“Oh, hi Azariah. Are you all right?” – A voice that was everywhere, yet nowhere, invaded Azariah’s mind. A sensation that fulfilled all purpose of auditory one, but wasn’t quite that, and never went through his ears.
“What are you... No, I’m goddamn far from all right. My… charge, is about to die.” - he heard himself without moving lips, coarse and torrid.
“You know what I am. I’ve been here on and off, your entire life. I’m the shard, an extension, of the power that be. Not the kind you’d expect when the state usurps that title, but one of the true, divine, ruinous, powers that be.”
He knew. Whenever he tried and failed to genuinely pray, he felt this. The powers that be. Sometimes depicted by obscure board games he knew of. Mere mention of them was suppressed by the Church.
“And you know what I can do about all this. The trinket Eliphea has… is my holy symbol. I’ll have it intercede and save her life…
“…If? If death has one denied, it clamors to make up for it.”
“Let me worry about death. The price you pay for Eliphea’s life to be extended is simple. Grant me access to my soul, and go to war.”
One more look at Eliphea’s face did it. She had to live: Damn Azariah’s soul and life.
Thought as much. Now… say the words.
Terror struck Azariah’s nerves as he completely realized what was about to happen, and what was the truth about the world all along. He knew the Church’s teachings about afterlife that’s of mercy. He thought them full of it. And now not only was there afterlife, but he was about to give his own, to a thing he scarcely knew any facts about. Only rumors.
“Say the words.”
He said the words.
Time flew faster than ever. The creature fulfilled its promise: The trinket interceded and, against all odds of physics, deflected the bullet. Meanwhile, Azariah’s face, his sight, everything about it, went blood-red. He tried to stop it, but impulse to preserve Eliphea overwhelmed him. With strength that couldn’t be his own, he rushed at he gunman. One grab at his arm, and he heard the sickly crack of the bones. Ten strikes at his face that, in his perspective, might as well not have been his, and said face was reduced to a monstrous mush of flesh and bone. Then, the rage stopped, and Azariah’s body was his again. Nerves pulverized, his sole remaining instinct was to grab Eliphea by the arm, rushing to safety.
7 hours later
“Worthless fools! This was the last time we will allow this, understand?!” - Cardinal Sica thumped his table, eyes wrathfully directed at the lay worker before him. Well, lay worker. Lay "operative". Though made to disband the Inquisition 200 years ago, the Church has maintained its spiritual successor in various degrees of secret, ever since the incidents regarding supernatural events deemed malicious, escalated. It looks like their initiative to utilize untrained personnel, resulted in headline-hitting raid on an antiques store, with one fatality on the attacker's side.
“Good news is, if this could be traced to us, we’d already be in trouble.” - said the operative, collected, calm, and with what must have been a > 100$ haircut. If he was trying to calm down his superior, it wasn't working.
“Good news is, go screw yourself. Better yet, from now on, every action conducted on grounds of cultist suspicion, is to be green-lit and directed by our own agents."
“Cardinal, the fact that we give Regulators autonomy gives us a little more coverage than if we bonded them to our own personnel.”
“That’s another thing, we’re shutting this whole Regulator kerfuffle down. We’re going to instead let our actual guys hold retinues to help them in a way that guarantees discretion. The only reason we can get the government to turn the blind eye towards our work is when it’s subtle. Or well, was subtle.”
“You started out in what wasn’t that different from them.”
“I’m an exception. And if our guys can find more, they can pull them over to their retinues. Either way, I don’t want to hear about Regulators ever again. Even the name wasn’t as original as I was told anyway.”
“Said the guy who’d have our whole work be called ‘inquisition’”
“That’s generic, not unoriginal… Change the subject already. What’s the aftermath of this antiquarian assault disaster?”
“We’ve got one casualty on our side. Broken arm, and completely pulverized face. Weirdly enough, police source claims they can’t get any fingerprints or DNA out of it. At all. Anyway, we’ll proceed to off the culprits of that attack, before they endanger us again. Not exactly a work of a human rights champion, but, we can do that.”
“What was human rights again?”
“I’ll tell you later, it’s hilarious.”
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