Chapter 14.3: Tryst

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Josie paced the busy streets

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Josie paced the busy streets. She halted to adjust her shoes. They were leather lace-ups, as formal as she possessed, but not particularly good for distance. It was only a half-mile to the Great Temple but already the straps had worn painful slashes into her feet.

From the corner of her eye, Josie thought she saw a figure darting into the space between two dark-windowed shops. The crowds had thinned as she'd moved away from the taverns. Just a few quiet people moved hurriedly through the street. She saw nothing. It was just my imagination. Still, for the rest of her journey she couldn't help but feeling as if she were being watched.

The Great Temple was the heart of the Sect of Gah in Bayburg. The Cardinal of Gah, in fact, traditionally dwelled here before relocating to Pent City three decades earlier for political ease. Built in the center of Bayburg, the Great Temple was old, pre-dating the Union. It was built in the days when House Bromborne first emerged from the ashes of the Age of Chaos as the premier ushers of civilization's return in the east.

Its architecture bespoke of a time long passed. The massive structure was surrounded by circular flying buttresses. When she was a little girl, Josie was so frightened by the gargoyles she'd begged her father to attend a different temple. After all, there were quite a few throughout the city. This, he'd responded, was utterly ridiculous. "The sons and daughters of Gah travel great distances just to glimpse this sacred place. We live within a half-bell's walkand you want to avert your eyes? You don't know what you say."

Though the grim, frightening faces still scared her, she never complained again.

Tonight, she gazed up at the Great Temple and its protectorate of stone gargoyles glowing in the torchlight. It is a marvel, truly. Even more than the Temple itself, it was the Statue of Joone standing seventy feet tall on the northeast corner that she admired the most. She lowered her hood and gazed up at his colossal features.

"King Torner Bromborne the Good had that built. In the year 1393, following the Great Convention." Josie wheeled around in surprise. Walden Mooseberry stood before her. He was shorter than she remembered. And his hair was more...greasy. 

"Prince Walden!" she said. "You surprised me!"

"I apologize, my lady," he smiled unpleasantly. "I am pleased to see you." He seized her hand and slobbered a few kisses on it. Josie blushed. He was shorter than her. A bowl of messy hair capped boyishly round, pale cheeks. This is my prince?

"Prince Mooseberry," she said, curtseying lightly. "Pleased to see you also."

"The pleasure is mine," he said, yanking her close with powerful but clumsy arms. She looked around nervously, but there was nobody to watch.

"You have something to tell me?" Josie asked, trying to wiggle loose as he pawed at her back and shoulders while planting awkward kisses on her neck.

"Yes, my lady," he said, pulling back at last. "Come with me. I want to show you something."

"Where are we going?"

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