Amalia sat in a cage in the dark, and hugged her legs tight for warmth. If she tried to move, the cage would start swinging wildly, and she wasn’t sure how strong the chain that held her was, nor how far down she would fall.
It was cold.
It’d all been bad since the ceremony. Brother Solador had come to Amalia in the night, knelt at her bed, and whispered, “We will leave with the dawn. I will keep you safe.”
But he was dead by morning, and even with his body unburied, all the other templemen spoke in hushed, dry tones not about the murder, but about what should be done with the girl.
There ceremony was supposed to be a simple thing. Brother Solador had told her repeatedly that it was nothing. That. Everyone got placed. From the mighty paladins and clerics, all the way down to the Kindsmen and the simple healers that were sent to organize missions, everyone had to commune with Pelor. Everyone had to gaze into the sun to learn their place.
But when Amalia had gone into the chamber of light, everything went wrong.
She didn’t remember much about the ceremony, and what she did was fuzzy, and broken. She was standing, waiting. Listening to Father Pelador give a speech about duty. She touched the Sun Orb when they told her to. Then there was light. Then she was on the floor, and time had passed, and Brother Solador was standing over her, screaming for people not to come any closer.
And his sword was drawn.
She’d left in the night. Father Pelador had put the idea of killing her on the table. He sounded sad when he said it, but that didn’t change anything, especially not the murmurs of agreement that began to creep through the semi-circle of priests and clerics.
She’d only spent a day on her own before the friendly man in the warm wool robes found her. Benethart, he said his name was. Smiled and showed a mouthful of dying, crooked teeth.
“And I’m very glad I found you,” he said. “Are you hungry, child?”
She was. So she followed him. What choice did she have?