It simply was not possible. The girl's heart froze in her chest as she regarded the scene before her. Regh, her brother, stood tall, proud, defiant; his fingerclaws wrapped deeply in the hair of the man he and his cronies dragged with him.
"Behold!" Regh bellowed, and she flinched at the sound. This couldn't be happening. It was an impossibility, a nightmare. "One of the blessed Daevas!"
And, unlike last time, he was correct. This was no insane witch man claiming divinity, claiming Aion's touch, this… was a Daeva. How she knew that, she wasn't certain, but she was. And that made this trouble. Made this a crime. No, a sin. A very abomination against everything that was, and was meant to be. She felt suddenly nauseous, cold, and very, very distant from the jubiliant cries of those who surrounded her. Aion turned away from her with this…
No. She had been placed here to wait. Bide her time.
"Anything to say for yourself, Daeva?" Regh challenged, stepping back from the man. Released from their grasp, if not the chains binding him, the man stood, his eyes coasting over the gathering crowd. They stuttered over the girl, paused, returned for a longer stare, before he locked eyes with Regh.
"No, Lepharist. I have no words for you." He answered evenly, calmly. "For you would hear none of mine…" His glance took in the crowd again, "Nor would they. Why waste my breath?"
The girl bit her lip until she tasted copper. Certainly they did not mean to hurt this? Well, anymore than they already had, for blood stained his face and matted his long hair. He had not gone down without a fight, and she had no idea how he'd fallen to this. His inherent divinity poured off of him, but somehow Regh had brought this down? How?
Macz raised a heavy fist and the Daeva merely studied him warily, beaten but not cowed. Macz growled, pushing his bull heavy body forward, but Regh stopped him. "No. We can't kill him, you dolt." He snapped, and that got the first hint of concern to cross the Daeva's lovely features. "It's what he wants, can't you see?"
Death would be an escape, and Regh had just denied him that. The girl sighed, it just got worse and worse. And by the darkness she sensed, this was just the beginning.
Rasmus cursed internally. Of all the piss poor luck. He would have rather been left where he was, if he understood the way this was unfolding. At least the Balaur would probably just kill him, and that he could handle. However, this was beginning to sound dire. In spite of his own predicament, his eyes kept wanting to fall on the leggy girl child making her self small and overlooked in the back. She was filthy, as most of the Lepharist villagers were. Poorly clad. Barefoot, her chipped claws digging into the dirt. He could sense her distress, flowing like a cool spring under the hot death and rage of her people.
Poor, poor little…he sighed when he finally grasped it. Aion worked in mysterious ways, and granting its favor and divinity to a child born into the Lepharists would most certainly be an exercise in that. The child who watched him out of tortured eyes was destined, if she lived through all of this, to be just as he was. A gift to her people…those people who would turn on her for it. Destroy her through their greed and envy. He tested the chains again, slowly. No, the fight with the Balaur had taken too much out of him, and the pounding afterwards had only exacerbated it. He was not fit to break these, and certainly not fit to fight an entire village of hale Lepharists. They targeted the blessed, and grew twistedly strong for it.
They wanted him alive. He frowned with the idea. Dead, he merely returned to the blessed obelisk his soul was stored in, protected by Aion and the priests of the Great Temple of Pandaemonium. It was annoying. It was inconvenient. He still felt pain in spite of his immortality, and there was always the unspoken embarassment of appearing newly reborn in the Temple, but he could tolerate that. He had before. But alive, that hinted all too much of the rumors surfacing… Lost daevas. The missing, never reappearing at their obelisks. Just…gone. A tragedy for his family, a lurking question for his friends and those he fought with. An insult to everyone else.
He sighed, the little one would just have to remain in Aion's shadow…for now. He had his hands full with his own spiritual wellbeing right then.
"No promises of our certain death?" The one in charge demanded, and Rasmus looked into his eyes. Oh, Aion did cast its blessings in odd ways. This one had the same thick, dark hair as the girl. The same razor straight nose, and herd of freckles grazing across it. The same cheekline. He was tall, and the girl hinted at great height to come. Hers was a hint at an unnaturally blessed height, but so far, that aspect of her touch was still obscured to all but those who knew what they were looking at.
"Death is certain for all those not touched by Aion's gaze." Rasmus finally stated, knowing where this was going to take him. Goading the Lepharists with the very truth that caused them to revolt in the first place was not the wisest course, but he would not fall from that truth. If he was to be destroyed, he would be destroyed for what he was, not hiding from it.
"Of course it is." The young man rolled a lip in disgust. "Good for those who are?"
Rasmus shrugged. He was merely blessed, but had no understanding of how or why. Like most, he rarely questioned, and simply took his place on the line, protecting these against the onslaught of their enemies. No. He caught the girl out of the corner of his eye, afraid to look directly at her and endanger her through that attention. He took his place on the line to protect that. To protect those unmarked and unable to protect themselves. He sighed, and stood to his full height, staring at the young man. He would not give into this posturing, his was a great and fine Pandaemonium family, blessed with daevas more often than not. He would be worthy of them until the last moment…
Mori tried to close her ears against the blessed one's cries, but it was for naught. Even holding them closed, she still heard him clearly. She shouldn't be able to, over the vicious, roaring glee of the crowd, but it was as if his was the only voice for miles. She felt beyond sick, enraged. They didn't plan to kill him, they planned to destroy him. One of Aion's creations. Tear what made him special and wondrous from him, drag him down to what they were, and then take it up from him. As if that were possible. Aion's blessed were just that, chosen. That could not be taken from them, merely destroyed.
No one was coming for him. That had been her hope, that a legion of outraged daevas fresh from Pandaemonium were on their way to rescue him in a great, glorious exercise. But no….
"Mori!" Regh laughed, and his very voice sickened her. He was the one who had cared for her since their parents' death, and now she couldn't stand anything about him. Her beloved brother, an abomination. That was the final straw, she turned from him and vomitted, going to her knees in convulsions. "Ah, pet." He breathed, resting his hand on her back. "You shouldn't be here. Too much for you to see, so young. Come, I'll put you to bed." He picked her up, gently, as he always had moving through the crowd as it parted for him.
"Why?" She finally asked when he made his way to the quiet cottage, resting her on her mat. "He's done nothing to us…"
He sighed, resting a cool hand on her brow. "Mori, Mori. Pretty Mori. One of these days, you be…more than pretty Mori. One of these days, you will be beautiful Mori. And maybe then you will understand that I do this for you. For all of us. I dread the day when pretty Mori grows up, becomes beautiful Mori and gains the attention of some spoiled little daeva brat who thinks he can have anything he wants because he's blessed. I've seen it happen so many times, Mori. They come, they see what they want, they take it, and the girl comes back years later, used and thrown away. They don't age, but the women they take sure as hell do. They grow old, they grow wide, they grow boring and that's the end of that. I want to see you with a fine man as a husband, Mori. One who will love you, care for you, grow old with you, and give you a good many fine children to be there as you age. Those discarded by the daevas come back with gold, and jewels, but empty. None one cares for them when they grow old. No. Either we should all be blessed, or none of us be. Imagine what it will be like when we all are, Mori. We will be their lessers no more. If a handful is good….surely all of Asmodae blessed would be a wonder?" He frowned, pulled her blanket up around her. "Too much for too little a girl to grasp…yet." He chuckled. "One of these days, Mori, you will be great. You will help me lead our people. But, right now you're just a little girl, who's had too exciting a day and needs her sleep."
Mori slept. And dreamed. And always, the dreams were the same. She could fly, borne on the breezes by a glorious set of crimson and black wings. But this time, the dream was brighter, more focused. She could see more than just the wings. She could see her feetclaws, each of them capped by a razor edged covering of metal and gems. She carried a staff, and her very long hair swept in the breeze behind her.
The daeva must not be destroyed. Regh must not be permitted to commit such an atrocity before Aion's eyes. If he did so, his soul would be condemned. She owed him so much, she could not allow such to be. He was a good soul, just deluded. Somehow, she understood that with crystal clarity in the dream. And then she was awake. Just like that. It was still dark. They were still celebrating. And she could still feel the blessed one's anguish as they tore into his very soul. Could not, must not, be tolerated. She stood up, and moved through the only village she had ever known. Their attentions were elsewhere, and all the doors were unlocked. Who would they bar against? Each other? It was easy for the graceful Mori to slip unnoticed into the tiny Alchemy shop, and take a bottle. Equally easy to make certain that the contents of that bottle found their way into numerous jugs, cups, cauldrons.
Rasmus felt the girl approach. The village had grown oddly silent, if he could gather his thoughts together, he could probably figure out why, but the cold emptiness within him, combined with the agonizing pain had hampered his ability to string sense together.
"Daeva?" She whispered shyly, and he managed to raise his head to look at her. Oh, yes. Any doubts he might have had evaporated at that moment. He was in the presence of the most perfect of creations, a nascent daeva. A child, still innocent, marked by greatness. So much potential, still unrealized. A tightly budded bloom just showing the first tinges of color. It was a wonder enough to help chase the pain away.
"You should go, little one." He breathed. If they came for him, there was a chance they would miss this, their senses filled with rage and horror. She could be slaughtered as a Lepharist, before she had the chance to become what she was touched to be.
"They will sleep for hours." She noted, and he finally got his thoughts together enough to look beyond her. The entire village was, indeed, asleep. She held up a key, and he felt a grin fight its way through the mind numbing pain and rise to the surface. "You are the one who needs to go, great one. I will not let my brother do this to himself. To you." She unlocked his bonds, and every muscle in his body screamed when they were no longer there to hold him upright. He staggered, and she tried to support him. She was tall, for a child, but withy thin and fragile. He was the one who, in the end of the scramble, ended up holding her. Her touch was cool, her eyes trusting as she ran a dirty hand over his brow. And in its passing, there was less pain. Her touch did nothing against the howling, crying emptiness in his soul, but his body responded. And right now, that was just what he needed. He could see about the invisible damage later, but he was fit enough to flee this place.
"You heal things. With a touch and a wish." He noted, coursing through the sleeping bodies, filching a weapon here, a helmet there. She did not respond, only watched him out of unnatural golden eyes. Soon, even her love blinded brother would have to note the obvious. Or he had already and was denying it to himself… This one had less than a hand of years before her destiny would be undeniable. She stood as tall as an average grown man, but was still very much a child. Her eyes were no color he'd ever seen except under the regal brows of a fellow daeva. She healed. Her ascension was not immediate, she would be probably be permitted to fully mature before it came, unless she was put into a situation where it was ascend or be destroyed. But it was, in his grasp of time, close.
"You dream that you fly."
She shuffled her claws in the dust, staring at them. "I…do. Doesn't everyone? My brother told me he dreams he flies all the time."
But yours are real. Yours are Aion preparing you for your journey ahead. Your brother's are merely wish dreams. He glanced at the young man's sleeping body, felt his sister bristle behind him. "No." She hissed, "You will not hurt him. That is my price…"
He spun on her. "He has committed a grave crime…" It was a lowly, dishonorable act he was about to do, but he saw little choice. He needed her. He needed her help and her healing to see him through to the nearest support. He needed her compliant if not completely with him. And there was no way he would ever leave this here, not now. "Against me."
Her chin trembled and great tears welled up in those eyes. Rasmus felt about as low as he ever had, but what must be done, must be done. In the end, she must be taken from here, or the great crime of a once beloved brother fallen to tear his own sister's soul apart would happen. And enough of those horrors passed without one happening under his nose. "Either he pays…." He shifted the newly secured sword in his hand, "Or you do, little one. Your choice."
"I….I…." She blushed furiously, but he stood his ground. "Of course, I will…"
"Good." He snapped, taking a fragile wrist in his grasp, towing her along behind him as he gathered food and supplies. He didn't know what she had given them, but it seemed to be working. He just wasn't certain for how long, and he didn't really want to wait around and see.