And The Stars, And the Earth

The Changing of the Guard


Church Record, St. Martindale-by-Hollow in the Realm of Caritus, Worldly Angel of Mercy
Waning Moon, Mid-Planting

I have returned from Crowcry Watch.
It was an unusually cryptic task to which I was set this morning— to seek out among the good folk of the town five things. “Ask them for something, but warn them that they’ll not receive it back” was Brother Solomon’s charge. The people of St. Martindale are charitable and, though the question was passing strange, they did not refuse. Archie seemed to know more about what was going on than I. He offered a book of psalms and a very grim expression with it. From the de Luytes, a barley seed; from Celes, a bit of copper she’d practiced her engraving on; from Irena, the end of a ball of yarn; and Zabine thoughtfully gave me a totem of her own making. Humanitas surely smiles upon my neighbors for their kindness. Further instructions sent me to borrow a horse, and to proceed with these five things and a wrapped package to the watchtower at the Strawfield.

Even the bravest among us spends as little time at the border between Mercy and Death as possible; I have never called myself brave, but I trusted that if it weren’t necessary I’d not have been sent on such an errand. Humility bears us up when courage fails us, and so I borrowed the Halmskjalds’ draft horse and walked the league south to the watchtower. The gate is badly rusted, and the door in the floor is still bolted tight. The five things I was given became offerings as I climbed the tower— an altar for each virtue mark the landings on the stairs. Chastity, Temperance, Diligence, Patience, and Charity received the gifts from my neighbors. The sixth was an offering of my own, for Kindness.

That left Humility, and the gift I’d yet to see. The top of the tower overlooks the Strawfield; the army of sentinels are a terrifying sight to behold. I pray Death may also find them so. I must from this point be brief, for in my sorrow I’ve written too long already.

You’ll find the record now kept in another hand; a new scarecrow stands at the top of Crowcry Watch. The church bells echo in the Hollow still, and I am left alone in my grief.

St. Martindale mourns Brother Solomon.



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