Grand Cleric Anastasia

This is a continuation from part one of the Bran Windrider short story. You can find part one here.

A Daily Response to the Daily Post’s Daily Prompt: Rebuild

“My old bones ached to see young Windrider venture off on his pilgrimage. He is so much like his father was. That stubborn determination to achieve whatever he sets out to do. I wish I could tell him. I wish I could let him know about his father and the great deeds that he has done for us. Alas, until he has completed the initiation, I cannot tell him a thing.

Grand Cleric Anastasia stepped softly through the prayer chambers where her followers called out to their maker in hushed voices. They all still mourned after the casualties of the war which they had yet to win. It was almost inevitable, their victory. The chantry had ten hundred templars ready to lay down their lives for those they loved. The enemies numbered no more than ten, but their hatred for the holy city great and their power even greater. With a single blow, the savages could cause an entire street to crumble to dust. The only reason why the Grand Cleric believed in their victory  was because she had calculated the precise number of men need to take down a single one of the Reavers and they had just enough to take down them all. It was not a matter of skill or divine intervention. It was just a matter of who had more soldiers at their disposal.

What made matters worse, was that the enemy knew that he would loose, yet he still puts his men to battle each and every night. He didn’t want the gold from our coffers or the land from under the feet of these poor people. He just wanted to see them suffer, making him the worst kind of villain that there was. It is this kind of scene that tempts me to break the oath of the Watcher, but I know that that is something I can never do. My name is Hanariel. I am the guardian angel of Arcanist, Bran Windrider. Last time we spoke, Bran had fallen unconscious at the temple to Mystra. Fear not, for he is alright. I gave him what help my oath permitted, then swiftly departed in case there was a pair of prying eyes watching over me like I was watching over him.

I fled to the base of the Frostfire Mountains were the red brick city of love – Valentinovich – lay peacefully by the frozen lake. There was little difference in the atmosphere between the top of the mountain where my charge lay dying, and its base, where the stench of death filled the stagnant air. The whole city had been brought to a standstill from those ten men who stood just a head higher than the average man. The tongue of man called them Reavers. Tribal lore sometimes refers to them as a Windigo but these abominations are so much worse. Beings that were once men, after countless consumption of the raw flesh of their brethren, become something beyond human. Something close to us immortals. Normally, there is little wrong with ascension. But when man tries to claim it for himself without leaving their old cage behind through death, we find corruption on the grandest of scales. Still, there was little reason for beings such as myself to worry as so long as the Reavers remained corporeal, there was no manner in which they could harm us.

Anastasia, after hearing the confessions of her devoted, moved on to a place of solitude, where she could rest her fragile mind and body and await the inevitable. It was odd, how many people confessed when they thought they were not going to see the light of a new day. I was no stranger to the streams of donations which the Chantry happily accepted, yet why these people wished to part with the secrets they had kept for so long baffled me. Looking back to the Grand Cleric as she picked up her pace. From a controlled stroll to a fast walk and now a hastened march, she steamed on towards her isolated chamber at the end of the passage.

“I must check my calculations. I must verify my theory with Brother Wayne. Check with Bjorn to see if any of the Templars need new arms or armour. Secure the villagers in the bunkers underneath the chantry.”

Her thoughts were flustered, furied and rageful, yet calm. A woman who knew exactly where she stood in life and exactly what she needed to. Being the sole person in charge of 15 000 civilians is no easy duty. It was no surprise that the one who sat in the highest seat of authority had so little time to herself. This was meant to be her time off, yet she worked far harder and faster than any clerk I had ever seen in all my lives.

There was a knock at the door. “Sister Arlya, so glad you could make it. You must take this note to the carrier pigeons and send it forth to the top of the mountain. I would do it myself but I cannot spare the time to walk across the square. Make haste my child. Blessings of the Maker upon you.”

This wasn’t right. I don’t remember her plan entailing anything about a carrier pigeon. I had to take a look. I was honour bound to do so. I tried to slip into the mind of the old woman, but her mental prowess forbade me entry. The younger woman, Arlya, she too had a great mental fortitude that I could not break. The only way to take a look at the letter was to tackle the pigeon. But…that involved birds. I hated birds. I just couldn’t stand the feathered mongrels. I’d have to intercept the bird using some other animal. Take him down that way. If this was some whimsical act of human emotion then the higher ups would definitely want to know about it.

I’d rather not speak f how I got through to that avian terror. It was…not one of my better moments. What  can tell you, is that only four words were written on that modest piece of parchment: “Come home, my son.”

photo credit: Frizzy via photopin (license)


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