The Uzec Temple was small, but beautiful. The High Priestess with the Baron and other locals support were doing their best to upgrade it and the local shrines as well. Tiffanie could see why Jocelyn was reluctant to leave. Over a hundred clerics, deacons, lay clergy and others throughout the barony depended on her presence now that the old priest was gone. It was a huge responsibility. Supplicants came daily and kept Jocelyn very busy.
However, without fail each morning, Jocelyn made time to practice with Tiffanie. She with her spear, and Tiffanie her axe. “She is getting better,” Tiffanie noted. Also without fail, they had dinner together, spoke of philosophy and religion. Jocelyn was there when the bear spirit had came to Tiffanie, and she endeavored to learn more and bridge the faiths of the old spirits of Snowmoria and the new god Aarith of Thalassa. What they did after that was a private affair, and the Bishop, nor the others in the temple asked.
The day before, Tiffanie had heard Elemix had left for a wizard’s meeting near Derrien. He left word that he would meet them in Portreaux in 3 weeks to a month at the home of Adela. This day, the day before leaving Uzec, Tiffanie received a visitor…
“Reverend Ensign of the Just, Typhon Ni,” the acolyte said, “we have received word that there is a goblin asking for you up at Calder Keep. Apparently it said it was seeking you to deliver a message, but only to you and in-person.”
Typhon nodded, then said, “I believe I know the goblin you are talking about. I will make ready and leave to go and meet with him. Did he say what the message was about?”
“No ma’am. He was wearing a dirty sheet with a makeshift symbol of the eight-rayed star of Aarith painted on it,” he said he’d be near a forest copse hard by the Keep. I know where he speaks. One goblin could hide there, but many, unlikely. While it could be a trap. It would be a poor one.” replied the acolyte.
When Typhon heard about what the goblin was wearing, it sparked her interest. “I doubt it is a trap, I shall go and see what he has to say. Thank you for informing me.”
Typhon rode out of Uzec after informing Jocelyn of where she was going, along with who she was going to see.
After the couple of hours ride, Typhon reached the area where the acolyte said the goblin was waiting. Typhon dismounted and stood there looking into the tree line, she said, “Narek? I am here, what is it you wish to speak to me about.”
A small goblin in a white cloak made of what may be a bed sheet leaned out from behind a tree. “Um, yeah. So been thinking, you need a friend or something? Can’t go home now and you seemed nice to me. No one has done that before. They threaten, control, punch, or like that one lady, blow us up. But no one is nice.”
“Narek, is it?”, Typhon asked. And when she got a nod from the goblin continued with. “I am from the Order of the Just, I am not usually nice. You and your companion completed your bargain with us in showing us to the ruined temple. What happened to him was unexpected, and I saw no more need for further violence. So I made sure that you were let go to continue on with your life.”
Typhon paused a moment, then said, “I see that you have makeshift cloak with the symbol of Aarith on it. What is it you truly seek?”
“Uh, well we goblins worship the strong. To me, besides being nice to Narek, you are strong. Narek wants to be strong and Aarith the God-person helps make you strong, so makes sense to me.” replied the goblin.
Typhon held Narek’s gaze for a short time, thinking about what to do. Then said, “The path you seek is a long and arduous one. You will have many trials you must face, you will need to find your place amongst us,and prove your worth. Come let us head to Uzec, and seek guidance at the Temple.”
Typhon then mounted her horse, and leaned down and offered her had to the goblin, pulling him up to sit behind her as she turned and headed down the road back to Uzec.
At the Temple, Narek hid behind Tiffanie’s leg. A temple guard asked, “Sister, is that a goblin?”
“Yes he is,” Typhon replied. “His name is Narek and he is with me. Do you know where Sister Jocelyn is?”
“Yes Sister, she is in the rectory,” he replied. Entering the rectory, Typhon paused for a bit. Jocelyn was teaching children about Johanna of the Nail, who sacrificed herself for her love and presaged the arrival of Aarith and the birth of Sidonius’ dream. After the children left, she looked up, saw Typhon, got up and stopped in her tracks, seeing the goblin. Narek, for his part, dropped to his knees and shook with fear.
“Don’t worry Sister Jocelyn, Narek here is with me,” Typhon said. “Stand Narek, there is no need to be afraid here. It seems that after the events at the ruined temple, Narek can not go home. So he has come looking for me to find a new home. I told him we would come here to seek guidance, and see what Aarith’s will is.”
Jocelyn let down her guard a bit, trusting Typhon. “Sister, this is most unusual. No goblin has been called to the font of knowledge that is Aarith before to my knowledge.” She walked up and then took a knee to look Narek in the eye, “do you know what you ask?” Narek nodded, though he was frightened. Jocelyn stood, “I will consult the starfire, come follow me.”
Jocelyn explained that the starfire was a method of divining the will of Aarith. She could only augur, though she was studying the ways of deeper divination which she hoped to master by spring. They walked into the temple’s main chamber under the dome. The sound of the river rushing by could be heard through the open doors. In the apse there was a brazer in the form of an eight-rayed star. She placed kindling
in the brazer, said a prayer that took about a minute and then called on the light. A ray of sunlight hit the kindling and a white flame flashed. Narek face planted himself on the floor in abject submission as the light faded.
Jocelyn looked at the flame and when it disappeared examined the ashes. She turned to Typhon and said, “Aarith will take you Narek, if you are true.” She added, “but if you are not true I cannot protect you. Do you understand?” As she looked at Narek, the flames flickered up again. Jocelyn’s eyes captured the light and briefly glowed white hot as she looked at him.
Narek looked up and nodded, afraid to speak.
As is her gentle nature, the terrifying look gave way to a pureness of soul as Jocelyn kneeled before Narek and said, “you are welcome here Narek. Forget all your troubles and embrace knowledge and peace. She then got up and fetched a bowl of water and a towel.
She returned, and kneeling again she washed Narek’s feet. “Know that the greatest of us treat the least of us as brothers and care for their pains and celebrate their happiness.”
Narek was paralyzed in confusion. Typhon could empathize. When the preceptor had done the same for her when she began her training she didn’t understand. Today she does, knowing that all are equal before Aarith. Jocelyn then got up and looked at Typhon, “Sister, this humble soul, if guided well, will be accepted by Aarith. We should discuss his future.”
She summoned two acolytes and discussed the situation at length. They didn’t look very happy, but reluctantly they agreed to bath and dress Narek. “These brothers will clean you. This is likely new to you.”
“Baths kill you, catch cold.” said Narek with a certain wariness. “Sister?” looking at Typhon, “do I haveta?”
“Yes, Narek you do,” Typhon replied, “It will do you good, trust me, you will feel a lot better after it’s done.”
After Narek left, Jocelyn asked, “what do you wish done?”
“That is why I came to seek you out,” Typhon said. “I figured you might have more insight into something like this.”
“While I praise his choice, and yours for bringing him here, I fear for him in Uzec. Did you see how the acolytes reacted? With the attacks in the Upper Valley and Arissey, people are scared. I am worried that an honest desire to change – as honest as I’ve seen in a goblin – is in constant danger here, for now at least. We could send him on to Derrien, but I fear that is not much better. In my opinion there are
but two choices if we wish to honor his call to service. The first is to send him on to Thalassa, to Monsignor Grigori. The second is for him to journey with you to the High Temple of Dinan or the Adera Temple and enroll him there. My love, what are your thoughts on the matter?”
Typhon replied, “I was thinking if he was here, he could offer information on how the goblins are operating. But like you said, he is not welcome here. I can have him travel with me, and seek some guidance from the Bishop when we pass through Derrien. And from there I can train him the best that I can, or send him off to one of the temples you suggested.”
“I will talk to him first. Then likely go with your advice depending on how that talk goes.” she replied.