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Old 11-04-2021, 02:47 PM   #207
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 69 (2021-10-30)

ďMay the Holy Mother of Snakes fork my tongue so all my words are spoken according to Her will,Ē I began. My gaze swept from Audria to Jaryn and back, pinning the two clerics in place. ďFrom the moment I set foot in Byblos a couple of weeks ago, the conflict between our brothers and sisters has weighed heavily on my heart. I now know that it is Tivito who is the guilty party. They have deceived some of us with promises of privileges like theirs in the kingís law, but their proposed law will only give them power over the other cults.

I thank Ashtar for blessing some of us with the sight to see Tivitoís falsehood for what it was. I donít have enough hubris to claim to understand why Ashtar didnít bestow this blessing upon all of us and thus preventing this heart-breaking schism that arose between us. Maybe She chose to test us and gave us this challenge to strengthen us when we came through.

How we responded to the schism is ultimately a private matter between Ashtar and each of us. Still, I must convey how disappointed I have been, hearing and seeing what I have here in Byblos. The attitude that has met me in every temple and chapel I have visited has been a coveting to seize what one could for one-self and for oneís own. Some desired power, some desired safety. Nowhere did I hear anyone speak up to ask how we could stand together in this onerous situation. You have sought support and solace among the infidels. You have built alliances with them when you should simply have talked to each other. Iím not opposed to dialog with other religions, other cults, but we must never allow them to sow discord between us.

Since nobody as much as mentioned a desire for it, I took it upon myself, with the help from Yana and Xipil and our unbelieving friends Grogg, Wolfram and Hylda, to attempt to restore communication between brothers and sisters who had begun to shy each other. My effort was met with ill will from those who should have been the most eager to find a peaceful solution.

Some of you raised unreasonable demands Ė ultimatums Ė for agreeing to enter dialog. The only requirement we cannot deviate from, but which should never even have to be mentioned, is that we must not act against Ashtarís will. Others met me with rudeness and secrecy. Yes, sometimes we must remain anonymous in our work for Ashtar, but when we talk to each other in confidence, I think if we still donít want to divulge our names or our ranks, we owe it to each other to at least be polite enough to explain why.

Even though I was saddened to meet such attitudes, I was still willing to make a sincere effort to break through the barriers dividing you. But then I was betrayed, or at least it felt so. I was told we couldnít talk anymore and that our holy places were barred to me. I was told I had done something so sinful that simply being in my presence endangered our brothers and sisters. There was no will to hear that in all my actions, Ashtar had been with me.

My work for Ashtar has never been free of risk. I can make myself an enemy of the infidels, those who donít comprehend Her holy truth, but that is even more reason to embrace me and welcome me to our chapels and temples. Give me a place to hide! Give me advice and council! Smuggle me out of town if you decide it is necessary! But donít throw me out into the street! Donít condemn me for executing Ashtarís will when you yourselves donít have the guts to do what She commands!

I was on the verge of giving up, for it seemed you had done so already! If our temples here in Byblos had waged war against each other, wiped each other out even, Ashtar would still remain, so why should I care? If the law, as it had been presented to us, had taken effect, what would that mean to me? I follow Ashtarís law. When She whispers in my ear, it is Her words that rule my actions. I go where She tells me to! I speak the words She puts on my tongue! I slay those She marks! What a group of bloated aristocrats have decided should be the so-called ďkingís lawĒ couldnít interest me less!

I understand that when we live in a society where many have yet to see the holy truth, we need worldly laws to govern harmonious coexistence. But those laws must never be allowed precedence over what Ashtar tells us! That is why we are gathered here now! I have heard that the law proposal that Tivito has tricked many to support is not the law they claim it is. We can never allow a worldly law to give others authority over how we shall serve Ashtar!

We must set aside our differences! We have a common enemy: Tivito, who seeks to trick us into giving them power over us. We must stand together to defeat the evil that threatens us all! If my suspicions are correct, we must prevail before the Day of Judgment. Our time is short, but together we can be victorious!

I have some thoughts about how to attack the situation, but Iím a stranger here, and with the rank of Slitherer I wonít pretend I can command you. Byblos isnít my city; the temples and chapels here are not my temples and chapels. It is your people, your snakes, your brothers and sisters, who are in immediate danger, so it is the two of you who must make the necessary decisions. I stand ready, available for any task you decide. I just have one demand: That we follow Ashtarís will. Now, let us pray!Ē

I had been so focused on berating Jaryn and Audria that I hadnít even noticed that Enani and the other Ashtarites had returned. There were more of them than I remembered. Audria nodded to me and led us in prayer, praising Your holy message. Then she announced that all quarantines were lifted; everyone could go where they pleased and talk to whomever they wanted. The congregation was surprised. Some were uncertain what this meant.

Audria put her hand on my arm and said she was going outside to tell those out there about this. Jaryn watched me with concern in his eyes, so I went to sit down with him and my friends. ďWhat now?Ē he asked. I said it had to be up to him and Audria to plan how to attack the situation. If they agreed that it would be best, we would go back to the Terrace of the Evening Sun. Jaryn asked if I dared hold the same speech there. Slightly offended, I said of course I did. Xipil commented that Elik might feel duped too if they got the same offer from Tivito as the Ashtarites had. I agreed, but I wasnít keen on presenting my case to them without proof of Tivitoís duplicity.

Enani left, and many congregants took that as a sign that they could go, too. Many stayed behind, though. I told Audria that Jaryn wanted to return to his temple and that I was going to speak there as well, but I repeated that the two of them had to cooperate. I asked if they wanted to speak privately before we moved on, and the clerics left the main chamber to talk in the side passages.

I returned to the altar and sat down to pray with the others there. They were more deferential than my rank should imply. They probably felt guilty about the situation that had arisen in Byblos and I supposed they didnít want me to give them the rough side of my tongue. They might not believe my claimed rank of Slitherer, considering how I had just castigated their leader. I gave them all reassuring smiles before closing my eyes. While I prayed, I sensed that what had transpired here had caused You to change Your mind about who was to die. Pride in my accomplishment surged through me, but my eyes burst open; I mustnít let it get the better of me. After all, it was You who gave me the words to speak, You who blessed me with a forked silver tongue.

Audria and Jaryn had finished their brief talk, for Jaryn was speaking to Wolfram, clearly discussing something with the occasional input from Grogg and Xipil. Seeing me observe them, Wolfram raised his voice and called my name. Time to go!

Audria announced that the sun was on its way down, reminding everyone indirectly about the curfew. Jaryn thanked her for their talk, but I noticed that there was still tension between them. At least they had talked. I knew they would talk again, and all would be well. I had Hope. I patted my pouch with a fond thought for Kraaís gift. As we were leaving, Xipil asked Jaryn if he knew how to contact Elik, in case we found evidence for Tivitoís deception. He didnít, unfortunately.
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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