That’s how long the wait is at now.
As we get closer (eep!), I’ll share some of the special events lined up for the weekend before launch day. There’s a podcast I’ll be on, and Creative James Media is doing an online party for me on the 12th. Until that point, though, here’s another teaser story from the newsletter.
For today, though, a bit of backstory!
The bell pealed for a fifth time, causing panic to rise in Thia. Grabbing the front of her acolyte robe, she hurried as fast as she dared toward the main hall. A week at the cloister, sitting in solitude while she mourned Papa, was all that Father Philip would allow. Lessons would begin tomorrow. Tonight, she would dine with the rest of the members who lived within the church’s compound.
Rounding a corner, she saw the last of the line that filed into the vast dining hall. She picked up the pace. I have to get in before they close the doors if I want to eat.
One of the guards held out his hand as she approached. “Who are you?” he growled.
“My name’s Thia Bransdottir. I’m an acolyte,” she stammered.
He snorted, “Since when did Keroys allow Fallen witches within his church?”
“Since last week, when I brought her here.” Father Philip appeared at the door, staring at the guard. Holding out his hand, he continued, “Come, Thia. The other instructors asked that I save a place for you at our table. They wish to meet you before your classes begin.”
Swallowing her nervousness, she took his hand. As they walked into the hall, she whispered, “I’m scared. What if everyone hates me because I look like her?”
“That’s one reason we all decided to have you eat with us tonight. It’s a show of unity, to the rest of the students. And the priests and priestesses, the staff, and even the guards, that you are under our protection. Keroys came to us today, Thia. He explained to us that we must keep you safe, train you. He is keenly interested in your future.”
She glanced up at him, her lilac eyes wide. “Keroys has an interest in me? Why? I’m nobody.”
Father Philip smiled, “He didn’t share with me beyond that.” Leading her around the end of the high table, he stopped in front of a pair of empty chairs near the center.
The hall had fallen silent. Thia’s heart pounded in her chest as she became keenly aware of it. Darting her eyes up, she caught sight of a sea of hostile faces.
“Fallen witch!” A single voice called out.
“Silence!” Father Philip’s voice carried across the entire hall. As one, the table full of instructors rose. “Let it be known to everyone, regardless if they are here present or not, that Thia Bransdottir is an acolyte within Keroys’s church. His grace is with her, as much as it is with each of you. If any dare to bring harm to her person, they will be expelled.” His stance shifted, “I know it will be difficult for some of you to accept her because of her maternal line. I knew her father. He was as human as any of us, and more compassionate and loving than many of you. I see it in your faces. The prejudice, the hatred, simply because of something she cannot control. If you wish to see her leave, seek Keroys in your prayers. Only on his orders will she be sent from here.”
The teachers began to sit, and Thia hurriedly followed suit. I know he meant well, but why do I still feel like there’s a target on my back? If they didn’t hate me before, they do now. Holding back the tears, she picked up a spoon and dipped it into the bowl of soup that was set before her.
BB/Chan Eil Eagal Orm