Happy Sol’s Day!
Elana let the water of the fountain pour over her naked body. She was preparing to receive the robes of being an Adept and so the ritual of purification in the fountain near the temple altar was something she was excited about. Two novices attended to her with towels ready to dry her off. The ceremony was an hour away and it was to be quite the affair as in addition to herself receiving her Adept robes, Lief was swearing his oath to become a full Paladin of Sensua. He was somewhere else on the temple grounds doing a similar purification ritual. Preparation was always the thing with these oaths.
Their return to the temple had been greeted with joy and celebration. The Crown of Fertility had been returned and the High Priestess highly praised them. It was clear to everyone, that it had been a good thing that had happened but because of the secrecy about the Crown, most people didn’t know the details of why the High Priestess seemed more happy than usual.
Elana’s own conversation with the High Priestess had been one of praise and pride. She told Elana that such an action earned her place among the Adepts and she would be promoted in a few days. Today was that day. She had of course returned to her duties as an Acolyte, including a couple rotations in the House of Love helping worshipers complete the ritual, but for the most part, all was about preparation for today.
The treasure they had recovered was divided equally between herself and Lief and after the high Priestess had contacted her family, the gems were sold at a good price. It allowed Elana to purchase some better armor. Se now had a full chain mail set including leggings and a tunic. Her shield had been upgraded as well to something made of steel. She kept her mace. She now felt that if she adventured again she would be in a good place to be better protected.
The other aspects of her conversation with the High Priestess were much more serious. The High Priestess had told her that the journal was indeed written in Goblin, and she knew someone who could interpret it. In their absence, Barthon the Vile had struck again. He had apparently been hired to murder one of the merchants in the city. He had succeeded and kidnapped the man’s wife in the process. They found her several hours later: naked, raped, and with her throat slit lying in an alley. Barthon needed to be stopped and she was hoping for some luck with this journal in order to find a clue to bringing justice to this situation. His actions had now become more important to the Trublade family and so she was going to speak with one of the Trublade family about the matter.
It seemed strange that they were going to wait three days, but Elana recalled that Barthon was very cautious. You could bet the murder of the merchant and the subsequent kidnapping, rape, and murder of the man’s wife had been planned with great care. Barthon was by nature a coward but a dangerous coward. He preferred his thugs and magic to do the work while he stayed back in a safe place.
For the rest of the three days, Elana’s mind and heart dwelt on Lief. She was a cleric of Sensua first and foremost, but she couldn’t help but notice that her feelings for Lief were more than just friendship. She had even hoped while she was performing her duties in the house of love, that he might have been one of the worshippers that she completed the ritual. It didn’t happen, but she recognized the longing just the same. He had been gone most of the time and she noticed how she missed his presence. In another hour she would see him again. He to take his oath and her to take her vestments of an Adept. It was going to be an exciting day. Her heart was beating faster just at the thought.
The last three days had been busy for Lief. After returning the Crown of Fertility to the High Priestess, the treasure had been divided equally between himself and Elana. He had given the gems to the High Priestess for evaluation and sale and the next day there was another tidy sum of coins for both of them. The High Priestess had tried to give the three gems back that he donated earlier but he would have none of it. The Temple did compensate Lief for the loss of his spear and shield. No cost to him there but the High Priestess did tell Lief that the oath ceremony involved a magical longsword which he would receive as a gift during the ceremony. He had not sold his old one, but probably would once the gift was received.
Most of the money had been given to his mother. He kept some for personal expenses and to pad his personal bank account a little. Mostly though, it ended up helping his mother buy more favor with the guild and improving the shop as well as making repairs to the building to make it nicer and more looking like the home of a noble family.
“You have to live the part before you actually get the role sometimes”, is what she said.
She even hired a servant. A man about her same age. She was muscled from hard work and seemed to be a little simple but seemingly happy with his mother as his employer. Lief puzzled at this for a moment and then laughed about it. If she wanted a boy toy, who was he to argue.
Lief had spent a lot of time picking out his new shield and spear. He had also debated in his mind the advantages and disadvantages of plate mail. In the end, he felt his current armor was more to his liking as it was not as heavy and gave him more freedom of movement.
He had been reading as well. The High Priestess had given him a book on the Paladins of Sensua and it outlined the various oaths they could take. Sensua was not one to shut down any of the oaths commonly associated with Paladins. The High Priestess had been guiding him toward the Oath of Vengeance and he had to admit it appealed to him on a personal level. It was also the ‘needed’ oath right now. Brightblade was experiencing larger numbers of undead according to the town watch. Something was going on there and then there was the matter of Barthon the Vile. He must be brought to justice and that justice was what the Oath of Vengence was all about.
For now, though, his thoughts dwelt on Elana. She was going to receive her vestments as an Adept. He would be sworn in as a Paladin by taking his Oath. This would be a great day and a leap forward to his ambition of title and land. Right at this moment he was naked under the pouring water of a fountain and being attended to by two male acolytes. He stepped out of the water and one of them began to wipe him off while the other began to dry his hair with a towel. They dressed him. Loincloth of fine fabric, pants. and then cloth boots. All of white. He then knelt down He then kneeled down so the two acolytes placed a white tunic over his head. The embroidery work for the outfit was a red vine-like design.
The last part was a sword belt. It was of leather and also white with the same red vine design as the rest. A white scabbard was connected to it with a sword frog of a similar pattern. The scabbard with tipped and edged in a silver-steel alloy. It was however empty awaiting the oath sword which was to be given him. Lastly, his holy symbol was placed back around his neck. By this time the light of the sun was dipping down to the horizon. It was time for the ceremonies to begin.
The altar area of the temple had not been changed much. A few items had been laid out carefully over the altar including a red cloth covering the length of the altar which had the same vines done in white as Lief’s tunic had. Lief remarked to himself that it was amazing how versatile the altar was because it had been the place where Fredica had been cremated and now it seemed to be more calm. A simple red rug with no ornamentation formed a middle aisle in front of the altar. People had gathered to see the oaths.
Elana’s oath was not normally a public affair but Lief’s Paladin Oath was and so her ceremony was added before his to save time Lief assumed. The number of people was a little more than either of them expected. Probably 100 or so but mostly these were clerics of the temple of various ranks. But there was a smattering of dignitaries from the city. Lief’s mother was there dressed in her best dress and her hair/makeup was the best as well. She looked noble and was dressed the part of lower nobility. Next to her was the guild master of the Cobblers/Shoemakers guild. He was dressed like he always was – simple but clean and with the best shoes on his feet. Next to him was Lief’s former sergeant and a couple of the men in Lief’s former outfit in the militia. All of them looked proudly at the scene.
The was one figure that was out of sight the Lief caught in the corner of his eye He was under the shade of one of the female House of Love. He was leaning against the pillar of the doorway. He had a frame that was slightly shorter than Leif, He was dressed in a blue tunic with white trim. There was a symbol on his chest but Lief could make it out as the man had his arms crossed over his chest. He could make out that the man had a rapier-style sword at his hip and a dagger as well. His hair was probably dark but once again the light was low. He was leaned in such a way that he seemed very much at ease with the whole spectacle. Like he had seen this kind of thing before. Very relaxed. Lief had little time to think on it further. The ceremony had begun.
Elana went first down the aisle. She was still dressed in her Acolyte Robes and flanked by the two female Novices that had attended her purification. She approached the altar and stopped just short of the first step of three steps that lead to its edge. She stood as one of the attendants undid the clasp of her robe and then with a simple shake the robe cascaded down to the ground leaving her naked. She stepped out and the attendants gathered up her robes and disappeared to the side.
Lief’s view was from behind and he couldn’t help but notice how her naked silhouette was stunningly beautiful. Her dark olive skin was a lovely earth tone whose color seem to captivate him. He watched as the two novices disappeared and were replaced by two Acolytes. The Acolytes helped Elana into her new Adept robes and then bowed to her. Symbolic of her new station and authority over them. Elana only looked slightly less stunning in her robe of red trimmed with gold. She in turn bowed to the High Priestess. The High Priestess approached and touched her forehead.
“May the Blessing of Sensua follow you, May you know her joy and respect her authority over your body, mind, and soul”
“I so swear, and pledge my body, mind, and soul to the goddess Sensua.”
Elana then stepped off to the right from Lief’s perspective.
Lief walked alone in his white tunic and his empty scabbard swung lightly. He noticed his mother’s face beamed with pride and he smiled back at her. The High Priestess was joined by the High Priest on the dais. The High Preist was much older than High Priestess. She was probably in her early thirties, but he looked more like a man in his sixties but strangely full of vigor for a man half that age. Although it was said he got tired more often, he was still able to perform his duties. He was as tall as Leif with a regular build and his hair was cut short. His eyes were brown and it might have at one point matched his hair.
Lief stopped just short of the steps. He stood tall and proud. The High Priest spoke in a voice that was strong and very masculine.
“Lief Crispen, you have shown your valor, you have served the temple with distinction and recovered something close to our heart for us. You did so as a Squire of Sensua. We now offer you the blessing of being a full Paladin of Sensua. Do You Accept?”
“I Do, with all my heart.”
“Which Oath are You Taking?”
“The Oath of Vengence”
The High Priest nodded, “This is a grave oath that commits you to bring vengeance against those who harm life, love, and fertility. Do you understand the oath that you take today cannot be broken without the gravest of consequences from the goddess herself?”
“I understand and accept that possibility, but may it never come to me.”
“Seeing it was the High Priestess who accepted you as Squire, it is she, standing in the place of Sensua, who will stand as witness to your oath.”
The High Preist Stepped aside and the High Priestess stepped down from the dais and stood before Lief. She unclasped her robe and her robes fell to her feet. Her naked body glowed with a holy light.
“Place your right hand between my naked breasts and swear your oath!”
Lief placed his right hand between her breasts and spoke his oath.
“To Sensua, goddess of life, love, and fertility, I swear my Oath of Vengence. I will not spare those she commands me to destroy, I will always fight the greater evil. I will have no mercy on the wicked. I will use any means necessary to destroy the wicked. I will help those who are harmed to the best of my ability by the wicked. So Help Me, Be Sensua I Swear it!”
The glow that had been surrounding the High Preistess’ naked body now began to spread over him. He felt the goddess’s power wash over him. Then he heard her voice.
“My servant, my love, go forth in my guidance and destroy my enemies. You are my Paladin, My holy knight.”
Leif dropped his arm and the High Priestess turn around and received a sword from the Hig Preist. She then turned back to him and presented it.
“Take this sword and use it against the wicked, against the enemies of the holy goddess Sensua.”
The sword was beautiful, its hilt was simple with golden and silver vine patterns over the steel. The grip itself was leather of the finest quality. The blade was the finest steel and was shown with a magical sheen. He knew the blade was enchanted just by looking at it. He grabbed the hilt with his right hand and lifted it, He then held it up to the sky. Sensua’s glow was shown a little brighter around him as he did so. He then sheathed the weapon in his new scabbard. There was a cheer from the crowd.
The High Priestess was helped back into her robes by the same two acolytes that had helped Elana. She then returned to the dais next to the high priest. She raised her hands and the cheering crowd grew silent.
“There is one more thing to do today. Sensua has guided me on this next item. A Binding must take place. A binding between our new Paladin and one of our clerics.”
Lief looked puzzled. A murmur fell over the crowd ad once again the High Priestess raised her hands for quiet.
“In recent days, several paladins were slain in a battle with local orcs north of the river. In large part, this was due to the lack of support by the clerics who were not present to heal them. We have often viewed these duties outside of battle. But recent actions by our Paladin and Elana have shown that partnership is far better. It is the will of Sensua that all Paladins now be bound with a Cleric as a companion and battle partner. This starts today with the two that showed us the way. Paladin Lief Crispen and Adept Elana Bentor step forward.”
Leif moved forward to the edge of the dias again. He stood on the left and Elana joined him on his right side.
“Leif hold out your right hand, Elana your left. Palms upwards”
The two arms went up next to each other palms upward.
The High Priestess approached both of them. In her hand was a silver dagger. The hilt was in the form of a holy symbol of Sensua and the blade was a fine silver steel.
“This is to be a blood oath.”
Lief and Elana both nodded toward her. She pierced their palms with the blade. She then gave the blade to the High Priest. She moved Lief’s hand over Elana’s and then turn his palm downward and then brought the two palms together.
Lief and Elana felt their warm blood mingle together as they held each other’s hands. The High Preist approached with a silver and gold cord. He wrapped it around their wrists and bound them together.
“You are now bound by Sensua and blood. Whatever dangers you face, face them as a triple-bound cord. Paladin Lief Crispen, Adept Elana Bentor, and the Goddess Sensua herself”
“We will,” both Elana and Lief said in unison.
A golden glow appeared around their clasped hands. After a few moments, it faded, the High Priest removed the cord and they unclasped their hands. The attending acolytes then washed their wounds and then a quick prayer or each of them healed them altogether. Elana and Lief smiled at each other and hugged. The high Priestess approached them and leaned in close so only they could hear.
“There is only one thing that remains. You must close the circle and complete the ritual with each other. It is a private but intimate part of the ritual. You may use my quarters this evening as I will be engaged in other matters. Matters which we will discuss in the morning. Once you are free of all the well-wishers make your way to my quarters and complete the binding. This is essential so do not forgo it.”
With that, she left them. Leif’s mother and friends all congratulated him with hugs and wrist shakes. Elana for her own part had many friends of all ranks give her hugs and even kisses on the cheeks and mouth. Soon though the crowd began to break up and Lief spotted the stranger again this time. He was about fifty feet away and he was talking with the High Priestess. Leif recognized him at that moment. Caric Trublade, fourth and bastard son of Baron Erik Trubalde, Lord of Brightblade City. Half-Elven thanks to his mother’s blood. He was also the Spymaster of the realm. Lief watched as the two interacted and noticed they seemed very familiar with each other. Lief then noted that Caric took her hand and they walked off out of sight.
Lief felt a tug at his shoulder and turned to see Elana. She smiled at him and then winked. She urged him to bend toward her.
“You know, I am very happy we are to be bonded. I would have never wished for it in my wildest dreams but here it is.”
Lief smiled, “Hmm. we need to get to the High Priestess’ chamber as soon as we can,”
Elana mocked being shocked, “Sir, that is rather forward.”
“Forward your luscious ass. I have seen you naked twice and yet never known your embrace. We need to change that.”
“Yes, it is important to close the circle and complete the bonding ritual,” she said with mock seriousness and piety.
“Oh, we are going to do more than that.”
Elana giggled like a schoolgirl for a few seconds and then she gave her hand to Lief and he led her away.
Moments later Lief was climbing into bed between her legs, and as he penetrated her, she pulled him close with both her arms and her legs, gasping in pleasure. The circle was closed and the two oaths and one bond were complete. More than that, for a brief moment in time, they both enjoyed love and embrace. And Sensua smiled from the corner.
This one took me longer than usual. Part of the problem was having to build more of the world and the other part was introducing new relaitonship concepts. Normally in relationships in fiction, the relationship grows slowly but Lief and Elana are part of a religion that emphasizes and promotes the normalcy of both nudity and sex as part of the worship of their deity. Their concept of these elements is going to be very different and probably far more casual. One of those factors is intimacy is accelerated.
For instance, Lief has had sex with both the High Priestess and now Elana. The High Priestess knows this and there is no jealousy, To the followers of Sensua, jealousy has no place. Jealousy is the disease, and Love is the healthy condition (cue Robert Heinlein). Nudity is beauty, clothing is hiding that beauty. Sensua is about the expression of love through physical contact in order to remove the disease of jealousy and embrace nakedness to express beauty. Healing through making love. Eros in its more true form.
This is the point of the story where our third character will be introduced. We have our fighter type, Our healer and soon we will have our rogue.
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.