She hummed as she wiped down the counters in the bar. It was an unusually quiet evening and she took the opportunity to clean and reflect on the busy week. She was lost in thought when the doors opened. Smiling softly, she greeted the priest, “Good evening Father Matthew.” She watched as he blessed the door and the building.
“I hear you make some of the best stew around” he said.
She blushed and quickly fetched him a bowl with some tea. He asked if they could talk. She nodded and poured herself a cup of tea, taking a seat at the table with him. She was not sure what to expect, but felt oddly at ease with him.
“Are you the one that caused Barnard to stray from his vows form church?” he asked.
She stiffened and nodded.
He continued to question her about her relationship with Barnard. He pushed to ask if she had seduced him or if he had seduced her. She tried to explain it the best she could. The priest told her that Barnard had been released from his vow by the Society of Jesus and Rome, although not many hereabouts knew that. The priest tried to keep his eyes on his bowl, but his eyes were drawn to the loose laces of her bodice. He recognized a mark on her breast.
“You have been marked by devil, child.”
Karissa shivered as the memories of her experience with the demon came back to her. “He said I summoned him,” she blurted out as her emotions were getting the best of her.
She cried as the priest fired questions at her. “How did you summon him? Where did you summon him?”
She told him of the night on the island. She told him of the drawing of her blood, and the dance in the middle of the circle.
Father Matthew listened with a very grave look on his face. He asked if she had been baptized into the church. When she said that she had not been, he encouraged her to be baptized and wash the evil of her sin from her soul, and to study with the nuns at the abbey to learn to become a proper, God fearing, Christian woman.
He resumed his questioning. “Who was with you that night?
Sensing that he might lose the progress he had made with her, he backed off from that line of questioning. He was determined to get his answers, but he was a patient man. “You have done a good thing here, my child,” he said. “We will talk more of this another time.”
She looked up at him through her tears. Something stirred within him. She was an enigma. He could not help but feel that she was an innocent. Her eyes were large and dark and devoid of any trace of artifice or deceit. But there was the mark on her breast, and the unholy relationship he knew her to have with the town Warden.
“I need to get back to the abbey for now.” He wanted to record what she had told him for his report while it was still fresh in his mind. He paused at the door, turning back and smiling at her. “I know why the Jesuit Barnard wanted to save you,” he said.
As Karissa stood, she clasped her shaking hands together and tried to slow down her pounding heart. She hoped she had not said too much. She must ride to Tanninhold soon to tell Desire and Barnard of the conversation. That would have to wait. The hour was late. She climbe the stairs to her apartment and opened her books from Sister Agatha. She was worried about her next meeting with Father Matthew, and wanted to prepare for it as much as she could.