Winds of fortune: dying light

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She clasped her hands together, elbows resting on her knees. She bowed her head, pressing her brow against her knuckles. Hard, until it pained her. She had her eyes squeezed tightly shut, but it did nothing to dam the tears.

“Blessed Avigliana,” she prayed. “I need your clarity of vision, to help me see clearly. I need the mantle of your surety, to help me see which of my doubts are true and which are malignant tricks. I need to feel your touch, so I can find the path to wisdom.”

Her whispered words fell like lead coins into the silence of the shrine. They tapered off. She simply sat there, on the cold stone bench, listening to the sound of her own breathing. Trying not to cry. Feeling alone.

She wiped her eyes on the back of her hand and stood. Mechanically, without conscious thought, she washed her hands. There were layers of thin ice on the water in the jug and the marble basin, which she had to break. Both would be back within the hour.

Her bare feet were numb, her breath misting in the chill darkness of the shrine.

Most of the candles had burnt down, allowing the shadows to pile up in deep drifts, blurring edges and muting colours.

The exemplar Avigliana di Sarvos gazed down unseeing from the tapesty that was the shrine’s focus. Her aura of wisdom seemed pale and sickly in the flickering candle-light. The rabbits that played around her feet looked mangy. Her expression, which Thomasina had always considered to be so beautiful, a combination of wordly and divinely inspired, now struck her as smug.

She splashed a little water on her face. Dried her hands on the rough towel. Pinched her cheeks to restore a little colour. Stepped over the threshold, and slipped her frozen feet into her fur-lined slippers. Rabbit fur, she thought, incongruously.

Bruno was waiting for her at the bottom of the steps, impassive. She knelt down and hugged the dog, burying her face in its warm fur and canine stink. “At least you’re something real,” she whispered in the dog’s uncomprehending ear. She did not allow another tear, and pushed Bruno away before he could lick her face.

Then, girding herself, she strode down the corridor towards the temple she knew would be at best half-full. The acolytes opened the doors at her approach, bowing their heads with a whispered acknowledgement of their preceptor. She stepped out into the light to deliver a sermon about the importance of finding the right question.

She hoped nobody among the congregation would guess how desperate she was for someone to give her an answer.

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Curse on Bastion, heart of the Highguard. Tasteless prank or assault on the entire Imperial faith of the Way itself? You decide! You can learn more about the creeping doubts infesting the spiritual heart of the Empire here → profounddecisions.co.uk/empi … ying_light

The territory of Bastion is the site of the White City - the closest thing the Empire has to a Holy City - and on top of the mechanical effects on congregation resources, there are some lingering roleplaying effects for people who might have spent a lot of time there.

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‪#‎mycandlehasgoneout‬, ‪#‎atleastyouhaveacandle‬, ‪#‎queuethedebateaboutpraying‬