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Short Story
The Cleric
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Writer Mystral
  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • R: Restricted
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The Cleric
A - A - A
Mar 14, 2018
10 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!1T8iYu5EFPsIIbIGzujiposted on PENANA

The snow was falling heavy on the ground. It was hard to see where the white horizon of the snow faded into the grey horizon of the sky. Though there was no wind, we figured we would make good time pressing on. Just as we couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of us, if anything was out there, we figured they couldn’t see anything either. I could hear Theron’s breathing become labored as the snow got deeper, from ankle depth to almost knee height. I cast a renewal spell on Theron and slowly his breathing returned to a normal breathing pattern. Behind me Vera and Meryl were doing a bit better as neither of them had to make this trek in heavy armour. I had just begun to pull my scarf a little tighter around my neck when something caught the corner of my eye. I threw up a barrier moments before the area was inundated with a rain of fire.copyright protection10PENANAbVgiwwE0JF

“Behind you!” Theron yelled as he motioned behind me. I felt a heavy object hit my head and the world tipped sharply to the side. Dimly, I could see Theron running towards me as my vision grew blurred and it became harder to keep my eyes open. It was sort of ironic, I thought idly. I was just another cleric, leaving as quietly as I had arrived. How had it all come to this?copyright protection10PENANAOLzW4xq9c6

The world went dark.copyright protection10PENANAYEPHPxnp2H

I remembered.copyright protection10PENANAIdCYv9v9af

I remembered sitting next to a fire place on the floor, reading a book. There were illustrations of weapons in there, mostly swords, which seemed odd as I hadn’t wielded a sword since the age of about ten. I turned around and behind me sitting on a chair with her feet crossed on a stool was a woman with long brown hair coming over her shoulders. She wore a checkered blue and white robe. I recognized her as Synelia Ocelot, my big sister and mentor since I had arrived here at the Kingdom of Azura.copyright protection10PENANAPY0oU4Wle8

She’d never been one for many words; often speaking in short, poignant phrases, bordering on riddles.  I had often thought it was because she simply didn’t have command of the language, but in hindsight, her willingness to give us answers in riddles should have easily dismissed this prognosis.  She’d been a cleric at the time, however as I grew up I always remember hearing stories of her time as a sorceress. Even among the Cyri who would normally look down on Terrans such as me and Synelia, all spoke highly of her sorcery prowess, and some would even venture to say she could have taken it further.  So why would Synelia, who was an amazing sorceress in her own right, have demoted herself to that of a lowly cleric? 14Please respect copyright.PENANAYI4UtjmaER
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I leaned forward and the question slipped from my lips, “Synelia, why did you change from a sorceress to a cleric?  Don’t sorceresses get more credit for things than clerics?”copyright protection10PENANAZK5BJBLfKV

Synelia lowered the book enough just so that her eyes could see me and grinned.  “The strongest forces in life do not have to be seen to be felt.”copyright protection10PENANAuAUuZPzVbO

I hadn’t understood, then.copyright protection10PENANA4E0RWVvMdx

Later, there was an ad posted on the guild boards.  House Eclipse was looking for a cleric to assist with their Expeditionary Force into the cold North Lands.  I by now had been a fully qualified cleric for about five years.  Life had been a mediocrity, but it paid the bills.  House Eclipse was a well-known noble house, maybe this was my chance to raise my profile without having to risk to life and limb like the higher level guild and temple clerics do when they are called out to dragon hunts or war missions.  I applied and was accepted to a trial a few days later.copyright protection10PENANAEciJO2kzh5

That was when I met Lady Miho Eclipse.  Though short in stature, standing only one hundred and sixty five centimeters tall, she was well known to use every bit of that height to defend her allies, once famously drawing the attention of a giant and bracing against their attacks for hours while her allies regrouped and formulated a counter offensive.  Despite her short stature, she spoke with a voice of authority that resonated to all those gathered in the hall that day.  It never rose to a scream, but the way she articulated and the way her voice echoed, let you know that she was sure of herself.  One or two couldn’t hold their nerve, and they were quickly gathered and moved away.  She then informed us that our trial would not include healing, but a simple question.  Us that had gathered looked at each other, a small murmur could be heard, but when she ordered us quiet, everyone quieted down.  She stood before us and looked up and down the line, her arms crossed, and a stern look on her face.  A smug grin crossed her face before she asked the question.  “You are in a fight; you feel the strain of your constant casting starting to creep in.  Your allies and enemy both seem near wits end when suddenly your enemy makes a break and charges past your protector who is too exhausted to move towards your sorceress.  You are between the enemy and the sorceress, what do you do?”  She let us think for a moment, as everyone looked to their neighbours and down the line. ‘You heal of course.  Isn’t that what we do?  Side step the charge and let the sorceress take the hit.’ It was a no brainer, or so I thought… 14Please respect copyright.PENANAKV4H0kKQph
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All those who said heal the protector were dismissed.  All those who evaded and healed after the enemy struck the sorceress were also dismissed.  Many grumbled, but none dared speak aloud anything to Miho so long as her dark stare was upon them.  Finally, at the end of the line she came to me.  I had already heard that healing was wrong, and had seen everyone dismissed before me.  She was a little shorter than I, and stood a few paces away so she did not need to crane her neck for her black eyes to meet my green eyes.  Her face was still set in a scowl as she addressed me.  I felt her glare burning inside, my stomach felt woozy and my head began to spin.  I closed my eyes, and clenched my fists.  I blurted out an answer, ‘You wall off the sorceress and then heal the protector!’ copyright protection10PENANAEE5Fw1A1NN

There was silence after that.  I had expected her to give me my marching orders.  I had broken the unspoken rule.  I had taken action and placed healing as a secondary objective.  I slowly opened my eyes to her face.  No longer was it set in a scowl, instead there was a smile.  “You pass,” she said as her facial features softened.  “Welcome aboard,” she said as she extended her hand to me.  My tension drained and I shook her hand, rather weakly compared to the strength with which she shook mine.copyright protection10PENANAzr0SbOVwoc

I moved in a few days later with the rest of the clerics that worked for House Eclipse. My roommate however was Princess Kura Lumisade, third in line to the throne. To me, she did not seem the princess type; polite, and reserved. Her blue hair was kept neatly tied back in a bun, and her large sea blue eyes constantly wandered the room around her as if searching for something. I had heard of her exploits as a sorceress, although they were almost always overshadowed by her older sister Kylma. She was on mandatory bed rest when I got there, allowing us to spent some time chatting. Late in the day, I asked her if she was moved to the clerics because it was easier and safer as she was of royal bloodline. She laughed at me, to the point of coughing. Once she had stopped coughing and wheezing she looked at me and spoke in a soft tone, “Killing is easy. Living is hard.”copyright protection10PENANABUYhkeWA5x

I sighed, and my shoulders drooped. That response sounded like something Synelia would say. Maybe it was a cleric thing. I then mentioned the test question Miho had given. How healing seemed to be the wrong answer, and I managed to pass by ignoring the cardinal rule of heal first, attack latter. “One ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure,” Kura waved her finger. “Yes we heal, but if we can avoid healing, we can put our energy into other things. In theory another acceptable answer would have been to withdraw, depending on the state of your allies versus how strong your opponent is.” She then chuckled and smiled warmly as she spoke to me, “I did not move to the clerics because it was easy. I moved because it can be challenging. Yeah, most days it can be pretty mundane, but every so often you find yourself in a high pressure situation. Who do you prioritize to heal? What actions do you prioritize? Do you defend attack or heal? Your mind is always thinking, processing, analyzing.”14Please respect copyright.PENANAB4snROF82y
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“So why doesn’t anyone treat clerics with any respect?” I asked.copyright protection10PENANANkpNdAB860

Kura again laughed at me between fits of coughing before responding, “Oh but they do. The protectors rib the knights, the sorcerers rib the archers, and the monks rib the swordsman, but none of them ever rib the clerics. Think of it as a silent thank you. And while most of us don’t particularly get any glamourous tales spread about us, we often precipitate the events that lead to the tales of glory and valour.”14Please respect copyright.PENANAO1hSVKchVQ
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“I don’t get it,” I shrugged. “What do we do that precipitates any of that?”copyright protection10PENANAuRmGZLp8Ka

“Because we are the heart of the party and the heart is the strongest muscle.”copyright protection10PENANA5xvvlI6XRd

“What type of lame power is heart? Heart never saved anyone.”copyright protection10PENANAXcVRvW63TV

“Heart gives rise to hope. Hope that no matter what we can pull through anything. Legends are made because someone abandoned all reason and stood their ground. A protector doesn’t hold their ground for hours off their own abilities. Likewise a sorceress will not rain down attacks without regard for their own safety if they believe it will kill them.”copyright protection10PENANAHnN34MPuUz

She then took my hand and placed it upon my chest. “Do you feel that? That’s your heartbeat. If that beat stops, so do you. Yet do you ever for a minute to stop and tell it thanks? It’s the same for clerics. We work tirelessly, often with little outward thanks, but the minute we stop working, so too most times do our teams.”copyright protection10PENANAE07avtSCqJ

I felt the steady thumping of my heart, the vibrations traveling up my hand. It was cold. Far colder than I remember it being; than it should have been. I slowly realized that Princess Kura was no longer sitting in front of me. I was on the ground, my eyes were closed, and I was very cold.14Please respect copyright.PENANA9FMdnMx7DX
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I could hear the sound of metal on metal in the distance, getting closer as I struggled up through the fog that seemed to be pressing my eyes closed. I got them open, and sat up. “She’s up!” I heard Meryl yell from somewhere behind me. As I struggled to my feet, I saw Theron’s shield starting to list to the side. Vera had retreated out of the direct line of combat back towards Meryl who herself was breathing heavy as she slowly cast a spell. I felt my fist tighten. Theron was on his last, and so was Meryl, and Vera had withdrawn. If they could fight to the end, so too could I. I fought to get to my knees and cast a renewal spell. Slowly, ever so slightly at first, Theron’s shield moved up to its proper position. Meryl’s casting speed recovered to almost maddening levels and Vera reentered the fray. Despite being in snow, my hand felt warm. I looked down at it and saw it glowing with a pale white light.14Please respect copyright.PENANAoe2RCUFh2I
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As I finally was able to stand on my feet, the white glow had now become more intense, I remembered the words of my sister, and of the princess, and I finally understood. People will tell tales of how Theron made himself an indestructible and impassable wall. Others will tell tales that Meryl and Vera rained fiery death upon an enemy foolish enough to oppose them. But there would be no tales that regaled how I fought to keep everyone’s spirits up during our darkest hour. Just like no one thanks their heart for getting them through even the most mundane of days, so too is it with clerics. We are there for the hard times and for the easy times. We are a force that is felt by all, but only acknowledged by a precious few. Killing is indeed easy one way or the other, but keeping a team alive. Now that is a difficult task.copyright protection10PENANAFbLNlhgeTG

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