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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“So you've no idea then?”
“I gathered from her reactions that he was... special,” Nellise explained. “She spent
the rest of her life in service to the Church, and we have never discussed it again. I'm
sorry I can't provide you with more information,” she apologised, apparently noting
Aiden's crestfallen appearance.
“Not at all,” he replied, smiling in spite of himself. Aiden's mother had said that she
could always tell when he was lying because it was 'written all over his face'. With that to
contend with, young Aiden had quickly learned that it was pointless trying to be deceitful
or dishonest on purpose. His was an expressive face, as he had learned in more recent
years.
As he sat there, chewing on his unremarkable repast, Aiden found himself looking at
the acolyte‟s staff, and a thought occurred to him. This thought generated certain
questions; questions that would require a diplo matic approach.
“So, how long have you been with the Church of Aielund?” he ventured, genuinely
curious, as well as fishing for information.
“I have been an acolyte for a little over three years now,” she replied, “though
mother always had me doing chores and such down at the local chapterhouse since I was
ten. She felt it would build character. If she knew the sordid details of this morning‟s
encounter, she might have kept me from joining altogether.”
“Interesting. At what point were you taught to use that staff?” Aiden continued, as
Nellise glanced at the weapon that lay next to her on the sodden ground.
“I first held that staff a few months ago. Most of our training is defensive, of course.”
“So your order isn't a militant one?” Aiden pressed. Nellise suddenly seemed to
realise where his line of conversation was heading.
“Oh, not at all,” she assured him. “In fact, Kingdom law prevents members of the
clergy from having military or civilian rank, to avoid the sort of conflict of interest there
was in times past. I am an acolyte of the Resolute Heralds, our local chapter of the
Church of Aielund, dedicated to bettering civilisation. It was a different chapter that was
responsible for certain... unfortunate acts, long ago.”
Aiden knew what she was referring to, if only vaguely. The Church of Aielund had
an uneven history, the legacy of which was still being felt even today. But he felt this was
a good opportunity to gauge her reactions and understanding of that history.
“Times past?” he asked.
“Yes. Last century, the Church had great political power throughout the land, greater
than the King himself, and it was used... poorly.” Her voice was passionate - clearly this
was important to her. “Many suffered needlessly from accusations of impurity, heresy
and other such nonsense, as the more paranoid factions of the clergy took power.
Specifically, the Divine Templars, a chapter whose ethos was more focused on
maintaining order and strict adherence to the Codex Morium, our holy book and
centuries-old treatise on proper conduct, than any other concern.”
“The King was a weak man, so it fell to the people to rise up and stop the tyrant
Archieros and restore authority to the throne. The Divine Templars were disbanded, and
only three chapters of the church remain. Since then, the training doctrine for the
priesthood has been very strict, and places great emphasis on service, humility, and
repentance above all else.”
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