Ash woke up in a bed in the church's infirmary. An infirmary was highly unnecessary seeing as his seniors at the church were more than capable of healing even life-threatening wounds using magic, but for slaves like himself, a certain amount of suffering was needed, so that the discriminatory relationship between men and elves could be retained.
It had been a disappointment beyond description, when Ash had woken up. He had been so close to finding out, who the mysterious voice belonged to. He had a feeling, that if he were to find out, he would be able to endure the physical torment he suffered at the church a little longer.
Ash left the bed, ignoring the numerous complaints from the nun, who was tending to him. Today was Wednesday, so gardening duty awaited him in the sunny courtyard, which was currently filled to the brim with monks and nuns, who were participating in morning prayer. The fat, disgusting pig priest was standing at the podium, preaching.
"And the god of light commanded, as described in our holy book: humans shall serve as my one and only servant race. Yes my brothers and sisters, the god of light has chosen us as his servants. Rejoice, for the god of light is within us, and us alone" the priest said, throwing a nasty smile in Ash's direction.
Ash ignored the priest's provocation and simply picked up the knife, and started tending to the garden, like he was supposed to. He couldn't risk another round of punishment for now. Punishment didn't just end at beating. The slaves, who were already almost starving, were not fed at all, if they were to disobey the priests, like Ash had done the night before. Luckily for Ash, gardening duty included picking ripe fruits from the trees in the courtyard, which, when no one was looking, also included a meal or five for Ash.
He suddenly felt sharp pain in the back of his head, followed by the sound of a rock falling to the ground.
"Haha, look at him, brother Alfred. On his knees like scum such as himself should be".
A pair of human monks were standing behind Ash, laughing. Ash didn't pay them any attention. He clenched his teeth and endured the humiliation.
"Elf, I have a question for you. Could you just pass me that rock? I appear to have dropped it in your direction". The monk, who was talking, broke down from laughter.
When the monk had finished laughing, he stretched out his hand, reaching for the rock he had thrown at Ash.
"Go get it yourself, I'm busy" The elven slave responded coldly, without turning to look at the monks.
"Quite a mouth you got, huh, elf"
"He sure has, brother. What is it the priests always tell us to do when they act up?".
The monks started laughing again.
"Would you stop it already?" A soothing, female voice demanded.
"But ma'am we were just disciplining the slave!".
"That's right! we're not to blame!".
The monks were trying to talk their way out of trouble. They seemed to be used to get what they wanted.
'Probably because of the fat priest giving them preferential treatment' Ash thought.
Ash turned around to look at the situation, since the owner of the female voice, that seemed to demand respect from the monks hadn't left the scene yet. It seemed she was determined to see to it, that Ash got out of the situation unscathed.
It was indeed a woman, and a beautiful one at that. Ash had never seen her before, but could tell that she was a nurse, because of the uniform she was wearing. The white uniform of a nurse from the church. She had two emblems, resembling small, white suns fastened to the uniform's chest.
The suns in the medical department were bestowed upon nurses who had made a special effort, and contributed to the research of healing magic. Usually one star meant the right to manage your own church, which was power equivalent to that of a count. Two meant power rivaling the king's advisers.
Ash looked at the monks, who were prostrating themselves in front of this, for them, idol.
"You two, disappear from my sight!" The nun said firmly, and so the two monks did. They fled.
Ash proceeded to prostrate himself, since that was the only thanks he thought he could show a high ranking figure, such as the person in front of him.
"Raise your head. Would you tell me your name?" The woman asked, which surprised Ash greatly.
The elf rose his head, and stated his name.
"Ash Tsuga, at your service". Ash felt like vomiting, since he was practically submitting to the people he hated the most, but this woman had an aura about her that made Ash trust her. That annoyed him greatly.
"Oh there is no need to be so formal. My name is Angela. I am currently volunteering at the infirmary. Please take care of me"
"Uh.. Sure..." Ash answered, suspicious of her friendly behavior.
"Can I call you Ash? I do not enjoy partaking in the discrimination of other races, since the benefits of a mutually respectful relationship would be much greater than this master-slave relationship we currently have"
He couldn't believe his own ears.
A high ranking person showing him respect? There had to be some kind of ulterior motive to her borderline friendly behavior towards him.
"Lady Angela, I see you have arrived safely. Welcome to Kanburough Church".
It was the fat priest.
"I see you have made yourself an acquaintance of Ash. He may not seem like it, but he is actually a murderer. I would advise against getting yourself involved with him".
The pig was trying to make Angela hate him. It wouldn't be the first time something like that happened. Ash was about to excuse himself, when Angela stopped him.
"A murderer you say? Hardly. If he was a murderer you wouldn't let him handle a knife to cut the roses, would you now?" Angela asked.
She's smart, Ash thought.
"W-we-well..." The pig was stuttering.
"My dearest Wilfred, do you have a guilty conscience? Could it be that a priest, such as yourself is lying to me?" Angela had entered full on inquisition mode.
"If you would excuse me, I have urgent business to take care of." The priest said, and fled.
This Angela person sure was resourceful. She might be worth getting close to in the long run, Ash thought to himself.
"Now Ash, I shall take no more of your time for today, but I would love it if you would tend to the herbs I have growing in my room. It seems you are quite adept at handling such tasks. We can discuss your wages for doing so under the apple tree tomorrow?" Angela was even willing to pay Ash for work.
Ash stood up, and bowed. This woman had earned his respect.
"Splendid. I shall see you there at 8:00 tomorrow".
The sun rose from behind the church building.