Short Story Saturday
Somehow I managed to forget all about this post! I blame school. I was also busy making fun of people who really thought the Rapture was going to be today.
Anyway, here is the third part of The Purification of the Fallen.
Naois recovered quickly from his brush with death, and Conan continued to reject the idea that his brother had been the victim of an otherworldly demon. He never returned to his brother’s room that day, though he sent Ara to bring him lunch and dinner. Naois could hardly bear his frustration. To have his brother completely disregard his story hurt him unfathomably.
Avichai was the only one who seemed to be on his side. The apprentice stayed in the room until Ara informed him that Conan needed his assistance. Naois spent the remainder of the day lying still in bed, allowing the last of the Killdark to be destroyed. It wasn’t until dusk that Avichai returned, just after dinner.
“You can stay here tonight,” he told the Fallen. “You shouldn’t move too much until morning. I’ll find somewhere else to sleep.”
Naois shook his head. “Here.” He moved over to the edge of the bed, his back to the center, and wrapped his wings around himself. “Have the other side.”
Avichai surveyed him for a moment, then smiled. “Thanks.” He made himself comfortable on the opposite edge of the bed, wings surrounding him. Soon they were both asleep.
Naois was the first awake the next morning. He got up and stretched, his wings nearly filling the entire fourteen-foot-long room at their greatest extent. No pain or dizziness overtook him, signaling that the Killdark was completely neutralized. He rolled up his sleeve and saw no remaining sign of the purple welt that had been there before.
With a silent yawn he made his way to the window and gazed out at the sunrise. The first rays of sun touched his pale face and he leaned against the window frame. His attention was drawn from the golden sky minutes later by the presence beside him. He glanced over at Avichai and found that the light of the dawn contrasted them greatly. While it hid him in shadows it allowed the Pure to glow, and he couldn’t tear his eyes away from him. He longed for that same glowing Purity to be his again.
He lifted a hand, without thinking, and lightly touched Avichai’s wing. The pure white feathers were silky and light beneath his touch, until a split second later they were pulled away. Avichai hadn’t been expecting the touch. Naois quickly took his hand back, looking away.
“You really do want to be a Pure again, don’t you?” Avichai asked quietly, gazing at the Fallen.
Naois nodded and looked out to the sunrise, thinking of what came with being a Pure and that which came with being a Fallen. “I just want my dignity back,” he whispered. He knew it was more than that, but he didn’t know how to explain all that he felt to someone who had never shared his experience. “I’m afraid now, to leave this house. I don’t know how anyone expects me to Purify with so many others wanting to kill me. My own brother has even lost what respect he had for me.” He swallowed back the lump in his throat.
Avichai was silent, then he gently pressed a wing closer to Naois. “Take one,” he offered.
Naois glanced at the wing, then to the Pure’s violet eyes. “Why?”
“Maybe I can help,” Avichai replied. “Just take one.”
The Fallen reached out and carefully selected one perfect feather four inches long. Avichai didn’t flinch when it was removed, and a new feather grew in its place immediately. The Pure turned to face the Fallen, pulling a strand of white hair from his scalp. Naois, slightly confused, allowed Avichai to loop the long hair around his neck. Avichai then took the feather and pressed it to the ends, his lips moving in silent incantation.
Naois waited, and very shortly felt a warmth about his neck. Avichai stepped back and the Fallen looked down. A fine silver chain held the light feather around his neck, contrasting to the black robes it rested against. He gently touched the feather, then the chain, before looking back up at the apprentice. His smile gave away his gratitude, and their embrace was instantaneous.
Naois couldn’t recall the last time he’d been hugged, and he knew it to be a great experience. Maybe, with a friend beside him, he’d be able to Purify.
He didn’t notice the change, so tiny yet so immense, until Avichai met him in their room again that evening. He was watching the sunset when the apprentice entered, and the gasp he heard come from the doorway made him turn around.
“What is it?” he asked, concerned.
Avichai’s violet eyes were wide and his hand covered his mouth. “Look at your wings,” he commanded breathlessly, taking the hand from his mouth to point.
Naois brought a wing more into his line of vision, and dropped back against the wall. At the tips of his evil black feathers were small spots of white.
“I’m Purifying,” he whispered.
Avichai nodded and stepped closer. “Your wings are like the clear night sky,” he mumbled, “and your hair is white at the ends, too. Soon you’ll be like the rest of us again.”
Naois smiled and hugged his friend as he had that morning. He knew the ordeal was far from over, but three days as a Fallen was enough for him. At last progress was being made.
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