In the relative quiet of the infirmary, two mortals stand chatting quietly by the wounded patient. The familial resemblance is unmistakable between brother and sister and so is the way they speak to each other or, better yet, the way so many things go unsaid.
“How’s he doing?” the elder male asks softly while looking at the furred and feathered patient currently lying with eyes closed and sleeping.
“I had to do some minor balancing of the spells he used for healing. It seems that most of the damage was dealt with but the spells he used were a bit too…taxing on such a damaged body,” the woman replies, her slightly greying hair partially covered by the dark-green cap of her Chief-Healer uniform.
“Of course, that might have to do with the fact that he was rushing to save my life,” a voice breaks the silence.
“Now, you hush, mister,” the healer says, sitting on the edge of the bed and pinching one of the now-awake patient’s feathery cheeks. “You may be my patient but you’re still my son and you’d better rest as you were told to do. Or do you want to be lying in that bed until your fur turns white?”
“Yes, mother,” comes the well-practiced response. “No, mother.”
Opening the eye closest to the pair, Geryon addresses the man. “And what an honor it is for you to come see me, Great One. I am terribly sorry about your lab. It appears we made a mess of it.”
“Things can be replaced, no matter how valuable, boy. You can’t. And why, oh, why do you put yourself in danger by flocking with that one, nephew?” Gylden, senior mage of the Council of Magic, lectures.
“Well, he sort of…dropped in on me, along with the others. I can’t really be blamed, can I?” Geryon counters, shrugging and practicing his best innocent expression. It is not easy being expressive with a beak for a mouth. “There I was, innocently doing what you ordered me to do and suddenly…it’s a bunny fest. And things would have been fine if not for that crazed Archon popping in. He really gave us feathered people a bad image.”
Any retort from Gylden is suddenly interrupted by a pair of squeals as Cherry and Merri rush into the room and immediately throw themselves over the bed where the gryphon lies and over Geryon himself, with such momentum that Geryon’s mother is forced to get up in order not to fall.
“Our hero!” Cherry yells as she drapes her arms around Geryon’s feathered neck, moments before Merri joins in with “Are ye gettin’ better?”
“Wha–?” Gylden exclaims and then turns to see the third newcomer enter the room. “I should have figured,” he says exasperated.
Bowing slightly, Dion greets the mage. “Great One,” the god says and, turning to the Geryon’s mother, adds, “Healer Aegle.”
Aegle harrumphs, her bosom swelling with self-righteous hauter. “And I suppose you came to make sure you can get away with what you did to my son? Expecting me to thank you for saving my Gery after you put him in such terrible danger…”
“He is my friend,” Dion responds, as if that alone was sufficient. The look on Aegle’s face makes clear that it isn’t. “It is the least I could do after he was hurt defending the Bunnies. If he had not attacked first, Sergeant Alma and I would never have had the time we needed to defeat Nekh.”
“To destroy him with the Percussorem, you mean,” Gylden states in minor disdain.
“I did not destroy him,” Dion stresses, his eyebrows furrowing ever for the tenth of a second before he regains control. “I broke his shield, rendered him defenseless. I stopped there. I wanted to bring him to justice,” he explains, shaking his head in obvious discomfort at the memory. “Unfortunately, other…things got in the way of that.”
From her post by Geryon’s bed, Aegle shudders slightly with understanding, while Gylden’s eyes widen in confusion.
“What do you mean, you stopped? You…halted the Percussorem?”
“While I was wearing it, we were connected,” Dion explains, his hand clenching slowly at the memory of the cold, yet burning, touch of the metal wrapped around his fingers. He raises his hand and looks at it as if to confirm the damned thing is no longer there. “I could feel the Striker’s want, the hunger to finish Nekh. I said ‘no’ – I told it to stop.”
Gylden stands dumbfounded. “And it listened?”
“It wasn’t happy about it,” Dion answers with a nod. “But it halted.”
Now thoroughly confused, Gylden starts pacing in front of Geryon’s bed, stroking his beard in that old, nervous habit of his that becomes apparent whenever he is trying to process something that defies the limits of his reasoning.
“Did you at least invoke any enchantments of obedience or focus before you used it?” he asks.
“No,” Dion responds. “Once I picked it up and put it around my fingers, it was as if we were one. I didn’t even need to think about it”
“Incredible…” Gylden whispers. He stops his pacing and looks at the god again.“The Deus Percussorum have no ‘off’ switch, boy. The three of them were created during the war for Hell’s subjugation. The Council always demanded them to be charged and held by the three chosen Archons. Without enchantments for focus and obedience, it should have searched out any deities within its range and destroyed them. How is it that it did not attack Sergeant Alma too?”
“I cannot say, Great One,” Dion replies, even if the question was obviously rhetorical. “Its focus never looked at her, or I would have changed it.”
The young god smiles as he sees, over Gylden’s shoulder, his friend Geryon playing his favorite game of ‘hide the beak’ with the Bunnies. Having few choices of hiding places, the gryphon takes the opportunity to bury his beak snuggly between Cherry’s breasts, reducing Merri to tears of laughter at Cherry’s faked annoyance. “That is my favorite sweater, birdbrain! You better not snag it!”
As Aegle leans over Geryon to scold him for his behavior, Gylden continues his questioning, calling Dion back to attention. “Changed it?”
“As I said, Great One, the Striker and I… We were as one. I could feel its bloodlust and it felt my anger towards Nekh. And when I struck him, I felt Nekh crumbling against my hand. So, I stopped.”
“Just like that,” the mage says, still dismayed. “You shouldn’t have even been able to unleash it, yet…”
“I am a god of magic,” Dion interrupts the mage, his voice laced with resentment.
Now somewhat annoyed, Gylden changes his tone to a hiss. “Then you should know that magical spells, enchantments and implements can only be invoked by those who have trained to cast them, boy. If I opened a spell book and had any random person read the spell word by word, what would happen?”
“Presumably nothing,” Dion responds.
“That’s right!” the mage snarls. “Unless the person is trained to cast the spell, to put his will behind it, to visualize the spell, it’s only words. Yet you pick up an artifact that could kill any god, without having been trained to use it, and you unleash its power with the adeptness of a Council member, and without any of the protections.”
“It called me ‘Creator’,” Dion says flatly, reducing Gylden to immediate silence.
After a long moment of quiet rumination, the mage whispers, “It must have confused you with your father.”
Dion’s eyes widen immediately in shock. Without noticing it, he takes a step forward and leans close to the mage when he asks, “You know of my father?”
Dion’s reaction makes Glyden backtrack and stutter. “N-No. Not – Not really. I’ve been…led to understand that he had something to do with the creation of the Percussorum, that’s all. Beyond that, I probably know less about him than you do.
“Besides, it’s more than the Percussorum,” the elder mage says, quickly changing subjects. “The transformation spell you cast on Geryon there. You had no training in transformational magic, yet here he is, perfectly transformed beyond my ability to reverse the spell.”
“Perhaps you could change him into something else?” Dion offers.
“Don’t you think I tried, boy?” Gylden growls. “I could probably recite over twenty transformational spells off the top of my head and I have access to hundreds more. Yet none of them has ever had even the slightest effect on Geryon. That spell you cast is permanent and unmodifiable. I’m the senior mage of the Council of Magic and I can’t annul a spell cast by a Guardia Dei barely out of his diapers. What does that tell you?”
“I was lucky?” Dion offers, gaining another derisive snort from the mage.
“But Geryon wasn’t, huh?” Gylden pokes Dion’s chest with an accusatory finger. “What it should tell you, boy, is that you have the inner strength to be great, if you would just apply yourself to more than chasing the next conquest to your bed,” he snaps.
Dion takes a moment to breathe deeply before responding. “I seem to be getting a lot of advice on how I live my life, lately.”
“Then maybe it’s time to start listening to some of it,” the elder mage retorts before turning and walking out the room.
“And once again, you seem to have gotten my uncle thoroughly pissed off,” Geryon says from his bed, his beaked face barely visible between a Bunny sandwich.
“Yes. I seem to have a talent for doing that lately,” the young god responds, and then to Aegle’s relief adds, “Come ladies. It’s time to get you back to Alma.”
After some initial resistance and cries of “Already? But we just got here!” and “Ach, just a wee bit longer, Dion, please!” from both Bunnies, Geryon chimes in, “Come now, my dears. Dion is just following orders and we all know what a certain white-haired lady will do to him if he disobeys.” Geryon’s eyes twinkle with malice. “You wouldn’t want to ruin his chances at playing footsie with death, would you?”
After many a promise to return for future visits, the Bunnies clear the room and only mother and son remain.
“Mother,” Geryon starts. “I feel much better already. Your attentions and a little Bunny love-magic have made me feel so much better.”
Shaking her head at the commentary, Aegle walks to the bed and softly kisses her son’s feathered head.
“You rest now, Gery. I have other patients to look after,” she says as she tucks him in.
Minutes later, Geryon is finally alone. Leaning forward, he spreads his healing wings, wincing at the pain of releasing himself from his firmly tucked bedsheets.
“Very soon, my pretties, you shall taste the wind again.”