The next morning came far to quickly for either. The first restful night of sleep had taken Zoar, wether she wanted it or not. The discomfort and insecurity of the drastic change her life had taken were still lingering. Doubt and fear made sure to not stay gone for too long.
Gilbred was awake when she woke, the frustration from last night’s events hadn’t fully left his countenance.
“I’m going to run some errands today, but I need you to stay here,” GIlbred walked to the door.
“How long are you going to be gone?” Zoar was bothered that she had to stay put like a puppy.
“I don’t know, I will try and check in before noon. I’ve never been to this Cleland city, so it may take me a little longer than it normally would.”Very well, if I do not see you come nightfall I will flee the city; assuming something has happened to you,” she scratched at her back, the meager room had given her mean itch.
Zoar was left alone, in her windowless prison only to wait for a strange man she had met days earlier to hopefully return with unspecific supplies. She flopped back angry with her situation, only to smack her head on the eroding wooden floor.
There was a sudden thrashing; Zoar ripped the pelts off and grabbed her spear startled and confused she faced the door. Gilbred burst through the door and spun around to secure it closed.
“What is it?!” Zoar asked frantically, preparing to face whatever it was in combat.
“They’ve found us, they’ve found you!” his voice was angry and biting.
There wasn’t anything in the room sturdy to block the door, and regret crept in with the realization that their room had no windows. Gilbred fought to keep the door shut from the immense force on the other side. A rushing wind filled the room and the door burst into splinters consuming Gilbred. Through the dust shadows poured in and the High Priestess leapt through the darkness. Zoar’s body responded in kind, leaping through the air spear ready to run her through.
Sweat poured off Zoar’s shaking body. A moment passed before it was clear that it was a dream that had startled her awake. A swift breeze blew in the stuffy room as Gilbred stepped through the door. Zoar went for her spear instinctively and leapt to her feet startling him.
“It’s just me,” he said closing the door behind himself.
He carried a pack stuffed full of supplies, and tossed it on the floor between them. His attention was turned to the candle that threatened to go out at any moment. While he replaced it, Zoar looked the bag over.
“What hour is it?” she asked, sitting down on a small stool.
“Nearly dark, I was worried you would have anticipated my going missing and left. It seems you slept all day instead,” he leaned down to the bag and pulled its leather flap open. “I got you a change of clothes, some supplies for our travels, and this,” he gestured to the mace at his hip. “I must say I do prefer a good broadsword, but I was running low on money and the smith wouldn’t budge on his price.”
“What’s our plan now?” hopefully he had time to think of something, she was a complete foreigner here without any idea of what to do next.
He paused, “I have no idea. I haven’t had any time to consider that,I was a Judge not a tactician.”
“What does that mean?”
“I’ve been appointed by Sendiil to be His right hand of judgement, when a community under the Remnant’s authority needed assistance whether moral or judicial a Judge would be sent.”
“Why are you no longer a Judge?”
She hit a nerve, “I have to assume that I wronged Sendiil, and it was my punishment. A sin unatoned,” a moment of shame covered his face just before he redirected the conversation.
“I don’t think it’s safe here for us, you specifically. Though you seem to be different, which is yet undecided in itself, you’re people are still the animals they’re known for. It’s only a matter of time before someone comes for you-“
“Do not see me as a human just as yourself?” her transparency stumped him for a moment.
“What does your god think of me?” she pushed forward.
“You are fallen, there’s been no atonement for your wickedness,” he concluded.
“So why is it you continue to watch after me? Do you think you will atone somehow through penance?”
Her raw emotions were starting to get some air. Without a moment to think, only time to act there has been no chance to be honest with herself.
“I can’t explain it… I simply know what has been revealed to me,” she waited for him to elaborate, her dark eyes boring into him; for once she had the advantage.
“The Psalmanir says, ‘I am Light, even shadows are illuminated to me’. You are not the only person who has had some kind of encounter with this man of light. I do not believe in chance, and I have never before heard of this apparition. Though, I am wary, the Creature tends to parade as light; he is the Deceiver.”
“So you think there’s some connection between me and the other person who saw the man? You think this Sendiil has appeared to us?”
“I do not know that, nor would I make any claim that He would be so greatly humbled to walk amongst His creations. Why He would choose to appear to you would only deepen His mystery to me. But, I am hungry and I would assume you are as well having not eaten anything all day. Let’s go and get something to eat.
The festivities from last night had not been matched tonight. There were only a handful sitting in the great room and none carried any kind of mirth on their faces. The bartender was as professional as he could muster taking their orders. Zoar and Gilbred turned to find a seat when they were surprised by the first booth from the bar. The man charming man with the hat sat by himself with a book and a grin, fingering the two stones from earlier.
Zoar tensed knowing there was no avoiding a confrontation from Gilbred.
As he stepped towards the booth the man spoke, “Have a seat friend, I’ve been waiting for you.”
Gilbred stopped in his tracks, “Have you been following us?”
“No, I knew you would be here. I tend to be early with these things, but that’s better than late; that would be rude,” he looked at Zoar and winked. “Sit sit, you’re making me antsy.”
They both sat, Gilbred more apprehensive than herself.
“Why is it you desecrate Sendiil’s tools?” he asked in disgust gesturing to the two stones on the table, “Using them for bar games and gambling!?
“I don’t feel I was given a full opportunity to explain my original statement,” he digressed. “I’ve seen you before.”
“What do you mean? And what does that have to do with what you said?” Gilbred was annoyed.
“Why do you think Truth and Revelation are concealed for only the Priests?” Zoar was having a difficult time making the connections the man was making.
“Who are you to question the authority of the Remnant?!” Gilbred was getting flustered.
“You see, the one you serve is very different from the one I serve. Though the Psalmanir describes the leaders as being ‘anointed’ for their position, that’s not to say that He cannot bestow His generosity on anyone He chooses.”
“Your words are rich coming from a gambling man, I suppose you are a holy man as well,” Gilbred quipped.
“Ah and we have come full circle haven’t we, you are so easy to anticipate. You are casting judgement yet you are no longer one. Do you not see the irony here?” Gilbred started to interrupt but was cut off, “I’ve seen you before I saw you. I knew you would be here, unfortunately it took two nights of waiting to actually watch you come through the doors, like I said early.”
“Are you saying Sendiil gave you a vision?” his tone was on the edge of insulted by the thought.
“That’s precisely what I’m saying, I’m glad you’ve joined the conversation. I know the gambler, the wicked man of the world or whatever it is you think of me; I’m glad He sees things a little different. Do you wish to have me prove it?”
“And do what,” Gilbred asked with a mocking tone, “cast the stones?”
“What else would we do?”
Gilbred was forced into another challenge. Zoar watched as a man who was never to be challenged, now being tested and questioned. Imagine how the High Priestess would’ve reacted had she ever been questioned; the thought was pushed from her mind quickly.
“Very well, Sendiil will honor my heart. I seek the truth, regardless of what you seek,” Gilbred stood and pulled another long table against their booth table.
“Would you like to do the honors?” the man asked with a smile.
Gilbred snatched the stones with his gloved hand, took a moment of silence with his eyes closed then cast the stones down the length of the table. They skittered and slid nearing the edge. They both slowed just as they rested on the corner of the table top, Zoar and Gilbred both holding their breath in suspense.
The black stone leaned and slipped off the table with a clatter.
“Do not move,” Gilbred ordered.
He carefully leaned under the table without bumping it to see where the black stone had landed. He came up with a sober expression. Zoar did the same, peeking beneath to see that the stone had landed in such a way that it had double backed towards the three.
“What does it mean?” Zoar whispered.
“It means I have spoken the truth young one.”
The bartender arrived with their meals, “The foods cold,” he said sliding the bowls over to them and sloshing some of their contents on the table.