Interlude 22 – What Just Happened?

“-AND UNHAND ME AT ONCE-!” 

Vocula was a very shouty man. Very loud and unpleasant, or so Charlotte thought to herself as she carried him from the building. It was a shame she had to deal with him, but not too much of one. Politics were not her speciality, after all.

“Down you go,” she said as she set the angry man down. Vocula would be tall by human standards, but he was more than a foot shorter than her. So she patted his head. “Be good now.”

“Gh-HOW DARE YOU?!” Ah, still shouty. “I-I AM THE PONTIFF OF LIGHT! YOU CAN’T TREAT ME LIKE THIS!”

“According to angels, you are not Pontiff. Please be leaving now. Get snack, maybe? Early dinner? You seemed annoyed with politicking, so is of no issue, yes?”

“WHAT?!”

She tried not to sigh or look annoyed. She didn’t think it worked though, he was getting madder. “Please leave. You are unpleasant, mean, and attracting many eyes.” Townsfolk were staring a great deal now. Their group must have brought a great deal of excitement to this small place. “I have quarrel, but I do not fight you. So leave.”

“I WILL NOT! I-”

“Leave,” she repeated.

“YOU-”

“Leave,” she repeated again.

“Ngh-Y-You can’t-”

“Leave,” she repeated yet again.

“B-But-”

“Leeeeeeeave,” she repeated once more, because Vocula was impressively stubborn but very annoying.

“…” Vocula swallowed, then glared at her and raised a hand above his head. She glanced at it, judging how quick she’d need to be to break it, then watched as no magic formed. “…N-No. N-No, what?” He looked up at the hand, lowered it to stare at his palm, then worked his mouth, silently. “…I-I-I c-can’t…th-this can’t…”

Ah. Excommunication. The worst fate a faithful of a god could suffer. By committing a taboo deep enough that their god took notice, one of that faith–a cleric, priest, paladin, deacon, etcetera–would be denied utterly by their god. So Vocula had lost his light. A sign, greater than any other, that the Elder of Light had abandoned him.

A shame. She did not like the pontiff. He hurt her friend. But seeing the loss and despair building in his eyes brought a pang to Charlotte’s heart. “Go north.”

She waited for him to look at her, his eyes blinking. “…W-What?”

“Go north to Frost Lands. You know way to Temple of Cold. Go there, seek refuge. Is not bad place. Khioni is kinder-”

“I DON’T WANT YOUR CHARITY! YOU-YOU AND YOUR BASTARD FRIENDS ARE THE ONES WHO PUT ME IN THIS SITUATION TO BEGIN WITH! IF YOU HADN’T-”

Charlotte had tried. She sighed, and turned away from the ranting man. If ever he chose different, he had a place to go. If not, that was his choice. Gods may be cruel, but people always had choices, painful as they might be.

Ah, dark thoughts. Not to be dwelt on though! She was optimistic for today! Peace was coming to the Light and Dark, brought on by her southern family, now even larger than it had once been! 

So she stepped through the great doors of the town hall with a wide smile under her helm, which immediately dropped when she saw a plume of fire go up into the ceiling, followed by one of her best friends in the world getting launched through the wall along with some kind of flaming feathered thingy. Which was very, very strange.

Charlotte stared at the burning hole in the wall–”JULIUS!”–then looked over at the panicked scream coming from Claire Valondrac–nice lady, weird sense of speaking and humor, probably good for Julius, made him smile, had some other woman in front of her with a magical shield thing–her eyes wide with shock and obvious concern as several other things happened all at once.

The queen Molgari suddenly stood and glared at Julius’s sister, shouting, “What did you do!?” and immediately earning an uncharacteristic shout back from Magrave, “HOW THE HELL IS THIS MY FAULT!?”

While that occurred, the valravn on King Fritz’s shoulder formed up into a monstrous knight in pitch-black armor, one of its arms looping around the small man as it jumped back, furthest from the table, its now far broader wings encircling the small king protectively as he exclaimed in a surprised tone, “Well then.”

The other representatives present seemed more flummoxed, reacting with surprise and alarm and noticeably layering protections on themselves in Vioka and Nia’s case. Which Charlotte appreciated because she was meant to protect Nia and it was good she was being careful. The dragon lord Galinori had also stood and was glaring at the burning hole with some obvious mixed emotions–confusion and anger, mostly; concern was there, but the confusion seemed directed at that concern–though she made no move to move just yet.

Valondrac was moving though, rushing past her bodyguard with red wings forming from her back, but then her and Charlotte’s attention was diverted when one of King Lucene’s bodyguards–green one; seething red one had vanished, probably fire monster–punched him right in his face.

“GYACK-!” Lucene yelped, crashing down to the ground and drawing every eye in the building to the bodyguard–Green for simplicity sake–who thrust a hand at–Gabriel? 

No time to wonder, massive typhoon was racing across the table and there were many, many royals in possible danger, especially since the table flipped from the force, so Charlotte was moving, and grabbing Nia out of the way first–she was ambassador, not badass, no real combat focus; had magic, but nothing too big–then grabbed the table by its side and threw it straight at the green knight!

Then there were many splinters as the knight split through it with a blade of wind. Hm, many yelps and panicked shouts; Torahiko and Molgari had moved to guard Gabriel–odd because she was probably more powerful than both, but they were also faithful so their decision made some sense; Loren, annoying but competent, had conjured tree wall, blocking table shards; Margrave was on floor, dived to avoid; Fritz was still with bodyguard, who was carrying him to the side room, which had its door blocked by one half of the table–weird that it landed just that close; Claire stood tall, shimmering with a shield and glaring with fury at Green; and Doug was on floor, fallen out of chair, blinking in sleepy surprise.

Ah, Vioka had also run, went out of the open front entrance, and oh, good, Green split the table, Lucene was still on the floor. Table probably would have gone over him, he was down low and staring with shock, but still good he was not hurt. Charlotte needed to be more aware of surroundings…

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?!” Claire snarled, glaring at Green, who stared back, winds whipping around her body.

Green stared, then–Ah, curses, should have gotten Lucene out of way, now Green had him pinned to her with one arm, other held up with wind gathering in her hand. No answers were given, only gales erupting through the room and blowing most off their feet.

Charlotte was not most, but the intense winds buffeting the whole room were doing a fair job of keeping her from getting closer. Was almost funny seeing Molgari and Torahiko be blown back while the angel they tried to protect stayed standing fine. 

And Claire wasn’t blown back at all; instead, black winds blew up around her to block off Green’s gales, and she started sprinting for the glowing knight when a massive boulder shot past her, aimed at Green.

“Uriel! Don’t attack when there’s a hostage!” Gabriel chided even as the boulder burst into dust, immediately cleaved apart by those very same cutting winds–Hm, why wasn’t the knight trying to cut at them with her winds if she could?

A question Charlotte wouldn’t have an answer for as Lucene was abruptly chucked through clouds of dust, screaming in fear as Claire stepped out of his way, leaving Charlotte to catch him. “Oof-! A-Ah, w-w-wha-”

“Is okay, I have you,” Charlotte reassured, patting his head and staring back into the dust cloud as–Ah, winds were whipping the dust further, obscuring view almost completely– “Stay here.”

She set him down and rushed for the door right as Green blew past her, feathers floating in the air–huh, her arms had become wings, interesting–and dispersing into more bursts of wind. She was moving way too fast, already outdoors and up in the air before Charlotte could get close.

“Damn it all, what the hell was that!?” Claire shouted, glaring at the cardinals in the meantime.

“I have no idea what you mean. Uriel was attempting to apprehend the attacker, though their manner of doing so was unnecessarily dangerous towards King Lucene,” Gabriel responded as Charlotte looked back, a frown on her face. 

“My apologies, King Richard. I am glad you are unharmed,” Uriel apologized, bowing to the shaken king, though they sounded insincere to Charlotte; half-insincere, really, as though they were glad he was unhurt but didn’t care about nearly hurting him.

“Yes yes, I’m quite unharmed Eckhart,” King Fritz spoke, lightly patting his bodyguard’s armor as they checked him for wounds, “Though I would prefer you go after the perpetrator instead of tending to me.”

“Shit. Shit, shit, one of those things has Julius,” Margrave abruptly said as she got up to her feet, her eyes wide with panic. Which was very worrying because Charlotte’s last meeting with the pirate queen turned archduchess had involved said pirate queen easily dangling her over the side of a ship as she shouted at everyone else in their group for letting her “little brother and sister get so hurt”.

“They do, and I’m handling it,” Claire snapped, holding a–a green feather? She had a green feather in front of her eyes, which were burning white, and then she nodded sharply as they returned to normal. “East, come on. Kiyo, handle things here.”

“Understood, my empress.” Huh, bowing bodyguard was quiet; Charlotte almost didn’t notice her standing back by Margrave. Protecting sister-in-law? Probably. 

“…What in the many names of all the gods just happened,” Douglas mumbled, blinking as Charlotte nodded back to the darklander Empress, sprinting after her as she flew off to one far corner of the island.

It was a nice workout, though Charlotte grimaced when she saw the utterly ruined field and caught sight of the green-winged creature–the wings were definitely on her arms, so that was significant–lifted off with a bleeding figure clutched in her talons–Ah, her feet were talons. Some type of harpry then? Or at least an angel capable of mimicking harpies, if her personal theory was right.

Regardless, she had more things to focus on as she hurried over to where Julius lay in the grass, turning him over as Claire landed beside her.

“How in the world did you get here before me-No, never mind that,” Claire muttered, crouching beside her as Charlotte pressed a hand to her friend’s chest, channeling the magic of Life and Healing into his wounded body, “How is he? Is there something I can do?”

“You are familiar with healing, yes?” she asked, keeping her eyes on Julius. His breathing was rough, lungs full of smoke, and there were many small cuts and nicks across his body, in addition to an eye and an arm that, to her senses, glowed with bad lights.

“The Life magic and Flesh magic branches, yes. Would either help here?” 

“Flesh is healing? Huh. Is like setting bones with bone?”

“I suppose, now can I help or not?”

“Place hand.” She did. “Can you?”

“…Fuck. Okay, these aren’t, but still are bad.” She grimaced. “Damn it, what’s going on with his eye?”

“Same thing is going on with arm. Not sure, reminds me of cursed wounds,” Charlotte explain–

WHAT?!

Ah, panic. Hm. “Not lethal type, just not fixable with normal healing. Or advanced healing. Very difficult to fix.”

“What a predicament.” Claire went rigid at the angelic tone behind them and Charlotte frowned as she glanced at the two angels standing there. Gabriel had spoken–in an irritated, distracted tone–but Uriel was with her, and they were looking around the field with tense worry. “I’m surprised skylanders have such magic in them.”

What do you want?” Claire growled, standing to full height and glaring straight at the angels while Charlotte paused.

“You said skylanders?”

“What?” Claire glanced at her, confused, while Gabriel chuckled dryly, drawing Claire’s glare right back to her.

“Of course. You said it yourself. Who else could it be? Enemies from the floating islands up above, here to disrupt the burgeoning peace between the light and dark. You still want that, don’t you, Valondrac?”

Claire paused again, then glanced at Charlotte, who shrugged back. “I am not diplomat. Not Light or Dark either. Your choice.”

The Empress stared at her, then slowly nodded and faced Gabriel, her face deeply serious. “You’re right, I do want that. It’s a real shame that ‘skylanders’ had to screw things up, isn’t it? I’m sure we can agree there.”

“Yes. We can.” The angel’s smile was an unpleasant one, false and seething with a poorly hidden rage. “So, shall we talk of peace?”

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