Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.
Please, Divine Father, I need your guidance as never before. Things
are moving so fast, I can barely keep up. We seem to have made great
strides in bringing your message to the Theocracy. But I know we are
treading a dangerous path, with any number of calamities ready to
befall us. The Theocracy is a place where countless people are put to
death at a moments notice at the best of times. And now it is at war,
and by opposing slavery, we are putting ourselves right in the middle
of the conflict.
It is right to free those bound unjustly. But what good is done if
those freed are doomed to die. It is a responsibility I do not know I
have any right to bear. And you know well my selfish motives. I fear I
would cast aside the freedom of all the oppressed in the Theocracy if
it could bring Claire to safety. And there are those here who know it.
Lady Hastia wishes to use that lever against me. But I must try to
find the strength to hold firm to the conviction that even for someone
as good as Claire, even for the horrible fate she seems to be trapped
in, there are some prices that are too high to pay. I have seen the
idols and heard the prayers. I have some inkling of what is being set
in motion, and I know that even from something as pure as Claire’s
sacrifice, in this place something corrupt and destructive could take
form. Is Claire to be a symbol of revolt and revenge? A call to arms
and a justification for great violence? Would anything of what remains
be recognisable as coming from Your Grace?
Am I to ignore the needs of my own friends? Shen would not say it to
me, but I know time is running short and we still are no closer to
finding a way to save both her and the life insider of her. And am I
to ask Gregor to return to his old ways? He fears the temptation of
marshalling the undead, and yet for our endeavour to succeed, it seems
that I will need that help.
I am beginning to doubt even my own judgement. Lady Hastia uses my
image to her own ends, sending innocents against monstrous beast. I
told her that I needed a month to consider and plan the next steps,
fearing that is as much of a rebuke I can muster. But even that will
bring countless problems and worries, and may do more harm to us than
to the ageless vampire. I am becoming more callous in our dealings.
Atlas Grunter summoned us to see him. He had several of his men
punished while we waited, punished for helping the freed slaves. I saw
it as a ploy, to try to get me to plead for mercy on their behalf. A
way to demonstrate the brutality of this mission we are on. Or perhaps
allow me to heal them, thereby putting me in his debt and making me
consider his men among my flock. So I ignored the ploy and watched the
flogging happen right before my eyes. How much easier it has become to
stomach the cries of the innocent, now that I’ve seen too much.
Perhaps this task needs to be taken by another. One who can sit idly
by in the face of such suffering does not deserve to lead any cause in
Has my judgement been clouded? Have my motives and weaknesses hidden
the right path from me? Am I struggling in vain before the might of
the Theocracy crushes us all utterly? Has my pride caused me to seek
out glory and fame, instead of peace and harmony? Please, Heavenly
Father, grant me your wisdom in my time of need.
Your servant, until the hour of my death.
Caoimhe sat in the office behind the make-shift chapel. She had been
discussing the march with her staff, but was still hesitant to set the
date. She noticed an odd silence spread through the room. Dust motes
stopped their dancing in the rays of sunlight. A panic gripped her
heart, the last time she experienced this she was visited by the
loathsome Sewermouth. Turning around she saw a child working the
kettle. Suddenly all the panic left, replaced by all the love she felt
for everyone in her life. Her father, her abbot, her husband, her son,
her friends, magnified and multiplied, and yet not diminishing what
they meant to her, but bringing them into sharp relief.
“Have a cup, Caoimhe, it’s just as you like it. There are two paths
ahead of you. The path of the march, and the path where you flee. If
you decide to go on the march as planned, it is likely your friends
will survive. You will cease to be as you are. You will be set on a
path, one which your friends are unlikely to walk with you. If you
choose otherwise and flee, the 70,000 slaves here will die, your
friends are unlikely to leave here alive, and you will be branded
heretic in the eyes’ of the church of St. Cuthbert.” “And in your
eyes’ as well?” “No, in the eyes’ of the church. You have to make your
choice. But do enjoy your tea, Caoimhe.”
And with that, he left. Caoimhe was left breathless, her heart racing.
It felt like an age before she was calm enough to reach for her cup.
The tea was still hot, and brewed just the way she liked it.