A Story set Where Yamara Has To Live, by S. John Ross
Copyright © 1996 Barbara Manui and Chris Adams
Three holy men were alone in a dim, oil-lit chamber above the chapel at St. Nobian's. The largest, known as Wranck - an influential bishop - struck the smallest - Joe Holy - as the type of person who orders meat raw in the hopes that it can still feel pain. The middle-sized man was a muscular contrast to Wranck's impressive girth, and some kind of knight. Joe Holy was being interrogated in his own church.
"We can lay the matter of this . . . Persephone aside. For now." Wranck stood up, and strode quietly to the table. "There is another matter." The bishop's assistant handed him a small bundle.
Joe managed a facial expression resembling exhausted hope. At least the subject was drifting away from his personal scandal.
Wranck dropped a pack of scrolls on the table in front of the exhausted priest, and glared. It was a hard glare. Joe recoiled, the bishop's gaze burning his retinas. "Tell us about this, Abbot Holy."
Joe peered at the scrolls in the oil-light. He blinked. "Why?"
The knight spoke up. "The upcoming Inquisition on the nature of local pagan faiths," he grinned, "will find it interesting."
The bishop rotated his glare and placed it in the eyes of his companion. "You said it AGAIN! Stop that!"
"Slip of the tongue, sir! The upcoming COUNCIL on the nature of the pagan faiths." He shifted, trying to look anywhere but into the 700-Watt glare of Bishop Wranck. He focused on a fleck of dust and pretended to find it fascinating. "I get the words mixed up."
"See that you don't," said Wranck, and flashed his eyes on Joe some more. "Tell us, Joe . . . is it true that you permitted a pilgrimage of a FALSE GODDESS to this church? And sponsored bacchanalian orgies, unclean festivals, and blasphemous dances?"
Joe looked tired, and (if possible) even more bald than usual. He hung his head. "They were some friend's of Yamara's . . . I thought that here, St. Nobian might guide them, insure that their young faith had a foundation in goodness, in -"
"YOU LET THEM DANCE NAKED IN THE GRAVEYARD!!!" shouted Wranck, his bulk folding over the table as he spat accusatory spittle at Joe. Joe trembled, shook his head. Wranck trembled in apoplectic self-righteousness.
"No, the party got out of hand . . . they were quiet for the play. The dancing naked was entirely Blag's idea. He wasn't even invited!"
Bishop Wranck dimmed his eyes and slitted them. "The play," he said. "Yes. Let's look at that."
Bishop Wranck glared some more. "Friends of yours?"
"They didn't write this. It's apocryphal."
"She is a FALSE GODDESS!"
Joe shook his head. "She WAS a . . . false . . . DEMI-Goddess, and it wasn't her fault. It was an accident at her wedding."
The knight stepped forward. "We are familiar with the events regarding Mrs. Undisciplined. We want to know about the play."
"It was just the worshippers, acting out a kind of parable where Blag rolls a stone over Fea using dwarf magic. It was harmless! Ridiculous!" Joe tried to smile, but couldn't manage it. "The woman playing Yamara must have been six feet tall and twenty stone. The one playing Blag was her husband, his beard was made of shredded burlap!" Joe sighed, remembering the pointlessness of it all. "The real Blag showed up halfway through the play and just started POINTING at himself and grinning at the crowd, holding out his helmet suggestively for money."
"And Ogrek the Undisciplined?"
"He sent his valet to play him in the play, and donated beer. I think he saw it as a kind of self-promotion. I still need to talk to him about that."
Bishop Wranck looked at the scroll again.
Bishop Wranck turned the scroll slowly in his hand, reading quietly to himself. Joe found that he intensely disliked the way Wrank breathed, and the way his sidekick just stood there and grinned.
"The stone," said Wranck.
Joe blinked. "Eh?"
"I don't understand that Dwarfish trick with the stone," the bishop said, clearly unhappy admitting any weakness. "But I've never seen it done on the scale of a boulder."
Joe nodded "I said it was apocryphal. Blag knows the stone trick, though. All dwarves seem to. In Dark Natasha's stronghold he could always tell when the magick was in the corridor, when a marble will roll of its own accord. It's disturbing stuff. And those same corridors had the power to transport us UP or DOWN without any stairs or elevator rooms . . ." Joe shuddered, remembering. "Blag was doing the trick while the play went on, with his marble and a wooden plank, in hopes of attracting some of that gold and beer they were throwing."
The bishop read some more, and smiled an icy smile. "Here's an interesting part, Abbot Holy . . . it has you in it."
"Oh, that's indictable, that is," grinned Wranck, doing the ugly breathing thing again.
"I didn't WRITE that!" shouted Joe.
"I think this is very allegorical," said Wranck. "And very interesting. Care to comment further?"
"I think I'll just shut up while you finish," muttered Joe Holy, sinking into a dark gloom . . .
The room was very quiet. Bishop Wranck folded the scroll, silently, as his armored shadow stood stock-still behind him.
"Joe," he said. "This is bad." Wranck was smiling.
Joe shook his head for the nth time. "It was ridiculous and it meant nothing. It was a passion-play. The most blasphemous part was how the REAL Blag was soaking it up and using it as an excuse to make passes at the Yamarite women."
A tapping came at the window. A familiar vampiric face was there, grinning and staring at Joe, who instinctively ducked. Persephone fluttered a hand at him, spinning in girlish glee.
"Well, I wouldn't know anything about all of that," said Wranck. "But it seems that you would. I don't know which is worse for you, Joe."
Joe shook his head. He didn't, either.
Clearly, this takes place shortly after the scandal with Persephone began, when Tim was still a paladin and the vampiress was still flirting at Joe's windowsill. Curiously, a later note was unearthed in reference to this play, in Dwarvish runes and bearing the corporate seal of the CrystalVox News inter-agency exchange:
It bore no signature, but bears remembering.
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This story originally appeared in Issue #0.7 of Radio Free WYHTL, the newsletter of Where Yamara Has To Live