January 13, 2016

In Which Dalston Places Purgatory Over Hell

August 31, 1197

"So: you're sure about this?" Dalston's grandfather wasted no time in asking after the obligatory greeting embrace. "You're absolutely sure? There's no turning back come tomorrow."

Dalston sighed. He hadn't thought to expect his grandfather to drop by on the day before his vows, but in hindsight, that might have been foolish of him. His grandparents had been on campus for a couple days now, staying at CeeCee and Farilon's house in the village; they had a new little granddaughter to dote over, after all, plus another little granddaughter to placate now that this interloping baby had intruded on her parents' attention. It hadn't been illogical to think that his grandfather would be spending the majority of his stay in the company of Cat and Lena.

But... Dalston was going to be a monk. But his grandfather had a history with the church, very little of it positive. But Dalston had to be a monk.

If there was a better way, one of them would have thought of it by now. "My answer is the same as it was the first time you asked me that."

His grandfather frowned. It wasn't a disappointed frown; no, fighting tooth and nail to keep oneself from harming innocents was rather the opposite of Lord Severin's idea of disappointment. It was... Dalston couldn't quite find the right word. Sorrowful, maybe. Regretful. Sympathetic, apologetic. "I just... I wish there was something else that could be done."

"But there isn't." And there was little more to discuss in the matter--so, Dalston made an attempt to sway it. "I'll never be bored, at least; the monastery's library is an intellectual treasure trove."

"Then it pleases me that you at least love to read, as there's little else to do in such dreary, dogma-bound places. I hope you never tire of the written word."

That was probably the closest his grandfather would ever come to saying that he approved of anyone joining the church. But, for Dalston, there was no alternative worthy of approval. "I doubt I could."

"And you will write, at least? To us, and to your mother and your other grandmother, and your siblings and aunts and uncles and cousins?"

"Of course--though, with our family, that's no small task."

"Then it's a good thing that you'll have little better to do with your time."

Dalston bit his tongue. To a man of the world like his grandfather, a secluded monastery would have been a fate worse than death. Death, at least, could have its surprises.

But this world--the world his grandfather loved and hated, loved to hate and hated to love--held only guilt and torment for Dalston. Purgatory was a destination of no one's choosing, but it was still a step above hell.

"I'll manage."



Van said...


Ann said...

Ack! Now this is a part where I would possibly welcome some Naron interferance... There SHOULD be something better than purgatory for someone who never did anything to deserve ending up there!
I'm still holding out a slim hope, that you've got something up your sleeve for this one, though I have to admit it's fading, but .... BUT! :(

Van said...

It's... a tough thing to think about, to say the least. Sadly, we don't have any ways of dealing with cases like Dalston's even in the modern world aside from chemical neutering (and unfortunately, any possible progress science might make in ending pedophilia will probably end up being taken over by homophobes as a means of "curing" gay people--and that appropriation would result in the lack of actual purpose, I suspect, which sucks). Dalston has kept to his resolve about not acting on his urges, which is all he can really do, and will be easier if he's not expected to be much of a social presence. It's rough, but it's far... I guess more "less awful" than "better"... for an adult to repress their urges willingly than for that same adult to act on them and hurt who knows how many children in the process. :S

But... if nothing else, Dalston has a brain in him, so maybe the church's resources can help him do something he finds fulfilling.