Life and Times of a Priestess: Ch.3 : New Life In Dalos (Part 1)
NEW LIFE IN DALOS
Danella felt constrained in Shanla. She had lived there all of her life and it had become dull and uninteresting for her. She tired of the endless ceremonies, the sexual congresses with men and women she perhaps knew too well. There was more to the world than this. Conversations with Polad and his books had shown her so. She had questions about the world outside Shanla which she needed to answer. And so she went first north, then south, visiting towns and occasionally cities along the way, but never quite wanting to settle for long in any of them. Priestesses were not encouraged to move around as she did but she found there was nothing to stop her.
When she left a town she would merely inform the High Priestess under whose authority she had been that she was leaving. None of them ever said anything disapproving, and some said they understood. She found that she was free to go wherever she wanted and that as a priestess she was a part of a large sisterhood and brotherhood and would be welcomed wherever she went by her fellow priestesses and priests. The welcome she received reaffirmed to her that she was, after all, in an occupation which held many valuable benefits to a young woman such as she. To have embarked on the responsibility of becoming a mother would at her age of 27 years have been a mistake. She wanted to travel and to discover. Underneath that was the desire to achieve something useful or perhaps unique in her life. As yet she could not envisage what that might be but she had at the least changed her life for the better by leaving Shanla. This new life of hers was more varied. She was discovering Pirion properly for the first time in her life.
And what did she think of the lands of Pirion as she travelled, and of its people? She saw the great granary of the South, the plains of corn and wheat much like her birthplace of Shanla. Here was no variation from what she had known. The people were friendly but their brains were empty as they led their lives of idle pleasure alongside the routines of work.
She went then to the East, but tiring of the sameness, she followed the reports of the sea coast to the south, where warm winds caressed forested coastlands and deposited tropical rain. At first the changing climate excited her. The heat was stronger and she seemed always to be wet. The people here were relaxed and tolerant. In the midday sun they seemed unwilling to do anything. Even the visitors to the temples here seemed to lack the energy for sexual ceremony during the heat of the day, preferring to lie around ambiently in each other's arms. After some months she tired also of the heat, and again turned north to different lands than the ones she had explored before.
In Dalos, a large city near the northern coast of Pirion, she settled for a while, not knowing then what the future held in store for her due to that fateful decision, or for the city. She reported to the Temple and was assigned to a dormitory some distance away across the city. It was a small dormitory by comparison to some she had been a part of. Perhaps that made it a more intimate and friendly place. For whatever reason, there she found the other Priestesses very friendly and was happy to settle for a while. She enjoyed their celebrations and seemed to find new life in the ceremonies as they served the people of the city so well. The High Priestess there, the blonde-haired Sreela, was only a few years older and seemed to like her from the beginning. She found that this High Priestess was less distant and authoritarian than some she had known and she could approach her at any time. While Sreela surely took pleasure in Danella's body after her first arrival, she found that their relationship developed towards friendship.
She soon confided to Sreela on the disquiet she had begun to feel in Shanla and her reasons for travelling northwards.
"There have been times when I have also felt impatient with the life we lead," Sreela advised. "I love the life of being a Priestess. We have little responsibility for practical matters. I do not need to learn how to fix things or to produce anything tangible. Nor do I have responsibility for any child of my own."
"Yet you are a High Priestess. You have responsibility for us in this dormitory and some beyond," Danella commented.
"Yes, there is much responsibility there, but I am not held down by mundane tasks. We minister to people's more straightforward health needs of course but we are not overburdened by duty in this respect so it is not difficult to organise.
"I have always thought we are lucky to travel behind the mask of duty into people's homes and into ready communion with everyone. When we become a Priestess we become everyone's friend. It is a privilege but also it is not like the work that the other occupations do. When they commune with us or with each other, it is not work to them. Our work is something they do for pleasure and entertainment.
"There were times however when I resented the Priesthood, like you. I feel it is only natural to want change from time to time. Otherwise however perfect our lives may be we will lack variety and growth. I think we all go through phases in our lives and there are times when it is good to change. Some Priestesses decide to leave the Priesthood when their call comes and many produce and raise children, perhaps returning to us again when the children are grown. Others feel called towards other vocations, medical or teaching are the commonest."
"And what did you do when you needed a change?" asked Danella.
"I developed some stronger friendships with some of my male lovers. I talked to my High Priestess at the time and gained acceptance of a reduced workload for a time. I too travelled, but not like you. I went with one male friend on a journey to Anachronar. I saw the things I had wanted to see. Like yourself I was able to answer some of my questions about the world and when I returned here I felt whole again. I was able to carry on the work of a Priestess again without complaint. Soon afterwards I was elected High Priestess and my work became different again. Since then I have held no more doubts. You need to explore your world, but be sure you will eventually find the peace you need."
"I already feel better for my travelling so far, but I fear that if I stay in one place for too long I will again fall victim to the feelings I had before." said Danella.
"You are some way along your path then already. Follow your inclinations, Danella, for as long as it takes, but I can see that you will surely come to the end of your discovery. I foresee great potential in you."