48th Day of Ripening Season, 342 Years After Mourning
Praise be upon the Seven Silver Crowns, she agreed! I was unsure. The girl’s fear is almost tangible. I can smell it each time she enters, too strong even for the damp rot to overpower. Whether she fears me, or the unknown, I cannot say, but in two days, Hilla and her sister, Poppy, leave for the farm.
The silence is unbearable. As you know, they seized me only a day after my return. Because of this, I’ve been unable to establish a transportation route. Until I’ve accomplished that task, communication between the temple and the farm is all but impossible. The children have no flyers, only a pair of chickens. For all their ingenuity and purpose, I doubt they will have any luck teaching the dumb creatures to act as message carriers.
Eight days have passed since I shouldered the barley sacks upon my back and left the memories of laughter, and purpose, and guilt, and pain in my wake. Eight days since I have heard Ivette chiding the imp Noni, or listened to Niles and Ellison bicker over leadership.
In the dark, I fight a constant battle to keep the misery at bay, to force the doubts into silence. Here, alone in my cell, it is the children I think about. Somehow they are the key. I know not how, but as always, I trust your guidance, Holy Ones. I simply don’t know how to interpret it. Do I leave my position here? In three more days, Sister Imorgan must release me and welcome me back into service. Until then, all I can do is speculate. I can question, and ponder, and pray, nothing more.
I know the hours of the day only by the sound of footsteps. After prayers, Hilla brings me bread, along with watery wine and bandages. By the flickering flame of a candle, she cleans and bandages my wounds. Hidden among the bandages is always a token. An apple, a fresh sprig of rosemary, or a clean parchment leaf. Today, it was a licorice twig.
“He has seen another man dressed in black.”
The news shocked me and images of the man’s face I killed flashed before my eyes.
“They come into the city by pairs. No one knows who they are, but they all wear the black armor, the links so finely knit together it’s like liquid when they walk.”
“The market. The inns. Never the Pedestal, though. They leave the temples alone. Perhaps they fear them.”
She stepped back and inspected the bandage.
“Who are they?” she had asked.
“Catalysts,” I told her, my voice trembling. “They fear no one.”