Ok, so the picture has no actual connection to this story, but it has a profound meaning in the game this story-piece is connected to. This is Lucifer, the fallen angel with black wings, asking Geoffrey McGilligan to help save Alex (which is why the PCs actually went to destroy the Pyro cultists) and offering the powerful Fire Protection charm to him as a loan. Yes, it’s a half of a tacky couple’s charm
A key turned in the lock. Nigel Willoby looked up from his laptop screen. Beside him on the couch the annoying little nephew of Emma’s was playing some meaningless FPS on their PS3. The boy didn’t break concentration as Audrye walked in. Or more like she fumbled in.
She looked exhausted. Her usually so glistening hair was dull, she could barely keep her eyes open and just leaned against the door she closed behind her. Frowning worriedly Nigel snapped the laptop lid closed and raised to meet his girlfriend.
“You allright?” he asked softly as he took a hold of her by her shoulders. She leaned against him heavily, looking for support.
“Mmm-now…” was all she managed to say, her head resting on his chest. Not knowing what to do, he kept her in his embrace, not letting her fall.
“Could you two get a room or something?” asked an uninterested voice from the couch. Anger flared in Nigel’s eyes. He gave a cold glance to the kid.
“This room is mine”, he hissed to the intruder. He liked Emma, but her relatives clearly weren’t as tolerable as she was. It had taken him approximately two hours to start hating Alexander.
“Could you take me to the bedroom, Nikki?” Audrye asked weakly, drawing Nigel’s attention back to her.
“Sure, of course.”
He had never been an athlete or even in much of a shape and had never before even felt any need for it either, but he now wished he could be confident enough in his strength to lift her up to his arms and carry her upstairs. Instead, he supported her in her every step, until finally lowering her to the bed, where she leaned against the pillows, sighing warily.
“What happened? And how did you even get home?” He pictured her driving in this condition and it sent chills down his spine.
“Matt drove me here, after they had returned..”
“Returned? From where?” and then he cursed under his breath for forgetting, “From the Pyro cultist lair, in the abandoned fire station? Where you there?”
“No I wasn’t. I’m never taken to missions.” She always had this hurt tone in her voice when she talked about their missions and how she was left behind. He always listened and nodded, but in fact he was very glad that Audrye usually got left out of the Knights’ missions. They were usually missions involving rival cultists, which always meant danger and harm. He also thought it was just good strategy to keep the healer out of this danger and harm, since if she were to get injured, there wasn’t anyone saving her. Audrye thought different. She often felt she could be more useful on the field, where she could heal their allies more quickly. He was not about to argue with her, he just wished the Knights’ commander wouldn’t change their practice.
“Did they get so bloody fucked up that the healing drained you this much?” She shook her head.
“It wasn’t just that… Nikki, could we talk about this in the morning?” She turned her back to him, trying to find her way under the blankets. Soon he heard her deep breaths as she fell asleep.
Closing the bedroom door behind him he made his way into the office. With a click he woke Mikuru-PC from power save mode and made a call.
“Sparrowhawk co- no, wait… What’s up, V?”
“I see you made it out alive from your first real Knight mission, hm?”
“Alive and breathing, and that’s pretty much it. I haven’t had a beating like this in a few years…”
“Could you give me a briefing?”
“Oh I don’t know if I should..? I’m one of them now and I’m not sure how much is classified an in what extent…” He could hear her grin in her voice.
“Emma. I see every report of every team and there’s not such a thing as ‘classified’ for me. Please.”
“Oh, I’m just teasing you.”
“Don’t. Audrye just got home and practically fell unconscious the moment she walked through the door. I want to know why.” She could hear how serious he was and immediately switched to a more businesslike tone.
“Well, we were told by the Boss to find these arsonists. D and the Scotsman did some researching and deducted that the targets were stationed in an old fire-station. We briefed before the mission and decided on a two-team approach. Myself and Fox – annoyingly persistent little lecher, that Matt – we were to infiltrate the base by a waterway as the others were to storm through the main entrance point.”
“We succeeded well in our first objective. We encountered one target who was silenced quickly and without raising an alarm. Wolverine and Badger – that’s D and the Scot, respectively – were meeting more resistance upstairs and when we finally rendez-vous’d with them they were taking heavy hits. D was down…” her voice faltered a little but she continued:
“The other one was using some magic to save him but I thought it necessary to try to resuscitate him. I… I need to see Q, I might need some repairs to my finger… But the shock did work and we were able to get him conscious again.”
“Then we found the main body of the target forces. They… Ha! ‘Arsonists’ is underestimating them by far! If I hadn’t been burned by it, I would have though it just very fancy special effects. There was a fireball for fuck’s sake!”
He let her continue, trying to put all this information into perspective of his own knowledge of the Pyro cultist. Serving the Death by Fire god, of course there’d be fire magic used. Fireballs were practically mandatory.
“We beat them, in the end, but they had beat me too. They had to carry me away from there in the end. D and Matt were not in much better shape.”
So they had been bloody fucked up.
“And Audrye had to heal you all back to health once you got back to the HQ?” he said almost accusatively.
“She did help us a lot, so did that other blond, although looking like she had bit a lemon.”
Other blond? She could be talking about Treasure, the mighty mage, who had come to London for their house-warming and had decided to stay in London to convince Audrye that Nigel was a very bad match to make. He couldn’t argue with her either, but hoped that Audrye would.
“Well, you must have gotten pretty beat if she’s this exhausted if she even got help.”
“Yeah, patching us all up tired her out. And when she had… after the ritual… she couldn’t even get up from the chair.”
“Like I said, I’m one them now. They joined me to Elder tonight. I’ve.. never seen anything that beautiful in my life, V. It’s like I’m a whole new person… I’m… I’m still a bit shocked over it, I admit. Oh, I’m so ashamed.. I practically weeped against D’s shoulder afterwards….” the awe in her voice over the spiritual connection to a God quickly turned into awkwardness. Nigel didn’t have any sympathy for her, not now.
“Well, hearing all this I’m happy she wasn’t allowed to go with you to begin with.”
“Allowed? I’m not sure she would have been fit to go.”
“What do you mean?” Every word was like lead, falling from his tongue.
“She was petty exhausted in the morning too. She didn’t even come to the strategy meeting. She was looking better when we got back from the mission, but then all the healing and joining…”
“What… had happened in the morning?”
“I’m not sure. We found her in the infirmary, with that Mexican lad and D’s sister – I didn’t think of him having siblings, funny that. She had done something there to drain her out.”
Nigel though of this, putting pieces of the puzzle together in his head. McGilligan had come over last night, taking his creepy albino boy with him, telling them that Roho had been injured badly by the fire cultists. Shot at close range by a fire ball or something. Audrye had left immediately to see that he got the care needed. She would have transported him to the Knights’ mansion, for sure, where they could heal him better than in any hospital.
“The Mexican, were you there when he got hit? How bad was he burned?”
“Saw him briefly, but it was bad. Whole left side of him practically gone, burned to the bone.”
“And… When you saw him again, in the infirmary… Was he as burned as before?”
“I dunno, it was pretty chaotic. There was blood sprayed all over.”
“Allright, fine, thank you.”
“Good? Listen, V, I’ll stay over here for the night and I’ll pick up Alex in the morning. Since these cultists are dealt with it’ll be safe for him to return home.”
“Good.” Good riddance, he wanted to say, but held his tongue just in time.
“Talk to you later, V!”
He shut the connection and buried his face in his palms. Drawing deep breaths he tried to calm himself. Why had she done such a thing? Sure, she thought that they were her friends and all that, but still?! If anyone was stupid enough to be caught by a pyromancer and shot by a fireball, they deserved to lose an arm!
Sure, it was just exhaustion from overusing her magic, she’d recoup soon. But the regrowth spell was a powerful spell, and hence a dangerous one. If she had failed in her spell… Audrye was not the kind of person to stop trying, she would have pushed it over her limits, even if it had killed her. Over a Mexican arm?!
He watched her sleeping figure, a silhouette in the darkness of the bedroom. Anger flew out of his body, and was replaced by unimaginable uncomfort. If she had… He didn’t know what he’d do without her anymore.
“You’re safe now”, he whispered to the darkness.