“Do you know why the Head of the Disciples has called for us?” Sotiris asked. He glanced over toward his companion, and then quickly looked away. Sotiris could not explain the roiling in his gut, but he could guess. After fifteen years with the Disciples, the vision still had not come to pass.
Maybe this was it, he thought. Maybe they were going to throw him back to the Orpheus Society, like so much dead meat into a den of starved wolves.
“It is not my place to question our leader, but to obey him in all things,” Damien said, without so much as a glance in Sotiris’ direction.
Damien was nothing if not obedient, and it was easy to see why they had paired the two of them together. The ultimate warrior for good was there to watch the former warrior of evil, just in case Sotiris decided to revert back to his wicked ways.
It had been a difficult transition, to say the least, and still there were people who doubted him—even after fifteen years of loyal service.
“Obedient as always, Damien,” Sotiris voiced his thoughts.
“You could do with more obedience, Sotiris.”
“So you keep saying, but I stand firm by my opinion that blind obedience is often more dangerous than rebelling from time to time.”
“If you stand so firmly by that opinion, why are you nervous about the summons? I think you know you are not largely liked among the Disciples; they do not share your view on the matter of obedience,” Damien said and looked down his nose at the other man. He had the perfect nose for it, too— hawk-like and regal.
The two were dissimilar in both looks and world-views. Damien embodied how most humans of Georn pictured their Angels. Hair like spun gold, and wavy to his shoulders. A fit, muscular body that moved with grace and barely contained power. A strong jaw, high cheekbones, the condescending nose, and eyes the color of a clear blue sky at noon. If it were possible for any of their kind to get wrinkles, Damien would surely have them. He was always frowning or scowling at someone not as righteous as he.
“The Head of the Disciples seems to enjoy my ‘antics,’ I believe you call them,” Sotiris pointed out, and not for the first time.
The scowl was back upon Damien’s face. “Yes, the Head of our order seems to find a kind of perverse amusement in your disruptions, and I find that very disturbing for one of his stature.”
While it might have surprised Sotiris that Damien would voice these opinions out loud, he should have known better. Damien did not see anyone as more holy, or worthy of the order, than himself.
Sotiris shook his head. They neared the audience hall where the Disciples conducted their business, and he did not want to add fuel to Damien’s urges in getting rid of him. He kept his mouth shut.
The audience hall looked much like halls used to hold large amounts of people. Coliseum-like in structure, it had rows upon rows of benches used to seat everyone of the Order, and make sure they could all see the floor, where speakers stood. At the front–or would it be the back, Sotiris often wondered–was where the Head of the Disciples of Light sat, on very plain, wooden bench.
As always, the scene recalled his memory of the Head of the Orpheus Society, who sat upon a throne made of obsidian. The Disciples tried their best to keep their leaders humble. It was the irony of why Damien might never become the Head of the Disciples—being humble was one thing Damien could not claim.
Today there was no audience in the hall, and some of the tension drained from Sotiris. If they were going to expel him from the heavenly plane, the Order would make a great spectacle of it, would they not?
There were three figures near the wooden bench, and one on it. The one on it was, of course, the Head of the Disciples. Two of the three were unknown to him, though they seemed familiar. The third was the head of the intelligence division.
As they drew closer, the conversation the four ceased. Four pairs of eyes stared at Sotiris and Damien as they approached the bench and kneeled.
“You have summoned us, Holy One. What would you have of us?” Damien asked, in his stuffiest, most proper and pious tone.
The Head of the Order smiled benevolently, yet somehow mischievous at the same time, and bid them to rise. “Let’s not stand on ceremony here, Damien. This is not a formal setting.”
“As you wish, Holy One,” Damien replied. You could almost see the humor sliding behind the old man’s eyes. The old man understood how Damien felt about how he ran the Order. He did not seem disturbed or angered by it; it was just Damien’s nature.
“Well, I would love to catch up on all the happenings since the last gathering, but I fear that time is very critical in your next mission. It has come to the attention of our intelligence division that a clue to unlocking the truth of your vision has been found—the sword,” the Head of the Order said.
Sotiris just stared at him, open-mouthed, while Damien’s scowl deepened. This had been the last thing either of them expected.
“That is wonderful news, Holy One,” Sotiris said as he finally found his voice.
The old man smiled down at him.
“Indeed. Currently, it does not seem like the enemy is aware of its existence, but that could change any moment. It is being kept by a very secluded group of monks. There are very few who know the way to their stronghold, which is why we have brought you a guide,” the head of the intelligence division said, though his words were slightly muffled.
All who worked in intelligence wore masks, and body-concealing grey robes. The only way to tell their rank was by what kind of mask they wore. The head of the division had a unique mask, of course—it was white, and took the form of a plain human face. The only defining characteristic a person could ever see was the color of the person’s eyes. The head of intelligence had eyes that were a washed out grey to match the robe he wore.
When he mentioned the guide one of the women stood up.
It surprised Sotiris that he did not notice sooner how absolutely beautiful she was. He could only claim a temporary leave of his senses due to his nervousness.
Where Damien’s hair was golden, hers was the palest silver of moonbeams, and pulled back in a long braid that ended somewhere around her waist. A heart-shaped face held eyes that were dark blue one second, but would flash an equally dark violet the next. Not to mention a mouth that looked as though it was created for nothing but whispering sweet words and giving gentle kisses.
While she was not short by female standards, Sotiris could probably still rest his chin comfortably on the top of her head. A body both strong and curvy showed through her robes, which were made of the finest material any plane had to offer. She must have belonged to one of the four great houses.
Angels or Demons would visit Georn, seemingly at random, and lay with a human woman or man. The offspring of the union were then taken in by the respective courts, and trained to become warriors, clerics, sorcerers, and what-have-you; fighting for either good or evil. Some time ago, however, four great houses were established on both sides. The founders of the houses were the children of the four highest-ranking Angels and Demons that Heaven and Abbadon had to offer. It was a highly selective club, and generally the houses only intermarried between each other.
“This is Lady Charis, and her handmaiden, Zoe. Lady Charis is a relation to the founder of the order of monks that hold the item, and she knows how to get there. You will leave through one of the great gates, and make haste toward the monks. Your mission is not only to retrieve the item, but to make sure the monks come to no harm from their association with it. You will have horses and supplies ready for you once you exit the closest gate. The journey will take around two days. Good luck, and may the Lord of Light guide your path.”
With the Head of the Order’s blessing, he and the intelligence division man left the four soon-to-be companions to themselves.
Lady Charis looked at Sotiris as though she was examining his soul, to see if he was worthy of all the trouble everyone was going through for him. Whether she was satisfied with her inspection or not, she gave no outward clue. Instead she turned to Damien and inclined her head, slightly, since Damien did not grace one of the great houses.
“It is nice to see you again, Damien. I look forward to working with you again,” she said. Even her voice was magnificent—sweet and clear as a bell. Something itched at the back of Sotiris’ mind, as if he should know who she was.
“Yes, it has been a long time, Lady Charis,” Damien said in an equally courteous voice, and gave a short bow.
“Well let us not waste anymore time. Shall we leave for the gate?” As she asked the question, she and Zoe walked toward Sotiris and Damien. Sotiris watched her, and felt something awaken deep inside of him. He could not put his finger on what it was, but it was something new, and while not unpleasant, it was not comfortable either.
“Yes, let us go,” Damien agreed. He turned on his heel and did not wait to see if anyone followed.
Zoe shook her head, and Lady Charis merely let slip a small smile. Yes, they had certainly worked with Damien before.
When Lady Charis smiled, Sotiris’ stomach–which had finally settled after discovering he wasn’t being kicked from the Disciples–did a few acrobatic flips. Something life-changing was happening, and not all of it had to do with going after the sword.