A Religious Witch?! How Incredible!
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” the holy man said suddenly. He surprised her so much that Lilith jumped. She wanted to hide behind her long blue hair so much so that she grabbed her hair and ran her fingers through it. Her hair was pretty wavy, almost curly, as it was long. She didn’t want to cut her hair as it was the only reminder of her mother. Her mother’s old room had been stripped of its familiar settings except for a few trinkets she managed to keep behind her father’s back. She wanted to focus entirely on her hair, the memory of her mother and wanted to ignore the man before her.
The holy man was very handsome to her. He had a head full of black hair with blue eyes that seemed to go through anything. She didn’t want to look at those eyes again. She made the mistake of doing that before during the eulogy and that’s why she was there currently. It’s his fault… and she didn’t want to repeat that mistake. She focused on the grand building and looked at how intricate the design was. There were winged creatures on there - beautiful women with grand clothing and wings. They seemed to worship the door they surrounded - that the man stood outside in and she wanted to not get the meaning behind this.
When she didn’t answer, the man chuckled. “Oh, you’re shy, aren’t you? Come, come inside the church. We welcome all sorts!” He seemed a lot less strange than he was at the eulogy. Was it because her family wasn’t around? He reached out to her and tried to invite her in but Lilith was unsure. She wasn’t even supposed to be here. She was supposed to study. The young girl felt ‘bad’ in her stomach. It felt awful, she shouldn’t be here but here she was… The fire of sadness started to crawl all over her and she could feel her body become warm. She could feel herself grow anxious.
And then her stomach growled. The way he chuckled softly made her stomach feel warm inside and soon something started to flutter inside of it. Lilith wanted to avert her eyes but when she did, she noticed the windows were stained with strange paint. It made the glass itself really pretty but the young girl wasn’t aware of the pictures’ different meanings. However, that didn’t change the situation at hand.
“Oh, my dear, did you skip lunch to come all this way to view my church?” He never gave her a chance to answer. “Come follow me, child. I’ll be able to feed you. The church is always ready to feed those who are hungry after all.” He reached out his hand and Lilith took it. When she took it, she could feel her hands become clammy, and yet she could feel that the older man’s hand that’s not just dry but almost scaly. And yet, she didn’t know who else to accept. There didn’t seem to be anyone else in the church at that moment so she had no other choice but to follow him.
“You are in the wrong place, my dear,” a voice echoed seemingly out of nowhere. Lilith turned her head when she heard that but couldn’t find who had said that. It really did sound like it was someone within the church as it echoed the same as it did with his voice. However, the man seemed to notice her, but not the voice.
“Come, don’t be frightened by our story. I’m sure you witches have your own stories. Let me go get you some food.”
As the couple walked through the church itself, she saw many vases with various figures except one - that of a man. He didn’t look like anything or anyone she had come across in her studies so she was curious about it. However, the more they walked towards wherever the food was, the more Lilith would compare this church to almost a castle simply because of how large it was. She certainly expected this church to be big but not this big. Lilith worried that if she didn’t have this man to guide her, how lost would she be right now?
It didn’t take much longer to arrive at their destination when the man-made it to their eating quarters. He led her to a seat on an empty bench - it seemed that there were multiple benches for others to sit. However, he probably chose this particular seat out of convenience since it was right by the door they just entered through.
“Normally, I’m not allowed to bring parishioners back here - this is mostly reserved for us while they and the others have a loftier space. But I understand you might be still grieving right now.” Lilith didn’t respond - not like she got a chance to. “No matter, no matter. I’ll make sure you’re fed. Just wait a little longer if you don’t mind.”
After Lilith took a seat, he disappeared behind another door that was close to them. Lilith was surprised that she hadn’t noticed and slightly jumped at the closed noise. While she was alone, she took the time to look around some more as this was a place she hadn’t been to before. As expected, the benches and utensils were made out of smooth wood that retained its pattern. Sometimes when her dad took both her and Henrik out to the taverns, she could see the wood pieces stick out and if she put her elbows on it a certain way, Lilith could feel it poke her.
But not this bench. Everything felt super smooth and she idly wondered why that’s so - was it smoothed by magic or human science? Lilith had learned in her studies that magic is intentional - as long as she intended it, the spell would work to her feelings. However, with human science, she started to learn that humans may have intended something, sometimes, it doesn’t always as it originally intended. Her brother Emery used to say to her, “Say what you mean and mean what you say when you cast your spells,” and Lilith took those words to heart. So, she couldn’t help but wonder why this particular bench was so smooth. Did this place get special treatment?
It didn’t take very much longer for the older man to come out with some bread, cheese, a meat Lilith didn’t recognize, and some fruit. He did seem a little annoyed when he came out but once he saw Lilith, he smiled once more. A gentle one - a different one than she saw earlier. He wasn’t even gone for that long but she imagined something must’ve happened behind that closed door. He placed it on the table in front of Lilith.
“Oh, I had forgotten to properly introduce myself. My name is Deacon Giles. What’s your name?”
Lilith responded to his smile with her own. “My name is Lilith Moonfell!” The other simply nodded. Lilith reached over to her food and tried the combination before her. She was surprised by the combination of the different meat with cheese, bread, and fruit. She looked to him to see if he had been eating - but he just sat there and watched her eat.
When he seemed to realize she stared at him, Deacon finally spoke. “So, what brings you over to my church? It has been a few days since I was there at the eulogy.” No apologies for hijacking the podium. “I assume you’re one of the few who appreciated my speech… I can imagine your relatives don’t know you’re here.” He chuckled softly. “I was starting to think it was a bad idea… They say I’m fairly young to be a priest, but numbers in my old town had grown just because of me.”
After Lilith swallowed some food, as she listened intently, she couldn’t stop herself from blurting out her next question. “How old are you then, Mr. Deacon?”
Deacon gently laughed. “Oh, there’s no need to call me Mr. Deacon. Just call me Deacon. We’re friends, aren’t we?”
“Oh… but we just introduced each other! Isn’t it too soon?”
“Probably… I’m only seventeen years old, so most people still consider me a child.”
“Seventeen?!” Lilith had thought he was much older - based on his demeanor, his words, and vocabulary. Granted, Emery is the same age as he is but… they’re so different! “My big brother Emery is seventeen but he had to leave… I don’t understand… Why did you get to stay?” Lilith didn’t mean to yell and to echo in this room. The priest didn’t seem surprised by her sudden outburst. Lilith felt bad because it really did seem that Deacon was older than even Emery. It would make sense why he wouldn’t be able to leave… he would’ve been too old but he’s the same age as Emery… Lilith could feel tears prick her eyes.
“I’m sorry… But it’s because I’m a priest. All you need to know is that the kingdom wants Frostkin because of you witches. They want your power and they want this land.”
Lilith didn’t know why there was a war. Was this really it? “A-are you sure? I asked my father and he said I shouldn’t focus on that ‘waste of time’. But that ‘waste of time’ took away Emery!” She tried to calm herself down but by now, she stood up and everything in the church could hear everything she felt in her heart, especially the frustration. “Why did you stay then if you’re Emery’s age?”
Again, Deacon stayed quiet until he felt Lilith had finished her rant. Whatever smile he had on before, it was gone. He watched her get up and grab his cloak to understand why they took away her brother, but not him. However, as usual, Deacon had an answer for that. He gently brushed her off of his cloak and smoothed it out with ease.
“It’s because I’m a holy man.”
All Deacon could do was shrug. It wasn’t a careless shrug by any means. Unfortunately, it was the way of the world. He didn’t want to leave her with just a shrug though. “Your brother, unfortunately, had been shipped to the frontlines because he’s an able-bodied young man. I got to stay… because I’m a holy man.” He let out a sigh. “I know it’s not fair to young girls like you. But...if you want, you can pretend I’m your big brother.”
“What? N-no one can replace Emery!”
“I’m not asking for you to replace your brother! Heavens, no! All I’m asking for is for you to give me the love you wouldn’t be able to show him otherwise as long as he’s out at that pointless war.”
“I don’t think my father would allow me… Plus, I’m going to get a mentor soon. If you know I’m a witch, then you should know that much!”
“Oh, no worries, dear Lilith. You can visit me during your free time. My door is always open. But if your dear Emery were here, I’m sure he’d say the same thing.”
A lot of thoughts flew through her head. It sounded like a good idea. When she would get a mentor, she knew her father would be especially strict. He only left her alone when he and Henrik worked during the day but he would talk to her about what she had studied. The only time she would probably have free time is whenever the mentor wanted to take a break. However, in the end, Lilith nodded.
Ever since Emery had been taken away, she felt alone. She always found herself starting to fear things she wouldn’t normally - being alone, the night, the darkness of the night, and worse… she couldn’t even walk past the room where her mother died. But she had to if she wanted to visit the rest of the household rooms. It scared her. It terrified her.
And even though this holy man, this Deacon, said he wanted to be her brother, she couldn’t help but feel safe and mature around him. He never treated her as a child, even though he called her such. He was gentle and the food he gave her was delicious. She managed to eat the rest of her lunch while Deacon kept her company. She would glance at him at times and realized that sometimes, her vision blurred but she thought it was because of her tears. Truly, Lilith missed Emery a lot and at this point, Deacon was the only one around his age in this town.
When she finally finished, he directed her back to the entrance of the church and wished her a blessing. And as she got closer to her home, she realized that maybe she had stayed a bit too long. She tried to run but found that she got tired quickly - but she wanted to beat her father and Henrik coming home. She already risked her being caught by the townspeople recognizing her - though most of the time, they probably wouldn’t question a child running around outside. Unlike bigger towns, Frostkin was too small to have a school and the other towns were too far for them to travel. As such, it was dependent on the older witches, when the witch child became of age, to mentor them further but before then, it was the parents’ responsibility to educate their witch child as much as they could before they could be turned over to the mentor.
But thankfully, she made it there on time when she realized that the two still had not returned. She let go of a sigh of relief and took the time to relax her beating heart.
Did she do something bad? Lilith couldn’t forget about the odd voice that came out of nowhere, but maybe that was her guilty conscience. Her curiosity about the charming Deacon had been satisfied and even more so, he became a temporary stand-in for Emery. She didn’t know if he would ever come back home alive and she released her tears. Lilith missed him so dearly. He was kind to her and was there for her and Henrik when their mother was dying. When they both didn’t understand, Emery was there.
And when Lilith didn’t understand why Emery had to leave, Deacon was there. She just never realized how quickly she actually fell for him.