Story time: The First Temple, part 5

After three days of pointless waiting and entirely too much harassment, Shilloh was finally able to climb down the Temple steps towards his career of choice; at his back stood a gaggle of priestlings, too chickenshit to set a single foot out of the gates.

He'd been forced to brave a gauntlet of clerics, from novitiates to full-fledged priests, eager to tell him a parting word. Some of them were of encouragement or thanks; entirely too many were agonized requests for him to reconsider his path, to think of the dangers, to remember how the mere fact of his existence was—

For his own sanity he tuned everything out, even the well-wishing. He would rather take the support and toss the rest, but…

The Rings did not pick and choose what to hear. That would have defeated the purpose.

He'd kept his gaze firmly ahead, and someone had sobbed as he strode by. My lord father let me join because of you, or something like that. I'm safe now, he could have sworn they'd added. He wished he could sit and properly hear that tale, but twenty others were clamoring for him to stay and not risk his precious life by actually living it.

Disregarding both encouragement and discouragement sounded fair in theory. In practice, everyone and their smelly dog wanted Shilloh to sit quietly home being a good little morality tale, and he'd been afforded precious little support outside of his own people.

Claiming it fair was just more of the bald-faced sophistry that had surrounded his entire existence, and he was damned if he were to endure a single second more of it.

"Well, Pakita, I hated all of that," he said, with a levity he didn't feel. "But I appreciate you not going apeshit on their asses. Some of them really didn't deserve that, and hurting the innocent to get to the guilty smacks of Indifference."

Pakita snorted. It looked like a marsh's worth of fog being violently expelled from her nostrils.

"What? It's my job to measure that kind of horse-piss, now," he told her. "That's why the flipside of the Mother is not to be blithely invoked, no matter how much you wish to smack a dipshit. And speaking of!"

He tapped his crook on the cobblestones. Extremoz was a land of extremes, from its perch at Galeport's westernmost tip, to the highs and lows of its geography; and although its Queen was famous for her radical support of the common people— or infamous, as the case may be, for her blatant disregard of proper societal roles— the class divide in Extremoz was still, in many cases, extreme.

Shilloh turned against the wind, toward the brown stain of the docks and the slums, and the sparkle of the nearby ocean.

He was a paladin, now, and it was his duty to go where dipshits daren't tread.

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