Carissa is not well-catechized
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Lastwall of course got no advance notice of plans to retake Cheliax. The news reached them via one of their wizards Teleporting from the Worldwound saying that someone claiming to be Aroden returned, closed the whole Wound, and then Teleported off to, He said, reclaim His country. 

Iomedae confirms it's Aroden. 

(The wizard, on learning Lastwall does not possess plans to help with that, resigns, and asks if anyone else wants to resign, he can take four in his next Teleport. He gets four of the nearest six people.)



The rest of the news comes in in scattered and somehow increasingly confusing drips over the next few days. Aroden had an army of sorcerers from Rahadoum. No, from another planet. No, both. Aroden used a massive Gate to drop the entire Chelish army in Nirvana. Aroden turned all the soldiers at all the Chelish Worldwound forts to stone. The sorcerers from the other world can mass-manufacture diamonds up to Miracle-grade. Would Lastwall like some to Raise anyone they've themselves lost to Hell.

(Lastwall would.)


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The young woman with a brightly shining aura of Lawful Good arrives outside Vigil by Teleport (from a scroll) in the midmorning about a month later.


Carissa is dreading this. Also looking forward to it! She expects to be wildly more competent at the end of it, and that's - the point of doing things at all rather than hiding under a rock and hoping to not be worth killing. She is not actually worried that Iomedae's church will execute her over the objections of their own god, or for that matter that they'll hurt her in any respect that leaves her weaker. That would be stupid, and Iomedae's church isn't going to be stupid. She does expect that they will be wildly unimpressed with every single decision she has made in her entire life, and in a hurry to make her into a competent servant of their god who isn't so much of an idiot, and this is an aim she intends to cooperate with entirely but that doesn't mean she doesn't find the prospect daunting. 

In a church of Asmodeus you wouldn't have the interview for something like this in a torture chamber unless the subject was a flight risk, even if the subject very obviously was going to require correction right afterwards. The interview would be conducted in a comfortable office, between civilized people, with guards at the door lest anything become uncivilized. Which it won't, because Carissa is well-behaved and loyal and valuable and here to be corrected.

The Church of Iomedae has much less of a file on her, of course, and might feel less interest in compromising security for civility's sake, but she's here voluntarily, that has to count for something. ...she should've brought her old file, is what she should have done. Presumably the Church of Iomedae and the Church of Asmodeus value somewhat different aspects of a person, but it'd still be a useful starting point for her file with her new Church. Not one that makes her look particularly good, necessarily, but hopefully one that makes it clear she takes correction well.

She doesn't have it, though. She'll just have to explain everything herself and not think too much what kind of file they're drawing up except to make sure all the obvious things they'll need to put in it are there.


"Please state your name and business and present your passport if you have one."


"My name is Carissa Sevar. I am a second-circle cleric of Iomedae and am here to learn ...who Iomedae is and what She wants. I do not have a passport."


They get a lot of Chelish people these days seeking catechism but this is the first one they've had that's...already a cleric of Iomedae? The aura checks out -

"Do you know your current alignment?"


"I Atoned to Lawful Neutral on the third of Erastus and got chosen on the fourth. I don't have a way to check now but it's not as if I have been doing a whole lot of Good since then and if I hit anything else She'd have to drop me so presumably I'm still Lawful Neutral."

Come to think of it it's kind of remarkable she kept Law. A lot of spies don't. Though she was - doing her very best to obey her god, which is a pretty Lawful thing to do even if your god commands you in things that are arguably crimes. Right? - this is among the matters on which she will seek instruction. 


"We've sent for someone more senior to talk to you. You can either wait here or come inside and wait in the guardhouse. The guardhouse is under forbiddance so I expect you would prefer to wait here."


It probably wouldn't literally kill her. Probably.

Does everyone in Lastwall who isn't powerful enough to register an alignment still know that they're still Lawful Good because otherwise their own buildings would scour them from the world? That's pretty impressive. She's surprised Cheliax didn't work that way - well, maybe Egorian did, how would she know.

"I'll wait here. Thank you."


Some time later a young woman, about Carissa's age, comes out to speak with her. She and one of the other guards carry out a pair stools, and set them in the shade of the wall.


"Believe it or not, we don't get a lot of totally uncatechized clerics. In point of fact, you're my first. What domains do you have?"


"- that's a really good question. I don't know. Do I have to - pick them deliberately - I may have just failed to do that because I didn't think of it -


- I am sure it's Iomedae and not someone else because She appeared to me in person and Aroden recognized Her and said it was Her."


"...what? She appeared to you. In person. And Aroden said it was Her. Can you start from the beginning?" She had been planning to make small talk and verify Carissa's clerichood before digging into how she wound up a cleric in the first place, but if Carissa brought it up and... it sounds like there's quite a story there... she should maybe just get to it.


"I know that that's not supposed to happen! I'm really sorry about it!"

- from the beginning. Carissa is not incompetent and can obey orders. 

"I'm a fourth circle wizard. I served three tours at the Worldwound. I was Lawful Evil. On the third of Erastus I atoned. On the fourth of Erastus Iomedae chose me. Not while I was praying, actually, while I was contemplating whether, if I did save up to get the people I'd sent to Hell out, that'd mean there were fewer people in Hell or just that more was being spent on diamonds, of which there's only so many. 

I hadn't been going out or talking to people since the regime change, except for the Atonement, which I flew to as a gas with a Nondetection up. There were paladins in the streets and I wasn't sure if they had orders to arrest Evil people on sight or not. There were a lot of rumors and it was hard to know which you were supposed to believe and it's particularly dangerous to die confused about who you work for, right. I wasn't even entirely sure that Iomedae's church was allowed under the new government until I went out after I'd gotten the Evil off and saw the holy symbol on the old downtown church. I went in and got a holy book and read through about the part where Aroden sends Arazni to help with the Shining Crusade and - I didn't really think I understood, honestly, what Iomedae is about, it felt like I was missing something -

- and then the visions started. A man's face, and a sense of - intense curiosity and great importance - the man doing magic, walking around, laughing, with another man...

- it's expensive for the gods to speak to us. I wanted that to be - sufficient, I didn't want Her to have to waste more resources giving more specific orders. So I went around trying to figure out who the man was, and whether anyone else was getting the visions, drew portraits and showed them to people -

It was the Crown Prince. Aroden's heir, who people say is his son, though people say all kinds of things most of which don't make any sense. The sorcerer from the other world. 

So I figured that Iomedae wanted me to learn more about him.

I took all my magic items to pieces to make myself Nondetection and Glibness - it's not a wizard spell but stabilizing things in magic items is easier than stabilizing them as spells, right - and I used my cousin's test scores which were much worse than my own to get a laundry job at the new palace in Westcrown and I reached out to an old acquaintance for the spell Enchantment Foil and bluffed the Zone of Truth for new hires. And then I, uh, got a plant familiar of a similar species to the plants that were used for decor in the palace and designed a custom magic item of Nondetection so he wouldn't show up as a living being and I got updates from my familiar about all conversations happening in the Mage's Private Sanctum'd conference rooms of the palace. ...this is known to His Majesty, now, I'm telling you nothing presently secret, though I think he's leaving it to Iomedae's Church to figure out how to punish it. 

I planned but didn't go through with an operation to sneak over to Velgarth, the world Leareth is from.

I befriended and questioned a Velgarth native eight year old girl.

I got a second cleric circle from Iomedae, in the middle of this, so I figured I was on the right track, though most of the things I learned were about past events, nothing like that the Crown Prince - Leareth - nothing like that he was a danger to Cheliax or to Aroden. I thought I might be expected to assassinate him but it seemed barely conceivable I wouldn't be executed if I completed my mission whatever it was successfully and then surrendered to report it, and that seemed much less likely if I'd prepared and smuggled in the means to assassinate the Crown Prince, so I didn't. - I could have. I can do Slaying and Greater Slaying arrows as little pins that fit in your hand.

I learned how his kind of sorcerer can see the presence of people, and Batty - my familiar - appeared dead - that was their hypothesis, dead rather than 'subject to a good Nondetection' - so I started developing a magic item based on Misdirection to make Batty look like its neighboring cactus friends instead, and I made one for myself to make myself look like the other servants."


She's taking notes.

"You know that's - never mind, finish your story, I'll save my thoughts for when you're done."


"I assume I did a lot of things wrong and I desire to serve Iomedae better and I will happily submit to the correction of the Church," she says very seriously and then keeps right on going. 

"On the second of Arodus I got caught. All of the magic precautions actually worked flawlessly, but" (resentfully) "the Pharaoh of Osirion is very perceptive and even with Glibness up he told His Majesty he was suspicious of me and then His Majesty tried to mindread me, which failed, and - doesn't usually fail, right, he's an archmage - and then He had me arrested, and very gently questioned, and - no one had explained anything to me, though they were astoundingly civil in their lack of explanation - I assume Lastwall being a functional state with a real government would've in fact taken me to pieces but Aroden's not scared of anything, He's Aroden, and He was beginning to suspect the reason I was there - 

- and then Iomedae showed up - well, I'm sure all She did was make it look like She was there, but - it looked like She was there, and it was impossible to be afraid. Aroden had just been saying that He was going to go to Heaven to yell at Her, and She said this was, actually, cheaper.

I don't know anything about the faith of Iomedae but I know you're not supposed to screw up your gods' instructions so badly they have to show up and offer additional ones. I - I told Her She shouldn't, that I shouldn't be indulged in weakness like that, and She said She was there for Leareth.

Who had, at the start of Erastus, asked Iomedae to use Her abilities to see the hearts and minds and priorities of everyone in Cheliax to find him a wife. A Chelish wife, because no one else understands what you're even trying to undo. And She looked at all of the possibilities, I suppose, and sent me a vision, and Aroden and Leareth had guessed by then that that's why I was there but were hesitant to tell me, lest I - take it as not a choice - and I said I wasn't worried about that because he wasn't stupid - 

- there's no point in taking a wife who doesn't want to be there, right. Obviously he could've fucked me if he wanted, and that was among the strategies I was considering to get more intelligence on him, but the only reason to marry a woman who hates you is for a strategic alliance with her family, and mine aren't nobles! If you ask a god to find the best woman to marry you you're obviously not looking for the most entertaining thing to chain to your bed. ...also Leareth and I are both barely up to Neutral but Iomedae's Lawful Good, right? I'm not going to be precious about whether his girls want to be there but I don't really expect Iomedae will help out when that's what he's in the mood for. She was a paladin when she was human! Paladins hate sex!

- anyway. I asked Her why the roundabout method and She said that if She'd asked I'd have considered it and decided to obey her, and that this was better, we'd like each other better for it and be happier. And I asked if Leareth was up to anything I had been supposed to discover and She said "He has a long and complicated history and he is as worthy of you as anyone can be, and you'll be safer with him than anywhere else, and it will be good for the world, and maybe for the whole universe."

And I said "Is being your cleric always like this."

And She said, "I don't think it would be good for your ability to run a country if there were this much drama all the time. 

But if it was going to be good for your ability to run a country, then, yes, it would be."

And I said that I - hadn't even succeeded - and She said that She'd have sent help, if She needed me to overthrow the government of Cheliax, and that the thing She'd wanted, I'd attained. Which was, presumably, Leareth being impressed and intrigued, which he was. But it didn't seem responsible to agree to marry him on the spot so I asked for a month to learn about Iomedae, and was granted that, and then I came here. - I'm almost definitely going to marry him but I thought I'd seem awfully naive if I agreed without even knowing what Iomedae is about."


"...Oh. OK. To start, it actually sounds to me like you handled all of that well and - usually one of the first things we want to clear up with ex-asmodeans is that nobody in Iomedae's church is going to punish you for making mistakes, and we're not going to torture you no matter what you do. I - or realistically probably someone more senior than me - can teach you our church's policies and best practices for doing good in the world, but you're not going to be punished for not knowing already, and if you would rather serve good in your own way, you are free to decline those lessons. They'd be advice, not commands. If you would rather not serve Good at all, if you would prefer to just live your life on your own terms, you're free to do that too - I don't expect that is what you want, because Iomedae does not usually choose as Her clerics people who don't want to do good, but it's an option you have, that a lot of Chelaxians have taken, that I think you might not have known that you have."


"That doesn't really sound appealing at all - most of them are scared and keeping your head down is smart when you're scared. But I'm not scared because things really kind of can't get more ridiculous and it'd be pretty pathetic, at this point, to decide I'm not going to do any Good unless someone threatens to kill me about it. 

- and like you said, Iomedae wouldn't've chosen me. And I'm really glad she did.

I think I need to learn your rules because unless I'm going to be secretly Hers I'm going to be the most prominent person in Cheliax who is, so I need to do it properly. And probably your rules you'd have different ones? 


I am confused about how a church hierarchy functions if no one in it commands other people in it. It sounds....chaotic."


"The church hierarchy is in fact a hierarchy, and people in it get orders from their superiors. But you're not in it yet. You'd probably be welcome, if you decided that was your calling, but if you're accurately representing yourself here you haven't sworn any oaths to Iomedae's church. Don't go and swear any oaths about it right now, of course, it's a big decision and one that you should think carefully before making, and it sounds like you have some other big decisions to make and it's considered unwise to make too many momentous choices too close together."


"- Iomedae sometimes picks people She doesn't want in Her church hierarchy? I guess it might be geopolitically awkward in my case."


"Well, usually She picks people who are already in the church hierarchy, or planning to enter it. But sometimes She chooses people outside the church who She expects will do good with the powers granted and in those cases they don't always join the church after. The queen of Mendev, for example, is one of Her paladins but is independent of the rest of the church."



"Right. Okay." Carissa has only heard bad things about Queen Galfrey of Mendev but that could be Asmodean propaganda. "I probably don't want to join under the circumstances but I will in any event not decide immediately. 

I do - want correction from the Church regardless because I want to get better at serving Iomedae."


Lieutenant Tivath has had a lot of practice being comfortable when ex-Asmodeans ask for 'correction', and she's gotten better, but she still doesn't like it. And by the standards of urban Chelaxians she's downright atrocious at hiding it.


"Of course. Do you want guidance on theology or on practical matters like how best to infiltrate the court of Cheliax? I can help with the former, but if you want the latter you're going to have to wait for someone who knows what you did wrong. You did better than I would have, in that situation with no help."


"Theology! I'm not really planning to do more operations like that. It was very expensive and fairly stressful. Am I supposed to be requesting it with some other phrase."


"No, that works, I was just unsure because your story was more eventful than most people's. I can start with the basics, or you can tell me what you think Iomedae's deal is and we can go from there."


"She and Asmodeus don't get along and She claims She's going to win and two months ago that didn't look very credible but it does now. She is specifically down on Hell. She cannot use people who have gone to Hell and been shaped to Asmodeus's purposes for very much Herself.  

She was Chelish, and human, and fought Tar-Baphon and ascended, but this is actually surprisingly little of Her deal, they're not preaching against necromancy all that much. 

She gets along with Aroden. She was a paladin of His.

She, and Aroden, and everyone who works for both of them, is really against torture."


"OK. Do you know what good is?"

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