"Ahahaha... a single book? And how many are there still left? 20? 30 more volumes yet to be found?"
"I have all the time in the world." Tenebris started down the path.
"Do we now?"
He no longer answered. With his gaze straight ahead, he walked on beneath the afternoon sun. They were passing a bridge later, the sun long gone, when he heard the sound of galloping.
"Horses, 18 and 2 wagons, men about 30 of them."
"Who are they?"
"Then we must..." Tenebris lost his footing and fell over, just as he went into the water, a group of men on horseback passed over the bridge.
They didn't notice the young monk bobbing in the shallow depths of the narrow creak.
"Haaa!" Tenebris quickly checked his satchel "Good thing this is water proof!" He waded out of the creek and proceeded to climb the bank towards the village they came from.
"That is the wrong way" said the voice.
"I have to help them. They might be the same bandits who ransacked Saccharum village yesterday..."
"And that is your business because?"
"I am a monk of the order of..."
"Yeah, yeah, yadda yadda, I've heard all that! And you plan to stop these bandits by healing them?"
"No, I can..."
"You can die again."
"You won't let me."
All the while, the monk ran back to the village with all his might.
Once, twice, three times he tripped, his knees skinned, his palms raw for but a second before the wounds closed without leaving a mark.
He did his best to reach the village in time, but when he did, the huts were already on fire.
"It is too late." said the voice.
"No, I can still help..." Tenebris ran to the nearest body he found. A young man, the same sentry who waved him goodbye as he left the village that afternoon.
Just yesterday, he was one of the first whom he healed, one of the patients who lay dying of high fever.
"He's gone. The soul has escaped the vessel."
"Then someone else..." He heard a soft groan and saw a body pinned down by the fallen roof of a burning hut. "Don't worry, I can help you!" he put his back in the roof.
With such a frail frame, one would never have guessed how strong the monk was, but the fallen debris was lifted up as Tenebris pulled the body out.
"It is leaving."
"I will pull him back." Placing the palm of his hands on the man's bloody chest, he closed his eyes in concentration.
Tendrils of silvery light seeped from his hands to the tattered body beneath it.
The body gasped for air. The eyes flickered open and saw the priest in front of him. "Lord Curatio... you have come to save us..."
"Hush," said Tenebris, "stay here while I help the others..." He left the man partially hidden behind the smoldering hut and ran to the next nearest body.
"They are coming back this way."
"I still need to..."
His arm raises up involuntarily. It stopped a spear aimed at his side.
The bulging bandit wielding it seemed dumbstruck, staring at the covered half of the priest's face, then at the thin arm holding fast at his weapon.
Tenebris' arm jerked suddenly, breaking the spear, and in one fluid sweep, buried it into the bandit's armor, piercing a lung.
"No!" yelled Tenebris, "No killing!"
He let go of the fallen villager who was now gasping for air and pulled the broken spear out of the bleeding bandit, but before he could place his hands on him, more of them arrived, called by his sudden outcry.
They were bloodied, carrying spoils and women, young men and children tied up behind them.
"What do you do now, healer?" asked the voice, "How do you plan to save them all?"
"Shut up. There need not be bloodshed."
"Gahahaha!" Laughed one of the bandits, the biggest in the group, "It's a bit too late for that, don't you think?"
" saying that, he throws a body in front of Tenebris. It was Sir Vende, his throat slit open, his life long gone.
"That one gave quite a fight, and here we were thinking that the village was at the verge of death from some sickness. Who woulda known we'd be getting quite a big group of slaves from here." The bandit laughed again.
"Is he worth life, Tenebris?' Asked the voice.
"Get him. That's another 300 from the slavers."
A rough looking bandit came close to the priest, but before he could reach him, his arm flew away in the other direction.
"They deserve death" says the monk.
On his right hand, Tenebris held a knife from the stabbed bandit. His left arm falls limp on his side, his good eye glazed over.
"Get him!" Screams the bandit leader.
The rest of his gang bolt towards the priest, arms bearing weapons, but the single dagger parried them all, one by one, his movements so fast, the bandits could hardly follow.
"Bring the oil!"
A bandit suddenly douses Tenebris with burning oil. His clothes quickly caught fire. The surviving villagers scream in terror.
But before their eyes, the fire burned down, as if it was sucked in by a vacuum, sucked into the priest's bandaged eye.
The cover was partially burned, showing beneath a parchment of paper with red writing on it. The parchment cracked, revealing a glowing yellow eye.
"I thank you for breaking the seal" said a voice that was not Tenebris.
The priest's lips broke into an ugly snarl. The bandits seem to hesitate, "Kill him!" commanded their leader.
His men stepped back, but a foolish one, with a wail, ran to Tenabris, brandishing a sword.
The priest's arms reached out, like welcoming a lover in his arms, but as the man jumped at him, the body stopped in mid air.
The man's back snapped, his arms and legs folded impossibly backward, his body collapsed into itself, like a toy compacted into a ball. The rest of the bandits stepped back.
Most of them dropped their weapons and ran away.
"Where the hell are you going?!?" yelled the leader, his view was obstructed by his men so he did not witness how the man was killed. His other men ran for their lives.
Heaving a large blade from his side, he faced back and looked to where the weak looking priest was, the idiot who was foolish enough to fight back.
But the man was suddenly right in front of him and his presence sent a chill down his spine. Face to face, he was staring right into the priest's eyes.
One was black, depth-less. Unfathomable.
The other shone a golden light, 2 yellow pupils on top of the other.
He tried to scream, but no sound came, though his throat was sore. He felt his body melting, getting sucked into that golden eye.
What the villagers saw would haunt them for the rest of their lives.
There was the bandit leader, a mountain of a man, floating in front of the frail priest, who, just that morning, saved the town from an unknown disease.
The bandit's body shook, his head thrown back with a sickening snap, and from his eyes, silvery light like tiny bolts of lightning was sucked into the priest's slightly open lips.
They could hardly scream in fear.
"More" said the voice as the last of the light passed through his mouth. "We need more"
"One is enough!"
"The others are trying to get away"
"Let them be! I need to help the rest of the villagers..."
"I wonder..." the priest chuckled.
"You have to go back."
"Why should I?"
The priest's left arm suddenly reached up, covering his right eye. Carved on his palm, partially covered by a burned glove, was a pentagram with symbols around it.
"By order of Lord Curatio, the Lord of Light and Healing, I send you, Zalam, back into the void of Inanis."
"Ahahahaha! This again?!" laughed the priest. "I should have cut off your left arm when I had the chance!"
The laughing died, the priest fell in a puddle of blood, beside the dead bandit's misshapen body. The village people watched, horrified, and gasped as he began to stir.
Tenebris raised his right arm, as if reaching out to something, then pulled it back and covered his face. With his other arm he propped himself up and staggered into a sitting position.
The villagers stepped back, ready to run away.
Tenebris raised his head up, his right eye still covered by his hand, and looks at the frightened villagers. "A-are... are you... oka--"
"Don't kill us!!" the villagers shout.
"Please spare us!"
"No, I could never..." a rock flew in the air and hit his shoulder.
"No! Don't get him mad!" shouted one of the villagers, the others ran away, but the rest were still tied together and couldn't get far.
"Please, I only want to help..."
"Just go away!" it was Sir Vende's wife, her clothes torn, clutched in her arms was their son Kit, bleeding from a wound on his head. "Please just leave us be!" She was trembling.
But her words were the kindest he heard that night.
Sadly, Tenebris rose to his feet, dusted himself, and shuffled out of the village. By the gate, he reached from behind a bush and took the satchel he hid earlier.
"Kukukuku... told you so." said the voice inside him.
"they were just shaken by what happened."
"Aren't they all?" replied the voice. "They love you while you help them and call you Lord Curatio reborn, then curse you when they learn where that power truly comes from."
"Be silent Zalam. " said Tenebris, "The power I hold comes from The Lord Curatio himself. Not from some demon!" but the voice continued its sinister laugh, taunting him.
"So, where now, priest?"
"Anywhere? What about that village we were headed for?"
"News fly fast in these parts. If they see me..."
"Kukukuku... so shall we look for the rest of the books then?" the priest refused to answer. "I can't wait to find them all and finally break free from this container..."
"I can't wait to get rid of you."
"Kukuku... who ever acts first..." the voice said, "who ever acts first."
The priest slowly made his way out of the village. The horizon turned red in the pre dawn light, yet the world was silent. There were no birds to welcome the new day.
"Who knows how long we need to endure each other. Who knows how far. But for now, priest, we travel on." the voice snidely remarked.
"I guess you would forever be a nomad."
- END -