Categories > Original > Fantasy > In God's Hands

Chapter 3

by Gryvon 0 reviews

Stuck in the priesthood by his father's expectations, Delian just wants to avoid digging himself further into the church's bad graces. After saving Lord Ketter's servant's life, he finds himself m...

Category: Fantasy - Rating: R - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Romance - Warnings: [V] [X] - Published: 2006-06-28 - Updated: 2006-06-29 - 4640 words


The badger watched him from its perch on top of the stone, golden eyes never wavering. Delian made no move towards the creature. He'd been in this dreamscape before, enough times to understand that it didn't matter what he did. Adena would reveal herself in due time. Until then he had to wait.


The voice came from behind him, rocking the forest as it called to him. Leaves scattered in the trees' distress and he cursed. He didn't need this distraction now, not when Adena was about to speak. Why couldn't they leave him alone?


Casting one last glance at the badger, Delian turned around. Whatever reason Adena had called him, it obviously wasn't to impart any words of guidance. At least it confirmed that she wasn't upset with the way events had turned out, though he wasn't much comforted by knowing that she approved of the way his life was slowly falling apart.


The voice was becoming more than a little annoying. Snapping his eyes open, Delian shoved Callen's hands away. The fighter sat on the bed next to him, fully dressed and looking nothing like he'd recently been in a fight.

"I'm awake already. Stop it." Delian sat up quickly, only to discover that his body didn't seem inclined towards movement. Pain ripped through his skull, reminding him exactly why he tended to avoid dealing with people prone to getting themselves killed. Clutching his head, he closed his eyes until the bed stopped spinning, praying that Callen would magically disappear now that he was awake.

"Are you alright?" Apparently Adena wasn't inclined to answer that particular prayer.

"Perfect." His voice came out a bit harsher than he'd intended, but given what he'd done for the fighter Delian figured a little gruffness was his due. After all, Callen was part of the reason for his current pain. "As you can see I'm so very much alright, hence the blissful unconsciousness that you so graciously rescued me from." Delian risked opening his eyes to glare at the black-haired fighter. The room seemed to have stabilized for now but Delian didn't doubt that it would turn treacherous as soon as he tried to move from the bed. "Care to tell me why I'm awake, as you seemed most insistent that I be?"

"Breakfast is ready. I thought you might need something to eat."

In a different situation, he might have been touched by Callen's thoughtfulness, but the splitting headache that had hit him upon waking was making Delian more than a bit cranky. "And it couldn't have waited?"

"It's nearing midday," Callen answered calmly. If he was fazed by Delian's foul mood, he didn't show it. "Lord Allesan was hoping to leave soon. We don't know how long it will be before they come back."

Delian didn't bother asking who 'they' were, or why Callen thought they'd be back. The black-garbed men would be back, and his instincts told him it wouldn't be long. They needed to be out of here before night fell or they might risk a repeat performance of last night's battle. Considering how Delian currently felt, that was a situation he'd prefer to avoid.

Sighing softly, Delian slowly shifted his body away from the wall. The sheets were already ruffled on the other side of the bed, meaning someone had shared it with him during the night. No doubt the same person who had removed his robe, though thankfully they'd left him dressed in his undershirt and breeches.

The floor was warm under his bare feet. He stared at the wood for a moment, mentally willing himself to not act like a complete weakling in front of the fighter. Unfortunately, his body had other plans. His knees collapsed as soon as he put weight on them, sending him pitching forward the instant he stood up.

Muscled arms caught him before he could fall far, holding Delian steady. He wisely waited until his head stopped spinning to push away, not trusting himself to look up at Callen's face.

"I'm fine." The words were meant for Callen, but they sounded more like a reassurance to himself.

"Are you sure?" Callen's voice held none of the mocking that Delian expected. Glancing over at the man through the fringe of his hair, Delian could read nothing but compassion on the soldier's expression. Odd, he thought, dropping the idea before it could go any further. The soldier was being nice, he told himself. That was it.

"I'm fine," he repeated, taking two shaky steps away to prove it. Stumbling over to the wash basin, he gripped the wooden table to steady himself, keeping his back to Callen.

"Alright." Callen's tone was anything but believing. "I'll meet you down there."

"Fine." He was being petulant, but it was too late now to ask for Callen's help. He'd be fine. He could manage by himself.

Delian waited until the door shut before letting his shoulders slump. He was far too tired to be moving around, but he forced himself to anyways. Water sloshed as he shakily filled the basin. Dipping his hands into the cold water, he scrubbed at his face. The chill made him feel a bit more alert, though he doubted it did anything helpful to his appearance. Wetting back his hair, he scanned the room for any sign of his robe.

Brown fabric was draped over the only chair in the room. Stumbling across to it, Delian awkwardly shrugged the robe on over top his clothing, almost falling twice as the robe twisted around him. His eyes scanned the room but there didn't seem to be anything else he could use as an excuse for staying upstairs. At least he was feeling a bit better now that he was moving around, though the thought of going down to a possibly loud common room made his head twinge in pain.

With a sigh, Delian shut the door behind himself. The hallway wavered only slightly as he moved towards the common room, and thankfully the staircase was equipped with wooden handrail firm enough for him to lean on as he stumbled down the stairs. Two large tables had been pushed together in the center of the common room for Lord Ketter's party. They were all already seated, most of them obviously finished with their meals. Every one of them looked up as Delian stepped into the room, reminding Delian of the numerous times as a student when he'd walked into class with ink smeared across his face. Conversation at the table died as he slowly tread across the room to plop into the only available chair. For some reason it didn't surprise him that the only seat left happened to be next to Callen's.

The only other patrons in the common room were two harmless looking merchants, sitting on opposite sides of the common room, though their presence was still unwelcome considering what Delian knew the nobles would want to discuss.

Delian stared at the food arrayed across the table, most of it fairly picked over already. The meat made his stomach roll and he averted his eyes, picking an apple off of the untouched platter of fruit. He kept his head down, letting his messy bangs shroud his face in an effort to avoid conversation.

"Thanks for last night," Kendrick commented quietly from Delian's right.

Taking a bite out of the apple, Delian nodded silently.

A mug appeared on the table in front of him. "Water or wine?" Callen offered.

Delian risked a glance through his bangs. Callen smiled back, his hand hovering between two pitchers.

"Water." Anything heavier and he knew he'd throw up. Likely he'd be feeling the after-effects of his casting for the rest of the day, if not into tomorrow.

"Feeling better?" Lord Ketter asked from the head of the table. The noble at least had the politeness to wait until Delian had food and drink in front of him before opening the questioning. Thank Adena for small favors. That seemed to be the only kind she was granting him recently.

"No," Delian answered curtly, taking another bite of his apple with a loud crunch. "But I should be able to stay in my saddle for the rest of the day," he answered as he chewed. "Hopefully."

None of the nobles touched the food in front of them. They'd been waiting for him, he realized, which meant they intended to question him here and now. He would have thought that the nobles had more discretion, but apparently that only counted in matters important to their well-being and not his own.

"That was some rather impressive magic you used last night," Blair commented slyly from the opposite side of the table. The fighter was taking obvious delight in taunting Delian about his earlier denials.

Delian set his cup down with more force than he intended, glaring at the redhead. "There is no magic," he bit out. His words only made the redhead smile wider. They'd all seen him. They knew he was lying.

"Our eyes disagree." Faolan was quick to take over the discussion, glancing sharply at Blair before the fighter could voice the retort hanging on his open lips.

Delian's hunger died immediately. Wiping his hands, he stared Allesan straight in the eyes. "My apologies, lord, but this is not a conversation to be held here, if ever." He glanced surreptitiously towards the merchants to clarify his meaning before continuing in a slightly louder voice. He had little doubt that at least one of the merchants was a spy from the church, if not both. "If any priest in the church were to have power, the Archbishop Tremare would be the first to hold it." Hopefully the nobles would understand his warning.

"But you do," Callen remarked softly, his voice low enough that the nobles at either end of the table had to strain to hear it.

"And not even Adena's grace could save me if he found out," Delian replied at a similarly low volume. He started to rise but Callen caught him by the arm, staring up with apologetic eyes.


Delian glanced around at the faces of the nobles, their expressions ranging from concern to uncaring, before dropping back into his seat with a sigh. He picked up the apple again, eating more for something to do than any real hunger.

"Archbishop Tremare doesn't like you, I take it?" Faolan asked.

Delian snorted, biting hard into his apple. "Only slightly more than he likes beggars off the street." From the looks on the noble's face, they were familiar with Tremare's aversion to the lower classes.

"Wait." A malicious grin split Blair's face. "You're that heretic my cousin told me about. The one they won't let any of the visiting clergy near."

Delian resisted the urge to chuck his apple across the table and settled for simply glaring. "Yes," he bit out. "Yes, I am." Of course the most annoying noble in the group would just happen to have a cousin in the priesthood who just happened to mention the most infamous priest in the order. Fortune seemed to always be looking for ways to spite him.

Few of the nobles reacted to Blair's announcement. Either they already knew or they simply didn't care, though latter seemed more likely. The nobles had little reason to concern themselves with church business.

"Why do they call you a heretic?" Lord Ketter regarded him with open curiosity.

"Because I have a brain." He wasn't in the mood to delve into his past humiliations. In an effort to change the topic, Delian gestured around the room with his apple. There was little evidence left of the fight last night, just a few scrapes on the table and some spots on the floor that looked like they had been recently scoured. "What happened to the men from last night?"

"They were taken care of," Hector answered quietly.

Delian nodded easily, finishing off his apple without comment. He'd guessed as much. They couldn't afford to leave the men who'd attacked them alive, the men would have just come after them again. A small part of him felt sorry for the black-clad men. He'd taken away their ability to defend themselves with his spell, leaving them to be slaughtered while they were forcibly kept unconscious.

Then he remembered the look on Callen's face as he fell and any sympathy he had for attacking men vanished.

Lord Rory of Clay looked at Delian in puzzlement. "For a priest, you're awfully casual about murder."

Delian shrugged. "She's not very forgiving." He gestured towards the ceiling absently, his attention distracted by a large brown stain that had appeared on his robe. The stain resisted his attempts to wipe it away with a napkin.

"She?" Faolan's frown was carried in his voice.

Looking up at the confused faces of the nobles, Delian realized his slip-up. He gave up on the stain. There were more, he noticed now, covering the front of his robe. Bloodstains.

"I meant Adena." He waited for the inevitable response.

Blair snorted, shooting Delian a disgusted look. "God's male."

He knew as he started to speak that he should be more tactful. After all, he was already far in the Archbishop's bad graces, and he didn't need to risk the church spies relaying his words back to the Archbishop. Nevertheless, he couldn't help the smug grin that spread across his face as he leaned towards the redhead. They already knew he was labeled a heretic, and now they would understand why. "Why do you think she likes me better?" He whispered quietly.

Silence reigned over the table for several long moments. Blair stared at him, his mouth flapping as he failed to come up with a retort. Lord Ketter was the first to break it, chuckling softly, his laughter rising in volume as the rest slowly joined in. Callen clapped him on the back with a wide grin and Delian knew he'd just gone up in the party's opinion.

Delian's smile faded as he turned to more serious matters. "Now, care to tell me where we're headed or who those men were?"

Allesan's face smoothed. He glanced at Delian before nodding once. "As soon as we're on the road," he promised. With a gesture from the lord, the nobles rose from the table.


Delian welcomed the sight of the forest, even as his body protested being back in the saddle. He was glad to be gone from the inn, though he knew no amount of distance would separate him from the troubles started there. His horse, at least, seemed sympathetic to his mode, nuzzling up to Delian when he first approached and holding perfectly still while Delian mounted.

The group moved in silence, falling into a loose formation as soon as they were on the road. Somehow Delian ended up in the middle but he couldn't bring himself to mind. His horse was inclined to follow the lead of the others, which spared Delian from actually guiding the beast. Lord Ketter was intent on putting as much distance as possible between the party and the inn, urging their horses into a quick canter. He let the rhythm of the horse's movements lull him.

He closed his eyes, not intending to sleep but his body had other plans. The forest faded around him, blurring away until his was back in the glade from his dream. Green eyes stared at him. The badger nodded once.

You can trust them. The words came from nowhere, echoing through the forest and his head in a way he'd come to identify as Adena's speech.

Delian frowned but didn't argue. He knew better than to try to argue with God.

Tell them what you are. They will protect you.

Delian had serious doubts that the nobles would protect him. They barely liked him. By telling them all his secrets he was giving them leverage over him, enough that they could control him by simply threatening to mention his connection with Adena to the truth.

But he couldn't go against Adena.

He sat in silence for several minutes, waiting for Adena to speak again. The forest remained quiet.

"Who are the men?" Delian asked softly, knowing that Adena most likely would ignore his questions. "Why am I with these nobles?"

You're meant to help them. Adena answered with force. Any thoughts he had of trying to get away from the nobles before their journey was done left Delian's mind. Call on me whenever needed.

"What if someone sees?" If the nobles were in some kind of constant danger, which Adena seemed to be suggesting, then there was little he could do to keep his magic hidden. Sooner or later someone besides the nobles would see, and word would reach the church.

You will be saved.

The way Adena phrased her response only made Delian worry more.

Go now and give warning. Danger is upon you.

Delian had no time to react as the badger opened its mouth. A bright white light shot out, engulfing the glade and knocking Delian back. He felt the force in his chest, pain shooting through his lungs as he sucked in an involuntary breath.

The sound of galloping horses filled his ears. He watched through the trees as black-clad men thundered past, metal clanking on metal and making so much noise he was surprised the men far ahead couldn't hear it. The view switched and he watched from an overhanging branch as dangerous men rode beneath, quickly counting before he changed eyes again. Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty.... There were more than that, but he couldn't get a final count as the world twisted. He was back with the nobles, though not himself, walking next to their horses. They were stopping, dismounting, and he wanted to scream at them that they had to run. Callen rode next to him, reaching over his head for something.

Callen's hand connected with his body, his real body and not the one his consciousness had shifted to. He bit back a scream as his mind crashed into his body, trying hardest not to fall off his horse as he reoriented himself. Calm. He had to be calm so that he could cast clearly, but the men were close, almost here.

Ignoring the nobles that were calling his name, Delian turned his horse, staring back the road the way they had come. A quick chant rolled off his lips, sending his vision away from his body again. Leaves waved at his passing, his mind racing down the road. Two turns and he saw them, armored and ready to fight, horses racing to overtake Allesan's party.

Delian returned with a loud gasp. He ignored the way the nobles were staring at him. "Get on your horses. Now." His voice was raised high in panic, but then he had good reason to be worried. There were too many men to fight, not in the open forest where they would be easily surrounded.

Birds cried all around him, calling a warning. The men were near. If he strained his ears, he could just barely hear the thunder of their approach.

"Move," he screamed, kicking his horse forward past the party. His horse danced as he halted it a short distance down the road, knowing the danger that was coming.

Marcus and Blair both started to object, but Jahir's raised hand silenced them. While the nobles strained to hear what Jahir had heard and Delian had already warned them about, he started chanting, his voice barely above a whisper.

"Leaves, be my vengeance," he intoned, the words intelligible to all save him and nature. The trees shook, sending loose leaves towards the forest floor. "Wind, be the vessel of my fury." A stray breeze circled the nobles, gathering the leaves and any other loose debris lying on the forest floor.

"Delian, be quiet, I can't...." Blair's remark was cut short as the sound of hoof beats rose to an unmistakable volume, growing louder by the second.

"Gather and wait."

"In your saddles." Lord Allesan's command had the nobles mounted in seconds.

Callen grabbed Delian's reigns, forcing his horse around as the party leapt into a gallop. Delian quickly grabbed the reigns, gripping tightly as he almost toppled backwards off his horse. Leaves swirled strangely in the spot he'd just vacated.

"Get to the front," Callen shouted at him, his own horse slipping towards the back. All around him weapons were being pulled from sheathes and Delian suddenly felt overly exposed among the group of armored men. His brown robes may have hidden him somewhat if he was standing amongst the trees, but they stood out like a beacon between all the metal armor surrounding him.

Glancing over his shoulder, Delian could see the first outriders charging down the road. Their black armor seemed to take in the light, nearly concealing the men amongst the shadows of the forest. Even as Jahir was loosing his bow, Delian was finishing his chant. Gripping his reigns tightly, he leaned forward. "Keep steady and guide me well," he whispered in the horse's ear, trusting that the horse would understand his intent. The beast's gate evened, loosing speed slightly but still keeping ahead of the majority of the party.

"Adena. Greatest God. Source of Power. Guide my wrath. Shape the earth and harden, darts of fury be at my call."

Five men galloped towards the swirl of leaves. Delian waited until the first was almost upon it before shouting the final word of the spell.

"Attack." He felt the leaves change, felt the wind grow sharp with malice. The leaves became razors, blasting down the road and slicing everything in their way.

Blood sprayed as five men fell, pointed leaves sticking out of their flesh. Their horses darted to the side of the road, unharmed. Screams echoed through the forest, though not enough, as the leaves met the rest of their pursuers. The wind returned empty handed, telling of three more down and a dozen hit but not falling. Delian felt the loss of power from the spell as if someone had kicked him in the gut.

"You did that?" There was wonder in Baron Rory's voice, and a newly gained respect. Trust noblemen to value a man but the number he could kill.

Delian ignored him, searching through his memories for more spells. "Do any of you have shot for a sling?"

"Here." Jahir fished a small bag out of his pouch, tossing it up the line of horses. Marcas drew even with him, handing off the pouch and watching intently as Delian started rapidly chanting again, speaking to the stones of fire hidden inside. He didn't need to open the pouch to feel the stones. They were small, young pieces of an older mountain that had been shaped by men of the south into smooth balls. He told them of his intent and they told him of their home, the thought bringing with it the acrid heat of desert lands.

Two of the horses stopped, bowstrings snapping before they moved again. Opening the bag, Delian dumped the stones across the ground, warning the stones to wait.

"What was the bloody point of that?" Blair shouted. "You just wasted a full pouch of shot."

Delian swayed in his saddle, too tired to answer Blair. He'd find out soon enough.

The black-clad men were nearing. Another ten minutes and they'd be upon them. Or they would if not stopped. The road curved, temporarily hiding their pursuers from view. Seconds after the last rider in their party, Jahir, had cleared the turn, the earth shook. Delian felt the explosions before he heard them, the volume of the blast drowning out the screams.

"That's what the stones were for," Delian commented even as he started casting again. He prayed to Adena for strength, begging her to help him take out as many as possible before they reached the party. He would be immobile tomorrow, but that was only a concern if they lived through today.

"Thank you." Kendrick rode by his side, sandwiching Delian between him and Marcas. "Your help is appreciated."

Closing his eyes, Delian called to the trees behind them. His will took hold and the trees happily complied, their branches reaching down to knock riders off their horses. The sound of metal being drawn rang through the air and Delian barely bit back a scream as the branches were hacked away.

His eyes snapped open as the branches pulled back. The trees would not help him again, or at least not this grove. The forest did tell him of an end not far ahead, sending the image of smooth, grassy plains leading up to rolling hills. They were nearing the Northern Divide, the great span of foothills that cut from the center of Geldan all the way up to the mountains that formed the northern border.

The nobles were shouting, making plans as they spotted the clearing ahead. Whatever orders they gave to Delian were ignored. His lips moved, no sound emerging as he called to the ground this time. The earth heaved behind them and Delian said a quick prayer for the horses even as they fell, hooves catching in the small pits that opened beneath them.

Everything disappeared from sight for a long moment as his vision blackened. He fumbled blindly with the reigns but they were slipping in his weakened grip. Something clamped on his shoulder. Blinking furiously, Delian was able to make out an arm, Kendrick's face frowning at him from the opposite end of the appendage. The lord was saying something, looking straight at Delian while his lips moved soundlessly. Delian shook his head, suddenly realizing that sight wasn't the only sense that had turned itself off.

"....alright? Delian?"

Delian nodded finally, swallowing quickly as bile rose in his throat. Kendrick let go tentatively, his hand not straying far from Delian's shoulder until a minute had passed without Delian falling out of his saddle. Marcas watched from his other side, waiting to catch him if he fell the other way. His horse sensed his unsteadiness and it slowed as they reached the end of the forest.

The meadow stretched out before them, exactly like the trees had showed him. The road cut straight through it, heading for the distant hills. Farms could be seen not far away. No doubt there was a town nearby, hidden behind the swell of the land.

The group fanned out as they reached the meadow, Kendrick and Marcas moving away from Delian's sides. Callen was yelling at him, telling him to go faster, that the riders were almost on them. Delian barely heard him through the buzzing in his head. He'd be stupid to try and draw more power when he was already on the verge of passing out but that didn't stop him. He was already closing his eyes, calling for air this time, even as the loud whistling sound behind him stirred a warning in his head. By the time his brain recognized the sound it was too late. Archers. The black-clad men had brought archers and the field gave them a clear shot at Allesan's party.

He screamed, pain ripping through him and sending all thoughts of magic flying from his head. Delian's right hand no longer held the reigns and the horse, feeling the slack in one side, veered to the left. Delian had enough time to glance down at the arrowhead sticking out of his shoulder, the metal dripping red with his own blood, before falling sideways. The ground caught him, knocking the breath out of him and giving inadvertent form to his last spell. He felt the air gather as his eyes fell closed, and then there was nothing.
Sign up to rate and review this story