18 Yet Shaded Against the Sun
"Now—" Erben delayed as he thereafter turned around, knitting his brows in confusion.
The form of that bird-like magical creature did no longer exist right there as though it had vanished from that space.
—Where did that beast go?
They had previously used the necessary prayers to block any teleportation magic in that area and therefore preventing the wizard to run away. So why was there no trace of that being?
"Can it be..." he pondered, "After the death of a wizard, the beasts summoned by the wizard also die? What if that being is not dead yet?"
Erben didn't have any clue about the correctness of those thoughts, nor could he afford any other information to answer his questions; the details weren't enough to be useful for that job. He really regretted the decision which he had made. He truly had no idea about an ability like this in the magical creatures. As a paladin, letting even one single enemy run from him would, without question, be indefensible. The withdrawal of a foe — especially in a battle like that — would lead to nothing except the leak of information about their strategies and powers. Thus, he wished he had finished the job right then, instead of killing the wizard straightaway.
Notwithstanding there could be no actual excuse for his negligence, yet what could he do without the genuine understanding of the enemy's abilities? Erben had to take responsibility for whatever he had done unnecessarily, and what else important actions which he hadn't. More importantly, he had to report every single moment of his fight against that wizard; this would help the Church and the holy warriors in the forthcoming battles. Having sufficient data about the enemy's capabilities and skills meant fighting in an advantageous position against them, thus holding the upper hand in the upcoming combats.
The rain — the spell of that magician — didn't come to an end, though the caster of it had already died. Erben expected a spell to subsequently and immediately fade away by the death of its caster. But the touch of the rain on his skin remained nevertheless, as the shrouded sky, hidden by the enormous dark cloud covers, still prevented the deep red glows of the sun to be cast over the city.
"So, why is it still continuing to rain? Truly... the ignorance is the worst. I should report this too..."
Followed by a deep sigh, he pursed his lips thoughtfully.
"Well, is it possible that there are some specific spells that do not end with the death of the caster? The wizards... We should gather more information about them, so the next time such a mess won't happen again."
He simply ignored the continuous rain by those words, looking at the other priests afterward. Among that great flying army, a youthful man — dressed in pure black soutane — began landing near Erben from the air.
"You were glorious sir!" he praised, "Congratulations for your victory!"
"This victory belongs to all of us," Erben remarked, "You also worked hard."
"Without your help, sir, we would never win this battle."
"You did your job. You did what you could. And that's enough."
"Also," Erben added, "the magical beast which you defeated has apparently vanished; peradventure it's an ability that we are yet to understand. I apologize; it was my carelessness that I didn't consider such a possibility."
"Please, there's no need for you to apologize, sir. It's our neglect that we didn't finish it off in the first place. But hadn't we used the [Teleportation Obstruction] to preclude any teleportation magic?"
"I said, we still don't know how this being vanished; it may not be teleportation."
"It's not my job to find out. We'll just report what we've seen to the Church plus handling them the corpses; the information squad will take care of the research by studying the evidence. You're also a member of that division, aren't you?"
"Yes sir, I'm serving under the command of Paladin Misthorn."
The young-looking priest had been soaked from top to bottom; there was no way to run from getting drenched under such heavy massive rain. Even though the priests had used [Protection Aura] to evade the touches of these magical drops, yet that short time under the rain was enough for their cassocks to get completely sodden.
This youthful priest who stood before Erben had long russet brown hairs that appeared thoroughly saturated.
"Sir, am I able to share my thoughts about that beast?"
"What's that?" Erben gave a curious look.
"I noticed something about that magical entity. It looked similar to the holy Sirins."
—He's right; why didn't I notice it earlier?
"Now that you mentioned it... Yeah, that's right."
Sirins were the holy entities whom the summoning priests could use in the battles. However, the number of holy warriors with that skill declined over time until only a few people could actually summon such creatures.
"Don't forget to mention this to Zeatser. Furthermore, I leave everything here to you, there's still something which I have to perform."
"Of course, sir! We'll work hard to not disappoint you."
♦ ♦ ♦
The life of the Lord's servants and the children of God should be pledged to the divinity as a sign of their absolute obligation, which is why humankind has to spend the time they have to serve the god of the world by the prayers and the endeavors in the way he desires.
Since it was the priests' ideology, they — who were well-known in the world of men as the obedient children of the divinity — would spend their limited lifetime to praise the perfection of deity. They thought of their creator as a merciful and loving father — who absolutely cared about his sons.
Becoming old and older is a result of existing in a mortal world; therefore, even for them it would be impossible to avoid death; it was an end to those efforts which they had done as praise for the Lord's ascendancy. Although the senescence process in the living creatures would result in the onset of senility, the deterioration didn't cause any difference in their spirituality; they nevertheless couldn't run from the consequent external signs of aging.
Moreover, not everyone has the same level of aptitude; in fact, the number of talented individuals didn't seem significant at all, so the brilliance of the minority appeared considerable and remarkable. Consequently, most of the Lord's servants had to try really hard to achieve an acceptable degree of spiritual servitude; it thus would take a lot of time from their finite life.
With these explanations, one could easily understand why almost all of them looked aged, white-haired and extremely wrinkly. Apparently, attempting to not dissatisfy the expectations had given them a hard time; spending all of your life to achieve something which you don't have an adequate talent in it, would surely make you end up like this.
Nonetheless, there existed a few persons who looked younger than the majority of that countless group of priests. However, one of them appeared to be quite young in that preponderance of the agedness.
Any eye could notice the age difference which he had from the other priests just by looking at that young appearance; one would estimate his age around twenty. The soutane cloth that he was wearing had concealed the eye-catching build of his; looking at those strong muscles would leave anyone wide-eyed and astonished in praise.
But the incredible power which he had possessed didn't just end in mere physical strength and physique. By becoming closer to that sensible aura of energy around this person, his immense spiritual force could easily be perceived.
This young-looking priest had a name: He was Bruno Astafelon, a third-rank holy knight in the information squad of the Church under the command of Zeatser Misthorn.
Without a doubt, he was one of those talented sons of God — who could reach higher levels of Spirituality in less time than the rest of the people. However, if someone thought of this young priest to be surprisingly powerful, that person would definitely — and even more — be shocked by understanding the existence of the "other" presence near him; it belonged to a quite old man dressed in a golden armor, who had stood beside him under that heavy rain. In fact, the superiority of that old man was absolutely unquestionable either in rank or sheer power.
Bruno knelt down as his superior began to fly toward the sky and leave the wet earth, causing a mighty splash because of that strong flight force.
As the higher presence was getting far away from that place, he looked at his side. A bloody corpse was there on the ground; even that rainstorm couldn't clean the gore on that spot. The head of that dead body was horribly crushed, so identifying this person by looking at that struck face would be totally impossible.
That outrageous scene didn't cause any change in his expression; the horrible death of a wizard wouldn't bother him, not even in the least. What had actually made him abstracted and uneasy was something else — the lost lives of those innocent students.
The fallen body of the wizard didn't make any sensible change on the other priests' face, either. Nobody would expect any other result anyhow; not even a single individual out of all of them would consider the defeat of Erben Whisperwings as a plausible outcome, so seeing the wizard's corpse in that condition didn't seem something unexpected or astonishing for them.
By knowing the fact that they would never show any kind of sympathy to the enemies of God, it could be said that the look of worry on their face had another source — exactly same as Bruno's.
Apart from the mistake which had led to that bloodshed inside of the school, the outside combat also had an important impact on their minds; thousands of corpses from their comrades in that fight could be found everywhere near that area. Was it really necessary to bring this army? Couldn't Paladin Erben finish it himself? Did everything have to end up like that? The death of their fellows, the massacre of those innocent souls, were all of these needed to happen? Couldn't they avoid such terrible consequences?
Those questions didn't leave their fatigued brains even though they had reached the victory; nonetheless, they had to accept everything as the will of Almighty God whose divine plans were regarded as absolute. The Church wouldn't do anything dispensable since they are the wise servants of God. Besides, the Lord would never leave their side as he was the savior of them. So there should be a reason behind it after all.
Their foe had just been defeated by the mighty hands of a paladin, though that dejected look of theirs didn't belong to a victor. They had doubt about the necessity of what they had done and the successfulness of the battle in the end. Had they actually won?
The minutes passed and let them be less absorbed in thinking about such facts; Being aware of God's might blinded their eyes against the questions. Only one answer remained acceptable in their mind, and it was: "Who I am to judge the merciful Lord. God has a plan for all of us, a reason for everything."
Therewith they put their hands together, as the prayers raised through the wet air to reach the higher Heavens, demanding a blessing for the innocent souls, and the soldiers of God withal.
"Merciful Father, open the gates of life for those who believe in you. Let your light be the guidance they need. For those who are saved by the death of our Lord and pass from death into a new life, for those who can't be parted from you, be merciful upon them. Let them live in Heaven with joy and peace, forever and ever. Amen."
The glory of the sun's light shined through the air as the rain stopped simultaneously; the dark clouds faded from the sight of the sky, allowing a clear picture of that azure atmosphere become visible, and the dazzling brightness of Sun to catch the eyes of its observers. The rays of the brilliance contemporaneously brightened the blackened ground as they cleared the air from the evil traces of Magic.
The wizard — the caster of that spell — had died. Therefore, such an end would subsequently come since the spell could no more stay stable due to the loss of a Magical Force behind it as a source.
The battle was finally over, albeit not their jobs. Many other tasks remained for them to perform. From the beginning of the battle, they had understood the consequent effects of the fight against that wizard which would bring trouble later.
Bringing the bodies of their comrades to the Church for the sanctification, cleaning the existence of those dead students, erasing the memories of their parents and families, it truly looked troublesome — such a terrible mess. At least, winning the fight would lessen their despondency. Losing the battle while causing those horrible subsequent results would never be justifiable.
Bruno felt the warmth of the sun on his skin; the questions and doubts which he had, disappeared from his mind therewith. The light of the Heavens shaded his eyes against the true feelings of his heart, sealing it with the glorious image of the golden brightness.
The other priests had already started their jobs, though Bruno was still inert on where he had stood. When he decided to join them in gathering the corpses of his fellows, a sudden sound forced him to pause his movements and look around in bewilderment.
A warm, full-bodied voice could be heard as it had softly filled the lightened air with its melody.
"The Fallen Angels! Rise from your chains; show these fools the power of the Heavens!"
It was loud, yet so soft and rich. Although the sweet mellow tones of this call had filled everywhere near that place, everyone heard it exactly as same as the others. Normally, a sound would lose the original volume which it had possessed by traveling through the air and making more distance from the source. That said, this stunning tuneful voice sounded so stable and pure.
Bruno couldn't tell where it was coming from since that space had completely been dominated by the magnificence of that heavenly voice.
—What... what was that?