Agrias straightens, back stiff from hours of prayer. They say nothing as she leaves the chapel, and for that, she is glad.
The kitchen is locked, but she has been fasting and her stomach makes its protests known. She bites her lip, looks up at the doorknob. Is it worth punishment?
After a moment, she tilts her head to the side, and pulls out the key she'd taken from one of the priests. If she can be quiet, perhaps she will not be caught. It's dark when she enters and she carefully calls holy light to her fingertips, and it's then she hears the frantic squeaking.
Agrias turns, and sees a dark rat running about in a tiny cage.
For this creature, there will be no escape. Its death will be swift, and in its death, it will know the holy light of the father. There is no sanctity in life, they said, only in death is there release.
The rat struggles, frantic, and Agrias knows she should help it rejoin God. She glances around and then sighs. It takes less than a few moments for her to open the cage, and she grabs the rat before it can escape. Sharp teeth break her skin, and she winces, bites her lip.
With a soft exhale, she lets the magick fall from her fingertips, and she slips out of the kitchen again. It's hard to lock the door with one hand, and she spends a few moments fumbling with the mechanism.
There's no one about as she slips through the corridors, and in the back of her mind, she prays they will not find her.
Thankless and fanciful, they will call her. For penance, she will be led back to the chapel, to pray for forgiveness, the sin of keeping one of God's children from Him worthy of more hours in the chapel. But only if she is caught. The rat clamps down harder on her finger and she grimaces.
Agrias opens the side door, and she sets the rat down and its claws scratch at the dirt, and it runs out into the night, and she smiles. The rat has more time to live. Even if she will be punished, it will be worth it. She has done good this night.
The armor is new and she finds walking in it to be more of a challenge than it looks. Holy Knight, they say, with reverence that makes her cringe, Harbinger of Death. There is that smugness in their tone that she recognizes as them expecting her to carry out their work. No sanctity in life. Only in death.
And from her childhood, they have molded a killer. The sword in her hand is heavy, and her hands are rough from use of it; magick courses through her veins like blood, holy, beating, bright.
Agrias expels a breath. Tomorrow, she is to play executioner for a man ready to find God.
Her fingers tighten on the hilt of her sword.
No more. She will not be their right hand, will not be the puppet of God's supposed will. For, she thinks with a slight curl to her lip, if God meant for them to all be dead, there would be no point in life. Their logic is flawed, though to say so would be sheer folly.
The door opens without preamble and she steps into the sunlight. This, she thinks, is God's light. There is no need for death to find it. "Daughter," one of the nuns says, "Where are you going?"
"Away," she says, her voice low, certain.
The nun stops in the doorway, watching her. "You'll be back for tomorrow, will you not?"
"Nay," Agrias says, "I will not."
"But - "
Agrias does not turn to face her. "I will not. I will not be controlled and I will not kill a man for your flawed beliefs."
"Always you shall serve our purpose," the woman says after a time. "That is not something you can escape. No matter how far you run. Your power help others to God will cling to you like a shroud and yours shall be a life of loneliness and holy death."
"So be it," Agrias says, and does not look back again.
The woman looks up when Agrias walks in, and her face crumples with despair. "Please," she whimpers, "I know nothing else, please. Please. Mercy."
Agrias says nothing, merely picks up the dagger.
Blood streams down the woman in trails, her hands shattered and her knees broken, and she looks at Agrias, tears in her eyes. "Please. I know no more. Just-just end it. Please."
Agrias stills her hand, tightens her grip on the dagger and looks into the woman's eyes.
For a long while, there is nothing but the woman's ragged sobs, and then Agrias bows her head, and sets the dagger aside. Relief is the woman's choked gasp, relief is the way her eyes widen. Agrias says, quietly, "I cannot release you."
"But you can give me release," the woman whispers, and Agrias swallows.
Outside this cell, footsteps ring, those men Agrias works for now coming, and they will surely repay her for this, but-she looks again at the woman. "Yes," she breathes, "Yes."
She takes the dagger again, and cuts the woman's throat, ear to ear, and release is the blood that washes over her.
Freedom, as always, is bought by blood. The woman is free of the imperfect, broken cage of her body, and Agrias is freed now from a duty that does not suit, a master she chooses not to serve. She tucks the dagger away, and departs.
The ninja moves in to attack, twin blades gleaming, and he's not looking, not ready, eyes on another enemy. Clarity and speed both come to her and she throws herself at Malak, and they tumble together to the ground, blades whistling harmlessly over their heads.
Rafa yells her fury at the almost-loss of her brother, and her magick rages through the area like a storm, destroying the last of their enemies with an efficiency Agrias can admire.
Adrenaline pumps through her veins and she looks down at Malak, pinned beneath her, and his face twists, fury broken and aching on his face, and with his monk-strength throws her off. Agrias rolls with the sudden momentum, then stands.
"I did not need your assistance," he growls.
"Perhaps," she murmurs. "What have you lost for my aid?"
Malak snarls at her, wounded in pride, perhaps, and he stalks away, movement jerky with rage, and she blows out a breath and lets her eyes flutter closed for a moment. Rafa's voice brings her from her reverie.
"I am sorry for my brother. This is still new to him. Such aid would have been offered for a price, once," Rafa says, eyes downcast.
"Worry not," Agrias says, "I took no offense. Mayhap he will learn."
Rafa does not look at her. "Mayhap."
"There is always that hope," Agrias says.
This time, Rafa looks up at her, and Agrias allows herself a small smile. Ahead of them, Mustadio beckons them onward, and they follow.
Sometimes, she envies the way Orlandu's eyes dart around the battle, the way he moves with such practiced grace and speed. However, she is learning from him, from the way he holds his sword, to the way the power builds and then crashes down on the enemy.
Something within her recoils at the darker magicks he uses, but, ultimately, those are not so different from the holy magicks when both are used to kill.
The battle rages on, companions and foes alike bloodied and sweating. Ramza darts out with his swords, yelling a battle-cry that sounds like his sister's name and Agrias envisions Ovelia for a moment, proud and haunting, and she too launches at a hydra, her power a tide, and it falls, blood gargling from its mouths.
She twists, to watch another enemy and the world slows. The engineer smiles a twisted smile, his gun leveling, aiming for Orlandu and she moves with all the speed she can, praying, praying to a God she has always had a strange relationship with.
Agrias staggers back as the shot pierces her chest, going straight through her, and she drops to one knee. Behind her, Orlandu cries what must be her name, and then the lightning runs a current through her and -
and it's over.
Ovelia feels the dagger slide between her ribs, feels her own blood leaving her fast, fast, and pain blooms then, and the world starts to darken.
She falls, life fleeing her, and the last thing she ever sees is Delita, his face twisted with her betrayal, and if she could, she would laugh or cry. For what right has he to feel betrayed? After everything he has done.
Death comes on swift wings, and Ovelia breathes her last, flower petals fluttering around her fallen form.