|Education of a cleric, conclusion
||[Feb. 16th, 2008|10:14 pm]
I was ushered in to a small chamber on the right. Somehow, it had never actually occurred to me that I could meet the High Clerist herself. I had seen her many times, of course, during the high holy days and festivals that formed such an integral part of Palanthas daily life, but that was always at a distance. I would in moments plead my case to the holiest woman on Krynn. I prayed to Paladine that I might find the right words.|
The chamber was sparse, containing a few wooden benches and a single marble altar with three candles and a censor. The scent of frankincense and sandalwood hung faintly on the air, mixing with the salt water from the Bay of Branchala. The only other light from the room came from beeswax candles set in sconces on otherwise bare marble walls. I wondered at the purpose of this room. It clearly could not contain all the clerics of the Temple. Was this a place where individual worshippers could come to pray? And would I be permitted to stay long enough to find out?
A door behind the altar I had not previously noticed opened, startling me, and the young cleric who had opened the door for me came in leading a blind woman. Crysania of Tarinius! I stood hastily to show my respect, and then cursed myself for a fool realizing that she could not see me. The High Clerist extended her hand, and I went forward to her and knelt down, kissing her hand. "The blessing of Paladine be upon you," Lady Crysania intoned.
"And upon all beings," I murmured in reply.
"You are Eleni of the House of Peridies, are you not?"
"Yes, Your Excellency," I answered. I hadn't given my name when I arrived, so how did she know that?
"I have heard a great deal about you." This shocked me. Why would she know about me, and what had she heard? Good or ill? Was my only chance to enter the clergy blocked before I began? My stomach fluttered uncomfortably.
The High Clerist lifted my hand, raising me up. "Come, child. Sit down and tell me why you're here."
We walked to a bench and sat, Lady Crysania having to feel for the bench first. I realized with a start that I was a bit taller than her, and that she seemed...mortal. She wore a simple, unembroidered white robe, and her graying hair was unbound. She who glowed during public celebrations, with silver robes and ceremonial mitre on her head, now appeared as an ordinary old woman. She was once like me, I thought. A Solamnic lady of a minor house who left her home and became a cleric. If she could do it, why not me? I was shocked by my heretical thinking, and prayed to Paladine for forgiveness.
I began to tell my tale, nervously at first, leaving many things out. But the Lady Crysania asked gentle yet probing questions, until I had at last laid my entire conscience bare to her. I despaired, knowing she must think me a silly, frivolous thing who should be sent home at once.
"Thank you, Eleni," she said when I had finished. She rose to consult with the older cleric, leaving me alone with my thoughts on the bench.
After a few moments, she returned, guided by the older cleric who had greeted me earlier. "Are you certain you want to do this?" Crysania asked.
"You -you mean you'll accept me?" I stammered.
She laughed then. "Oh, yes. You come highly recommended. The Revered Son Dectine has sent many reports of you to me." Then she turned serious. "You realize that if you take orders, you will never marry, never know carnal love, never have a child."
"I realize and accept that, Your Excellency."
"You will own nothing. Anything that you bring with you or inherit belongs to the Temple."
"Yes, Your Excellency."
"You will take vows of obedience. You will go where you are sent and perform the tasks that your superiors deem necessary."
"Yes, Your Excellency."
"This is not an easy path you have chosen. In many places of the world we are still hated, and even in Solamnia misundertood by many."
"And we minister to all of Krynn, even those that misunderstand, even those that hate us. Are you prepared to do that?"
That last gave me pause. But I answered firmly, "Yes."
The High Clerist smiled again. "Then tomorrow you may take initial vows as an acolyte, and five years from that point your final vows. Revered Son Edard will show you to the female acolytes' dormitory."
My heart beat faster. This was really happening! I was to become a cleric! "Thank you, Your Excellency."
Crysania murmered, "Paladine bless and keep you, Revered Daughter." I bowed, knowing somehow that she could sense the movement even if she could not see it, and thanked Paladine for delivering me to my destiny.