In early 246, a Council by Mother Church was called for clergy. Many priests were leaving for Mother Church’s lands to hear the new laws from the Holy One. Father Flemming was not going, but he had a contact who was. He promised to tell everyone the best parts. The first tidbit had been about how the Duchess of Shaeriden’s confessor took the Klenard standard to Mother Church instead of the Archbishop of Ploum.
Flemming was wild with laughter. “Archbishop Nicks was furious! But Her Majesty took it in stride and laughed, it was said.”
All of us in the church yard laughed with him. Oh, I imagined the Archbishop’s anger and the argument with Her Majesty behind closed doors. It was said that, while Her Majesty was prone to snide gestures, His Majesty was best known as a practical joker. The stories about the Crown were always the best!
We all waited with anticipation for more news. I was very hopeful. Mother Church always aimed to look into the future and define the modern Christian. While the Holy One had been loosening the rules a little, he promised that there was going to be a new order. Flemming had no idea what they were yet and beseeched us to continue praying.
Eventually, the crowds around the church were too large, so the priest took his show on the road to the inn. Once there and drunk from several pints of good beer, Father Flemming would regale all of us with stories from over the Nord. Nuns banned from certain meetings and told spend more time at womanly pursuits. Priests frolicking like they were men in love, picking up altar boys. Only the monks seemed the holiest, keeping the time through the masses, but hiding the sins through their loud chanting.
One night, after a rowdy round of gossip, Father was disgusted. “It is a disgrace that our spiritual leaders feel the need to corrupt the innocent and beautiful.”
“When has the world been so fair, though?” I asked him, snickering into my cup of ale. “Besides, it is only a scandalous story, Father. It most likely is not true. Let it be. I am sure the Holy One is keeping track.”
Father harumphed into his drink. “Stories like this have a spark of truth to them.”
“And? What can we do from here?” I challenged him.
Father never spoke of the issue again.
The news laws were posted throughout the warming and early hot seasons of 246. The one that gladdened our hearts was the expansion of services for farmers. Father and I were happy to hear of the return of the Jastese Christians, but they were under so much questioning that we could not get a worker in the fields. When we did, we were forced to give them reduced wages, lower than a servant of a great house, and they had to toil for longer hours.
My brothers were not happy with this arrangement.
“If they have to be on their feet until they die, then so do we,” Justin said, motioning to himself and Robert.
Father and I took it as a hint. This was more aggravating than we anticipated. We had to let the Jastese go. It was just as well. The Holy One was said to have remarked about how the brown skin color was ungainly and ugly anyway. He authorized several books to be written about it and dubbed the idea a new science. They called it Jastology.
Outwardly, I was praising the Holy One for his diligence and intelligence and encouraging all to read the scripts being released soon. It was a confusing notion otherwise, I thought to myself. I knew that the Jastese people were good at heart like we were. At the same time, we had to obey the Holy One. If he said there was a science behind inferiority, then we had to listen to it.
By Midsummer, Flemming promised more. His friend at Mother Church recently wrote that the last meeting lasted for days, but nothing was allowed to be relayed yet. The Holy One did not stop talking and gave them no break until he wrote the last note. Everyone was in an uproar, shouting at Flemming that it sounded unlike the Holy One.
My heart told me that there was something wrong coming.
I told my inner voice to be quiet.