Maidens Of The Silver: Bloodlines - #08

by Jersey D Gibson

      Walking through the halls of the bottom level, Sister Bertrix, Cynthia, and Crois passed by the Acolyte’s Hall. This time when Crois looked down the hall, she saw young women she recognized. In among them was Khala, easily recognizable by her height and tanned skin. Bertrix saw Crois looking at the young women she was once apart of only a few days ago, and gave off a warm smile.

      “If you want to see them, you can.” Bertrix said to Crois, who looked shyly at the older woman. “Just meet us at the front of the Temple in two hours.”

      “Yes, Sister Bertrix.” Crois answered. The fire-haired woman went down the halls that seemed so familiar to her. Five years of her life were spent in these halls, hoping to get the Silver that she had obtained only yesterday. Crois looked at the girls and young women who now flocked around her.

      “Crois! You came!” Khala exclaimed. They hugged each other briefly, conscience of the girls around them.

      “I told you that I would. I’m leaving in only a few hours.” Crois explained. Crois looked around her, seeing girls of different ages around her, all their eyes shone. Crois personified what their hopes and dreams were; to gain the Silver and become a Maiden.

      “What’s it like to be a Maiden now, Crois?” Cassie asked. Cassie was a younger girl, only fifteen, and as skinny as a beanpole. Her largish nose and high cheekbones gave her face the semblance of an eagle. Cassie’s family had put the young girl into the Temple because she was the younger twin of a minor noble family. Despite the obvious abandonment, Cassie was a very energetic and enthusiastic girl. Crois remembered that Cassie’s mathematical skills were extraordinary, able to do complicated formulas in her head quickly and accurately. Crois thought of the Maidens in Admin and Supply, thinking how someone like Cassie would excel there.

      Crois’ hand strayed to the torque around her neck, to the Symbol it bore. Her thoughts of being granted the Silver led to the thoughts of her mission, and Ann with her missing leg. She hadn’t been missing it when she was granted the Silver, either.

      “Harder, Cassie. But it’s a wonderful feeling to get the Silver.” Crois answered, gratefully without reservation. The younger woman seemed to understand the answer than Crois would have at her age.

      “Did you see them? Did you see the Lords?” A young girl asked. Crois guessed her age to have been maybe thirteen.

      “Mind your tongue, Ellen. You’re speaking to a Sister now.” Pasha said with some steel in her voice. Pasha was the same age as Crois, though the similarities ended there. While Crois was willowy, tall, and exceptional, Pasha was short, chubby, and very prissy. Pasha reminded Crois of a stern taskmistress, except that Pasha was hardly remarkable in any manner. Crois knew exactly what Ann was talking about when she wished more Sisters could have been like her. While Crois didn’t think herself amazing in any manner, she did her best, and succeeded, that was all; many Acolytes often enough complained about every task, every chore, and then wouldn’t even give enough effort to do a haphazard job about it.

      “It’s ok, Pasha. She means no disrespect.” Crois assured the small girl, Ellen. Pasha answered with a glower at Crois, then at Ellen. Pasha had always been something of a problem. She would go straight to the Teachers when someone did something wrong, or went to the squirrel hole, and then put on a smarmy face and gloated, making she the girl in question saw who had ratted her out. Crois was more senior to Pasha, though Pasha seemed to often forget her place as a student, instead thinking herself above all the other students. It would have helped if Pasha tried hard at being good at learning instead of being good at having an attitude problem.

      “Yes, Ellen, I did see them, during the ceremony.” Crois explained. She saw that many Acolytes now stood among her. Crois found herself entertaining an audience. “Unfortunately, no amount of explaining can really tell you about them.”

      The young girl seemed a little dejected. So did some of the other Acolytes. Crois thought to herself, they want to know, they know that I am at where they want to be.

      “I will tell you this. Standing next to them, even for the shortest amount of time, you feel unworthy of their grace and presence, until they smile on you.” Crois’ face broke out into a grin. “That is an experience that is personal to each one of us. It is different for everyone, but we all feel the same way when the Lords come; Pride, Duty, Honor, Humility, and Peace.” Many ooh’s and ahh’s sounded out. “There is nothing better feeling than having the Lords smile upon you. It will be something I will never forget.”

      “Thank you, Sister Crois.” Ellen said with a smile on her face. Many Acolytes thanked her, some even close to her age, Crois realized. Crois saw a dark, brooding, scarred face in the back of the crowd. Crois recognized it, knowing the woman whom it belonged to.

      Angela Magnita was by far the eldest Acolyte in the Temple at the age of twenty-one. While girls had come and gone before and after her, Angela stayed, still in White, being passed up by young women her junior. Crois had always felt some sort of kinship to the quiet woman, though her demeanor was always one of cynicism, malcontent, and aggressiveness.

      “Angela?” Crois said. As if a hand separated them, the crowd of young women and girls parted in between Crois and Angela. While Crois was the most known Acolyte for being the best, it was Angela that was most known for being the most difficult, despite that she succeeded in the Tests with flying colors.

      “Yes, Sister.” Angela said, her voice filled with venom. Another girl granted the Silver before her, this one four years younger! Angela felt anger rising in her, which comforted her. She saw the fire-haired woman approach her, and Angela balled up her fists, ready for anything. Anything but what did happen.

      Crois handed to Angela one round object. It was a minée ball, made of Silver. Angela took it in her hand, perplexed.

      “As this was given to me by Misenda, Senior Acolyte, when she received the Silver, I give this to you. Remember what it represents, the girls who held it before, and what they’ve become.” Crois finished with the informal ceremony. Every young woman and girl had their mouth hanging open in shock, including Angela, who numbly took the Silver Shot. It had been a custom that had been going on for some time, which the Teachers glazed over for obvious reasons. The girl who held the Silver Shot was known among the girls in White as the Senior Acolyte. It was the Acolyte who was responsible for all the girls, and whose job was to make sure they were taken care of. It also informally meant who would be granted the Silver next if they did their job correctly.

      Angela’s mouth returned to its’ original position, and her face became something Crois hadn’t seen on her before, ever. Satisfaction?

      “Thank you, Sister Crois, for this gift.” Angela said in accordance to the tradition. “I will lead by example, take care of others before myself, and will honor the Will of the Lords.”

      “I hope you do, Angela.” Crois whispered for the brooding woman’s ears only. “It was for Pasha, and I think you would make a better Maiden than Pasha ever would if she wore the White into her fifties.” Angela smiled at that, another first Crois thought to herself.

      “I will never forget who it was that chose me, then, and gave me this. Thank you Crois. Sister Crois.” Angela said in a perfectly meaningful voice. Her once harden cynical face seemed to soften with the gift, and her eyes closed. Crois decided to leave her to her private thoughts. Angela had realized what Crois had done for her. Crois hoped that she would make the best of it, for she knew that Angela would make a good Maiden one day. One day soon, the new Sister hoped.

      “Alright, Acolytes. Sister Crois has the Lord’s business to attend to. Go where you need to before someone realizes we’re not working hard enough!” Angela said. The tone said careful authority, a small push here, a careful tug there. Power was just an illusion, Crois knew. The girls did disperse, with the exception of Angela, Khala, and Pasha. Many of the girls said their goodbyes and congratulations to Crois while leaving. Crois wondered if she’d see them again anytime soon.

      “So where are you going?” Khala said to Crois. Angela fitted herself into the conversation as well. Pasha hung back out of notice, but not out of earshot, as was her usual actions when she thought she could get someone in trouble. Most likely Angela.

      “Galee, to the Temple of Time.” Crois answered. She didn’t want to say anymore about the mission. The thought of what her and the other two Sisters must do still somewhat appalled her. It couldn’t be right, could it? Was that really the Will of the Lord’s? The decree of the Goddess herself?

      “Long journey.” Angela said simply. “Be careful out there.”

      “I agree.” Khala said. It occurred to Crois that these two women standing in front of her had seen more of the world than she had, only lived inside the Temple, or just a mile from it, her whole life. She hadn’t seen anything of Rosenda, except for Grove’s Landing, the small town just outside of the Temple. Sylvia had said something to the same effect just last night. Before she even knew Sylvia was her mother.

      “I will be, thank you.” Angela and Khala set their opened right hands over their hearts, a formal greeting/leaving from Acolyte to Sister. Crois touched her Symbol, and bid them farewell.

      It would be a long time before Angela and Khala would see Crois again.


Posted on 07/12/2006
Copyright © 2024 Jersey D Gibson

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