261 The Wailing of a Witness
"There seems to be something wrong at the docks…my son works there you see, and…well those that return seem to feel like there is something there. Something watching, waiting. Something Ominous…"
To anyone else, the woman's words may have seemed like needless worrying. But to Devina, who'd woken with a sense of loss in her purpose, it had sounded like a promise.
"Like a dark sort of shadow…"
The term had instantly drawn interest from the young Spark. And so, that evening, when they had finished their meal, Devina and her six Paladin separated out to different parts of the dock yards in hopes of discovering that this 'shadow' was more than met the eye.
The sun set, the regular movements of a city day coming to an end were followed. Those finishing work and going home. Those taking rooms at inns, regulars making their way to their preferred taverns and other, arguably more pleasurable, places. But, even as the only lights left in the city were that of the moon and the lamp lights, Devina could not seem to find the shadow that the woman had spoken of.
"Perhaps we should head back to the church, Priestess," Aina suggested as it drew later into the night. Despite Devina's insistence that she could look after herself, her Paladins refused to leave her alone outside of her personal quarters.
"Not yet," Devina replied, "That woman said that she could feel it. Her, with no attachment to the Mist. It must be something more obvious. Something I'm missing".
Aina sighed, "Or it could just be the worries of a mother for their children".
Devina ignored Aina as she continued to look out onto the street from where she leaned against one of the buildings. The White Robes that both her and Aina wore did not exactly allow them to blend in, but they were never mistaken for brothel whores on their stakeouts. Devina had heard a story of one of the other Priestesses wishing to go unnoticed only to have that mistake be thrust upon her. It was quite the awkward trial for both her and the men involved.
"We stay. At least for a few more hours," Devina eventually spoke.
Aina sighed, "Then please remain here, Priestess, I will inform the others quickly".
Devina nodded, knowing that Aina would not leave her for longer than five minutes.
A Shadow. She thought to herself, a feeling like a dark shadow...
As she cast her thoughts over what it could possibly be, two young women passed by whom both nodded to her respectfully. She nodded back, smiling warmly despite her mouth and nose being hidden behind her scarf. She watched them keep walking down the street with a sigh. Then she suddenly shivered, a chill coming past her. Only it was no sea breeze. This chill came from the Mist. A Mist that was positively filled with...wrongness.
Devina frowned, her senses suddenly sharpening on it just as she felt Aina return.
"Do you feel that?" asked Devina.
Aina paused instantly, hesitating before expanding her own senses. She frowned deeply, "Why does the Mist feel so...wrong?"
"Like a shadow," Devina spoke aloud, "The source, we need to find the source".
Aina's eyes widened, "Ah, yes, Priestess".
She nodded her head, then immediately moved to focus her attention on her senses, on her connection with the Mist just as Devina did. The two stood in silence, following the trails of the wrongness in the Mist ever so delicately. As if a single touch would taint their own Holy gifts.
The wrongness, Devina ascertained, seemed to be remaining just as still and vigilant as they were, only there was a purpose there. One that had been what made Devina shiver. She had never been on a hunting trip before, but she suddenly imagined that she felt no different to prey facing the eyes on it's predator.
"Conceal yourself from it," Devina ordered.
Aina was quick to follow her lead as Devina drew on the light nearby, what little she could muster, and folded it around herself. To those around them, the air seemed to shimmer and ripple before nothing out of the ordinary seemed to occupy the space beside the building on the main street.
Aina and Devina held their breaths as they felt the wrongness pass them by. As they felt it twist and bend with a sort of irresistible desire. A desire that neither of them wished to be on the opposite side of. Then, just as quickly as it had come, it sharpened to a point, then was gone. Just as Devina went to take a breath, she felt a breeze blast down from above.
The shield around Devina dropped and she stepped out further into the street. She looked down towards where the wrongness had pointed, then at the space above her where the breeze had come from.
"It's on the buildings".
Devina rushed forward in the direction it had went, Aina on her heels.
The Paladin drew her staff in preparation, Devina hearing the distinct shik of it extending from a rod about 30 centimetres in length, to six times that. The weapon held no blade, as the Holy Order was did not train it's Paladins so that they could kill. No, the weapon was designed so that it would compliment the Light Element they all used. Could the Paladins use a blade should they need to? Of course, but only as a last resort.
Devina could make out the figures of the two women that had passed her earlier. She sped up, almost upon them when they paused, looking into an alley beside them. Devina paused with them, waiting for a moment as if something would happen. But nothing did, and the girls simply walked quickly away from the alley.
Devina's eyes focused there, her senses alerting her that that was exactly where the shadow was. Where the wrongness was congregating.
She looked beside her to Aina. Aina looked back at her and nodded, a silent communication. They were ready.
Devina summoned light to her hand as she stepped forward, Aina ducking down to rush forward before her and confront what was in the alley way as Devina held up the light and released it.
The wrongness recoiled. Accompanied by the sound of some sort of animalistic growl and hiss wrapped in one. Devina registered a figure, no, two figures against the wall of one of the buildings. The dark brown braid of the one facing the wall whipped to the side as the figure's head turned. Devina registered the clash of unnatural red eyes as Aina lifted her staff and swung.
The figure seemed to move to step back to avoid the blow, then vanished, the wind rushing from where he'd stood. Aina, right beside the source could only shield her eyes from the muck of the alley being blasted up, then the swish of her metal rod cut through the sudden silence as she straightened and looked for her opponent.
But he was gone, as was the wrongness.
The man who had his back against the wall whimpered, then slipped down it to sit on the ground. Devina approached, letting light come to her hand once more as her initial blast faded and the shadows of the alley began to close in.
Aina pointed her staff at the man, "What happened?"
"..He...he tried to eat me!" The man whimpered.
Aina frowned, looking up at Devina, then back at the man.
The man looked up at them, eyes wide in his fear before he stood, seemingly unbothered by Aina's staff. Both of the Priestesses stepped back to give him room as he pulled his collar away from his dark and unwashed skin to reveal two identical puncture holes in his neck, both of them bleeding quite rapidly.
"He tried to eat me!" The man wailed, "I could feel him pulling my blood from my body, he tried to eat me I tell you!"
Aina frowned, looking at Devina as she lowered her staff. As if Devina could give some kind of explanation or guidance of the situation. The man seemed to realise that he would not get the attention he desired from the two of them, and moved towards the streets, "It tried to eat me! Monster! There's a Monster here hunting for blood!"