The Vicar of Darkness

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 29 (v.1) - Part 2 - IX.

Submitted: May 22, 2019

Reads: 28

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Submitted: May 22, 2019

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“Iona what is this?” Eloise touches Iona’s shoulder.

They sit together at the edge of a natural hot spring near the camp. Waiting in their underclothes preparing to slip into the hot water.

Iona holds her arm out surveying the damage from several nights ago, it has healed uniquely. There is no scarring. Her skin is smooth and blemish free, but it is noticeably paler, fading at her shoulder.

“It’s a burn, from a Hound, interesting don’t you think?” her younger friend explains. They lower themselves into the water, it is nice after a long day of training in the cooler weather.

“Does it hurt?” Eloise unconsciously touches her own arm.

“It feels normal, oddly enough.”

“That is fascinating...” The blond hasn’t heard of Dark Matter scarring, but she’s never fought a Hound. They aren’t native to D’Hiver Nero.

Iona leans her head back, resting against the edge of the rocks. She closes her eyes, “How’s Ain holding up?”

While she continues to reside with Eloise and Ain at the camp, she doesn’t get to see the young man often.

“He’s doing a lot better, he started training on Tuesday- I don’t know if Sir Errol will put him on back on duty soon.” Eloise unties her ponytail, “I wasn’t allowed on duty until I finished a month of regular patrol. I will say, I miss you already, I know we write but having you around has spoiled me.”

“Invite me over for tea and I’ll visit more frequently.” Iona opens one eye and smirks at her friend. “Just shoot me a Gram, it’ll save me the quarter I pay the poor kid I bribe to pen my letters to you.”

A Gram is similar to a Portal Seal, used to pass on brief messages. A fairly recent technology.

Eloise nods, “I’ll invite Princess Lilith too, I hear she’s taken a liking to you.”

“Please no,” Iona protests but laughs, a rare sight. “She talks a great deal.”

“She does, but I will likely miss her too since she’s returning to Brute,” the blond admits. “Although I don’t think she likes me much. She’s kept her distance after her odd celebration.”

“You did steal her knight in shining armor,” her friend teases. Her damp curls sticking to her face. 

“That’s not entirely true…” Eloise sinks deeper into the water, hiding her embarrassment. Iona’s always known about her feelings for Preston, it had become a running joke, and now look where they are.

“Eloise,” Iona’s expression changes, suddenly solemn, “The bandits that Ain and Princess Lilith were involved with… I’ve seen what they’re capable of. I don’t expect neither Ain or Lilith to forget their experience. Ain especially seems to be having a hard time handling it.”

“He tries hard to hide it, I don’t know what is more impolite, ignoring the fact or saying something.” Eloise knows of the problem, she’s simply unable to think of something helpful to do or say.

“I don’t know either. He won’t open up right away, but I believe that you being there is the first step.”

“I think so too, I don’t want to overstep any boundaries though.” Eloise cups her hands under the water and stares at them, losing herself in her speculation. She can’t picture Ain being tormented by his captors, but she flashes briefly to the image of him when she found him. Inhumane. 

“Are you going after them?” she speaks up after a pensive silence. “The bandits.”

She doesn’t know all the details of Iona’s unlawful practices, but she knows what the young woman does for a living. She knows that it isn’t the life she would pick for herself, but she doesn’t disapprove of what Iona is doing either. She too, puts the bad guys away. The real bad guys that know the law through and through. They know the loop hole and they know what they can get away with. If Iona has to break some laws to ascertain that these people are put away for good, so be it.

“There is a huge reward for whoever does, but unless someone plans to go for the entire group there’s no way you can get anyone that matters without stirring the pot. They have too many connections to important people,” Iona explains. “As for the lackeys that were directly responsible for the kidnapping and torture of our friends, we will take care of them. They’re the bottom of the pyramid, no one will stick their neck out for them. But whoever put the order out, they’re important, even if we discovered their identity, we wouldn’t be able to do a thing.”

“I figured as much.” Eloise looks up with a half-smile. “Thank you Iona. Simply knowing more about the people who did this… gives me the strength to face Preston.”

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---


Electra slams a Light seal into the floor, the vibration trips Ain a couple of feet behind her. She kicks herself onto a Riding disk and laps the perimeter of the training area until she is behind Ain again. She leaps off the disk and rams her shoulder into him. She doesn’t aim to injure him, simply ground him, as proper training procedure allows. They tumble across the floor.

She breaks into a half-laugh, a pained laugh because she is working to catch her breath. She sits half of the way up but gives up and flops back into the pale grass. The warming sun peers down on the two flicking through passing clouds. The day is beautiful despite the cold weather.

“You know, I truly believed that I was catching up to you… now I’m beginning to realize that it’s impossible.” Ain’s muscles protest horribly at his efforts move from his spot on the grass. He instead spreads his arms and legs out stretching comfortably.

A warm silence blankets them and Ain suspects that perhaps Electra has fallen asleep. His theory disproved when she speaks up moments later.

“Do not be too hard on yourself.” His partner stands, dusts herself off, and holds a hand out for him to take. “I know it’s frustrating.”

“I didn’t think I was gone so long…” He takes her hand and she pulls him up. He lost weight during his time in captivity, a lot of muscle. “Thanks for coming out with me by the way, I know you train a lot with Iona. You must be tired.”

“Don’t worry about me, I take care of myself,” she assures him. He’s not assured, but as a man of medicine he’s never assured.

They walk back in the direction the camp.

“How is Iona anyway?” He doesn’t see Basma’s sister often due to them having alternating schedules. “Terrifying as usual?”

“Iona isn't terrifying….She’s determined.” Electra corrects, although she can infer why he would think so. “She’s been phenomenal, you should try talking to her you know? Instead of trying to decipher her well-being through me.”

“She is… a complicated woman.” Ain rubs the back of his neck, “Besides, from what I’ve heard from Cyan, talking to her is torture in itself.”

Electra removes her masking seal and laughs. Her amusement is genuine. “Yeah but Cyan is tortured talking to any girl in general.”

“True.” Ain removes his own masking seal. His concern lingers, “Iona and I don’t have a lot in common however. Besides being Lightwielders and well… Basma-”

He stops walking, he holds his arm out in front of Eloise stopping her as well. He guides her to face him.

“Look, I know I have no right to say this-” He looks at her sincerely, then shys his gaze to the floor. “I- I wasn’t even there- but I have a hard time talking about Basma. I think it’s because I wasn’t there that I have a hard time talking about it. If I had been there...”

“Hey…” Eloise puts her hand on his shoulder and shakes her head slowly.

“You did what you could. We all did.” She swallows down the heavy feeling in her chest, “It was an ugly situation- the whole event was unpleasant. No one expects you to be comfortable talking about it Preston... But know, that when you are ready to talk about it- I’ll listen.” She pulls him into a hug.

“Thank you Eloise.” He pulls away to study her. He recognizes that it isn’t easy for her to talk about this either, “But you too- I mean- I know you partially blame yourself for what happened to Basma- you need to stop okay?”

“I know… It’s a process,” she admits reluctantly.

“If anyone can do it Eloise, it’s you.” .

“I’ve been meaning to apologize for awhile now,” she recalls out loud. ‘It was wrong for me to be upset with you for not telling me your identity when you discovered my own. I would have hesitated too and I can’t blame you for it. Really, I was upset because you had only admired Electra before. You didn’t like me as Eloise- I didn’t like me as Eloise. Weak, self-pitying, stubborn Eloise, I was a nuisance I know. But I was a hypocrite too, I had only looked at you as Preston.”

“Eloise you were never a nuisance.” Her partner is shocked to learn this. “I’ve always thought you were amazing, I’ll admit I was jealous of you at times. Other times, when I saw the way your parents treated you, not so much. I admired your strength but you were in a different league. I didn’t see you in a romantic manner because you were a Desmond. You are a Desmond technically. An untouchable Desmond.”

They resume walking back to their quarters. The idea hadn’t occurred to Eloise in the past, but she knew that was a real factor.

“We both were in the wrong mindset, but I believe we had good intentions.” He elaborates, “And if you consider it, although we thought we were enamored by the heroic version of ourselves, there had to be something real beyond that. Why else would a simple admiration turn into anything else? Granted, it is true I admired with Electra for her strength, it wasn’t her strength that haunted me. It was the person behind the strength, that’s the person I resonated with.”

“Preston…” Eloise furrows her brow, “What happened to you out there?”

He flushes, and tries to recall what he just said. He had the tendency to speak his honest mind at an impulse.

Whatever had happened to him, Eloise knows it bothers him more than the Basma incident. She lets it go and changes the topic.

---


Prince Cyan is humming as he signs off on some documents for Sir Errol at his desk. He senses Iona walking over from her post at the window, taking a gander at what he is working on. Lately she has been doing so and the prince finds her odd behavior endearing. She is like a cat.

“Is that your signature? It’s ridiculous,” she notes.

“Really?” He leans back and studies it from a distance. “It is a little over embellished actually.” His letters are large and swirly, they take up the entire line.

“A little? I wouldn’t know I suppose, I don’t know how to write.” she explains rather casually.

“Wait, you’re serious?” The Prince of Opal Oceans looks up at Iona who is hovering over his desk, “You don’t know how to write?”

Iona grins at his reaction but nods to confirm.

“But Eloise mentioned that you write to her during your travels.”

“Only if I can’t find a kid to pen it.” She picks up one a pen of the desk and begins copying Prince Cyan’s name on a blank piece of paper. Her letters are round and slow. “I can write my name but that’s about it. I have memories of learning to write but then I lost my sight. I read of course, mostly braille however. And if I concentrate I can recognize most characters. If I had to recall them from memory though I wouldn’t be able to. Besides, since I don’t practice, my penmanship is horrible.”

Her explanation is so obvious to Prince Cyan now that she has explained it. He feels doltish for his reaction, but he can tell that Iona is entertained which makes him smile. 

“Iona what is this?” Eloise touches Iona’s shoulder.


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