Interlude: The Horned Priestess
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Two interludes today in lieu of a chapter! Be sure to check the other one out as well—it should be posted after this one.

Sonia Rozaro dashed through the empty church hall, soft shoes making muffled taps on the clean, polished stone. One hand held her robe-like vestments off the floor while the other clenched and unclenched in empty air. Jewelry attached to her horns jangled frantically, the echoing sound following the demon-blooded priestess to her destination.

Priestess. Dad will be so proud when he gets back. She’d heard a rumor she’d been selected, but she wouldn’t find out until the morning. Well, not unless she ran to Luzio to ask him. The priest usually worked late on nights like this, so Sonia had reason to believe she’d find him awake. Would he tell her? Maybe. And that maybe was enough—either way she’d be able to sleep knowing she’d done all she could.

The probable priestess slid softly to a halt in front of the door to Luzio’s chambers. Quickly, she fixed her vestments, frowning slightly as she always did at how the red of the outfit was just off enough from her skin tone to clash. Sonia raised a crimson-skinned hand to the door and rapped three times in quick succession. The taps echoed down the quiet hall.

She heard movement from inside, and after a short moment the door opened to reveal a tired-looking man with shoulder-length light brown hair, a clean shave, and sharp features. Priest Luzio’s face split into a wide grin upon seeing Sonia, the bags under his eyes brightening for a moment as the widening smile revealed his missing tooth.

“Sonia!” he said, far too loud for the quiet evening hall. Then quieter, he added, “congratulations!”

“So… I was selected?” Sonia didn’t have the same sense of quiet, and her voice carried.

Luzio put a finger up to his mouth. “Shh. Yes, you were. I wish I could tell you more now, but you’ll find out the rest—”

He cut off as Sonia grabbed both of his hands. “Oh, thank you! I knew it was you!”

“Sonia, you know I can’t say—”

“Yes, I understand, but…” The demon-blooded woman’s light brown eyes sparkled.

“But you’re up too late and you’ll need time to get ready in the morning.” Luzio smiled tiredly, leaning on the doorframe. “Am I right?” He punctuated the question with a yawn.

Despite her excitement, Sonia yawned back. “I suppose so. The same goes for you, though.”

Luzio chuckled warmly, pulling himself upright off the doorframe. “I suppose it does.”

The almost-priestess turned to leave, then whirled back around, earrings jangling as they hit against her horns. “One more thing!” She leaned in conspiratorially. “Have you had any luck with my request for a pilgrimage tour in Ordia?”

Luzio’s smile thinned and he shook his head. “Not yet. I don’t understand why you want this so quickly either—you’ll be able to request this sort of thing on your own in just a few weeks. Why not wait?”

Sonia frowned and replied, without condescension, “I don’t think you’d understand, Luzio.”

A few breaths passed wordlessly between them, and then Luzio nodded slowly. “Perhaps not. Goodnight, Sonia.”

With a slow nod of her own and a conflicted expression, Sonia turned and walked quickly back down the hall toward her chambers. She knew she should wait for her father to return, but she also knew she couldn’t sit on her hands for another year. Sonia wondered if Luzio had even sent the request—he’d been against it when she suggested the idea, after all. The pleasant jingling of her horn jewelry couldn’t offset how heavy her horns felt right now. Many demon-blooded were more divergent than she was, but Sonia knew she looked nearly like an actual demon—she’d heard enough “lust demon” comments to know what people who didn’t know her might think.

Here in Inolza, most of the city knew of her, for better or worse. She wasn’t the only demon-blooded with the church, but she was the most outgoingly prominent among the clergy. Luzio knew that, and they both knew the abuse that might come her way if she ventured abroad.

Doesn’t he know I know? People who don’t know me will make assumptions? But how can they change if no one’s there to correct them?

A look in on Sonia, who isn't going to just sit around and let the world pass her by!

If you want to read more, my Patreon has up to 20+ advanced chapters right now! There are also a few side stories and a new novel, Scales & Shadows, which will remain Patreon exclusive for a couple/few months as a backlog is built.

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