5th of Nuzyael, 720 Part 2
After breakfast, the new guards are given their guard shift rotations by Straken. Each guard is given a one hour shift on the common where the circus is camped. The watch shift has been shortened due to the cold rain. The morning shift is miserable, but not only because of the cold and rain, but because of the solemn procession of the funeral of the serf girl Felyss. The circus folk talk quietly to themselves after the procession passes. They seem to be upset that two of their own have been blamed for the murder.
Later in the morning, and back at the Keep, visitors begin to arrive. The new guards are told to meet the arrivals in the courtyard and take their riding horses into the stables. With the two light horse Manus being dispatched to Hutop, there is plenty of room in the stables. The riders appear to be nobles judging by the manner of their dress, even if they are soaked to the bone.
Each rider is accompanied two or three men, also on horseback. These horses also carry bundled packs strapped behind their saddles. The men pull the bundles from the horses before allowing them to be taken into the stables.
For those guards inside of the Keep and not on duty, they see the Keep come to life inside of the Great Hall. Nearly fifty souls mingle about in the hall, exchanging greetings and pleasantries. One of the other guards explains to you that Jedes Keep has the only chapel to Larani in Asolade Hundred. Matakea (Temple Priest) Narrath has been appointed as the chaplin to Sir Shernath’s household. In recent times, the relatively new practice of assigning Matakea from nearby temples has caught on. Such priests usually reside with the family, counseling them on spiritual matters and leading their devotions. A noble family that is able to afford this service is a mark of great status.
Matakea Narrath is one of only three Laranian priests in the hundred, the other two being at Feneven and Novelim manors. Narrath regards himself as the principal of the three priests, but the others do not seem to acknowledge his supremacy.
Matakea Narrath has a reputation for being extremely honest and devout, although he is renowned throughout the hundred for his strict adherence to church dogma and complete absence of a sense of humor. He reports to Cerdan Bantire, the Rekela (Bishiop) of Pagostra. Narrath has two ashesa (acolytes) to assist him. Arbogar Kayn is a cheeky and cheerful 19-year-old with dark hair, pale skin, and a pox-marked, though still attractive face. Arbogar runs around the Great Hall greeting the gathered nobles and yeomen. Matakea Narrath scolds Arbogar more than once to stop dallying around and to make sure the chapel is prepared for the Soratir.
The second ashesa is Krayg Smadyn, a slightly older man of 21 years. He is thick-set and has a round face. He is considered unfriendly within the Keep. He has a reputation of being dismissive of anyone he considers beneath him. He is pompous and almost as humorless as Narrath. He is also Narrath’s favorite. The Matakea often scolds Arbogar to be more like Krayg, as he has the “right attitude.”
Eventually, those gathered in the Great Hall take their leave and head up the stairs to the third floor where the Chapel is located. It is small, but well-appointed. The lords and ladies of the hundred regularly attend the services at Jedes chapel. The congregation averages around 50, but sometimes there are well over eighty in attendance. In addition to the local noble families, several yeoman and many of the keep’s garrison regularly attend. Matakea Narrath keeps a careful note on who attends his services.
Matakea Narrath begins the mass by leading the congregation in a song. The song is militaristic in nature as is appropriate for a Laranian service. Narrath then gives the blessing and reads from the Book of Alamire (Worship of God). The reading comes from the sub-chapter Book of Toras– the primary account of Saint Ambrathas of Alamire, a fabled knight and the first saint of Larani, and his heroic 8 challenges.
In this reading, the story is told of how Saint Ambrathas came upon a maiden beset by a dozen brigands. Ambrathas defeated the brigands and the maiden gifted him a red and white checkered scarf. Escorting the lady to her destination, they were attacked seven more times, each time by more fearsome foes, culminating with eight demons. Ambrathas suffered many wounds, but defeated all without thought of retreat. Eventually, they came to a hill overlooking the maiden’s destination, a castle of unnatural fairness, but Ambrathas could travel no more and collapsed.
Ambrathas laylong recovering from his wounds. He had visions of the maiden transformed into the goddess Larani, but when he awoke, both she and the castle had vanished. In their place stood a brooding dark fortress and five priests who had been sent by Larani to help him take the castle from its evil warlord. One of the priests blew a horn and a small band of warriors appeared, calling themselves the Knights of Tirith. Ambrathas led the Knights to battle and defeated the warlord. The fortress was renamed Alamire and became a temple and chapter house for worthy clerics and knights.
The fundamental objective of the early church were the establishment and preservation of the feudal order, the defeat of evil, and the glorification of the Lady of Paladins. Alamire prospered until one day the Knights of Tirith returned and told Ambrathas to send everyone abroad. Soon after, a mighty army swept down, and though the defenders fought bravely, Alamire was destroyed and Ambrathas was slain.
After the reading, Matakea Narrath gives a homily lesson and then ends the service with another blessing and a reminder for the nobles to fulfil their feudal obligations, and for the freemen to be good vassals.