Despite her hopes, Asta’s day had not improved much after she had entered the house of the Silent Sisters. The discord that her sudden appearance in the temple had caused seemed to be indicative of a leadership more concerned with secular power rather than following the will of the Goddess of Mercy. She had agreed to come to the Silent Sisters in the hopes that everyone would calm down and start thinking clearly about what had transpired. Though she had been lead by the Goddess to a miraculous encounter, many such truthfully, her reception here was nearly the opposite of what she might have expected.
Not to mention the High Seat had called her an apostate and a blasphemer. It all seemed highly irregular.
The next problem she ran into was finding one of the renowned sisters. There was no one to greet her at the entry, she saw plenty of heavy robes, cloaks and a few hats hanging from numerous wooden pegs opposite a wall of inset wardrobes. To her left there was a set of stairs to the upper levels and a door that lead to a small front room with a stone lined well, spacious fireplace, work table and two copper tubs. Laundry hung from numerous lines. Nor was there anyone to be found in the very spacious main rooms beyond the entry. This area was mostly one long room, partially divided by two ornate partitions with plenty of shelving. The walls of the east and west facing had tall windows that appeared to be of cut crystal, they created a myriad of tiny rainbows throughout a dining room that also served as a workroom. Past the partitions was a kitchen. The entire ground level was presently unoccupied, she heard no one moving around on the floor above.
Asta would have called out, but there was a sense of quietude about the place that discouraged one from doing so. Past the kitchen she came to the rear entry, the main door to the outside was similar to the one she had entered coming into the building. There was firewood lining most of the outer wall, at the far end of the wood pile she found the entry to the tower, opposite a stone stairway leading down to a cellar. She neither saw nor heard anyone.
She stepped outside, the tower soared above her immediately to her left. She rounded the corner to the east facing of the building, there were more rows of stacked firewood and a partially sheltered outdoor kitchen. Stone ovens were along the building’s wall, utilizing the same chimneys as the ovens she had seen inside. Thankfully there was also a trio of priestesses preparing food. Relieved she approached them with a smile, “Hello. I’m Asta, I’ve recently arrived by unusual means. The High Seat asked me to come here and wait until she summons me. My sudden appearance seems to have caused some troubles.”
The trio glanced at her, one smiled and gave a slight nod. Another of the priestesses filled a bowl with cooked mash and bitter berries, gave her a hunk of bread with a small piece of hard cheese. Famished, Asta took the food to a nearby side-board and ate.
Before she had finished the meal a small group of priestesses came to the back door with baskets of fresh produce, some of it was given to the cooks, most of it went inside. Asta once again introduced herself and explained her presence, she receives nods and smiles, though none of them gave her any indication as to what she should do.
She finished the food. Asta was tired and beginning to feel frustrated. She went to the nearby edge of the orchard, where pear trees grew, the branches heavy with ripening fruit. She sat down in the shade and soon fell asleep.
She found herself in a lurid blue light, as if surfacing from a pool of water. The light seemed to pour off of her. She heard a powerful voice all around her, “Heed that which I have shown to you.”
Asta saw a field of swords, cold rain slashed down from a clear sky. There was an impression of being both observer and participant. She sat easily in a saddle, the horse was tall, powerful, she thought it a western breed, though not a warhorse. Ahead of her a winding road wound through the swords, so many hundreds of swords, likely thousands. She turned and looked behind her, distantly Loden followed on a similar mount. Behind him there was yet another rider who was indistinct, too distant to see clearly, yet she knew they were familiar to her.
Lightning flashed, day became night and thunder rumbled, then night became day once again. Ahead of her, so very far away, she could see a city in the trees, the crooked road through the swords lead up a very gradual incline. Lightning flashed, day became night, the wind howled and snatched at her robes. The biting rain had subsided. She stood at the top of a hill in a circle of thirteen swords, the hilts of which were embedded in the rich earth, the blades pointing towards the sky. The clouds above rolled away, revealing a starry spectacle. Around the circle, indistinct in the dark shadows, gathered a number of people, sometimes she caught a glimpse of a face. She saw a boy, neither child nor man, blood ran from his eyes. Around the circle of swords the figures moved, a woman with Tannican features, she looked back through the dream and Asta knew that she had been seen. Those beyond the bladed circle swayed and danced, she caught sight of one of the wild-folk; tall, terrible, magnificent and enraged.
Lightning flashed, night turned to day, the wind dropped and the day slid into the night. The circle of swords remained, the night was still, the north bearing star shone brightest of all. Then a witch’s broom flew overhead, tracking across the sky from the southeast to the northwest, a powerful omen. Where the stardust settled the land burned, armies clashed and the dead walked. Lightning flashed and thunder roared, becoming the sound of the horses galloping. She and Loden rode hard, the landscape was barren as if it were late autumn. There was a ruined tower on a hill, an ancient gnarled tree reaching skyward. Ice encased the land. She watched a long line of people bound one to the other, at the end of the line she saw herself, looking back at herself.
Thunder rumbled, as if from a great distance. The sun sank to the horizon, long reaching shadows stretched across the land. The city in the trees burned and she could hear the cries of those trapped in the flames. In the end of things she saw a blonde woman, full of power and rage, dealing bloody mercy with a sword.
Startled she woke, distantly she heard the voice again, “Heed that which I have shown you.” it seemed like no time had passed since she had lain under the pear tree. However, when she sat up there were many women gathered, sitting silently around her, watching her. The nearest woman, ancient and wrinkled, smiled, nodded to her, then she pointed to the northwest. The other women, all seemingly Silent Sisters, also raised an arm, pointing in the same direction as the elder priestess had. She gave herself a pinch to make sure she was awake. She certainly seemed to be.
Foggy headed and confused, Asta asked, “I don’t suppose one of you lovely ladies could show me to a room?”
The sister sitting before her stood with ease, she took Asta’s hand and helped her up, Asta was surprised by the venerable lady’s strength. She was lead back to the old Elquin manor. Asta still was not thinking rightly, her head muddled by the visions she had been given. She needed to reflect on what she had been shown, she felt relief as they came up to the back door.
Just as they reached the rear entry a woman stormed out and abruptly stopped. Startled, Asta exclaimed, “Pickles!”
“Pickles, eh?” The woman wore half-plate, marked with the double spiral of the Goddess of Mercy, she carried a sheathed sword in her right hand. She was blonde with dark blue eyes, a terrible beauty. Asta had just seen her before she woke from the dream under the pear tree.
The old lady that had been leading her gave a slight bow to the two of them. She moved off towards the outdoor kitchen where most of the other Silent Sisters who had gathered around Asta during the dreaming, had also gone.
Asta was aware of all this distantly and she was rather taken aback at coming face to face with someone that she had just been dreaming about. That had never happened to her before.
“I’m glad I found you. I’ve been dreaming of you and this sword for days now. I was told you brought this with you from one of the enclaves of the ancients. I’m Paladin Kelifa Eln’ Tormelleen. We need to talk.”