Cleric's Lesson, A
A Cleric's Lesson
By Valkri Hygia
Life's little lessons are not always so little; especially when they involve admonitions from the eternal ones. Take for instance the fate of one cleric ...
A proclaimed servant of Urrem'tier, the cleric had gathered some traveling items and set sail to the Collection of Qi to pay homage to her patron at his temple in the city of Ratha. Testimonies declaring the dangers of a cold altar lying outside the deity's temple had reached the mainland and were being told from Ilithi to Therengia. The cleric scoffed at the stories and continued her journey to the far off city.
Reaching the island during the evening hours, the cleric journeyed directly to the dark temple. Once there, she raised her voice in reverent pray to her god in front of the statue of the great scorpion. She checked her supplies carefully, inventorying the holy water, sacramental wine and fragrant incense that she had carried with her from Zoluren. Satisfied that she was properly prepared to face her god, she stepped outside to the cold altar.
Immediately she could feel it; the gentle tugging of a cold hand at her very essence. She gasped as she felt her spirit slip away from her and knew that she would not only have to be diligent, but also be quick about her worship. Without a thought, she began cleaning the dark altar with a portion of her holy water, removing all signs of dust from the sacred table.
Once satisfied it was cleaned appropriately, she recited a solemn prayer to Urrem'tier as she poured crimson wine onto the altar in offering. Then onto dancing and more prayer, she made each movement deliberately and spoke each word clearly and loudly, making sure her god was aware of her devotion. Finishing, she stood there in front of the altar. Wisps of the stories she had heard in Zoluren about the forthcoming danger floated around her head and momentarily she hesitated. Her faith was strong however, and so she shook off the doubt and reached her hand to the metal altar.
A euphoria filled her as her hand connected with the metal. Never had she felt so close to the gods and never had they been so pleased with her efforts. The voices of the pantheon drifted to her, letting her know they were beside her. With tear-filled eyes, she fell to her knees in blessed exhaustion. The next day, she traveled back to Zoluren to give her own testimony about the greatness of the of the altar so many feared. She returned many times to the cold altar, displaying her devotion and receiving blessings from her patron.
On one occasion, she had traveled to the island and been at the altar in the middle of her rituals, when a passerby stopped and shouted an inquiry at her. She should have kept dancing but she did not. She should have kept her focus on the gods, but she did not. Instead, she turned her back to the altar to answer the mortal. When she finished with him, she turned back to the altar. In her heart, she knew she had erred, but her uncommon success at the altar had brought her to believe that she was special in some way, and that the gods placed her above most petty mortals. So instead of reaching out with her heart, she reached out with her pride to touch the cold altar.
The next second of her life turned into a marathon of agony and despair. As her forefinger made contact with the metal, the omnipotent hand of the dark god reached into her and ripped her soul away with a torturous jerk. Her death cry echoed loudly in her head and the usual soothing she felt with loss of life was now a desperate panic. Her spirit was gone, as was any favor she had with the Thirteen.
Hovering over the spiritual bridge, and broken by her own arrogance, she waited for what seemed an eternity to be permitted into the Void. Would she be forced to remain in this purgatory, being only allowed to travel from one end of the bridge to the other, never being able to walk off either end? A lifetime passed and finally, a voice calm and infinite spoke to her. "Do you understand?." That was all.
The next thing the cleric felt was a sudden whoosh of air filling her lungs. Whether by divine intervention or pure luck, another cleric had been near the area and had found her. Shaking, she struggled to her feet and hung her head in disgrace. She traveled back to Zoluren without speaking. After several days of depressed wandering, she went to an altar and recited a simple prayer. It felt right. She continued praying, and then danced. She felt the gods smile upon her for her efforts and in time she reestablished her relationship with the pantheon.
In time she came to realize the warning given to her. May no mortal come before the gods. May no one devote believe themselves above the whims of the Immortals. It is said there are no mistakes in life, only lessons. This lesson had been learned, but at a great price.