Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Brass and Bone

As Zender marched through the streets, he wished he had the forethought to take a horse back to the temple. Not that he minded the walk from town to the temple of Solarth, it was something he did at least once a week but he did feel the need to hurry. With every step he took, the confident feeling he had when he left Lomark behind faded. In truth, Zender was terrified over what might happen to his beloved temple. Zender feared that Bishop Drent had not only put himself in harm’s way, but that the entire temple might pay for his crimes. A walk that should have taken no more than an hour, seemed to last an eternity.

As Zender came within sight of the temple, his worst fears had started to come true. More than a dozen of the city watch was standing at the edge of the temple grounds. Pausing for a moment to clutch at his medallion of Solarth, Zender asked the good god to give him strength. With that done he dropped his hand down to the war hammer hanging from his belt and started to move again. They were all standing there, doing the same thing. Staring at the temple doors waiting and watching for something or someone. Zender approached the gathering of men from behind, walking softly he moved into a space between two of the guards. His voice no more than a whisper he leaned over and asked the guard next to him “What are we waiting for?”

“Watch commander Anderson told us to wait here. Said he didn’t want us to scare all the little women inside with our weapons. Can’t have them soil their pretty white dresses now.” The guard responded without looking at who was speaking to him. Zender leaned back from the guard, looking at his profile, he could feel the man’s contempt for the order. Looking around Zender could see it on the face of most of the guards that were gathered around him. He could read their faces, they assumed the priest were weak, without courage, to be pitied.

“How long has he been in there, I get off in an hour?” Zender asked the same guard.

“Twenty minutes, by my count. He said he would blow his whistle if anything went wrong.”

“Are you all insane, he could be in trouble?” Zender said as he started to push past the other guards. “Make a hole!” he shouted in a deep commanding voice. As the gathered guardsmen parted out of his way, Zender enjoyed the shocked look on some of their faces. Zender felt a hand or two try to slow his progress but he just shrugged them off, pushing forward towards the temple doors. As he reached forward to pull the large doors open, he looked back at the guards he had left behind, all of them were still standing in the same spot, just off the temple grounds. Shaking his head Zender pulled the door open to the interior of the temple. Zender could hear his brothers in the main temple for afternoon prayers, he could also hear something else. Turning to the left he marched towards the office of Bishop Drent.

On any other day, Zender would have stood before this door, knocked and waited to be called in as was proper. Since the day Bishop Frost died and Bishop Drent took over the temple. When Frost was alive, this door was always open and was only closed when some troubled brother was inside seeking guidance from their leader. That changed the day Drent arrived in Eystlund to replace the man Zender had admired so much. Prior Methner always said that Drent was a private man and enjoyed his quiet time. Now Zender understood the truth of the matter, the man was hiding something. Grasping the door handle to open the door Zender nearly crashed into the firmly locked door. This very nearly sent the priest into a fit of rage, there are not supposed to be locked doors in the temple. Zender didn’t even know that a lock had been installed in the door. Pulling his war hammer free of his belt loop, Zender decided he would knock on the door after all.

Smashing his hammer down on the door handle, Zender was satisfied with the crash it made. The new brass handle snapped under the blow from the war hammer, falling to the ground. This sound was followed by the sound of something crashing on the other side of the door. Zender stood back from the door just far enough to give the door a good kick, smashing what was left of the door lock, showing him a shocked Bishop Drent on the other side. Clutching a handful of scrolls and several bags in his over burdened arms, Drent stared at the priest with his mouth hanging open.

“Zender, where have you been? Your chores have not been done in two days!” The Bishop stammered at him. It was then that he started to move towards the open door. “When I get back we will have a talk about this, I will not stand for this kind of behavior!” Zender said nothing, he only waited for the Bishop to get closer. “Report to Prior Methner…” Zender doesn’t know what the Bishop had intended to say, he no longer cared. As he had kicked the door only seconds before, he once again lifted up his foot and kicked the Bishop in his chest. It was only the scrolls he carried that saved the Bishop from a chest full of broken ribs. The scrolls that were now falling to the floor, along with the bags that were filled with gold coins. As the Bishop flew backwards, he rolled over the top of his desk and crashed to the floor on the other side.

As Zender looked around the room, he hoped the Bishop hadn’t broken his neck in the fall. It was then that he saw the old white haired man lying on the floor, with blood seeping from a fresh wound on his head. Zender only hoped that he was not too late to help. Rushing to the old man on the floor, Zender rolled his body over and felt his neck for signs of life. While he could still feel a slight pulse, it was weak and erratic. Placing one hand on the man’s blood covered head, Zender reached out to his god, asking him to heal the poor soul. A rush of heat and warmth filled Zenders heart, soon light formed around the hand holding the white haired man’s head. A small smile of thanks formed on Zender’s face as the man let out a gasp and awoke with a start.

“Commander Anderson, are you well?” he asked knowing he didn’t need an answer.

“As well as anyone could be if they nearly had their brain knocked out of their ear.” He told the cleric. The commander then pushed Zender’s hand away and pointed. As Zender turned he saw Bishop Drent was on his feet again.

Bishop Drent once again on his feet had started towards the door again at a run. Zender did not stop to think, he only reached out to the hammer he had set on the floor moments before while healing the watch commander. Judging by the speed the bishop was moving, Zender felt he only had one option. As he stood he whipped his arm forward, throwing the hammer towards his target. While the Bishop saw the weapon in flight, he could do nothing to stop it from crashing into his head.

It was several days later when the Bishop awoke for the first time. At first he imagined what had happened was only a dream. It was then that he noticed how cold and dark it was in his cell. As he tried to sit up, he could feel the chains on his feet. Ignoring their weight, he swung his legs over the edge of his small bed until his feet and chains crashed to the floor. With one shaking hand Drent reached up to touch the spot on his head where the hammer had struck him, tender to the touch, pain shot through his head. Yet it wasn’t until he looked up to see the dark robed figure on the other side of his prison bars that he started to scream.