The Shadow Priestess Part 2: Power
Author: Moanna

Chapter 13
Chapter 13

Niklaus.
Sapphire was on one of her breaks again - I was seriously considering turning her into a vampire so that she did not need to eat and rest so much - when there were a few knocks on my door. I opened it to find the leader of one of my defence villages, who bowed when I looked at him.
"What is it?" I asked irritably. I had been busy with a particularly potent technique experiment, and now that I had been interrupted, I would have to start all over again.
"I bring a message from the High King," he told me. I waited expectantly.
"My silence is your queue, boy. What plea does he have this time?" I asked after a moment, fighting the urge to snap his neck.
"He wishes to ally with you, my lord. He is under the impression that Lady Victoria's life is in danger, and that she needs to be protected from the leader of the Shadows-"
"She is perfectly safe from him in this mansion, without a love-struck fool's help," I interrupted.
"He said that he does not want to ally with you any more than you want to ally with him, but that he had been instructed so by Lady Winter, my lord."
"If the need is so dire, she can come to me herself. If she is too cowardly, then it is not my problem. Do everything you can to keep him, and everyone else from the Village of Water, away from this mansion. Do you understand?"
"Yes, my lord."
With that, I had slammed the door in his face.
How dared anyone think that I was not capable of protecting her against Morrow Obsidian?

***

Sapphire.
I had not known what to expect when I entered the room, but definitely not what I did find.
Lady Victoria was asleep. There was no one else in her bedroom, as I had expected. Apart from her agonised moans - I guessed that she was having a nightmare - I saw that the sword was in her hand again. I felt my stomach churn as I saw that the flesh around her skin was burned to the hilt again.
I ran through the castle as fast as my legs would carry me, right up to the eleventh floor and burst into Lord Niklaus's room.
"Lord Niklaus - Lady Victoria - come quick!" I gasped. His eyes widened, and he jumped upright, disappearing from view. When I reached Lady Victoria's bedroom again, Sebastian was carrying the tools that were used to operate on the Ceilos system. He placed it on the bedside cabinet.
"Sapphire, do you have any medical experience?" Lord Niklaus asked me urgently.
"No, my lord," I said solemnly, but then had an idea, "I know someone who has!"
I ran out the door and down the corridor before bursting in through the male benders' room. Luka was only wearing shorts, and he lifted a cushion to shield himself from view as I entered.
"What are you doing, Sapphire?" he asked, his face blood red. I ignored him and glared at Arrow.
"You were a medic before you came here, weren't you?" I asked urgently.
"Y-yes," he said.
"Please, I need help," I said.
"Are you all right?" Luka asked. Again, I ignored him.
"Ok," Arrow said. He followed me out of the room and back to Lady Victoria's room.
"Lord Niklaus," I breathed, my chest heaving, "Arrow used to be a medic under his guardian's care."
"Get to work on her lower body," Lord Niklaus instructed, "Fix her Ceilos system."
"Yes, my lord," Arrow said, kneeling at Lady Victoria's feet and grasping her ankles firmly, but he did not get started until Sebastian was kneeled at her head. They simultaneously closed their eyes and a green glow enveloped their hands as they got to work.
Just as Lord Niklaus finished making the cut into her torso and started extracting her Ceilos system, she gave an ear-splitting scream.

***

Victoria.
"Have you decided whether you want to join me yet?"
"I have decided," I snapped, "I've decided to decline."
"Are you certain?"
I glared at the figure. How can anyone expect someone to trust them if no one can see their face? His face was hidden in the shadows cast by his hood. I could not trust this person. I did not know his name, I could not see his face, and he claimed to be able to purify my sword. Dominatio per Malum had been made centuries before, and only the creator of a sword could purify it, so how could I take this man seriously?
"Let me see your face, and tell me your name," I challenged.
"No."
"Then I am certain that I will not join you," I told him.
"Your body is ruined at the moment," he told me, "Nothing you or anyone else does will be able to save it, you know."
"My body feels fine."
"That is because you are not conscious of it," he said, "I think it is time that you wake up."

***

Sapphire.

Lady Victoria's scream was not that of a normal human; it reverberated and echoed off the walls, pressing upon our ears like an amplified violin. Lord Niklaus was the only one who seemed oblivious to it. Sebastian continued working, but his frown creased his brow even more and Arrow, like me, crouched on the floor, clutching his ears.
"Work, Arrow," Niklaus growled. Poor Arrow lowered his hands and grasped Lady Victoria's ankles again. The green glow enveloping his hands was considerably smaller than before, which was understandable.
I moved my gaze from the poor elemental back to Lord Niklaus's hands. It was a mistake. Lady Victoria's Ceilos system was tarnished: not only tangled, but charred in places and emanating smoke.
"Sapphire, go fetch Claude," Lord Niklaus pleaded, "I need his help."
"Yes, my lord," I said, running from the room and pushing through the crowd around the door, ignoring all questions. I went down the stairs, skipping two with each step until I reached the basement. In the distance, all I could hear was Claude's agonised screams and running water.
Luckily the shower room was closer to the door than I had expected. Claude's clothes were hanging over the bars on the door along with a towel and what seemed like a tonic. I grabbed the small bottle and opened the door.
"Claude?" I called. Another scream rang through the room.
I did not know how much horror I could take anymore.
Claude was chained by his ankles and wrists to the walls. Water showered from the ceiling itself. His entire body was blistered and skin hung in pieces from his arms and legs. One eye was missing. I grabbed the towel.
"How do I switch this off?" I cried.
"I cannot - Lord Niklaus-"
"He asked me to come get you," I said and, knowing that it would motivate him, added, "Lady Victoria needs help."
"A switch - to your left," he gasped before screaming again as a piece of flesh fell to the stone floor. I looked to my left, where a hand-sized lever stood out of the wall. I reached out and pulled it down. Immediately, the flow of water ceased and the chains released Claude. He fell to the ground and stood on all-fours, his skin blistering and smoking.
I walked forward and wrapped the towel around him. He took it and stood back up with difficulty. I fought with all my might not to vomit.
"I'll get your clothes," I told him, handing him the small bottle of liquid I had taken from beside his clothes. He took it gratefully.
I turned around and took his clothes. When I turned back around, his skin was restored to its former glory. He threw the small bottle on the ground and took the clothes.
"I'll meet you in Lady Victoria's room," I said before running back. When I reached the corridor, an even bigger crowd was standing around the door. I started pushing my way past everyone.
"Hey!"
"What the hell do you think you're doing?!"
"Get away from the door!" I shouted. When everyone refused to make way, I performed a select few hand seals I had learned from Lord Niklaus's ancient book. A force exploded out of me, knocking everyone off their feet, and I hurried into the room.
"How is she?" I asked the moment I entered the room. A pain-filled scream answered my question before any of the people in the room could, but I saw that Lord Niklaus was slowly but surely making progress with healing Lady Victoria's damaged Ceilos wires.
Barely a moment later, Claude entered with heavy shadows under his eyes. He walked forward weakly and, just as Arrow gave way, fell to his knees and took the boy's place. Arrow, instead of hurrying from the room, moved to Lady Victoria's burned hand and got to work on that, instead. I could not help but feel appreciative of him.
I suddenly got an idea, and hurried from the room again - there were no people at the door, and I guessed that Claude must have chased them away - and to Lord Niklaus's. One does not spend day in and day out, week after week, working with techniques and vials of liquid without picking up a few tricks.
As I went inside the room, I felt a heavy weight press on my chest.
"I'll just have to endure the punishment for invading his privacy," I said to the room in general, aware that there was a possibility that it might actually hear me, "Lady Victoria's life depends on it."
I went to the table covered in large and small bottles alike, each with a differently coloured liquid. A specific, tiny vial of golden liquid Sundrop - immediately came to view. I took it before looking for its pair, the small box full of silver stones called Moonstones. When I finally found it, I headed to the alchemy table. I poured a quarter of the golden liquid into the special retort and watched for a moment as it made its way downward to be distilled before taking one of the Moonstones and crushing it to a powder with the mortar and pestle.
I froze, knowing that I needed to hurry, but I just remembered something. There was a small glass case with blades of golden grass called Sungrass that, according to Alchemy books, had certain healing properties. I rummaged about the desk and found it. I took a pinch and crushed it along with the Moonstone.
When I had finished, I grabbed a syringe from the other table and poured the powder into it, finishing just in time to receive the distilled golden liquid. After closing the syringe, I held the end closed and shook it so that the two substances could mix before putting the needle in place and running back to Lady Victoria's room.
Another one of her awful screams rang through my ears and pressed on my eardrums. It endured until I had re-entered the room and closed the door behind me. Lord Niklaus, the butlers and Arrow were all still working furiously with amazingly creased brows.
Without really thinking about it, I held up the syringe and stabbed it into Lady Victoria's chest, pushing the liquid out. Moments later, her screams died away and she became still.
To everyone's surprise, a flow of golden light ran along the edge of each of her Ceilos wires, healing the charred spots and arranging them in place in the process. When this was finished, her newly healed Ceilos system placed itself back in her chest and the cut sealed itself and, with a final golden glow, she was perfectly fine. Dominatio per Malum fell from her grasp and onto the carpeted floor.
"What on earth-"
"What was that, Sapphire?" Niklaus interrupted Claude.
"I'm sorry, my lord," I said, unmoving, "I went into your room and-"
"What was in that potion?"
"Sundrop, a Moonstone and some Sungrass, my lord," I said, starting to tremble from fear, apprehensive as to what kind of punishment he had in mind, "I was just trying to help Lady Victoria, my lord, and I will accept any punishment for it."
"Tampering with those powerful ingredients was very dangerous. You could have just as easily killed her-"
I studied the recipe! I thought to myself.
"-but since you did not, I will not punish you this time."
I looked up, very nearly directly into his eyes, and lowered my gaze to his mouth before curtsying, "Thank you, my lord."
"May I ask how you came by the recipe?" he asked.
I considered lying, but I knew that it would be no use, so my shoulders fell as I said, "During the times that you - died, my lord, I went through your potion ingredients list, and potion recipe book and I studied this recipe, my lord. It was standing on the table, and I - I was curious, my lord ... I'm sorry, my lord."
Before he could reply, a groan made us all turn our heads to look at Lady Victoria.
Slowly, as we watched, she opened her eyes.

 

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