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As Zax was waiting for Sister Iaura to wake up, whilst in the meantime reckoning how to treat Niel, someplace else, on the opposite side of the planet and beneath the blue sky, happened to share the same inaudibility but with ambiance much less peaceful.
Stelero Mars, Archbishop Silternjan, Cardinal Northstar, in addition to all fourth level Martial Mortal members of the church and several of the third level Martial Mortals, were seated on long backrest wooden chairs around a rectangle table from the same type of wood.
A small altar was situated before the west wall of the room they occupied. Before the opposite wall was a podium with an opened, holographic scroll, ready to be read at a moment of convenience. The north wall was black as a vast void, almost like it displayed an image of a desolate space rather than a turned off Screen. Its opposite wall had nothing particular, woodland green wallpaper and a plain looking door.
They numbered forty four, with the majority being the third level Martial Mortals. At every other occasion, any of those third level Martial Mortals would have been ecstatic for the opportunity to share a seat in this consecrated room, but if right now an outsider will enter and ask, none would answer that they desire to stay.
“Sacrilege!” Stelero Mars bellowed and once more caused many of those already restless around him to break eyesight and drop their heads in trepidation. “Do you not know her position?!” He harangued Cardinal Northstar, an inappropriate act in a public forum, even as small as this one.
The Cardinal’s status perhaps was lower and his prospects in the eyes of the church disposable, but he was still a pious devotee with higher cultivation and only The Almighty, His Holiness or those they specifically delegate held the right to indiscriminately admonish.
“His offences are unpardonable and yet you determine that we should comply with his demands?!”
“Sister Iaura is pure and hearty, cherished by esteemed parents, His Holiness an even The Almighty. No matter how aggrieved Zax Zel is, he is but a mortal and no mortal is capable of doing her harm”. Cardinal Northstar remained levelheaded as he justified his opinion. “Furthermore, he requires our help, which is all the more reason for him to keep Sister Iaura safe. Conversely, the Godly Law Template’s location is on the verge of being pinpointed. We can’t contact the Holy Palace before its discovery and even then, only Sheldon’s Galactic Communicator can provide a secure transmission. Of course, we can request his Holiness to expedite the Immortal descent for Sister Iaura, but the consequence of this is that he will be a step behind the other competitors when they will arrive”.
“His Holiness will prioritize Sister Iaura”. For the first time, Archbishop Silternjan opened his mouth and agreed with Cardinal Northstar’s conjecture. “Sister Iaura is the sole candidate to two divine legacies and her constitution even allow her to combine them. It is known throughout the entirety of the lower Valley that she is favored by two Gods. The inhabitants of this remote Plain might be ignorant to the fact, but being knowledgeable or not, a mortal can influence the will of Gods”.
“Oh, so you shy from taking action but don’t mind speaking!” Stelero Mars’s resentment for Archbishop was even graver than his opposition to Cardinal Northstar. Among the three of them, he was the only one who meekly chose to surrender when Zax abducted Sister Iaura.
“Your Young Eminence”, couple of the fourth level Martial Mortals wished to appeal in Archbishop’s name but were shut down quickly by a gaze from Stelero Mars. At the same time, they, and all the other situated in the room, realized that for this prominent figure from the Holy Palace their presence was mere formality and their thoughts no better than the surrounding decorations.
Archbishop Silternjan and Cardinal Northstar were of different mind, regarding the participating subordinates, yet they made little effort to retort against Stelero Mars’s harsh censor. As much as he disagreed he knew they were right, but he was furious nonetheless and needed an outlet, hence venting became his tool.
“The many ways your frivolousness can go wrong are one too many. Godly Retribution being passed on is unheard of and the prerequisite to get Sister Iaura back is solving this issue for Zax Zel”. He really despised him. Even when he composed himself, Stelero Mars felt the throb of rancor pulsing in his sea of consciousness. He fed on it to sustain himself during this time of crisis and made sure to chant verses whenever it threatened to consume him.
“We will begin by setting a time limit”. Cardinal Northstar proposed. “No matter how the son of Zax Zel acquired a small sum of his father’s Godly Retribution, it should not break out any time soon”.
“As long as you cannot be fully certain…” Stelero Mars granted.
Cardinal Northstar coughed twice. “Probing into the will of The Almighty is blasphemy, but if I were an apostate I would guess that this conundrum is an extension to Zax Zel’s punishment”.
He could expound, but refrained to avoid sin. Still, the meaning he wanted to convey was one they could interpret by their shared faith… Zax’s lack of intent to repent roped his Niel to a similar, catastrophic predicament. As long as he is a caring father, this notion will suffice to gradually wear his resistance and corrode his conviction, for at the day despair will drive him a nudge from falling into the mouth of the damnable abyss, a loss of a son will make it the last push and the appropriate time for the Godly Retribution to strike as a whole.
“What would be the time limit?” Stelero Mars resigned to his seat.
“One week”. Cardinal Northstar’s response threw everyone off. “When everything said and done, we cannot question His Holiness’s priority, the safety of Sister Iaura. First and foremost we will have Zax Zel assure us within a week that Sister Iaura is and will be treated with care for the duration of our collaboration. From there we will follow closely the development of every angle in the collaboration, before electing the next approach. And only should things get out of hand, before finding the Godly Law Template, we will have no choice but to inform the Holy Palace”.
“We shall also request to send Sister Iaura a guardian who knows her daily needs and can provide her”. Archbishop Silternjan added. “Sister Beatriz”, he turned to her.
“Please allow me, Your Young Eminence”. Sister Beatriz stood up and bent forward.
“Raise your head”. Stelero Mars gestured, seemingly calmer.
The room fell into a silence as a tacit agreement was being established.
Only when the sound of bells ringing in a dull tune did the present people rose from their seat and proceeded out.
It was the time for the evening sermon.
It had been seventeen hours.
Zax’s eyelids opened with a profound black light. In front of him, Niel was still in a stupor.
‘Come here’. Zax’s Soul Sense breached the confinement of the room to the adjacent one.
Second later the door opened and Sister Iaura walking with a timid posture.
Zax examined her and found no sign to the light element energy. Outwardly he studied her feelings by her body language and noted her efforts to muster courage. ‘How unyielding…’
“Over here” He strictly said.
Sister Iaura complied with conflicting emotions. She saw her kidnaper sitting beside a small boy and guessed he was his son, by the small facial resemblance, and that he was the reason he took her.
“He is…” When she got to a certain range, Sister Iaura sensed something, the signature of particular force that could not be described in the form of fluctuations, undulations or anything remotely similar.
“She can tell without inspecting Niel’s soul…” Zax murmured to himself. “You can sense the Godly Retribution in both of us?” He asked to confirm and she replied with a nod.
“At the time, out of fury and heedless to the repercussions, I swore to Archbishop Silternjan, using the name of your God, that I’ll kill him and destroy his church. This is how I was smitten with the Godly Retribution. My son, however, was not born yet back then. He should be innocent. Nevertheless, the Godly Retribution also inflicted him”.
Sister Iaura listened, or rather knew that for her safety she should not ignore Zax.
“Initially I’ve took you as a guarantee. From the first time we met and every occasion after I saw you in the company of Stelero Mars and others from the church’s high echelon. I figured your wellbeing will be a good incentive for their help. But on my way back with you I discovered several startling secrets on your body… The protective measures you possess are something no one else, not even ‘His Young Eminence’, have. I cannot imagine what your identity in the Holy Palace, but for my son I don’t care to offend the people behind you. Hence, for the time being, I’ll keep you under my watch. You can try to assist me to remove the Godly Retribution of Niel’s soul, and if we’d succeed I’ll let you go, or wait to see the outcome from the sidelines. Either way, I’ll let you know right now, if something bad will happen to my son, no matter what protection you have, as part of Luminous Church, I’ll definitely find a way to kill you”.
It was a long speech, dripping malice and hate, but it also was candid, which made it sound like a confession.
“I understand”. Sister Iaura replied serenely, as if she had a change in temperament and gave off the impression of genuinely siding with Zax.
Her amiable tone caught Zax by surprise. He found the girl before him, who was certainly much older than her lass of a look, conducting herself as he would expect someone of equal standing.
‘Is it pride or self confidence? Can she realize the situation she is in?’ Those were questions for the end result. “Can you manifest the power of the light element energy in you by will?”
Sister Iaura came to sit on her knees between him and Niel. “No. If you think it can help, then I’ll follow any of your suggestions. But if you are willing to listen to me, I can offer another solution”.
“There is something within your power that can help my son?”
“I can help you as well”.
“Really… how?” Zax glared, doubtful. She could not help herself but she can help him and Niel?
“Easy, join me for a prayer”. Sister Iaura smiled and for the first time Zax spotted, or rather had a vague feeling that he perceives another existence inside of her. It was almost creepy, but there was something convincing in her words, much more than in Archbishop Silternjan’s invitation.
“I can save you”.
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