Chapter 12

Chapter 12

“That is the decision that has been made, there is nothing I can do about it this time,” Mother Dalia’s words echoed in my head over and over again.

This time they had decided I would face trial for my insubordination. If I won, I would have a six months suspension and everything would be fine. If I lost, I would be excommunicated for six years. That’s just the way things worked around here. They’ve been doing this for decades. It isn’t even the first trial that I’ve ever faced. This one however, feels a little different. It seems that someone besides Elser wants me gone and has decided to go for the kill with this one.

In the past Mother Dalia would defend me and everything would be great. The problem is after my fifth trial they banned her from defending me. With the sixth trial, I chose trial by combat. That might have been the hardest fight of my life and one I’ll probably never forget.


They took me to the underground arena, something I had no idea about. Only those in power along with some medics were there to watch. They wanted me to lose, and to suffer, just not dead. A ring of stone awaited looking as if it had been stained by blood over the years. They all took their seats and I stood in the arena awaiting my opponent. I had expected one of the upper Eremites to step forward and fight with me. I had studied all their fighting styles in preparation but there was no point to it. Instead an iron door opened and my opponent stepped into the ring.

A basilisk, I had only read about them. I had no idea they were real, or still around anyway. Large magical beasts like that should have been wiped out long ago. If not by humans, then by the loss of their habitats. Yet one stood in front of me.

I attempted to avoid eye contact with the beast. In stories, making eye contact with it could either kill you, turn you to stone or any number of other horrible options.  From a bowed head I managed to get somewhat of an idea of the creature. For the most part it looked like a snake, a large cobra of some sort. The similarities ended there. Every few feet of body there were two legs sprouting out giving the creature more mobility. While a regular snake would have a mouth and forked tongue this one instead a had a mouth and full set of teeth resembling that of a crocodile. The creature seemed to be covered in a mixture of scales and stone. A fearsome monster by any standards. One I could never have prepared for. Still, I needed to win and I attempted to put some plan together to tackle this monster almost twice my height and surely 10 times my weight.

After what seemed like hours of dodging attacks and avoiding being ended by the gaze I had a plan. I was much faster. If I could cut at the feet until the basilisk was left on it’s stomach I could get the win. I spent another eternity doing just that. Eventually the creature let out a mighty roar as it fell to the ground. I slowly made my way over and climbed on top of the beast cutting out the eyes and holding them as trophies. Some clapped and were impressed. Others were visibly upset. Still, I managed to come out on top of it all.


I attempted to arrange for trial by combat this time around. However, I was told that you can only have trial by combat on one occasion. Instead I would need to find someone to defend me during the trial. On the surface, that shouldn’t be hard to do. I’ve asked a dozen people and they’ve all wished me luck but none of them will actually defend me. The worst-case scenario, and the most likely is that I will need to defend myself. Unfortunately, this is my seventh trial and I have the stench of insubordination on me. People aren’t eager to be my friend or be seen associating with me.

I’ve seen Dalia do it enough that I should have some idea on how to do it, but I don’t. Perhaps I should do some research on the world outside the temple. If I can’t come up with a good defense, I’m fucked. Since Elser levied the charges of insubordination he’ll be the one I’m arguing with. The man knows how to argue. His entire life he’s been trying to get people to argue with him. Perhaps I should look into getting some information about the city.


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