Monday, July 28, 2008

Chapter 18b: A Simple Sermon

Piet Lithor stood behind the pulpit, rubbing his stubble ridden chin and looking at the fifteen or so people who sat in the dozen pews before him. He had been asked to speak to the people in the duke's private chapel, a dining room sized affair and seldom used. Everything in the chapel was at least as grand as the main temple with carved pews, a marble pulpit, soft cushioned chairs and pews, but somehow it didn't feel the same any longer. He felt as though he didn't belong in front of these people, he no longer felt worthy of representing Lord Vaspar.

An echoing cough and shuffle of feet pulled him from his thoughts. The people were getting anxious. He had been staring at them, consumed by his doubts, far too long. His hand ran from his rough beard to nervously comb through his greasy thinning hair. Lord Vaspar, what do I say to these people, men and women who are relying on me to guide them through these troubled times?

Deep down he had hoped that Lord Vaspar would tell him what to say, give him some direction. Silence answered him.

With a sigh he grasped the front of the pulpit and began. "I...I no longer feel worthy of leading you in Lord Vaspar's light. Time and again he has tested my metal and found me unworthy, but I ignored him. I went about my business, strutting around like the lead cock when in reality I was the lowest of you. My arrogance and my pride blinded me to the truth that is Lord Vaspar. You good people probably know him better than I do. You follow him in blind faith. You meet now expecting the grand Piet to give you words of comfort, something that will ease your troubled souls and allow you to sleep at night. I am sorry, but I can't give you people that. I would like to, but..but Lord Vaspar hasn't given me any great words of wisdom to impart on you. He hasn't told me comforting words that will ease your fears or loss.

"All I can do is relate my personal experience and tell you that Lord Vaspar saved me from this ravaged city. When my priests, Vaspar bless their lost souls, tried to get me and turn me into one of them Lord Vaspar was there to save me. He didn't show up in a golden ray of light as he did in the holy book of Chronis. He didn't offer his blessing upon me, didn't bestow upon me the power to beat my enemies. He didn't speak to me and tell me how this is going to turn out."

Piet Lithor rubbed his tired eyes. Hope. These people need hope and all I now do is blather on about how we are lost and Lord Vaspar has offered no aid. Get it together priest. Lead your people, Piet.

He looked at the small group gathered before him and shook his head. Is this all that is left? Are these the last followers of the faith within Renier?

Reaching down to his side he pulled the Holy Sword out of its scabbard and held it high before the people. He gazed at the silver sword, Vaspar's talisman. "This, my friends, is what the Lord Vaspar bestowed upon me. This holy sword is anathema to those retched souls. They can't touch it and are even distraught by the site of it. That is the power of Lord Vaspar. That is the power that saved me when all hope was gone."

He again looked through the group of people, hoping to see someone who survived from the Temple. He didn't recognize anyone. Surely someone else survived. I will need to find out as soon as I am done here.

"Another gift from the Lord Vaspar is his Temple, and I assume this chapel also. They are incapable of touching holy ground. It kills them faster than any sword will. Remember that in the days to come. Lord Vaspar still holds power over what is his and this madness can't take that away. Though the forces of evil...

The chapel doors burst open, banging against the wall like a sledge hammer and echoing through the room. Bos Spielter stumbled through, his hand on his neck and blood oozing between his fingers. He took a few steps into the chapel, his eyes never leaving the Piets, then fell on his knees as though about to pray.

"Nowhere is safe." He wheezed and coughed, blood coating his teeth and sprinkling the floor with red dew. "They're here, here in the palace. We're all gonna die..." The last words distorted and gurgled as blood welled up the Bos' throat and spilled over his bottom teeth. His eyes grew wide and he fell forward, blood formed a widening pool around his head.

Two men jumped up and ran to Bos' Spielter.

"Stop! Don't touch him." Piet Lithor sprang from the pulpit and stood between the two men and the body.

The men's eyes grew wide as they stared behind the Piet. A woman screamed. A nauseating stench filled the room, rotting meat cooked over coals of garbage. He turned. A greasy black smoke rose from the Bos' convulsing body, billowing to the ceiling and covering it like a thunder cloud.

Piet Lithor almost told everyone to run from the Chapel, then remembered his sermon. They stood on holy ground, untouchable by the abominations. They would remain safe in the chapel.

He spoke through clenched teeth, fighting nausea brought about by the stench and watching the Bos' skin and organs dissolve until only charred bones remained. "Everyone stay here. You will be safe until I return. I'm going to inform the duke."

Everyone stared at the blackened bones. No one offered to accompany him. No one needed to. The well being of their souls was his duty. The preservation of their lives his responsibility, his penance for the vulgar life he had lived.

Lifting the holy sword before him he stepped out into the corridor to find the Duke.

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