Chapter 2: http://www.cstylessims3forum.com/t3856-part-i-the-bloodbather
The news came to him before the boy.
“Oi now!” Franklin shouted as he barged into the classroom. “I just heard there was a murder in Summerhill! Two lil’ girls, by their big brother! What a family, eh?”
The pupils present began to whisper frantically amongst themselves. Father Nolan dropped his quill. He felt the blood drain away from his face.
Father Nolan looked up from his counter and glared at the boy. “You do not interrupt a class with such a statement, Franklin. You’ve disturbed our studies.” He stepped away from the platform and walked towards the door, where Franklin stood in evident submission.
“I’m sorry, Father, but Father Douglas is here... in the foyer... with the boy.”
Nolan’s heart went cold. “Go to your room.” He looked over his shoulder. “All of you... to your rooms. Now.”
He stepped away and let the children through. They whispered frantically amongst themselves as they left. One child remained in the room, awaiting audience with him.
“You should go, Samathia.”
“I...” she had trouble speaking. A terrible stutter. She took a moment to compose herself. “I d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-don’t understand...”
Nolan frowned deeply. “You feel you must stay.”
Samathia nodded. She looked terrified.
He had found her wandering the streets of Litherice one winter’s night, barely three years of age, dressed like a miniature clown. Such gorgeous emerald eyes, the kind you only found in those from Compass. Her golden hair had been hidden beneath a clown’s hat. She had been trembling in the corner of a shop door, crying. He had stopped dead and taken her in, her comical appearance strikingly out of the ordinary.
“Where are your parents?” he had asked her gently, kneeling before her and wrapping his coat around her.
Samathia had looked up at him and whispered: “Gotta wait.”
He had frowned. He still remembered the way it struck his heart deeply when she had spoken, as though the words were not her own. “Wait for what?”
She pulled a piece of paper from her clown’s tunic and handed it to him. He held it up to the lantern that hung from above the shop doorway. It was a letter. It read:
To the Hydethian Priest,
Believe in Fate. It weaves itself strongly in this one.
Her name is Samathia. Daughter of Ether and Star.
She must walk in the Light, or she will surely perish in the Dark.
The letter had had no name. Nothing. The handwriting was wonky, as though the person writing had had a shaking hand. Nolan had taken the little girl in his arms and held her tight. He’d looked into her amazing eyes and said: “Come, Samathia Etherstar. I will take you home.”
He had never told her the story of how he had found her. Instead, he had told her a lie, stating that a woman died giving birth to her in the temple. Evidently, she did not remember the night he had found her, and believed the tale. He had sought Hydeth’s advice many times on the issue, and each time she remained silent. She trusted him. She knew he would raise Samathia as she was destined to be raised. When the time was right, he would show her the letter. No sooner.
He still remembered the way the hairs along the back of his neck had stood on end when he’d read that letter. Now, again, they were prickling, and a shock had travelled down his spine. He stared at her. She was nine now, but almost as tiny and defenceless as when he had found her. Eventually he decided to follow her notion. She had been Chosen by their Goddess. It was not his place to argue.
“Come then... you shall meet him.”
“It has been a long, long time, Douglas,” the man in golden robes said, voice and face full of warmth. The priests of Hydeth embraced tightly. Jacelyn tried to stop his knees from shaking with fear.
The other Hydethian was tall and slim, not to mention very dashing for a man of his age and stature. His hair would have been a rich brown in his youth, although now it was streaked with grey. His eyes were warm pools of laughter, and a smile never seemed far from his smooth-skinned face.
“Nolan! You look very good for your age!” Douglas remarked, stepping back and taking in the sight of his associate. “I trust your boy Franklin explained the situation?”
“Unceremoniously, yes… But he shan’t spread fear. He is a good lad.” Jacelyn noticed a hint of annoyance in Nolan’s face.
“I would hope so.” Douglas looked down and cupped the back of Jacelyn’s head in a gentle, loving gesture. As much was his nature, the Hydethian did not hesitate to press on through subjects. “He has Saluken’s Essence. Blood is growing on him, now. I think that by the time he is Initiated he will want to do something that requires fighting or action of a similar kind. Nonetheless, here… he is safe.”
Father Nolan took a step back and took Jacelyn in. There was fear and repulsion in his eyes... but also something else. “He thinks I’m a monster... but he won’t turn me away... Not with Douglas here...”
Douglas knelt before Jacelyn, holding him by the upper arms and staring straight into his eyes. “Jac… I have to go now. Please… do not balk at any task set to you. Hydeth will always protect Her faithful… Always.” He kissed the boy upon his clammy brow. Jac began to tear. “Light, love and life to you, Jacelyn Ash. And may we meet again, some day.”
Father Nolan clapped Douglas on the back one last time before the Advocate turned and left, mingling with the crowds of Litherice until he could no longer be seen. Jacelyn’s heart felt empty again.
Finally, Nolan’s eyes fell, and he looked upon him with both apprehension and sympathy. He did not drop his gaze nor glance away as he spoke. His voice rang with authority; his words held neither hidden spite nor disrespect. “I welcome you, Jacelyn Ash, to the Halls of Light. If for any reason you do not wish to take this step, you must speak now.”
Once he would have said something. Once he would have just given a jovial grin or some sort of jolly gesture. But all that had been broken within him, and he just looked to his feet and waited for Father Nolan to step aside from the doorway.
The priest understood immediately what had to be done with Jacelyn. For the good of all, Jacelyn Ash had to be kept locked away beneath the watchful eye of Hydeth, their lady of justice. The Goddess of kindness and bringer of light. The only being that would be kind enough to give the cursed child an inch of hope, and the opportunity for a purposeful life.
He moved aside and motioned the boy inside, face grave and chest heavy with bereavement.
Jacelyn Ash knew that everyone in the temple had been told about his crimes. He knew that Samathia Etherstar did not look at him in fear because she was just ‘shy’.
She reminded him sorely of his sisters, although her emerald eyes were alien to him. “Her descendants must come from Compass or something,” Jacelyn thought when he saw those eyes. They rarely came up from the floor.
“I’m sure you and Samathia will get along swimmingly,” Father Nolan said, hinting to Sam to be on her most welcoming behaviour. “She is my next priestess, I swear. Very talented, aren’t you, dear?”
She did not reply. Her nod was weak at best. Jacelyn could see the blush fill her cheeks and redden her face. She looked like a nervous tomato.
“I’ll leave you two alone to get introduced your own way.” The priest leant down in front of Jacelyn so as to cut off the image of Sam. “And you, child,” he whispered to Jacelyn so that Sam could not hear; “will respect the values of Hydeth. No violence is accepted here. It may have been acceptable in the rural areas, but here in Litherice it is against the law. I took you in, Jacelyn. Do not anger me, nor give me cause to be so.”
“I won’t,” he replied eventually, made mute by the seriousness of it all. Inside, his head was screaming; “He thinks I’m violent because I want to be!!!”
Samathia managed to meet his eyes when Nolan left the room. She did not speak. Jacelyn frowned and said, “You don’t talk much, do you.” He wasn’t as afraid with Sam – wasn’t afraid of what she thought or what she dreaded in him. She was nothing. Just another girl that was frightened of him for what he had done – the crime that he refused to be held responsible for.
Eventually she mustered up the courage to whimper, “I… I stutter.”
A long silence thickened the air and made his throat tight.
Eventually, he decided to move things along. “So?”
“You… you don’t m-mind?”
“Nah. At least you know Unitian, hey? And not some foreign blabber, like the Black Scorpion.”
“The Black Scorpion kn-knows Unitian, doesn’t h-he?”
He twisted the corner of his mouth in shame. “Yeah, that’s true. So… um… what do you do here in the temple?”
Samathia looked at him quizzically, as if he’d asked a question with an answer so obvious it was complicated. “We, um… we pray.”
He had never prayed in his life. His family had been atheists. He suddenly wondered whether that was the reason why he had been punished with such a curse. He cleared his throat. “Is that all?”
“We l-learn about the Ten and their… their ways. We l-learn here. We g-go around the city and… and we h-help the p-poor.”
“How do you help the poor?”
“We tell them about the temple, and t-tell them if they have need they can c-come here…”
“Who funds the temple?”
“Donations from the rich people in Litherice. Anyone who earns more than a certain a-amount has to pay t-tax to the temple.”
“What about tax to the city council?”
She didn’t answer his question. Instead, she looked straight at him and said, “You have a lot of q-questions…”
Jacelyn shrugged, “Yeah, I do. Father didn’t teach me about cities. He taught me about sheep and wool and making clothes.” His thoughts crept back to his atheist upbringing. “Why did father never teach me of the gods of Unita?” Jacelyn wondered bitterly. “Did it just slip his mind?”
“Your father was a t-t-t-tailor?”
“Yeah, best in Summerhill.”
She was blushing again. “I… I’m sure.”
“So what do you do, exactly?” He shifted from one foot to the other impatiently.
“Now? It’s nearly lunch. We go to the d-dining room and eat.”
Jacelyn managed a small smile. He liked Samathia, but only because she had come to like him. He could tell by the look in her eyes – she no longer appeared to want to run away, screaming. Samathia saw him as people had once: a normal tailor’s lad, with higher hopes than before the name forced upon him. The name that meant something in any language.