265 A Dedication to Duty
*Eldovian Era 1713, 16th day of the 11th month*
The voice roused Devina from her deep slumber. She was still so tired. Three nights of staying up and alert were not something she'd ever trained for, and she and all her Paladins were exhausted by it.
Aina. The call more insistent this time. Devina forced herself up.
Aina opened the door to Devina's room, her eyes serious and wider than usual.
"It's Lukas, he's injured," said Aina.
Devina stood quickly, a frown on her face, "How badly?"
She began to move towards the door without further prompting, determined to see for herself the extent of the damage even if Aina was going to tell her.
"He has no open wounds, but heavy bruising, and he had quite the knock to the head," said Aina, "Isaac went to find him when he didn't report back. He was unconscious in a barn in the northern sector".
"Is he awake now?" asked Devina.
"Yes, I can to retrieve you when he did, he said you'd want to hear what he had to say," said Aina.
Devina nodded as the two hurried through the halls of the residential portion of the church. It did not take them long to arrive at Lukas' room, and they found him surrounded by the other Paladins as Kelly fussed over him.
"I said I'm fine, would you stop it?" Lukas huffed in annoyance before his eyes strayed to Devina and Aina as they entered, "Ah, Priestess! I found it! I found the monster, and better yet, a weakness!"
Lukas went to stand, only to have both Kelly and Isaac force him back onto the bed.
"Stay down, you hit your head, you should rest," Kelly snapped.
"I said I'm-"
"You'll do as Kelly says," Devina ordered, "You can tell me what happened just as easily from the bed as you can from anywhere else".
Lukas reluctantly began recounting the events of the previous night. How it had started off like the previous nights before he'd suddenly felt the wrongness. How he'd followed it to a barn where the monster had been.
He'd covered the lower half of his face, but his long brown braid and red eyes had been exactly as Devina and Aina had described. The two had fought, and Lukas arrogantly declared they had been on equal footing, but Devina and Aina knew it was unlikely. Judging from the way Lukas described certain moves that the monster had made, he was far more skilled and experienced than Lukas had been. Devina even suspected that the monster had been toying with the Paladin.
That is, until Lukas described how his staff had repelled the monster. How it had burned it's skin with the help of the Gods' intervention.
The rest of the Paladins were both thrilled and hopeful at the news. If the monster could be burned, then he could be hurt, and therefore killed as was their mission. Indeed, it was good news. News that the Order would need to hear.
"Get some rest. I'll be sending a report to the Order on this," Devina instructed.
The Paladins did not protest her order despite their eagerness, they were of no use to her exhausted.
Devina returned to her rooms with haste, taking out a pen and paper so that she could write a message directly to the High Priestess. The message detailed how they had encountered the monster, and the wrongness in the mist they had felt that had given him away. She also detailed their subsequent plans to attempt to catch him. She spoke of his apparent appetite for blood, as well as his incredible speed. She also spoke of his red eyes, and how he was very likely to be highly skilled in combat. She admitted the danger of the mission to rid him from their world, but renewed her determination now that she and her Paladins had discovered that their Blessed instruments had an affect on him. It would likely only take a few good hits.
When she had finally finished her report, she signed it, then sealed it with the golden wax of the Holy Order before she went in search of the Priest of the Church. The Priest was more than willing to pass her message on immediately, bowing his head excessively and read to listen to her every whim.
Devina, who had spent nearly her entire life int he Crystal Tower, was not used to such submission and clear deference. She'd silently observed this same Priest more than once ordering those beneath him, yet in her presence he seemed little more than a puppy reading to beg for a treat. She'd found it amusing how the Priests and Priestesses of the Churches she visited did that at first. Now she found it tiresome.
She did little more than urge the Priest to send the message on swiftly before she retired back to her bed, endeavoring to rest more before she would have to rise and institute a plan of action.
But again, against her wishes, her rest of disturbed in the early afternoon.
"Pardon me, Priestess, but a lower Priest has reported a sighting of a man matching the description of the monster at the docks," came the Priest's voice from out in the hall once he'd had Devina's attention. Devina sat bolt upright, marching to the door and throwing it open.
"Where at the docks?"
The Priest looked a little surprised by her sudden movements, but answered quickly, "It was said he was purchasing a ticket with one of the merchants there. He wore a travelling cloak".
"Wake the Paladins immediately, tell them to ready themselves," said Devina.
Devina too, readied swiftly. Sleep be damned. She was not about to let that monster escape.
In the back of her mind, a niggling doubt emerged. Why now had he appeared in the day, and made his escape known to them as well?
Devina shook her head as she took up her staff. Regardless, this was an opportunity that she couldn't pass up.