Caidy had been avoiding their gardens for the past two days, ever since her father had killed that man. She didn’t know who he had been, but she guessed he had to have been from the underground for her father to kill him.
She remembered the morning afterwards, when she had awoken to find her father sitting on the edge of her bed, his head down. He had a devastated look on his face, one she had never seen before, and it had frightened her.
He had told her what he had done, his voice a monotone and his eyes never leaving the carpet. He had killed a man who had stolen from them. He had stabbed him through the heart. The City Guard had removed the body so his precious daughter wouldn’t be exposed to that horror.
And Caidy had been horrified. How could her father have killed someone? Even if he had stolen from them, how could her father murder someone? How could he take another person’s life? She couldn’t imagine her sweet, loving, generous father as a murderer, even if he had killed to protect her and their property.
Her father had been afraid of this, afraid of losing his daughter’s respect. She knew it hurt him to see the accusation and tinges of hate in her eyes every time she looked at him. She couldn’t help but loathe him. He had killed someone. This feud was getting out of hand.
Certainly, she knew others had been killed throughout the feud, but to know her own father had taken a life? It was unimaginable, and, yet, it had happened. Her entire opinion of her father had changed. She couldn’t help it. He couldn’t expect her opinion to not change.
For the past two days, Caidy had been avoiding the gardens, and her father. She had discovered that her mother’s jewel setting had gone missing, but that didn’t matter to her as much as knowing her father had robbed a man of his life. That was a far worse crime to her. She had other mementos of her mother; one missing jewel setting, no matter how lovely, wasn’t going to upset her too much.
It wasn’t that she doubted her father hadn’t acted to defend their small family and home. It was more of the fact that he hadn’t taken some other course of action that would have spared the man his life. The man hadn’t even had the jewel setting on him! Someone else had taken it, but Caidy didn’t care. This feud had cost them enough. What was one jewel setting to a man’s life?
Caidy hadn’t been to the Angelic Church, the one located in the Town Square, since her mother’s death. The memorial had been done there rather than at the Angelic Church in the Sapphire District as it was larger and grander. Her mother had been a beloved figure in the city. They needed a space for the mass amount of people who flocked to her service. Besides, the Angelic Bishop had been a friend of her mother’s family, had watched her mother grow up, had married her mother to her father. She knew she could trust the Bishop more than she could the Sapphire District’s Angelic Minister. And for what she wanted to talk about, she needed the Bishop.
The Town Square was busy in the middle of the day. People were rushing around, tending to their business, delivering this and that, searching out that person or this. She skirted the Needle on her way across the cobblestones towards the Angelic Church, not bothering to peer up at the exceedingly tall structure.
It was a large, white building with four spires at each corner. They rose up and narrowed into twisted, golden spires capped with silver balls. In the middle was a taller spire, which twisted as it reached beyond the other four for the clouds. There were four stained glass windows at the front of the church and below the middle two were the wooden double doors that always stood ajar. The Angelic Church welcomed all at any time of the day or night. There was always someone on duty. She hoped that the Bishop would be there this morning.
As she entered the church, she pushed back the hood of her dark brown cloak. She walked into a rectangular chamber, its walls extending to either side of her, her footsteps echoing on the tiled floor. Shelves had been attached to the walls in three rows and candles flickered along them. They were lit in memory of someone who had been lost.
Off to one side, Caidy took a match and lit it on the large, stout candle that stood on a single shelf. She walked down one side of the chamber until she came to her mother’s unlit candle, her name elegantly scrawled on the candle holder. She bowed before it before lighting the white wick, something she hadn’t done in years. Usually, it sat gathering dust until either she or her father chose to visit the city’s church, which wasn’t often.
“Bring peace to my soul, Mother,” she whispered before blowing out her match.
Tossing out the match, she headed into the main church and walked along the aisle to the front. The front of the church was rather plain with only a seat in the middle of the platform and a pulpit to the left side. Sunlight filtered through the large stained glass bearing the image of an angel with flowing blond hair and blue gown, casting pastel colors across the platform and the elderly woman seated on the chair.
Caidy headed straight for the woman, ignoring all the other people who were filling the pews here and there to make prayers of their own. The Bishop opened her eyes and smiled gently at Caidy. She reached out a pale wrinkled hand and indicated the girl could approach before resting her slender hands back onto the white silk gown she wore.
Her eyes filling with tears, Caidy went to her knees before the Bishop and pressed the golden band that ran around the hem of the woman’s long gown to her forehead.
“What brings you to me, child?” the Bishop asked, her voice gentle and almost angelic. It was musical and quiet, the tones soft and welcoming. “What ails you?”
“Bishop,” Caidy began, “my name is Lady Caidy Sarlik. My father is Lord Daisun Sarlik. My mother was Lady Mertara Sarlik.”
The Bishop smiled, though Caidy didn’t see it or the fond look in the old woman’s eyes. “I remember your mother, child. She was a good woman with a beautiful heart.”
“Yes, she was,” Caidy whispered.
“What ails you?”
“My father, Bishop. He killed a man in our gardens two nights ago. He said the man was a thief who had taken my mother’s jewel setting, but the necklace was not found on him.”
“Ah,” the Bishop said, nodding. “Your father has committed a crime, but shall pay no penance. That is indeed troubling for a young lady who has looked up to her father since the day her mother died.”
“Can you help me, Bishop?” she implored, now staring up at the old woman with pleading eyes.
The Bishop gave her a gentle smile and rested a hand on top of Caidy’s head. “I cannot, Caidy. The forgiveness must come from your heart, not mine. Your heart knows the correct course of action that you must now take. ”
Caidy’s shoulders sagged. “But I don’t know what to do.”
“Yes, you do.”
Caidy was silent for long moments. Then she raised her eyes and looked right into the Bishop’s. “The feud must end.”
“Feuds are the way of this city, but they are not always right. I have seen them destroy many families and many have come to bloody ends. You know where yours is headed.”
Caidy nodded. “I do. After my father, I am the only one left to carry it on. But I don’t wish to. Bishop, I am friends with the Almis’ daughter. She wants no part in it, either.”
The Bishop smiled, a twinkle in her eyes. “And you have a plan.”
Caidy started. “How do you know?”
The Bishop took a swift glance around before leaning close to Caidy’s ear and whispering, “Tyala Almi came to seek my counsel yesterday.”
Caidy blinked in surprise and stared up at the old woman. The Bishop raised a finger to her lips to indicate all secrets were hers to keep. If Lord Sarlik ever came to her to find out anything about his daughter, the Bishop would keep whatever Caidy said in the strictest of confidences.
“Lady Caidy Sarlik, you know what you must do.”