Scribe of Texas Book Page Scribe of Texas Poems Scribe of Texas Short Stories Scribe of Texas Fan Fiction Scribe of Texas Preaching Politics Scribe of Texas email

Universe of G-Minor Logo
All the Heavens - Title

Chapter 4

The Towers of Kicce´, as the temple to the Lord of Light was known, was just east of Prince Abend’s palace. It was a stately affair, yet there was a hint of whimsy about it as well, almost as if it had been built without the benefit of an architect’s plans. At least that’s how it had always looked to Aaren. He loved the old place but never could get rid of the feeling it was unfinished somehow. He paused at the bottom of the steps, as he had done so many times before and tried to find the flaw, the cornice or spire, maybe the window out of place, that gave him that impression and as always, was unable to put his finger on it. He shook his head in mild amusement at the picture he was making of himself and hurried on up the steps into the temple that had been his home and sanctuary since he was a newborn child.

He’d been found on the steps of the temple when he was no more than two or three days old, wrapped in tattered rags, a note pinned to him. The note said his name was Aaren and would the priests please find him a good home where he would be loved. Aaren was a name from the Old Tongue that meant lofty or inspired, so his mother must have had high hopes for him. There was no one to take the child or claim him so they named him Aaren Valed. Valed was also from the Old Tongue and meant child or offspring.

There were many who felt the name no longer suited him for he had grown into a blond blue-eyed man, tall and pleasing to behold, his short beard only adding to his good looks. He was given to frequent laughter and mischievous pranks that endeared him to others rather than irritating them. As the years went past it became obvious that he was a natural leader, able to motivate others with a word or gesture. He was also the ringleader in class when trouble was afoot and his teachers all said that he’d go far in the world – if they didn’t hang him first, and his winning personality made that eventuality unlikely.

Because he was raised by the priests of the Lord of Light, it was a foregone conclusion he would also become a priest there as well. Indeed, it almost seemed to be his natural calling; he learned everything they shoved at him with astonishing speed. They had but to explain an esoteric point of theology once and he comprehended it as well as his teachers. He learned to read and write so quickly it was as if he was simply remembering what he had once known rather than truly learning it for the first time. Even the battle lessons with hammer and mace, he picked up with little apparent effort. Among his teachers and in the halls of the temple it was whispered that he was a future candidate for the position of High Priest, and even his childhood friends believed that to be his destiny. Of all those who lived, only Rymorn, the current High Priest, knew different.

On the day Aaren was found on the temple steps, Rymorn, acting on a hunch, cast an augury and learned some of the truth about Aaren’s future, a future destined to take him far afield from the haunts of civilized men.

Aaren, ignorant of Rymorn’s concern for his future, hurried through the main temple and the sanctuary beyond. Coming into the inner, private areas of the complex he cut across the gardens and flung open the door to his quarters with a bang. The tiny room was immaculate from his final preparations and cleaning. His pack, bulging with supplies, lay on the cot along with his war hammer and mace. He tightened the straps back down and slung the pack on. Picking up his weapons, he slid them into the holders on his hips. Turning, he surveyed the room for a moment then left, pulling the door gently closed behind him.

No longer in a hurry, he strolled slowly through the corridors, nodding to passing priests and exchanging final partings with them as he went. They had thrown a huge farewell party for him the night before so most of the partings were perfunctory.

Coming down the steps of the temple he saw Horace, clad in shining armor, stalking down the street from the Raven Bridge, one of the nine bridges that spanned the Nimhes River between Gryreflex and Thorginbelt, his face set in a stormy expression. Not the best omen for a successful start, Aaren thought, wondering if Horace and his father had been arguing about money again. He hurried to intercept his friend.

A sack hit him in the chest, clinking against the chain mail under his shirt. He grabbed it before it fell.

“A hundred gold pieces!” Horace shouted. “A measly hundred! Can you believe it?”

Aaren’s heart sank, they had been arguing about money. “You’ve got something caught on your heel,” he said, trying to distract his angry friend.

But Horace wasn’t having any. “What am I supposed to do with that? Buy a pony? I need a horse, a charger! And what about lances and a squire and tents and silverware and cots and blankets and clothes and wine and food and . . . ummph!”

His tirade was suddenly cut short as Aaren shoved the sack of coins in his mouth.

“Oh, shut up.”

Horace’s face turned several shades of red before he managed to cough up the sack with a strangled gasp. “What was that for?” he finally spluttered.

“Sometimes you can be a real pain in the neck,” Aaren told him sourly. “If I didn’t like you so much I’d never put up with your pompous attitudes about money. A hundred gold pieces is more than most people make in ten years and they seem to get along just fine.”

“I’m not most people.”

“No kidding.”

Horace eyed him suspiciously. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Most people are thankful for what they’ve got, but all you ever do is complain about what you don’t have. And the rest of us are getting tired of hearing it.”

“Nobody says you have to come along. I can go by myself,” Horace told him stiffly.

Aaren stopped and grabbed him by the shoulder, swinging him around. “Come with you? I don’t think you get the picture, my friend. It’s you coming with us that’s the question. Mira got us – the Knights of Gaia – the job, not you.” He snorted in disgust and strode away.

Horace simply stood staring after him in shock for a moment. Just before Aaren rounded the corner he took off after him. “Hey! Wait a minute! Aaren! Wait for me!” he bellowed.

Aaren wiped a quiet smirk off his lips before turning around. “Yes?” he purred innocently.

His armored friend clanked to a halt in front of him. “You guys wouldn’t really leave me out would you?”

“You were ready to leave us out.”

“Yeah, well, I wasn’t really serious or anything. I was just, you know . . . talking.”

“Unh hunh.”

“No! Really, I didn’t mean it.”

Aaren fought to keep a straight face. Horace could be so dense sometimes it was just unbelievable. “Sounded like you meant it to me,” he replied.

“I was just mad,” he said defensively. His eyes suddenly refused to meet Aaren’s. “You know how I am when I’m mad, sometimes I say things I don’t really mean. My mouth just runs by itself,” he finished lamely.

“Put a leash on it.”

“Uh, yeah, I will.” He looked up shyly, “You’re not gonna kick me out then?”

Aaren wanted to prolong it but the hurt expression on Horace’s face finally caused him to relent. “Okay, we won’t kick you out, BUT” – he thundered as Horace’s face lit up – “keep your mouth shut when we’re on the trail. Townsfolk might let you get away with things that people out there won’t.”

“Oh, absolutely,” Horace nodded eagerly. “No problem. I won’t say a word unless you give me the sign. Not a sound. Mum’s the word. You won’t even know I’m there. I’ll –”

“Shut up?”

Horace clamped his mouth shut and nodded. Aaren watched him for a minute. “Come on,” he sighed. “The others are waiting for us.” He turned and led the way through the twisting streets and alleys toward the docks – and freedom.

Everything on my web site is free but if you like my writing, please consider donating. Thanks!
donate button
Chapter Index
arrow-back-chapter-3 arrow-forward-chapter-5