Deeds and plots from the past start to boil over and push two souls over the edge.
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A clear night sky twinkles with countless stars, and the moon turns the pitch black of night into a softly lit haven. All would seem to be asleep, save for the sounds of cricket's songs in a courtyard. The clicks of hard soled shoes on stone floors echo in the halls of a modest cathedral. A light creaking sound slips from the hinges of the heavy oak doors. Black shoes, with a glassy gloss shine that reflect the moonlight, step into the courtyard. Pure white slacks drape over the the shoes that seem to shimmer in the pale moonlight. A simple black leather belt holds the slacks up and is met by a vest similar to the slacks, but is stitching and embroidering are golden thread. Three black glossy buttons hold the vest firmly shut.
Candlelight flickers in the night, illuminating an individual with violet skin and silver hair. After a deep breath threw his nose, ruby eyes open and turn to the moon. “Yet another night has come.” His amusement brings a smile to his face as he sweeps his hair behind his long and pointed ears. The cricket's song brings him back to himself. “Ah, yes. Duties much be attended too.” One hand lifts a single finger to the his lips while the other levels out just above his shoulders.
With a light shush, his hand lowers to his waist, and the crickets song fades to silence. With the other hand, he points to each lit candle, and then each small flame wanes to nothing but embers in the wicks. “Now then. I think I'll start in the main hall tonight.” smirking as he straightened the cuff of his shirt. Pivoting on one heel and turning around with the toes of the other foot, his poise gives away his militaristic history. The clicks of his shoes fade into the halls as the door closes behind him on its own.
However peaceful one place may be, the same can not be said for all places at the same time. In a lavished and highly decorated room, a heavy dresser has been pushed to bar the door to the room. Sounds of metal slamming into thick and strong wood spur the fears of the two women in the room. Shouts of angered men mutter through the door into incomprehensible words.
“Hurry M'lady, you must flee. Your father has gone truly mad.” the maid rushed to dress a tired young woman. “What do you mean? Where is mother?”
“M'lady, please hurry. Your mother is missing, and his highness is convinced that you are the reason why.”
“What!? Where did my mother go?”
“None of us know m'lady, Now please put this on!” the maid quickly wrapped the young woman in peasants travel cloak, and started to tie the bed sheets off to the one of the bed's posts.
“And just where am I to go? How am I to leave the room? You barred my door and now your knotting my sheets.”
“Out the window m'lady. I am sorry I can't tell you more, but you have to flee. The church will grant you sanctuary if you ask for it. If you can't make it out of the city, you must make it to the church!” the maid started to push the young woman to the window.
“Out the window! Are you mad?”
“M'lady, we don't have any other choice. Please hurry.”
The slamming on the door started to be accompanied with the sound of splintering wood. “Run M'lady, run and find your mother.”
“Wait, but what are you going to do?” the young woman questioned as she climbed out the window.
“All of us here will do our best bring your father to his senses. Now hurry!”
The young women clutched tightly to the knotted sheet and made her way to the end of it. Looking down, she realized the sheets were to short for her to make it to the ground safely. “It's to short!” She called as she looked up. The maid looked sharply back at the bedroom door as it was smashed open. Turning back to the young woman, “I am so sorry M'lady!” the maid shouted as she drew a knife and cut the sheet off at the widow.
The young woman slammed into the ground. Stunned and slightly winded, she looked up, shocked that her maid would do such a thing. By the time she collected her thoughts, she looked back up to the window to see her maid standing on the windows edge at sword point. Before she could yell for her the sword was thrust forward and the maid fell from the window. The sound of the maid's scream was quickly silenced by the shattering and snapping of her bones as she landed beside the young woman. She looked to her maids corpse. Blood slowly seeped from her nose, mouth, and eyes. Even her blond hair was starting to soak up the blood.
Horrified screams filled the yard. A man in armor looked out the window to the young woman, “I found her, she's in the main yard! Stop her!” As fast as he shouted he was gone from the window.
The guards would be in the yard in moments. As much as grief would have her stay at her maid's side, she mustered her will power, and stood. Before bolting for the main exit, she snatched up the maids knife. Clutching tightly to the knife, the young woman sprinted for the main entrance. Soon four fully armed and armored men were in hot pursuit of her.
Fear gave the young woman an unnatural stamina to rival that of a professional marathoner. The four guards chased closely behind. Looking up, the young woman could easily see the church over the rest of the buildings, and charged past the guards at the city walls. Seeing the royal insignia on the four men's armor, the city guards both agreed not to get pulled into the affair. Her soft padded shoes shuffled across the cobblestone streets. They were quickly matched with stomping metal-plated battle boots. The light from the scattered torches and lanterns paled in comparison of the moonlight in the open streets.
With the clank of rushed metal, shouts of men, and the sight of a chase. Most shut their doors and windows as the commotion passed them. The young woman sharply turned a corner, and slammed into someone. This threw her off balance and to the ground rolling.
“Who tha... Hey watch it!” another annoyed woman shouted.
The young woman looked up to see a sword tightly strapped to the hip of a scarred woman. Sudden shouts from the guards made this woman cloak her sword from sight. Exhaustion started to catch up to the young woman as she scrambled to get to her feet to continue running.
A hooded figure knelt upon a rooftop watching the chase with amusement. “My my, and just what did you do my little friend?” the hooded man loosed a whip from his hip. “I think I'll follow this little fracas to it's stupidity.” With an expert sling and anchor of the whip, the hooded man swung down to the streets below, unseen. The young woman and four guardsmen were now being followed by a hooded man and scarred woman.
Turning down the main street, she could see the main gates to the church wide open. Sharp whizzing breaths started to bring burning waves upon her chest. She knew to stop could mean death, but to push threw the pain could mean life. Every step closer brought her more hope and quickened her step. The guards however, were not letting up. Exhaustion had pushed them to start running in formation to help keep a pace.
Both, the hooded man and the scarred woman, noticed the destination was the church. Something felt wrong to both of them, as they followed out of sight of the guards and each other.
The young woman looked over her shoulder to gauge the space between herself and the guards. As she passed the gate, she risked the time to shut and bar the gate. Just as the last latch was slide into place, the guards slammed into it. Fear struck her to the ground. She turned to crawl to the church, but was quickly choked back. One of the guards had reached threw the gate's bars and grasped her cloak.
“I've got her, get the damned gate open!” as he shouted, the other three struggled to life the bars. With pressure against the gate, the grinding metal ceased up on itself. In a panic, the young woman cut the part of the cloak off. Scrambling for the door, she attempted to bang on it.
Inside, the sounds of light brushing from a broom against stone were interrupted by the screeching of metal from the front gate. Knowing that all the clergy were in bed, no one should be out front. The violet skinned man glared at the main doors, and with a snap of his fingers.
The cathedral doors flung open, sending the young woman to the floor, and rolling a good distance down the carpeted path. A smirk crossed the man's lips seeing her roll, but it quickly faded upon seeing the guardsmen storming up to the main doors.
“You there! Turn over the witch to us!” one of the guards shouted.
The guardsmen had stopped at the threshold of the church, knowing full well, that their authority stopped at the door. Slowly catching her breath, the young woman turned to look at the guards in shock. Accusing her of being a witch? Before she could start to defend herself, the violet man stepped forward.
“I highly doubt that, sir.” annoyance in the violet man's voice was clear.
“Just turn her over to...” before he could finish his sentence, the young woman shouted one last exhausted word from her lungs, “Sanctuary!”
Surprise widened the eyes of the violet man. “What did you say?”
“There is no sanctuary for witches!” one of the guardsmen taunted, as he crossed the threshold of the church.
“You dare to bring violence into the house of God.” the subtle tone paired with his ruby eyes brought the guard to a standstill. “Those who call for sanctuary while in a church are instantly under the protection and care of the church. Whether they be a peasant or king, witch or saint, it does not matter.”
“The King's word is above the church!”
Anger now filled the violet man's voice, “No man is above God.” A swift snap of his fingers, and ribbons of crimson blood now encircled him. A faint red hue now cast its light upon the walls of the church, as the guardsmen and the young woman look on in horror.
“Blood magic... You're a...”
“Before the man could finish his sentence, one of the ribbons shot straight at him, and crashed against his armor. The three men at the door were knocked flat by the force their comrade had hit them with. As they sat up, their friends armor had been crushed inward on itself, and the monster was now slowly stepping towards them.
“This is a house of God. One of his children has cried for sanctuary. You seek to rob them of it. Not while I stand guard! Begone!” His fury and anger thundered threw the halls of the church as it's doors were slammed shut.
The man slowly turned to the young woman. All the rage and anger had vanished as quickly as it had risen. With a soft smile, he extend a hand to help the woman to her feet.
“Vampire!” the woman shouted, as she brandished the maid's knife between herself and this man.
“I am...” before anything else could be said.
“Markus Understar!” thundered threw the hall and made Markus flinch, as both he and the young woman looked towards a robust and heavy set man. “How many times must I remind you...” his words cut themselves short the instant he saw the young woman holding a knife pointed at Markus.
“Ah, Father Toleman, This young lady here has requested sanctuary.”
Toleman started down the path with a staff in hand, each step shifting his large gut from side to side. “My dear child, you are in the house of God now. There is no need for weapons in here.”
“But, He's a Vampire!”
The concern on Toleman's face shifted to comforting humor, “Dear child, a Vampire can't survive in a house of God. They are all repelled by holy items and places. No, my dear girl, Markus is a Drow. Also known as a Dark Elf.”
“But I saw him use Blood Magic!”
Toleman sharp glare forced an uneasy grin from Markus. With an outstretched hand, Toleman offered to help to young woman to her feet.
“Father Toleman, The armored men attempted to remove...” Toleman cut Markus off, “Regardless! Must I remind you of your oath and vow of Non-violence?”
Confusion passed to the young woman's face as accepted Toleman's help standing up. “So, he is not a vampire. A night-child from from Hell?”
Markus and Toleman glanced at her and then to each other. After a few seconds of silence, both erupted into laughter. This laughter was enough for the young woman to relax and lower her blade. “I apologize for my behavior, I was unaware of his nature, and had a very disturbing evening.” the young woman's apology was truly heartfelt. “I am...”
Father Toleman quickly, but gently placed a finger over her lips. “Hush now child. The hour is late, and you have laid claim to sanctuary in this house. That is all we need to know. You must be terribly exhausted from your ordeal. I'll have Markus show you to a bed for the night.” After resting the staff in the crook of his elbow, he cupped a hand over the young woman's hands. His face turned to Markus, “Now Markus, please show her to the sleeping quarters, and then you can return to your cleaning duties.”
With a professional bow, Markus offered the young woman a warmhearted smile and a hand to get up. Timidly, she put the blade away and took Markus' hand. With little effort, Toleman and Markus lifted her to her feet. “Now then, if you'll excuse me young lady. I am going to head to bed myself.” Toleman took hold of his staff again and started back to his chambers.
“I do apologize if I frightened you. I often forget that not many people know about my kind.” Markus did his best to reassure the young woman. “How about we find you a bed for the night?” The young woman smile and rested her hand on top of Markus' as he led her to the back portion of the church. As they walked, Markus would point out tiny details about the art works on the walls and tapestries.
“Here we are.” Markus slowly opened a door and looked inside. In a hushed whisper, “Don't worry about the others, just pick any bed that's open. Breakfast is at sun up, and if you need to relieve yourself, continue down this hall. It is literally the only door down that way.”
The young woman peered inside to see three of the ten beds were taken, no walls or dividers between them, and the beds themselves were simple straw mattresses with a single wool blanket to each. “Are there any other options I can choose?”
“Sadly no. this is all we have. Even Father Toleman sleeps on a similar bed, if you can believe it or not.” Shuffling from one of the sleepers quickly silenced both of them. After a moment of silence, “try to get some rest. Father Toleman with talk with in the morning.”
“What about you?”
“My duties have my work through the night, so I sleep most of the day.”
Jokingly, “Are you sure you're not a vampire?”
“I like Father Toleman said, the undead children of the night can not set foot on holy ground, and this is a church.” a coy smirk crossed Markus' face, “Now off to bed with you.”
Markus closed the door behind her and started back to the main hall.