The notion of fate is an interesting concept to consider for those of us who pledge service to the divine. We would like to believe that our patron gods watch over us and guide our every step, but know that our choices must be our own or our accomplishments would be meaningless. In a life of service, there must always be careful consideration of what our gods intend for us, balanced against what we can do for them.
In many ways my own fate was foretold by a birthmark. This mark, discovered by my mother on my right shoulder, was in the shape of an arrow drawn against a bow, and was taken as a clear sign that I was meant to be a servant of Erastil. Because my father was a cleric of Erastil, my delivery into his care was seen as a direct intervention by Erastil to achieve a greater purpose. Through my formative years, my father taught me the lessons of Erastil and trained me in the divine arts. In return, we were given many happy years together and the gifts of bountiful seasons and caring friends.
This notion of fate is what led me to become a cleric like my father, and gave me the courage to journey to Ursandova to do what I could to reclaim the lost lands. Once here, I found more indications of Erastil’s path for me, including discovery of a great temple in the Narlmarches, as well as an overgrown statue deep within the woods. These signs reinforced my desire to serve Erastil at the same time they buoyed my spirit. I knew I was doing his work, and by the signs of his appreciation, I was doing it how he wished.
I must admit that when Sasha was lost my confidence faltered. For a short time I could not see past the grief, and as I wept, I wondered why Erastil had not protected him. I pressed on despite my doubts, hoping that the importance of my work would overcome my misgivings. But the doubts remained, and when my companions and I were beset by evil spirits at the Tower of Candlemere, the situation became dire. As I hung between life and death, Erastil sent us a greater sign.
Erastil sent the horse spirit Arangin to rescue us from the battle. With Arangin returned a celestial knight clad in gleaming silver armor—my brother—carried down from the afterlife to protect me. These two quickly drove away the spirits, and delivered us to safety at the shore of the island. Before Arangin departed, he told me to “Tame this land.” Words from heaven are not wisely ignored.
It is clear to me from this event and others that Erastil means for me to serve him in Ursandova as long as I am able, and serve him I shall. But what is less clear to me is where my service would be most needed and most effective. I do the best I can, following the signs as I come across them, but in almost every case the course I take is up to me. I am the one who decides my actions, and it is I who bear the responsibility for their consequences. I may be fated to do service for Erastil, but it is my choice how that service is done.
And thus is born the interesting paradox of fate. While I am fated to do great things, it is my decisions that will shape them.
It perhaps would be easier if the gods were simply to demand what they wanted of us. If they so chose, perhaps their will could be carried out flawlessly based on divine inspiration. But to do so would take away our choice in the matter, and reduce us to little more than their slaves. The gods have given mortals reason so that we can be more than this. We owe it to them to see their gift exercised.
I am sure that as the Ecclesiarchial council goes about its duties that there will be no end of questions that could use the advice and assistance of the gods. But we can not simply ask what they want and wait for their answer. To serve them best, we must act in accordance to our own consciouses and make our own decisions. In this way it will be our own virtues that lead us to greatness…not the fickle hand of fate.