Previous subchapter here.
I awoke some time later when I sensed someone sit on the edge of the bed, and a familiar voice spoke.
“At last, you are awake. I am glad, Carter,” said Lady Orwen.
“Thank you, Milady.”
“Open your mouth. Time for you to eat.”
I obeyed, and after three swallows of a rich broth, asked, “Milady, what happened to my eyeballs?”
She sat in silence.
Her gown rustled as she shifted to answer, “Carter, your eyes were burned out by the power released by the Angel and Walker as they battled. By a miracle you still live. Anyone else who looked at Azriel’s true form would be dead.”
I struggled to keep from freaking out about not being able to see. I did not want to cry in front of this woman. I didn’t want her to think of me as a child. Yes, I had a huge crush on her, shut up and stop laughing at me.
“Milady, what happened?”
“Azriel took the eldritch monstrosity to a place where no one else would be injured during their battle. After many days, he managed to lock it away once more.”
“He didn’t destroy the thing?” I asked incredulous, and then added, “Wait. Many days?”
The Lady laughed hard. When her merriment faded, she said, “Walkers cannot be annihilated. Even by one as powerful as Azriel. You’ve been unconscious for over a week.”
My jaw dropped. I don’t know which startled me more. The fact a Crimson Walker couldn’t be eliminated or I’d been out for so long. Taking advantage of my open mouth, Lady Orwen spooned in broth. I swallowed, and spoke again.
“What are Crimson Walkers if an angel isn’t able to destroy them?”
“They are an ‘Engine of the End.’ A powerful wizard can sometimes raise one to be an assassin.”
I pondered that for a bit. I changed the subject. “Milady, what is Azriel?”
I heard the smile in her voice as she answered. “My greatest champion and the right hand of Azerith.”
‘Wow.’ Azerith is one of the most powerful deities of BattleHammer, and did not interfere often. I didn’t know he had any active angels.
“I wish to thank you for covering me. That was a kindness, as well as an act of uncommon valor.”
My face stretched into a smile. “No need for thanks, Milady,” I said. “I deem it an honor to do so.”
‘Ugh.’ I gave myself a mental forehead slap. ‘The fuck? Deem it an honor to do so? Am I a 15th century samurai? Not smooth.’ She laughed.
Eager to change the subject, I asked, “What happened to your clothes earlier?”
“Due to the sortilege I used, and the power and purity of channeling Azriel, they disintegrated.”
“Wow,” I breathed. “Strong magic.” I paused as another thought occurred to me. “Wait a minute, Aren’t you a Warpriest of Kellün? Why is an angel of Azerith your greatest champion?”
“I don’t understand Azriel’s guardianship. It is said he appeared to Father when I was born. Sages have been consulted for years to discover answers, but they have found none.”
“Hunh,” I grunted. “Any idea about why I’m here?”
“All I know is you are our only hope. Mordecai accessed oracles and they confirm it.”
That was a scary thought. I had no clue how to help these people. I couldn’t even fight!
“How are Lord Mordecai and Master Angriz?” I asked to change the subject again.
“Angriz is now caged.”
“What?!” I cried with disbelief. “Why?”
“The taste of an intelligent being’s blood affects his mind. He is,” she paused and sighed, “Crazed. Mordecai restrained him before anyone was injured, or worse, killed. Angriz prisoned until he can be purified.”
“What do you mean?” I leaned forward with caution. I didn’t wish to fall again.
“Prayer is to be said over him throughout the night. When the dawn’s first rays touch him, the light will burn through him, purging the taint from his body. It is unfortunate, but all memories of who he was won’t exist anymore.”
“What shall become of him?”
“He’ll be released outside the city to make his way however he is able,” she said.
“And his chances of survival?”
“Without any knowledge of his past?” She paused to think. “Likely, none at all.”
“How could you do that to him?” I demanded. “He saved a lot of people!”
She hesitated. “Carter…he ate Father’s body!” Her voice cracked.
As she cried, my heart broke a little. I pulled her close and gave her a shoulder to cry on. She clung hard as she sobbed.
Someone entered the room.
“Peels,” they said.
The last thing I was aware of was soup soaking into my crotch, and Lady Orwen collapsing on me.