What it takes (Chapter 39)
The Master Priest, or whatever the fuck his official title is, squirms in his seat. The boy is too green to do what it will take to bring down the High Priest. He looks uncomfortable under my gaze and I should be the least of his concerns when it comes to his uncle’s half-baked plan. Maybe he is too chicken shit to tell his uncle he doesn’t want to go through with it.
“My nephew would-“
I hear a bang as Miss. Garett opens to door by kicking it while balancing a large wooden tray. James, being the jittery suck up he is, jumps up to help her but she just smiles and sets the tray on the coffee table before waving him away.
All four of us watch silently as she pours the syrupy red liquor into four glasses. Its quish fruit and I hate that sweet shit, but I grab my glass as soon as it’s filled and raise it in mock solute anyways. It’s not even the taste that gets to me, but its sickly sweet smell. I swallow at least half before setting the glass back on the table with a plop.
From the corner of my eye I see James drink it all. Good. Maybe it’ll calm his nerves.
After I do this, I notice Miss Garett hasn’t left the room, but instead has decided to stand behind Apothen. Her presumption annoys me, but it’s not my place to say anything. Her hand rests on the back of Apothen’s chair like a claim of ownership.
Now that I am looking at her, she looks vaguely familiar. Garett sounds familiar. But I can’ think of how I would know a free woman on this side of town….
“Miss Garett, would you mind giving us some privacy?” Apothen looks up at her as he puts his hand over hers on his chair.
She huffs as she removes her hand from under Apothen’s. The prickly woman then strides out the door in furious stomps. I don’t know what she is to Apothen, but it looks like he is in for an unpleasant conversation later.
“Like I was saying, my nephew is ideal for this position. He has worked in as a master priest in the goddess' temple for the last ten years. Unlike the other priests, he barely touches the females much less abuses them. We will use the indiscretions of the other master priests to kill their chances of becoming High Priest”
I look at the priest who nods in confirmation. James’ leg begins thumping up and down on the floor.
I want to get the bottom of whatever the fuck this is, so I lean towards Apothen and question: “What is it you want me to do?”
Apothen focuses his eyes on me conveying seriousness. The lines on his forehead become more pronounced above his bushy white eyebrows like he is deep in thought.
“We need you to bring to light all of the abuses of the High Priest. As a member of the majority party you can get floor time and call for an investigation”
“I can’t just call for an investigation; you know that, I need proof before going in front of the committee with those sort of accusations”
Thump Thump Thump.
The priest nods and finally speaks in a deep reverberating voice: “I can get you evidence”
“What sorts of abuses are we talking about” I am curious on what the priest is willing to give up, willing to admit the shit his temple does. If he gives me some lame shit I’m walking away from this.
The priest frowns before answering: “They are kept in deplorable conditions… mold, water, filth, you name it to ah… motivate them. If they still don’t…cooperate, then punishments get progressively more extreme.”
Thump Thump Thump…
I nod for the priest to go on while I reach over the coffee table, grab the carafe and refill James’ glass. I then stretch my arm so that the cherry red liquor is in front of him. James grabs the glass and downs it like a shot.
The priest just watches unsure. Perhaps he thinks we cannot handle whatever fucked up shit goes on in his shithole of a temple. But we can- or I can, I’m not sure about James.
“What sort of punishments?” I prod him to continue.
The priest looks at Apothen who just returns a look encouraging the priest. I wait. I can wait.
“The High Priest uses the women for his own pleasure. His favorite lives in relatively luxury”
I give in an incredulous look. Fuck me if he thinks this is news or interesting. There have been rumors about the High Priest for years. If that is all they are going to give me, I am walking away now.
“Rapes… brutal rapes of the females if they don’t cooperate. Sometimes they are tied, whipped, hurt for the pleasure. Sometimes they take cloth and um… dip it in vinegar before…. put it up their… uh… vaginas”
I am shocked. Not with the rapes, those I had some suspicion of, but with the supposed brutality. Priestesses were supposed to embody the goddess. While they provided a way for the worshipers to relieve sexual tension, their bodies were supposed to be worshiped as part of the religion. We were all taught in school the appropriate way to treat a priestess and it was drilled into us that it was their choice. They were allowed to choose which worshiper they would fuck. We had to be appropriately gentile or we would be banned from all of the city’s temples.
Yet it is risk. It was dangerous to attempt to topple a powerful man. Dangerous to me, dangerous to my family.
I school my features, “and what sort of evidence of this do you have?”
“My nephew will introduce you to some of the priestesses who are willing to tell their story” Apothen interrupts.
“So, will you do it Senator?”