Story:Holy Opposites Chapter 2
The sun rose on the camp without incident, and they took off again after a quick meal. Axio rode with the soldiers this time – he told himself it wasn’t to avoid Aresh and his mother – and listened in silence as they talked about their own campaigns, the stories they had heard and lived, and tried to keep up. He wasn’t looking forward to being on campaign, but he’d try to do it right.
Before long, the city loomed up beyond the cart. Axio looked up at the walls and smiled. Waterdeep. His birthplace, the City of Splendor, the shining crown of the Sea of Swords. No, it hadn’t quite stayed at its peak, it was true. The Sundering and the Spellplague had not been kind, nor had the Tarrasque. It was still a beauty, and it was still his lifelong home.
He knew how the roads near the old ward boundaries were flatter than the rest, because they followed the progress of walls that were no longer there. He knew about how stupid treasure hunters would sometimes chase the trail of the Thieves’ Guild, even though it had been dead for nearly two centuries. He remember with disquiet how bad the rotted naval shipyards in the north of the bay had been, and how they were full of derelict ships and derelict men. He remembered with a smile the many inns and taverns, the colorful markets and beautiful ocean views.
He hopped off the cart with a few of the other soldiers, Paladins, and Clerics, each of whom served either Ryaire or Ilmater. He walked through the lengthy roads of the South Ward, feeling the pull of familiar sights and places, but not stopping. His destination was the Sea Ward, where the temple of Ryaire was located.
His stay in Daggerford had been nothing more than a rallying signal for the faithful to come to the cause. Now that he was home after a month of wandering, preaching, raising money and arms for the campaign, he wanted to see his own companions.
After making his way through the wards to the temple of Ryaire – secured as it was between the temples of Luck and Cleverness – he strode right in. He took a moment to look over the much larger-than-usual crowds present in the building and felt a pang in his heart. It could only be because of the children of Faêrun were in such trouble.
“Brother Axiopistos!” a voice said from the back of the room. Axio winced as the crowd turned as one to face him. “Welcome home, my friend,” a friar with no volume control said.
Axio hid a sigh. “Hello, brother Cadderly,” he said, much quieter. “There are people here to pray, brother,” he said as Cadderly approached. “Keep your voice down.”
Cadderly waved indistinctly. “So you succeeded at raising arms for the retaliatory campaign, did you?” he asked, somewhat quieter.
Axio gave up. He started walking quickly to the small rectory at the back of the temple where his family lived. “Yes, brother, I did. Twelve lesser Priests, a few Paladins, about two dozen Fighters and a Warblade, and an Invoker, plus two Cleric healers. Not as much as we’d hoped, more than we’d dreaded. You know how it is.”
Cadderly shook his head. “Not enough, I fear, but perhaps coin will inspire those who lack the faith.”
The rectory’s door swung open, and Axio beamed. “Hello, little sister,” he said softly, wrapping his arms around the young teenager who stood there.
His sister Triera leaped into his arms, and he effortlessly hefted her off the ground. “Hello, Axio,” she said happily. She was a tiny scrap of a girl, barely coming into womanhood in her thirteenth year, and not yet begun in the savage training process into which their parents had put Axio at that age. Axio had had cold and barely-civil arguments with his father and mother about putting such a delicate and gentle girl through brutal Paladin training, arguments he had uniformly lost.
Axio set her down and walked past her into the rectory’s front room, which served as a common room for the greater church during the day. His parents were locked in deep discussion with somebody he didn’t know, and his grandfather was nowhere to be seen.
His family was quite odd. His father and three of his grandparents were wholly human, but his grandfather on his mother’s side had all manner of divine traits, even more than he did. That was fitting, since he was the son of Ryaire and her mortal husband. Aasimar traits often emerged only in the future of a family, with the half-celestial traits vanishing almost at once. His mother was only slightly more than human herself. She had his good health and lucid dreams, but nothing else beyond her angelic looks.
“How have things been?” he asked his little sister.
She scoffed, just as he sometimes did. “Busy and boring at once, Axio. A few new folks have joined the friary, but none of them are really all that interesting.” She blew out a breath, sending her loose blonde hair around. “I want something to happen around here.”
“I imagine,” Axio said sympathetically. She was nervous about her coming training, he could tell. “Well, I’ll be leaving soon, so I trust you can find something interesting to do before then, then share it with me.”
She rolled her eyes. “Right.”
Axio kept walking past the clusters of people and into his room. He deposited his clothes in the hamper and shucked his armor, mounting it on a rack for later cleaning. He had so many chores to do, he knew, but that would wait. He had to catch up on paperwork first.
His office was the next door over. As the Chosen of Ryaire, and her only Chosen as far as anybody knew, he had responsibilities beyond battle and training. He sighed unhappily when he saw the stack of paper there. He had testimonies to sign off, he had at least a few new friars to meet, and from the look of it, requisitions to fill out. “The work of the faithful never ends,” he quipped to the empty room, then sat down to work.
|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