“Just curious,” asked the voice from the doorway, “but what are you doing?”
The priest straightened. “This boy is possessed by an unclean spirit, giving him hallucinations. The spirit must be driven out to save his soul and mind. His mother was supposed to stop us being disturbed.” The priest hadn’t turned to see who he was looking at. The boy tied flat to the table, gagged and staring with desperate eyes at the doorway, must have been fourteen rising fifteen at most.
“I suggested to her that she might like to make a nice, soothing pot of tea.” The newcomer chuckled, “She was amenable. Why do you think he’s having hallucinations?”
“Because half-breed striplings do not have conversations with angels.” The Benarian’s back was rigid.
“The clergy has determined that only those with the most advanced levels of spirituality and theology are graced with angelic communications.” The emotion behind that stiff back wasn’t indignation it was something else, but what?
The newcomer moved slightly and the floor creaked under the weight shift. “Besides, I’m fairly sure that unclean spirits don’t exist. Vard and a few other things, yes but not unclean spirits. How do you intend to drive out these non-existent entities?”
“The usual means.” The priest did something off to his side. “Holy water, fire, blood and salt. If you don’t believe in unclean spirits what do you believe causes mental disorders?”
“Family history, other people, trying to reconcile incompatible beliefs and being tortured.” The newcomer made a rustling sound. “You’re a very uncurious fellow, aren’t you? Why is that?”
“Uncurious? No.” The priest went on with his preparations. “I know what the problem is and I know what I need to do to help this boy. My main concern at this point is to cool the holy water and heat the irons to the precise points where we will chase the unclean spirit from his mortal frame with the least amount of damage, pain and anguish to the boy himself.”
“But it’s not necessary.”
“But it is, you fool! Do you have any idea what the temple hierarchy will do to him if I can’t save him like this? They’ll destroy his mind and because he’s only half Benarian,” the priest turned to emphasis his point with a shaken finger that stilled as his voice dropped away, “they won’t even try to salvage anything of him.”
“Well then,” the grey and silver feathered angel flexed his wings, “perhaps we should untie the boy and discuss whether his best option is a fast horse or a few spare feathers.”
Face on the priest was a middle-aged man with a worried face who said faintly, “I think I’m going to need some of that tea.”
“Quite possibly,” agreed the angel, “and it wasn’t about theology, it was about sunsets.”“Oh.”