Heir of Depravity

Perjury of the Past - Part 4

Locus Reflexionis of the Church Sanctorum

Lucinova

Casteria

~

Unlike the Domum of Scribes, the architects of the Sanctorum spared no costs with the furnishings of the hall of reflection. Styled with marble and tiles of teal, the room was meant to represent the heavenly realm which one may eventually ascend to, should they be ever loyal and submissive to the will of Pater Deus.

Upon entering through the chamber door – which was made not of the typical cherry but, rather, from the rare white oak found to the west, to represent the purity and sanctity of the room itself – one would find themselves already set upon the aisle that led to the holy altar on the south wall. The stones were encrusted with crystals to give the illusion that you were treading above the stars themselves. On either side of the aisle were rows of pews – made from the same white oak as the door. The frontmost pews were cushioned with silk and embroidered pillows. Only a Praefectus had the right to sit upon them. The rest of the priests were condemned to the fate of numb asses.

Angelus calmly made his way towards the altar – haste was not acceptable when one was required to search within themselves for sins that they inevitably made. Three steps of marble carried him up to the altar stone, upon which sat a gold bowl, filled to the brim with holy water. The requirement was that in order for one to successfully reflect upon themselves, they had to gaze into the water and study their reflection. If they saw anything other than themselves, then they were blessed with the holy vision. No one was bold enough to lie about it, yet, though Angelus wouldve been amused if someone had been. In fact, hed take to them quickly – not many brothers had a good sense of humor. Or a sense of humor, at all.

The priest sighed and gazed down into the water. Its glassy surface offered him a clear look at his own face. Since mirrors were not allowed in their dorms, visits to the Locus Reflexionis were the only time he could track any sort of growth into full manhood. That and when Diego introduced him to a razor for his sudden morning stubble some years ago.

He sighed when he was done – not interested in his dark features – and dipped two fingers into the holy water, bringing the spirit of god to his forehead. If it weren a requirement, he wouldn look at himself. Without mirrors, he was good at convincing himself that his life within the church was a destiny of which he had no ability to fight off. His grandfather, the emperor, sent him on behalf of the royal family, since they were obligated partake in the church, some way or another. This meant he would have no home to return to. It was his grandfathers will and, ultimately, gods will – or so hed been told. But when he gazed upon the features that he had received from his father alone – the undeniably Krovic features – something welled in his stomach, something making him revolt every time he was forced to bow or submit to some imperceptible force.

Begrudgingly bowing before the altar, he recited the necessary chant.

”Ego sum nihil. Tu sunt omnia. ”

He trusted Praefectus Diego – he trusted that he transliterated the letter precisely as he read it, withholding nothing from Angelus, nor outright lying. The vicar sent to Rodakrov, however, wasn so immaculate with his precision. He knew this not because Angelus was personally familiar with the vicar, but rather because of the vague wording of his fathers demise.

Angelus was sent to the Church Sanctorum at the age of fifteen and was taken from Rodakrov by his grandfather only four years before that. That gave him eleven years to get to know Bozhidar. Granted, in the large scheme of things, that was not much, especially considering his full faculties were not even apparent before, say, seven years old. Still, though, if there was one thing he knew of his father, it was that he wasn a man who would simply die in his sleep. It was a far too complacent way to go.

Put if that were the case – and Angelus knew it to be so – could this have… no.

He bowed before the altar once more and crossed to the back rows of pews. It would make for a quicker exit.

Nikolai would never have killed father, Angelus decided firmly and succinctly as he took his seat, making sure to keep quiet out of respect of the few other priests scattered throughout. No matter how mad father was, Nikolai wouldn . He couldn .

It had been seven years since Angelus had last seen his youngest brother. At the time that the news of Nikolais illness had reached him, he was still under Praefectus Diegos tutelage, learning the magnificent science of medicine and pharmaceuticals.

In his plea letter, King Bozhidar sent for the Sanctorums top alchemist – something that was overlooked at the time, both due to his deteriorating faculties and possible mistranslations on his side. Thus, the letter was passed on to Diego, and not the Praefectus of alchemy.

The list of Nikolais symptoms, along with his swift digression of health, led Diego to believe that it could be none other than the Cattle Plague, of which there was no treatment, aside from pain management until the ultimate and inevitable death of those stricken.

Father Diego wished to travel to Castle Mechi – he found it uncharacteristic of King Bozhidar to seek help from the church, since Krovic physicians, while unorthodox in their practices, possessed a high rate of success during various methods of treatment for various illnesses and diseases. And what was more, to trust a Casterian with the very life of his heir apparent raised suspicions – at least to Diego. But ultimately, the Elders refused to send him, claiming it to be a waste, since Nikolai was as good as dead, anyway.

Instead, to keep good-will between the Krovic king and the church, they sent Praefectus Vitale, the Prima alchemist. The art of alchemy was much less in demand, so his time was dispensable, and anyway, they despised him. He was young – far too young for them to offer him any sort of respect – and objective to a fault. He could never be trusted to blindly follow the church – not without reason – and that terrified the Elders. Sending him off to the Mad Lands to be infected by the sickly Krovic prince mustve felt like a blessing to them from Pater Deus himself.

In their eternal kindness, the Elders allowed Angelus to accompany him. Perhaps, the priest mulled, thinking back, it was because they didn want a Krov within their highly respectable inner circle. But that didn matter now. What mattered was that he was the only one to return.

The time he was able to spend with his younger brother was eye-opening. His way of life – the way of life for a Kazbirati – it was something that, even at eleven, Angelus knew nothing of. It was not comfortable – not cushy like the lazy days he spent within the Casterian palace – and yet, there was a bond of blood that Angelus had never before experienced.

While Vitale forced Bozhidar to keep out of Nikolais room for the sake of containing the disease, he was never far away. He would ask after his sons condition excessively. In times of uncertainty or irresolution regarding the treatment of Nikolai, he would send in Akim, his snow tiger – a creature that was disturbingly well-tamed, as if it was a human soul trapped within the body of a vicious, man-eating beast.

The massive cat, whose body was not affected by a plague originating in livestock, would climb upon Nikolais bed and rest his massive head upon the boys legs, watching with bright, discerning eyes as Vitale and Angelus concocted one serum after another.

Some few weeks in, Nikolai awoke from the near comatose state they had found him in. So many chemicals and elixirs had been administered to him in that span of time that it was impossible to know for sure which ones were effective – but neither Angelus nor Vitale cared, as they were far from finished. Awake did not mean on the mend. It did mean, however, that they were to be graced with Nikolais mercurial tongue and short temper. His words were sharp and venomous, but not indicative of his character, at all.

When the Krovic boy stroked Akims head, massaged his ears, his touch was gentle and affectionate. And, most importantly, when he was deemed no longer contagious, the very first interaction between father and son was a long embrace, stippled with the Mad Kings tears of relief.

There was absolutely no way Nikolai killed his father.

Their father.

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