Tales of a Horse Thief, Cycle 2 Part 6d

Tales of a Horse Thief, Cycle 2 Part 6d

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Two senior ranked Cira-di and the High Seat formed the Tribunal that sat in judgment of Asta. Despite the fact that a number of the ranking members of the order seemed to doubt Asta’s accounting of her sudden appearance and the source of the Eldra artifacts she had shown up with, they did seem to be in the minority. In addition to the Tribunal, a number of other senior members of the order sat in attendance, including Kelifa. Despite the unusual hour of the proceedings there had been a fair number of people at the temple, either those that were present to show their solidarity, or the simply curious.

So, while the High Seat seemed determined that Asta was some sort of apostate with an agenda to undermine the integrity of the order, it did not seem that many other people felt that way. Once again Asta related her story. She was cross examined by each member of the Tribunal. It briefly rained around sunrise and a recess was called. They were to reconvene after breakfast, at which time the Tribunal would issue its verdict.

Asta sat with Kelifa, not far from the temple. The paladin was upset by the politics that were at play, though Asta did not really understand the subtleties of what was going on. Mostly she was upset by the attack on her character. The High Seat was accusing her of having fabricated the entire story, worse, she was insinuating that Asta had somehow acquired the artifacts from the Arcanium, placed the mark of the Goddess on her own forehead and did all of this in an effort to elevate herself. She really felt like punching the High Seat in the face.

Kelifa commented, “If it’s any solace, the High Seat has likely undermined herself more in the last twenty-five hours than in the previous year. Too many people saw your appearance and a great many of them believe it was a miracle.”

“Pickles to that. The Eldra transported us through a magic gate, I don’t know why we did not all appear at the same place, maybe something went wrong.”

“I’m sure things will sort themselves out. I have had too many visions of us crossing paths in the future, mostly around Swampdon. I don’t believe you will be censored.”

“Well, I wish I felt the same way. I had no idea how complicated things were here, I didn’t even know the Codex had ever been changed. The past day has been one of the most trying of my life.”

“I’ve a training session to oversee. Once this had been resolved, find me, perhaps we can travel to Swampdon together.” She stood and lay a calloused hand across Asta’s cheek.

Asta felt warmth flow from the woman’s hand, a feeling of calm patience settled over her. After the brief contact she gave a nod, “Alright. If I am able to. Thank you for your support.”

“Of course.” Asta watched her walk away until she was out of sight. She looked towards the gates to the temple grounds and considered just walking away from all this, but the thought of everyone assuming that she was a fraud did not appeal to her. Her only real choice was to return to the Tribunal.

Many of the Sisters of Mercy wished her well or called on the Goddess to bless her, Asta appreciated their vocal support. She wondered how someone like the High Seat had come to power. The Tribunal was waiting for her when she arrived and they quickly resumed, a scribe presented a summation of the proceedings thus far. When the scribe had taken her seat the Tribunal announced it was ready to pass judgment and offered a last chance for any additional statements, material evidence or witnesses. There was nothing more Asta could think of that would help her, short of the Eldra man or Loden walking into the room.

At that very moment, the door to the room swung open and a priestess entered with Loden limping in behind her. Asta felt a sudden rush of relief. He looked around, spotted Asta and winked at her. The priestess that had brought him to the temple brushed Loden’s hair back from his forehead, revealing the mark of the Goddess.

The High Seat looked very grumpy about this turn of events, she did however insist that Loden give testimony of his whereabouts over the last few days.

“Ha!” Loden exclaimed, spat to one side, much to the horror of everyone else present, then continued, “Well, I’m tired and hungry, but if this isn’t going to be an all-day thing, then I’ll tell you what I know.”

“Please. Proceed.” The High Seats voice sounded strained.

Loden’s narration of his experience on the Eldra world was brusque, it only took him a few moments to relate the key points. Asta noted that he looked good in his new clothing and that his leg was giving him some discomfort. When he finished telling his version of events the room was very quiet.

The High Seat asked, “What does the mark of the Goddess mean to you? Do you know why you were marked?”

Loden rubbed at his forehead and looked rather discomforted, “Well, when I was trapped on the mountain I guess I called on the Goddess to deliver me from the situation, in return for said deliverance, I had promised to serve her.”

Asta was surprised, Loden had not mentioned that before.

“How do you see that happening?”

“I assume I’m going with Asta, wherever the Goddess calls her to go next.”

The High Seat obviously did not like his answer. The other two members of the Tribunal suggested that they were done and that the was no further point in the legal proceedings. There would be no censorship. A large number of the observing priestesses voiced their agreement. The High Seat stood, looked around at those gathered, then left, without further comment.

Asta was quickly surrounded by priestesses, many who had watched the proceeding and a large number of other women filed into the room to gather around her. There were questions about what she intended to do next. Some of the priestesses wanted to put forward a motion that she become High Seat, others wanted to know what the Goddess intended for her and at least a couple of them seemed to still hold the opinion that she was the Avatar of the Goddess of Mercy. She firmly denied any political interests, reassured them that she was not an avatar of any goddess and begged for some time to meditate on the Goddess’ will before she would make any decision about what she would be doing. In all of this she lost track of Loden.

She had nearly lost her patience with her fellow priestesses before they stopped pestering her. One of the Cira-di offered to take her to where her belongings were and Asta was happy for the extraction from the present situation. She went with the woman to the temple library. The Cira-di explained to her that a few of the sisters had made claims on some of the items that she had brought with her and that perhaps a couple more may have gone missing less honestly. Asta had not really understood why she had felt so compelled to gather everything that she had, there was only a small portion of what she had brought with her that she had actually been drawn to for her own use.

After reclaiming the satchel, some of the clothing, a bit of jewellery, the food pouch, canteen, the knife and the staff with the blue stone finish, she left the rest of it and said to the librarian, “I believe that this is for other people. Can I leave it with you?”

“Indeed. I can see that these are not casually dispersed.”

“Will there be issues with the Arcanium?”

“Maybe, though they don’t tend to go looking for illegal artifacts in temples. Or, at least they’ve not ever come here looking for such.”

Asta left the library and wandered around for a bit. People kept recognizing her and many approached with questions or concerns to which she had few answers and certainly not enough knowledge of the local politics to provide any meaningful insight. She found Loden shortly before midday, he was snoozing on a bench in the shade of a big oak tree.


He lifted his head and pushed his hat back from his eyes, “What now?”

“Peace and solitude, if I can find any. I think I need to get away from the temple or I’ll likely keep being pestered.”

“That sounds like a good idea to me.”

“What happened to your leg?” She noted that he seemed embarrassed by the question.


“Ah. They don’t seem to have taken much of anything.”

“Just some of the jewellery I had collected.”

“Not likely much of a loss.”


“What did you want to do?”

“Well getting out of this city is pretty high on the list, though I’d like to find a dwarven smith or artificer. But, before that, lunch seems like a good idea.”

“Lunch sounds like a very good idea. I’m not sure talking to a dwarf for the rest of the day sound too interesting though. I’m kind of talked out.”

Loden gathered his things and the two of them headed for the gate. Before they could make their escape however, Paladin Kelifa jogged up in half-plate armour, making a racket. “I wanted to speak with you before you left.”

Asta smiled at the woman and noted the sword she had asked for was now secured on her belt, “Sure.”

“I’m intending to take a barge to Brisken, expecting to depart towards the end of the eight-day. I’ll be travelling with about thirty others, most of those I’ve been training over the past year. From Brisken, I intend to acquire horses and hopefully reach Swampdon before the winter settles. Did you want to come with us?”

“Swampdon!” Loden sounded dismayed.

“I appreciate the offer, and may take you up on it. With all that has happened here over the past day, or so, I really need some time to reflect on our next course of action.”

She smiled at Asta, “That is about what I expected you to say. Still, I wanted you to be aware of the option.”

“Thank you.”

Kelifa gave a nod to Loden, then departed. They proceeded to leave the temple grounds. Shortly thereafter Loden asked, “Swampdon?’

Asta sighed.


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