Something was going to happen.
Mikleo seemingly felt it too because he was at Sorey’s side, sharp eyes taking in everything around. Edna and Rose were wary too, ready to act.
Seeing this Draconis stepped back, wary.
They were almost on the plaza itself, near the long tables installed for the banquet when Malefore tried to create an accident…
Wild-eyed, he threw one table over, kicking it and making all the plates and cutlery fall and break noisily on the hard ground.
“This is bullshit! How can you let that demon stay here!? We have to vanquish it! Can’t you see it is evil!?”
He pointed to Sorey with a shacking finger, his eyes about bulging out of his head.
“What the… whoah!”
People screamed as the Shepherd-garbed man threw a knife at Sorey only to have thick icicles thrown at his feet even as the knife bounced off Sorey’s Aether Shield.
New minions, fully Human this time, came from the gaping crowd to fight against the guards whom rushed to stop the seemingly crazed man.
Draconis retreated toward the stand at that, pushed by his personal guards.
The clergyman, usually smarmy and arrogant, was howling and fighting the guards like a possessed man, biting and clawing at them.
It was chaos.
Sorey and many of the audience looked on, frozen in shock.
“Look at his eyes! He’s manipulated somehow!”
They followed Zaveid’s order and Mikleo could see… a dark veil in the man’s eyes.
Something that shone malevolently even if it felt non-corrupted.
“Whatever it is, it feels like a Seraphic arte! A powerful one!”
Sorey eyed his best friend with furrowed brows, “A Seraphic arte? It’s making Malefore hallucinate?”
“Or it’s projecting images somehow.”
Both a bright flash of light and a heavy cloud of sand made the three look up: Lailah and Edna’s alerts! They all took fighting stances…
Sorey’s Squires were helping the guards and knights trying to calm the crowd: some wanted to attack the false Shepherd, having witnessed him attack Sorey and some were becoming crazy too, attacking others with teeth and nails while screaming hysterically.
“What the hell is happening!? Mass hysteria?”
Rose grunted as she kicked at a woman trying to claw at her but answered Orion still.
“Don’t know but it looks like more and more people are becoming batshit crazy!”
“Damn! We can’t hurt them! But they’re stronger than they should be!”
Sergei joining them and sending crazies flying gave them some respite.
“General, Squire Rose! Are those people Hellions? I thought they couldn’t stay near Sorey!”
“They can’t! Those are normal people but crazy ones!”
“Damn! Squire Alisha is protecting Sire but all those people attacking us are going to hurt all of us or worse if we can’t retaliate!”
Lailah and Edna were helping the still sane people to escape the plaza but they could see those crazed ones swarm the protection detail and their bonded.
Thankfully, the guards and knights had orders to not kill but at the rate things were going, victims were becoming a probability rather than a possibility.
“Those people are under a Seraphic arte! A strong one!”
Edna created more walls to lead the frightened crowd out and to block the crazies from them and thanked the Elysians she had her full power at her disposition to do so.
“It looks like a mind or an illusion attack! Can we Seraphim really do that!?”
Using her bright flames to cow the wild crowd and to push the sane people to run out of Edna’s labyrinth, Lailah still answered.
“No…no but a shadow Seraph can! Those are very rare and affiliated with water elementals…!”
Edna’s eyes widened, “A Shadow elemental!? One with the lord of Calamity!?”
Both their eyes, bright with glowing pupils, met with horrified realization.
“A hellionized one or worse, a non-corrupted one and he’s attacking us, attacking Sorey!”
It made Edna snarl, “Shit! Lailah, you can use your fire to break the illusion, right? Its light should be strong against shadows!”
“I’ll try… I think… I’ll use the purifying flames but how to use them on all those people as soon as possible…?”
Edna panted as she had to make her walls stronger and taller to stop those people. They were hurting themselves on her constructions and it made her sick feeling her earth absorb their blood and tears.
“Lailah, do something fast! They’re suffering! Can’t you use your nifty wings or something?”
“That’s it! Thanks Edna!”
Summoning her grand firewings, she concentrated her purifying power into the flames and opening them to their largest breadth…
She sent a great wave of blue-tinted white flames at the semi-controlled crowd.
She screamed as the shadows resisted and counter-attacked but finally, finally managed to vanquish those from the Humans… who stopped their attack and fell down, unconscious.
Lailah almost followed them, black eating at her visions.
“Yes! You did it Lailah! Can you do it again?”
Because now they could see more victims were attacking the wall of knights and guards near the tables and their bonded still fighting amongst them.
“No… that shadow Seraph is very powerful… even as powerful as we are… but Sorey can!”
“Go tell him, fast. I’ll keep the walls up and around.”
“Very well. Good luck Edna!”
The earth Seraph could only grit her teeth as more Humans came onto her labyrinth.
“Please, be swift…”
Sorey, Mikleo and Boris were fighting the victims too and healing those hurt in the mayhem.
Near them, Alisha, her knights and some of Sergei and Miska’s men were both protecting the nobles and the emperor.
Sorey was beginning to tire having to reinforce the wind shield protecting them without Dezel helping… good thing Zaveid was redirecting most of the crowd toward Edna’s labyrinth and throwing the crazies around!
Sorey was using his purifying flames to break people from the illusion but it was slow going… until they all felt a great wave of fire Æther annihilate part of the dark seraphic energy and Lailah herself staggered to them almost immediately after.
“Sorey! Use your purifying power with the firewings! I stopped many this way!”
Abraxas, seeing her state, had followed her and took a protective stance at her back.
Mikleo, alternating between shooting people with jets of water and healing more with pure water, exclaimed at that, panting.
“You can do that!? Fire is weak to water!”
Sorey grunted as he purified another man.
“Yes but light is strong over shadow!”
Being a power granted by lady Fenia, he couldn’t use the firewings (and thus fire-travel) armatized…
Looking at Lailah, it’ll exhaust him but considering how many needed healing…
He had to do it!
“Boris! I can’t keep the wind shield up! Protect the nobles with Mikleo while I do the purification!”
“Of course! Good luck!”
Both retreated, leaving Sorey with Lailah whom was throwing flames to terrify the victims away from them, using smoke to disorient and to lead them to Edna’s trap.
Abraxas howled orders at his men just as he bashed crazed people away from them.
However, she was weakening and barely able to stand upright…
Sorey snarled at the whole situation: damn that shadow Seraph!
(And where was Dezel!? His presence would help!)
The blonde general shouted then, trying to be heard over the din.
“I’ll protect lady Lailah! Stop all this, Shepherd Sorey!”
Taking a deep breath, Sorey prepared himself.
Summoning and concentrating purifying flames was one thing but doing so with the flamewings was hard especially with how tired he was from the great blessing…
But he could do it!
His great gold and white flamewings unfolding from his back, Sorey ignored his allies’cries of shock and focused all his considerable power into sending a wave of purification though the whole of the plaza, attacking what dark Æther he could feel.
Wings opening as wide as they could and whole body glowing from his powers, Sorey brought them forward with great force… sending an enormous wave of his silvery white and blue fire everywhere.
A sharp pain from his back almost made his falter but he managed to keep hold of his power nonetheless.
Summoning Aether into his voice, as did Edna in Morgause, Sorey addressed the crowd; wings still posed grandly around his form.
“Do not let yourself be manipulated! All Malevolence has been repelled! You are now safe!”
The panicked crowd startled at the voice, most still wild from the adrenaline and fear provoked by both the mob and the unnatural fire…
However, the winged Shepherd was enough to have all of them froze at the vision he made and stare speechless.
It was in that sudden silence that Anton Miski and Elias Anagi acted and stabbed the Shepherd in the back.
Literally and repeatedly.
His great wings sputtering and extinguishing, Sorey fell to his knees with a gasp.
The hand he pressed to his side came back covered in bright blood.
Turning his head, he stared at the smug faces of the two “Primarchs” standing over him…
Only to have Mikleo howl in rage seeing his beloved on his knees, bleeding with the two bastards poised to pierce him again with their daggers.
Thankfully for the two Alisha and Boris took hold of him, helped by Zaveid, while Abraxas literally charged the two; sending them all in a pile farther away from Sorey, their weapons flying.
Rose and Orion had just arrived to see the church-goers attack the Shepherd and to watch Mikleo lose it. Orion went to help his fellow general to subdue the aggressors.
Rose rushed to his side just as he was wavering and managed to take hold of him as he fell down fully.
He was still conscious but his pallor and the widening pool of blood soaking into their clothes were making the assassin panic.
“Mikleo! We have to help Sorey!! He’s losing too much blood!”
Having seen the despicable attack from above, Edna rushed to them, her tiredness forgotten.
Unheeding Rose’s panic, she fell harshly on her knees and summoning her Faerie Ring, she tried to heal her Shepherd.
Rose was trying to armatize but her tiredness and the loss of Sorey’s Aether to do so made it impossible.
Snarling, Mikleo broke out of the two Squire’s hands and ran to his beloved’s side and helped Edna by pouring pure water over the back of his clothes.
There was so much blood they couldn’t tell from where it was coming from… both Boris and Alisha looked on, horrified.
But while they were witnesses and trying to help, Zaveid alongside Miska (who could see him) were now trying to regain some order with the help of the remaining guards and knights: the conscious people had seen the clergyman and healer stab the angelic-looking Shepherd; the man who had saved Pendrago from the worst and those “men of faith” may have killed him in reward!?
They too wanted blood!
“Please calm down! It won’t help Shepherd Sorey if you attack the Church!”
But the people still stymied up by the panic and adrenaline didn’t care.
“They hurt him, our savior!”
“He’s an angel! His wings and fire saved us and these bastards stabbed him!”
“He’s bleeding out! So much blood!!”
“They have to pay!”
Miska cursed under his breath. Wincing, Zaveid reconfigured his shield to enclose the stand and the bloody drama happening near it.
“I made the shield to protect those fuckers but it means the boundaries aren’t protected anymore; hellions won’t appear or be created thanks to Sorey’s Domain, but all those hurt people can be hurt even more by a bloodthirsty mob…
No need for malevolence if people got trampled…
Back with Sorey, the pure water had done something as he was bleeding less but the wounds in his back were still open and seeping blood sluggishly.
Edna and Mikleo snarled.
“Those bastards must have used poisoned daggers! Our Aether is helping but we’re exhausted and his resistance to magic is so high…”
“I’m going to kill them. Nobody hurt Sorey.”
Mikleo’s voice was definite, cold as eternal ice.
Good. Edna will help, too.
“Resistance to magic, magic…”
Rose tore at her dress, at the hidden pouch inside and took out a melon gel. She had always a handful of those, ready for anything with her ‘occupation’.
Bursting it between her fingers, she spread the thick medication over the still bleeding wound.
Much to their relief, it finally helped and closed the wounds, superficially at least.
Those weren’t healed, a water armatization would be needed for that, but Sorey was now somewhat safe.
If the bloodloss and probable infection didn’t worsen things, though.
“Edna… keep Gaia… keep her contained…”
Before any of them could answer Sorey’s weak words, his eyes closed and he went limp in Mikleo’s and Edna’s arms, finally unconscious.
“What? Gaia- aAhh!”
As soon as Sorey went limp, Gaia’s Wrath tried to fight and attack those that hurt her Chosen and trying to contain its sudden rage made Edna, exhausted already, jackknife as the power needed to do so pretty much emptied her remaining reserves.
Seeing the Earth Seraph near convulse on the ground and all the diverse flower decorations, trees and other greeneries began to move and twitch, Rose cursed.
How Sorey had contained it in this chaos!?
“Alisha! Boris! We’ve got to take them out of there! Gaia’s power, it’s becoming wild with Sorey hurt so much!”
Hearing this, the two Squires rushed to join her: with Orion and Abraxas pinning the two aggressors down and the protection detail now closing off all the nobles in, Zaveid could join them too leaving Mishka to take full control with his men.
“I’ll take Lailah and Edna! We have to go, now!”
Boris took Sorey in his arms, Mikleo pouring more pure water to try to close the reopening wounds, while Rose and Alisha tried to make way amongst the frenzied crowd.
Malefore, whom had assisted at the whole debacle with the guards protecting him, as Sorey had purified him as soon as they understood the problem, then stood in front of them.
He looked… horrified.
To cow people, even bully them was one thing but to stab someone in the back while the person was protecting others!?
In front of everyone to boot!? It was pure folly.
And… and seeing the demon pale and bloody, breathing shallowly… see the large pool of disturbed red, too red blood…
His skin was still aglow, his hair clean of blood still, impossibly, but he looked… mortal.
He didn’t look like the beast Pope Sylvis described.
(And those wings! They couldn’t be from a demon!)
It was the panicked expression on the face of his minions, (his friends?) that made him move and stand out of their way
He also could hear the crowd howling: it was hair-rising…
“I see the Shepherd! He’s unconscious!”
“Boris is holding him! Blood is dripping from him!”
“Let him pass! Here! We know of a healer! She’ll help!”
People were trying to herd them away but Draconis had managed to send a man to the palace’s healing room and several nurses, most of the healers and guards came to help with the stretchers. He addressed the crowd.
“People of Pendrago, let the healers help those of you hurt… any more violence will be answered with imprisonment, am I clear? We know need to regroup and to heal…”
A journalist, still holding his leaflets with a white-knuckled grip asked something then, with obvious aggression while watching Sorey leaving on a litter.
“Those bastards that stabbed the Shepherd in the back, what of them!? I’ve heard that Anagi attacked him once already, tried to hurt him in the ward you’re surely bringing our savior in, but that his noble blood let him go unpunished! I hope it won’t happen again!”
The crowd became even more furious at that, the guards and knights, all tired from the long fight and from the loss of adrenaline, hard-pressed to stop them surging toward the stand filled with some cowering clergymen and nobles.
Before Draconis could respond, the nobles whom helped during the mobbing rallied to him, defending their emperor.
The Stynes, Dynes, Black, Marlot and other nobles but also Bishop Lucia, Archbishop Nathael and most of the neutral church-men had been helping to secure the downed civilians and used gels and even potions to heal them.
(Blocked the others from making things worse, too.)
“Chief healer Anagi hadn’t been imprisoned, true, but both the nobility and the Church had been made aware of his acts.
That he used his rank to stay free is terrible but well… that’s not surprising.”
Lucia continued Isabella Black’s explanation, “Pope Sylvis absolved his attack and used his rank in the Church, and his legates, to leave Anagi free. Let’s hope people will now have their eyes opened and that things will change for the better.”
The same journalist huffed, annoyed but calmer. Corruption, of course…
“And where is the pope? I would think that a blessing would be reason enough to have him quit wherever he is to see to it!”
One of Sylvis “Primarch”, whom had cowered till now in the stand became angered at this.
He looked wild around the eyes, “How do you dare! Our holy Sylvis couldn’t come assist because of that demon! He told us his mere presence burnt his holy flesh like acid! That savior of yours is nothing but a blight to our world! He must be the one that made you all crazy! How can you defend such a creature!?”
Alisha, who had stayed alongside Boris to help protect the emperor and “good” clergymen against those attacks snorted, loudly.
Boris looked furious, glaring darkly at the man whom gulped visibly.
“Sorey is the Shepherd! As his new Squire, I’m blessed to be able to use some of his power and it’s pure and holy! With Cardinal Forton once corrupted; we have proof that your Church contains Hellions! Your pope must be one if Sorey’s Domain ‘burns his flesh like acid’.”
Alisha nodded, coldly furious too. Her voice was sharp, assured.
“The absence of your pope is all but confirmation.”
Before any clergymen could complain any further, Draconis raised his voice, steel blue eyes sharp and hard as ice.
“Whatever is true will be found later on. Your men attacked an ally of Pendrago; an ally that protected us freely. This will not be pardoned.”
His glinting eyes promised violence.
If the emperor didn’t hang them, the Scatterbones will use their daggers to purify the Church their way, Alisha was sure of this.
And Mikleo… Mikleo will hunt them, wanting to avenge Sorey…
She’ll not stop him doing so… even if it wasn’t a solution in itself.
Helped by some people and by the healers, the Shepherd and the wounded were soon rushed to the medial ward of the palace.
Sorey’s wounds had reopened and were bleeding freely once more.
“Damn! He’s still bleeding heavily! Come on people, let’s clean and sanitize the wounds and close them with stitches!”
The head nurses prepared everything swiftly and soon, they were working just to do that: the four stab wounds were deep, the one in the shoulder having nicked the artery, which was the worst and causing the hemorrhage, but the three others were either stopped by the armored plates on his clothing or caught by his ribs…
Those were fractured but fortunately not moving thus relatively minor injuries… binding them will be agony but nothing could be done about it.
Rose and the Seraphim were in the back, away from the swirl of activity focused on the Shepherd. The Squires had told them about their thought of the weapons used on Sorey being poisoned…
“Damnit! The coagulant is useless! That poison must be a blood-thinner… let’s close the wounds now! We’ll reopen them later on if needed but we have to stop the bloodloss!”
Zaveid was with Sorey, oxygenating him: aware of the terrible consequence loss of blood could have on its victims.
After long minutes of tense activity, the healers retreated from Sorey.
The main healer, Sasha Alsin, came to the anxious retinue.
That her white garb was covered in blood made them more unnerved than ever. She smiled at Rose, trying to reassure her.
“Your swift action certainly saved your friend: he has lost a lot of blood but he’s young and strong. Lot of rest and nutrient-rich food will help.”
She looked back at Sorey, “He will have to drink some potions for the poisoning but we’ll let him sleep for the moment. His injuries are serious but he’s fortunate that his clothes stopped some of the stabs… even if such decorative metal shouldn’t have helped much… whatever.” She shrugged.
“Go sleep, I can see that you’re exhausted. Rose is it? General Orion posted guards at the entries: only known people will be able to enter.”
“Oh, if you’re sure… call me if something happens?”
Rose threw a glance at the Seraphim and a look at her pale Shepherd but did exit the room.
She was exhausted.
Zaveid, still making sure that his Shepherd was as good as possible, stared at the various healers with a curious look.
“Why that Anagi bastard was chief if they had these awesome healers from the start?
I mean, they took care of our Sorey very fast!”
Lailah and Edna, laid on beds of their own in a corner, merely hummed noncommittally while Mikleo shrugged, sitting down at Sorey’s side.
“That bastard would never have accepted such an innovative way to use medicine: it’s the first time I watched sinew used like this!”
Zaveid hummed, “And being a woman, Alsin would never have been able to be listened to, so… good things she was here… that poison would have had our Dragon-whisperer bleed out without her new technique otherwise…”
They retreated as the nurses cut off Sorey’s remaining clothes and bandaged the weeping wounds and broken ribs tightly. Mikleo felt his nails bit into his skin as the resulting pain made his beloved groan in pain even in his unconsciousness.
Sorey could have died!
“Zaveid, watch over him and the girls… I’ve got to do something.”
The long-haired Seraph nodded, slowly.
“Fine… but be careful. Vengeance is a great door for corruption. Sorey would be inconsolable should you become hellionized…”
The water Seraph nodded, grim. “I know but I can’t let these bastards do as they wish… I’ll be careful.”
Zaveid sighed. He recognized the look in Mikleo’s eyes: nothing would stop him.
Looking at his Shepherd, the exhausted Seraphim and at the unconscious people being treated for broken bones, scrapes and some self-inflicted wounds, he couldn’t but feel anxious about that Seraph, that Dark elemental at that, which served the lord of Calamity…
How could that person still be whole, uncorrupted and create such disasters?
It was unthinkable.
Tired and vigilant but unwary, Zaveid was unaware that an illusion got cast on him: when the next nurse came to look at his Shepherd’s bandages, he let her do so without a second glance, lost in contemplations.
Symonne cast a wary eye on the powerful wind Seraph but, sure of her illusionary power, ignored him as best as she could.
Knowing everyone but the two of them was asleep, she could now determine if her hypothesis was founded.
Staring at the Shepherd, she drank into his lovely face, his shining hair, the curves of his body… and placed her hands on his lower abdomen, over the thin gown he now wore.
Concentrating her Æther into her hands and eyes, she was awed to see the tremendous power coursing into his body.
… And she had to bite her tongue not to gasp loudly as she felt and even saw the bright sparks of life inside that ocean of Aether. Curling her hands on that belly, she tried to feel the shape of the womb beneath but the position and the tight bindings made the shape almost hidden.
The Shepherd’s belly was firm and curved softly outward.
With what she could see of the many lives inside and that physical proof were all she needed to be sure of her findings.
Shepherd Sorey is an Elohim!
Unnerved and disbelieving, she made sure her presence would be untraceable and fled the palace. She needed time to digest the news and to make changes to her plans.
She needed to punish some people too: neither her master nor herself had ordered full on attacks on the Shepherd; Heldalf was interested and curious about the boy…
This made the both of them happier that they had been in years!
And some moronic Hellions manipulated even stupider Humans to kill the boy?!
During her operation to create more Malevolence too…
But how did Sorey react! It was grandiose to see his female Seraphim use their full power, to see him and his Prime lord use those wonderful firewings of theirs!
Those bastards had to ruin all the fun!
She’ll make them pay.
Nobody hurt Elohim!
(And if she used that delightful little plot of hers afterward, it’ll only make her feel better!)
When Mikleo got to the imperial jail, he had calmed down somewhat.
Zaveid was right: Sorey would be inconsolable should he begin to hellionize…
And the mere possibility made his skin crawl.
No, as a water Seraph, he knew things about all kind of poisons… and with all the plants growing wherever Sorey went, he had everything needed to concoct something that would make Anagi’s prison life hell.
Oh it won’t kill him… but that bastard will end wishing it did.
Being invisible for most people would be an advantage: he soon was near the geol, in the little kitchen for the prisoners’ food.
Mikleo was gleeful to hear the cooks spew poison about Anagi.
“He finally fucked up! Attacking the Shepherd too! Can you believe that guy!?”
A female cook nodded at the male, agreeing.
“The boy is in the healing ward still… they had to post guards at the jail’s entrance to stop people coming to either insult or try to strangle that man. They should let them: it would make that public hanging null but… that ‘healer’ is nothing but a quack and even as a noble he’s useless!”
« Public hanging », huh? Well Sorey is an ally of Pendrago… and of the emperor.
With the two cooks otherwise occupied, it was easy for the Seraph to pour his potion into the food the cooks told was Anagi’s.
That done, he went to watch the prisoner himself.
The healer was red-faced, furiously spewing insults toward the deadpan guards assuring his security. Mikleo felt sorry for them.
“Let me go! Pope Sylvis will have you tried for heresy for having jailed one of his best men! I’m also a noble, a royal healer! You can’t leave me in that filthy room!”
That man really was shameless! Snarling, Mikleo couldn’t resist sending a wave of cold inside the cell, making the bastard yelp.
With his poison and the hanging… his vengeance was somewhat done already… even if it was still too small for what he did to his beloved, to his child!
They could have all died on that plaza because of him and that priest…
It made him feel murderous.
Sending more cold inside, Mikleo turned on his heel and left the jail: Sorey and their child was more important than that bastard.
And that little concoction, helped by Edna whom gave him the idea, would make Anagi suffer. Suffer till he got hanged anyway.
Dirtying his hands with that filthy Human would be useless…
Human justice will do it for him.
Knowing their peculiar situation, Boris asked Alisha to go back to Sorey some hours after the whole catastrophe.
“Alisha, you should go to Sorey’s side, he and Rose need your presence more than mine’s… I’ll help Sire with the cleaning.”
Shaken and exhausted, Alisha nodded to him.
She knew he’ll be able to help better than she did: he was a Rolanese noble and the ex-guard captain. Becoming a Squire didn’t stop people listening to him, increased his authority even.
“Of course Boris but… even if you’re our newest member, it doesn’t mean you’re not important to us! Sorey will love seeing you present when he’ll wake!”
Boris smiled in thanks.
“I know… I’ll try to be there when he’ll do so. With your help and that of your knights, our men have already cleaned most of the rubble… the rest should be done shortly.”
Humming, Alisha acquiesced and left with smiles and waves to her men and to those of Pendrago. It was great to see them all work together.
Orion and Abraxas were taking care of the protection and help given to the population: there had been many injuries but other than Sorey’s; most were broken bones or concussions…
There were those with cranial fractures or broken ribs (and even punctured lungs) who were in great danger… but with the mayhem and the number of people , it was a miracle that nobody had died… yet a least.
Sighing wearily, she trudged her way toward the palace, and to her bed.
All the guards greeted her as she passes and it made her feel proud: nobody in Hyland could say the same!
In their common room, she found Rose on one sofa, a lost look on her face.
Tiredness forgotten for the moment, the princess went to the merchant’s side, sitting with her.
“Hey Rose… are you alright?”
The redhead smiled in answer, it was bleak but there.
“Yeah… but with Sorey unconscious and Dezel gone, I can’t sleep even with how tired I am…” she sighed, “We knew that those followers of Sylvis were dangerous, fanatics as they are, but to attack the Shepherd in front of everybody? That’s crazy…”
Alisha grimaced, “Apparently Sylvis couldn’t come because Sorey’s ‘evil aura’ “burnt him like acid”. A Hellion brainwashing those avid of power and fearful of Sorey’s might would be perfect for creating malevolence…”
“Damn, that damned Sylvis is a Hellion too!?” it made Rose slump down.
Alisha nodded, “Yes but he’s afraid of Sorey if he renounced to come to the presentation even with it being obligatory for the pope… being for a blessing. There is that at least.”
“Yeah but if he send more crazies after Sorey, then what? That bastard of a healer and that little priest weren’t corrupted! Justice and the Scatterbones can help but if people attack us, we can’t really counterattack! ”
Alisha smiled tightly at that, “Attacking the savior who purified and blessed them made people very… cross. Furious. Most want blood for the attack. I think another attempt won’t happen again, not with them all ready to tear the Order’s members apart.”
Rose sighed again, cuddling to the princess’s side.
“Well, we don’t need to stay in Pendrago anyway… we’ve got two Trials to do, Hyland to help… but Sylvis is too dangerous like he is now, with his Order and Primarchs…”
Alisha sighed too, “As a Hellion, we have to purify him… it’s going to be rather complicated but with the emperor,’ support, it’ll be official at least.”
“Good! Now we only need to wait for our Shepherd to wake… I can’t believe we fought Hellions, Guardians, even a godamned dragon and it was a fat guy and a scrawny priest whom managed to hurt our Shepherd the worst!”
Alisha huffed, “Humans can be more terrible than the worst Hellions. We’re very good at killing each-others… as lover of History, I know of this fact unfortunately well…”
“We do need the Scatterbones so… but well…”
She then curled her arms around herself.
“…Those bastards used poisoned daggers too… if I hadn’t used that gel to Sorey’s back, he could have bled out on the plaza… and what about his ‘Lights’? Do you think they’ll be alright? The healers didn’t say anything so his situation is still hidden but…”
Alisha bit her lips but shook her head, curling her own arms around herself.
“We’ll have to wait for Sorey to tell us himself… but he’s Elohim: I hope his body is made to protect those lives… a pregnant woman would be endangered but… he was alright?”
Rose hummed, “Yes. They used that weird material to sew him up like a doll, bound his ribs and all… he was pale but merely unconscious. Zaveid, Lailah and Edna are with him…
For Mikleo, I don’t know. He looked murderous…”
“Mikleo…his beloved friend got hurt, badly… but I hope he’ll be aware of the consequences…and that Sorey and his child need him sane and uncorrupted…”
Cuddled together, both fell asleep… Zaveid joining them when the two female Seraphim woke up. With Dezel missing, he felt the need to protect both bearers of wind Seraphim fledglings…
They could protect themselves, of course but… seeing the Dragon-whisperer so pale and motionless… it was frightening.
What if another of these fanatics attacked? Humans were fragile, even empowered ones…
If he could protect them, he’ll do so.
When Sorey had succumbed to his pain and felt into a comatose sleep, oblivion hadn’t taken him: he was somewhat aware of the real world, of his friends around him… but he was mostly focused on his Lights.
In his almost meditative state, his Aether was concentrating its great potency into auto-healing and it made Sorey hype-aware of his Lights, which his body made it upmost to heal and protect.
To his awe he had seven of them in him! Three of the “usual” elements, two from the Trials and two from his own elemental affinity, Lightning… and with two Trials remaining, it meant certainly two more of them added still…
Had he been aware, he would feel faint at the idea.
Could he even bear nine children all at once!? Elohim were made for it and fledglings had to be smaller than Human babes for them to be born by multiple but still!
Elohim pregnancies were long to compensate and his body had evolved to help but…
Fortunately, the attack hadn’t touched them, the weakness from the bloodloss not impacting them as they fed from his Aether and ambient malevolence… but as they also got fed by his body via their naturally created placentas, Sorey will make sure to eat well for a while to still feed them as best as possible.
He hoped he’ll remember all this when he’ll wake.
That may make them bigger than they would but he only cared for their health.
Mikleo will soon find a way to use his Cloak, he was sure of it anyway!
Still, he couldn’t believe it was people that attacked him: not Hellions, not even assassins or soldiers but a priest and a healer…
In a way, it was way worse: they could do nothing about citizen attacking them… he hoped his Squires were safe, that Pope Sylvis hadn’t brainwashed his men to hate them too…
They would have to be prudent: Humans were infamous for their internal wars but as Shepherd, he had been hoping his help would be enough to get them unafraid and thus non-aggressive…
He had been naïve… You could never please everyone.
But now he’ll be more wary, smarter.
Anagi had attacked him but he had been overconfident, sure that the dumpy man wouldn’t be able to hurt him… same for any men in that ‘Order’ of Sylvis’.
In answer the guy had stabbed him in the back. Repeatedly.
To protect his Lights, he’ll be sure not to do the same mistake twice: Humans had the potential to be dangerous, even the weakest looking ones.
Sometimes he really hated not being Seraph like he believed when he was a child: it would be so easier…
But he had a duty, and he wanted to help Glenwood…
And only a Shepherd, and thus a Human, could do it.
When Rose and Alisha awoke, it was from a knock on their door.
Zaveid, guarding them till now, watched the happenings with sharp eyes; wind blades, weak and pitiful but strong enough to rend Human flesh apart, ready.
The two female Squires looked at each other at that, both wary too.
Rose opened the door slowly; reassured to see it was one of the guards that had been protecting them on the plaza.
“Greeting Squire Rose. Is Squire Alisha there too?”
Humming, Alisha stood up and went to stand at the merchant’s side.
“I am here. Did you need us? Is Sorey alright?”
Had someone attacked him again!?
Seeing their panicked miens, the poor guard hastened to reassure them.
“No! I mean, something happened and the emperor asked for your presence but Shepherd Sorey is fine! The last report said no-one non-authorized had tried to enter the medical wing.”
Zaveid, Rose and Alisha breathed a sigh of relief at that.
“Right, so… something happened or it’s merely a military debrief thing? Yesterday was such a clusterfuck, I’m sure info must be half-hazard at most!”
The guard, named Roland, nodded. “Both. I’m not sure but something important happened this morrow and a debrief is needed anyway.”
Alisha acknowledged him, “When does the emperor want to meet us?”
“At 10am. The generals and his majesty will await you in the conference room in the imperial wing.”
Zaveid smiled, albeit tightly, “Good, it gives you time to prepare, eat and visit the Dragon-whisperer!”
Rose gave the wing Seraph a subtle nod. Alisha agreed for all of them.
“Very well, we’ll be there.”
Now wide-awake, the two Humans refreshed themselves, changed from their wrinkled clothes and descended the stairs to the dining room in use for informal meal.
However even the warm room and agreeable cooks couldn’t ease their tension and stress, making their throat tight and hunger near non-existent.
Zaveid tried to tempt them nonetheless.
“Come on lovely maidens! You need to eat something too!”
He subtly ate some of the food on the table, trying to have the two join him.
“Sorey wouldn’t want to see you all pale and unfed when he’ll wake! Lailah will make you eat some disgustingly healthy things too if she finds you hungry! You don’t wanna risk some of her tofu monstrosity, do you?”
It made both Squires laugh softly and wince at the same time.
“Yeah you’re right… food is better with our tea anyway.”
“Lailah’s predilection for healthy food is quite… unappealing, I must say…”
Zaveid laughed loudly at the understatement.
“Last time I feared our poor Shepherd would throw up all over her pointy shoes! Mikster had to eat both their servings and then he looked ready to upchuck too!”
They all grimaced at the somewhat amusing memory.
“Well, let’s go see him: we ate something with that awful tea!”
Sorey was still unconscious but the head healer told them he was now sleeping naturally.
“ It’s a good thing: we made him drink some potions for the poison thus when he’ll wake he’ll be as good as possible…”
Alsin hesitated for a moment but gestured for them to follow her away, toward a small room adjacent to the healing room. Seeing that Lailah, Edna and Mikleo were there with Sorey, they followed her with Lailah joining them at a glance.
She greeted the two Squires warmly.
Zaveid smiled at her, “Hey feeling better, my lovely firecracker?”
She looked still tired but her blue eyes were bright, “Raring to go! You?”
“Same! Everything is alright?”
“Mmh yes but… Sasha, the healer, is someone experimented… she certainly saw something unusual with Sorey…”
And indeed Sasha Alsin was worried but also interested.
“I’m Shepherd Sorey’s main healer and as such, I was his main caretaker during the suturing and then the aftercare… and I couldn’t but find some unusual facts about your friend…”
At that Zaveid put up a wind shield, one made to muffle all noise coming from outside but also making people listening on unable to hear anything but gibberish. They had all been prepared in case someone found Sorey’s secret but it shouldn’t be so soon and without the Elohim there to help…
Nonetheless, Lailah was ready.
Rose and Alisha now seated at the desk in front of the healer, merely nodded at her.
Rose played innocent, “«Unusual facts»? what do you mean? The thing about his hair?”
Alsin nodded slowly, “One of those is about it, indeed… one of my zealous healer tried to hack one lock of it… for herself apparently, and even our best scalpel couldn’t even cut an hair off it… she’s been sacked for her act; of course, but it’s not what is alarming.
Examining Shepherd Sorey, we found his lower abdomen to be hard and swollen and fearing internal bleeding, we tried to intervene… an invisible barrier stopped us from opening the area to rid it of possible blood thus we can’t be certain but as his blood pressure and heart-rate are stable, it should be reabsorbed if it’s the case.
Both Rose and Alisha felt themselves whiten at the idea that should the Aether Shield had been ineffective, they would have opened Sorey’s belly and certainly killed all off his Lights trying to help him…. It was utterly horrifying.
By Lailah’s leaden silence and Zaveid heartfelt curses, they both were painfully aware of this fact.
Unaware of what horror she almost did, Alsin continued.
“Still, with Shepherd Sorey’s unusual bodyshape and known powers, we didn’t left out any possibilities and… well, there is obviously something growing inside his lower abdominal cavity… with the shape of his pelvis and the position of the bulge… it appears that your friend is… well, pregnant.”
Alsin looked awkward saying this but sure of herself nonetheless.
And there, all their fears were confirmed: Sorey’s secret was out.
They could deny it but the evidence was there, easy to be seen by professional healers.
Rose sighed deeply, weary while Alisha answered.
“Other than yourself, who came to this conclusion?”
Alsin’s eyes widened and she stuttered an answer.
“I was the only one that really examined Shepherd Sorey… and I didn’t tell anyone about my conclusion… is… is your friend really pregnant? I have all the clues and the facts concords but…”
Lailah, with her full power unlocking her abilities, acted then: her runes wouldn’t be seen by non-resonant people but her magic will act even so.
Seeing the runes, Rose and Alisha guided the oblivious woman into the vow.
“Before we say anything… do you promise not to say anything about our friend’s circumstances, even to your men?”
Sasha’s mouth opened at that but she nodded.
“I’m under the Hippocratic vow and patient-information is only given to family, or as with special cases, friends… but if my conclusion is right, I won’t tell others.”
Rose would love to believe her but a case of male pregnancy would be too interesting for a scientist like her to remain mute.
Alisha smiled at Alsin, “Can you promise us, that you’ll stay silent?”
And Lailah’s magic took then as she made the vow.
“I Sasha Alsin promise not to reveal anything Squire Rose and Squire Alisha will impart to me. So motes it be.”
Lailah sighed as the magic acted and used her Aether to do so.
It looked so easy when Sorey did it! She sat on one of the chair, tired.
But now the healer looked spooked, “What… what just happened?!”
Rose blithely ignored her indignation while Alisha looked after Lailah.
“You see, Sorey is pregnant: being Shepherd, for him at least, makes it one of his duties… so we can’t let people know of it and let them shout it from the rooftops!”
Most wouldn’t believe it but I’d still incite more interest than they wanted.
Zaveid grimaced at the idea.
That little juicy information had the healer forget her annoyance and fright from the vow, her stare sharp and focused on Rose.
“How is that even possible? Does he have all the organs? The right humors, the ability to give birth? It’s incredible!”
Alisha smiled again at her, more genuinely this time, amused by the healer’s sudden excitement. Lailah tittered softly.
“We can’t be sure, as nobody examined Sorey knowing his predicament, but he assured us everything felt good and he’s got some instinctive knowledge so we’re relieved on this point.”
Alsin shook her head, back to being professional.
“But can he birth his child? Does he have the… apparel for it? Some women need to be cut open for the birth, in caesarian, but it’s very dangerous. Even more with a boy being the one pregnant!”
Both Squires looked nervous now thus the Seraphim intervened.
“Sorey being Elohim, he has everything to make sure his ‘Lights’ will be born healthy… I can’t be sure but he should have everything needed for giving birth…”
Lailah sounded perky.
It made Zaveid snort: he could see how red she was. Himself won’t be able to look at Sorey next without thinking about his «apparel», damn that woman!
“Can’t say but he should have all the plumbing…”
“When he’s awake, you’ll have to examine him then! We went to a midwife but whatever she told us isn’t fully relevant toward our Shepherd…”
Alsin nodded at the princess, new suspicions on her mind.
“A midwife? Are you pregnant too then? Both of you?”
Rose nodded. With the vow, they could confirm that too.
“Yep, but not in the natural way! Alike with Sorey, our bonds with the Seraphim through him is what knocked us up! He’s not the father.”
People would have a field day if it became rumored that Sorey is the daddy… and Mikleo would poison all their water. She shuddered.
She had heard him talk to Edna after all.
Alsin nodded, “Ah, I see… then I’ll examine him thoroughly when he’ll wake. I’m not a midwife but I did study under one… I should be able to give you some information.”
After that they said goodbye and, with a word to Edna and Mikleo, the foursome went to meet the generals and the emperor.
“It’s kinda a bother that a healer found the truth but to have one on the known and under a vow is kinda good too.”
Zaveid hummed, “Especially that woman: she’s sharp and willing to think out of the box: many wouldn’t even have thought to consider pregnancy for a boy, Shepherd or not.”
Lailah agreed with both Rose and Zaveid’s observations.
“But to think she almost opened him up… it makes me shudder. Good thing Sorey’s got the Aether Shield always protecting him …”
Alisha grimaced, “Good thing indeed…”
They still looked grim when they entered the conference room which had the three Rolanese inside already, seated at the wide table.
Alisha curtsied to them while Rose bowed respectively.
Lailah and Zaveid broke the heavy atmosphere by wiggling her fingers and grinning which had the two resonant Humans smile in return.
“Hi! I hope we didn’t make you wait!”
Orion shook his head as Abraxas answered her, “Not at all. We were already there… something happened and we need to have your opinion on it.”
Something dire then.
They all took place and Draconis looked at the two Squires with serious eyes.
“We have been informed that Pope Sylvis got assassinated last night.”