Athel grew up an orphan – one of many in the worn-torn world of Teleria. But her orphanage was no ramshackle hut or crumbling temple, like in most of the cities of Kaerok. No, Athel was raised in the Eternal Citadel, the beating heart of the Sacred Order. She was a foundling, having been anonymously deposited on the step of a minor side gate as a baby. It was there that she was discovered by none other than Godseeker Aniri, the prelate in charge of inducting new recruits. It was a relationship that would come to define Athel’s life.
Athel was an unusual acolyte for the Sacred Order. She was extremely adept at anything she put her mind to and showed great promise in her religious studies, magical aptitudes, and combat training – some even called her a savant. Her skills earned her great praise, and when Aniri took on the title Godseeker and transferred to the Eternal Citadel – the Sacred Order’s cathedral city – Athel was allowed to join her. But it was in the Eternal Citadel that Athel found herself in trouble, for she proved to be both willful and curious – a dangerous combination in the Sacred Order.
Athel asked too many questions of what her instructors proclaimed were ‘the wrong sort,’ and she refused to take their answers at their word. When a tutor made a statement, Athel needed proof of its veracity. But while the Order taught that questioning mathematics, arcanistry, or science was welcome… doing the same for doctrine, or historical narratives? Such an act was unspeakable, even dangerous. While the Godseeker cared for the girl, she often punished Athel harshly – if only to protect her from even greater censure that might be demanded by the temple’s leadership.
Eventually, Athel found an unlikely ally in the form of Shamael, a fellow student – and the top of his class. She began working with him, training and drilling on a daily basis, quickly catapulting herself to the upper echelon of her own year.
Athel’s appetite for knowledge soon blossomed into an all-out obsession… but it brought her into contact with answers that none in the Sacred Order were ready to face.
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