Chapter 47: Soleil’s Mercy
Taking the robe that the high priest had handed to her, Nisha examined the white fabric closer while the other women in her group left the room, presumably to give her some semblance of privacy while she discarded her yellow dress fully.
A year of being blind had taught her to rely on more than just her eyes; her small and delicate white hands explored the garment, examining every crease and corner of the temple robe.
The white clothing must have been in the closet for a long time already, as the fine cloud rising into the air made her nose tickle, almost causing her to sneeze.
Since the dragon could not find out the exact material it was made from and there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with the fabric per se, she promptly pulled it over her head, frowning slightly when the fibres stuck to her open wound.
Now I wish I still had the bandage on. Even if it itched like mad earlier.
Clad in her new attire, Nisha almost left the room to head towards the main hall, but the golden book on the otherwise spartanic room still intrigued her, thus deterred.
Her curiosity won and after making sure the door was closed and no one else was in the room, the snooping girl sat on the chair, reading the open page – the same passage that the high priest was reading earlier.
“And the God spoke to his followers: ‘I solemnly pledge you this as my promise to you – never again shall you suffer from the darkness as long as you follow my commandments; I will grant you the power to repel all evils and smite wickedness wherever my priests go.
You don’t need to serve me, or my siblings, except for those that wish to enter the church, they are the Shield that I bestow upon you to protect you from the cursed ones.
My Sword will be each and every one of you; you carry my light into the world and help it grow, so that the next day may shine on you in the morning after a long night.
Because the Night will not be defeated by me or an army of angels, each single good deed breaks a little bit of the influence the wicked ones hold over the world; every act of kindness you show to your fellow humans is like a candle warding off the darkness.
Your faith is your Armor; as long as you believe, no wound shall befall you and no illness shall trouble you.
With these words, the Lord of Light disappeared into a bow of light, each light carrying the colour of a god, sweeping over the wretched bodies that belonged to the humans fighting in the War of Gods.
Wherever the light fell, a body disappeared, replaced by flowers instead.
‘Fear not, their sacrifice was not in vain. One day all of those, who stood up for the right thing, will return to you not as dead spirits, but as our angels, bearing the seven pointed star and leading you when the Darkness rises again to devour you, lusting after your souls.
Once the humans recovered from the shock that befell them when the heavenly voice of the Lord of Light resounded, the First Knight found a pair of stones, whiter than the whitest white, in His place, marked by the seven pointed star, the first of its kind.
Moved by the promise the gods made to humankind, the First Knight renounced his position within the kingdom and took it on himself to watch over the commandments the Lord gifted those under his wing while the first temple was erected; placing them into the holiest location once the construction was finished, taking up the High Priest’s position.
This is the account of the first High Priest, Tizian the First, written down in the founding year of the church on his personal accounts.
The commandments are as following:
A knock on the door prevented the meddling elf from reading further. The voice was distorted by the wooden door but the concern still audible.
“Do you need help Nisha? We’re here to help you, you just need to say something. You’ve been in there for a while now.”
Unwilling to worry her eldest sister in exchange for reading more as it was not worth it in any way, the dragon just made sure not to have left any traces on the book and collected her dress, draping it over her arm before opening the door.
“No need, I’m all done. Sorry for the wait. Let’s go to the hall, I think the priest is waiting for us.”
Nisha was almost able to slip past her sisters and head into the direction they came from when Annabelle caught her hand, forcing her to stay put.
“Call him High Priest, please, you’re not showing him the respect he deserves. And you really need to take better care of yourself, see?”
Pointing at the red circle that bloomed on the pristine white of her robe, Annabelle unhappily took her by the hand and walked in a slow pace, squeezing her hand more tightly than usual.
I know that she’s just worried and not mad at me, but I still feel bad for making her troubled. Once I’m healed, I really can’t get injured anytime soon or she might worry to death.
Accepting the guidance from the older woman, the four of them arrived in the [Hall of Light] again.
High Priest Roland was already seated behind the altar on a simple mat, his head lowered in prayer.
Seat mats had been prepared for them. A young female priestess intercepted them at the door from the corridor that also housed the high priest’s chamber, instructing them to take a seat and wait for the praying man to finish his preparations. She led Nisha to the mat in front of the stone and asked the others to sit down on the sides.
She did glance at Nisha’s wound, yet chose to not comment on it, walking towards the benches situated below the altar.
A group of peering visitors had gathered there; High Priest Roland was a well-known man in [Thurgau], although he seldom did a ritual by himself anymore.
To see him taking a meditative pose behind the altar roused their interest, the priests in the hall had to make some effort to disperse the crowd.
With herself being positioned directly opposite the praying man, Nisha was able to safely let her gaze wander over to the floating being between them, raising her eyes to partake the angelic being in all its grace.
Such magnificent wings. Is this [Soleil]?
The being in question filled the hall completely; no one besides the dragon seemed able to perceive it.
Though it was similar to a human, its likeness ended at the pair of majestic wings. The wings on its back were filled with white feathers, swaying softly in the wind, even if there was not a tiny bit of air moving inside the room. From time to time, a feather would fall towards the ground before shining in a silvery light and transforming into one of the white streams of mana and aura, flowing in the direction of the main hall.
Clothed in nothing but his dignity and a white loincloth, the entity could not be any more divine even if he wore the apparel of a king, yet, in this way Nisha was able to admire his supple muscles, a well defined body lined with long streaks of white hair, running way past his shoulders and almost towards his behind.
The face held the most contrasting features – besides the wings – as it was a far cry from a human face.
Taken altogether it had all the basic components for a human face – a small yet stern thin-lipped mouth, two closed eyes with white brows, a broad and strong nose and otherwise smooth cheeks.
However to Nisha it felt as if the single pieces did not add up to make a complete human appearance, something was lacking.
Pondering this mystery while the others were praying, she herself did not feel that it was proper to pray to another god.
I still owe so much to Gabriel and Bael. How could I pray to someone else first?
While scrutinizing the being, the flaw she perceived in his features suddenly revealed itself to her.
While the face was certainly not damaged in any way or lacked something physically, there was no humanity in it. The features were the same as any other human male she had seen so far, but their position to each other and the overall impression was far from them. The eyes were slanted just a bit too much; everything was just slightly off.
With the riddle solved, Nisha had a chance to look around her, they had almost already sat there for the length of a candle due to the lack of any changes happening as the priest had not started the healing.
Almost instantly she wished to not have done this. As the young girl had been faced with the expressions displayed by her older sisters and the lance corporal, who all fervently prayed to the god, wishing for her recuperation and a wonder to occur, she found it hard to refuse.
Being selfish is not the way to go here. I need to do this for them, not me.
Soleil, if you can hear me. I know it is much to ask for, but please grant me your grace of a miracle. I don’t want it for me alone, but also for my sisters, who worry about me, and my friend, who thinks it was her fault.
I swear that in the future I will never slack in my training again and get powerful enough to protect those that are dear to me myself, but I need your help now.
For a moment, nothing happened.
Nisha almost regretted praying to someone else, when suddenly a single feather separated from one of the six wings adorning the shining entity, drifting through the air for a moment before gaining a fiery golden radiance; a white golden halo radiating so bright for a second that the dragon feared to go blind.
When the luminosity receded, the feather had settled on the folded hands of High Priest Roland, extending the burning golden white sheen onto him as well, just not as bright.
Judging by the clamoring spectators reaction as well as the reverent expressions on the faces of her companions, it wasn’t only Nisha who was able to observe the light.
Opening his eyes with the seven-pointed stars shimmering in them, the man raised his arms towards the heavens. A white fire starting to burn on top of them while he intonated a long prayer, bringing his focus back to Nisha at the end, without being harmed by the light and the fire.
“Lord [Soleil], in front of Your watching eyes, there is the one I have petitioned your grace for.
Grant me the strength to bestow your blessing on the young life before me, wounded gravely and seeking your aid.
In accordance to your guidance, Your servant will now heal the wounds carved into one of the lights in the world, so Your Radiance will engulf the Darkness one day.”
The clamoring had died down already. In absolute silence, every pair of eyes present watched as the high priest lowered his arms and presented – unseen to everyone but Nisha – the feather to the injured elf in the bloodied robes.
Bowing her head towards the being that granted her selfish request, Nisha could only barely follow the feathers radiance as it floated across the altar stone, heading straight for the bowing elf.
The runes resting in her core resonated with the resplendent feather; it eagerly awaited the incoming object, starting to storm beneath Nisha’s skin, unseen by everyone, only felt by the owner.
Gathering around the deep wound, the black characters swarmed like ants, causing an itch on her skin and almost spilling over in anticipation.
Enough. Stop that.
What everyone else saw was a mystery to her, but the dragon watched as the feather precisely homed in on the bloody imprint on her white robe, penetrating the fabric without tearing a single fiber, and entering her wound.
Only then did the waiting black figures emerge from her skin, bound by her command before hungrily devouring the white feather as the white and golden flames started to appear on her own body.
Nisha’s first instinct was to call her own flame to take control, but the little critter lazily stayed within the deepest part of her, reassuring her that these flames would not do her any harm.
True to the flame’s assertion, not even a single hair on her head started to burn. Only a warm energy spread from the wound while the feather continued to pour a stream of gleaming mana and aura into her body, which was quickly eaten away by the black runes who worked hard to repair her body and close the wound.
Once the feather had been completely devoured, although the wound still wasn’t completely gone, it had already healed by over two-thirds, while the flame started to fade.
The black rune’s hunger was still not satisfied; they lusted for more of the rich and savory energy, eagerly eyeing the being floating before them, calculating their chances to raid another feather from it.
At this time, the world was holding its breath, everyone was either waiting for the healing’s result or thanking the God for the miracle he worked.
In this exact moment, not only did the runes eye the being, but the being also opened its eyes.
Nisha almost died of fright.
Looking down upon her were eyes made of pure light. It scrutinized her body, effortlessly penetrating the thin layer of clothing she wore and spotted the black signs in Nisha’s wound, still working hard to repair the damage to her flesh.
As she was about to flee in reflex, the entity raised its left hand, pointing directly at her and fixing her in place.
Rather than words, emotions flowed into her, probing her for a moment … and then retreated.
Another feather separated from the being, heading straight for the waiting maws.
The black runes worked faster than the first time, dissolving the delicious treat while the world started to turn again.
Silver and gold, – these were the colours of the seven-pointed star that now decorated Nisha’s white temple robe and the spectators started to murmur again, more than one hand pointing at the dragon.
Even before the white feather was fully consumed this time, all of the injuries on the young girls body had disappeared, leaving the remaining silvery aura and mana to fill every nook and cranny of her body, giving her skin a shiny texture and gloss that it did not have before, filling her hair and accentuating the colour; even a shiny hue enveloped her body.
Right now her appearance echoed the existence of something divine in the hearts of the onlookers, ready to worship her at the snap of her finger. Instead of abusing her newfound authority, Nisha simply bowed towards the invisible being, expressing her heartfelt thanks and giving the world its breath back.
“I thank thee, Lord [Soleil]. Your grace will be remembered by me, and paid back in full. I will lend you my sword, my shield and my armor shall be your armor.
Thank you for healing me.”
In low amounts, the radiance faded, but the entity had already closed its eyes again and lost interest in the healed dragon.