Death, claim my soul; free his.
Justicia saved me ever so long ago, it now seems . . . A humble woodsman's daughter was I, strong as any boy my father or mother could have prayed for, willed with fire, ruled by recklessness! I loved to climb the rocky hillsides surrounding my homeland when Father hadn't need of my extra ax to fell a particularly stubborn tree—"Raedia!" he used to bellow in-between fits of laughter, "Raedia, my daughter of radiant beauty and indomitable spirit! You would spit fire, my love, if one were to challenge you! I pity any man who would make you his bride, for you would do far worse than merely spit fire at him should he be unworthy of you!"—oh, my father insisted that I was more headstrong than trees a thousand years older than I, and indeed I am.
The goddess of justice and mercy watched me grow into womanhood from afar, though I was never aware of this. My family placed no faith in any particular gods, but instead cherished the ideals of goodness and law; they hated evil and chaos above all else. I, too, hold those sentiments. In our tiny village, my father was viewed as a chieftain of sorts, and, though we had no qualms with balance-keepers, the neutral-minded folk whom we so admired for their coolness and wisdom, he wouldn't hesitate to remove any being or thing from our community which was unlawful or tainted by evil. The little woodsmen outpost he watched over loved him for this, and thus he was popular with everyone he knew. That was the man I was raised by: A kind-hearted fellow with the best interests of those around him ever in his mind and excellent moral character defining his actions . . . Truly, the good gods above blessed me!
My mother was also quite special. For all my father's well-meaning nature and exceptional virtues, he was much too quick to anger (one of the reasons we respected neutral friends as we did). Even as common a saying as it is, Mother was the beauty who could tame the beast, and as close in personality to any keeper of balance I've ever met. Indeed, her just spirit forced Father to reconsider many a passion-ruled decision and her mercy spared many an almost-damned soul. That was the woman I was raised by: A pure-hearted lady with a wonderful gift for speaking who used those talents for only the most righteous of deeds . . . How I miss her!
And then the plague came. Brought by the wings of a vile god-creature, Malotoch saw our happiness and envied it, envied our goodness and our lawfulness, and he stole it from us. I will never forget the way the screams of those around me echoed throughout the forest as, one by one, they all succumbed to the carrion deity's black magics. Oozing sores overtook my kinsmen's bodies while their minds were poisoned by terrible visions, images of themselves committing sins worthy of only the crow god's most loyal of devotees, thoughts which lurk only in the most wretched of beings' minds . . . Justicia forgive me, I cannot bear to think of such things!
But, if truth be told, I was also a victim of the plague. While I did not suffer the physical aspects of my people's blight, I did share their spiritual agonies. My goddess is stronger than I can comprehend, but Malotoch is her father; she simply lacks the ability to best him in all forms. So it was that my loved ones endured their fates, though were allowed final rest once the foul whispers in their ears born of jealousy and misused power died, taking them, too, to Death.
A new king took dominion over the land shortly after the woodcutters' village was lost. He is a man with whom Malotoch could agree, for this king cares nothing for the people he governs. Rather, he dictated laws which mandated that every person under his rule pay a fine of gold to keep their freedom. The penalty for failing to procure sufficient funds was slavery. It sickens me to this day to think that such an execrable act can become reality. Alas; what was I to do? Our village had little need for gold as we sustained ourselves quite nicely, and any money my beloved father may have known as the community's leader had vanished in the faint hope that a cleric of some sort might have been able to save those who trusted him so.
Thus I had no means by which to secure my freedom, and, after what I have lived through, I would prefer death over losing the very right to live, for what is life if it is not a person's own? With that mindset, I joined a group, mob-like though its members were, who plotted to raid a forbidden tomb and guarantee riches enough for us all to pay off the king. A brilliant idea, it was, if only to a person with nothing left to lose. I was one such person.
Some of our ranks behaved mindlessly, throwing themselves into places where others had disappeared moments before or playing the role of the hero when group efforts were required to prevail. That seems to be the way life plays out; sometimes it is simply one's turn to face Death's judgment. On that day, it was not mine. A man called Slaygar and I successfully navigated the treacherous dungeon, along with a few others, and we managed to acquire what we sought. The king duly satisfied, we decided to travel for a while, to see what we could now that our freedom was not in question.
That was when I first witnessed the goddess Justicia's beckoning.
Amidst the crowded streets of wicked Punjar's Temple District was a beautiful alabaster building, simple in its design yet powerful in its lack of immaculacy. I was drawn to it as a moth to a flame, and, though I now understand and laugh at this, I could not conjecture why this was so. When I entered the structure, I fell upon my knees instantaneously; tears sprang from my eyes in drowning volumes; the air abandoned my lungs in a mighty upheaval; I finally felt what I so craved: Peace. For Justicia had chosen me. I, who had been left standing whilst all that I knew crumbled, had a higher calling.
There, in that moment, I saw her face. Grace incarnate, unfathomable in her splendor, she was awe-inspiring and wonderful! Scenes of my troubled past filled my thoughts as she stayed with me, and the great goddess imbued me with the truths I did not, could not have, known before. Her wrathful father had taken my life from me, but she had seen the things which dwelt within my heart, and she had refused to let me die with my family; she was prepared to offer me a new life. Justicia saved me, at least from what she could, and she would heal me of the rest if only I let her!
Only an ungrateful thing produced by filth and ugliness might refuse such a blessing. I am not one such person. I trembled and cried violently as I thanked my goddess of mercy, pledging myself evermore to her faith. Justicia smiled upon me as I made my choice, as I gave my heart to her, and she promised me the means to avenge my family if I deserved it.
"Justice," say the old sisters, "will always come to those who allow the light of the goddess and her mercy to guide them."
Apparently I have indeed deserved the goddess' gift, for I am now her cleric, banishing evil and chaos wherever it may be found by simply speaking her name.
+ Proud member of the DCC Expendables
+ One half of the "crazy" Justician Sister Nuns
"Fear female gamers working in tandem." —Harley Stroh