Celta Thursday: Heart Fire Original first chapter (change of setting for Tiana and the Priestess)
Tiana was lucky she'd only taken a sip of the hot floral tea and hadn't swallowed or she'd have spewed it out. Of course she shouldn't have expected her ambition -- no matter how masked behind a quiet manner -- to have been overlooked by the savvy woman.
"And despite the rumors, I am not ready to retire within the next few years." The older woman, Ulmaria Meadowsweet Sandalwood, smiled with good humor plumping her round cheeks, kindness showing in her sparkling dark brown eyes. "I may never be ready to retire. Meanwhile, it is time to evaluate you for your next step up this career ladder you wish to pursue, yes?"
Warning! Tiana began to sweat even in the high priestess's office suite that was cool from the large floor to ceiling windows on this curve Great Circle Temple.
Ambition and spirituality didn't often mix well and everyone who'd chosen to become a priestess or priest knew it. With great care, Tiana took a swallow of the hot brew then set the delicately thin porcelein cup down into the equally delicate saucer, handpainted antiques from the lady's birth Family -- a Family with much more clout than Tiana's disgraced one.
That disgrace that was a thorn in Tiana, spurring her need to reach the greatest pinnicle in their religion, one of the highest positions in their culture. Her eyes stung as she glanced around the space that she wanted for her own.
They sat in the innermost, the smallest, sitting room. One that the high priestess used for her most personal office...or her most noble clients needing counselling...or her most challenging problems. This room, like the others, was richly appointed, with the four high windows surrounded by carved stone in patterns of intricate knotwork.
Three rugs layered thickly on the floor. The antique and comfortable furniture, scaled for women, sat in the comfortable room, upholstered in deep amber, appropriate for the season and the gorgeous golden-leafed trees of the sacred grove just outside the window.
Lovingly crafted, as the whole GreatCircle Temple was lovingly crafted.
This building was Tiana's sanctuary, her heart's home. "I don't want to leave here for another temple," spurted from her lips without passing her brain first, appalling her.
The woman's plump hand poured more tea into her own small cup and the scent of it soothed, as it was meant to, even as Tiana's mind raced to amend her words and mitigate her mistake.
But the high priestess continued, "There have always been two paths to the top ranks of the priests and priestesses of Celta. One way is to stay here in the GreatCircle Temple, the other to prove your worth by rising as the priest or priestess of small temples to medium ones, then very influential ones and when the time comes to choose the next high priestess your name is known."
"I understand," Tiana said, pushing her impatience with this conversation, down, down, down.
"First let us touch on the matter of your wish to become the highest priestess in our land."
Tiana swallowed more brew. The taste lay on her tongue like dying flowers.