Priestess of Castle D'ior - Part 02

Ursa Blacksong - Mid-Autumn of 113 YSTR

Castle D’oir - Winterlunde

The Black Order had historically always been the martial arm of the High Church sworn to the divine mission to act as the shield of the faithful and the sword used to banish or subdue the evil’s of the world be they natural or unnatural in origin.
In truth, Ursa had never really given much thought to her role within the Black Order nor her role within the High Church itself. She had for the longest time simply thought of herself as a foot soldier of the faith and fullfilled that role to the best of her ability. Facing evil wherever it was found and overcoming it with whatever tool was required to defeat it.

Then came the war and what followed after.

This was perhaps not how she had thought her next official meeting with the Duchess of the Winterlunde’s would turn out.

No sooner had she entered the Duchesses private chambers was she set upon by a pack of rabid seamstresses and dressmakers who quickly went to work removing her clothing down to not but a lyon cloth.

It was only after the initial shock of the sight of her bared flesh had passed were they able to start the task of measuring out the length and breadth of her while the Duchess looked on with an appraising eye as she thumbed through the head dressmakers catalog.

It was from her place seated a short distance away that the Duchess offered an passing upwards glance now and then noting the marks and archaic text written on Ursa’s flesh for the longest time before she finally commented.

“Remarkable… “ The Duchess offered as she set aside the catalog. “ If I’m not mistaken there are a good number of passages from the divine book written in the tongue of the First Men as well as passages here and there written in the elven and draconic tongues.”

Ursa gave a half nod trying to not annoy the woman who was manhandling her breasts anymore then she clearly already was. “ Yes, I do believe so.”

“I don’t recall even seeing a hint of those markings during our first meeting.” The Duchess questioned as she drank from her cup. “ A spell perhaps or a passive glamor that can easily go undetected?”

“I have a ring with a passive charm cast upon it that allows me to hide them for a time when such is required.” Ursa commented. “ The charm itself only lasts for a short period of time however before It needs to be recast. ”

The Duchess nodded her understanding. “ I had read somewhere that it was common practice for members of the Black Order to record pages and passages from the divine book upon their flesh of their bodies but I will be honest in that I would never thought it was so … so… I find a word to describe it escapes me.”
Ursa nodded her understanding. “ It is a bit overwhelming isn’t it?”

“To say the least. I could never imagine a time when I would need or want to do such things to my own flesh. Seeing now for the first time however I must admit to my curiosity as to why? Do you simply record whole pages or passages from the individual texts on your flesh out of some spiritual need or is it perhaps as punishment for some failure or transgression?”

“It was perhaps for different reasons before my time in the order but most of what is recorded on my skin is for far more practical purposes. Most are simply spells that my mentor thought would aid me in the performance of our assigned tasks. ” Ursa explained. “ Later on I added other spells as well as a few protective charms and symbols to ward against dark magics or possession by harmful spirits or demons.”

“Are such dangers common enough to merit such precautions? ” The Duchess thought aloud.

“More so than one might think.” Ursa offered. “ Before the war my Master and I faced such threats only rarely and thus I only had need to draw the symbols of protection with common inks when there was a need for them. During the war however the threat became much more common and thus the need for a more permanent solution to the problem.”

“I had not heard that possession by evil spirits was a thing during the war.” The Duchess remarked.

“ Evil spirits and demons are attracted to the battlefield much like flies to a corpse.” Ursa sighed. “ During the fighting, evil acts and misdeeds often go unnoticed or are simply considered to be a byproduct of the fighting. ”

“I see.“ The Duchess stated thoughtfully. “ That said it would be best to avoid any misunderstandings when it comes to dealing with the other noble households for now so if you could perhaps keep those out of sight as much as possible.”

“I understanding your concerns my Lady…” Ursa replied. “As it happens I am working on a more potent means of concealing these from prying eyes.”

It was after the measurements had been taken that Ursa was finally released from the grip of the seamstresses and dressmakers as they turned their attentions to fitting the dresses that had been paid for by the Duchess in advance.

“The role of priestess within Castle D’ior is not simply one of religious significance but rather a symbol of the Duchy’s power and influence over the whole of the domain.” The Duchess stated aloud as Ursa thumbed through the catalog the dressmaker had passed to her.

“I thought I was just here to pass the trials and assume the role of High Priestess of the temple of Winterlunde?” Ursa noted with some confusion.

“That is the goal but until then you are my proxy within the hierarchy of the faith here in the Winterlunde and your actions reflect upon me as your sponsor.” The Duchess spoke softly. “ Have you had much in the way of dealing with the nobility of Sarnia.”

“ I have had a great deal of experience in dealing with the nobility on the battlefields during the war but I will admit to rarely in any social setting of importance.” Ursa acknowledged.

“Thankfully you are well spoken and clearly educated in the basics of courtly manners.” The Duchess noted aloud. “ And your reputation will carry you in many circles where etiquette will not.”

“My reputation, my Lady?” Ursa thought to ask. “ Last I recall I was a heretic and viewed by the High Church as a villain of the highest order.”

The Duchess laughed, shaking her head. “ Perhaps that is true in Sarnia but the further you travel outward from the High Churches seat of power the less sway they hold over the opinions of the faithful.”

In truth Ursa had never really considered her role within the High Church nor the greater faith itself given her experiences over the past several decades. The reality however was that she was apparently a more divisive figure than she had thought.
On the one hand the woman named Ursa Blacksong was viewed as a heretic and witch by both the High Church and the majority of the nobility that governed Sarnia. Her very name, a curse upon the lips of every Priest and Temple Knight within the Kingdom of Sarnia and those territories that bordered it.

On the other hand the further one traveled from the City of Courlimar and the Great Temple of the High Church. The more her name was regarded with more favor as a great many had seemingly adopted the view of her as a stoic of the old order.

A priestess of the faith whom it was said was unmoved by the politics of the day and unwilling to compromise her faith simply to bend to political whims of the corrupt elders of the White Council. Apparently to some oddly enough she was viewed as a hero of the faith unwilling to change simply because the White Council had commanded her to do so.

Ursa did not see herself as either hero or villain but then again in the end it was not her opinion that really mattered in the larger picture but rather the opinions of others who desprately needed their own heroes and villains to make sense of the world.

In the end she was and would always be an instrument of the Divine Mother and thus served a purpose that was ultimately greater than herself.

< Prev : Priestess of Castle D'ior - Part 01 Next > : Whispers in my head