(121-04-11) The Father Above
The Father Above
Summary: Mariya attends the sept on the eve of the Trial of Seven with a prayer for her kin, leaving with an unexpected prediction.
Date: 11 April 2014
Related: None

Starry Sept

The Starry Sept is the seat of the Faith of the Seven. The High Septon resides here, as do any number of clergy who study here or attend him and the faithful. Seven domes and seven towers make up the structure, all of them richly decorated with seven-pointed stars, carved or inlaid or painted, or in mosaics of tiles.

The largest dome, the worship area, is a heptagon like all the others, but much wider. The seven-pointed star is inlaid into the white marble floor in massive slices of highly polished semi-precious stones: amethyst and rosy quartz, jade and lapis, onyx, cat-eye and garnet. The soaring domed roof is painted a deep blue with glittering sparkles of mica mixed in, and hundreds of seven-pointed stars picked out in gold and silver leaf.

Each of the seven walls holds a statue, larger than life, of one of the gods. The Father, The Mother, The Warrior, The Maiden, The Smith, The Crone, The Stranger. They are painted wood, beautifully and realistically carved by artists of great skill. Their gowns and robes are leafed in gold and set with jewels, and their eyes are alabaster and jet, with irises of sapphire or emerald or deep brown citrine. The exception is The Stranger. His or her statue is plain, almost stylized, the face hooded and the robes painted glossy black with minute flecks of black dragonglass that make it glitter very faintly, like the most distant of stars.

There is an ornately carved and inlaid altar before each statue, for the faithful to pray, and light their candles.

Ser Osric told Mariya to visit the Starry Sept on her very first day in Oldtown, but she had not the chance. Now seems as if the perfect time - the day before a Trial of the Seven - when there is seemingly so much on the line. It is a good day to hope for guidance from them. The Dornish princess enters the dome, clearly awed at the size and beauty of the space. Her cloak is damp from the outside rain, her pair of guards a few steps respectfully behind her. Stepping to the side - so as to not block the entrance for any other worshippers or gawkers - she cranes her neck upward, mouth slightly open as she studies the intricate ceiling.

"I still remember the first time I saw it," says Leire, materializing solicitously near the Dornish princess's elbow at some point while her gaze is upturned. She wears the robes of a Septa, a rich navy blue a few shades darker than the vibrant cerulean that makes up the starry sky of the main dome overhead. "When I was a child, I used to beg the septons to let me sleep here, under the watchful eye of the Seven."

Mariya starts when Leire speaks from her side, head quickly rotating from ceiling to Septa. "Oh! Forgive me, Septa. You startled me." She gives the woman a warm smile before her gaze is drawn now to the inlaid floor of semi-precious stones. "It is…breathtaking." That is the best word that she can come up with for the wonder that is this Sept. "I could not blame you. I feel as if I would sleep more soundly here than anywhere else in the Seven Kingdoms. Even on the hard stone floor. My goodbrother told me of the beauty here, but I don't think I could have comprehended it truly without seeing."

Returning the smile, Leire follows Mariya's gaze to the glittering floor, pivoting it back thereafter to the princess herself. "I've heard it said the measure of a people is as much the gods they keep as the manner in which they keep them. The folk of Oldtown have long been dutiful subjects of the Seven, and this sept is the testament of their faith." She pauses, indulging in a silent moment to soak up the awesome magnitude of the building as if for the first time herself, and then says to Mariya, "I didn't mean to intrude. Shall I leave you to your exploration?"

"It is a remarkable testament," Mariya agrees. As she lifts her eyes from the floor and returns her gaze back to the person right next to her, she blushes slightly and shakes her head. "I did not enter merely to sightsee, I confess. I came for—" She stumbles here, unsure of how to explain. "I am not sure. I came to seek guidance. Perhaps comfort. Perhaps to just leave and offering for the Father." The look she gives the Septa might be one she is used to - confusion, worry, tension.

Leire listens with an attentive ear, ushering Mariya further into the sept by assuming a slow promenade at her side. She offers the girl a reassuring smile, confiding in her, "The wonder of keeping faith with the Seven is that though betimes we know not what it is we seek from them, we often find it just the same." Because the princess names the Father, Leire begins to lead them in the direction of the area of worship consecrated to that aspect of the Seven, but the pace is meandering, giving their course time to deviate, if necessary. There are many paying worship in the sept today, and it would seem it is as much abuzz as Oldtown itself on the eve of the morrow's events.

Easily guided by Leire, Mariya nods in understanding. With so many people in the sept, it is not hard to imagine that they are here for the same reason with opposite intents. "I do hope so." That they will give her guidance despite her confusion. "Tomorrow they are to be invoked by Trial." That is the root of the matter for her sudden need to see the Sept. "Do you think…" she's not quite sure how to ask this question, and as such it comes out soft and tremulous. "Do you think they could be merciful in their judgement?"

As they draw near the altar dedicated to worship of the Father, Leire pauses at enough of a distance that the pair of them might better appreciate his looming visage. "There is good reason we call upon the Father Above when it comes to passing judgment in matters such as the one the Seven shall preside over tomorrow. He wears many faces. The stern disciplinarian. The compassionate guardian. The guiding authoritarian. He is our model of what is just and right, holding us to his highest standard, but loving his sons and daughters just the same when they inevitably fall short of his divine example. Firm, but benevolent."

As they approach the Father, Mariya's eyes affix to him. She listens closely to Leire without comment. It is clear that she is taking the woman's words to heart. "I cannot say that I do not care for whose side he declares just." For, she has a vested interest in one side particularly. "However, should he think to spare the participants from the Stranger, then I would be happy. A father might judge one son right without punishing the other too harshly." For this is what she would wish and pray for. A fair judgement without death. "If men fight for what they believe to be right in an attempt to do justice to his name, he could not look so unfavorably upon them, could he?"

Leire contemplates Mariya's questions, her gaze turned deferentially to the statue of the Father on the opposite wall. While the Dornish princess speaks, the Septa toys with the pendant she wears at her throat, tracing the star with her fingertips. "I believe what a Father wants most for his sons is to see them grow and thrive, to face tribulation and be made better for it." She glances sidelong at Mariya, and then continues. "I think it best to offer a prayer to the Father. Though he stands not alone in judgment, a word on behalf of your cause would not be misplaced."

That makes sense to Mariya. With a glance toward Leire, she approaches the statue more closely and gazes up at the Father with respect. "Father Above," she begins, unsure of how to voice her fears and worries and hopes properly. "You will judge who you deem as right on the morrow. Were the knights accused capable of the massacre at the Red Rookery? If they are and it is true that the Dornish were responsible for Wickham's Nest…does that make their cause just? Must a horrible massacre be paid for equally in more blood, no matter if they were not the culprits?"

Realizing now that she is just asking questions that have pressed on her own mind and not actively beseeching the Father's guidance, Mariya takes another breath and continues to the heart of the matter. "My goodbrother has followed you in all he does and is a good husband to my sister. He believes his cause just and his sword to be guided by your hand, yet he would stay it and grant mercy should it be requested. Is that not what you would wish in your son? I believe the men he brings with him to be good as well and would follow your guidance." All but Maelys, that is, should he be included. But, then, she feels it unnecessary and petty to leave him out of her prayer. "Please watch over them and even if you find their cause to be false, find the men to be good and spare them."

Leire stands back while Mariya approaches the icon of the Father, like a child at the knee of her sire, beseeching him in prayer. At the tail end, the Septa approaches, pausing at her side and lending her voice to strengthen the call. "Father Above, when the time comes for the champions to lay their cause at your feet for consideration, remember these words offered by your devout daughter on behalf of her kin and weigh them well as you sit in judgment over their fate." Of habit, she once more reaches for the pendant she wears, gazing up at the face of the statue. When it is done, she turns to Mariya, placing a light kiss to her brow as if on behalf of the Father himself.

When Leire joins Mariya, she does not tear her eyes away from the Father, instead keeping her gaze there. If there is any place that He would listen or heed her prayer, it would be in this Sept and with the help of Leire. When the Septa places the kiss on her brow, the youngest Martell reaches forward to gently take the woman's hands. There are unshed tears in her eyes and she has a clearly grateful expression as she says, "Thank you, Septa. Truly."

Clasping Mariya's hands, Leire's own expression is solemn in the wake of their prayer. She responds, "There are many uneasy in Oldtown tonight, the fate of their kith and kin indeterminate. Together you pray with a unified voice for mercy and an end of bloodshed. I hope you can find comfort in knowing that on the rare occasion the Seven are invoked to deliver it, justice is sure to be had. How we reassemble ourselves thereafter is another eventuality yet to be determined. I would be pleased to pray with you again, be it in gratitude or grief."

Mariya can feel the uneasy citizens behind her - the multitudes that have come to the Sept before the Trial to either pray for or against vengeance. "I hope that with all of our voices, the Seven shall grant us both justice and mercy." The words and the prayer have not magically washed away her worry, but she feels lighter than before she stepped through the threshold. "I would like that very much. I certainly hope that the next prayer that I offer will be for the former and not the latter." After a moment, she adds, "I am Mariya. Mariya Martell." It is only proper that if they are to pray together they should know each other's names.

"I very much hope the same," Leire answers sincerely, giving Mariya's hands a final clasp as they exchange names before releasing them again. "My name is Leire. I hope that now you have taken the leap to cross the threshold, you will find it comes easier to do so again." She pauses, and then adds, "But if you should find the occasion for communion with the Seven calls for discretion, I am happy to attend you elsewhere. It is not uncommon for the highborn of Oldtown to wish the same from time to time."

"With such beauty as the Sept here and so close by, I cannot imagine communing elsewhere to be closer to the Seven." Mariya folds her hands underneath her cloak. "But, thank you for the offer. There may indeed come a time when I will have needs of the discretion. I will look for you again once the Trial is over. I hope that I may bring the Father thanks and good tidings." As she starts to move for the doorway - faithful guards keeping step - she adds, "I am very glad to have met you, Septa Leire. Thank you for being a guiding hand in my troubled time."

Leire falls in stride, accompanying Mariya as she makes her exit from the sept. She smiles at the sentiment about its beauty, her gaze roaming overhead just as it did at the start. When it thereafter settles upon Mariya again, she tells the Martell princess, "It was an honor to join you in prayer. May the Seven keep you well this eve." She extends the nicety to the guards who trail Mariya, offering them each an incline of her head as they take their leave.

As they move toward the entrance, Mariya and her guards make sure to include the Septa in their procession. The princess' gaze is drawn to the statue of the Maiden, but she does not deviate from her path toward the entrance. "I feel the same. Thank you for your kindness. May the Seven keep you," she echoes the sentiments.

When they reach the mouth of the sept, Leire pauses on its steps to offer a farewell kiss to each of Mariya's cheeks. She looks out over Oldtown, the sun burning low in the sky as it makes its descent, and touches the seven-pointed star she wears at the hollow of her throat. Her steely gray gaze is suddenly distant as it takes in the horizon, and when it returns to Mariya, she abruptly remarks, "The Dragon's tail may yet pierce the Sun."

Mariya also looks toward the brilliant sunset as she steps out of the Starry Sept and onto the Starry Street. Accepting the farewell kisses on each cheek, she means to leave when she is caught by Leire's cryptic remark. Her eyebrows furrow as she studies Leire, but then brushes the strange words aside as an Oldtown Septa farewell or saying. Unsure of how to respond, she replies, "I guess it may yet indeed." And then, puzzled, but glad to have made the trip to the Sept, she continues down the street.

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