The Shadow Priestess Part 2: Power
Author: Moanna

Chapter 14
Chapter 14

At first, she did not seem to know where she was. She looked ahead of her for several seconds, her eyes glassy. She did not breathe.
"My lady?" Lord Niklaus said. The extreme, tender affection in his voice made me look at him instead. There was something in his eyes, something that I had never seen in his eyes before.
It was love.
"How did I get here?" she said, finally breathing and moving her head to look at Lord Niklaus.
"I found you," I said softly, "You came here, but you were in terrible condition. We fixed you up."
"Speak when spoken to, servant," she sneered, "I doubt the likes of you could fix me up, anyway. How dare you even have touched me?"
I was used to this kind of behaviour from a master, so I simply looked down, like I always did. I knew that this was the Dark side talking, not really her.
"Where have you been, Victoria?" Lord Niklaus asked, "You were a mess. It took hours of surgery-"
"It doesn't matter where I've been. All that matters now is that I'm stronger."
"Did the angels train you?"
"Who else?" she snapped.
"What did they train you to do?"
"They trained my mind, and how to shield it. I sparred with them simultaneously and I mastered all my water manipulation scrolls," she finished.
"Very well done, my lady," Niklaus complimented, but I could detect just the finest hint of uneasiness about him, "And in such a short time, as well. I will have a meal sent up to you, and then you can go about as you always have, as though you never left."
He kissed her hand and left the room. With a curtsy, I followed him.
Sebastian and Arrow left the room with us but Claude kissed her forehead before disappearing into thin air.
"Follow me, Sapphire," Lord Niklaus told me, and I did so without a word.
I knew that I was about to be confronted about the ingredients I used, how dangerous it was, how I could have killed Lady Victoria, how, even though one studies a recipe, should I have gotten a single measurement wrong, or slipped up in some other, seemingly insignificant way, I could just as easily have blown up the mansion.
When we entered Lord Niklaus's bedroom, I noticed that I forgot to tidy up where I had made a mess, and I nearly groaned when I realised that would just result in a fresh wave of being preached to.
"Sapphire," Lord Niklaus said, finally turning around to face me. I hurriedly looked at his tie, "I am sure you already know the dangers of what you had done, so I will not point them out to you again. But you know that I have a short temper, and Lady Victoria's life in jeopardy agitates me even more. If anything had happened to her, you would have been tortured to death."
"I was aware of that, my lord," I told him after a moment, sure that he was done talking, "I just couldn't bear to see all of you in such pain, especially Lady Victoria. This place is my home, and I care about every person within it. I did not forget how I came to be here, my lord, and I am still in your debt."
Speaking about it made me think about the memory for the first time in a long time. Ever since I started helping Lady Victoria, ever since she first came here, I have not really had any time really to think about my life before I came here.
I had grown up as an orphan in extreme poverty in a small country right in the centre of the continent, called Nineri, in a village no one really knows about, called Mua. I only had one set of clothing from the time I could remember, right up until age ten, by which time it had started tearing. I never really wanted to steal, like the other children did, and that granted me the slightest bit of respect from the better-off people. They gave me the scraps of food they did not eat themselves and, even though it was not much, it was appreciated. However, some of the children often stole my food, and they bullied me.
A few days before my tenth birthday, Alexudo Black passed through the village on his way to the Country of North, where he had been obliged to complete a mission. He was Lady Victoria's brother. She was now the spitting image of him. He was the most beautiful man I had ever seen, and he was sixteen at the time.
I remembered it clear as day. He had come to a stop in the town square, where there was a miserable little fountain, and had looked down on a map. I had been leaning against a nearby house's outside wall, crying. He had come up to me and had asked me what was wrong. When I had shied away from him, he offered to buy me some clothes. He was police captain, and so had quite an amount of money, a share of which he used to buy me both a winter and a summer outfit, with blanket and all, along with a bag to carry it all in. He had threatened the other children to keep them away from me and, after I had pointed out to him where the inn was, which was what he had been looking for, he booked his room and took me to the training grounds and taught me basic ranged combat, which was what I had been interested in.
He had stayed in the village for several days, during which time he allowed me to stay in the same room as he was and, on my birthday, which he had heard about from the other children, he bought me a toy gun.
Before he had left the village, he planted a kiss on my forehead and promised that he would visit again as soon as he could, but I never saw him again.
I had spent as much time as I could in the small training grounds, preparing for his next visit and determined to impress him when he did come again. As time passed, I became stronger, and the other children left me well alone, but the village became poorer. I used my blanket to curl up along with some of the younger orphans
After four years of waiting, I had learned that my role model had been murdered in cold blood by his father.
I had lost my will to live, and spent every minute lying on my back on the edge of the empty little fountain in the town square. The food that some of the villagers had to spare for me, I handed to the younger orphans.
Days after I had heard the news that Lord Niklaus had passed through the village, and I had heard that he was the strongest man in all the lands, so I had begged him to let me join him. He had agreed and, when we reached the mansion, he had put me through his three tests. I did badly in the first two but, determined to pass, in the hallucination that was the third test, I protected what I thought to be his whereabouts with my life, and he let me stay on as a servant.
Even though it was not much, I had been ecstatic. There was a magnificent new training room, ten times the size than the one I had been used to, and I was in a mansion full of people with stories similar to mine, with whom I bonded over time.
"Sapphire?"
I snapped back to reality with a small jump, and lowered my gaze, "I apologise, my lord."
"What is on your mind?" he asked.
Surprised to be asked such a question from my master, I replied, "I was thinking about the day you found me, my lord, and changed my life."
"You were miserable," he said, but in an amused voice, "You have much improved. I am proud to say that I do not regret hiring you."
"Thank you, my lord," I said, my heart a-flutter.
"Are you hungry?"
"No, thank you, my lord," I replied, "I would much rather work on finding Lady Victoria's cure."
From the upper corner of my eye, I could see the first traces of a smile.

***

Lunarian.
"Enter," I said as I heard the annoying rapping on my door, and one of my Animos entered. It was the one I had sent to try and negotiate with Klaus's warriors.
"Good afternoon, Majesty," he said, "I am sorry, but Klaus's warriors simply refuse to make way. One had specially gone to his mansion to try and reason with him, but he had returned with a threat, I'm afraid."
"Did this warrior tell him that it is on Lady Winter's direct orders that I act?" I asked, outraged.
"Yes, your majesty, but he called her a coward for not speaking with him herself."
"How arrogant!" I growl, "Thank you for the report. You are dismissed."
As soon as the door clicked shut behind the Animos, I slammed my hand on my desk. That selfish bastard! He had no idea what kind of internal turmoil I had gone through in the decision, and when I had finally reached one, he just turned me down! Did he not realise that I was trying to save Victoria's life?
I ran my fingers through the hair that Victoria never verbally acknowledged. What was I going to do, in a situation like this? There was no way I could stop an immortal man no one knew anything about from kidnapping Victoria, and the only person who could have been able to help me in that quest was too arrogant to attempt it!
Why, just now I had been busy with possible strategies that would ensure Victoria's safety. We could have had her alternate between two secure locations in our own lands. There would have been no way this Morrow Obsidian could scour two entire countries before she had been moved to the next location. She would not have liked it, but she would have gone with anything that would keep her alive.
But of course, Klaus was flattering himself. He must have thought that I was simply growing desperate to see Victoria again, and had made up some codswallop. One of these days, his arrogance was going to get the best of him.

***

Sapphire.
Days passed, and any sign that Lady Victoria had been injured had disappeared. However, when I pointed this out to Lord Niklaus one morning, he cut me short.
"Do not be fooled," he said, "That mixture you used: Sundrop and Sungrass do, indeed, have healing properties, but they cannot keep damage like this at bay forever. Like I told you before, what Victoria is going through is similar to an auto-immune illness. Her body is rejecting the unstable power within her, so we can continue healing her body, but it will just tarnish itself again. We need to rid her of the Dark side."
After he had told me this, I doubled my efforts when working with Lord Niklaus. I racked my brain to the point of its destruction until, one afternoon, a little less than a week after she had woken up, there was soft knocking on the door.
"Yes?" Niklaus asked irritably. Claude entered.
"My lord, Lady Victoria has convinced Sebastian to spar with her to prove everyone that she has become stronger."
"Why not you?" I asked.
"She knows that Sebastian will not hesitate to hurt her in a fair fight."

 

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