The report Boa had requested was written and rested in my hands - several heavy sheets of parchment laden with ink, thick with omitted truths. I stood in the white dress Elethor had given to me on one of Sanctum’s many terraces and crossed my arms, suddenly chilled. I had written everything of my capture and as many details as I could commit to the page on my torture. I included the name of the assassin Switchkin and the sorceress Kuraia for I did not owe them anything. For a while I thought to myself that I owed them pain, but what would revenge accomplish me? I thought hard on that question as I visualized the sorceress on the floor, her body broken burned and bleeding as mine had been and I felt sick. So no, I owed them nothing neither safety nor pain, but I would not protect their identity.
Elethor, Evensong and Haji, on the other hand, I owed everything. So when it came to the point in my report where Elethor took me from the torture chamber, I wrote the truth - that he moved me and that I did not know him, but when it came to the rest… well then, I lied. Though it killed a small part of me to do so, but there just wasn’t any other way.
The rest of the celebration had gone well the night before, but I still heard Nepech, Sin and Astat laying plans for rifting into Asmodae, and forays into the Abyss. It frightened me, the thought of the two sorcerers coming against Evensong or Haji … or worse, my Elethor. Though I was not meant to, I also heard an exchange between Sin and Nepech about scouting reports and the Balaur, and information being held in Heiron. I pressed the conversation from my mind as it was not something for my ears, but I could not help but chain these things together and wonder… Had I been taken for a reason?
Though I was a Centurion in Destiny I was not privy to all the Legions comings and goings. Oddly, when Sin approached me with the position it was not for militant reasons. She had seen me speaking with Legionaries, one in particular that was going through a rough time on the front. I was assigned the rank of Centurion, and my given duty was to simply take care of our people - to be an ear and to be a comfort, a go between if you will, to be a voice for our Legionaries to the Brigade General and other Centurions of Destiny. It was a position of trust, a position I would no longer deserve once I handed this report to my superiors.
I closed my eyes and prayed. Aion please let this be the right decision. I stood very still for a long moment and let the sorrow wash over me at what need be done before steeling my resolve. I strode up the steps and down the lane to the Legion’s Board, a hard lump in my throat, tears pricking the backs of my eyes. I bypassed the storefronts and took a side entrance, stepping lightly down the spiral stairs down into the heart of Sanctum. I passed several Centurions and Legionaries from some of Sanctums’ most valiant Legions, and several from some of her start-up Legions as well. Each bearing their own Legion's cloak, each with their unique crest. I saw the silvery wings of Wanted’s emblem and the skeletal figure that was Hardcore as I traversed the hall, further down until I reached the Brigade General’s office with Destiny’s plaque riveted to the front.
I took a deep breath and knocked.
“Enter.” I heard Nepech’s masculine voice emanate through the wood. I grabbed the door’s handle, hitting the catch with my thumb, squared my shoulders and stepped through the door, the heavy planks swinging inward on well oiled hinges.
The room was neither extremely large nor very small, it could hold twenty Daevas comfortably, but no more. Maps and book cases cluttered the walls, a low square table sat in the center of the room, chairs around it, ten in all and yet more maps sprawling across the scarred wood surface. The maps on the table always changed, and today it seemed it was Heiron. I quelled my thoughts on any activities my Legion may be undergoing in Heiron once again and closed the door behind me. Sin was at her large desk in the corner, Boa just behind and to her right; Nepech perched upon one of the stools before them both. A chair with a rigid back and sturdy legs sat vacant beside the sorcerer.
“Sirona, please have a seat.” Sin waved me in and gestured to the chair. I stepped forward and handed her the folded parchment of my report, my stomach lurching and took the proffered chair. It was as hard and uncomfortable as it looked. With a flick of her wrist a sharp thin dagger appeared in Sin’s hand and she sliced the wax seal from the sheaf of papers. She read the first one, and handed it to Boa who then began to read. I sat quietly as the pages went from Sin, to Boa and finally to Nepech. We all sat in silence as each of them finished until Nepech finally looked up from the report and folded the papers back into shape, his eyes burning.
“So you know nothing of the three?” He turned on me, “You were with them for three maybe four days and you know nothing?” He was angry with me and my heart sank. He knew, Aion help me, he knew I wasn’t telling the truth, but I had to protect them… I had to.
“I’m sorry, but no. I was unconscious for a lot of it, and when I wasn’t they spoke Asmodian… I couldn’t understand them. I just knew in my heart they weren’t going to hurt me like the sorceress and assassin had. I hung my head and tried very hard to keep my thoughts out of that hot, dark room.
“Your report is complete, yes?” Sin asked me and I looked up at her sharply and swallowed.
“Yes General.” I answered.
“You’ve remembered nothing else, left nothing out?” Boa asked brow wrinkled with concern. I swallowed, it was now or never and it was time to choose, my dearest friends, or my Legion. I silently prayed to Aion that I made the right decision, the crystal of Elethor’s eyes swimming up from the depths of my mind… He had made this very same decision and he had chosen me. With renewed resolve I chose.
“No, I’ve remembered nothing else, nor have I left anything out.” I lied. Aion save me, I lied and in doing so I protected them, but Aion, Father… I lied to them. Sin sat back in her chair, thoughtful.
“Please Sirona have a seat in the hall, Nepech will fetch you when we’ve made a decision about your return to active duty.” She smiled and I think it was meant to be encouraging but the smile never reached her eyes. I nodded and stood, stepping lightly across the room, hollow with my betrayal, I closed the door and leaned on the wall beside it heavily, my emotions warring with one another my chest tight and aching with guilt.
I spent what felt like an eternity in the hall, my guilt weighing heavier on me with each passing moment. Waiting for Nepech to come, waiting for the three of them to tell me I was a disgrace and that I was dismissed from Destiny. I deserved nothing less. I leaned against the cool marble, my hands folded before me; head bowed and prayed, falling into a light meditation as I waited. It helped with the pain in my feet and my calves. I had debated wearing the white dress, with the scars as bad as they were, but decided I needed something of my friends with me, if only to remind me of the grace they visited upon me in my hour of need, and the loyalty that deserved.
A light touch to my shoulder brought me back to myself. I started gently and looked up. Nepech stood beside me, very close, and asked
“Are you all right?”
I searched his chocolate brown eyes, and for the first time, I did not see anger there but a very real concern.
“I’m fine Nepech; you act like you’ve never seen a Cleric at meditation before.” I smiled, and played it off lightly but he was having none of it.
“I’ve seen Boa meditate, but not like that.” He took his hand from my shoulder and straightened his coat by tugging at the waist. “In any event, we’ve reached our decision. Come with me baby doll.” He turned sharply and crossed the hall, stepping through the door leaving me to follow, which I did obediently.