Friday, May 11, 2007

Snippet Friday!

This is from A Plague of Rats again, but earlier in the story. I hope I get a chance to work on it again!

***
Cedric The Benevolent, The Most Holy High Priest of the Ten, slammed his beefy fist down on the table top with a resounding crash that sounded like the very doors of paradise slamming shut. His bloated face, already red, had turned nearly purple, and bulging eyes fixed on the young priest across from him.

"You will be silent!" Cedric ordered, his voice a rumble of power and hatred .

"I will not."

A full twenty other priests sat at the table. They had been silent during the tirade between Cedric and Koya, but now Koya heard an audible gasp. He paid it no attention, his own gaze still fixed on the man across from him -- the Most Holy, The Most Wise... and the Most Blind. He had hoped for better.

"There is trouble coming," Koya said, and not for the first time, even in the last hour. Cedric's mouth clamped shut, but it wouldn't stay that way for long. Koya rushed forward, repeating -- all-Gods, if he repeated it enough, maybe someone would hear him. "There is a great welling of magic to the north and west, and it does not come from any good --"

"No one else has seen this trouble!" Cedric reiterated and his beady eyes nearly closed as he glared. "And we have priests always tuned to watch the Dragon Clans and the East, boy. We're not stupid."

"I never said you were. And I don't know that it's trouble from the Dragon Clans," Koya replied. That statement won a snort of derision this time. "I can't tell you exactly where or how... but the trouble is growing, leaching magic from the land, and growing stronger with each day. It pulses --"

He had lifted his hand, but at the start of a response from the Most Holy, he lowered it again. He had lost himself for a moment in the feel of that wound, growing still. It made him ill -- the more so since the Most Holy was not listening to him.

Kenning had told him it would happen this way. Kenning had said there would be problems, but he hadn't believed the man could be this blind --

"It's out there, Most Holy. It's going to be trouble, and we should prepare as best we can."

"And you -- you alone of all of us -- can feel this trouble." Cedric's fish eyes blinked in a face grown round and soft with too many easy years as the Most Holy.

"Maybe if you tried --"

"I do not take orders from a Nort bastard priest!"

Koya visibly flinched backward. He hadn't expected that attack, though he should have, he supposed. Was that the real problem here? That he came from the magic-less north, but that he had been blessed by the gods with more magic than many of the southern priests, had been a problem for him on both sides of the border. To the north he risked being killed by those who thought magic sent by demons, and to the south he found people who treated him like a demon for having been born in the north.

Cedric's taunt had not really surprised him, though he hadn't expected it so openly. It had drawn looks of shock and dismay from some of the others, though, who probably thought the Most Holy above such mundane, pettiness. All it won from Koya was a snort of disgust, and that didn't help the situation at all.

Nothing would.

"There is a problem growing," Koya said. "And if you can't feel it, that isn't my fault."

"You have come here," Cedric said and caught himself from saying something impolite again. Koya could see it in his face. "You have come here, bringing your northern ways to our temple, demanding our attention, fabricating trouble --"

Koya leaned forward. "You really can't believe --"

"You will be silent!"

So, they were back to that again, were they? Koya felt his own lips draw back in a sneer and though he saw a look of warning from Kenning, he knew it had gone beyond any hope of a quiet understanding. Though the head of the local temple, Kenning had always been at least calm in dealing with Koya over the last four years, even when he did seem to get into a lot of trouble.

Cedric leaned forward again, his right hand in a fist and pounding on the table, obviously not ready to give up his tirade, even though Koya had stopped arguing with the old fool.

"I will not have this behavior in the temple," Cedric said. "I will not have your contamination ruining the sanctity of this place. You have brought nothing but trouble --"

"I have not --"

"Silence!"

"No!"

Koya felt the anger boil up in him, a rage that he hadn't felt in years. He'd found peace here, mostly, but this damned bigoted priest stripped it all away in a meeting that had hardly taken an hour. Koya rose to his feet, and he saw priests all around the table move as though to stop him from leaping over and attacking the old fool. He had no intention of doing anything of the like. He had intended, in fact, in walking away.

"You are crippling the Temple with your bigotry. You are blind to the truth, not because you can't feel what's out there, but because you won't look."

"Only you can see this trouble? Only you have the gift? You lack the humility needed to be a true priest --"

"Well, I'm not going to learn it from you, am I?"

He heard the gasp of several people along the table, but his eyes stayed on Most Holy Cedric whose face had gone another level of red, and who, he feared, was about to have some kind of fit. All-Gods, he had not meant --

The High Priest stumbled to his feet, his mouth as though he gasped like a fish, his hands coming up in fists. Others reached for the priest to try and calm him --

And Koya realized he was in trouble just a moment too late.

The High Priest was not having a fit. His hands moved, the fists opening, and the magic swept over Koya before he could even yelp in protest, let alone bring up any kind of defense --

His legs gave way and he tried to grab at the chair, but he tangled in his own robes. He fell, his head swimming, the world moving out from under him. More priests shouted, but Most Holy was louder than any of them.

"I will not be insulted by norter rabble! I will not have this piece of trash, flung out from his own people, to curse us -- "

"Sir -- Most Holy --" Kenning protested.

"I will teach the bastard humility!"

They were drawing the Most Holy away, his white robe conspicuous in the cloud of sky blue priest's robes. Koya could hear them going, could see the robes and sandaled feet heading away toward the distant door, voices soothing the Most Holy as they led him out of the room, and left him lying their on the floor, stunned, hurt, angry and very much afraid.

Koya tried to sit up, and got part way before his right arm gave way with an agonizing pain that left him hissing for breath. But he tried again, and fell. And again --

"Careful, careful," Kenning said as he knelt beside Koya and helped him sit up. "You fool -- didn't I tell you not to annoy the Most Holy? Didn't I tell you it would land you in trouble?"
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3 comments:

cherylp said...

I still think that this is going to be a really great story.

Gabriele C. said...

I really, really hope something very bad is going to happen to that Holy A... :)

Jason said...

That was really cool! I really liked the tension! Tell me the "Most Holy" gets a few holes put in him. :D