Kaelyn walked towards the town square, to clear her head, to process what had been happening. It was tempting to be upset about everything that had been going on. It didn't seem fair that she was left to figure this all out on her own, because everyone else in town thought it was just “young love”. Kaelyn decided that she could afford exactly ten minues of being frustrated and let herself fume quietly as she walked, and let her anger drive her to walk faster. She found that Mama had sewn pockets into the front of her new cloak, which were good for storing things, of course, but also effective at keeping her hands warm in the autumn air while also holding the cloak in place.
Two of the town leaders were on her side, but both seemed content to let her handle this whole situation on her own. Mason seemed to agree with her but was so diffident. Kaelyn wished she could talk to Daisy about this, irritatingly. She was fully aware that it wasn't really a healer's job to rescue kidnapping victims, but honestly, whose job was it?
Kaelyn had always been orderly, careful, and disciplined. Now she felt like there were no more real orders, and she had to make it all up herself.
She realized she had been navigating based on the steeple of the church, of course. It was the tallest building in town, on a hill as well. Perhaps Ellis would have some advice about going up against a demon worshipper.
But asking Ellis for help directly was to invite another amazing lecture. Kaelyn could just ask for information...but that would also lead to a lecture. Well, she could handle getting lectured for a while if she needed to.
The chapel was always open, day or night, to offer sanctuary to any soul that felt the need to commune with the Divine. Kaelyn walked in and found Ellis sitting in a pew, looking up at a stained glass window. The window showed a scene of water lilies, jewel-toned greens floating in sapphire blue, the light scattered around on the pews near Ellis, and on his face. One of the things that had impressed Kaelyn when she first came to Strand was that the church, when they commissioned a stained glass window, hadn't chosen a scene from Scripture as was customary, but had instead selected a peaceful, calm image from nature.
Ellis looked around when he heard Kaelyn's footsteps.
“Miss Kaelyn, or rather, Sojourner Kaelyn, I should say. I take it congratulations are in order?”
“Ah, perhaps, Ellis. And just Kaelyn is fine, just as you have always resisted the use of your title. But I do thank you. Ellis, I have some questions, and I suspect they come closest to your purview.”
“The Church exists to answer questions, Kaelyn. Ask and ye shall receive.”
“Right, yes. Um. So, you know that healers are charged to keep certain things confidential, as we are privy to information that people may not want to be made public?”
“Of course. We are under similar charge. Am I to understand that you are reminding me of your oath so that I don't ask for names as I answer your questions?”
Kaelyn just nodded. “Thank you for understanding. Ellis, I need to know more about the...I don't really even know what to call them. The spheres of power. The Divine is a source of great power. But there is an opposite, is there not? The Diabolic? The Demonic? I don't really know what to call it.”
“That is a heavy topic. I will ask no questions, nor will I ask that you commend the soul of your patient to me. But let me try to understand your need. Are you seeking a way to break the hold of the Diabolic? Are you seeking to understand Order and Chaos more generally?”
“What... Order and Chaos? How do those enter into it?”
“Ah, perhaps that isn't taught as part of the Healer's art. Order and Chaos are the wellsprings of power, although only one is actually powerful, the other is counterfeit, faked. Order is the power that makes things. The light from the sun provides energy that allows plants to grow. Plants are eaten by animals, or by humans, who in turn build and create. Order dictates that the seasons follow one another in their regular order. The Divine is the ultimate expression of the power of Order.”
Ellis stood, perhaps without thinking about it, and walked back and forth in front of and below the stained glass window.
“The opposite, if such it can be called, is Chaos. For two things to be opposites they must be of the same type but differ in every other way. So it is with Order and Chaos. They are both sources, as you say, of power. But where order builds, Chaos can only destroy. Where order tends to greater glory, Chaos tends to confusion and ignominy. The Diabolic is the ultimate expression of Chaos. Where the Divine is all powerful, the Diabolic has no real power, only the ability to lie. The Divine offers power when we follow the rules laid out for access to power, the Diabolic pretends to offer power for free, hiding the true cost.”
“The principle of Exchange,” Kaelyn said. “Nothing for nothing, something for something. Each art has its cost associated with the practice of that art.”
Ellis nodded. “In the Church we hold that all arts ultimately spring from the Divine, save one. Thus each art is held to the principle of exchange, for it is the Divine's will that we each learn to grow and increase through the expenditure of our time and effort.”
“But followers of the Diabolic...”
Ellis made a face. “I don't know that such followers exist, not truly. But the Church teaches us how to recognize those who would tend that way. They seek to offset the price for power. They think that the cost can be paid by another, often, indeed always, against that person's will. There has been only one time when any price was paid by another, and that full willingly.
“I'll be blunt, Kaelyn. This is an ugly topic and unsavory, but I sense your desire is not for the tawdry, but to aid some unfortunate...and perhaps I can guess who. The Diabolic teaches a twisted version of sacrifice. Instead of sacrificing my own time, as I do in the service of the Divine, as you do in the preparation and administration of your cures, The Diabolic teaches that you sacrifice another being. Their lifeblood, to power your despicable arts. But again, this is a lie.”
Kaelyn nodded as Ellis stopped speaking. She looked up into the window. The sun had moved, and the blue and green light was scattered over Kaelyn's lap now, bright, scintillating gems with no physical presence. Ellis had part of the puzzle, there was something to what he had told her. But there was more, there was something still missing.
“Thank you, Ellis. I appreciate your honestly, your answers.”
“You are welcome, Kaelyn. I hope you find...what you are looking for.” He said and turned away, heading back to his office. “Wait, what do you think I'm looking for?” Kaelyn asked. Ellis stopped and turned to face her again, a little smile on his face.
“People often think that I must be in my own world up here on this hill, coming into town but rarely, focusing on my prayers and observances. They forget that what I hear, up here, is every secret they need to express. They forget that wounded souls come up here, and in my quiet, safe church, I see all those wounds. They forget that a good priest sees more of vice than of virtue, just as a good healer sees more of sickness than of health.”
Ellis turned back to face the window. “I wouldn't for the world slow you down. But know that he can no more harm her soul than he could turn the sun into the moon. But I suspect you have more...physical concerns. Souls are my business, saving the body...that's your Sojourn. And I will pray for your success.” Ellis said and walked quietly away.