Belief



  • It's slightly longer than usual, but here you have it :)

    That conversation between Id'en and Adaellae was particularly challenging and it still kind of feels clunky, but I feel like in general, this is a good introduction of Id'en.


    Id’en grabbed the plain face mask from her bedside table. In the past, she had access to a wide variety, but now, this was all she could afford. Too many people could still recognize her face; would still call her out as a madwoman. The last thing she needed was more distinctive masks for people to remember her by.
    She wasn’t mad. By whatever honor she still had to her name, she wasn't mad.

    A knock sounded at the door.

    Id’en’s heart dropped. She swallowed the lump in her throat. Was it the day?

    She breathed in deeply and opened the door of the tiny apartment.

    Her landlady, a tall, plump woman, stood in front of her. “Miss Id’en. Hast thou work gone well this day?” Her smile looked forced.

    “How may I help you, Mrs. Yaila?” Id’en asked in a collected voice, rubbing the locket hanging from her neck.

    “Preparing to head out?” the landlady asked, gesturing at the mask in Id’en’s hand.
    Id’en nodded meekly.

    Yaila breathed out slowly, the smile dropping from her face. “Miss Id’en, I’ve been more than patient with you.”

    “I know. You know that I--”

    Yaila shook her head. “I sympathize with you, and I regret that your search for work has been so difficult, but our actions have consequences.” Yaila glanced at the ground, then met Id’en’s eye with confidence. “You’ve always been a good tenant, and I regret that our relationship has to end this way, but I have a building to maintain. I have suffered my reputation for you, but you have not paid your rent the last two months, and it’s a greater strain than you realize. I have found another tenant already who has a steady income.”

    Id’en closed her eyes. She opened them facing the ground. “How long do I have?” she asked quietly.

    “I want this to be as painless as possible. Collect your things, take as long as you need, but don’t return from whatever trip you were planning to go on.”
    Id’en nodded. She met Yaila’s eyes and nodded again. “Thank you for your patience. It means a lot to me.”

    Yaila nodded. “You’ve always been a good tenant. I’ll write off your debt.”

    Id’en blinked. “I…”

    Yaila shook her head. “Say nothing of it. I wish you only well, Miss Id’en. I hope that your… ah, quest finds you well at the end.”

    Id’en nodded again, swallowing. “Thank you.”

    Yaila nodded. “Good day, Miss Id’en.”

    Id’en nodded once. “Good day, Mrs. Yaila. I wish you the best.”

    As the landlady walked away, Id’en closed the door. She squeezed her eyes shut again. This was a long time coming, but she’d expected someone might be willing accept what she said before today…

    High Priestess Adaellae had a sermon this afternoon. Surely some tolling bells wouldn’t have cancelled the momentous event. And Id’en, Id’en would be at the front of the crowd. It was common knowledge, how the priestess and the governor didn’t get along. Id’en would make the priestess believe her, no matter how much it cost.

    She grabbed her satchel. She forced the two other outfits she alternated between to fit, then her journal, inkwell, and quill. She ran a hand through her short hair, put the mask on, slung the satchel across her torso, and hastened from the tiny room.

    It was her duty to respect the wishes of her elders.

    --

    Sweat trickled down Id’en’s back. Every breath in the mask made her face hotter. The sun sat right over head, and the crowd had grown from picnickers to include residents from all over the city. Most of them had half their heads shaved, but plenty of the spectators had no religious reason to be here.

    A man with tan skin and half shaved, curly black hair framing half of his face climbed the steps to the wood stage and walked across it to stand in the center. Governor Dario. Following him, the tall, thin, Margrave Gatai, holding his head full of red hair high. He stopped slightly behind the governor.

    “A messenger of Wakegloom’s High Priestess has recently informed me that she may not be attending,” the governor said. He paused while his voice travelled over the crowd.

    A gasp went through the crowd, followed by startled whispers.

    “Indeed, it’s horrific to hear. This woman we’ve been told we can count on, first running late without telling us why, and then cancelling with no real reason? It’s…” Governor Dario shook his head, hanging it low a moment. He raised it again. “It’s offensive, is what it is. To all of us. We call this woman our protector, our Lady Maim’s voice, and she doesn’t even respect us!”

    Someone ran along the edges of the gathered crowd. She ran up the steps and up to where the governor and margrave stood.

    She bent over, sucking in deep breaths. Standing straight, she smiled at the governor. Now she turned to the crowd to shout breathlessly: “I never said that I wasn’t going to attend! Only that I would be late!”

    A man beside Id’en breathed a sigh of relief. “I knew that didn’t sound like our high priestess.”

    Id’en nodded. “Indeed not,” she agreed.

    “Well!” Governor Dario said. “What a misunderstanding we’ve had!”

    “It’s almost as though you should’ve asked for clarification!” High Priestess Adaellae laughed, but her voice was anything but playful.

    “And why, might I ask, were you late?” asked Margrave Gatai, his voice hardly carrying.

    Adaellae faced the people. “I do apologize for my lateness, and for not warning any earlier. As I was readying to leave, a wounded guard was brought to my care. I had the choice to leave him and come to you, or save him and arrive a few minutes late. I think we can all agree what Maim would’ve wanted, and so I did my best to save him before coming here.”

    “Oh, why, very good, High Priestess,” said Governor Dario. He nodded. “Clearly, you are a woman who works from her heart.”

    Adaellae turned to face him. “Oh, I do try.” She looked to the gathered assembly. “You know, it seems to me, that is the issue.” She held her hands up. “That is the cause of Maim’s dissatisfaction.”

    The governor frowned. “What is?”

    “The lack of heart.” The priestess shook her head. “We had that beetle attack only a few hours ago, I know you all know, but what would make Maim so furious as to sic one onto us? Unless--”

    “Are you trying to say that we’re all too selfish, Adaellae?” Dario interrupted, looking ready to burst of laughter.

    “Oh, I am indeed, Governor, and I’m going to tell you exactly why, if you’ll only sit and listen a moment. Or…” Adaellae cocked her head. “Is your time more important than the words of Maim?”

    Dario leaned back noticeably while Margrave Gatai seemed to stifle a laugh. “No, of course not,” Dario said. He turned to the people. “No one’s is, I should think.”

    --

    Id’en could hardly focus on the words coming out of Adaellae’s mouth, fumbling in her mind on how to approach the topic. As soon as the sermon ended and people started stirring and rising, Id’en ran up to the stage. “High Priestess,” she called over the growing noise.

    The woman paused, then turned to look at her. Sweat glistened on the bald half of her head. The high priestess crouched down. “What may I do for you?”

    “I wish to discuss a…” Id’en fumbled with her locket. “A, well, a very, um, delicate matter.”

    Adaellae quirked an eyebrow. “Are you trying to blackmail me? Because whatever it is, I’m not giving you any money or power.”

    “What? No! No, no. It’s much more important than money, or, or power.”

    Adaellae frowned, then nodded. “Let me come down there and we’ll discuss this issue of yours.”

    Id’en breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh, thank you!”

    She watched the short woman walk away, running a hand through her hair. She was coming. Truly, the rumors were wrong. Adaellae would listen to her problem. Perhaps she would understand and believe Id’en’s theories.

    As Adaellae descended the stage and walked towards Id’en, Id’en walked towards her, so they would meet somewhere in the middle.

    Adaellae clasped her hands in front of her, wearing a concerned expression. “Tell me, Miss…?”

    “Id’en. Miss Id’en.”

    “What is this issue?”

    Id’en’s heart slammed against her chest. She swallowed and let out a little breath. “I have reason to believe that our court has nefarious plans regarding our royal family. And I, I believe they will use ancient magic to achieve those plans.”

    “Oh, my,” Adaellae said. She tilted her head to the side, hands unclasping. “And what makes you believe this, Miss Id’en?”

    “I…” Id’en sighed. “I used to deal some… exotic goods. A man came to my stall one day, months ago, asking for some particular information. If I knew where any Scrolls of Jewels were, or if I knew what they might contain, or even if I might know where a God’s Jewel itself was.” She shook her head. “The man became a regular visitor, requesting various objects that might give him this information he sought. One day, he brought a second man with him. They didn’t really get along, but I heard them converse about when the Lord of Wakegloom became Lord of Teslal.”

    Adaellae nodded. “You’re Id’en the Merchant.”

    Id’en shook her head. “I’m not mad.”

    “You’ve sold your livelihood over this. Do you even know who these men were?”
    Id’en paused again. “They wore masks whenever they entered, and covered their emblems well… but I know that one of them was the captain of the guard.”

    “Derac?” Adaellae said in surprise. Her brows knitted together.

    Id’en nodded. “Indeed. The other man addressed him by it.”

    Adaellae glanced at the crowd, her face unreadable. She faced Id’en again. “What goods did these men buy, outside of information on the Gods’ Jewels?

    “Odds and ends. Herbs from the Nethers, obsidian staffs, stone torches, that sort of thing.” Things that, separately, were nothing to blink at, but all together reeked of ancient spells-- even to those, like Id’en, fully uneducated in magic.

    Adaellae nodded slowly. “I see.”

    “I know that I don’t have any hard proof, no papers or other witnesses, but--”

    The high priestess held up a hand. “Here is the issue I am presented with, Miss Id’en.” She clasped her hands again. “I’ve heard some of these things rumored, and they bring me deep concern. However, as the High Priestess of Wakegloom, it is my duty to remain an impartial force of Maim until danger presents itself, not to chase tall tales and conspiracy theories.”

    Id’en’s stomach twisted into knots. “No one will believe me.”

    Adaellae shrugged. “Miss Id’en, sometimes it’s not a matter of belief, it’s a matter of priorities.”

    “Please, I--” Id’en shook her head, looking away. What had she expected? The High Priestess of Wakegloom to chase this conspiracy, potentially at the cost of her position? “Ancient magic was banished by Flead for a reason. I do believe these men are helping someone powerful to use it, and not so they can find some way to cure the plague.”

    “I agree,” Adaellae said. “No one attempts to use ancient magic unless it is to benefit themselves.” Her hands fell to her sides again. “But publicly, I cannot be involved in this.”

    “I would give anything, if only for a bit of help until I can prove this. If I can find something to prove this--” The priestess would not assist her with this.

    “If you can find something to prove this, the city will be at your feet.” Adaellae sighed. “As it stands, Miss Id’en, people seeking the power of the ancients don’t leave trails. They would murder before they left a hint of where they were or what they had.”

    Id’en shook her head. She licked her lips, scanning the boisterous crowd. Perspiration covered her body, as though it hadn’t rained earlier. She looked at Adaellae. “If I give you a token, will you help me?”

    “Tokens do not change--” she began.

    “This token means more to me than anything in the world. I am confident that members of Wakegloom’s court have nefarious plans. I will prove it to the city, no matter the cost.”

    Adaellae studied her. “If it motivates you for me to possess this token, then so be it.”

    Id’en stared at her. “You would…?”

    “I would possess it until you come to me with more evidence of this conspiracy. And if the conspiracy is to the detriment of the citizens of this city and the name of Maim, then I would certainly step in to assist.”

    Id’en blinked. “If I need a--”

    Adaellae raised a hand. “It is my duty to offer advice to those who seek it.”

    Id’en nodded. She scanned the crowd. There was no doubt; others wished to speak with the high priestess. Time was running out.

    Hesitating no longer, Id’en pulled her necklace off and offered it to Adaellae. “I would give anything to prove this.” She paused, blinking back the blur in her eyes. “And I would not have it back until I have done so.”

    Adaellae looked Id’en in the eye. Her eyes were narrow and charcoal grey and cold. Adaellae nodded once and accepted the offering. She opened a pouch and set the necklace within.

    Id’en stared at the pouch.

    “One thing I can tell you with certainty,” Adaellae said, pausing to glance over her shoulder at the sound of her name, “is that if there is more to this than rumors and guesses, we will be in dire trouble. A man I suspect might have something to say goes by Danick.” She didn’t wait for a response before she turned on her heel and walked towards a half shaven man in matching robes.

    Id’en closed her eyes, breathing in deeply.

    Someone believed her.



  • This was a very interesting chapter

    First of all, I was looking forward to Id'en showing up. I've been extremely curious about her situation for a while now. It did not disappoint.

    I see no problem in any of the dialogue in this chapter. I think the part between Id'en and Adaellae (I'm getting better at writing her name without looking, yay) had the right tone for the conversation. It felt urgent and uncomfortable as I imagine it should be in the situation.

    The bit with the landlady was super sad and I wasn't expecting it to be that sad. :|

    The governor is an asshole. >.>

    Also, what does the token thing mean? I mean, I get the gist of it, but...? ^.-



  • Oh, good! ^_^

    The bit with the landlady was super sad and I wasn't expecting it to be that sad. :|

    My bad? :/

    The governor is an asshole. >.>

    Good, he's an antagonist ;)

    Also, what does the token thing mean? I mean, I get the gist of it, but...? ^.-

    I was like, "What's a shorthand way of saying, 'I'll give you this thing to prove I'mma do this other thing'?" and my brain went with token. There's probably a better way of describing it or a better word, but honestly when I was editing my brain glossed right over it :P


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