Cleric Journal: Day Two Hundred and Seventy Two
I acted on instinct, really. I had no idea what magic I called forth but it was the exact right thing to do. A green tinged vortex appeared over our heads sucking in the flames. The good bishop’s eyes grew into saucers as his most potent attack was subsumed into the ether. After a heartbeat he slumped to the side, falling against the wall, clutching his holy symbol to his chest.
We stood there, frozen, each watching the other for any movement, any hint of attack. I had no idea what I was going to do if he did something else, but I knew I could tackle him if it came down to it. Not the most dignified response, but better than getting killed for looking like some old prophet. Seriously, I had barely begun to put the pieces together and I really wanted some time to think about everything I’d learned. When he didn’t move for a full minute, I stepped back righted the chair I’d knocked over in my reaction to stop his spell. I set the chair firmly next to the table and sat, making a calm presentation that I was in no way concerned by his actions.
“Fiend,” he gasped out.
“Bishop, please restrain yourself,” Kershaw said, casting a quick glance my way. “Go back to your camp. Let us talk of this tomorrow.”
The good bishop straightened then, recalling his dignity. His personality changed again then, like watching him putting on a suit with a new face. This time his calm was absolute, but warning bells were sounding in my head. While before he was a wild thing, lashing out in fear and anger, now he was a calculating murderer, sizing up his victim.
“You will bow to my authority, Captain Kershaw. You have seen the documents I presented six days ago. Your own commanding officer Bartlett from Blackstone Landing has acquiesced to our rightful rule of these lands in the name of the One True God. You serve here at my pleasure,” he said, sneering at her. “And my pleasures can be easy or hard. The choice is yours. In the end I get what I want.”
“Or so you claim,” she said, her voice tight with anger. “And until I have verified these highly suspect orders, you are free to return to your encampment and wait my pleasure.” She stepped forward, lowering her voice to the point Cirila and I both leaned in to catch her final words. “Until then, it is my word that rules the day.”
Cirila ran one hand through his hair and straightened his cloak that had been knocked askew by his previous thrashing about. “Is this your last word?” he asked, smirking. “Because when I assume command of this keep, it will be the words I use to have you executed.”
At that Captain Kershaw grew very still. Her nostrils flared and her lips disappeared as her mouth went taught and her eyes grew hard. Cirila noticed the change almost immediately. The hairs on my neck stood on end. There was violence on the brink here; violence as I’d never witnessed.
The room grew so quiet I could hear Braids and Stumpy in the hallway making wagers on the outcome of this confrontation. They quieted quickly as they became far noisier than us. Apparently they had no desire to come out on the wrong end of either of these two powerful verbal warriors.
“Are you finished,” Kershaw asked politely. “If I hear one more word of demons or any other foul creatures I will have you arrested and flogged in the village square.”
He stepped back, judging the distance to the door and spat at her. “I will leave you to entertain my men for a fortnight before I feed you to the pigs.”
That was the final straw for me. I stood quickly, crossing to where he was focused on Kershaw and poked him hard in the shoulder, spinning him a quarter turn to face me. She may not be my mother, but she’d rescued me and saw me safe. I was not going to allow this popinjay to mistreat here.
He backed away from my touch, glancing down at his shoulder as if expecting putrescence to be spreading across his pretty white armor. As I was still in nothing but my small clothes, and a cloak that Nick had loaned me earlier, he had no opportunity to see my armor. But you can bet your last shiny drachma I recognized what he wore. It was paladin armor, just as Bob and I owned. This had belonged to one of the Paladins of Kithri originally, and I knew from a much higher authority that none had been bestowed in thousands of years. How had this wandought come to befoul it?
Captain Kershaw turned and asked that I return to my seat. The look on her face assured me she would not be asking a second time. I knew she had a soft spot in her heart for me, but apparently that would not prevent her from beating my arse.
I stepped back, out of the man’s personal space and Kershaw turned to face him once more. At least my intervention had slowed his train of thought and while he stood there, gaping at me, she pushed him back, slamming him into the wall. Before he could recover, she jerked the door open and bodily threw him into the hall.
Braids and Stumpy were caught by surprise and gawped when Cirila slammed into the opposite wall and slumped to the floor.
“Escort this coxcomb out of this keep and see that he is returned to his encampment. I want guards posted outside their camp on rotating shifts. They are under house arrest and are not allowed to leave their camp until I say so.”
She was so calm I shivered. I cannot imagine seeing this woman in battle if this is how she responded under these conditions.
“And bring Sebastian to me,” she said, then slammed the door.
As I watched she took two deep breathes, straightened her chair which had been knocked aside, and sat at the table once more, facing me with a smile.
“The man, who runs your order,” she asked. “What was his name again?”
I stared at her, confused. Was she utterly mad? “Father Mulcahy?” I finally answered.
She snapped her fingers. “Yes, of course. It has been more than two decades after all, and I was such a small girl. He had a kind face,” she said, smiling.
“Now that Brother Durham, him I recall. And a more bitter man I have never met.”
Alarms began ringing in the keep, and Kershaw went to the window to look out. “Fire,” she growled. “In the village.”
Then she was rushing through the door. “Go find your lizard friend,” she said, stopping. “And for the love of the gods, put on some pants.”