Willow walked into the church of Little Rock, lowering her hood and walking up to speak with the old and wise Bishop who was sitting at the altar, as if waiting for her.
"Yes, my child? What can I help you with?"
"Well... Father, as you know, I am a cleric. But I have recently fallen in love, Father... And Blessed Saint Elimine has not sent me any word, whereas in the past I could hear her voice ringing true like a bell. What is wrong with me, Father? Am I a fallen cleric now? Am I tainted in the eyes of the Blessed Saint?"
"Ah, my child... I have seen your coming. I know the turmoil you face. My child, look inside yourself. Look inward, and find your own light.
See the candle, for example. The candle shines of its own will, nobody is making the candle glow. You, too, must be a candle, for within you is the flame of longing and hope, of wanting, of love, of striving. Within you, my child, lie the answers you seek.
Sit with me a while; we will pray and together we will help you to understand what our Blessed Saint is calling you to do."
Willow sat next to the Bishop; together, they grasped hands and sat, eyes closed, thinking, pondering, and praying. One recalling what had been...The other what was yet to come.
Willow's thoughts began to swirl, and she began to reflect over all the recent events of her life...
“So what made a radiant woman like yourself become a priestess. I am sure you had many suitors.” "I am a scholar. I travel around looking for information about history, plants, and whatever I find interesting. I do dabble in a bit of herb science. Enough of it too calls myself a herbalist.” “What you have is Sea Fever. It is quite a common illness on the seas of Nabata. I had run into it several times during my sailor days. In truth thought I wonder what it was doing here” “Having a beauty like yourself travel with me how can I say no” “She raised me and my brothers on her ship. So I grew up around a bunch of tough sailors and not the best of company. Growing up on the sea one has to learn how to take care of one’s self. During that time I learned my herbalist skills." “Don’t worry it is going to be alright” "Ms. Willow, I'm sorry if I offended you in some way towards your Companion. If you say your not upset, your body will call you a liar." “She is my woman” “Yashi I love Willow and that is the end to it” "What are you doing in my bedroom Ms. Willow? Did Yashi give you promition to enter my personal space?" “How could you let yourself be a part of this idiotic idea? You are 32 start acting your age! All you had to do was wait till I got back.” "You must not hold such foolish grudges. You must forgive, and protect the innocent. You must uphold the light. Never lose sight of the path, my child. Never... Lose... Sight..." "I'll forgive you Lady Willow. I don't really care that your in love or not. As simple as that. This is all water under the bridge, but keep your emotions in order." "I told you before that I will always be here did I not. I am not just going to up and leave because of a beautiful woman. I am not that shallow" "I have nothing to do with the rebels in Bern and I have no plans to get involved with them at all."
As the thoughts swirled, Willow felt a familiar presence... Saint Elimine?
Father, why do you weep?" Willow asked worriedly, as the Bishop had begun to cry silently, a wistful smile on his face.
"Ah, it is nothing. I am just remembering... Remembering a time long past. When I, too, was young, and in love. We enjoyed many months together, but, at the end, our relationship was torn asunder by a small and inconsequential lie that I had maintained for as long as we'd been together. I couldn't bring her to forgive me; insane with grief, I spent years in the wilderness, hoping and praying. And one day, I came upon a town... And I saw her. Happily married, with a home full of joy and love and children. And I cried, my child, how I cried...
You must learn to forgive, my child. Do not try to stand as firm as a great tree; a small wind will knock you over. Rather, bend like a sapling, so that you may one day grow into that strong and unyielding tree. My child, you must follow your heart wherever it may lead."
"Father... Thank you."
The bishop arose, and, moving behind the altar, picked up a small seed. "My child. Take this seed. When the time comes, and when you are stable and secure, done wandering forever, plant this seed, so that it may grow. May you grow like this tree, and may you stay as firm in your resolve and your love as the wood of its branches.
Willow took the seed and put it carefully into her pouch, bowing to the Bishop and embracing him. Slowly and silently, she exited the church, with hope and joy in her heart.