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Les Ombres d'Esteren» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Gwidrite Heresies - Session Eleven rss

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Kai S.
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Participating Players
Game Leader – Kai
Maeveen – Sara
Nikolas – Fred
Valbrand – Bavo

List of previous sessions

***

Maeveen, Nikolas and Valbrand stand at the edge of the clearing and stare at Samuel and Finn, who are now rising to their feet, standing right next to the stump of the Sacred Oak. Maeveen starts moving towards Samuel, looking at Valbrand: „Don‘t kill them. I‘ll take on the right one, you the left one.“ Valbrand shrugs and follows her, getting ready to attack Finn. The combat quickly turns into a grapple - both Valbrand and Maeveen struggle trying to force their opponents to the ground. They quickly realize that - in stark contrast to the their young age and seeming inexperience - both Samuel and Finn are quite capable wrestlers, moving with grace and proficiency. What strikes them as even more odd is that both seem surprised at the frailness of their body and their lack of bodily strength. The grapple goes back and forth with no side being able to gain the advantage. Valbrand manages to get in a punch to Finn’s chest, which dazes the boy, but to his surprise he sees no pain in Finn‘s eyes - it is merely the body that is dazed, but the mind is not. This distracts Valbrand long enough for Finn to break the grapple and roll away. Nicholas, meanwhile, tries to assist Maeveen. After his first clumsy attempts fail miserably, he manages to hit Samuel with a lucky punch - which is replied in earnest by a devastating punch to the guts by Samuel that knocks the wind right out of him. Nicholas gasps: „Samuel… you‘re not in your right mind…!“ The boy snarls back at him with a hoarse voice, that is not his own and instead sounds like a grown man‘s voice: „I tend to disagree…!“ The distraction is enough for Maeveen to bring Samuel down to the ground, but even with their forces combined Maveen and Nicholas can’t keep him quite down.

Then suddenly a voice calls out, echoing over the clearing: „What is going on here?“ Brother Yorum is standing at the edge of clearing, looking at the combat in both surprise and anger. Valbrand gets up from the ground and moves towards Yorum, as Finn backs off towards the forest. Samuel tries to move away as well, but can‘t break Maeveen‘s grapple. Valbrand looks at the young priest suspiciously and asks: „What are you doing here, Yorum?“

„I wanted to see this place myself.“

Nicholas calls out: „When we arrived we saw shadows seep into Finn‘s and Samuel‘s mouths…“

„And Finn‘s getting away!“ Maeveen points in the boy‘s direction with her chin, while still holding the struggling Samuel.

Valbrand gauges the distance between himself and the boy, but realizes he won‘t be able to beat Finn in a sprint, since he‘s wearing armor. Yorum calls out: „Finn, stop! In the Name of the Lord!“ This doesn‘t impress the teenager at all and he darts off into the forest.

„They proclaimed the old faith had returned!“ Nicholas moves closer to Samuel, who manages to break Maeveen‘s grapple. Valbrand rushes over through and blocks the boy‘s path.

Yorum moves closer to the group: „Brother Valbrand, your report, please.“

„One moment, Brother Yorum. As soon as we have secured our catch I will give report.“ Once Maeveen has tied up Samuel, Valbrand takes off his helmet and turns to the priest: „What Nicholas says is largely true. When we arrived, these two“, he points at Samuel and the forest into which Finn fled, „ were onto their knees, a black mass entering their mouths. A voice spoke that was not their own…“

Maeveen interrupts him: „It‘s all witchery and demons!“

Valbrand frowns for a moment and continues: „Finn is not a good fighter like this, neither is Samuel. This is unnatural.“

Yorum nods: „I see…“

„Their bodies when confronted did not feel pain.“

„Thank you, Brother Valbrand.“

The young Blade Knight looks at the priest: „I will need your help, Brother Yorum.“

„Yes, you will.“ Yorum reaches underneath his robe and pulls a symbol out, to let it gleam in the last light of the day - the symbol of a Sigire, the holy inquisitors of the Temple of the One God.

While Maeveen and Nicholas stare at the symbol in disbelief, Valbrand merely nods: „I figured.“

„Of course, you did.“ Yorum smiles and points at Samuel: „Bring this one to the village and to the penintent‘s cell. Make sure he doesn‘t get away.“

Valbrand nods again: „What shall we do with the madman?“

„He will stay in the cell as well, but tied up, just like Samuel.“

„Brother Yorum, a question, if I may. Shall we remove the oak? Get some pack animals and a few capable people and uproot it?“

Yorum nods: „I have already conferred with Brother Callum regarding this matter - yes, go ahead.“

„Very well, I shall make the required arrangements.“ Valbrand shoves Samuel forward like a criminal and slams his helmet back on. He keeps a close eye on him - to Valbrand the boy‘s looking normal right now, albeit slightly confused and scared, but he does not dare to protest. The Blade Knight calmly says: „Walk! Do not make this harder.“

The others follow him back towards the village. Nicholas is still pretty worked up from the fight and also very much worried about what will happen to Samuel, while Maeveen thinks Niddrie needs some kind of cleansing.

***


A little while later they arrive back at the village and lead Samuel to the penitent‘s cell. Yorum personally makes sure Bran is gagged and tied up properly, before they thrust Samuel into the tiny room as well. Valbrand turns to the priest: „I take it you have more knowledge of these things, Brother Yorum. What are they? How can they be killed?“

„I‘m not sure what they are,“ Yorum replies, „but I do know that they must be dealt with.“

„But how?“

„We will try to perform an exorcism and if that fails…“ the priest looks down for a few moments, „they will have to be executed.“

Nicholas stares at him in disbelief: „Are you serious?“

„Whatever they are… whatever they are possessed by, if we cannot exorcise them… we cannot allow them to live.“

„I would suggest taking out the shrine as well,“Valbrand remarks. „It seems to be an anchor of some description.“

„You mean the oak and the stone circle?“ When Valbrand nods, Yorum continues: „I have already sent word to the militia to send a group of men to uproot the treestump, remove it from the clearing and then burn it.“

„Does the village have salt?“

Yorum shrugs: „Only in small quantities… this is a small village after all and the way I understand it the villagers have used most of it for curing meat for the winter. We will have to try and perform a rite of purification on the clearing and the pond.“

„Brother Yorum,“ Nicholas addresses the Sigire, „how will this exorcism actually work? How will you go on about this, if I may ask?“

„It is a ritual that has to be performed by a skilled servant of the One God. I have been trained to perform such exorcisms… in fact, I have performed them multiple times already. I might have need of Brother Callum and Brother Valbrand, but…“

„Has Callum informed you,“ Valbrand interrupts Yorum.

„Of what?“

„My state?“

„Yes, he has.“

„This will not be a hindrance?“

„I don’t think it will, but… depending on how strong the possessing spirits are, why might not be able to exorcise them. If that is the case, we have two options: we can either send them to Expiation or Ard-Amrach, where Sigires more skilled in performing exorcisms will take care of them… but I’m not sure we should go that route, because, quite frankly, this whole situation is very disturbing and should be dealt with at its source, instead of allowing it to spread. Therefore, you, Valbrand, will have to find Finn. Track him down, bring him back to the village.“

„Understood,“ Valbrand nods. „We will need a skilled tracker though, Saroc has left us.“

„I see… in that case the militia is probably best qualified to deal with this. I will inform them. You go arrest Feyre then.“

Valbrand nods again: „Understood.“ He turns to Maeveen and Nicholas, pausing when he looks at the latter: „Nicholas, go get your sword.“

„Which reminds me, Nicholas,“ Yorum turns to the doctor as well, „I was made aware Elena has regained consciousness.“

„Yes, that is true“ Nicholas nods, „but she has trouble remembering anything, especially the events of the last week or so. She’s still in a rather frail state, recovering from her injuries.“

„I see.“

„Are you thinking about performing an exorcism on her?“

„Absolutely!“ The Sigire sighs. „Make sure Jenric and Barba keep her locked up in her room for now.“

„If you think that’s necessary… I will try my best.“ Nicholas looks very uncomfortable. „But that would mean I have to tell them about the fate that befell their daughter.“

„No, you don’t. Come up with something - a disease, whatever.“ Yorum is by now in complete control of the situation. „Give them some explanation to calm them down.“

„Okay, I will try.“ Nicholas shuffles around a bit. „But one more thing, Yorum… the very fact that a Sigire is in a remote place like this… did you know there was something going on in Niddrie before?“

Yorum simply smiles enigmatically: „The Sigires know about everything that happens in Gwidre.“ He suddenly seems to remember something: „Oh, which reminds me: Maeveen, Nicholas, kneel down, please!“ The two hesitantly comply, while Yorum turns to Valbrand: „Hand me your sword.“ Yorum takes the sword and then touches both Maeveen and Nikolas on the left shoulder with the broad side of the blade: „You are hereby appointed auxiliary troops of the Temple.“ Valbrand smiles at the sight: he has heard about the Sigires appointing auxiliary troops but has never actually seen it happen before. To him this is a good sign, because it shows that Yorum trusts his two companions to support him. Yorum hands Valbrand his sword back: „Now, find Feyre and take her into custody, keep Elena locked up in her room and then we will have to see!“ He then leaves to prepare for the exorcism.

***


Valbrand heads to the bakery, accompanied by Maeveen. On the way, Valbrand puts his helmet back on and turns to his companion: „I will let you do the talking.“ When they arrive he actually stays a few feet away from the door, a menacing presence in the background. By now night has fallen and when Tristan, the baker, opens the door, he seems quite surprised by the late visitors: „Maeveen, Sir Valbrand… what is the matter?“

„I’m sorry for disturbing you,“ Maeveen says, „but could we have a word with Feyre?“

„Certainly… she’s upstairs already, I will call her.“ Tellingly, the baker does not invite them into his hut.

About a minute later the mute girl shows up at the door.

„Good evening, Feyre.“ Maeveen smiles reassuringly, but then sighs and struggles for words. Finally she says: „Brother Yorum would like a word with you.“

The girl simply raises her eyebrows - but in the background Tristan gets very pale and asks in a shaky voice: „What is this all about, Maeveen?“

„I’m sorry, but Samuel and Finn are gone and something bad is happening in the village.“

„And that has what to do with Feyre?“

„It has something to do with her and Elena… and Finn… and Samuel… and her loosing her voice…“

Realization dawns upon Tristan’s voice: „What are you implying here, Maeveen?“

„These are church matters, Tristan,“ Valbrand calmly states. „Do you really wish to know?“

„This is my daughter we’re talking about!“

„I understand,“ Valbrand says, while Maeveen looks down: „I know… and we’re trying to help, Tristan!“

„By doing what?!“ Tristan is getting agitated by now.

„Finding out what’s happened…,“ Maveen tries to calm the baker down, „figuring out why things are going wrong in Niddrie.“

„But you have talked to my daughter several times already!“

„And now Yorum wishes to talk to her,“ Valbrand states.

„Is that really necessary,“ Tristan pleadingly asks.

„If it makes you any more comfortable,“ Maeveen replies, „you can attend as well.“ She notices Valbrand’s helmet turning slightly towards her, but then he nods.

„Yes… I think…“ Tristan’s internal struggle is clearly visible on his face - he knows he has to comply, but doesn’t want to hand Feyre over to the church. „What… what is going to happen to her?“ He suddenly turns to his daughter: „Feyre, get your coat!“ The girl complies, but Valbrand makes sure she stays in sight and doesn’t run away. Once Feyre is a few feet away, Tristan quietly asks again: „What is going to happen to her?“

Maeveen whispers: „As far as I understand it they’re trying to heal her.“

„How?“

Maveen looks at Valbrand who says only one word: „Exorcism.“ Tristan gets even paler and has to lean against the doorframe to remain standing, so Valbrand adds: „I would not tell you this lightly, Tristan! This is the only way!“

The baker remains silent for a few seconds and then looks at the smooth metal surface of Valbrand’s helmet: „And what if I do not agree?“

There is along silence from under the helmet, which then tilts slightly forward and up again: „It is my duty to protect the church… and its people. Even against themselves. Don’t make me, please…“

Maeveen puts a hand on Tristan’s shoulder, who takes a very deep breath… and then steps aside. Feyre walks past her father, giving him a quick hug and a reassuring smile, and follows the blacksmith and Blade Knight to the church. Tristan, meanwhile, closes the door and stays at the bakery. Valbrand nods: „Come on, Feyre.“ He walks a step behind her to the left, but his precautions are unnecessary - the girl makes no attempt at fleeing.

***


Nicholas arrives at Jenrick’s farm and knocks. Jenrick opens the door and greets him with a slightly confused smile: „Nicholas! I wasn’t expecting you, have you come to look after Elena?“

„Good evening, Jenrick,“ Nicholas nervously replies. „Yes, it’s a matter I’d like to discuss with you… if you have a moment.“

„Sure, please, come inside.“ Jenrick leads Nicholas into the small living room in the farm and points at a chair: „Have a seat.“ They both sit down, but the farmer suddenly jumps to his feat again: „Oh, I almost forgot…!“ He walks to a cabinet and returns a short while later with a very well-made coat, which he puts on the table. He points at it and says with a bright smile: „This is a gift from Barba and me… we just wanted to thank you and show you our appreciation for all you did for our daughter! I know, it isn‘t much, but it is all we have.“

Nicholas stares at the coat and with effort says: „I… I don’t know what to say…“

„Don’t say anything then… we’re so happy that you were able to heal Elena!“

Nicholas starts crying, a couple tears running down his cheek, which he quickly wipes away - Jenrick politely looks away. He clears his throat: „Thank you, Jenrick, thank you… and give my thanks to Barba as well…“ He sighs: „As you know… Elena was hurt by someone out there and at the moment, things are getting tense in the village… at least that’s the impression I get… just think about what happened at the church a mere day ago…“ He pauses for a moment. „You probably thought about this yourself already, but… I…,“ he pauses again and sighs, „I strongly suggest you don’t let Elena out of the house and also make sure her room is locked.“

Jenrick seems confused: „Why? Is there something wrong? I mean, I heard about the incident at the church, but… honestly…“

„We still don’t know who attacked Elena and… and what is going on in the village, but… please, Jenrick… it is… look, I have experience with patients like her and they can get into a very confused state and might act randomly, sometimes even hurting themselves or running away for no reason…! And that’s something we want to avoid, right?“ Nicholas forces a smile.

„I understand,“ Jenrick relaxes visibly, stands up and puts a hand on the doctor’s shoulder: „Thank you, Nicholas, for bringing this to our attention! Thank you for caring so much for Elena! I will keep a close eye on her.“

Nicholas grabs Jenrick’s hand and says: „I mean it, lock the window, it’s already getting late!“

„I will!“ Jenrick drags Nicholas to his feet and then hugs him and pats him on the back. „Nicholas, one more thing… I’m sorry if I ever doubted you or… your skills and abilities! You have done more for us than you can even imagine!“

Nicholas nods, grabs the coat and with a very shaky voice says: „May the Lord bless you and your family…“

„And the same to you! Have a good night!“

Nicholas trots out the door and back to his practice, where he puts the coat on a chair and sits down on another chair, staring at the coat for a long time. His chin is resting on his hands until he suddenly buries his face in his hands… he remains in this position for a long while, trying to cope with what is going on…

***


Maeveen and Valbrand arrive at the church with Feyre. The interior of the church is a gloomy place, with only two big candles on the altar creating a small island of light in the otherwise dark building. An imposing looking Yorum is already awaiting them inside - Feyre smiles when she sees the young Sigire. Maeveen tries to catch Feyre’s eye and shakes her head slightly, which only seems to confuse the girl.

Yorum steps forward and looks at Feyre: „Very good! How did it go?“

„She came willingly,“ Valbrand replies.

„Her father let her come,“ Maeveen adds. „Albeit reluctantly.“

„I see,“ Yorum nods. „Sit her down… and, Valbrand, please, close the doors.“

Valbrand complies and closes the massive wooden doors. As he does that, Nicholas rushes into the church, sword in hand, and apologizes for the delay. Then Valbrand slams the door shut - and an ominous ‚Bang‘ echoes through the small church. Feyre sits down in the single chair Yorum has arranged for and seems to shrink a bit, once she is sitting. She is obviously feeling very uncomfortable, so Maeveen pats her slightly on the shoulder. Yorum steps forward and looks at he girl: „I have heard many stories about: you sacrificed blood at the pond and after that you lost your voice; and strange things have occurred at the pond afterwards. Answer me! What have you done, girl?“ Feyre looks at him and points at her mouth, indicating that she can’t speak. Yorum isn’t satisfied and starts shooting questions at her, one after the other, but Feyre answers none of them, ever more desperately indicating that she is mute. Yorum now changes tactics and asks her ‚yes/no‘ questions, which works slightly better. To the three companions in the church this feels like a trial already, with Yorum clearly pushing Feyre straight into the heresy corner - clearly the young man is quite the skilled inquisitor. Nicholas keeps a close eye on Feyre, trying to spot the person hiding behind her eyes again, but at least for now can’t see it. Yorum, meanwhile gets ever more agitated, his voice getting sharper by the minute. This whole procedure is new even to Valbrand, who pays close attention to everything going on. He notices that Yorum seems to be getting frustrated - with only ‚yes/no‘ questions he is having trouble to get her to contradict herself. After almost an hour Yorum steps back and takes a deep breath: „This is getting us nowhere!“

Maeveen approaches him: „Brother Yorum, can you do nothing about her voice? If the spirits took her voice, can’t you exorcise them so she could tell us?“

The Sigire quietly replies: „Performing the exorcism is probably the next thing we’ll have to do, because the only other option is…,“

The inquisitor looks at Valbrand, who immediately understands that Yorum is hinting at torture: „I have not been trained in this, I know only the basics.“

„That might already be enough,“ Yorum replies with a smile.

„Are you certain that this is the best option?“ Valbrand doesn’t seem to be too much bothered when he asks this question, while Nicholas’ eyes widen, when he realizes what they are talking about.

Yorum shrugs: „The information I got from you indicated that she is the driving force!“

„With all due respect, Brother Yorum,“ Valbrand replies, „the driving force is within her, but perhaps not her.“

„I know,“ the Sigire replies.

Maeveen now speaks up: „But what if the demon can change people? Then you are hurting a girl, who…“

„Yes, I am aware of that.“ Yorum’s face is calm and betrays no emotion.

„They also do not feel pain,“ Valbrand remarks. „I struggled with Finn; I struck him with an open blow to the chest… the body was breathless, but the eyes showed no pain, even though it should‘ve been a debilitating blow.“

Yorum frowns: „So, you’re telling me that even torture will not work on them, because while the body might feel pain, the mind would not?“

„I’m only saying what I have seen, Brother Yorum. It did not limit resistance in the way it should have.“

„I see,“ the Sigire sighs deeply, „that is unfortunate. Very unfortunate.“ He thinks about this for a few moments, then straightens up: „Well, we at least have to try.“ He looks at Valbrand: „Get Samuel out of the penitent’s cell and bring him here!“ Valbrand, the clanking of his boots echoing through the dark church, complies and walks off. Yorum, meanwhile, turns to Feyre: „If you will not speak, we will inflict pain, not on you, but on your friend! We will continue to do so, until you finally speak! Is that understood?“ The girl nods. „So, will you answer me now,“ Yorum demands to know, but the only answer he gets from Feyre is her pointing at her mouth again and indicating that she cannot speak.

Maeveen moves closer to the girl: „Feyre, please, try!“ The girl once again, now almost desperately, points at her mouth and shakes her head. Meaveen pleads again: „You don’t have to speak! You’ve made yourself clear without speaking before!“

By now Valbrand, looking paler than usual, returns and escorts the very scared looking teenage boy to the altar. Samuel stumbles forward and drops to his knees. Valbrand stands behind him and asks: „Shall I begin?“

„Yes,“ Yorum nods.

„NO!“ Maeveen’s voice, even though she has spoken quietly, echoes through the church.

„Begin with what?!“ Nicholas takes a step forward.

„Ask your question, Yorum,“ Maeveen calls. „What is your question?“

„What happened at the pond, Feyre?“ Yorum, who doesn’t enforce his order to torture Samuel for now, moves in menacingly. „Answer me!“

Feyre again only signals that she’s mute, desperately pointing at her mouth.

„Alright, stop gesturing so wildly, Feyre,“ Maeveen says. „You were at the pond, is that correct?“ The girl nods and Maeveen turns to Yorum „Which instance are you referring to, Yorum?“

The Sigire gives her an annoyed look: „I want to know exactly what happened at the pond when you went there the last time! When you sacrificed your blood at the pond and when you lost your voice!“

„Okay,“ Maeveen turns to Feyre again. „Did you sacrifice your blood at the pond?“ Feyre looks down and makes an ambiguous gesture with her hand, indicating ‚maybe‘. „Maybe? You’re not certain?“ Feyre nods and immediately shakes her again. „That’s too vague. Did you cut yourself, did you bleed into the pond by accident?“ Feyre shakes her head at these questions. „So, your blood in the pond was no accident?“ She shakes her head again and Maeveen continues: „So, somehow you poured your blood in the pond? Or did someone else force you to do it?“ Maeveen realizes that Feyre cannot answer that question because of the way it is phrased, so she asks: „Did you do it willingly?“ Feyre again shakes her head. „So someone else forced you?“ This time the girl nods.

Valbrand steps forward and asks in a very firm voice: „Male or female? Err… male?“ Feyre shrugs, indicating that she doesn’t know.

Maeveen takes over again: „So, it’s not someone you know?“ The girl nods again. „Okay, so not someone you know.“

„Was someone physically forcing you?“ Now Nicholas joins in as well. „In person?“ The girl shakes her head.

„A compulsion?“ Now it’s Valbrand’s turn again. „A voice?“ Feyre indicates ‚maybe‘.

„Someone in your mind?“ Maeveen moves in again, but Feyre shrugs, getting more and more desperate, indicating she doesn’t know.

„You went to the pond, you sacrificed your blood…,“ Valbrand doesn’t get to finish his sentence, because Feyre vehemently shakes her head.

Yorum now intervenes: „This is getting us nowhere!“ He turns to the young Blade Knight: „Brother Valbrand, you know your duties!“

„I do,“ Valbrand hesitantly replies, „but I don’t think we’re gonna get much with them… but, very well…“

Yorum shrugs: „I’ll take that into consideration. Please, continue.“

Maeveen stares at both Valbrand and Yorum horrifiedly, which gets the latter to ask: „Do you still disagree, Maeveen? We are not getting the answers that we need out of her. We need to know what happened at the pond and what is possessing her and those two boys.“

„Then ask the boys,“ Maeveen calls. „She obviously cannot speak and if you’re not satisfied with gestures and yes/no questions…“

„I am not convinced she truly cannot speak,“ Yorum replies. „I actually think she can… that she is merely pretending not to be able to.“

Nicholas now speaks up again and asks: „Feyre, was one of your friends with you when your blood was sacrificed to the pond?“ The girl indicates ‚maybe‘. „Samuel? Finn? Renan?“ She nods when Nicholas mentions Renan’s name. „Elena?“ The girl nods again and Nicholas sighs: „Great… with Renan dead and Elena not remembering anything…“ He turns to Feyre again: „Was Bran at the pond?“ Feyre flinches and shakes her head violently.

„This is the last time I’ll be asking this,“ Yorum firmly says, „what happened at the pond? And I’m pretty certain that you can answer me! Will you speak?“ Feyre again points at her mouth, a pleading look in her eyes. „Alright then!“ Yorum looks at Maeveen and Nicholas: „I gave both of you a chance to convince her to comply and you did not succeed.“ He turns to Valbrand: „Brother Valbrand, perform your duties.“

Maeveen tries to prevent what’s coming next one last time and addresses Yorum: „I thought exorcism was the next step and not torture!“

„I decide how this trial is to be conducted,“ the Sigire cooly tells her.

„But earlier you said that if she couldn’t speak you’d try to exorcise her!“

„Yes, I did. But I have changed my mind.“

„On what basis, if I may ask,“ Valbrand inquires with a hoarse voice.

„For now, I think it is more important to learn something about these spirits before we perform an exorcism on them,“ the inquisitor replies. „It might make the subsequent exorcism easier, if we know what we are dealing with.“

„Very well…“ Valbrand moves next to Samuel. He decides to focus on inciting fear in the teenage boy for now by threatening violence, not so much actually inflicting pain.

While Valbrand deals out of few punches on the defenseless Samuel, Maeveen and Nicholas rush out of the church to find Brother Callum, hoping he will put a stop to this madness. Even outside they can hear Samuel scream at Feyre: „Feyre, please, answer him…!“ He screams out in pain again.

Valbrand keeps a close eye on Feyre while he beats up Samuel and notices that the girl flinches each time he hits the boy - and in his opinion she is not faking this. After a few minutes of beating up Samuel, Valbrand says: „Stand here and wait!“ He knows that waiting for further punishment is the worst and leaves the boy alone for now, taking Yorum aside: „We should give him a few moments to recover, pain is useless if it is inflicted too swiftly.“

The Sigire nods: „I am aware of that.“

Valbrand leans even closer: „Brother Yorum, the spirit doesn’t care! If that’s what’s blocking her voice…“

„I know,“ Yorum sighs. „But I’m hoping at some point she might be able to overpower the blockade the spirit has put on her. Maybe a strong emotional reaction from her will put her in a state where she can answer us.“

„But Samuel will not be able to take much more,“ Valbrand points out.

„I know.“

„And if he dies, I think we’ve lost our bargaining chip.“

„I am aware of that,“ Yorum calmly replies.

Valbrand looks at the Sigire for a second and then walks to the altar, where he kneels down and starts praying. He doesn’t feel comfortable with himself at all right now.

***


Maeveen and Nicholas arrive at the parsonage, where Maeveen starts pounding on the door. After a few seconds only the old priest opens the door: „Maeveen, what is it?“

„You have to put a stop to this!“

„A stop to what?“ Callum gives her a confused look.

„Yorum is torturing the children!“

„What?!“

„They‘re possessed by spirits and he thinks he can beat them out of them!“

„He is doing what? I was not aware of this, he didn‘t inform me about any of this!“

Maeveen sighs: „He is a Sigire.“

Callum‘s eyes grow even wider: „A Sigire? Are you sure?“ He thinks about this for a second and then nods, as if it all makes perfect sense to him now: „Alright, let‘s go!“ He rushes towards the church, moving with surprising speed for a man his age, and pushes the double doors wide open. „Stop, in the Name of the Lord!“ The old priest‘s voice easily reaches every corner of the church.

Yorum turns to him: „Ah, Brother Callum… I‘m terribly sorry, but, right now, I‘m in charge here!“

Callum nods: „Maybe you are, but not in my church! This ends now! I grant these two children sanctuary in this church… sanctuary and protection from you, Yorum!“

Valbrand stares at Callum in surprise - he knows that Sigires are the absolute authority when it comes to church matters in Gwidre and that Callum is in no position to grant sanctuary from a Sigire. Yorum looks equally surprised at the old priest and turns to the young Blade Knight: „Brother Valbrand, would you please remove Brother Callum from the church?“

Callum turns to Valbrand as well: „No, Brother Valbrand, would you please remove Brother Yorum from my church?“

Valbrand looks between the two of them and sighs: „This has gone on for long enough. The interrogation is getting us nowhere - we move on to the exorcism. This is our only option and you will both help me with this, because otherwise I will be forced to do what is best for the church! And I am a blunt tool, understood?“

Yorum leans forward, his face twisting in anger: „Exactly, that‘s what you are! You will do as your told! Remove Callum from the church!“

„We have need of three priests, do we not?“ Valbrand calmly looks at the Sigire. „Unless I miss my mark, that is.“ He turns to Callum: „Callum, if you want to help… if you want this to end, this is the best way.“

The old priest shakes his head: „First of all, I want to know what‘s going on.“

„Possession, as I told you already!“ Valbrand then coldly informs Callum about the events at the clearing, ending his short narration with: „Our options are limited, if we want to get this under control.“

Callum sighs: „We will have to perform the exorcism in the morning.“

„Very well,“ Valbrand nods and turns to Nicholas: „Bind Samuel! I will be outside.“ The Blade Knight marches out of the church and back to his tent, where he sits down and wonders what exactly is going on.

Nicholas starts treating the boy‘s wounds but stops when Yorum approaches him and quietly asks: „Have you made sure that Elena is kept in her room at her parents‘ farm?“

Nicholas nods: „Yes, I have talked to her father and told him that it is dangerous for her to walk outside.“

„Good. We might have need of her.“ Yorum walks off into the darkness: „Good night.“

The young doctor looks perplexedly at the Sigire, but then focuses on tending to Samuel. While he does so, he whispers to the boy: „I‘m sorry, Samuel, I didn‘t think it would get to this…! There is something possessing you and the others in Niddrie… I can see it and… I think you know too. Please, understand what I‘m trying to do…“

The boy gives Nicholas a long look - and then turns away, not allowing the doctor to touch him…
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