The Venerated Scholar

A Short Story by Kyle Viveiros

“Bridavin? What are you still doing here?”

Bridavin slowly looked up from the tome he had been pouring over for the better part of the day and turned his attention towards the door to the library. Even in the low candlelight, he had no problem discerning the familiar, short stature of the High Priest of Selûne, Khetmir Thunderbraid. Thunderbraid was an older dwarf with light brunette hair and a matching beard that was braided down to the middle of his chest. His kind face was freckled and covered in smile lines and wrinkles. He took a couple steps forward out of the doorway, his charcoal and blue vestiges dragging behind him on the cold, marble flooring.

Turning his attention away from the High Priest, Bridavin surveyed the small reading room he was seated in. When he had sat down with this book, the sun shone through the picture windows and the birds chirped outside excitedly, but now the moonlight cascaded onto the spines of the numerous tomes lining the walls.

“Oh gods, I lost track of time again.” Bridavin said, sighing and rubbing his forehead. “You know how I get when I read. The stories and concepts and imagery are just so mesmerizing. It’s hard for me to stop when I get started.”

Thunderbraid chuckled and his mouth curled into a soft smile as he looked at the young cleric. At 29 year old, Bridavin was the youngest cleric who had pledged himself to Selûne in the small town of Winterhaven. He was a tall, pale young man of a slightly muscular build and was dressed in similar charcoal and blue robes as the High Priest that now stood before him. His hair was a shade of black as dark as the feathers of a raven, and was combed over on top with an undercut shave on the sides and back of his head. His eyes were a dark shade of blue that matched the blues in the robes he wore, but upon closer inspection, one would find that he also had a ring of gold that bordered his pupils. Slight bags of exhaustion appear below his eyes from his time over the years of all night reading and studying; the only slight blemish on his smooth face. However, those bags seem to disappear when he smiles and are instead replaced by deep cheek dimples.

“I know you do, Bridavin. But it’s half past midnight, and you need to get home to take care of Helena.”

Bridavin’s eyes widened. “It’s that late?! Oh shit… I mean shoot!” His cheeks turned a bright red in embarrassment; embarrassed for swearing in front of the High Priest and embarrassed to have lost track of time again.

The High Priest gave a hearty laugh that echoed in the reading room and shook his belly under his regal looking robes.

“No need to look so red, my boy. Everyone has slip ups now and then.” He gave Bridavin a wink as he helped to gather his belongings. “Now, run on home and get to your mother! Selûne knows Helena would raise the Nine Hells if you don’t make it home soon.”

Bridavin gave a weak smile as he hurriedly started shoving books into his bag. He slung his bag over his shoulder and said, “Thank you so much High Priest. I’ll see you tomorrow morning for our lesson!”

“Good night, my boy! Please give Helena my love when you see her!”

Bridavin burst in through the front door of his home. He rapidly hung his pack on a hook and closed the door behind him.  As he turned around, he noticed the frail frame of his mother, Helena Feroral, standing at the stove. The savory smells of a stew flitted throughout the small house as she stood there stirring a pot atop the stove. Bridavin cocked his head to the side looking at her and let out a loud sigh.

“Momma, you know you’re not supposed to be out of bed.”

Helena turned to look at her son. She shared a lot of the same physical characteristics as her son; the pale snow-like complexion, the long black hair, and dark blue eyes. The bags under her eyes, however, were far more exaggerated than Bridavin’s, and her face intensely more gaunt. She looked as though she hadn’t eaten in weeks, yet upon seeing her son she gave him a fond grin that felt like warming up next to the fireplace.

“Yes I know, but you were supposed to be home before 9:00.” She replied, her melodic voice drifting through the house and mingling with the smell of the stew. “Besides, I knew you were going to be hungry when you got home so I wanted to make sure you weren’t going to bed hungry.” She let out a small chuckle that quickly devolved into her coughing into her hand. She pulled it away and the familiar sight of crimson appeared on her hand. Bridavin walked over, pulling a handkerchief out of his pocket and helping to clean it up.

“Come on, let’s get you back to bed. I’ll make up a bowl for you and I’ll tell you a new story I read at the library today.” Bridavin said, taking his mother under his arm and guiding her back to her room past the kitchen. He then returned to the kitchen and poured two bowls of stew for him and Helena.

“So what’d you read about today, sweetheart?” Helena asked. She sat upright in her bed as she started to eat.

“Oh today I read copious amounts about solars!” Bridavin’s eyes lit up as he started telling Helena all about the angels. “They’re incredibly interesting! Did you know they have swords that fly into battle on their own? And a single shot from their bow is enough to kill an evil being on contact! They’re amazing, Mom!”

She grinned quietly as her son talked. This was how Bridavin had always been since he was a boy. He would read a story and wouldn’t be able to stop talking about it for days, sometimes weeks, afterward. It wasn’t until Helena started coughing that he paused.

Concern immediately overtook the look of excitement on Bridavin’s face.

“Are you okay? How are you feeling?” He asked, pulling out his handkerchief again and helping to wipe away some blood from the corner of her mouth.

“Oh I’m fine. Can’t you tell I’m kicking this cough’s ass?” Helena said, giving the biggest grin she could muster. Bridavin returned the smile, but turned his gaze downward towards his clasped hands. He could feel the tears welling up in his eyes again.

“Well good, because if you weren’t kicking it’s ass then I would have to.” Bridavin said, trying to return the levity to the room. She laughed a little at the image of him actually fighting her cough, mace and shield in hand.

They returned to talking about each other’s day as they finished their dinner. Bridavin took her bowl from Helena as soon as she finished, kissed her on the forehead, and said,

“Let me take care of this. You need to go to bed and get your rest.”

“Well shoot babe, what do you think I’ve been up to all day while you were at the library?” Helena said. Even though she had spent all day resting, Bridavin recognized the look of exhaustion on his mother’s face.

“I know momma, but please? Just do it for me?” he pleaded with her.

“Well alright, but just because you asked so nicely.” She slowly lowered herself the rest of the way into her bed and rested her head on her pillow. “Good night, baby.”

“Night momma. Please let me know if you need anything from me in the night.” Bridavin said as he turned out the light to her room and shut her door.

Bridavin adjourned to his room for the evening and started his evening routine. He lit a stick of incense on his desk, sat cross-legged on his bed, and began his nightly prayers to Selûne.

“Oh mighty Moonmaiden. I come to you in prayer as a disciple and a seeker of knowledge. I thank you for the knowledge you have granted me, and I thank you for the knowledge you have yet to grant me. I pledge to continue my pursuit of information for the entirety of my life until I can seek no more.”

This is the same Prayer of Selûne Bridavin practiced every night before he went to bed. However, tonight he decided to add something else to it.

“Selûne…please help me find the information I’m seeking.” Tears began to stream down his face as he prayed.

“Please help me to find a cure…before it’s too late.”

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