~ Chapter 10: The Church of the Goddess ~
The age of three years old was a magical one for any boy or girl living in this kingdom, which name I had yet to learn. Or maybe when mother told us the name, it entered through one ear and left through the other, leaving nothing behind, not even an echo.
Anyway, this age could be summarized through one major event: the visit to the church in order to be baptized in the name of the Goddess of Love and Creation Sapherya.
Out of curiosity, I asked mother once if that was her full name.
After shaking her head left to right, she answered “Only the High Priests of the Holy Goddess may know her other names. Rumor has it that even mentioning it by accident can call forth upon her power!”
In other words, I more or less had access to a secret that if found out could anger the Church of this world. At the same time, I also knew the 'key word' to annoy her... or just catch her attention. On the other hand, I could also use it as a way to get out of sticky situations if the Church ever tried to impose its authority on me. Well, all of these were thoughts and worries a child like me had no need to bother with.
Thus, on the morning of our birthday, mother dressed us up and brought us out of the house. I was wearing a small brown velvet suit similar to father's, while Cassandra wore a cute frilly white dress. For some reason, I feared the sudden appearance of an old aunty who would suddenly pinch our cheeks, while constantly telling us how adorable we looked.
For our baptizing, we had to go to a nearby town called Briston. It was located at around 27 kilometers away from the Drakarys Estate and had a population of a couple of thousand of humans. According to father's long and boring explanation, the industry in this little town was well developed in several areas. Fortunately, mother got him to stop talking before we all fell asleep.
Neither me or Cassandra understood even half of what he said, but I was surprised by the fact that they had the concept of the 'metric system'. To be more accurate, it was similar, but the words weren't exactly the same... Meter was translated as 'Kaan', and Kilometer was 'OnKaan'.
To reach the said town, we had to take the carriage, which was driven by an old man wearing a suit.
When we saw it, Cassandra asked “Who he?” and cutely pointed at him.
“Oh! That's Stephan, the driver of our carriage! He lives in a house located a few kilometers away from here. His wife handles the garden together with our maid, and his son is one of my guards.” father replied.
“More servants?” Cassandra asked.
“Unlike those of the Levias or Vlamyr households, they aren't live-in servants or slaves.” mother explained.
But while they were talking about this sort of stuff, I was more perplexed about something else... The carriage wasn't pulled by a horse, monster, or anything like that, but by a Magic Crystal.
Yup, it was a white crystal with multiple faces. It was about 1 meter in height and half a meter in diameter. It had two pointy ends and a thick middle. As for what the shape was actually called... only the gods knew, for I completely forgot.
“We'll be heading off to Briston today, Stephan. Take us to the Church of the Holy Goddess!” father ordered.
“Understood, master Drakarys.” he replied with a nod.
Thus, we were on our way. According to mother, we were to reach our destination in one or two hours.
Speaking of which, this strange crystal that pulled the carriage had various uses, but most importantly, it didn't make any noise and kept the streets clean. As much as one loved horses, they were noisy and messy. One thing was to have a horse in a barn out in the country, and another was to have one parked outside your window.
This was also the main reason why most inns who could handle these animals were located only near the edges of towns and cities. There was no place inside for them.
So it happened that I acquired all of this semi-useful information thanks to a certain adorable little sister that kept babbling and asking 'why?' to a really patient mother.
Our father was overwhelmed by her abundant energy not long after we left the estate. His wry smile was all he could muster, while mother seemed to be having fun.
Meanwhile, I was constantly looking out the window, trying to enjoy the scenery. Sister's questions stopped at one point before we reached the gates of the town. We didn't even need to have our identities verified, nor were we stopped for an inspection. We were nobles, so maybe there was no need for such things in the first place?
Once we entered the town, I looked out the window and tried my best to spot the famous elves, beastkin, and other non-human species, but my luck had ran dry on this end. All I saw were dirty-looking humans, armored soldiers patrolling the streets, the occasional carriage pulled by a crystal, and at times young children playing in the streets. They were several years older than us though.
After a while, I spotted a slave shop strategically placed next to the Adventurer Guild. Seeing this made me wonder if this was what the goddess was referring to when she said that there was a bit of a problem with it. They were out in the open, selling slaves like a grocer sold potatoes, and everybody saw it as something natural.
Hm... Should I start to save up money to buy one just in case? I asked myself after it was no longer in sight.
Surprisingly, I didn't see that many slaves walking about on the streets. Then again, I was just a three years-old ogling out the window. What did I know? And it didn't even cross my mind to ask my parents about it. In my own naivety I thought that maybe people simply didn't enjoy walking around with their slaves, or maybe they ordered them to cover up their collars.
While I was thinking of such useless things, we finally arrived at the church.
The carriage stopped and with our parents' help, we got out. There, we found ourselves in front of an impressive building made out of white marble with tall arcades. With a single glance I could tell that they went full out on the decorations. It was like staring at a smaller version of the back of the cathedral Notre Dame de Paris.
The carvings on the walls and columns told with images the ancient legends that made out most of their Holy Texts. Although they were impressive, they weren't astonishing when it came to the art itself.
All around this church, various humans who wore white garbs from head to toe moved about as their official duties dictated. Some of them were guiding people of common birth to the praying rooms. Others held lectures about how great their goddess was. Another taught a bunch of older children how to read and write. In short, there wasn't anyone around here who stood by and did nothing. And this was outside, we had ye take a step inside.
A little curious about the children, I pulled on father's sleeve and pointed at them.
“What is it, Leo?” he looked down and then followed the direction of my hand “Oh? Those are the children of common folk who learn from the church some basic knowledge about our words and kingdom. Laws cannot be maintained if the people do not know of them!” he patted the top of my head.
“This sort of study is mandatory for those who wish to enter an Academy.” mother added.
School? Hm... Interesting... I thought.
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