“Your sire.”

Hundreds of potential responses flit by behind his eyes over the course of a mere few seconds, but those two little words spoke more in the way of truth than many far lengthier phrasings could hope to encompass. The transformation had not been confined to her physical form, but washed out over the darkened world in silent waves, destroying and rebuilding ties as its forerunners reached their various targets, engulfed them, and brought them unknowingly under the umbra’s sway. Those who had been her allies moments before were her enemies, her enemies now her competition, and the man standing before her unflinching as she held his wrist with all the pressure of a blacksmith’s vise was altered most of all.

Ties… no, bonds, had been created, the term carrying with it all the connotations one might expect. New burdens to be shouldered all-around, and more than one shackle apparent – in the mind alone, true, but just as conspicuous and irrefutable as iron bands, with a durability unmatched by their corporeal counterparts.

“We should be quick to leave.” he announces shortly thereafter. “I’ll explain once time and location prove more befitting. Here, well…” His eyes shift down and to the left, coming upon the four inch high upper torso and head of a small cherub, its form riddled with fault lines even as its sightless stone eyes stare unblinking, upward, to meet his own. “I’d rather not further test my faith.” A strange statement, to be sure, especially considering the source. Still, his eyes are diverted to less easily identified bits of marble, his head lowered slightly. A few quick strides are made toward the towering wooden doors of the church before he turns to once more regard the now even more thoroughly pale form of Katherina, standing poised without so much as a thought to it. It was almost a shame, allowing her to feed when the current edge proved so fetching.

He moves back to join her, slipping easily from his outermost robe as the last trailing tendrils of the umbra break from him, slipping away in to the deepest shadows without sound or trace. “Take this, keep your head down, and don’t speak. You haven’t full control of your voice yet, and I worry over what one of the good Brothers” – clearly a hint of sarcasm there that had never before made itself known – “might discern. Once again, you’ll be traveling with me. Let the questions wait until the outskirts of town at the very least.”

Silence descends, blanketing the room. “Welcome to the fold, Katherina.” he offers, so low it nearly goes unheard, even then. “Welcome home.”

Steps angle once more toward the doors, clearly expecting her to follow. She had more sense than to make a scene, he knew, but the next few days would no doubt prove… troublesome.

What were the advantages of turning an Inquisitor again?

Oh – right. Discipline.

And the disadvantages?

That proved a much longer list.

The reply seems alien as the word is to her; though the Cardinal’s tone is heavily shackled with such tenet that she feels a tightening subjugation towards him. She moves away from the destruction that she stands upon, watching expressionlessly at the wreckage of stone, rock and marble, at the broken ends of pews with their dry wooden fibers standing starkly out in detail. Her motion is fluid, smoother, quicker than even before and Katherina realizes this almost in hidden shock once her mind begins to register what she has really become. That now, a servant of him, the one man whom she tried to trust and now could try no longer; she had to believe him.

He told her they have to leave quickly. It is perhaps a good idea to do so; she ruminates and her tongue flick slightly to the roof of her mouth, tasting a metallic tang there which seemed to warm and rend her stomach at the same time. She is still as she watches him return, placing his robe into her hands – her senses immediately capturing the material’s texture and feel. It is marvelous and frightening – angelic almost in the powers unleashed into her hands now and that a trickle drips through her; an overwhelmed trickle sufficient to leak and break the heftiest of dams.

Silence indeed. There are no words from her as she just listens, keeping her tongue unwagged and quieted to herself, her stone-grey eyes following him like a living statue, griping onto his words and feeling strained warmth at his welcome.


After the Cardinal has turned away, making his path towards the doorway and that she is left alone, the templar’s eyes hunt about the wreck about her, searching for the antique blade that was possibly buried under rubble. She detects the gleam of its tip, the entire sword perfect and unbroken and with a breath drawn out of habit, retrieves the weapon into her hands. A few strips of cambric are shorn from her dress to become bandages to wrap the blade’s edges in. The act is conducted entirely in silence; saying naught to the Cardinal though her eyes flit constantly to watch his very back and every motion.

Pastor Carlos is already awakening in moans by the time the blade is retrieved and kept in wraps. He sits up, rubbing at his neck and eyes groggily; his motions at once sharply observed by Katherina. With delicate steps, she routes to the cages where the children have already fallen deeply asleep, perhaps worn out by the trauma and nights of starvation. With keys ripped from the pastor’s coarse-hair belt, the templar makes quick work of the locks, undoing each other and gently drawing out each grime-streaked, tired girl or boy from within. The children are set to rest together against one of the still-standing pews and the flabby pastor shaken to wakefulness by her to watch the children, as well as instruct his own clergy to find the parents so that they could take them home.

Sifting like a winsome white shadow behind the Cardinal, the templar follows now after the core of the duty at Este is completed. There will have to be re-arrangement, re-adjustment of habit to suit this new predicament she is thrown into without her consent. A well of anger surges upwards against the priest; these fearful and accusing feelings forced downwards by her vice-like discipline, her pride in not wanting to fall into servitude further.

Swathing herself in the priest’ outer robe, the templar falls into thought, her mind snaps past a disarray of consequences quickly, the ranging introspection in her head defined in expressive features. The first of the Brothers appear to receive them as she steps outside into the coolness of the night air; the horizon still dark but soon the first streams of light will appear. And there, and then, does she realize that she will never meet the sun again.

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