The Loss Of Harlin Ridge

A Quiet Church
Hand carved wooden pews gleam with careful polishing in the light that streams through enormous stained glass windows set into the spotless white walls. Covered with pure white linen embroidered with strands of gold, an altar rests just under a large wooden crucifix fashioned roughly from driftwood. A small nave to the side of the building glows with the light of a hundred candles, each one lit in loving memory of one who was lost at sea.
Exits: east

The last of the masses who have come for evening worship made their way out of the Church in quiet little groups, many hurrying home for a late dinner or rest as dusk settles primly over the town of Camden. The well-built figure of Father Lucio can be seen instructing his two helpers to clean the altar and the pews and make sure the candles continued to burn for the rest of the evening. The priest seems tired out; it is a long day apparently.

As he makes his way out of the Church to head back to his quarters, a harried guard in mail and bearing the Earl's insignia rushes in from the Church's gates, almost crashing headlong into the Father.

Exclamations rouse up from both, now that Father Lucio nurses a swollen nose and the guard rubs at his temple painfully. "Father!" The guard gasps, after finally gaining composure. "I have bad news."

Father Lucio's expression pales upon hearing what the guard had to say. His jowl trembling now, he quickly waves for a passing Sister. "Call Sister Bethani here. Quickly." The urgency is resounding in his voice.

Having enjoyed the sermon from where the rest of the sisters had gathered, Bethani departed soon after for a vacant study, taking the opportunity at her brief seclusion to lift her voice in the way that only worship had ever stirred her. A soft hymn fills the small study and lofts with a melodic tone that hints strongly at her heritage. Her solitude does not last long, however, barely into a second aria before the knock comes at the door. Upon hearing the urgent request for her presence, Sister Bethani rushes quickly enough that one hand rests upon her veil to be certain it does not slip in her haste. Finally she reaches the place where she was told Father Lucio was waiting and she dips her head. [Bethani]

"Sister Bethani." The Father's voice is all solemn with a hint of tremble, and his large hands gesture towards the Earl's guard by his side. "This man has returned with news that Harlin Ridge is not longer safe to go."

"The same brigands who have attacked you were intent to burn down and ransack Harlin Ridge. Which they did." The guard continues from where Father Lucio has left off, his expression equally distraught. "We arrived too late. The town is gone. Their people are all dead." The man briefly swallows, his eyes closing in frustration. "The Earl is upset, and he sends his condolences to you as well, Sister Bethani. You cannot go there anymore."

The young woman's brow furrows with concern as her hands meet and grasp one another before her in a worried manner as she listens to the words Father Lucio speaks. The green shines all the more prominently in her blue-green eyes as the orbs grow moist and overflow a few crystalline tears that leave trails down her cheeks as she unclasps her hands and crosses herself. Her voice holds a tremble as she chokes back a soft sob, "All…all..the children. It cannot be…Bless their souls. At…at least they are now with their parents and the Father." She bites gently upon her lower lip as she closes her eyes a moment, a few fresh tears rolling down as she gathers herself and looks from Father Lucio to the guard and back before swallowing and speaking to the guard, "Please, thank the Earl for informing me and for his efforts to help those now fallen. May the Lord bless him for his intents." Her gaze. then shifts with a bit less resolve and a look in her eyes very much lost, "I am uncertain now of what to do, Father. Has word been sent to the Sacred Heart Cathedral…am I to stay here, return or…though I guess if I am just now being told, there is no way they have been informed yet." The worry returns to her brow as she somewhat ponders aloud. [Bethani]

Father Lucio quickly fishes out a small square of cloth and hurriedly presses that into the young nun's hand. "Sister Bethani, you must be strong and not cry. If God has willed this thus then we have to accept. Tomorrow the town will pray for them and God bless their departed souls." The priest shakes his head in sad empathy, and looks to the guard now. "Good Sir, are the roads safe for traveling at this time then, if our Sister must return to Irae?"

The guard shakes his head violently, and puts up his hands indicating fervently that the roads are definitely un-safe. "Not until Earl's guards have cleansed the area of the brigands."

Forcing a small and appreciative smile, Sister Bethani takes the offered handkerchief and lifts the cloth to dab at the corners of her eyes and wipe away the glistening trail that still shone a path downwards from there as she takes a slower breath to nod her agreement, "Of course, Father…It is just so sad for such young ones to be lost. So much potential…ones who could do so much good for the Church and the world." Once more she dabs her eyes dry and offers the somewhat tear-moistened handkerchief back to Father LUcio. "Perhaps if the Lord makes it unsafe for travel at this time He will only smile upon any works I could do for this Church…" she speaks quietly. "Father Lucio, I offer to this Church my help in any way I am capable until the time He sees fit to guide me elsewhere." Her sea-green eyes look to Father Lucio's with a faint sense of renewed hope only dampened by the sadness that clearly remains within. [Bethani]

"At least we have arranged living quarters for you, Sister Bethani." Father Lucio sighs and then turns to regard the young nun again. "It is not as dark yet, maybe you would like to go with Sister Verona to the town square?" He suggests this in hopes perhaps the Sister may find something to lighten her mood for the eve.

"I will take my leave first, Father Lucio. Sister." The guard bows and departs, his head still continuing to shake at the memory of the tragedy.

After dipping her head politely to the departing guard, Bethani returns her gaze to the priest as she considers his words. A little nod is given and a greatful smile forms on her lips as she replies to Father Lucio, "Thank you, Father. Should it not be a trouble to Sister Verona, I think that would be a…blessed respite from the news this evening. And…thank you as well for accepting me here. I will do my best to do God's work here as He would have me do it." [Bethani]

Father Lucio still looks rather concerned but nods his assent anyway. "You would be familiar with the town now, I suppose, after this morning's walk with Sister Verona. But stay safe, Sister. And God be with you." He folds his hands at waist level and bows in farewell to the young nun before returning to his own priestly quarters.

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