The Black Door at the Cathedral of the Altar had a deep history and stood a miracle for those of the faith as both the pinnacle of craftsmanship of divine man, and a symbol of the strength and endurance as taught by the Seven Edict Scrolls of the Ministry.
The Black Door is made of thick blackened ghost wood banded together by thick iron bands set in stone that is beaten and worn but as strong as the day it was constructed; it was heavily stylized with a shield and gauntlet motif. Church history states the Black Door stood as the inner sanctuary entrance for clerics and priests for several churches in Zhentil Keep’s early history before being brought here in the great Cathedral of the Altar.
The High Precept regarded himself in a grand silver mirror, it too was in the shape of a shield, as his studious acolyte straightened the lines and folds of the Precept’s robes and blessed chasuble. The High Precept was a stark man with intense eyes, a sublime disposition, and few words. He was old but his skin lacked the lines of many men half his age, he too also had raven black hair; a prized human trait.
Beyond the Black Door waited scores of supplicants who had come seeking indulgences from the Ministry, the High Precept could hear them, smell their filth and turned hastily to a wine glass to wash cleanse his palate catching the acolyte off guard. And when the glass was emptied, the acolyte dutifully refilled the goblet.
A man offering half his betrothed’s dowry to the Ministry to sanction his marriage to his sixth concurrent wife; a woman seeking an indulgence for her sins with a song; even clergymen under the Ministry’s pantheon wishing to better their rank by appealing to the higher gods of the Cathedral’s Altar Bishops. They would wait; today the High Precept expected…
A figure knocked curtly on the Black Door and entered the Precept's sanctuary casting a grim shadow on the acolyte from the high shield shaped stained glass window set in the stone wall, it was the Ministry's Arsenal Chaplin. The acolyte, after seeing the new guest, knew his place was to leave.
The Chaplin was tall with black hair and a back goatee; he walked with the diligence of a soldier and had the commanding voice of a battled tested orator. While waiting for the acolyte to leave, the newcomer helped himself to a goblet of wine and drank deeply, red lines of wine spilled down his chin. A cloud outside dimmed what meager sunlight there was.
“I have narrowed it down to three.” The Chaplin said after wiping his neck and catching his breath after a long quaff.
The Precept remained silent in his thoughts but he was alert to this news and how it fit with the larger plans for holy conquest.
Handing the High Precept a scroll, the Chaplin continued, “These three merchants should offer the Ministry a fair assessment of our assets from the Inquisition and the Librarians at the Citadel of the Raven will add their expertise as well.”
“You know I do not like dealing with the Librarians.” The High Precept said with a dry cracked voice.
“They are necessary, as you well know. Their work in occultism was a boon for the Zhentarim and by extension the Ministry.”
The High Precept seemed to concede the point, “What about the remaining churches? They understand their new position in the Ministry and the hierarchy set forth by the Tenants?”
“Unknown at this time.” The tall Chaplin replied. “But I expect Inquisitors Ginali and Darkhoon have done their job in those cities and will deliver their assets to the Citadel by the appointed date.”
“Have you heard any news of the Black Cloak?” the High Precept asked changing the subject to something more personal.
The Chaplin’s face changed, “None since when Hillsfar fell, when he drove out the elves- none since the godsfall,” The tall man knew of course whom the High Precept was speaking.
“What's strange is, there are reports indicating signs of his handiwork,” the Chaplin paused for a drink before continuing. “troop deployments in Dagger Dale, agents in Cormanthor, and of course we have the soul gem from Hillfar- but no confirmed sightings or contacts.”
The High Precept looked from the Chaplin, framed by the Black Door, to the stained glass window high above, “Could be that there is a clone we are not aware of?”