Food for the Soul

A busy strip along the center of marn, including the Temple, Hospital, and Justice Hall.
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Brother Monk
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Name: Matthias
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Food for the Soul

Post by Brother Monk » Fri Jan 21, 2011 4:24 am

On a quiet morning outside of the Temple of Teodinus stood a young monk the city was quite unfamiliar with not too long before. He was a very simple man in appearance, his height neither tall or short. His skin appeared weathered from the conditions of the sun and working beneath it. His head was completely shaved, showing a youthful yet hardened face. He offered a warm inviting smile to all those who passed him on the street, his amber eyes warmer and ever more inviting with a tell-tale hint of a keen intellect. The simple robes of a monk adorned his form, the mundane hues fitting for a member of the clergy. The loose robes were tied with a simple sash, his feet wrapped in sandals. Around his right hand a set of prayer beads were wrapped around his hand.

In one hand the monk held a bell as he stood next to a box mounted on a table. Carved into the wooden box was the word "donations" with a small rectangular hole cut into the top of the box. The simple wooden box appeared to have a hinge on the lid with a small lock securing the lid shut, preventing anyone from taking the contents within. With the bell in hand the young monk rung it, calling out to the people who were passing him by with a friendly smile.

"Alms! Alms! Alms for the poor!"

The monk's voice was neither loud or quiet, just the right pitch to draw the attention of a passerby. Some people stopped by and dropped a coin into the box while others continued walking by without a glance. Every donation was met with a wide smile, a polite thanks and a blessing before he continued to ring the bell and call out.

"Alms! Alms! Alms for the poor!"

Every morning the monk has been outside in front of the temple collecting donations. That morning was no different. As the morning progressed the streets became busier, noticeably causing the monk to step back away from the large crowds filling the streets. The late morning air heated up with the rise of the sun and as as the day passed by. Shadows crawled across the street as the sun steadily climbed into the afternoon sky, then retreated as the shadows from across the street chased after the others. He continued to ring his bell and call out for donations with a notably quieter tone until noon arrived where he took the collections box, table and the bell to stow inside of the temple proper.

The bell tower of the temple had distinctively rung, marking the 12th hour of the day.

Ding! Dong! Ding! Dong! Ding! Dong! Ding! Dong! Ding! Dong! Ding Dong!

Earlier in the day the bell tower rung -- something that hadn't happened in quite some time -- with six distinct rings, marking the 6th hour of the new day which was also the beginning. Every following hour the bell rung on the hour; seven o' clock was met with 7 rings, eight o' clock was met with 8 rings and nine o' clock was met with 9 rings -- every hour was recognized with a corresponding number of rings equal to the time of day. When one o' clock came there would be 1 ring until the end of the day at 6 o' clock with six rings. The young monk and the old monk worked the bell tower throughout the day, the previous temple keeper even having become more lively with Matthias' presence around the temple.

With noon came lunch where Matthias retreated into the inner sanctum of the temple to eat a simple meal with the elder monk. After finishing his meal he returned to the temple proper with broom in hand as he swept out the temple with a warm smile etched across his face. Throughout the day people came and went, offering their silent prayers before departing. It was in the early afternoon that the young monk sat on the front steps of the temple where gathered around him were many children. With their eyes wide and on the edges of their seats they listened to the monk's every word as he spun a tale for them, telling a story of heroism with the forces of good and evil. Concluding the tale the young monk spoke, a bit nervous with so many faces upon him.

"...and so we tell the tales of heroes to remind ourselves that we also can be great."

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Brother Monk
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Re: Food for the Soul

Post by Brother Monk » Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:53 am

The children, mesmerized by Matthias' story, were wide eyed and pleaded with the monk for him to tell another tale. Their attentive pleas were only met with a warm smile but an unfortunate shake of his head. The young monk rose to his feet as he looked over the small assembly of children and dismissed them with a gentle wave of his hand. "Come back tomorrow and I promise you I will tell you all another story, children. For now its time for me to cultivate my spirituality and align my mind, body and soul." With their eyes lowered down in disappointment they all soon vacated the temple steps and ran into the streets, their fleeting minds forgetting stories as children often did. Into the busy streets of Marn they vanished as Matthias returned into the temple proper.

Matthias was met inside by the elder monk who had been there for many, many years. The monk, an older human man who appeared to be nearing his early 70's, approached Matthias with a slow and cautious step. Matthias brought his hands together before his heart, his right hand balling into a fist and his left hand wrapping over top, and bowed his head in a formal greeting that stemmed from his life spent in a monastery so far away from the city he had found. The greeting itself was alien in the eyes of many but it as easily recognizable as respectful and polite. The older monk, having grown accustomed to this obscure greeting, offered a toothy grin in response.

"Brother Matthias, tell me... Hic! What do you intend to do with the alms you've been collecting?"

The older monk was known as Brother Ezekiel within the city of Marn. Ezekiel had found a taste in alcohol several years ago which had led him into a downward spiral. Before Matthias' arrival the temple had been in far better condition before Ezekiel had developed his drinking problem. Several decades past the temple was beautiful, the stonework looking as if it were set the day before. However, Ezekiel had partook of the wine in the temple stores that was intended for religious celebrations when something in his life broke. He locked himself within the catacombs of the temple and drank his life away and the temple slowly fell into disarray. However, that was then and in the light of Matthias' arrival the elder monk was changing for the better.

Matthias raised a brow at Ezekiel's words before he offered a sincerely warm smile. "Ah, Brother Ezekiel, I intend to visit the homes of the poor and give a bit of it to help them make it by. I think a little something to help them along can bring relief to the shadowed hearts of the oppressed." His words rung soundly with faith in the work he was doing for the people of the city. While Ezekiel appeared mildly caught off guard with the humble gesture of good will, a small part of him understood and recovered from the years he had squandered not helping those very people Matthias intended to now. There was a small part of him that thought the alms Matthias had collected could be used to acquire a bit more drink to wet his tongue. Afterall, the temple stores were running low and he had nothing to his name himself.

Matthias put an arm around the elders shoulders and smiled as he did, warm and inviting. "Come, Brother Ezekiel, lets get some water and let me tell you a few stories while we play a game of chess?." Where the elder monk was hesitant at first he relented to Matthias' suggestion as they walked back to the caretaker's quarters together. Matthias understood the strong addiction that claimed Ezekiel but did not know how to exactly handle it. Back at the monastery they had made their own alcohol for a spiritual purpose, producing a wine that was drank sparingly once a year to celebrate the tidings of the new year. He had never experienced alcoholism and only from what he had picked up from reading he had an inkling as to its effects claiming Ezekiel. Since his arrival and uncovering this problem he attempted to ease its hold over the elder monk, trying to wean the man off of it.

All life was worth preserving and helping a fellow member of the clergy find his way again was surely a way for Matthias to find his own way. There were no lost causes, there were no people to be left behind, there was no one Matthias could watch be ravaged by sickness, disease or oppression -- all lives were equal in worth and it was his duty in life to help others. Faith was a strong motivation and Matthias hoped he could rekindle its flame in the heart of Ezekiel. It would take time, however. Time was the best medicine for all wounds to heal.

Matthias and Ezekiel sat down at a wooden table in the caretaker's quarters of the temple where a chess board had been set up. The board was likely older than either one of them and its age showed. The pieces were chipped, the board was scraped and the pieces were had groves from years of play. Matthias had recently cleaned up the set the best he could. It was clear the board and pieces had seen better years but the old set was a relic from another time in its own right. Most importantly, all the pieces were present which made for playing the game possible.

Matthias, assuming the black pieces waited for his companion to make his first move. As he did so, he began to tell a story he had promised. He was initially planning to take time to meditate and exercise but he sensed something that needed tended to in Ezekiel. With a deep breath he began into his tale, weaving it from the depths of his own imagination.

"There once was an owl who lived in the woods. He had lived in the woods for a long time and had watched the mice and squirrels and rabbits and the other woodland creatures grow up all his life. From his sanctuary within the ancient oak he watched the woods as the woods flourished; the animals lived in relative prosperity and flourished in their home. Although they did not dare venture out of the woods they saw no reason to do so. The woods were their home, all they needed existed within the woods and it was safe from the unknown that lingered on the woodland's edges.

"The owl was wise as he had lived in the ancient oak all his life, a home that was his honor to live in. The ancient oak kept records of the woods and all that had happened. When the creatures of the woods came to the owl in the ancient oak they came to seek wisdom and in turn the owl shared his wisdom. His wisdom helped others and he was happy because he did good. The creatures were able to use the wise words of the owl and continue to ensure their prosperity. The woods prospered and the creatures were happy for many years.

"The seasons came to pass and the creatures of the woods did not come to visit the wise owl as they did before. They came rarely unlike the time before when they consulted him for the wisdom he had. Each season passed and with each season fewer and fewer came in search of the owl's wisdom. One day the creatures did not come at all and the owl was alone in the ancient oak, sad that no one came to visit him and request what great wisdom he possessed. He was so saddened by this that he closed his eyes and went to sleep.

"However, one day when the creatures of the woods came to the ancient oak to consult the wise owl the owl was asleep and he did not wake. They called out, 'Brother Owl, where are you? We need your guidance!' Despite their cries he did not wake, slumbering deeply within the hollow of the ancient oak. Troubled by the owl's disappearance they peeked into his home but in the darkness they saw nothing. The slumbering owl could not be seen and they feared he had left them forever. And so the animals never returned to the ancient oak to consult the wise owl for they thought he had abandoned them.

"When the owl awoke he found that his home, the ancient oak, was dying. The leaves on the tree were not as vibrant as they were before, a poisonous moss was slowly claiming the bark and the core of the tree was becoming eaten by parasites. Saddened that his home was dying, he remained in his home. The leaves fell to the ground until every branch was bare, the tree splintered with the wrath of the parasites and the moss slowly came to claim the owl himself.

"As the owl waited for his final day in the darkness of the dying oak, he saw a light come in through the hollow he lived in. This light revealed that while he had slumbered the creatures of the woods had come to him to beseech his wisdom. However, when he did not respond they were saddened and left thinking the wise owl abandoned them. He understood then that he was not forgotten at all and he was the one who had abandoned the creatures of the woods. He understood then that no matter how he felt when few visited him and asked for his wisdom, he had a responsibility to be there and share his wisdom."

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Brother Monk
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Re: Food for the Soul

Post by Brother Monk » Thu Jan 27, 2011 7:00 pm

After Matthias had spun the story as any storyteller would the elder monk looked to him with a contemplative look beneath his heavy eyebrows. All the while the two partook of the chess game between them, each monk making careful plays in their quest for taking the other king piece. The story was woven from what Matthias had gleaned from Ezekiel regarding the man's past and shortcomings. The troubled man would soon find similarities between himself and the owl in the story unless the alcohol in his system said otherwise. Considering Ezekiel was playing chess quite well and his breath was not overwhelming with the smell of wine, Matthias believed the man was not too drunk.

The game was a remarkable challenge as every move Matthias employed against his opponent was countered. Where Matthias had thought himself to be a fair player, he unexpectedly found himself playing against a grandmaster of chess. Matthias would later learn that the lonely old monk often had drunk himself into oblivion in his earlier days and pretended he had company by playing a game of chess against himself. Understanding the old monk was something Matthias was entertaining himself with. He found that the man was more complex than he originally thought. Despite his dependencies and lack of faith, he possessed the wisdom that came from age, shortcomings and accomplishments. Every day was an interesting experience with Ezekiel as he delved deeper into the man's psyche.

"Tell me, Brother Matthias," the old monk spoke as he moved straggling pawn across the board. "If the servant of his lord were to no longer have a lord, is he still a servant?"

The question caught Matthias off guard, his eyes shifting from the game to Ezekiel fully as his expression shifted, showing consideration for the man's words. His fingers gently rapped the table they sat at as if the action itself would help grant him the insight he needed for the answer. After a short few moments of thought he smiled, finding an answer he deemed appropriate. Both of the monks on some level understood the meaning of the story and the corresponding question as it was more than a tree, an owl and a community of forest animals.

"Yes, he is still a servant as that is the life he is born into: servitude," Matthias suggested.

"What of a king? If he is without a kingdom, is he still a king?" At this moment Ezekiel made his next play, putting Matthias' own king into check with the movement of his bishop.

Matthias' smile remained and he nodded, moving his knight to interfere with the check. "A king is a title, one granted by birthright. If he is born as the heir to that title, he is a king despite his kingdom or lack thereof."

Ezekiel moved his own knight to continue his conquest on the board. A few more plays were exchanged, each monk gleaning the deeper meanings between each question and answer and how it applied to themselves. The cryptic responses were deciphered as the game continued to be played; the war continued to be waged. Finally Matthias was caught unawares as he was forced into checkmate because of the final positioning of a lone pawn. Matthias looked to Ezekiel and bowed his head in respect.

"You are a worthy opponent, you made this game enjoyable Brother Ezekiel."

"As you are a talkative opponent who made me think outside of a spaces and pieces... Hic!"

Matthias offered him a warm smile as he couldn't help but think that Ezekiel took away from the game the meanings behind the story and conversation rather than the words themselves. As each monk rose Ezekiel dismissed himself to his own prayer and contemplation. Matthias, however, sought to return to the temple proper and returning to his duties. After all, it was about time to ring the bell again. For as long as the game seemed, they hadn't quite been there for an hour.

Returning to the temple proper, he went to ring the bells before once again he took up broom in hand and swept the dirt out of the temple. As people came and went for their own purposes and spirituality, they inherently tracked in dirt from the streets. Matthias swept it all back outside with no complaint, happy he had stumbled across a place he could help people and even learn about himself. Though he knew very little about the city himself, he did hear from those who passed by about their lives and the trials and tribulations they faced. Standing on the temple steps he sighed quietly, leaning on his broom as he looked up into the afternoon sky in thought.

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Shyael Falanae
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Re: Food for the Soul

Post by Shyael Falanae » Mon Feb 07, 2011 6:53 am

How in the heck had she ended up in this part of town?

It wasn’t uncommon for Shyael to take a wrong turn somewhere while navigating around Marn - she was blind, after all. But she couldn’t recall ever getting this turned around. When she heard a bell ringing and an unfamiliar voice calling for alms, she realized she was in an area of the city she didn’t think she had ever been. Or at least if she had, she was never aware of it.

For now she supposed it was better to stop walking for a bit, until she could figure out where she was. It took some doing, but she eventually located some stairs a short walk further down the road and took a seat. For several minutes she sat in silence to listen to the sounds and voices around her, hoping to pick out something, anything, that would tell her where she was. Before long she determined that the building where the bell ringing had come from must have been a temple, though she couldn’t be sure which one.

Aside from that, she heard nothing else that would tell her for certain which part of town she was in. So she let her eyes drift shut and tried to retrace her steps. She often visualized the locations of buildings and landmarks as she walked to keep from getting lost, but the method wasn’t fool-proof. Without her sight, it was the best she could do. And right now she wasn’t having any luck.

Guess she wasn’t going to get to the tavern to play on time. The owner wasn’t likely to ask her back. Oh well. Probably wasn’t the worst thing in the world. She had heard rumors the previous day that the whole tavern setup was nothing more than a front to hide the prostitution going on behind closed doors. Normally Shyael couldn’t afford to be picky with who agreed to pay her to perform - but she would rather not end up in the middle of such a shady operation, if the stories were true.

Yeah...she decided to interpret this little mishap as a hint that she shouldn’t get caught up in that place.

So then that left her the problem of getting home. She still needed to figure out where she was, so she stood and started walking in the direction she originally came from.

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Re: Food for the Soul

Post by Brother Monk » Fri Feb 11, 2011 10:09 pm

Matthias stood on the temple steps with broom in hand with a distant look on his features, his eyes having drifted from the heavens to the busy streets with a note of caution. Despite his short stay in the city he was still unaccustomed to so many people being in such a relatively small place. Although the monastery he grew up in was small with only so many monks, the ration of citizens to city size made the place such a wonder to him. How new it was made it completely intimidating. And so he watched, quietly observing the street as various people from all walks of life passed him by on their own respective ways.

Amidst the people of Marn making their way along the street a strange sight caught his attention. Those amber eyes landed on the elven girl who moved with the crowd. Now, it was of note that Matthias had knew very little of those outside of the native humans he grew up within the monastery. Seeing the elves in Marn was a distinct curiosity that struck him as a musician strummed the chords of his instrument – his attention was thoroughly stolen when one passed by, curious enough to watch but not brave enough to ask.

With a contemplative look on his face as he watched the girl take a seat down the street he murmured before resuming his sweeping. The denizens of Marn were such strange creatures! His mind roiled at the thoughts of the different inhabitants that crossed the street before the temple every day! These elves and dwarves and other strange creatures that he knew little of beyond what he read in an old, dusty tome. Though he knew much, he knew very little for experience was worth more than all the days he could spend reading. The difference between knowing and doing, learning and experiencing was significant.

As Matthias’ thoughts turned over his attention was stolen again and it happened to be by that same girl again. From where he stood on the temple steps he couldn’t get a really good view of her but her ears were noticeably pointed with long hair (at least by his standards) so her movements – which he couldn’t say exactly how they were different but they seemed to lack a fluid nature – caused him to stop. So, there she was and he leaned on his broom, quietly watched again as the musician struck the chords of curiosity in his soul.

“Excuse me, young lady,” the monk called out to Shyael, his voice raised but neither overwhelming nor underwhelming. His posture shifted, standing straight up at amber hues focused on her. “You there! Tell, by how you wander so are you sure of your destination? Might the Temple of Teodinus be able to assist you?” A broad, welcoming smile and a voice touched with cheerfulness came through, stepping down the steps slowly as he continued to sweep dust from the temple steps.

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Shyael Falanae
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Re: Food for the Soul

Post by Shyael Falanae » Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:11 am

She slowed but didn't stop at the first call. One of the things she hated most of being unable to see was not knowing when a person was speaking directly to her. Shyael never bothered to respond to any remarks she heard unless she was certain, but either way she was caught in a catch twenty-two.

If she ignored comments that turned out to indeed be directed to her, the stranger walked off in a huff. If she answered and the person wasn't addressing her, she felt like a fool. She decided a long time ago she would rather not feel foolish.

The stranger's next comment, however, did give her reason to pause. She noticed then that it was the same voice that was calling for alms a short while earlier. If he was addressing her specifically, then he must have noticed her aimless meandering. Still, she wanted to be certain before doing or saying anything.

As she turned to face the direction the voice had come from, she realized she was quite lost. Temple of Teodinus? Never heard of it before now. But at least the voice sounded friendly enough. One of the resident monks, perhaps? "I'm sorry," she called back, "are you speaking to me?"

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Brother Monk
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Re: Food for the Soul

Post by Brother Monk » Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:44 am

A broad, hearty chuckle erupted from the monk filled full of mirth as he just smiled. His expression was sincere much like his words and he nodded his head, eyes focused on the girl as he gestured her forward no matter if she could see or not. "I speak of none other," Matthias spoke with a warm tone, nodding his head from the temple steps. "Come, do tell how the temple can help." With an ever warm smile he surveyed the street with a quick glance before a hand came up to his cleanly shaven crown and rubbed his head thoughtfully.

"Sacrifice is a noble gesture, young lady, one the temple tries to teach. It is by sacrifice alone that our world still stands and in life we all must learn to do so -- to spare a coin for another, to spare an ear for a friend, to spare a life for the whole; all noble causes that stem from sacrifice. In this I give my time to you whom walks with questionable purpose. Tell me, if I can humbly ask, what is your name?"

He proceeded to lean onto his broom once more, watching the woman with his eyes swelling with curiosity. They watched her with unrelenting purpose as offered kindness with word and deed. Behind him the old monk Ezekiel watched from the temple entrance with tired eyes, amused by the antics of the young brother before shaking his head and retreating into the temple proper.

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Shyael Falanae
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Re: Food for the Soul

Post by Shyael Falanae » Sun Feb 27, 2011 2:06 am

Once he confirmed that he was indeed speaking to her, Shyael spent the next few seconds listening behind her for anyone approaching before cutting across the street, though she still stayed a short distance away from the source of the voice. Honestly, she had doubts about any help the monk could offer. Oftentimes when she asked for directions, the person was very unclear or used references that were of no use to blind folk. Didn’t hurt to try, though, she supposed.

Most of the long-winded preaching about sacrifice went in one ear and out the other. She knew well enough about that and didn’t much want to hear anymore about it. Though she enjoyed playing music, she didn’t like having to play in questionable establishments - which, unfortunately, was becoming a frequent occurrence. There were plenty of other things she would rather be doing, if her mother would just pull her crap together.

Her thoughts strayed when he asked for her name. She turned her attention back to the monk, her sightless eyes turning in what she hoped was the right direction. “Shyael,” she said quietly. “I’m just trying to find my way back to Clearfort Street.” Though she did have a good excuse for being lost, the situation was still embarrassing - unnerving, too, to know she was in an unfamiliar part of town. She wanted to get this over with so she could get out.

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