Sunday, February 21, 2010

A bedtime story! (Another piece!)

This is another piece written in the same world as A bedtime story! So- read on.

“Quetzan, Tlocal, you have been assigned to tutor war-priestess Mikaela. You know her reputation. I feel that you two can handle the responsibility of training her. Just so you know, our superiors are content with her knowing how to hold the weapons and with you knowing something about the gods- which you already do,” the officer grabbed a sheaf of vellum and held it out.

Quetzan threw a quick glance at his comrade at his side, saluted, and accepted the proffered packet of commands.

Religious training was a as standard a part of a warriors training as drills, combat practice, and tactical lectures. The soldiers traded lessons with the war-priestesses, with two soldiers for each priestess. Quetzan and Tlocal, as battalion sergeants, practiced in dealing with new recruits, were paired together and assigned Mikaela, on of the more powerful war-priestesses. Mikaela was unique amongst the war-priestess in that she also followed the third generation gods, not just the first two. She put in as much time and respect to the first two generations and the rest of the war-priestesses, but she also spent large amounts of time studying the gods of Power, Love, Knowledge and Wisdom. Her studies made her magics more powerful, effective and focused. A charm or hex cast by Mikaela would not wear off until she wished it to.

Stepping out of the squat command bunker Quetzan shoved the papers into his sack, adjusted his sword and dropped to his hands and knees. Tlocal followed suit and both shifted into dark, sleek jaguars. Bounding across the facility, the two warriors vied for lead, shoving the other out of the way, creating a massive dust-cloud in their wake. As they charged up to their barracks entrance, they found their passage blocked by a woman dressed in the traditional heavy robes of a priestess, but instead of the blue, green, white or yellow of the elementalists, her robes were dark red with silver embroidery, indicating that while she had amassed significant power and was capable in all four of the elements, she had yet to master the combat itself.

The two great cats skidded to halt and out of the cloud of rising dirt, the two men reappeared, heads bowed.

“Our apologies, war-priestess,” began Quetzan, “We are usually encourage to test the limits of our comrades whenever possible, so as to encourage them to improve.”

“No matter,” she replied, “Now, I'm assuming you know who I am. And I know your names, but not which face each of them belongs to. So, if you would be so kind?”

“I am Fourth Battalion Sergeant Quetzan Ner'hokla. And my fellow officer, Fourth Battalion Sergeant Tlocal Mont'eheur'kla.”

“Thank you, Quetzan,” she bowed to him, and the to Tlocal, “I know that our respective training does not begin until tomorrow, but I wish to start becoming aware of what will be expected of me as soon as possible.”

“Mikaela, the war-priestesses don't really expect you to learn much of anything here. They will be happy if you know how to hold a sword, spear or atlatl. They will be happy if you tell them that you taught us, even if we learned nothing,” Tlocal held up a hand to keep Mikaela from interrupting, “This is not only accepted by the priestesses, but by our officers as well. We have been told as much by them. However, Quetzan and myself, we are very proud of the training we have received, and our rank in the military. We will make sure that you know how to defend yourself. We will make sure that you can run twenty miles with a full pack in under three hours. We will make you a warrior, and in return you will teach us the ways of the gods. There are very few priests, and no war-priests, but you will teach us all you know. Do you agree to this contract?”

Mikaela smiled pleasantly and nodded, “I would not be able to bear doing otherwise. However, with all religious matters the priestesses write out a full contract with the god or gods they are dealing with, sign it, and then, if the omens are auspicious the contract has been accepted and the mark of the god or gods is imprinted upon the contract. The first thing any priestess learns is how to treat with the gods. For you, at this moment, nothing so grand- you merely need to treat with me.” She turned around and entered the barracks, the two soldiers following.

The next morning, before the sun had risen, Quetzan and Tlocal rolled out of their hammocks and moved over to wear Mikaela was sleeping. Quetzan stood next to the hammock and nodded to Tlocal who stood at her feet. Tlocal removed the pin holding the end up and Mikaela fell to the ground.

“Good morning Mikaela!” shouted Quetzan, “Today, according to the contract you had us write up yesterday, is the first day of training, and we are following our normal routines for training a new solider, again accordingly. This is the last day you get to sleep in so late. Tlocal got you a uniform and some standard gear. You had better beat us to the mess hall, armed and armored. See you at breakfast.”

Tlocal dropped a wicker chest on Mikaela, turned and followed Quetzan to the other side of the barracks. They quickly and efficiently donned their armor, threw their personal swords onto their belts and began to walk to the mess. When they got there, they took their time in getting to the front of the line, not using their rank to get ahead and walked over to their table. As they were sitting down, a breathless Mikaela burst into the room, and after a lengthy glance found them already seated.

“You did decently. Some soldiers can't figure out how it all works until we've finished eating,” said Quetzan, “But- now is your time to shine. Enlighten us.”

“You are both Servants of the Gods, correct?” she asked.

“We were,” corrected Tlocal, “Now we are training to be Warriors of the Gods.”

“Of course, I apologize. I was born a free citizen of Terakla, and so I know very little of the real experience of the your early lives. Many compare Servants of the Gods to slaves. You have no choice, you are told what to do, and once you have children, you are sacrificed to the gods. Some people ask if that is wrong.”

“It is not wrong, for it is in the service to the gods,” replied Quetzan, “Besides, if you do not believe in the gods, you are sent to the priestesses. Most come back as true believers, the others come back pardoned from their fate.”

“I have led the discontent into the temples Quetzan. They see the gods themselves. The gods visit our world and say that they wish that that particular person will serve them in their realm. To do so, we must spill their life according to the contract, and free their spirit. But many people call it murder.”

“It is not murder. The Servants of the Gods choose their fate. If they do not wish to serve the gods in their realms, they are spared,” argued Tlocal.

“But what about those who are not born as Servants?” said Mikaela, “They, and their descendants, will never be asked to die for the gods.”

“It is possible for the freed to join the ranks of the Servants and the Servants to join the ranks of the free. No families fate is set in stone,” countered Tlocal.

“The free only join the Warriors of God. They are not sacrificed in cold blood. They die in the heat of battle, or survive and return to their families. The other case you mention does not happen. It has not been recorded- ever. No Servant of God has performed so well as to cause the gods to ask that the Servant remain to serve them in this realm. They have always asked that they be sent to theirs.”

“You may be right Mikaela. It may be wrong,” said Quetzan, “But I do not consider it wrong. I am willing to serve the gods in their realm. However, what is more important is that we have finished our meal and so we must now begin to teach you.”

1 comment:

  1. Btw, this one is showing as white text on your feed-reader too (i.e. I can't read it ^^)