News of the young lords antics have spread much further than anyone near him ever expected they would, reaching even the royal capital, whereas the Duchess Lumenhart resided among the court of High Lords, in place of her lower ranked husband. The shock of the matter eclipsed most other emotion, that a child as young as nine would face a demon and win, and for it to have happened within the confines of what is thought to be the most heroic and powerful of dynasties apart from the royals themselves is a scandal on a scale previously unheard of! Naturally, as is to be expected of human behavior, dark forces have already begun their politicking in an effort to diminish the power of Lumenhart, though another set of equally shocking news from the seat of the Light itself may send the entire courts unto rampant confusion.
With that all said and done however, the boy in question has barely any inkling as to what is going on, fully intent on using his noble privileges to the fullest, even if it means ignoring the orders of those belonging to his own family name.
Several days have passed since my little 'outing event' at the family manor courtyard. Several days of pure chaos and utter insanity, whereas many house servants resigned or fled, knights abandoned their posts and a plethora of rumors spread all around the duchy as a whole regarding yours truly. My family's response was... limited, to be perfectly honest, but those around me reacted in predictable ways.
Uncle simply decided that he has had too much of me and my county for the time being, thereby finishing what little administrative work was left piled up and quickly packed his things to go back home, citing how certain 'domestic issues' demanded his attention more so than myself. Auntie Sofia found herself utterly disgusted by the actions of the peasantry, as it was quickly realized that the more educated, noble-born servants, the bastard sons and daughters of lesser nobles, did not flee at the first sighting of a 'demon'.
With that said, she demanded that I be locked up in my room for the time being. That... uh, well, didn't work out so well, as I managed to entertain myself in my dreary bedroom for all of half a day before deciding to use the nuclear option, that being channeling my powers into a crimson fist and promptly ripping the locked door of my room a new asshole.
Turns out, that door is more expensive than I thought, which made me feel slightly guilty about the whole ordeal, but anyways, my point was made clearly enough, so I'll still call it a win.
"My lord Inquisitor, I must admit to not supporting this course of action, much less you being alone in the carriage with that... thing." A voice echoed from the outside as I rose an eyebrow lazily, trying to make out who was it that just called me a thing.
Which turned out to be one of the holy knights currently escorting the inquisitor and I on our little tour of the city. Gelidgate was a splendid thing for its age, by the way, with freshly-laid cobble streets, lively markets and a plethora of artisan workshops all around, never mind the immense, marble-carved mountains of education that were the Battle Academies. I could see the things all the way from home, so being here, beneath their massive shadows was certainly something to behold.
Nevertheless, I must admit that there was a disturbing lack of gold as part of the construction, but perhaps my family manor has already managed to spoil my tastes terribly. "That 'thing', is the one and only heir to the dutchy of Lumenhart, Sir Malwrich. You will pay him due respects in spite of his current predicaments." Harkon groaned at the man and quickly motioned for him to be quiet, causing the holy knight to openly scowl in my direction.
"And how am I supposed to do that, your highness? This 'child' hasn't even reacted to my accusation within an arms length. I cannot accept for it to be anything but a devil of pride in disguise!" The knight pressed on, with a couple of approving snorts from his fellow knights, backing his claims.
Yet before Harkon could deliver another pointless retort, I spoke. "Inquisitor, can demons use holy magic?"
Both the knight and the man in question turned to look at me in confusion and slight dread. Why, the inquisitor seemed to take in a deep breath before answering. "No, they cannot. Merely calling upon the Light would make it destroy them utterly. However, ... you are not the type to ask such pointless questions, so why do so now?"
"Well, I figure if I openly used holy magic, it would be cause enough to quell the knights doubts." Harkon, even having expected my answer, seemed to lean further back into his seat. "You wish to learn how to cast holy magic, your highness?"
Now, it was my turn to give further attention to my fellows, as that question did not come from the Inquisitor, but the accusatory knight beside him. I looked up to stare the man straight into the eye, almost causing him to flinch on instinct, his silvery hair and eyes re-focusing themselves straight back at me in response. "Are you offering to teach me, Sir Malwrich?"
"I-its not that s-simple, your majesty." Harkon managed to sputter out, having recovered from whatever possessed him. "What do you mean, Inquisitor?"
The man cleared his throat as the knight nodded in approval. "Holy magic is a special power granted to us by the gods. It cannot be used without the gods aid, for one cannot make use of the Light without a holy symbol to draw it from."
"A holy symbol?" I blinked at the man in confusion as he raised a finger up with a sly smile. "Do you remember what I told you about the divine ritual of the Symbolica? One of the gifts that a child receives after which it is performed is a symbol dedicated to one of the gods in the heavens with whom their soul resonates." He removed his glove and showcased a symbol on the upper part of his right hand, a familiar picture representing the usual scales of Law and Order. "This is the symbol given to myself, as well as the holy knights around us, the symbol of the Inquisition, the idol of justice, of the heavenly Lord Treston, whom both I, as well as much of my order, serve."
"So you're saying that its impossible to use holy magic without the symbol of a patron divine?" Tilting my head in confusion and thought, I was surprised to find that the expressions of my two companions seemed to adopt a look of uncertainty and slight disgust, thought not towards me.
"No, my lord." The knight answered, his tone resolute. "The Light, like any other form of primal magic, can be called upon without a holy symbol, but to do so is equally as dangerous as its sibling powers. For instance, ancient arcane mages would sacrifice the souls of their followers to cast their spells, a fact that the arcanists of today, whom have no such base needs for their spellwork, would have the world forget as quickly as possible. The Light, while not requiring the sacrifice of souls, does require another type of sacrifice to be used."
Another blink was my response, as something clicked in my head. "Self-sacrifice, I guess?"
Harkon nodded grimly. "Aye, calling upon the power of Primordial Light often results in a splendorous display of holy power, able to cleanse entire regions of curses or wash away decades worth of corruption in a single cast, but doing so often comes with an unpayable price, such as madness, uncontrollable zealotry for the Light, instant death as the user is burned unto purified ashes, or the like."
"Is there truly no way to call upon the Primordial Light for smaller spell casts? For instance, simple healing spells? Can it only be used at such apocalyptic scales?" They both clicked their tongues in response.
"Not exactly. There's no reason why you couldn't use the Light for such things, but doing so simply brings unnecessary risks, so why do it when one may simply have faith in their divine patron instead?" The Knight answered quicker, seemingly starting to annoy his leader by now.
Looking back down to my book, I thought for a bit, then sighed. "I'll do it. It'll prove the reality of my situation for all to see. Even if neither of you will be my teacher, I'll just find some book or tome telling me how to call upon the Light, then show it to everyone."
"... the reality of your situation, is it?... but not your 'innocence'?" Harkon caught onto my play at words, causing me to let out yet another sigh. "Look, I'll be honest with you both, I have no clue if I'm actually a demon, a possessed person or not, so I figure, I might as well find out."
"... but if you ARE one, you'll die in the process?" Malwrich blinked in my direction, raising a curious eyebrow at me just as I returned my attention back to the book. "So be it."
"So be it."
Strange and stranger.
Terror, and hope, and despair and shock.
Horror. Absolute, unnerving, disturbing, monstrous horror.
That is the flux of emotion which I am feeling at this moment, for there was not even a question as to why the Light would be harmful. No notion of disbelief that a force of goodness would be capable of annihilation complete.
No doubt, in that voice, in that empty, emotionless tone.
Only seething, writing rage, a fury without reason or remorse... not even for himself.
My certainty grows weaker with every moment spent in the company of this childe. Oh, my good Lord, my beloved Treston, heavenly judge of the skies above... please, save my soul, grant me thine sanctity of mind and body, to persevere in this trying time.
I know not what awaits, not now, not even in the next second. I-...
... am, afraid.
But I cannot show this, cannot reveal this dread, this ineffable fear, this unease... not to anyone. Not the monster in front of me, not to my knights, to my fellows.
I will persevere.
"Ha! Well, if you are a devil, at the very least, I'll say I like your guts, kid." Malwrich broke the sudden onset of shocked silence that permeated the carriage, causing me to look up to notice Harkon had adopted a rather appalling expression. Decidedly ignoring the old man's frame, I turned towards the knight and shrugged.
"Hey, it just means that, if I'm not a demon in disguise, everyone that thought otherwise might actually respect me for the attempt." The Knight simply snorted in response, seemingly waking the old man from his trance.
But before any of us could continue this wreck of a conversation, a loud noise caught our attention from outside of the carriage. "CITIZENS OF GELIDGATE! GATHER ROUND! HEAR, HEAR!"
Harkon and I turned our attention to a window on the opposite side of the carriage, while Malwrich guided his horse some distance away, raising his head for a similar reason; to find the source of the yelling. It seemed that we had reached a street in front of the mansion of some lower ranking noble, a large building with a clear lack of typical Lumenhart appeal, meaning no errant gold or even silver could be found anywhere on the premises. In fact, rather than the splendor of my dynastic home, this mansion was covered head to toe with grim symbolism, from gargoyles to those weird statues of crying angels.
Most interesting of all however, was the woman standing atop a marble outcropping, a curious balcony that seemed to be connected to the second story of the house. Her butler, the guy that exclaimed the call for all to hear, was holding a large black umbrella over the Lady in question. She wasn't really that tall, but strikingly beautiful. Pearly white skin, lustrous red dress and sleek, long black hair styled in a very beatific manner. "Who's that?" I muttered out the question before I could stop myself, sounding needlessly excited to hear the answer, with my eyes rather uncomfortably fixated on the woman's rather massive chest, which was only barely contained by her crimson corset.
"That would be Lady Astariel, the current baroness of the city." Ah.
Well, my boner just died.
This woman was one of the key reasons why I only got five percent of city's total income, you see. Since it 'technically' belongs to her. She inherited it after her husband, the true baron, died in an accident involving a bad case of gout combined with an extra-long flight of stairs...
She bore him no heirs and everyone simply agreed that the widow should inherit her husbands titles, for some reason.
"Eh." I clicked my tongue.
I'll admit, its not 'for some reason'. After all, I can see two very good reasons as for why this would be the case.
Having instantly lost interest in whatever was about to happen, I leaned back into my carriage chair and closed my eyes, choosing instead to focus on meditation and channeling my blood magic. I've gotten much better at it now, with far clearer focus on my own blood than anything else, so I wanted to continue my training seeing as it was going so well.
Or, at least, I hoped I could, but that seems to be impossible to do here since the moment I try it...
The heartbeats of everyone around began to resound incredibly loudly in my ears, making it nigh impossible to actually focus on anything else but the sound of constantly beating hearts. It almost makes me want to silence them all once and for al-...
... wait a minute...
Silent, ... hearts?
"What in hell...?" I turned my attention back towards the manor just to confirm my suspicions and felt myself smile. Harkon noticed my expression and opened his mouth to speak, but I was quicker and simply asked this. "Hey, Inquisitor? I wasn't aware that our dutchy allowed the undead to roam around freely."
Harkon's eyes grew cold, eerily so, at the mention of the living dead. "It does not, your majesty. What could possibly have given you such a ridiculous idea?"
"Sorry to inter-" Malwrich poked his head through the window in order to tell us something, but I ignored him even as Harkon turned to face the man, as I gave them both my most bloodthirsty, sly smile as I pointed a finger towards the Baroness. "Then, pray tell Inquisitor, why does that one's heart not beat at all?"
Malwrich's eyes darted upwards, only briefly stopping to gaze at the baroness' remarkable breast before stopping at the massive, black umbrella her servant tenderly held over her head, effectively preventing all sunlight from even slightly reaching his mistress.
The baroness opened her mouth to speak, extending her hands to address the audience.
Yet not moving them even an inch unto the light.
Harkon's eyes began to widen, his expression twisting with disbelief and even further horror. He reached into his pockets, but whatever he wanted to do, it was too late.
"[Holy Reinforcement!]" Malwrich's voice could be heard, echoing from outside of the carriage, with his horse's dreadfully pained screech erupting a mere moment after.
As for me, I merely turned my head around, to the opposite window, to gaze at the Baroness once more, just in time to see a holy knight, blazing claymore in hand, leaping above the gathered crowd, and smashing the very foundations of the mansion's marble balcony. The Baroness, using what was likely her unnatural, vampiric agility, managed to grab onto something in her panic, though her butler lost his footing and fell face first onto the cobbled streets below.
And as the crowd's voices were hushed unto silence, the Light of the sun finally touched the woman, the words she intended to speak dying in her throat, twisting instantly into an abhorrent, heart-rending scream.