When Ravens Sing
An Acolyte of Sigmar
Cramming the last of her gear into her pack, Erika stood back and sighed. This room had been her home for the better part of the last ten years and now it was empty, cleaned and ready for the new assistant librarian. Finally she had her chance to prove that there was more to her than just books. Books and scribing had been part of her life for as long as she could remember, her father had been a scribe in a northern border town just as his father before him.
She smiled remembering her father, a great bull of a man who could create the most delicate illuminations on paper so thin you could see through it. Her mother had commissioned the village carpenter to make a special stool for him as a wedding present after seeing him hunched over perched on one of the small writing stools in his fathers shop. Always no nonsense, her mother…
Her parents had grown up together, and to everyone in the town there was never any doubt that they would get married. What was a surprise though was when they both decided to join the town militia. They trained together and learned to fight together, and in the end they had died together when an incursion of north men, fuelled by their insane chaos driven bloodlust, had raided their small peaceful town. Only it wasn’t just her parents that day, her four older brothers had fallen as well, along with the rest of the town… except for her.
She could still smell the smoke and hear the screams. It had started out as a normal day, her father at his desk, her mother in the kitchen of their little house that attached to the scribe office. She had been sitting on the floor playing with the cast off quills and paper her father always gave her when it was his turn to watch the little one. Erika came late in comparison to her brothers… she was six years behind the youngest and had honestly been a bit of a surprise to the family. She had just turned seven when the knock on the door had come. The head of the town militia was gathering his troops, a party of the hated barbarians had been seen within a days ride and it was better to be prepared than surprised.
As it turned out all of the preparation in the world wouldn’t have been enough to save their little town. She had been bundled up with her favourite doll and delivered to the town hall to be watched over, along with the other children by, the ancient priest of Sigmar who had been a part of the town for as long as anyone could remember. Her parents, her brothers and every adult she knew were all followers of Sigmar and the first book she had read through on her own had been the stories of Sigmar. While the other gods were acknowledged here, there was no question who held sway.
It had seemed like ages to her little girl time keeping but looking back it was probably only a few hours before the battle made it to the town. The stray group of raiders had been a ruse, the main force of the barbarians had been much closer, coming from a direction that was thought safe, but unknown to the townsfolk, the headman of a nearby outpost had been corrupted and allowed the raiders to come through from that direction.
Even as the hall started to burn and the other children were screaming, she did nothing but clutch her doll tighter and continue her prayers to Sigmar. Scooting back into a corner next to the ancient stone fireplace, eyes closed and rocking in concentration she kept with her prayers. Around her the burning timbers fell, but somehow the lintel of the fireplace kept the worst of the falling debris… so locked into her silent vigil to Sigmar the noise fell away and she didn’t notice. It wasn’t until the elderly priest said her name that she came out of her reverie. Blinking she looked around, the hall was nothing but ash, the bodies of the other children nothing but char. Looking around, she realised that the only thing that had saved her and the old priest (who had been knocked unconscious by the first of the falling beams) was the large painting of Sigmar that had once stood above the fireplace. At some point it had fallen and essentially created a firebreak between the two of them and the rest of the building.
She didn’t remember much after that, only that the old priest had delivered her to a Temple of Sigmar and she started her training as an acolyte. The priest would come back periodically to check on her and he and the others at the temple became the family she had lost. Her skill with a quill had been discovered early and she had been taken into what was essentially the librarian and scribe corps of the church. She also excelled at her martial training but this was considered secondary to her skill with books so as much as she would have liked to follow a more martial path she did, as she was taught by her mother, as she was told. Every few years she would be transferred to a new temple, more books to take care of, more scribing to do.