pared to the sample above it. A large blot marked every other leer. He sighed,set the quill aside again, and looked out at the pale blue sky. A large horseyraled by, circling, searching for a place to sele; Kolan sent it spinning backout the window with a well-aimed slap and a silent apology to the Four.
Harm no living creature, from beetle to boy
: one of the Holy Creeds that Kolanrecited, alongside a dozen other novices, every morning.
All have their placesand purposes in the eyes of the gods
What purpose a horsey or tick had, Kolan couldn't begin to guess. Evensio Ense, the gentlest of the Arason Church
, had admied to dicultywith that one.“Perhaps,” he'd said thoughtfully, “it's enough to merely
thatone is doing wrong, and be as gentle as possible in removing the oendingcreature from one's person. It's very dicult not to slap a stinging insect awayfrom one, and it's very dicult to avoid harm to the insect when removing atick or mosquito.”Solian, on the other hand, laughed at Kolan for being concerned overinsects.“They're
,” he always said, usually as he was squashing a beetle un-derfoot. “There are hundreds and hundreds of them, Kolan! They give birth todozens more every few days. We'll be
if all we do is shoo them gentlyoutside. The gods don't care about
. They care about
. Otherwise the bugs would be running the world, not humans.”Even though Solian was only a novice, like Kolan himself, and
Ense afull senior priest, Kolan couldn't quite decide who was more right.The heavy tramp of many booted feet on stone echoed through the win-dow to Kolan's le, the one that looked out over the main courtyard. Kolanwavered, biting his lip, but stayed stubbornly put. Curiosity wasn't any part ofhis duties at the moment.
Dernhain had been specic:
Not for anything less
than a fre do you leave that seat and stop your practicing,
When you canwrite a line without a blot, you can get up Until then, you
at that desk!Sio
Dernhain wasn't particularly noted for his kindness, compassion, orpatience.Kolan looked at the blotchy copy line and grimaced. This was going to bea long day.A thin, wavering shriek oated up from the courtyard. People beganshouting. Kolan stood, then sat, then stood again. He made two steps towardthe courtyard window, then retreated to the stool, clenching his hands infrustration.Another of the Creeds came to mind:
Obedience to the gods requires a cleanheart and a dedication to one's given tasks Seek not the chaos of the world outside, butbe content with the inner truth and strength the gods will always give to those whotruly seek it
Kolan sighed deeply and picked up the quill. His next aempt only hadfour blotches, which counted in his mind as encouraging progress.Outside, people shouted and bellowed. He resolutely shut his ears to ev-erything and bent over his work.
Seek not the chaos of the world outside
Two blotches. Maybe he could produce a clean line before the commotiondied down, and sneak a look out the window as a reward.