Before presenting my account of the mission to the high priests this morning, I took a moment to review my journal. As I read, I began to see the great changes that had occurred within me during the course of my journey.
When I set out on my mission, I regarded all beastmen as leading a barbarous and evil existence.
But while I can now confirm that they are, in fact, barbarians, they are not the paragons of evil that I once envisioned them to be.
Indeed, even if the beastmen were created to be the scourge of people, we can still meet the beastmen halfway; we can compromise. It is almost as if I have come to understand the beastmen. This realization spurred my courage.
Then, leaving Leada behind in the room, I went to present my report to the expected clergy. In addition to the priests the abbot and Lord Mouchand, general of the Temple Knights were also attending. I am but a lowly monk, yet a veritable pantheon of high-ranking officials was present to hear my report.
Though I was nervous and tripping over my own words, I managed to detail all of the events of my journey, starting with my departure from the abbey.
I spoke of the Orcs who live for battle, the final moments of the Antica named Sector 2734, the Sahagin who showed an interest in the Goddess, and the Star Sibyl's head lady-in-waiting.
I told of my capture by the Yagudo, who are the model servants of an evil god and spoke of the Goblins that delivered me from Giddeus.
I told them of the Quadav priest who feared the return of Gu'Dha. I explained about the Tonberry assassin that had snuck into our noble city.
The priests listened to my story with accepting nods, appalled gasps, and polite inquiries.
When my report was complete, Lord Mouchand began to speak.
"Our fair country has a history of dreadful and bloody conflict with the Federation of Windurst and the Republic of Bastok. Indeed, before the founding of the Kingdom of San d'Oria, Elvaan were taking up arms against their fellow Elvaan.
"We are resolved to wage war on those who deny the glory of the Dawn Goddess. However, we would also know the glory of the gates of paradise opening to the beastmen as well as to us. Do you believe it possible that in a decade, or even a century, we might peacefully coexist with the beastmen?"
The general of the Temple Knights looked me straight in the eye. I nodded, choking up with emotion as I answered with a firm "Yes!"
"Abbot, I thank you for the opportunity to meet this fine young man. We of the Temple Knights are pleased to welcome Joseaneaut," he proclaimed.
I heard the general's words, but I did not trust my ears. Sensing my confusion, the priests explained the situation.
The Temple Knights and the Royal Knights are the guardians of San d'Oria. The Royal Knights fortify the borders of the kingdom and protect us from the enemy without. They are brave, but that bravery sometimes leads them to violate their codes of conduct and, in doing so, even contravene church doctrine.
The Temple Knights are therefore responsible for ensuring the fidelity of the Royal Knights. This role requires not bravery, but rather a deep and abiding faith, combined with an iron will to resist the temptations of unholy concession. I found it most surprising that the abbot would recommend me for such an honor.
My report finished, I asked leave to contemplate the events of the day. I returned to my room to present Leada with the three Ranperre goldpieces that comprised her reward. The coins were of a value far greater than that which was stamped on their faces.
Leada was nowhere to be found when I returned to the room. Perhaps she had grown bored and headed into the city to seek entertainment. I gazed out the window into the setting sun and contemplated my future.
I still wished to meet with the Gigas to the north. But if I were appointed to shepherd the Temple Knights, I would certainly have many opportunities to bridge the chasm between people and beastmen.
Goddess, calm the fluttering of my heart!
Leada returned to the room just before dawn.
"Josea, Leada need help. Is okay?" she asked before I could even offer my greetings.
This was unprecedented. I changed my clothes and we headed out into the morning mist that shrouded the city.
I followed Leada into a blind alley, where I found another Goblin leaning limply against a stone wall. Leada explained that this was Gloomix, who had helped rescue me from Giddeus. A blood-soaked bandage was wrapped around his left leg.
After the daring raid on Giddeus, Gloomix had headed north to join the battle there. When the tide of the battle turned against him, his friends were scattered. Somehow, he managed to find his way to San d'Oria.
By the infinite blessings of the Goddess, he chanced upon Leada. He had also stolen a loaf of black bread from the inn and was being pursued by the Temple Knights.
What misfortune this was!
Goblin merchants are only permitted to enter certain sections of the city. The penalty for violating this prohibition is harsh; I shuddered to think what retribution would be brought upon a Goblin for such an act as theft.
Were he to be caught, it would surely mean his life.
"We's helping Gloomix!"
The plea in Leada's voice moved me. With a suspected Goblin thief running free inside the city, there would be inspections at every gate. And even if he did manage to elude detection at the gates, a wound such as his would ensure his capture.
It would...if he were alone. There was only one thing left to do. I would have to aid his escape and send Leada with him as an escort. She must also have already reached the same conclusion, which is why she came to me for help.
This would be my opportunity to return the favor of Giddeus--even if it would sacrifice Lord Mouchand's trust in me.
We headed to the port under the castle as the sun began to climb into the sky. Rather than leaving through the castle gates, we would row out onto the lake. Unlike the castle gates, the gates out of the port have but one guard each. It would not be difficult for me to distract a single sentry.
The two Goblins climbed into a small boat at the pier and covered themselves up. I remembered Leada's reward just as I untied the boat, so I passed the coins to her.
"Farewell, Leada. It would be my honor to once again journey with you," I said.
"Josea be alright alone. Leada grateful. Bye."
We shook hands for the last time. Leada sang merrily as she rowed the boat out onto Nartieneaux Lake:
One gold coin for many explanation,
One gold coin for many trans-lation,
Life makes one coin more,
But the most good reward,
I don't tell you, no temptation.
I returned to the cathedral to write this, which may be the final entry in my journal. Now I must beg the Goddess Altana for absolution.
I will be judged--perhaps even driven from the church.
But I am neither conflicted nor pained, for I chose the path of bridging the gap between people and beastmen...
Goddess, may your light shine upon the futures of both people and beastmen.