Waking-up with a massive migraine and a thick layer of hazy confusion was a situation Durston wasn’t use to experiencing. Even with the most promiscuous activities, his upbringing would never have allowed him to indulge to the point of complete disorientation. Wanting to stabilize his mental and physical equilibrium, Timothy kept his eyes directed at the unfamiliar ceiling.
“It’s advised for you to remain still Cleric.” A distinct foreign voice and creak of wood redistributing weight had Timothy strain to respond. Fear made way through his body, settling heavy everywhere it touched as Durston struggled to move but failed.
“Ah, tisk tisk my young Cleric. That’s why I insisted that you to stay as you were.” The stranger appeared over Durston, peering down and making eye-contact with a slight frown. But it was a look of disappointment flashing across her gaze that made Timothy realize he wasn’t the only one displeased with the circumstance.
“As you’re aware by now, magical and material means are keeping you restrained here. Unfortunately for you, the informant the Realm believed to have is in truth still very much loyal to our cause. That makes you purposefully lead to us, and placed in our care.” A hand fluttered half-haphazardly across Durston’s shoulder as the unfamiliar brunette made her way around him.
“The Capital was bound to discover our society eventually. Because of Cypris we were able to control the information on both what the government learned and the avenues taken in delving further into our business.” Durston refused to give the unknown woman the attention of his eyes, the one thing he had control of.
“We want to thank you for joining us here in Cyphorica. As an outer city we rarely are graced with the presence of those from the Temple or Capital. It’s our hope we can have your full support.” A subtle smile brushed over the captor’s face.
“I know you can’t even imagine helping us, but you will. I have faith you’ll willingly cooperate, but if not…” Turning her back to Durston, giving a dismissal shrug, the rebel made way to an open door. “Cypris will be in shortly to help get you situated. I give this warning, there’s a choker around your neck that is designed to redirect all magic you attempt to incapacitate you.”
Being left alone, Timothy tried an experimental flex of his arm.
Coming from a powerful and successful family, failure wasn’t something Timothy was use to, and so refused to readily accept. Experience from a politically driven father taught Durston that there were ways to turn unforeseeable events into something favorable. But until he knew what his opponents needed him for, nothing could be gained by his escape; making it back to Abstractor Kireek would earn no recognition without intel.
A soft knock interrupted Durston’s contemplation, drawing his attention to the room’s new occupant. Coarse curls caught and reflected what light there was, dancing before the eyes giving Cypris the youthful, innocent look that him and the Realm fell for.
“I’m aware you are most likely angry at me for your current dilemma, but being a young, opportunistic person, it’s our hope you’ll understand our position and validate our standing with the Realm.” Other then when she first entered, Cypris refused to meet Timothy’s eyes. He wasn’t sure what kept the confident girl’s gaze diverted, as it could be a number of reasons ranging from her guilt to his callous scrutiny.
“Priestess Knight wants me to get you comfortable, so I’m going to remove your bindings now. I’m told she gave you a warning already on what will happen if you try anything, I suggest you trust in her threats.” Cypris leaned over Timothy, studying his eyes for a moment for letting out a soft sigh.
“You’re young and come from a privileged standing. You don’t understand what it’s like out here beyond those Temple and gilded walls.” Making way around his prone figure he felt her feather light touch remove the spells placed around him.
“I envy you Timothy, as I’m sure many people do. You know what the difference is between you and I?” Taking a moment to pass him a wistful look, she continued as if not expecting an answer. “Status. That’s all. My magic can do the same thing as any Clerics. I find it difficult to believe that the Great Circle would gift those outside of the Temple if it wasn’t meant for us too.”
Finally feeling the weight lifted, Durston made himself as pleasant as could be expected when given no choice. Trained to always look at placing himself in a position of power he was quick to vacate his bindings and made to escort Cypris to a set of plain chairs. With practiced skill Timothy cunningly moved her seat, removing the sight of his recent captivity from view.
Needing a moment to steady himself and noticing a carafe nearby, Durston thought it best to serve them both a drink. “So Ms. Bloom, why did you have me brought here?”
“Don’t flatter yourself too much. The Coven just needs a fully administered Cleric of the Temple and they sent you to meet me.” Giving a sly smirk, Cypris gave her drink a courtesy sip for dramatic effect. “Priestess Knight is impressed with you. It’s her belief the future can only progress with the open minds of the youth, and she sees you being able to help with that.”
“Progress is laid on the foundation of the wise, lead by experience, and taught by those that have already learned from it. The Witches’ Coven has never approached the Temple on any concerns, hopes of progress or change, but instead have established themselves as adversaries.”
Cypris sprang out of her chair in an irritated flurry. “The whole country is controlled by the Temple and Clerics. No one outside of the Temple’s circle has any say or power, whether it be political, agricultural, structural, or even magical. If anyone dares to speak about discontent of living under ecclesiastical authority, it’s seen as an attack which the Temple is quick to silent.”
Durston mentally slapped himself for speaking his mind, his father’s teachings always emphasized to listen first, and not to say anything that will cause others to be on the defense; unless, of course, he had the upper had. Giving a small cough to break the tension, Timothy nodded Cypris to the abandoned chair. “So what is it that this Priestess thinks to gain by having me here? Is the Coven wanting a Cleric to use as leverage to be heard by the Temple?”
“She hopes that you’re young enough to listen to her and the Coven with understanding, but that’s only secondary to what she needs a Cleric for. No one ever thought of recruiting a Cleric of the Temple, and though it would be beneficial with furthering our knowledge it’s not required. The Priestess wants you to feel free to explore our compound and get to know our followers before discussing your main purpose here.” Cypris calmly stood up and gave Durston a contemplative look before continuing.
“You may walk among us but everyone know what you are. Know that besides that collar around your throat, our members are loyal and will keep watch over you.” Making her way to the exit, she turned once more to Durston. “We surprised the Realm. They never expected a group with our capabilities, thinking they were able to Abstract those with magic before ever gaining power. We are not as insignificant as you want to pretend.”