Original word: repentant
Additional words: repent, tent, pattern, neat, tern, eaten, entrap, pen, tan.
“Repent!” the priest cried, leveling his staff at her.
“Why?” the merchant replied, his surprised face poking from his newly erected tent. “For what must I be repentant?”
“That evil pattern!” the priest snarled, gesturing at the neat tern painted on the tent’s side. “It is the sign of a demon!”
“Have you eaten poison?” the merchant yelled, “Why do you seek to entrap me? It is a pen and ink drawing! I tan the leather for these tents myself and I use my talents to decorate them! I am no more a demon than you, nor do I consort with demons!”
“Wretch,” the priest shouted, “Do you paint demonic symbols on your tents, then? Repent!”
“It is a bird,” the merchant replied irritably, gesturing to the tent himself, “What is demonic about that?”
“The law of the church states,” the priest answered, pressing his hands together piously, “that only religious symbols may be used for decorations. All other symbols are those of demons.”
“What church is this?” the merchant retorted.
“It is the church of the god, Rildel,” the priest replied, his hands still pressed together, as if in prayer. “He is the only true god. All others are merely demons in clever disguises.”
“Well, I do not worship your riddle god,” the merchant responded, drawing himself up to his full, if not very considerable, height.
“Heresy!” the priest declared, appalled, “All worship him, and his name is Rildel, not riddle.”
“That’s enough, Belsar,” a member of the town guard interrupted as the merchant was preparing his next retort. “Pestering the merchants again?”
“I am merely attempting to educate this churl,” the priest objected, pointing to his opponent, “about the unholy nature of the image on his tent.”
“Come now, Belsar,” the guard replied in a bored tone of voice. “You know perfectly well that the mayor has forbidden you to preach this kind of thing in market square. It’s bad for trade. Soon, thanks to you, no one will want to come here.” So saying, the guard turned to the merchant. “I beg your pardon, sir. I hope you won’t judge the rest of Moercha by the behavior of this fool.” Turning back to the priest, he added, “Come on, now, Belsar. Let’s go back to your temple. You can berate whomever you choose there.” With that, he calmly grabbed the priest by the shoulders and began to steer him away from the leather tent, yelling and promising dire consequences the entire way.
Turana sat on the edge of the fountain in the middle of the square watching all of this from a discrete distance. She had entered the town of Moercha looking for work as usual. She’d first gone to look for a tavern, but couldn’t find one. She’d been surprised by that. She’d never been in a town that had no tavern. She had gone next to the mayor’s house, thinking that she might have looked in the wrong place.
“There are no taverns in Moercha,” the mayor had advised her sadly. “Somehow, Belsar, the priest of Rildel, managed to convince the people that they were against the gods. I’ll admit I thought the idea was good, mainly because there would be fewer reports of brawling in the streets. Then Belsar got the notion that any non-religious markings were demonic. If you think you can do anything about that, I’ll let you sleep in my house and eat at my table.”
A priestess of Yaellanys of the Waters, Turana had promised to see what she could do. Now, she had seen Belsar with her own eyes. She’d heard the man utter the words the mayor had said he was preaching. What’s more, she’d felt the peculiar presence surrounding the man, even from as far away as she’d been. It had felt very much like Turana had suddenly begun to vibrate, that is until the guard had intervened. There had also been a kind of faint red glow around the priest while he was preaching to the merchant. Turana didn’t think the old priest was possessed. At least, it didn’t feel like that. However, demons were known to be very persuasive when they wanted to be. Turana was sure that, had the guard not interrupted when he had, Belsar would soon have had the merchant asking curious questions. It was nothing but downhill from there.
Turana got up and followed surreptitiously after Belsar and the guard, wondering as she went how powerful a demon this Rildel could be. Still, even if it wasn’t altogether that powerful, Turana was only a journeyman cleric, at best. Well-versed in the arts of healing, she’d been sent out into the world to aid the downtrodden. As a priestess, she’d studied exorcism, naturally, but she hadn’t actually exorcised anything by herself, yet. Depending on the strength and size of the demon, she might need the aid of a full priest for this.
Twenty minutes’ walk or so brought them to the temple, which was built in a row with three other buildings that, to Turana, almost glowed with a kind of divine radiance. The temple to which Belsar was directed seemed overly garish by comparison. However, the closer Turana drew to the building, the more she felt as though she was approaching some abandoned, ghost-filled mansion.
“Nuuta,” Turana cursed, using one of the few Elvish words she knew, “I’m going to need help after all.”
Like this story? Want to see more? Tell me in the comments below how you think it should continue. What kind of help should Turana get and where do you think she should find it? Will she run into a fellow adventurer or a mentor in town? Will she have to leave town temporarily to go and get a senior priest? Do you think something else should happen that I haven’t thought of? Enquiring minds, like mine, want to know.