind her back and ambled up, a bit too casual. “Sooooo… I hear the ritual takes a while,” she said.
Cavria nodded. “It does. Maybe an hour.”
“And it hurts, you know,” Triera said with what she probably thought was mock solemnity. Cavria barely held back her contempt for the ribbing.
“Knock it off,” she said flatly. “I already know what it entails.”
Triera blinked. “It’s supposed to be secret!”
“And I know it,” Cavria said. “I have my sources.”
The young human pouted. “I was just having fun,” she said.
“And I’m not in the mood,” Cavria shot back. “Please respect how important this is for me.”
Triera put her hands up. “Okay, okay. Sorry. I thought you might want to laugh.”
Cavria reined in her temper. So much for good emotions. “No hard feelings, I’m just tense.”
The two women waited awkwardly for a moment before Triera cleared her throat. “So, uh… how’s the investigation going?”
“It’s going,” Cavria said. Before she could elaborate, the door swung open.
Axio walked in, nodding to his sister. “Alright, Cavria, are you prepared?”
“As I’ll ever be,” Cavria said nervously. She walked over to her partner and clasped her hands together. “Let’s go.”
People were filing into the chapel now. The soldiery of the Order of Ryaire had largely taken to field with the campaign against the main cult of Bane, but the civilian members of the Church of Ryaire had remained behind, and nearly everybody was there. Brothers Cadderly and Hrothman were out working in the main temple, since the doors of the Church never closed, but everybody else who had been ordained properly was present.
Axio beamed as Cavria took her place on the floor of the chapel, eyes shut. She had been left her underclothes for modesty – and Axio noted she had not removed her amulet – but her armor of rank was off being repaired by the smith the Order contracted for such things, and her weapons were propped up against the little private altar.
The chapel was not anywhere near as large or ornate as the main temple. This was for smaller, more intimate ceremonies, not the affairs of the public faith. That was as it should be, Axio thought; some workings of the practice of Ryaire’s tenets were quiet, personal things, not public displays of obeisance and circumstance.
Cavria sat still, hands folded in her lap. Solen was preparing the ritual at the head of the altar.
“Sister Cavria, so recently added to our ranks,” he wheezed. “You sit before us now, in the light of Ryaire and her patron Ilmater. Your soul is now awash with the knowledge your recent trial has given you, of Ryaire’s strength and mercy.”
“Yes,” she said quietly.
“Do you understand the Oath you have elected to swear?” he asked formally, though of course having it explained to her personally by Ryaire had more or less taken care of that, though only he and she knew it.
The Oracular Cleric of Ilmater who stood behind Solen nodded with a warm smile. Elder Brother Forswaithe had been in the tread of Ilmater’s path for so long that he might as well have been antique furniture in the Church of The Martyred God of the Rack. Still, he was a dear and trusted friend to Solen and to Axio, and welcomed the servants of Ryaire into the larger Church of Martyrs without hesitation or pride, for which he had earned the respect of all those present. His Oracular visions had been most helpful to the Church as a whole, as well, even if they came from a source more arcane and mystical than the more easily understood divine magic of the normal clergy.
“The Oath is known to me, and I understand it,” Cavria said reverently. A skylight swung open above her on oiled hinges, and the room filled with light.
“Recite it, child, and imprint it on your heart, mind, and soul,” Solen said gravely.
Cavria looked up and opened her eyes. The light from above was directed by mirrors, so the spot she was sitting in was brighter than it should have been, but she didn’t flinch. “Through the bare honesty of my soul, do I know Ryaire’s sacred protection. In the unhidden truth of me, there shall sit Ryaire’s trust and my faith.”
Her skin warmed in the light, and she smiled. It was all so apropos. “In the face of adversity, deprivation, and hate, shall I carry courage. Courage shall be my shelter in the face of the overwhelming; I shall know fear and disregard it. Caution and bravery are the cradle of courage, for it is strength without carelessness, and firmness without cruelty.”
She basked in the light, even if it was getting uncomfortably warm. Axio wiped away a tear. “Within the sight of all or none, shall I bear compassion for those who could use it. All children of the world are Ryaire’s wards, and all folk of Toril are our siblings. I shall aid and protect all those who seek not a conflict or strife with their neighbors; I shall be merciful without being weak. I shall temper pity with wisdom and strength with love.”
Actually, the warmth wasn’t coming from the light above. She hid a frown as she felt her innards warm significantly. What was this? “My honor shall be sacrosanct, and never faltering. Fairness and just conduct shall be my standards, and I shall always set the highest example for those who see me. I will always and forever bear my heart openly, for never shall I impugn that standard by which I live, nor give others control over it.”
Now it was actual pain. She felt a hot spike in her spine, and nearly cried out, when a soothing wave of cool relief spread through her, starting in her heart and moving outward to her shaking fingers. She took a deep breath, unnerved but resolute, and finished her oath. “Above all else shall stand duty, the responsibilities I shall execute. My purpose will be ever noble, for Ryaire’s cause and the defense of the defenseless. I shall send all who need her guardianship to her waiting arms, and shall never falter in my pursuit of the highest standards of behavior. Let my Oath of Devotion serve above all other loyalties and obedience, for upon me shall be the eyes of the Lady Ryaire and Lord Ilmater, and by their measure be judged.”
“Cavria, be a Paladin of Ryaire,” Solen intoned. “You are one of us now, and vested in our Church and our Order, as we have been. May your words find her ears and may she smile upon you.”
“Amen,” said the room, and the skylights shut.
Cavria slumped, cricking her neck as the surrounding people moved into surround her. She hastily donned a robe that somebody passed her and cinched it. “Thank you, thank you all,” she said automatically to the chorus of well-wishes. She shook hands and accepted patted shoulders from the monks and Paladins around her, and a delighted grin from Axio that accompanied a hug.
“Well done, Cavria,” he said earnestly. “You’ll do us all proud.”
“Thank you,” she said quietly, but Axio could sense her disturbed heart, and his good cheer slipped. “May I speak to you alone later?”
“Of course,” he said carefully. Cavria moved off to accept the welcome of her new family, leaving him standing alone, staring at her.
|The tale of the Holy Opposites ||
|Arc 1: | Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 |
Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10
|Arc 2: | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 |
Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20
Chapter 21 | Chapter 22 | Chapter 23 | Chapter 24 | Chapter 25
|Arc 3: | Chapter 26 | Chapter 27 | Chapter 28 | Chapter 29 | Chapter 30|
|Arc 4: | Chapter 31 | Chapter 32 | Chapter 33 | Chapter 34 | Chapter 35 |
Chapter 36 | Chapter 37 | Chapter 38 | Chapter 39 | Glossary