It was too much to believe, and yet…how could I deny what I had beheld? There had been a man, blackened and green with a curse, soothed by the sweet melody from an ocarina, only to draw out all of the evil, creating a hideous mask in its place. For a moment, all I could do was stare, gazing emptily at the knight as he placed the previous victim on a couch. Once I caught sight of both men’s wounds, however, I quickly shook myself, dashing back to my room to get healing supplies. I passed the previously wounded woman on my way there, but I only paused a moment to look at her, relieved to see that she was well.
As I gathered my things from my room, I could not help but wonder after Padme. She had not yet returned, and I could only guess at where she could have wandered off to. It was possible that she had caught scent of Adrien and attempted to follow, though I doubted she could trace the scent far in the heavy rain, even if she had managed to get outside. It was still coming down in sheets out there, filling the inn with a dull drumming sound and touching the empty walls with cold. As the chill creeped into my skin, I took a second thought for the cursed man and grabbed a blanket which lay folded on my bed.
I made it back into the lobby just in time to see the brown haired woman storm out. To my relief, she paid little heed to me, so I hurried back to the two men, already pulling out the wort and gauze from my bag. I quietly knelt next to the couch, carefully observing the wound on the cursed man’s upper arm. The blood there was no longer green and oozing, but had scabbed over with a healthy dark red. Just to prevent infection, I rubbed the wort over the scab, wrapping the cut over with the soft white gauze. To ensure that he would remain warm, I covered him with the blanket from my room, hoping the thick woolen fabric would be enough to do so. Once the work was done, I took a deep breath, allowing myself a relieved smile.
With a gentle touch, I reached over to feel the unconscious man’s forehead, just to make sure there was no fever. I also checked the pulse on his neck, which was weak, but steady. He was breathing normally, too, like one in deep sleep.
As I gazed at the man in his grey armor, a heavy guilt began to weigh down in my chest. I could not help but think that this could have been prevented had I not wandered off, dragging off this man’s only protection. Had I simply been reasonable, Adrien would have been there to help, instead of chasing after some fool who had lost herself in a graveyard. I could have been of use, too, but instead, I had become a burden on everyone else.
My eyes then turned unwillingly to the knight in blue armor, who had been silently watching my work. Along his legs and right arm, I could see what remained of the imbedded needles, which was now reduced to metal stubs and bloody scabs. In my stupidity, I had also forced this man to endure pain as well.
“Would you…would you mind if I attend to those?” I asked quietly, smiling gently to hide my guilt.
Adrien walked through the door to step in some green blood on the floor where Caragon once laid. The air was full of the scent of foul things. Both physically and energetically. His hazel eyes went almost immediately to where the now semi-conscious man lay, where he felt the source of this condensed itself. It was mostly hidden from others. At rest, but Adrien could feel—smell it still.
Without a word he strode right over to the injured man, he knelt down and studied the wound on his arm. He gently and gracefully unwrapped his bandage. It had been cleaned and the scab looked healthy and red. However, when he pinched the wound more green blood oozed out in tiny drops through the cracks of his scab. Adrien frowned softly to himself. Solemn but patient as well.
This was bad. When blood changed form and color it was never good. Blood was a vital life source of all creatures, so when it transmuted it was very difficult to restore it back to the person's original form. It was a sign that their entire physical being had been completely altered in some way. It was already, in some ways, too late for Caragon. He would never fully rid himself of the curse. But there were ways to aid him. To keep it from fully taking hold. Even now, it had retreated deep into Caragon, attempting to keep itself from actively taking him over until it was safe to resume again. Its grip was tight and deep already—any attempt to attack it would also kill Caragon.
There were ways to keep it suppressed, but Adrien could not perform the procedure himself. He closed his eyes for a moment.
“Leita, please, I need you urgently. Bring your things and walk through the door I summon for you.” Despite his need being urgent, he calmly sent the telepathic message to her. He knew she would not respond, but hurriedly grab her tools and come to him. Something had been done to suppress the curse temporarily. This was probably all that had saved him from his fate. Otherwise it would have had him completely by the time Leita got there.
He opened his eyes then and looked around at the others. His gaze went to Honeysuckle, who looked to have been attending to Judo. He smiled gently at her. He stood and held out the stave to her—the cloth still wrapped around the place where he gripped it. He kept his other hand still in his pocket were it throbbed relentlessly, but the cursed man concerned him more than the pain. “Caragon will survive—mostly. I have sent for someone to come and treat his curse more deeply ... Here, your staff, Honeysuckle.”
At that moment the door to the inn suddenly slammed shut—Adrien had left it open. It changed color, instantly turning white and the door knob flashed to gold. It burst open almost as soon as it had shut itself. A short Hylian girl came running through it, emerald-green eyes alert and face determined yet anxious at the same time. She had beautiful sterling silver hair and a lovely delicate face. She looked to be about the same age as Vivi. She carried a white staff in her left hand and a leather bag over her right shoulder.
As soon as she burst into the room she came to a halt and stared at everyone in the room, somewhat bewildered and panting. Her eyes went to Adrien immediately. His eyes met hers in return.
“Ah, Isabella, thank you for coming so swiftly.”
Leita stared at Adrien, still looking bewildered. He had called her a different name. However, she quickly caught on. She wasn’t exactly safe leaving the Dome. She and her friends were still being hunted by dark lords. Adrien had given her a fake name to use for the time being. It wasn’t really for her own safety but for those around her. It seemed their enemies had a horrible habit of stalking all who had come into contact with them. Torturing, killing their families to squeeze information out of them.
It was hard then to find that what she had been hoping for to not be so. Leita had thought Adrien had finally found Rontu, Khaz, and Ren. At the same time she had been partly terrified when he had asked her to bring her things. So many horrible possibilities had thundered through her mind. Had they been hurt? Was anyone dead? Tortured? Cursed? Yet as she looked around she saw no stubborn Ren with his scarlet red eyes and white hair that stood out from the crowd. There was no brother of hers waiting to come rushing up to her or waiting for her to heal him again. And no Rontu to stare at her with those metallic gold eyes that always made her heart pound when he would set them upon her.
She almost cried out of disappointment and relief.
No one was dead at least.
And then she felt it. Near Adrien. The man on the couch. When she looked at him a sudden sick and cold feeling knotted in her stomach. So this was why Adrien had called her to him.
OoC: Introducing Leita Serwen ^^ her link is also under "figments of my imagination".
OoC: Mind if I introduce another character, then? It'll be Mayula, Judo's daughter. Her link is in the same thread as all my other characters. Link in sig. I wasn't sure she'd be right to come in before, but now I'm reconsidering since she'd have her father with her, plus I kind of forgot her telekinesis ability. xP
BiC: "Sure, I don't see why not," Judo replied to Leonna. "Thank you." Leonna smiled as she began to tend to Judo's old wounds from before, though this time there was no pain for him to wince at. It didn't take as long to treat it as it had previously either. Within minutes. Leonna was finished and said the wound should heal up normally and healthy. Thanking her again, Judo insisted that he must leave to tend to some business in town and would be back as soon as he could.
Duke had still been awaiting his master outside the inn, whinnying happily upon seeing Judo emerge from the inn's front door. Once he mounted his steed, Judo and Duke galloped off to see how the knights had progressed in evacuating the entire town. One portion of town had completely emptied streets and alleyways, however, telling Judo one of his platoons must have finished and gone to aid another. To confirm his theory, the eager Hyrulean general started towards another area of town, to find that his guess was correct.
"Oh! General Judo!" the commanding officer of the ninth platoon said upon noticing his commander. "Do wish another task of us, sir?"
"No, I merely come to see how you are doing. How much more time do you think you'll need?" Judo asked.
"Well, we can't be positive how many people are left, but we do know there are only a few places left to look," the commanding officer replied. "The leader of the fifth platoon also said his group is nearly done as well."
"Excellent. All of you are to report back to me when you are finished to recieve your next orders," Judo said. "Is that clear?"
To be honest, Judo wasn't quite sure what to have his men do next. Before he could decide, however, he realized he still had the silver ocarina from the inn and stashed it in his pocket. It wasn't very large, and fit nicely in the small bag tucked under his left hip guard. He thought it best to save it in case more curses came up and he would have to play the Song of Healing once again. Judo also stuffed the mask inside Duke's saddlebag so no one would see it. Deciding to refer to it as the False Knight Mask, he only hoped Caragon would regain his strength soon. Perhaps using the False Knight's own power against him could stop him. And only Caragon could use the power of the mask Judo created.
Judo's thoughts were interrupted when he spotted a familiar figure in the distance. It was a girl much shorter than he was and was carrying dual swords. Judo gasped when he figured out who it was. It was his own daughter, Mayula, appearing right before him. What the--? What is May doing here? Judo asked himself. Wanting to find out ever so badly, he had Duke trot right up to her.
"Dad! I'm sorry to interrupt--" May started, but her father cut her off.
"May, just what do you think you're doing here? It is much too dangerous," Judo asked.
"Mom sent me. She thought my telekinesis powers would help you," Mayula replied. "I came as fast as I could."
"Do you expect me to believe that? You like sneaking out a lot," Judo reminded her.
"I know, I know, Dad. But I'm being honest! I'd never lie to you!" May insisted. "Captain Conan even agreed with Mom's idea." Judo stayed silent to consider the idea. It wasn't like Kelli to send their own daughter off alone, definitely not. But she did have a point. Perhaps May's ability to move some objects without touching them would in fact come in handy later. Plus, there couldn't possibly be anyone here who have even heard of Mayula's bloodline, let alone shun it like a lot of normal Hylians used to. And since May was already there, it wasn't reasonable to send her right back such a distance as she'd obviously come. For a knight on horseback, the distance to Hyrule from the little town was nothing, but on foot it could be rather tiring.
"...Alright. You can stay. But don't ever leave my sight," Judo gave in. "Understand me?"
"Yes, of course, Dad. Thank you!" May replied with a smile.
There was that word again. The familiar pain beat in my chest, but I covered it with a grateful smile. Had not my actions already caused him great inconvenience? This was no time to be thinking of myself when others were in need. Those like the cursed man, who had become so at my expense.
Another wave of guilt. I took back my staff with a quiet “thank you,” but my attention was diverted to Adrien’s hand that remained hidden from me. It was a casual gesture, hardly noticeable at all, but it was clear to me that something was wrong. There is something in the way that an injured creature moves, an awkward change in their gait. It is the body’s way of adapting, of avoiding pain in the simplest manner. It can be as simple as stiffness in a certain limb, a strained smile that refuses the presence of pain, or a tiny limp that has become the body’s adaption to ease the pain on a harmed leg. With Adrien, though his movements were often so quick and adroit as to hide any imperfection, it became fairly obvious, as any impediment in his grace was an indication that something was wrong.
I reached toward him slightly, my guilty concern swelling, but I quickly stopped myself. Adrien had already called a healer. The silver haired woman he had called Isabella was already here for the man I had so ineffectively healed. This healer did indeed seem distressed by the sight, but I knew Adrien’s choice was a wise one. Unlike him, I had not even guessed that the curse might remain. It was, as Hemanias would have called it, “a simple grave err.” Adrien must have seen my incompetency and desired for someone else to attend to himself…why else would he hide it from me? He was not the kind so conceited as to endure pain on the pretense of honor.
So I swallowed my pride and plastered another smile on my face. I was not needed here. That I could understand. There had been other times like this, when I was young and in the care of Hemanias. There had been times when a patient was gravely sick, when the shaman would be frantically rushing about for the cure, and I would so desire to help. I was quickly brushed aside, being young and useless, my only aid being to watch silently as another suffered. It was because of such memories that I took to learning healing arts with such vigor, but I had been foolish to think that such events would not happen again; That there would be more times yet where all I could do was watch and learn as those around me suffered.
But I refused to think of it. Perhaps later, when all was well and taken care of, I would indulge myself, but not now. While there were still others hurting, I had to remain, find whatever way I could to help. If that meant watching silently, then I would endure it. If it meant being rejected, then so be it. I had to at least try. Perhaps I could help soothe this new woman’s tension, but by what means, I did not know.
So I started with the simplest thing first. “It is very good of you to come.” I said with a benign smile at the woman. She seemed somewhat younger than me, delicate in the most gentle sense, but there was a good, strong aura about her, a soft scent of the forest that reminded me of a water spirit. Those, Hemanias had told me, were among the most docile and soothing spirits, whose very auras held the power to heal. Adrien had made the right choice. So I took it a step further.
Hemanias had once told me the importance of information. He was annoyed with the way that the villagers would rush the injured to him, having no explanation as to what had happened. That meant he had to spend precious time trying to decode from the injured soul’s body what had happened so that he could treat it. Since everyone who had witnessed the man’s curse was now gone, that meant that I was the only one left who could speak of what had happened. Though I had not understood, surely it was better than going off of nothing.
“That man was cursed by an evil spirit. He collapsed here in the inn, and his eyes turned red and his skin grey. I believe he became possessed, and as you see, his blood turned green. There was another who was able to calm his…behavior with a ‘Song of Healing,’ but Adrien has assessed that the curse still remains within him. He is stable in his current condition, though the depth and power of his curse is unknown to me.”
Leita bit her bottom lip as she stared at the girl speaking. Her green eyes alive with her attention to everything she said. Adrien in turn also studied Honeysuckle. He had watched as a slightly strained smile had crossed her face when taking the staff. There had been something there in her blue eyes just a moment before she smiled. A smile that was like a mask quickly pulled on to hide her true face. Perhaps his little nickname for her offended her in some way. He didn’t know what else to call her seeing as she had never really given him her real name.
Her eyes also snatched a quick glance at the hand in his pocket, and her hand moved just slightly as if she had wanted to reach for him again. Hmm, she’s very perceptive … But again his injury would raise awkward questions. Though he knew the girl wasn’t human herself, he was still unsure of what her reaction to a vampire would be.
“I see,” said Leita, looking down in deep thought after she finished speaking. She walked over to the couch and as she passed the other girl a waft of lavender and rose tossed into the air. Leita also could rival Honeysuckle in appeal to a vampire. The scent and energy of her blood was absolutely mouthwatering.
Leita knelt down, setting her staff and bag on the floor. Adrien stepped aside, standing next to Honeysuckle, and like her he waited to become useful.
“You dressed the wound wonderfully,” he said to Honeysuckle, turning his head to look at her. “I’m sorry I had to undo it, but I needed to see how deep his infection was. I myself am not much help to him now. He’s in need of divine and powerful magic. Isabella is a high priestess of the three goddesses and also a very talented healer. But you seem to be rather inclined to healing yourself. Stay around, I’m sure Leita can think of something for you to help her with and you may learn a lot as well.”
Adrien paused for a moment and added more quietly, “My apologizes, it seems my nickname for you is unpleasant. Perhaps you have something else you’d rather I call you by?”
Leita studied the wound on his arm. There was nothing in the world to her anymore but this poor sick man. She frowned more deeply at the green blood. Yes, he was deeply cursed. She raised her hand to hover over his injury.
“Ateru,” she prayed, and a soft glowing green radiated from her hand. The wound also glowed with this energy. The spell not only healed wounds but it also tuned Leita in more deeply to her patient’s body. She would able to understand everything about his illnesses. The gash on the man’s arm closed up and healed completely. All except a deep scar. Normally her magic always healed other with no remaining scars, but when it came to cursed injuries it always scarred. There was never anything she could ever do about it. As she healed him tears ran down her face. She could feel how deep the curse was.
He would never be the same again.
She wished she had been there sooner, though she knew Adrien had called her as soon as he could. So this was all that was really possible for this man anymore. He had been carrying the infection for a while before the symptoms had started showing, before it had started its aggressive take over. First, it had quietly established its roots deep in his blood and tissues. This was to not cause alarm to its victim during the curse’s more fragile stage of development. For if it was noticed then, it could have been prevented.
Her eyes stayed on the man’s new scar as she said to the others, “I … I need lots of salt.”
Now, all that she could do for this man was suppress the curse’s power to a much more mild form. She could seal most of it away, but not all. He would never be completely rid of it. She had to work while it had retreated and stayed temporarily inactive.
There was no light way for me to answer Adrien’s question regarding my name. Honeysuckle was by no means offensive, it simply held memories I did not care to think on. Leonna was exactly the same. It was the name of a violent beast, of an awful creature that prowled the sky. Was there really any decent name for one such as I?
“There is nothing for which you must apologize,” I answered calmly, watching Isabella’s deft work with deep curiosity. “If anything, it is I who ought to do so. I do not know what would have befallen me and the others had you not come.” I kept my gaze fixed on the woman’s work even as I spoke, determined not to betray any sign of emotion. No one ought to deal with the guilt that hung about me now.
As Isabella continued her work, however, I found that curiosity was becoming the greater of my emotions. Adrien had said she was a priestess of The Three, so she must have been Hylian. Only Hylians held the keys to such divine power. I was amazed that I was actually witnessing Isabella use it, for such a thing I never thought I would behold. The ancient magic of Hyrule was so…so incredibly…I simply could not express it in words. It was a thing of such beauty and power that I had spent many hours pouring over it, wondering of it, imagining its great influence in the life of the earth. Now, in the midst of it, I could do nothing but stand in awed silence.
And then Isabella asked for salt. This request immediately took me out of my reverie, causing me to feel somewhat foolish. I did not understand her use of salt, for as it was an excellent purifier, it was also extraordinarily painful on wounds. But I would not question her. Wordlessly, and with quick hands, I dug into my bag for my pouch of salt. It was not much larger than my palm, but it was impossible to tell how much salt Isabella wanted when she said, “lots.” A lot of salt could be considered to be a thick pinch when used on certain occasions, or it could mean an entire bag. I, however, did not know if this salt was to be used for medicinal or magical purposes, so I simply offered her all I had, which was the fairly small pouch. If she ended up using it all and then requiring more, I would think nothing of it, though I was not quite sure how I would come into possession of more. In Bren, such a precious thing was found only from the annual traders, to be used sparingly in the preservation of food. At the moment, however, this man’s life was far more important than any meat I would have the mind to preserve.
“Will this do?” I mildly asked, holding the bag out in my palm.
"May, get on Duke with me. I think we should now go see how a friend of mine is doing," Judo decided.
"Alright," May agreed. "What's been going on, Dad? What made you need to deploy the Royal Knights?"
"It's a long story," Judo replied. "I'll tell you later." With that, they started off for the inn, where Caragon was probably still resting. Hopefully Adrien and whoever the strange woman was that had appeared there just before Judo left had found a way to completely return Caragon to normal. Although Judo had doubt in his mind about it, he always had hope. Once the two arrived, the inn looking the same as it always had, Judo and May dismounted the horse and peered through a nearby window.
Caragon was not looking well at all. He was still out cold, and Adrien had a disappointed frown on his face. The woman had used some kind of magic healing power to make Caragon's wound disappear, leaving nothing but a dark scar. For some reason, Judo felt that the curse was still present in some way, and the crack on the False Knight Mask was an indicator. The curse had probably only been weakened, not completely sealed inside the mask. How could the Song of Healing have failed? Was the curse's power too overwhelming?
"Dad, what's wrong with that man?" May asked.
"He was cursed. I used the Song of Healing on him, which returned him to the state he is now in, but somehow I fear that curse still lives inside him," Judo replied. "But perhaps, if he uses the mask the song left, that power can be controlled..."
"Are you sure, Dad?"
"I can't be positive, but it's worth a try." Judo then explained the entire False Knight story to May, from when he first encountered him and received a blow to the back, to the present moment. May gasped at the potential dangers that lurked around town, and understood why Judo was so nervous about her appearance in town.
"That...is awful," May replied. "I never thought anyone could best you."
"I don't blame you. So far, I've defeated every opponent I've come up against. But not this one," Judo finished. "The Royal Knights should be done with the evacuation soon."
Leita received the small pouch from the other girl. It was just enough if she used it carefully. “Yes, thank you very much.”
She then set it down gently next to her bag and staff. She stood and moved to the chairs and tables the filled the main entrance as a kind of dinner and bar of the inn. “We need to clear a space for him to lie down on and for me to work in.”
Adrien moved forward to help Leita move the chairs and tables against the same wall as the couch. It wasn’t long until the other girl also stepped in to help. After moving all of them and clearing an open space in the room, Adrien went over and picked the man up very carefully and laid him down in the middle of the floor. He then stepped back as Leita went a picked the bag of salt up again. She untied the little pouch and held a hand over it and prayed, “I exorcise thee, ‘O creature of earth, of all negativity both seen and unseen and bless thee in the name of the Three.”
The salt inside the bag glowed a soft gold color for a second and then the light faded. She then carefully poured a thin line of salt out. With this she drew a triangle around the man, his head at the point of the shape, and then she encased the triangle in a circle of salt as well.
After this she went back over to her bag. She set the bag of salt aside again and opened the flap to the bag. She pulled from it a bundle of sage with sweetgrass woven into it, a crystal chalice, a water bag, and a white candle set in holder of lava stone rock. She set the bundle of sage and sweetgrass at the right point of the triangle in a sea shell dish, the candle and rock at the top point, and the chalice at the left point. With the crystal goblet she paused and filled it from the water bag. She then held the chalice in her hand and her other hovered over the top as she prayed again, “I exorcise thee, ‘O creature of water, of all negativity both seen and unseen and bless thee in the name of the Three.”
Like the salt, the water glowed gold for a moment.
She took the salt again and added the last three pinches to the water. It was just enough. She stirred it three times with her finger, clockwise, and then held the chalice up to her face with both hands and prayed again, “I cleanse and consecrate this water in the name of Nayru. May this liquid enhance and purify all that it touches. So mote it be.”
She blew softly on the water’s surface. Her breath came out a soft white-blue color, and when it touched the water, the water glowed blue as well and stayed blue. The air hummed gently with this holy power. She then ointed herself with the holy water, touching her wet fingers to her forehead, were the third eye as said to be, and then on both shoulders. The places continued to glow softly on her.
Leita went to the cursed man again and ointed him in the same way. A soft moan escaped his lips when she did. She set the chalice back to the left point of the triangle. She grabbed a match from her bag and lit the candle at the top point with it. The candle and lava rock holder had been blessed before hand for such things. The wax came from honey seeking faeries and the wick was made of braided unicorn hairs. She lit the bundle of sage and sweetgrass from the flame of the candle. The bundle continued to smoke softly, silver wisps twirling into the air and harmonizing with the holy power that was starting to build in the room.
She stood and then cast a look at Adrien as she pulled her mage’s cloak from her shoulders and set it next to her bag. He nodded and stepped even farther back from the work area. Already the atmosphere of the room made it harder for him to breathe. Such holy power was not kind to him. If he got too close to the magic circle Leita was about to cast, it could injure him if he was not careful. His hand hurt more in his pocket in reaction to the blessings being cast.
Leita then stepped into the circle, careful not to disturb the lines of salt she had poured. She stood over the man. One foot on each side of his waist. She stood facing the top point of the triangle and she began her casting:
“I conjure thee, by infinite power; a circle now around us stands. I trace the path between the words, a boundary line of gods and man. Once around I trace the path.”
She held out her left hand, index finger pointed at the tip of the triangle that touched circle boundary line. She turned on the spot, carefully not to step on the man she hovered over. She traced in the air, following the circle’s line around the triangle. As she did, bright green ethereal vines and leaves sprouted from the line of salt, following her finger as she went around. The triangle of salt glowed bright green. When she reached the top point again, she said:
“Twice it turns into a flame.”
She went around again, and this time the ghostly green vines and leaves erupted into gentle white-blue flames that followed the tracing of her finger. The triangle glowed white-blue. When she reached the top point a third time she said:
“Three times around, a wall of fire, within whose realm we will remain.”
The blue flames leapt into the air and turned bright red, creating a wall as tall as Adrien through the salt line. The triangle glowed red. It died down when she reached the point a fourth time.
“This ground is sacred, consecrated by the power of earth and air. We conjure fire to cleanse our hearts and waters deep to guard us here. In the name of Farore who watches, in the name of Din who stands, this circle bright is bound around us while Nayru works Her mighty plan. As above, from crown of heaven, now below it is revealed. Magic circle, ‘O crystal fortress, by my words your power is sealed. Blessed be.”
The circle and triangle of salt glowed a constant gold now.
She stepped up to the upper most point of the triangle and took the candle by its lava rock holder. Leita straddled the cursed man, her knees at each side of his torso. She was careful to not place her weight on him at all but on her knees.
“Din, Cultivator of the Earth, bless this man with your infinite power over physical forms. Seal the infectious evil away in his body; let not the seed grow stronger.”
She held the candle over his forehead and then both shoulders, like when she ointed him. The scar on his arm glowed a soft red and the man gasped underneath her. A pain filled whimper into the air. She bit her lip, not wanting to cry in the middle of her casting. She set the candle back down at the top of the triangle. She then took the crystal chalice of blue glowing water in her hands.
“Nayru, Originator of Natural Law, bless this man with your wisdom and love. Seal the unnatural evil away from his mind and heart; let not even time give it power over him.”
What she had to do next was rather embarrassing, but there was no time to hesitate. She lifted the chalice to her lips and took the holy water in her mouth. She then leaned over the man and pressed her lips over his. She pushed his mouth open with her lips and forced the water into his mouth, to make him drink it. He tensed under her, his throat restricting, trying to cough the water back up, but Leita let not the holy water escape their lips. His scar glowed a soft blue. When he finally drank, she sat up and set the chalice back at the left point. She picked up the sea shell bowl and sage and sweetgrass bundle.
“Farore, Creator of Life, bless this man with your courage and strength. Seal away the wicked evil from his soul; give him the courage and strength to fight it and keep a hold of his inner truth.”
She then blew the smoke of the bundle over his forehead and shoulders. The scar glowed a soft green. The man tossed under her again.
“I bless thee in the name of the Three. So mote it be!” she cried.
The gold glowing energy in the triangle and circle suddenly surged into the man. His whole body glowed a white gold, blinding for a moment everyone in the room. When the light faded the candle had gone out, the sage bundle no longer smoked, and there was no more water in the crystal chalice. The salt glowed no more.
I watched the spell being cast in respectful silence, watching intently so that I could remember every detail of it. It was not long through the process that I began to understand the significance of the salt and other items, remembering the lessons of Hemanias. He often spoke of how physical objects held within them spiritual essence. The sweetgrass, or Hierochloe odorata, used by Isabella, for instance, held within it goodness that he claimed attracted good spirits. In ancient texts, the plant was believed to carry prayers to the gods, which seemed to be what the healer was doing. To me, such a plant was simply pleasant smelling incense that I recognized from the burning vanilla scent, which also served to soothe coughing and sore throat when boiled in tea. It also had some value in childbirth, though Hemanais did not participate in such things. He simply provided the herb for the village midwife.
I could also recognize the sage burned by the healer. Again, I knew its value as a spiritual purifier, but I never would have put it to such inventive use. Salvia officinalis was a good herb to relieve snake bites, and boiled in tea, it eased a sore throat and was good for the mouth, also providing relief in fevers and headaches. I most often used it simply for its sweet flavor, never once believing that I might see it in a purification ritual.
But here it was. Here I was. The blessed magic was so thick in the air that my every breath was saturated with it. The phrases spoken by Isabella tickled my memory, a good portion of them recognizable from ancient prayers. It always seemed that balance was most important in such rituals, as the belief was that it was the balance of The Three that gave the earth nourishment. Though without the condensed beliefs of the Hylians, the people of Bren had also believed this, though it caused them to fear magic, not wield it.
I remained silent even after the spell was complete, almost fearing that any disturbance on my part would be irreverent. I did, however, steal a glance at Adrien, and upon seeing his discomfort, I made a sudden realization. The healer’s magic had been of holy nature, and Adrien…his aura was one of darkness. Could it be that…that it was strong enough to repel light magic?
And then I remembered the cloth. That was how Adrien had handed my staff back to me. I had previously taken no thought for it, but now, now I began to wonder if his dark nature rendered him unable to touch it. I had certainly never thought of the staff as a blessed or holy weapon, but it was a light medium, an object that naturally repelled darkness. If Adrien had to use cloth to touch it, then that must mean that his hand…
He had hurt himself trying to hold it because I had not warned him. In my simplicity, I simply thought that his dark aura was simply the result of a natural preference, not something so strong that he would be violently adverse to light. How else could he have attained such a wound?
Perhaps I was overreacting again. What did I know of magic, anyways? I knew nothing of such a thing, save that certain people could wield it. I could only feel of its energy, watch as it fluctuated around me, calling my own power to itself. That was why I was so utterly useless here.
Finally, desiring to deter myself from my own thoughts, I quietly asked, “Will he be alright now?”
Judo and May continued to sit outside of the inn, awaiting to see if Caragon would emerge with his energy level full. But time passed and still he did not come out. No matter how much time it took, Judo promised himself he would not leave until he knew Caragon would be fine. In addition, he kept a very close eye on Duke so he would be able to see if anyone or anything tried to bother him. May sighed rather loudly, causing Judo's thoughts to be interrupted.
"Dad, I'm getting bored here," she complained.
"I know, so am I," Judo admitted. "But there's no telling---"
"General! General Judo!" a voice called out in the distance. It was the commanding officer of the fifth platoon. He brought his own horse to a halt in front of his commander and May before speaking anymore.
"Hm? Is everyone finished?" Judo asked.
"Yes, sir. We double checked the town twice. There's not another soul to be found," the commanding officer reported. "The other knights will arrive here soon. I was sent ahead to give you the news."
"And why haven't they come yet?"
"To drop off the last batch of townsfolk."
"I see. Stay here until the others arrive. Then I'll have your next mission."
"But Dad, what more is there to do?" May wondered. Judo sighed and began to think about that question. May brought up a good point. There wasn't really anything more the knights could do here at all. Because of this, there was only one other option Judo could possibly think of, and he'd thought of it just in time for the other knights to finally appear before him at the inn. The other two platoon commanding officers approached Judo first.
"We're back, sir," one of them said.
"Excellent. The only thing I have left for all of you to do is return to Hyrule and carefully watch over the townsfolk. Make them feel safe there," Judo ordered. "Lastly, let his majesty know what has been happening lately and that I apologize for not letting him know before."
"Understood," came the reply. The Royal Knights immediately departed to carry out their final mission.
His mind was light as a feather. It was bright white around him. He couldn't tell if he was lying or standing, but he knew that he was something. Therefore, he had to be alive... right?
Am I alive?
His thoughts echoed around him. Maybe this was a dream. He tried turning his head, but it was impossible to do so. He could not do anything but think. He couldn't even see.
He heard voices. They were far away, and from what he could hear, there were more than a couple. He could hear a soft woman's voice. A man's voice. Another woman.
All the while a quiet melody played in the background.
He tried to listen harder. It sounded like a flute... and it was a soothing melody... like his pains had been lifted because of this song. It was healing, yet somewhat sad. He just wanted to continue to listen.
The light started to fade around him. As he started to awaken, colors and sensations slowly returned to him. He felt heavier. His head began to hurt. It took all his willpower to just turn his head a little. This seemed to spawn some activity from those around him.
"... awake...?" he could hear through the distant murmurs. Something touched his forehead. He could hear what was said next clearer.
"He's warm," said a woman. "He will need to rest."
Strength began to return to him, slowly. He blinked his eyes a little, and turned his head again. He could see some of those who were gathered around him.
OoC: Heh, thanks, Navi. It's handy to be Wiccan when it comes to writing these ritual based magics.
BiC: “Will he be alright now?”
Leita blinked and looked up. She had nearly forgotten that there were other people there. That tended to happen when she was casting. The work of her magic would completely envelop her attention. She always felt rather serene and relaxed after casting as well. Praying to the Goddesses and channeling their power was always a very soothing experience for her.
She was about to reply when the man moved again. His head turned slowly to the side.
“Is he awake …?” the girl asked.
Leita climbed off the man now and sat on her legs next to his side, smudging the lines of salt. It no longer mattered. It would have to be swept up soon anyway. She pressed her hand to his forehead. The casting was over, but she could see a slight grayness to his skin—a sign the curse would always be with him.
“He’s warm,” she said. “He will need to rest.”
The man started blinking his eyes open and turning his head again. He rasped, “… water …”
Leita instantly grabbed the now empty chalice and refilled it with normal, clear water from her water bag. She moved over to the man’s head. Setting the goblet aside for a moment, she gently lifted the man’s head and slid her legs underneath it to provide support. She grasped the goblet again, using her other hand to help him lift his head, she brought the chalice to his lips. Each movement was very carefully made and as gentle as possible, not wanting to make him any more uncomfortable than he already was.
“Here, drink,” she whispered back to him gently.
Adrien turned and went to poke his head outside the inn door to where Judo and a young girl were waiting. It had stopped raining and the sky was getting lighter. The night was almost over.
“Judo, Isabella has finished her casting. Caragon is going to be fine. He just needs some rest now. Come in and get something to eat and rest. I have purchased a room for you. Tomorrow night is the big event, no?”
He paused, his eyes going to this new girl sitting beside Judo. Some of her features were rather much like Judo’s as well. “Ah, and who is this young lady with you?”
"Oh, thank you very much," Judo said. "And my apologies. This is my daughter, Mayula. She just arrived about an hour ago."
"I see...," Adrien replied. "She does bear much resemblance to you." Judo was about to make his own reply when May decided to join the conversation.
"Dad...th-this is a vampire," she said with nervousness. "Didn't you tell me and Mom that one of those things almost ate you?"
"No, she bit me, not ate me," Judo replied with a chuckle. "And not all vampires are bad. Some are good, like Adrien here."
"Ohhh. I see," May said. "It's a pleasure to meet you." After introductions had finished, Adrien led the father and daughter pair up to the new room. Figuring May wouldn't take up much room at all, Judo and Adrien decided one room would suffice for both her and Judo. The room was on the second floor, closer to the stairs than the window at the other end of the hall. Inside were two twin-sized beds covered with plain sheets and blankets. The other sections of the room were occupied by a table, chairs, closet, two dressers, and a bathroom.
"Well, how about that?" Judo commented. "May can have her own bed. Looks like room won't be an issue at all."
"I hope you both are comfortable here," Adrien said, and then departed on his way.
So they truly were intent on fighting Him. Despite the curse, the injuries, and every awful thing that had occurred since my arrival, they were going to fight. Such courage was admirable, and each person had exhibited talent to a great degree, but the whole notion of battle was foolish. Already, the False Knight had broken us, and he was outnumbered. I was certain that the only reason we were alive now was because he wanted us to be. He wanted us to combine strength, to test his power, to live to fight…
I am sure I could have spent hours thinking on it, but the cursed man was still on the floor, and though Isabella was tending to him, I felt a strong desire to help. I silently moved to her side, kneeling by the fallen man and putting a reassuring hand on his shoulder. In my previous experience with such things, people shied away from my touch, but the injured, those that were too weak to even move; they found solace in another’s company. Surely more would only help.
“Do not strain yourself,” I gently spoke as he tried to move, “you are in good hands now, and it is time to rest.”
“HEEEEEEEEYA!” A wet ball of yellow fur burst from the front door, skidding to a stop right before the cursed man.
So much for rest.
“What happen? He good now?” The small creature shook herself violently from ears to tail, sending a shower cold droplets everywhere. Her noisy staff banged against the floor as she dropped it, staring at the man with a suddenly horrified expression. “He dead?”
“No,” I answered, trying hard not to strain my voice in my frustration, “he needs rest. While you went for Adrien, both he and Isabella came back to help.” I motioned over to the silver haired woman as I spoke, urging Padme to quiet with my eyes.
“Izibellhah? What kind of name that be?” Padme demanded, suddenly suspicious of the gentle woman before her. “Padme be gone for one minute, and Leonna already have nother’ fighter? What Leonna trying to do, raise army?”
“No,” I exhaled with frustration, picking the rabbit up off of the foor, “but I think it is well past time that you slept.”
The small creature grumbled in my arms, muttering something about “silly HUMANs”, but she allowed me to carry her back to our room. I cast Isabella an apologetic glance over my shoulder as I left, knowing it would be much easier for her to care for the man without a babbling rabbit complaining about her name.
“Why sleep? It already morning!” Padme cried as I set her down on the bed. She immediately bounded off of the mattress, leaping four feet up onto the sill of the window. Somehow, the creature had managed to slide the glass up, filling the room with cold, stormy air. This, I realized, was how she had escaped from the inn without using the front door.
“Yes, it is morning and neither of us has had any rest. You ought to sleep before anymore of today is wasted. A warrior cannot fight on tired feet.” I gently took the rabbit from the window, using a strong push with my other arm to close the rusted frame of the glass. I put Padme on the bed a second time, but she managed to stay seated. I earned a animistic glare from the gesture, but the large rabbit merely grumbled as she curled up on the edge of the bed. As she settled down, I quietly moved for the door, but when my hand touched the knob, I could practically feel the rabbit’s ears prick up again.
“Where YOU going?”
My shoulders fell and I slowly turned to face the creature. “There is more that I must see to. Please, try to sleep.”
The yellow furred creature sulkily brought her head down to the bed, resting it on her front paws. I sighed wearily, finally able to move out the door, but as I walked out, I could have sworn I saw one of Padme’s eyes pop open.
Outside, the hall was dark and empty, lit only by the faint red light of a rising sun. I made my way back to the lobby, where I found Isabella and Adrien. Having taken care of the blue knight and his daughter, he must have come back to check on Isabella’s progress. From the look of things, the cursed man was in a much more placid state.
“A…Adrien.” I spoke softly so as not to disturb the quiet, nervous because of what May had called the dark man. “Your hand…”
The yellow rabbit’s sudden bursting into the room and exclaim had made Leita jump. The crystal goblet fell from her hands and clattered to the floor, spilling the water onto the salt. She was glad she had finished getting the man to drink before this had happened. And the other girl got up quickly to quiet the strange yet intelligent creature. Leita had never seen such rabbit-folk before. She stared for a while as the rabbit, which the other girl called Padme, asked about her strange name. It was rather odd, not a common name for a Hylian. But she liked it. It was a rather beautiful name.
Padme also called the girl with vibrant blue eyes Leonna.
Leonna quickly scooped Padme up like a small child and cast an apologetic glance at her. Leita smiled back. It was kind of cute how they were together. Like Leonna was Padme’s big sister.
Leita then folded up her mage’s cloak and tucked it under the man’s head for a pillow until Adrien could get back. She needed him to carry him up to his room for rest. He reappeared soon after showing a knight and his daughter to their room. Leonna was back as well, soon after this. She approached Adrien nervously.
“A…Adrien,” Leonna stammered. “Your hand …”
He looked up at Honeysuckle—or rather Leonna was her real name. Padme had been much too loud for him to ignore. He sensed her nervousness and remembered what Judo’s daughter had finally called him out loud. It had surprised him that they were able to recognize him for what he was. It seemed Judo had had a run in with another vampire as well. What surprised him more was that Judo trusted him from the beginning. He was a very unusual man.
He supposed it was better this way. If he continued like he was it really would be like he was trying to hide it. He smiled almost apologetically for Leonna.
“Ah, yes … very perceptive, Leonna. I am a vampire, so holy objects that reject corrupt darkness in such creatures as I are rather violent to me. I knew your staff was holy in some aspect but I underestimated just how much so when I reached for it. And well …”
He finally pulled his hand out of his pocket, showing the charred palm and fingers of his hand.
“Oh Adrien,” gasped Leita stepping forward instinctively to heal him, but she paused and looked to Leonna. It seemed her knowledge of Adrien’s nature was something recently discovered. She hoped the girl wouldn’t distrust him for this. It seemed they had only just met each other, but the only reason Leita and her friends were alive right now was because of this vampire. She had to see. There was no way to ignore Adrien’s kindness.
Vivi laid down on her bed, watching as the black sky faded into a deep red. It was the next day, and Vivi hadn't slept in a while.
"Bet those other guys are all scared out of their wits now..." Vivi spoke to herself. She had overheard from some of the others that the False Knight was going to attack today. It wasn't like Vivi was very scared of the False Knight. If she didn't get the money from this, she'd be screwed if there wasn't a bounty in the next town. For her, it was kill the guy or possibly starve for the next week.
She did admit that the False Knight was strong, but she would just be more careful this time around. The only thing she was worried about was anyone else getting the kill first. The others may call eachother allies in this little hunt, but they were just competition to her.
"What are they going to do now?" Vivi asked herself, sitting up. What was their plan for today? It would be an advantage to know her competition's plans to be one step ahead. Though she definitely knew that they might be resting for a little bit. They probably got as much sleep as she did.
Standing up, Vivi walked towards her door and put her ear up to the cold wood. She could hear them loud a clear through the door.
"I was right" Vivi confirmed as she listened to their plans to rest up. She turned, her back against the door.
It was clear now what to do. It was obvious Vivi needed to rest, too. So she would just wake up before them to look for the False Knight. And in some unlikely event that she would oversleep, it would only be a convenience to go in for the kill after the False Knight is worn out. Vivi would go for the former plan, because the others may interfear when she tries to collect her money.
Content with her plan, Vivi walked over to her bed and fell asleep.
I did not understand how Adrien could act so calmly with such a burn on his hand. I had seen such a thing only once before, on the night that I was forced to leave Bren. It was a burn so deep that it charred the skin, so hot that it continued to burn even after the source of heat was removed. When I had lost control of my flame, this was what the villagers had to endure, this black pain that destroyed the body.
Only a whimper escaped from my lips. I wanted to spout out a stream of apologies, to let my tears fall and tell him just how sorry I was. But that would be useless. That would not take away the pain.
So I rushed forward, forgetting that I was supposed to be polite and human. I gingerly wrapped his hand in both of mine, concentrating solely on the energy within me. My flame was already subdued, tired from all I had done, but I forced it out anyways, streaming it into my hands. This kind of energy was the hardest to call forth, the deepest flame that always burned steadily within me. As I pulled at it, it did not wish to move, but slowly, so painfully slowly, it relented, flowing from me into Adrien’s hand.
Following the flow, a soft blue light emanated from my hands, where my flame should have been. Within them, I felt the burn begin to mend, softening the leathery skin into its smoother, former self. This process, however, was moving much faster than I would have expected, and in mere seconds, I felt that Adrien’s hand had been healed.
My energy, no longer being forced out, immediately snapped back into my chest, causing me to flinch. This was followed by a strange lightheadedness, and I had to lean my side against the wall to keep from falling. My hands fell back down in front of me, and I offered up a weak smile to keep anyone from worrying.
“You know…you should not hide such things. A burn like that…will only get worse with time…even on a vampire.” My voice was as feeble as I felt, but I paid no heed to it. Everyone was well…that was what mattered. I was so tired, however, that I kept right on mumbling. “My people call your kind Ekimmu…and me…they call me demon.”
He watched as Leonna suddenly reached for him, looking distressed as she quickly grasped his burned hand. Only a whimper escaping her. As if she had not just been told he was a blood-sucking leech demon. He felt it as she pulled her energy out and a blue light glowed from her hands, healing his. Leita watched and finally, she realized how odd Leonna’s energy felt. It wasn’t like a mage’s energy. She wasn’t using mana to heal Adrien. It was magic but it also wasn’t. This energy was apart of Leonna completely, and she could see as soon as she had finished how tired it made her to use it. It drained her physically, unlike mana did for Leita.
“My people call your kind Ekimmu…and me…they call me demon,” she said feebly as she leaned against a wall in her exhaustion.
Leita furrowed her silver brows softly when she heard Leonna say this. Demon? That was impossible. Her energy was strange but it wasn’t anything sinister or malicious. Leita had met a real life demon herself—In fact that demon was one of the dark lords hunting them. His name was Nelu. Adrien said he was the Dark Lord of Pain. Nelu frightened Leita. And he could pass a normal human by looks. Even better than Leonna herself if it weren’t for his energy.
Nelu’s energy made her feel ill, and afraid, and it made her chest hurt with a heavy pressure. And the way he looked at her with his dark gray eyes … That hungry predator look in his eyes like he wanted to eat her.
There couldn’t be any way that Leonna was a demon. That Leita was sure of. She healed Adrien. Her energy didn’t make her feel uncomfortable at all. It was actually very warm and pleasant. Her people had called her that, but how much did they understand? Had they ever met a real demon?
Adrien stared tenderly at Leonna. Finally, it all seemed to come together in his mind. He remembered now what Leonna was. The star light-like energy, the glowing eyes, the crystal staff, and he knew she must have wings too but they could hide those by choice. He had read it during his years of a scholar, about the astral fairies of old. It was very rare for them to appear. They mostly stayed in their astral plane. Leonna must have been separated from her plane at a young age and raised with people who did not understand her at all.
His heart ached for her. How lonely and painful that must be for her. So confused and no one to explain it to her. Even now, she believed herself to be a demon. He could tell that much from how she spoke. She said her people called her that, but it was in her tone. She believed it too.
He would wait though. He could not bombard her with information that she would not be ready to accept. Especially in the condition she was in.
He then smiled at her gently. “Oh really? I’ve never heard or seen a demon that carries a holy staff with her.”
He reached into his pocket and withdrew the three vials he had collected from his room earlier. He pressed them into Leita’s hands and he said to her, “Help Leonna to her room and give her these. I think they will help restore her energy. I’ll take Caragon to his room.”
Leita nodded and then went to Leonna’s side and reached her hands out for her.
“Please, lean on me.”
Adrien turned and picked Caragon up off the floor and carried him to his room like he said he would. He laid him on the bed and covered him with the blanket, setting his halberd to the side.
"May, stay here. I need to go do something real quick," Judo said sometime later, remembering he'd left the False Knight Mask in Duke's saddlebag.
"What are you doing?" May asked out of curiosity.
"I'm going to go check on our friend again." Although it wasn't completely the truth, Judo thought it best to keep the information about the False Knight Mask a secret from May so as to not frighten her. Upon quietly exiting the room door, Judo tiptoed down the stairs to find that no one was in the halls anymore, not even Caragon, who had probably been taken to his own room. Judo, as silently as possible, made his way to the inn's front door, being careful not to bump into anything on the way. He jiggled the door knob and outside, Duke awaited him. Although Judo felt bad about having to leave the horse outside all the time, he knew there was no other place for him to be. He quickly threw open the saddlebag and there the mask still sat.
"Hey..." Judo said to himself. Something was different now. Was the mask's crack larger than before? Or was it just Judo's imagination? Hoping it was nothing whether he'd been imagining it or not, the knight hurried back into the inn after closing Duke's saddlebag and quietly rushed back up the stairs, hoping Caragon's room was near his. Having heard someone go into the room next to his own, Judo quietly attempted to open the door. He found it was unlocked and entered. Caragon was lying on the bed, nearly motionless, and Judo thought it best not to disturb him. However, the knight noticed another person standing there as well: Adrien.
"Whoa, my apologies," Judo said. "You startled me there, Adrien. I only came to check on Caragon. I also have a theory. Perhaps using the False Knight's own power against him can stop him. And with this mask and Caragon, we can certainly try that."
"Oh? How?" Adrien wondered. Judo went on to explain the same information about the mask as he'd given to the people who witnessed his playing the Song of Healing for Caragon earlier before. If Caragon wore the mask, he could take the form he was in while cursed, and control its power. If he removed it, he would return to his original self.
"So, do you think we ought to give it a shot?" Judo asked.
OoC: I’m not gonna tell you what song Shrub's post made me think of
Adrien’s and Isabella’s reaction surprised me. They were not the first who had not been perturbed by my abilities, but it still felt strange. To not be screamed at because of my eyes, to not be hated for the circumstances of my birth, to have my abilities accepted as if they were commonplace activity…it did not feel quite real.
Because I knew what I was. I had seen it in the agonized faces of the villagers on that fateful night. When the monsters came to consume them, I had also become a monster, a destructive creature that could not be controlled. This was something these kind people had not seen. Had they seen those charred and burning bodies of the innocent, they would have understood. They would understand why they needed to stay far, far away from me.
More guilt. Another strained smile. I allowed Isabella to support my weak body as we moved back to my room, feeling heavier as I realized once again what a burden I had become. Not more than an hour had passed, and already people were worrying for me.
Padme had not settled down in the least. As soon as I came in, she jumped to her feet, falling quickly back down again because of the unsteadiness of the mattress. She grunted slightly, then simply rolled off of the bed, landing gracefully on all fours. I was relieved to see that she had left her staff on the bed, so its loud clatter did not sound as she bounded up to me, her eyes full of mischief. Few were those with better hearing than that of a Haschen.
“You be tired one, Leonna!” Padme cheerfully piped as I plumped down on the bed. At that point, I was far too tired to try to calm her, so I gave her a simple pat on the head as she jumped up beside me. Her attention on me, however, was short lived, for she soon caught sight of the shining bottles in Isabella’s hand.