The truth is revealed
“Ingredior Utriusque?” His Excellence said slowly. “How delightful. I have not encountered one in centuries.”
Hudson smiled. “Yes, I myself was quite surprised and quite pleased.”
The sound of a whispering voice caused His Excellence’s head to turn. “Silence.”
Christa saw Thomas and the councilwoman drop their heads immediately and grow silent.
“Woman, what is your name?” His Excellence asked staring at the council member standing beside Thomas.
“My name is Judith.’ She answered raising her eyes.
“Have you ever encountered an Ingredior Utriusque?”
“No, Your Excellence. I have not.”
Christa saw what she believed was a look of anger covering His Excellence’s face. “Tell me do you even know the importance of an Ingredior Utriusque?”
“I am sorry Your Excellence, but I do not.” Judith said softly.
Turning his attention to Thomas His Excellence shook his head. “You have on your council a member who does not know the importance of an Ingredior Utriusque.”
“Your Excellence.” Thomas said. “Please forgive her. Judith is still a relatively young Healer. Like myself she has never encountered an Ingredior Utriusque.”
“That is understandable.” His Excellence said slowly. “However the fact she does not understand their importance makes me question her ability to be seated on the council.”
Thomas nodded. “Perhaps you are correct.”
“Perhaps?” His Excellence’s voice held a warning.
“Of course Your Excellence is correct.” Thomas amended quickly.
Turning his attention away from them His Excellence looked back towards Christa. “Why did you want the bond between yourself and Annabelle?”
‘tell him the truth from your heart’
Christa heeded Hudson’s words. “When I first met Anna I was drawn to her. I believe she is a strong and wise Healer. It was an honor to become blood bound to her.” As she spoke the words she knew Anna was staring at her.
His Excellence turned to Anna. “It is a great honor to have an Ingredior Utriusque bound to you.”
Anna forced herself to nod. She felt Jacob’s hand tighten on her shoulder. He understood Anna had no idea of Christa’s true nature.
Sitting back in his seat His Excellence grew quiet for a few moments then said, “It is my wish to sample the blood of this Ingredior Utriusque.”
Immediately the two men who had arrived with him stepped forward.
“Halt.” His Excellence raised his hand. “I said it is my wish however it is for the Ingredior Utriusque to decide if she chooses to grant that wish.”
‘the decision is yours. However know it is a great honor he is letting you decide’
Christa nodded slowly. “Of course, Your Excellence. It would be my honor to grant your wish.”
As Hudson’s words echoed in her brain Christa smiled slightly filled with uncertainly.
His Excellence looked at Jacob. “A small glass?”
Jacob nodded then turned to Mrs. Ellis who was standing at the back of the room. Not a word was spoken until she returned with a small shot glass. It was taken from her hand by one of His Excellence’s men.
“I do not drink directly from mortals.” His Excellence explained to Christa.
She nodded slowly and her heart began to race when she saw one of the men step forward holding a small knife.
“Please, allow me.” Hudson said softly. When His Excellence nodded his consent Hudson took the knife.
‘I’m sorry it will hurt’
Christa gazed into his eyes giving him a look to let him know she heard his words and accepted his apology.
Hudson set the small glass down on the table then took her arm. Pushing up the sleeve of her blouse he swiftly made a quick cut. Christa bit her lip to keep from crying out. As her blood trickled into the glass she closed her eyes. Then suddenly Hudson was licking the wound which healed immediately.
“Your Excellence.” Hudson said placing the glass before the Pure.
“Thank you.” He answered not looking at Hudson but instead staring at Christa. He raised the glass to his lips and took a small sip. Immediately his eyes turned topaz. “Excellent.” He whispered. He quickly downed the last drops then closed his eyes.
Around the room the others waited. Christa was the only one breathing. When he opened his eyes they were again blue. “Thank you, Ingredior Utriusque.”
Christa nodded. “You are very welcome.”
His Excellence turned to Hudson. “I assume you have more to tell me?”
“Yes.” Hudson nodded. “I do.”
Hudson looked around the room. “Your Excellence Annabelle is a credit to our kind. She had controlled her blood bounds even though there have been attempts to thwart her actions.”
“Explain.” His Excellence demanded.
“Several times attempts were made to harm Gerard while he was still her blood bound.”
His Excellence frowned, “Attempts made by our kind?”
“Yes.” Hudson nodded.
“That is an outrage. You believe you know who was behind these actions?”
Hudson paused. “Yes, I believe I do.” He looked around the room. “It is my belief that a member of the council who was ready to pass judgment on Annabelle was behind those acts.”
“What?” Thomas exploded. “How dare you even think such a thing?”
“Silence.” His Excellence roared.
Thomas flinched knowing he’d overstepped his bounds.
“You have proof of this?” His Excellence said turning back to face Hudson.
“I first learned of this treason from an encounter with a blood bound. From her thoughts I picked up bits of memories but many of her memories had been erased.”
His Excellence tilted his head slightly. “Go on.”
“In her mind were snippets of memories that dealt with Gerard.’ He paused. “You see this of course interested me because as a mortal he was also blood bound to me.”
“I was not aware of that fact.”
Hudson nodded. “Yes, I bound Gerard and Annabelle to myself.”
“I was not aware you had bound the man.” His Excellence said slowly.
“I was drawn to his strength and character.”
“I see.” His Excellence looked over at Gerard, as did Christa. She saw he was sitting perfectly still with his head bowed.
“I was of course surprised that only part of the mortal’s memories had been erased and naturally it made me curious.”
“That is understandable.’ His Excellence said. “But why erase only part of the memories?”
“I believe the Healer meant to erase all of them but was not strong enough.”
His Excellence sighed. “So tell me, Marcus, the name of the one you believe is behind these actions.”
Christa mentally braced herself hearing Hudson’s words.
“Your Excellence it is my belief that the council member Judith Langford was behind the attempts to harm Annabelle’s blood bound.”
His words caused Thomas and Judith to immediately look up.
“An outrage.” Thomas shouted. Beside him Judith’s face showed no emotion.
His Excellence raised his hand. “You will remain silent until I ask you to speak.” His voice held warning. He turned his stare to Hudson. “Tell me why you believe this.”
“I came to this conclusion from a bit of a memory not erased.” Hudson said.
Christa was immediately frightened. She knew Hudson was lying.
His Excellence continued to stare at Hudson for several moments then finally spoke. “So the Ingredior Utriusque was not simply brought here to illustrate Annabelle’s character.”
Hudson nodded. “That is correct, Excellence.”
Christa nervously stood watching the scene unfold. What was more frightening was that Hudson’s thoughts were suddenly silent. Why wasn’t he explaining this to her?
“Gerard, Annabelle, stand beside Jacob.”
They both rose to do His Excellence’s bidding.
Thomas’s voice nervously asked. “Your Excellence if I may I would like to abject to this.”
“You may voice your abjection.” His Excellence said, “But of course I will ask why?”
Christa was trying to remain calm but she did not understand what was happening. Her heart was beating so loudly in her ears she wasn’t sure she could even hear Hudson’s thoughts if he tried to reach her.
“I understand what is planned.” Thomas said taking a step foreword. “But because the Ingredior Utriusque is bound to Annabelle I question her honesty in this matter.”
Christa reminded herself not to turn to look at Hudson, not wanting the others to understand she heard his words, but it was difficult. She could feel what she believed was fear and that frightened her beyond words.
“You believe the Ingredior Utriusque would lie?” His Excellence responded.
“As I said she is bound to Annabelle and to Marcus.”
His Excellence raised his hand to silence Thomas. “Yes that is true. Tell me why you believe that makes a difference where the Ingredior Utriusque is concerned.”
Thomas clinched his fists. “Your Excellence, I believe this is all an elaborate ruse to deflect the blame of Annabelle’s actions.”
“I will take that under advisement.” His Excellence said slowly. “However if Judith is innocent then she has nothing to fear from bonding with the Ingredior Utriusque.”
Christa flinched as it all was starting to make sense. Anger washed over her when she realized Hudson had not shared this plan with her beforehand.
‘I’m sorry. It would have been dangerous for you to know before now.’
She ignored Hudson’s words refusing to look at him.
Thomas sighed, “I believe the Ingredior Utriusque may lie.”
“I do not.” His Excellence said softly. “While I acknowledge your feelings in this matter Thomas I am aware of something that only I understand.” He looked over at Christa. “Tell me, when the truth is revealed to you would you lie to protect Annabelle?”
Christa heard Hudson’s words in her head again but ignored them. She now understood her part in all of this. “No, Your Excellence. I would not.”
“And you believe her words?” Thomas sputtered.
The look His Excellence shot the Pure made him snap his mouth shut.
“Yes, I believe her. While I realize Marcus is quiet pleased to have bound the Ingredior Utriusque to himself even he does not understand her importance. Only I recognize the Pure who’s blood runs through her veins.”
Christa jumped slightly at how loud those words were in her head.
“I will allow this to continue.” His Excellence said. “I will allow it because I have full faith in this Ingredior Utriusque. She will bond with Judith Langford and we will learn the truth.”
Judith’s head shot up. “What?” It was clear she had no idea what was about to happen.
His Excellence turned his attention to her. “Tell me, who is your Maker?”
Judith’s eyes grew wide. Her voice before completely devoid of emotion now shook. “My Maker was Gabriel Connors.”
Christa wondered why this announcement caused a look she could not identify cross His Excellence’s face.
“Gabriel Connors.” His Excellence repeated. “One of my oldest friends lost to us.”
“Yes.” Judith whispered. “My Maker is gone. Not a day goes by I do not miss his presence.”
Christa was hoping Hudson would explain but from the small bits of thoughts she was hearing he was very conflicted. He had not known the name of Judith’s Maker.
“And why were you not by his side?” His Excellence asked.
“He and I had parted several years before.” Judith said softly. “It was his wish not mine.”
It was obvious to Christa that His Excellence suddenly softened his attitude towards Judith. “I have always held his loss with great pain. Had I known…” He shook his head sadly. “To choose to end one’s own existence seems unfathomable.” He smiled, “Come child and sit.”
Slowly Judith left Thomas’s side to take the seat previously used by Gerard.
Now His Excellence turned to Christa. “Please, be seated.”
‘please be careful. What you learn may be brutal but please do not mention Jacob.’
Hudson watched Christa closely but she made no effort to let him know she’d heard his warning.
Once Christa was seated His Excellence spoke again.
“Judith you will bond with the Ingredior Utriusque.”
“I do not understand.” Judith said her eyes growing wide. “Why?”
His Excellence sat back and sighed. “I see now my old friend did not impart all the wisdom of our ways to you. You should have been made aware of the Ingredior Utriusque. You should have been told of their powers.”
Judith glanced towards Thomas for guidance but he had lowered his head once more.
“Christa.” His Excellence’s voice was low and smooth. “It is the truth we seek."
“Yes, I understand.” Christa nodded slowly.
“Very well.” His Excellence nodded. “Then let us begin.”
Judith made no move to do his bidding.
“I demand you bond with the Ingredior Utriusque.” This time His Excellence’s voice was sharp. “Now.”
Still not understanding but knowing she could not deny the command Judith bit into her arm just above the wrist. As the blood beaded to the surface she held out her arm to Christa while taking Christa’s arm she had extended.
Christa flinched as Judith bit into her arm. For a moment she felt nothing as Judith’s blood touched her tongue but then suddenly that all changed. Her body began to shake as ugly, red images filled her mind. What she saw made her stomach churn and her heart race with fear. Finally she could take no more. Lifting her head she tried to pull her arm away. She saw that Judith was still drinking her blood greedily.
“Stop.” Christa cried out.
Hudson moved to stop Judith but His Excellence rose from his chair. “Stop immediately.”
Judith’s head shot up her lips still covered with Christa’s blood. The lure of the Ingredior Utriusque blood had almost consumed her. Her tongue darted out to lick the last of Christa’s blood.
His Excellence slowly sat back down. “I understand her blood is tempting but satisfying your hunger was not why you have bonded with her.”
“I don’t understand.” Judith said still slightly dazed. Christa’s blood still causing her senses to reel.
“Look into her eyes. Reveal the truth.” His Excellence commanded Christa.
“So much hatred.” Christa said her voice shaking as she gazed deeply into Judith’s eyes. “So much hatred for mortals.”
Judith blinked. “I do not hate mortals.” She said rising her chin. “They are nothing to me.”
“But you were once one.” Christa said softly. “And you hate that fact. You hate what you once were.”
“That isn’t true.” Judith said shaking her head.
Christa was trying desperately to understand the images she was seeing. There was a man in a hotel room and a gun. She flinched as the memory became clearer. “Oh.” She cried out seeing the man slump to the floor his blood pooling around his head.
“Tell us.” Hudson said softly.
“She ordered her blood bound to kill himself.” Christa said blinking back tears. “She laughed knowing he’d follow her orders. She knew he believed she loved him.”
“I have no idea what she is talking about.” Judith cried out. Her topaz grew wide as she now understood what was happening. She tried desperately to clear her mind but it was impossible.
“He was so happy. He had done all you asked and he had believed you would turn him.”
“What was it she had asked of the blood bound mortal?’ His Excellence demanded. “Tell us.”
“She had ordered him to cause the car crash that ended Gerard’s life as a mortal.” Christa had tears rolling down her cheeks.
“Lies.” Judith cried out. “All lies.”
Christa shook her head. “No, it is the truth. You have killed many mortals. You remember each one, you savor each death.”
“You stupid bitch.” Judith screamed.
“Silence.” His Excellence roared.
Christa was not affected by his command. What she saw in Judith’s eyes could not be contained. “Oh my God. You murdered your own Maker.”
Judith drew back her hand to strike Christa but before that could happen His Excellence moved so quickly no human eye could not see it. Now as Christa sobbed she realized that His Excellence’s hand was around Judith’s neck.
“You dare try to strike the Ingredior Utriusque?”
Judith’s face had taken on a look of pure hatred. Her once beautiful features twisted into an ugly mask. She realized with certainly her life, as a Healer, would end. “I hate all of you.” She choked out the words.
His Excellency loosened his hold on her neck but did not move away. “What madness fills you? How could you destroy your own Maker?"
Judith’s topaz eyes flared. “He was weak.”
The slap across her face delivered by His Excellence only seemed to fuel her hatred. “It is true. You Pures believe you are so superior. Gabriel believed he was superior to me. I enjoyed watching his head fall to the ground.”
Quickly Hudson reached for Christa wanting to get her out of harms way. Every Healer in the room knew what was about to happen.
“Do with me what you will.” Judith’s eyes were wild. “I don’t care. I welcome death. I wanted to be part of a superior race but Healers are no better than mortals. Damn all of you.” She screamed.
Rising to his full height His Excellence turned to Anna. “It is your right to end her life. Her actions against Gerard make this so.”
Before Anna could respond Jacob spoke. “Those actions were ultimately against me as Annabelle is my child.”
His Excellence nodded. “Yes that is true. Do you wish to carry out the sentence?”
Jacob nodded unable to speak the word.
‘close your eyes”
Christa found it impossible to look away. The pure hatred she’d seen in Judith’s mind made it impossible. She had caused so much pain and suffering.
A wooden box was produced. Christa watched as it was opened to reveal a thin wire on which two wooden handles were attached at the ends. The box was held out to Jacob.
“Judith Langford for the sins you have committed against our kind and the mortals your punishment shall be death.” His Excellence said taking a step back.
Judith’s smile was pure evil. “Yes of course. I will not give you the satisfaction of hearing me plead for my life. The life of a Healer was no better than my life as a mortal. Healers are just as weak. The rules ridiculous. Healers are a race that could be superior, we could rule this world yet we stay in the shadows like fools.”
His Excellence nodded to Jacob.
Slowly Jacob reached out to take both handles in his hands. As he lifted the weapon out of the box the wire was pulled taunt.
“How fitting that Jacob is the one who was chosen to end my life.” Judith spat.
‘do it quickly Jacob’
Christa understood Hudson’s words. From Judith’s memories she understood the connection between the two and prayed Jacob would end Judith’s life before the woman could reveal that truth.
Jacob stretched the wire in front of Judith’s neck grasping the handles tightly.
“Do it Jacob.” Judith taunted. “Remember the pain I inflected on your weak little child.”
Her words spurred Jacob into action. With one swift move he pulled back on the handles. As the razor sharp wire sliced through Judith’s neck he closed his eyes.
Then it was over. Judith’s head fell from her shoulders. Christa watched in morbid fascination as the head and the rest of her body turned to dust.
His Excellence was the first to speak. “Let it be known her death was caused by her own actions.” He slowly moved to take his place behind the table. When he was seated he nodded to his men who quickly cleaned up the remains.
‘I am so sorry you had to witness this’
Christa closed her eyes and leaned against him.
Once all was taken care of His Excellence spoke again. “I am greatly saddened by what had happened here. This is a dark day for the Healer world.” He looked around the room at the Healers gathered there. “Is this what we have become?”
“I do not believe so.’ Christa’s words caused all heads to turn to face her.
“only speak when spoken to’
She heard the urgency in Hudson’s words so she lowered her head.
His Excellence shocked them all by saying. “Ingredior Utriusque look at me. Tell me what you believe.”
Slowly Christa raised her eyes to meet his. For a moment she was frightened but as she gazed into his eyes she found strength. “It is my belief that both of our worlds contain good and evil. Judith was evil. She was evil as a mortal and that did not change once she was turned to Healer. Both of our worlds struggle with good and evil. I believe it was meant to be that way.”
“You believe the Supreme Being made this so?”
Christa nodded, “There can be no good without evil. Healers must struggle with that fact just as mortals.”
His smile was slow. “I believe perhaps you are correct. Still what we witnessed today affects me deeply. I fear we have lost our way.”
“Just as mortals lose their way at times.” Christa said softly. “But for us we have a limited time to find that way. Immortals do not.”
“Yes that is very true.” He turned his attention away from Christa and back to the others. “Gerard, Annabelle please be seated. Your fates must still be decided.”
Anna and Gerard did as he bid.
“Now then.” His Excellence said staring at Gerard. “Tell me, is it your wish to continue on in this world as a Healer?”
“Yes, Your Excellence.” Gerard nodded. “It is my deepest wish. It became my deepest wish when I first learned of the Healers world.”
“And you would abide by our laws?”
Gerard nodded. “Yes without question.”
“Am I to understand that in your previous life you are some sort of entertainer well known among your kind?”
“As a singer.”
His Excellence sighed, “Like Marcus.”
Hudson spoke up quickly. “Your Excellence he is not as well known as I among the mortals and yet I have no problem maintaining that lifestyle.”
“As a Pure I am sure you do not.” His Excellence said.
“That is true.” Hudson nodded. “However with is Maker at his side and with my guidance I do not believe Gerard would have any problem resuming his previous life for a time.”
His Excellence turned back to Gerard, “Of course you understand it would be just for a limited time. You will have no problem letting go of that life when you must?”
“No, I will have no problem leaving that life.’ Gerard said without emotion.
It was so hard for Christa not to cry. She was hearing and feeling Anna’s thoughts. With each emotionless answer Gerard gave Anna died a little more inside.
His Excellence turned to Anna. “As his Maker do you believe you can school your child well?”
Anna nodded. “Yes Your Excellence. I have this ability because my own Maker is so wise.”
His Excellence locked eyes with Jacob who was standing directly behind his child. “I have always held Jacob in the highest regard. The fact that he chose you to bestow the Healers gift upon speaks highly of you.” He paused. “Because of that fact it is my belief that Annabelle has also chosen wisely. She has bestowed our gift to Gerard and I believe him to be worthy. My judgment is to allow him to remain a Healer. Annabelle school your child wisely. He must learn all of our ways.”
“Yes Your Excellence. I will make sure that is done.”
Christa gripped Hudson’s hand tightly as she heard Anna’s thoughts. Anna had no intention of schooling Gerard in the Healers ways.
Now His Excellence turned his attention to Thomas. “What was witnessed today should never have been. You will step down as head of the council as well as the remaining members.”
Thomas knew he was defeated so he nodded then looked down.
“We must adhere to our laws but those who enforce them must be wise.” He turned his head. “Jacob it is my wish you take over as head of this council. As one of our oldest Pures it is your duty. Perhaps some day you will find it within yourself to move to the higher council.”
Jacob who had previously wanted no part of the council understood he could not decline His Excellence’s request.
“It would be my honor.” Jacob nodded.
“Good. Chose your council members wisely.”
Suddenly Katherine, who until now had stood behind Hudson and Christa, stepped forward. “If it pleases Your Excellence I would like to offer my services on the council.”
Christa too was shocked by Katherine’s announcement. Before Katherine had been rather clear on her feelings towards the Healers laws.
His Excellence gazed at her. “You are Katherine, correct? Child of Joshua?”
“Yes Your Excellence.”
“I have heard much about you. Pity we meet on a day such as this.”
Katherine smiled, “Yes but I am honored to be speaking with you.”
His Excellence looked at Jacob. “I believe you have found your first council member.”
Jacob glanced over at Katherine. “Yes, I welcome her wisdom.”
Suddenly standing His Excellence said. “Now I grow weary. However I have one last request. I wish to speak to Christa alone.”
Christa was shocked and slightly afraid yet the fact he’d called her by her name pleased her. “Of course.” She smiled.
‘be careful. Remember how powerful he is’
Christa moved away from Hudson as His Excellence waved for the rest of the room to be cleared.