Dogs were considered unclean by the one true god. That’s what Sister Edna had told me. I’d forgotten it until this morning. I dreamed of her again. I miss her so much some days it makes my chest hurt. I am haunted by memories and guilt of things that were likely out of my control, yet there we are. For instance, did the east tower collapse because of me? I know Brother Durham blames me, and yes I left the cellar doors open a few times which led to flooding, but was that why it collapsed? Did I kill her, Father? Is that why Brother Durham has always hated me?
We left the shattered wagon train, or what remained of it late the next day. We built a pyre for the humans that had died, seemed kinder than letting them fill the bellies of the local carrion eaters. We didn’t see any more dogs, thank goodness. I hated having to kill that pack last night, rather hated that Liz had to kill them. They all still worked out to be dead in any case.
Besides sister Edna, I dreamed about dogs. I dreamt that a long time ago, in a kingdom I’ve never been in, I had a dog. I had loved it and hated it in equal measures, if you can believe it. Loved it because it loved me unconditionally, and hated it for the same reason. It never understood the injustices I suffered. I would tell it of the ways my father beat me, or how the village children would taunt me for my visions. I learned quick enough to stop telling those to anyone, but by then I was already ostracized. Kids can be so cruel.
I woke before I learned the fate of my dog, and I’m thankful for that. I had a sinking feeling it was not a happy ending. Sister Edna’s story of the dogs in this region was not a happy story either. They were deemed unclean by certain factions and religions of the world. The tale goes that during the last year of the first kingdom, a proclamation went out from the one true church, declaiming any who consorted with, harbored, raised, trained or ate dogs would be put to death. I never really understood that final category as Sister Edna had told me of the dog’s faithfulness and loyalty to their masters. Who would eat them.
It made me think of the hobgoblin wolf masters, and how they had no wolves here. I would have to ask them if I ever came back this way. I wanted to understand why there were no wolves either.
Sister Edna told me the tale of the seven purgings. Starting at the spring equinox a new proscription was decreed by the growing church of the one true god. The third had been the immediate execution and burning of any dog found within the nine and sixty kingdoms. The church deemed them unclean and a source of disease due to their tendency to eat carrion. She was horrified by that thought, Sister Edna was. I remember being so surprised how angry she was, but that proscription had been put in place over seventy thousand years ago. You’d have thought someone killed her dog.
It is a subject she never repeated to me, but made a point of telling me that destroying the dogs had been the final straw for some of those who rebelled against the one true church. She fumed for days after telling me that tale and only returned to her joyous self after I gave her a drawing of a dog I had made by copying it out of one of the few picture books we had in the library that showed dogs. I picked a small white one with long hair that dragged the floor like a mop. She cried when I gave it to her, but she hugged me after and her mood lightened more than I had hoped.
I tried to talk to Liz about the dogs, but her people had never interacted with the beasts and had no real lore or mythology about them. Now, if I wanted to talk about giant lizards, she was all ready to talk about husbandry, breeding, preferable traits, and on, and on. I think in the end I agreed to help her buy a new lizard mount and that we would call him, Splat. She thought that was the funniest thing imaginable. I told her I had a better imagination than that. I don’t think that went over well.
We rode in silence for a few hours, me lost in my thoughts and Liz scouting ahead to avoid talking to me. I stopped us an hour before sundown to set up camp and Liz came back soon after. She told me we were a day out from Far Spire, and that she’d run into a patrol.
Turns out, the patrols had been having trouble with the local flora and fauna: plants and wild animals attacking their people. She mentioned the slaughtered caravan and that did not go over well. They rode back to the keep to gather help to come down and claim the supplies that we had managed to salvage and to warn the tower about the problem with dogs and gnolls.
All in all, it was a depressing day.
We didn’t talk much during dinner. We ate from the caravan supplies we’d acquired. I was especially enamored of a particularly odiferous white cheese streaked with veins of blue and black mold. It was the most delicious food I’d ever eaten, which is not saying a lot since my palate has had limited exposure to good cheese, even poor cheese come to think of it.
Liz was restless and I had no thought of sleeping, so we pushed on after a light dinner. The horse was also uneasy as if it sensed a threat we had not discerned. We didn’t stop until well after midnight, which is just about the time a full armored column swept down the road toward us, lances up, and arrested us for looting and desecrating the dead.
Looks like I had finally met my first followers of the one true god, and man they were arseholes.