Fragiel looked out the window at the capital city of Qyooniba. The view from his bedroom window at the temple had not changed much in the nine years he had lived there. That angered him. It angered him almost as much as having to live in this city in the first place. He would not have tolerated living here for this long except that his goddess had told him to do it. Not because she wanted him to be there, but because she needed him to be there.
In the time right before he moved there, the city of Qyooniba was in trouble. Its citizens were on the verge of rioting in the streets. The followers of each of the seven deities fought over which church should be ruling the city. In the end, the gods themselves stepped in and prevented the people from tearing their homes down.
The Seven enacted a compromise that decreed that each deity would have a temple within the city. Each of the temples would have a High Priest. A council, comprised of the seven High Priests, would then rule over the city, with all decisions being made by a majority vote. All of the gods agreed to this compromise, except for one: Accura, goddess of chaos. She argued that by imposing rules on her, and her followers, that the other gods were taking away her power and denying her faithful their free will. Eventually, she was forced to give up the fight, as she had no hope to win against all six of the others.
Though there were many of Accura’s followers that had been serving her longer, Fragiel had only been her priest for two years, the goddess chose him to be her High Priest. She told him it was because his father had been a soldier and brought him up in a strict military manner, making him used to a scheduled life. Fragiel always suspected that there was more to it, but he knew his goddess would never tell him.
A knock on the door interrupted his reverie. Parshal, one of the temple acolytes, opened the door and walked in. Normally, Fragiel would have chastised the man for entering without permission. Since he was anxiously awaiting the news Parshal was supposed to have gathered, he decided that he would wait.
“I’ve finished my interrogation of my fellow acolytes and the temple staff, High Priest Fragiel,” Parshal announced.
Fragiel waited for the man to continue, but he didn’t. “What did you find out,” he snapped.
“Nobody saw anything out of the ordinary except for the two cooks. They reported that they saw two strange dwarves exiting out through the kitchen. The dwarves, according to the cooks, wore the symbol of The House of Hond.”
Fragiel shook his head. The House of Hond was a dwarven clan notorious for being mercenaries. Two years ago, he had been part of the council vote to banish them from the city. Since the mercenary band was good at creating havoc, he voted for them to be allowed to remain, but he had been the only one.
Turning back to Parshal, he asked, “You were part of the city guard before you joined the temple, correct?”
“Yes, High Priest.”
“What do you make of this situation?”
“Either The House of Hond is not as good as their reputation says they are, or someone is trying to frame them for the theft. Either way, it is our only lead, and it should be followed.”
Fragiel had been thinking the same thing. He was also thinking that Parshal would probably be useful to him on the road. After ordering his acolyte to pack for the road, he pulled him aside. “Go to Main Street Inn. Ask the bartender there to send me his finest Mishaken wine as soon as possible. We’ll leave when it arrives.”
“Are you sure it’s wise to wait on a bottle of wine, High Priest?”
“It could be the difference between life and death. Now, go to the inn and get back here immediately to pack. We’ll need to be ready.”
An hour later, Parshal returned from his tasks. In that time, two new explanations for why the House of Hond had let themselves be known had popped into Fragiel’s head. Both of them were a lot more frightening than either The House of Hond being lazy or them being framed. It could also be that The House of Hond had information that made them believe that Fragiel, and his church, were no threat to them, or that The House of Hond let themselves be seen to draw Fragiel into a trap. Either way it was not good for him.
This line of thinking had him in a foul mood. His mood was not improved by Parshal, who was walking the grounds with his High Priest. Parshal, to Fragiel’s dismay, tried to fill the silences with small talk, but would also question Fragiel’s insistence that they wait for the package from the inn.
“Are you sure we have to wait for this wine,” Parshal asked once again.
The High Priest had finally had enough. “By our goddess, I swear if you ask me that one more time, acolyte, I will decapitate you and ask Accura to smite your headless corpse.”
Suddenly, Fragiel felt cold steel against his neck. He immediately froze. “That’s not very nice, priest. You should learn to play better with others.”