89 The Power of Mercy
Aegin wasn't entirely sure what happened. One moment he was fighting an ugly battle and rapidly running out of arrows, then the next, something with enormous wings had dropped down into the fray. Then, as the battlefield had stilled, Phillip had gone flying.
Aegin was sure he'd heard the sound of the man's bones breaking.
Then, as if that wasn't enough. The shadows had come to life.
Aegin figured there was only so many times he could be surprised in the space of a few moments, but seeing as Rassa had turned out to be the thing with enormous wings...
Rassa. The boy who had been locked away simply for being. He was out, free. And with his freedom he brought death to those who opposed him. With the shadows at his command, it was as if they seemed to swallow those rabid creatures whole. In the dead of night when shadows were abundant, there was nowhere the creatures could run to save themselves from their fate.
Aegin, the guards, the bystanders that had been drawn to the battle, the Ridge Men, all of them watched on in shock as a battle they had fought tirelessly was ended in an instant by this single young man.
And he barely lifted a finger.
As the shadows receded somewhat, Aegin noticed that Rassa had left one. Just one. The one who had injured his father so gravely. As Rassa approached, Aegin noticed exactly who he had left alive, and decided that even if he had the power to, he would not stop Rassa. Not now. Aegin turned and began climbing down to the square.
Rassa stopped about five metres from the hunched figure of Doctor Sagen Zaroth. The creature who he'd turned into breathed heavily in its fear, its eyes darting back and forth as it looked for its brethren. It's eyes focused on Rassa, knowing he was a threat. It eyed him, weighing its options. In those still moments, Rassa lifted one of his short swords and cut into his arm.
The creature barely even hesitated, it crossed the distance quickly and its mouth latched onto the wound drinking with vigour as Rassa's blood poured forth.
Despite the intention which Rassa ensured was contained within the blood the crazed Zaroth consumed Rassa watched with disgust. It only took a few mouthfuls before some form of sanity began to return to Zaroth's eyes. The second Rassa knew it was enough, he threw Zaroth back, Zaroth rolled to a stop and got to his feet quickly, only to pause. The hunger that had consumed him seemed to have receded to a dull ache. One that was not so prominent or urgent. Zaroth touched his lips, thinking of the blood he'd just consumed, then looked to Rassa in surprise. There was clearly so much he had not known about the blood of his experiment. He'd barely scratched the surface. Yet in that moment, only one thought came to mind.
Rassa looked at Zaroth, then, to the surprise of everyone surrounding the square, threw Zaroth one of his swords. It clattered onto the ground at Zaroth's feet, and the Doctor looked down at it, just as taken aback as every else by Rassa's actions. He looked back up at the young man he'd kept prisoner, the question in his eyes.
"What?" asked Rassa, "Is it that even you don't think you deserve a chance?"
Zaroth's gaze hardened, he'd done nothing wrong. He bent to pick up the sword. A brush of air passed by him, and suddenly, the hand that he was using to pick up the sword, was gone. Zaroth screamed, as he fell to his knees, holding his arm as the blood welled and burst forth. He looked over at Rassa who appeared not to have moved, only now he was holding the hand he'd taken.
"Well, you'd be right. You don't deserve a chance".
Rassa looked at the hand, as if appraising what he'd been told was priceless item, only to find it was a fake, absolute trash.
"This hand cut me, time and again. It waited as I healed, then it cut me deeper," Rassa said. He dropped the hand and it fell to the ground with a wet splat, "It shall cut me no more".
The Doctor continued to whine at the pain, but Rassa showed no sign of pity. On the contrary, his next words shocked the Doctor.
"Pick it up".
The Doctor looked down at the sword, then up at Rassa. He wasn't stupid, he knew what would happen if he picked it up, he told Rassa so, "You'll take my other hand".
"Yes, I will," Rassa replied, then his eyes narrowed, "But you'll pick it up anyway".
Zaroth knew that look. He knew that what awaited him should he not do as he was told was worse, so much worse. He knew because he'd given that look plenty of times to the young man in front of him.
Zaroth reached for the sword, and lost his other hand.
Zaroth cried out again, nursing the stumps he had left into his chest. Rassa's voice, despite it being far softer and quieter than Zaroth's scream, cut him off with ease.
"This hand, it took my blood away, my muscle, my organs, my limbs, and it took my Life Line," Rassa said, "That, was a mistake. I probably would have broken like any other prisoner if you'd kept it where it was, where it was supposed to be. But alas-"
Rassa dropped the other hand and it smacked down next to its companion.
"-It just couldn't stop taking, could it?"
Rassa took a step forward towards Zaroth, and the Doctor whimpered, falling backwards in his attempt to escape.
Rassa paused in shock, and Zaroth took a quick breath.
"Mercy, please! I'm sorry, I-"
Rassa was before him in an instant, just a breath away from his face.
"Mercy?" asked Rassa, "You're sorry? You certainly didn't sound it when you left me in that cell. When you told me I'd spend my whole life being nothing more than an experiment, than a tool. I told you, I am neither".
Rassa's head snapped to the side to see Aegin kneeling behind Phillip, his eyes grave. Aegin shook his head slowly. That look in Aegin's eyes. He was by no means asking Rassa to stop. He knew that Rassa needed this. No, Aegin was telling him it could wait. Just this once, it could wait.
Rassa hissed in frustration as he turned back to Zaroth, who for the first time since Rassa had met him, looked absolutely terrified. It was a good look.
Rassa called the shadows, and they began to swallow Zaroth until only his head remained exposed. He screamed, then the shadows gagged him.
"Don't worry, you won't die, not yet at least".
Rassa turned and walked over to his father, who seemed to be barely conscious.
Rassa could tell from the smell, from the sound of the impact earlier. His father would not survive this, and it had only been confirmed by Aegin moments before.
Rassa looked down at his father, and knelt beside him, taking his hand and his expression softening.
"Why are you even here?"
Phillip gave a light laugh, then coughed as more blood came up, it was clearly a struggle for him to talk, but he did it anyway, and Rassa didn't bother telling him to stop, that would be useless. He'd hardly deprive a man of his last words.
"To rescue...you," Phillip replied, "Though...you appear to...have...done that your-yourself".
Rassa nodded, "No more chains".
Phillip gave a small smile, "You've grown so big".
Rassa felt a tear fall, and he did not wipe it away, "You got old".
Phillip gave another short laugh followed by a cough that racked him, "Only just...started to notice...myself"
Rassa gave a small smile.
"I'm s-sorry," Phillip said, "For-"
Phillip paused as he looked at his son, why on earth would Rassa thank him? He'd practically abandoned the son he loved.
"Thank you for letting me learn from my mistakes. For not standing in front of me like a shield to block out all the faults in the world. For trusting me when no one else would have. For coming after me despite feeling as if it was your fault. I don't think I've ever met anyone braver".
Phillip felt his eyes well, and tears fell.
"Fear does...many...many things," Phillip stated, "Many are not...not good. But you-"
Phillip clenched the hand that Rassa held.
"-you have learned its...its secrets. Wield them well".
Rassa nodded, then he leaned forward and kissed his father's forehead.
A shuddering breath left Phillip, and with it his life ended.