Chapter One Rude Awakenings Part Three

Day 786, 06:33 Published in Philippines Philippines by Josie Brooks
When the sun came over the horizon that morning, all the clerics had long since been awake and busy. He was no different than any of them, in that respect at least. Kneeling before a Priestess of The Cudgel he felt the power of his god flow through him, promising him the strength he needed to accomplish any goal that might be set before him today.

As he knelt there he felt a tingle begin at the back of his neck. Someone had begun watching him. Finishing his prayers, he touched his holy symbol and stood. He went to the door and almost immediately fell to his knees again for before him stood The High Priest of his God, Saint Cuthbert, The Cudgel. The Cleric’s full plate shone in the candlelight, always kept immaculate. He looked down at Ariel with stony, unforgiving eyes and gestured for him to follow, then turned on his heel and walked swiftly away.

Wondering what he had done wrong, he followed the High Cleric to the office held by that most pious leader of his faith. Head bowed with respect despite the fact that no one was looking at him, he decided he wasn’t praying enough…….or maybe not training enough…….or was it that he wasn’t devout enough? No, that couldn’t be it. There was almost no one here who was more devoted to the goals of the Church than he was. What could it be?

Entering the office, Sir Robert stood at his window, watching the sun rise for a moment. Ariel grew more and more nervous as the seconds ticked by. His palms began to sweat and he began to wonder if he might be being tossed out.

Sir Robert turned to face him and pointed at a chair. Ariel sat.
“Do you know why I have called you here, boy?”
Ariel shook his head no, then, realizing his mistake as Sir Robert’s eyebrow arched up, he hastily added “No Sir, I do not.”
“We here at the Church know that you have been friendly with a certain…..adventuring company before. We would like you to travel with them again.”
Ariel stood up and, forgetting his training in his surprise blurted out “An assignment? That’s what this was about?” then flushed and bowed his head again.
“That’s right. An assignment for The Church of The Cudgel. A very important mission. We need you to stop a fraud from giving this Church a bad name.” sitting at his desk he passed a piece of paper to Ariel, who looked at it briefly. It was a report of a Cleric of St. Cuthbert killing a child in the street, declaring the heinous act to be “holy vengeance” for some crime.
Looking aghast at what he was reading, Ariel quoted to himself, “Thou shalt protect the innocent from evil and shall lead thy children down the path of righteousness and good.”
The High Cleric nodded in agreement. According to the teachings of St. Cuthbert children were not responsible for their own actions, they needed to be taught, not punished.
“Who has committed this atrocity in our Lord’s name?” Ariel demanded, forgetting protocol completely in the heat of his desire to smite this thing that dared to call itself “Cleric”.
“Her name is unknown to us. You shall have to discover that on your own. She shouldn’t be hard to find though. Everything we know is in those papers you now hold. If you can, bring her back alive to face trial and punishment by the Church. If you can not, met out whatever punishment the Cudgel inspires you to. That will be all.” Just like that, Ariel was dismissed from the office.
Taking the papers with him, Ariel went to his trunk at the foot of his bunk in the barracks and packed his things. Eager as he was to track down this foul blasphemer, he still did not forget to bow his head to the holy symbol hanging over the door on his way out of the church and toward his mission.

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The Cast of Today's Episode
Ariel David Buena as Ariel, the Cleric of Saint Cuthbert