“Get up, you!” He shouted in a scratchy voice, “Wake up! It’s time to face your charges!”
Next to the guard stood a man in long, elaborate robes of fine white silk, trimmed in yellow and red piping. The robes bore elaborate embroidery of the emblem of the Church of Three Lights. He held a staff with a large, clear gemstone set in the head. He maintained his silence, glaring intently at Antonerri’s huddled form.
Antonerri looked to DeFrantis and saw her stir and sit up from the cold floor. She shook her head and ran her hand across her hair.
The soldier was losing patience. He banged his sword again. “Get up, you! On your knees before the Priesthood!”
She looked up at the priest, and Antonerri could see a shadow of fear cross her eyes, as she became fully awake and aware. Slowly, without removing her gaze, she knelt in the middle of the cell. He could tell already this was not going to go well for her. She needed to be strong, not timid. He shifted forward on the floor.
The priest spoke, “State your name!”
She dropped her gaze. “Are you the Confessor Priest?”
“SILENCE! I - ,” He pounded the staff on the floor for emphasis, “I will ask the questions!”
She flinched and hid her face.
“What is your name?”
“DeFrantis.” She whispered.
“DeFrantis. Of the OuterWall.”
The priest snorted haughtily, and opened a small book carried under his arm. He held it in the light of the lantern and thumbed over the pages. “You are accused of thievery and robbery.”
She straightened up, and reached out. “I didn’t actually steal anything! I was attacked!”
“So, you are guilty, then?”
“I was only trying to feed the kids! They’re hungry! There’s no one to look after them!”
The priest pushed his shoulders back, raising the staff up higher. “I don’t care! I’m not interested in your justifications! You are guilty, and you must be punished! Do you confess?” He stepped forward and hissed, “Do you also admit to being a practitioner of the Power of Shadow?”
Antonerri’s mind raced. Oh, no. This is bad. He’s going to go off on her, and She’s not going to be able to take this! He rolled forward onto his feet.
She hesitated, “I -”
In a deep tone of righteous indignation, he intoned, “Are you a wizard of darkness?”
“No! I’m not!” She said, trembling, “I only know a little -”
“There is your confession!” The priest pointed the staff at her, “So, feel the purging power of light!”
“No!” Antonerri lunged ahead and threw himself at the the bars, reaching through and grabbing the staff. A flash of light exploded in the room, coursed through his arm and body, and sent him flying back into his cell. The fierce pain in his muscles made it hard to breathe.
The priest’s rage was quick. “How dare you interfere! Your punishment will be severe!” He pointed the gem at Antonerri and unleashed another blast of brightness. Antonerri screamed as the power rushed through him.
DeFrantis looked on in horror. “STOP!”
Antonerri rolled over and got up on his hands and knees. He struggled to stand as a third blast threw him up against the back wall of the cell.
“So, this is what happens when you intervene!”
Antonerri lay back against the wall, breathing heavily. His body could not move, shaking in pain. He looked at the priest, then at DeFrantis. I tried. I tried to stop him.
She rushed to the bars between them as if she wanted to break through them and comfort him. She looked at the priest and soldier in fear. He saw her eyes darting from one to the other. The soldier looked on with a smile, while the priest shouted latin curses at Antonerri.
“Yes, Father. I have sinned,” DeFrantis said. He looked back at her in confusion as she kneeled by the bars before the priest. What is she doing? She bowed her head, “I need redemption.”
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