Friday, July 10, 2020

Tavros: Clerical Issues

"There you go!" Tavros nodded approvingly as Aesa avoided his cut, then stepped in behind the blade. "Out and in, out and in. It's the only way to go up against a larger opponent. You can't win on strength."

She stepped back, keeping her shield forward but resting her mace on her shoulder. "Do you ever have to do that?"

"Not so far," he said, "but I'm unusual. I train for it, though, because sooner or later I'll run into something bigger and stronger and then I will." He stepped forward with a straight overhead cut, and she slid to the side — but her shield was angled wrong for the soft deflection she was attempting, and his blade slammed her arm down, throwing her balance off.

"Hold," Tavros said. "You have the right idea, you just didn't get it to work. Let's practice that one, say, ten times. Line back up; I'll swing, you sidestep and deflect... let's say half-speed. You work on getting the angle right, but don't forget to swing your mace out, too. Ideally, you'd want to shatter my forearm."

They switched from soft sparring into the drill, and by the end of it Aesa was panting and covered in sweat. "You're so good at this," she said, despairingly. "I'm never going to be that good."

"You won't need to," Tavros replied. "I'm a paladin. Fighting like this is kind of our thing. But you'll be a priestess. You have other ways of balancing the odds and getting things done. And as much as I enjoy this, there's more to life — and far more to serving Amun — than battle."

Later, as they were racking the heavy wooden practice blades and toweling off, Aesa asked: "You think I'll actually become a priestess?"

Tavros shrugged. "I don't pretend to know the mind of Amun," he said. "Did you feel called to become an acolyte?"

Aesa looked away. "No," she said after a moment. "After my father was... driven out... my mother decided that I might be safer here. We cried a lot, but she sent me off and here I am."

Tavros was silent for a long moment. "I'm sorry," he said. "The elves are evil, a threat to Sol Povos and the King himself. That's what I'm told. But that's not true of the ones I know, and it's not true of you. I don't know if it's true of anyone, much. But I know that Amun is a protector of people, and not a jealous god; and if you ask Him for help, He'll hear you -- even if you also offer worship to Corellan or the gods of your mother."

Aesa looked suddenly tired. "You believe that?"

Tavros nodded. "The Abbess herself suggested that I should offer praise to Demeter, in her aspect as a silver dragon, when I first began my studies. And there are other options: not all of the servants of the temple are priests and paladins. We have our warriors, even the savage ones like Akkora; we even have our scouts and spies. I think you have the makings of a priestess — and beyond that, I believe we need more priests who come to service from more than a single heritage — but I also think you're young, and still finding your way."

"You know that's true."

Tavros nodded. "So try things out. Experiment. Maybe I'm completely wrong. Maybe you should be a paladin, or a warrior, or even one of our handful of wizards. Did you know that the Temple of Amun investigates magical crimes?"

"I'd heard that, but..." Aesa shook her head. "We use wizards?"

"A few. Most are wizard-priests, and even then they're rare. But you and I should be used to not fitting into a single category, shouldn't we?"

Aesa was very still. Then she chuckled. Then she laughed. "No," she said. "No, I suppose we shouldn't."

"I'll show you what I can," Tavros said, "but ultimately it has to be your decision. And the only way to know the right course for yourself is to know yourself, and that takes time; it takes trial and error. There was a point in my life when I was determined to be a wizard, and I was... offended... to realize that I didn't really have the aptitude for it. I'm too physical; I like running and jumping and hitting things too much to settle in for that much study." He shrugged. "So I found my way here."

"I..." Aesa shook her head. "I'm sorry. I need to go think." She stood and walked away.

Tavros watched her go, hoping he had helped.

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