Smiling up at the afternoon sun, the acolyte moved swiftly through the church grounds. A light breeze tousled her braided hair and caused her grin to widen. Lydia was so overjoyed her mouth threatened to stretch off her face as she approached the broad oak door of Sister Silvia's office. Drawing a deep breath into her lungs to steady her shaky hands, she pushed the door open.

"Welcome Lydia." Sister Silvia smiled politely as the young acolyte entered, taking a seat in the modest wooden chair closest to the priestess' desk. "Here about your apprenticeship?" The tone of Silvia's voice reminded Lydia of the chorus of angels. It was all so beautiful to her.

"Yes, sister, I am. I'm sure the leaders here have chosen me a perfect master." Lydia attempted to lighten the pitch of her voice to match the golden haired priestess' before her, but only succeeded in sounding as though she was trying to avoid scratching or thinking about a bad itch.

Silvia's perfectly shaped eyebrows knit together for a second as she regarded the acolyte sitting before her. Quite an odd one. "Well, as you know, your apprenticeship is to last for as long as we deem. You are to follow the master we selected from the clergy to guide you without question. Follow what they say, learn from them. It will be a valuable experience, and your next step towards becoming a priestess." Seeing Lydia's overeager expression and vigorous nodding, the priestess continued, "We've found you the best demonologist among our ranks, as that's your chosen specialty. It was a bit of a hassle to get her to agree to take you on, but I'm sure you two will get along fine."

Lydia's blue eyes widened in wonder behind her glasses. The best demonologist in their ranks? This was surely going to be amazing! In her excitement she leapt from her seat, toppling the chair onto its side.

"Thank you so much!" She practically shouted, clasping her hands together in a hasty attempt to remember the traditional sign of gratitude among church members. "I will do my best!"

The flaxen haired priestess was fast losing her patience with the clumsy acolyte, but with practiced air, her smile remained on her face. "We're sure you'll enjoy being an apprentice under Amalythia."

Lydia's smile practically fell off her face, along with her glasses. Her excitement quickly faded to shock and slight disgust. She reeled a bit, attempting to sit in her seat but only landed roughly on her backside. Standing, she righted the chair and retook her seat before the priestess. "B..but. Amalythia is..the priestess with the worst reputation in the church!" The acolyte pleaded desperately, attempting to gain some ounce of pity from Silvia. "Sh..she has had numerous complaints filed against her! She doesn't even wear the proper uniform!" Lydia was growing more desperate as she spoke, her hands twisting frantically in her lap.

Silvia's grin widened in slight bemusement. It would be nice to finally have that troublesome priestess off the clergy's hands for a bit. Sacrifice an acolyte here or there, who would notice? Surely nobody that mattered. "Be that as it may." She cleared her throat, rising from her seat and folding her arms over her chest, which was troublesome as her breasts were so boundless. "You were told you must serve under this priestess, and you will. If you have any serious problems or complaints, take it up with Father Macenroe."

With that the priestess turned, her shining hair spilling over her back and falling nearly to the curves of her hips. She stepped over to the large door, her perfectly shaped legs constantly peaking out of her slitted priestess' uniform, giving Lydia a good look at her flawlessly white panties. The acolyte blushed in shame, but it wasn't as if she could have avoided looking. All priestess' uniforms were like that.

Struggling a bit to pull the door open, Silvia bit into her rosy lips. She really wasn't built to do heavy labor, like opening these awful doors. When the door had finally slid open enough to accommodate a small person to walk through, the priestess angrily pointed Lydia out towards the grounds. "Now go and appreciate the opportunity we have given you! Make the Prontera Church proud!"

Lydia sighed and rose to her feet, shuffling dejectedly towards the door. She gave one final look of admiration to sister Silvia. This priestess really was the ideal for the ranks of the church. Sooner or later, all the priestesses turned out like her. Lydia couldn't wait!

As she waited on the grounds of the church, Lydia idly leaned back against the trunk of her favorite cedar. The sun was still shining brightly above her, and something she couldn't quite identify passed briefly over it, casting a large shadow on the grounds. Within a second it was struck by a bolt of lightning from somewhere far in the distance, and came crashing to the ground. Who knew where.

A soft smile flickered to her face as she sighed. "Ah. Life is so beautiful here.."

"What are you waiting for, child?" A voice seeping with darkness wafted towards her. It was a voice of tormented and strangled pain, kept tightly wound and bottled up inside. Suddenly the atmosphere of the grounds seemed darker, as if all light was being sucked out by an unseen force.

Lydia paused only briefly, "I..I'm waiting for my master so I can begin my apprenticeship, brother Kaine."

"I see." As he spoke, brother Kaine stepped out of the shadows. His onyx robes flew out behind him in some unfelt breeze as he moved towards her. He slid a hand through his dark black hair, using his well-groomed fingers to brush his long bangs away from his eyes. Focusing on her, his charcoal colored eyes flickered with deep seeded pain and anger. As if he knew a secret or had a hidden power he was trying to suppress.

Another long moment of strangling silence went by before he spoke again.

"Have a nice day."

And with that, brother Kaine walked on, taking his atmosphere of gloom with him. Lydia found herself slightly relieved as the priest's tall, lanky form disappeared into the distance. She didn't like him as much as the other priests of the church. Most of them were blond and blue-eyed, or silver haired and green eyed, or blue haired and, well, you get the idea.

"Are you Lydia?" The voice that beckoned her was oddly emotionless and flat. It startled the acolyte a bit as she was used to everyone's voices being melodious.

She adjusted her glasses and turned, gaping in horror a bit as she looked over the person that had called to her. Her gaze first fell on the thick, black leather heeled boots that were laced up to the knees, at which point they met black fishnet which continued up to the thigh. Her leg peeked out of the slit in her black priestess' dress, while rosaries dangled at her hips. Continuing still upwards, Lydia's horror increased at the sight of dark purple makeup adorning her face, as well as two small rings in her right eyebrow. An abomination, scarring up one's face like that! The tips of the priestess' dark brown hair hung over her eyes and fell to her shoulders, where the tips were colored a crimson red.

"I'm Amalythia."

Lydia reeled. She had been expecting something bad, but not this bad! This person was terrible! She had no grace, she had no beckoning curves! There was no way she could possibly be a member of the Prontera clergy!

Amalythia sneered down at the dumbfounded acolyte sitting before her. This girl looked entirely too homegrown to be a demonologist. The counsel had obviously stuck her with another idiot just to get her behavior to tone down for another short while. Someone to whine about her methods and tattle on her at every opportunity. Well. She'd give this one something to tattle about, that was for sure.

"Get up." The girl gasped but complied, teetering to her feet. Amalythia groaned and rubbed at her eyes in exasperation. This was the worst yet.

Amalythia started walking towards a nearby stone wall, "This is your first test, Lydia." Lydia's ears perked in joy! Perhaps it would be her first exorcism! But alas, the demonic priestess before her merely continued talking. She sat upon the stone wall, and Lydia quietly sat on her knees before her. It was odd. In all her time living in the church, whenever a priestess was giving a sermon while sitting on something(which was most of the time), one could always see up her dress. Not this one. Odd.

"Let me tell you something about this place, Lydia.." Amalythia paused for a moment to look down at the girl. "This's a giant conspiracy."

Lydia arched an eyebow, but said nothing. She already knew this priestess was crazy, but there was no sense in gaining any disfavor on the first day. Might as well let her ramble crazily on. Crazy priestess. Crazy Amalythia. That's what she would call her from here on out.

The priestess spoke on as if she cared nothing for the dirty looks Lydia was shooting her. "Most people would never notice these kinds of things but..if you pause and take a look, you can see them. Haven't you ever noticed that there is one of every type of stereotypical boy or girl's fantasy living under our hallowed roof?"

Lydia struggled to contain a condescending snicker. Crazy Amalythia.

"There's the perfect body, perfect face and attitude priestesses. They're here to serve, but they get a little feisty if you push them too much. Then you have the strong, good looking priests. Most have long hair, blue eyes, you know." Amalythia's eyes narrowed. "They're always wise and smart. Occasionally you get the priestess who is no less pretty than the others, but is disagreeable and somewhat mean. A know it all, but still good at heart. Or their priest counterpart who is incredibly strong and bossy. Or a gothic priest or priestess, too filled with hatred and emotion to be reconciled."

Crazy Amalythia. The thought just rolled in Lydia's mind, filtering out what the priestess was saying.

"Now someone like you, who looks homely. Flat chested, too skinny, slightly clumsy. Someone like you will turn subservient. You'll be the type to blush and be silent, and always comply, quite heartwarming really. That's how they're training you to be. Same with the boys just like you. You'll always look too young, and that fits perfectly into that roll."

Lydia sighed in mild irritation. The person she was supposed to train under and look up to had just called her flat chest. She was more than a little insulted. "With all due respect, ma'am. How does training us to be all we can be fit into your conspiracy theory? So some of us are alike, it makes no difference. We're all here to serve God, even if we are beautiful or ugly."

Amalythia narrowed her chocolate brown eyes at the acolyte. She wasn't happy that the girl had gotten an attitude on the very first day.

"How is it a conspiracy? Well? What does the church do most often? We send members of the clergy out to serve under other people. A wealthy blacksmith who needs a kind partner to heal them, preferably a strong male priest. They go out on a few adventures…and what do you know? They have sex. Claim they fall in love. That garbage." The priestess' left eye narrowed a bit, "Sadly, the priest has to return to continue to serve the church, but what happens? Suddenly we get more donations from this blacksmith. 'Send him back to me'! Millions of zeny in the church's pot."

Lydia's face was red with anger and she stormed to her feet, "How DARE you consider the church akin to a prostitution ring! That's foul and disgusting!"

Amalythia wasn't finished. "Now someone like you, they'll train how I said, then send you out to partner with some mean, overbearing knight. You'll blush and trip your way into his heart, and he'll take advantage of you, and you may enjoy it, but that doesn't matter. Maybe you'll fall in love, but soon after, you'd be called back. BOOM! Another 3 million zeny donation from the knight, begging for you to return."

Lydia's mouth hung open, she was aghast in horror. "Th..that's.."

"Face it. This church is all about serving, anything but God though." A slight grin spread on Amalythia's face. "The last time Sister Silvia was sent out, she came home with a new mythril bracelet, and the church got a new golden bell for the bell towers."

The acolyte had to pause for a moment to think what Amalythia had said over, and it did seem to match perfectly. She had wondered where that generous donation had come from."

"Face it, Lydia. Sex sells, and the church wasn't getting enough donations from the weekly sermons. Priests and Priestesses are one of the hottest commodities in Rune Midgard."

She still refused to believe it, and Lydia all but shouted in defiance at her new tutor. "Well what about you, hm? You must fit into a roll too! I'm sure you've been sent out dozens of times!"

Amalythia chuckled at the girl's defiance. She thought those words would sting like barbs. Silly girl.

"The second I figured out what was really going on in this church, I got myself fitted for a chastity belt. I've been wearing it ever since. That's why I only normally deal with demons. Makes sense, hm?".

"Then why don't you just leave if you hate it so much here?" Lydia was seething with anger.

"The libraries here are unrivaled. All I want to do is study demons and the healing arts. Where else am I going to get better instruction? This place may be a conspiracy, but as long as you know how to beat it, you can still learn a lot." Amalythia's face brightened a bit in memory, "I don't know how they found out I wear a chastity belt, but ever since I've been on the blacklist. Always will be. But they can't get rid of me, because I'm one of the best they've got. Just not in the way they want me to be."

Lydia was through with this. "You're insane and it's no wonder they say they should keep you locked up all day! What you say is blasphemy, and goes against every single one of our teachings!" With that, she turned in finality and began to stomp angrily back to her room. First thing tomorrow she would appeal to Sister Silvia to find her a new tutor. This was madness! Crazy Amalythia!

Amalythia sighed and tucked her knees up to her chest. Wrapping one arm around them, she turned to stare at the now descending sun. Not a bad first day, she supposed. Perhaps this kid could be taught, but not until she got the trappings of the church out of the forefront of her mind and rather began focusing on the heart of everything in the world. Faith.