|Temperance lives by (verbumdomini) wrote in repose,|
@ 2016-12-09 21:52:00
|Entry tags:||*log, carver anderson, claire johnson, ella gainsborough|
Log: Carver and Claire send Ella home.
Who: Carver, Claire, and Ella
What: Inquisition gonna inquisite. (TOTALLY A WORD!)
Where: Claire's to nearby the abandoned train station.
When: Uh, fuzzy-ish? I think?
Warnings/Rating: Violence, Grumpy Carver, Use of Latin.
Carver honestly just wanted to crawl in a hole and die, but no one in town was going to let that happen. If he went missing again, he’d worry the people who actually cared for him (why) and send them on another wild goose chase to hunt him down and trap him somewhere. Currently, he was living at the B&B with the word “living” being used very loosely. He ate the bare minimum to survive and he didn’t talk to anyone if he could manage it. He had meant to getting around to speaking to Michael and maybe Atticus, but he simply couldn’t muster the energy for human interaction. The voices of the saints used to fuel and guide him towards normal human behavior. Such a thing was barely possible now. They were gone. They had been gone for a month and he couldn’t figure out why they’d leave.
They weren’t ever really there, were they?
He walked all the way to Claire’s home, wearing a leather jacket, jeans and boots. He carried a briefcase with him that contained Holy items and he had a blessed dagger at his side. Even someone who didn’t know what he was about to do could tell he was on a mission. From God.
It was starting to get chilly (thank God) and he was already dreaming of winter so that he could have an excuse for staying indoors and away from people. Which was exactly the opposite from what he was about to do now. Serving the Lord was something he desperately wanted to do again, but he didn’t know if he was ready. Or capable. Or wise enough to figure out why he had fallen so far. Carver could feel the wrath of the Holy Spirit inside him, guiding him towards Claire’s house so that they could smite the flower demon and bask if not just for a moment in the Lord’s light.
And, see Claire. He wanted to see Claire. She held his damaged heart whether she realized it or not. He hated how positive she could remain in the face of his anger and gloom. He hated how attractive she was when she talked about slaying demons. He hated so many things about the Bellatora that he couldn’t even think straight most of the time. Walking to her house, he was only chastising himself for thinking about her. So, by the time he arrived, Carver was clearly in a terrible mood. Banging on her door with his fist and grumbling to himself when she opened the door.
Her, standing there in the threshold with the warmth of her home behind her, made him hrmph! How dare she be pleasant?
“Hello.” He muttered, trying his best to not seem infatuated with her.
Claire was still getting everything prepared when she heard the banging on the door. Her hair was still damp from the shower, pooled messy on top of her head as she dropped everything to rush towards the man she didn't plan to keep waiting at all. There was so much happening in the town, it felt good to actually be able to do something about it. She would be lying if she tried to say she was not preparing to kill, and she was unfortunately very excited about it. Preparation for battle was different for everyone, but for Claire it involved slipping into the battleworn leather catsuit that served as her armor.
When she pulled the door open, Claire looked every ounce the opposite of the innocence she exuded the first time he had been here. Now she was a walking arsenal in painted on leather, pouches full of holy items and bandoliers of throwing knives criss-crossed over her chest and hips. But, her infatuation was plain on her face, her smile spread wide and accepting in spite of how grumpy Carver appeared. All Claire had wanted for quite some time was for Carver to be here, and now he was. Joy of joy and rapture of raptures. "Come in," she beckoned with one of her conspicuously ungloved hands for him to enter, "I'm almost ready."
The living room had practically turned into an armory. On the table where there had once been wine and cheese that they had shared when he first arrived, there were now blades of all sizes and several guns. Ritual components in tiny containers littered the couch cushions, spread haphazard in her means of cherry picking what she needed. And there, leaning against the fireplace, was her spear. The light played tricks along edge of ancient blade, seeming to radiate a soft glow that pulsed slow and rhythmic.
"She knows we're looking for her," Claire strapped one of the longer daggers to her leather-clad thigh, securing the sheath in place with brass buckles, "We will need to hunt her down. She has probably put up traps wherever she is." It was difficult to maintain a professional facade when all she wanted was to kiss him until he smiled again. Well, as much as Carver ever smiled.
Carver seemed shocked and then angry at himself for being shocked at the sight of her. This was what rumors and glances between missions before Repose told him about her. A battle ready warrior covered in weaponry and born to vanquish. Her smile was the only thing that reminded him that this was bella the woman he cared about and shunned for months. His hand reached out for her bare one automatically and he hated himself for it, but he allowed his fingers to touch hers and tug them into lacing together. “Hello.” His expression lightened like sun barely filtering through a very cloudy day.
He let her go and then stalked into the living room, admiring the blades and guns that were on display. He felt a strong attraction to the violence of being an Inquisitor, as many agents did, but he had once tried hard to be nonviolent. It was a laughable thought considering the world he was part of, but he was trained by nuns and heard the voices of Saints for so long that he always felt that there had to be another path. With the Saints gone and the nuns thousands and thousands of miles away, he was free to admire weaponry.
Carver stood a few feet from the spear, watching it radiate the wrath of the Holy Spirit. “I wonder where she’s hiding.” He mused dryly. “It doesn’t matter. If we start at the store, it’ll be easy to track her demon scent. I’ll never forget that dying rot smell she has on her.” Carver said with hate and then looked up at the Bellatora, struggling to keep her expression professional while they talked business. His frown flipped for a second, like it didn’t want to be there and he cleared his throat to keep himself from doing or saying something he’d regret. After all, he was still mad at her. Or, at least, pretending to be.
Her breath hitched in her throat, and Claire lit up like the Star of Bethlehem when his fingers slid between hers. It was completely unexpected, no matter how right it felt for him touch her. Maybe it was instinct to clasp her fingers back, or maybe it was a power greater than the world that tightened her hand, but as she gazed up into his stern face that hid the softness of his heart she knew that most of it was because it was what she wanted. And when he dropped her hand? It was only sheer will that kept her from looking crushed. She couldn't worry about that right now. They had business to take care of.
Claire hated guns. They were clunky. Clumsy. Loud. Inelegant. That didn't stop her from picking up one of the blessed pistols and snapping the holster onto one of her belts. Even more than guns, Claire hated that violence was such an easy answer. Peace. Peace was the goal. It was always the goal. But peace was meant for other people. Claire hadn't felt this normal in years. Her body had been honed for war, and she was so very angry at the flower demon for what she did to Carver. The town's suffering was much more important in the grand scheme of things, and logically Claire understood that, but her feelings were overshadowing some of the more rational points as she armed herself to the teeth.
"There is no where she will be able to hide. Unless she has decided to turn tail and scuttle back to Hell of her own accord." There was disdain to her voice, contempt from a warrior to a coward's actions. Claire snagged a long cardigan off of the back of the couch and slipped it on over leather and blades. There was a moment respite in her thoughts when her fingers worked through the sleeves, a memory of fruit stands in Rome and an act of forgiveness. That was a different situation, and this demon deserved no mercy. "I made some purge potions if we are hit with the flowers," a pat of one of the pouches emblazoned with golden cross on the front, "Though they should be last resort, since they will take us out of commission." It was increasingly difficult to keep her eyes off of Carver, busying herself with minor double checks of everything she had on her body.
When her hand wrapped around the shaft of the spear, the air shifted within the room as the missing puzzle piece from the universe fell into place. Claire and the ancient lance were bonded by blood, and together they radiated Holy Vengeance. "Is there anything else you need, or shall we head over there?" The soft grey knit hung down to her knees and covered the obscene amount of weaponry that she wore. Not that she needed any of it beyond her spear. Better to be prepared than to be dead. And much better to leave now than to stay in private with Carver and find reasons to procrastinate so that maybe he'd hold her hand again. Which he probably wouldn't. Carver still seemed very angry with her.
He didn’t bother keeping his eyes off her. Carver leaned on the nearby wall, hands in his pockets and he stared as she spoke, as she reached for that cardigan, as she had a moment as if she were being transported into a completely different train of thought. He nodded at the potions. “My most useful gift is still gone.” Carver was of course speaking about his communication with the Saints that had been severed once the flowers infected him. “But, my sensitivity to demons should still be an asset. I’m not sure how the Lord works through me now and I believe this is the best way to find out.” Carver had felt as though he had fallen from grace, but his belief in God was still there even if his morality had been greyed and blurred. He still wanted to be an agent for the Lord, if he was allowed to be.
Claire asked if he needed anything else and he stared at her for a long moment before he shook his head. “No, bella.” The want for her was strong in his voice, but he denied himself. All good Catholics were skilled in self denial. If he let her back in easily, she’d hurt him again. That’s what he kept telling himself to stay away. He moved past her out the door and then made his way towards the flower shop. Walking there in silence, he found himself glancing at her hand and resisting the urge to hold it again. He felt like such a fool.
Once they arrived, it was clear that the demon had fled, but her smell still lingered. Rotting flowers sweet with death. He touched a nearby wall and turned his head. “I sense she went that way. What do you think?” Carver was still angry at her, but on the job (so to speak) he trusted her judgement implicitly. She was the Bellatora and only a truly jealous fool would blind himself from understanding her power.
Her name was Temperance. If there was one thing she understood, it was self-restraint. So when he said there was nothing that he needed, her gaze lingered on his a moment too long before replying with a silent nod. They were ready. She locked the door behind them as they made their way out into the night air, crisp and chilled with the promise of Autumn. Since she was lugging a giant spear around, Claire led them to the flower shop in the least public ways that were possible. Carver wasn't exactly arguing in his grumpy silence, and she wondered if trying to be close to him was a huge mistake. As she had told Atticus, she could never give Carver the lifetime of love that he deserved. He needed someone normal to grow old with. Someone that wouldn't wrong him. It was difficult for her to admit when she desperately wished that she could be that woman for him and knew that she couldn't.
As they approached the flower store, the personal issues were pushed aside. Claire couldn't smell anything, and unless she called upon the spear or used a ritual, she couldn't sense demons either. His ability to work by touch was impressive and garnered a look of admiration in her eyes when he spoke. "I think you're probably right." Then she remembered what he had said about the Saints and being unsure how the Lord would work through him. And it wasn't that she didn't trust him, she simply wanted to confirm what he already knew to be true. "I'll double-check," she mumbled and touched the pad of her thumb to the edge of the blade, sharp enough to cut through her skin with no effort. A drop of her blood rolled down the silver blade and absorbed into the metal with a shimmer of energy.
Her eyes rolled back into her head and heavy lids shut to try and concentrate on where the spear wanted them to go. "Yes," her voice was doubled over on itself and unearthly, gossamer syllables that spun and clung to the silver moonlight which bathed their every step, "She is that way." The blade of the spear sliced through the air to point straight to where the demon was, a supernatural compass that set the wicked creature to true north. There were buildings in the way, but the direction was still the same centered right upon the pulse of the flower demon. Much like Michael's sword, the spear Temperance held hungered and the longer she held it with her bare hands the more she strengthened their bond.
"What is over there?" The question came when she opened her eyes once more and blinked out of the trance. "Where is there a good place to hide?" There was no sense of distance to the pull, so she simply started walking in that direction. They would know when they arrived, but the questions were more to get Carver talking to her. Even if it was only business, it was better than the awkward silence.
This wasn’t the first time Carver found himself near those who were more powerful than him. He didn’t know his value anymore, especially with his gift gone, but he was a determined servant of the Lord. He would support the Bellatora and her spear in hunting and killing this demon even if he was nearly inconsequential to her. His soul, a fractured and ugly thing, pulled toward the darkness. It did not seek it out like a sparrow hunting a beetle. No, it was more like a cockroach scuttling towards a dark haven. Safe from sight. Carver’s self hatred simmered as it always did and he took a deep breath to clear his mind.
It did not work. He only thought of the forest, of failure, of regret. These were the siren songs of Hell, so at least he knew he was close. “I can smell it.” He responded at a whisper and then followed her past the buildings. “She won’t be fast enough to dodge from tree to tree.” He felt his ribcage open and pull him towards an area of dry brush and thicket. “There.” Carver thought about lighting it on fire, but that would not only be uncontrollable, but ineffective against one of Hell’s own.
Ella had taken entirely to remaining within the vicinity of the abandoned train station. Her apartment was above stairs, but she didn't fear venturing from it. In truth, she feared nothing. She'd sold the flower shop because it was inconvenience, and for no other reason. She'd no need of the money. She'd never needed money, not since she'd bartered body and soul for a fully belly. She was an independent gal, glad rags and all, and she'd come to this wretched place merely because it was required of her. Now, Boss was long gone, and he was likely wandering in another skin. She knew Corinthian wandered, and she knew Rory had been taken by the scientists. She knew it was all over, and only Janus would survive this. Janus, who she hated so very much, and who she truly would adore sabotaging before she left this infernally dull place.
And Ella knew they would come for her. The self-professed demon hunters, and the idea thrilled her wildly. She wouldn't mind going out with rather a bright and blinding bang! They'd be doing her a favor, truly. When she'd arrived here, she wanted naught but sunlight and sky. Now, she wanted the heat of home and her gilded cage. But she did like having herself a bit of fun, and so she'd been preparing. It was rather a good way to pass the time.
The direction in which they headed, the bush, the trees, all of it was honeysuckle and magic. Dark, dark magic that tasted of sin upon the tongue. A sniff would bring dark thoughts. Not pretty little dark thoughts, because she'd enough of playing nice. These dark thoughts were destruction borne, and they called for meat to be sucked clean of bones. And should her little pursuers look carefully, they would be able to follow that sin to where Ella sat.
A small garden had been crafted beside the abandoned train station, and Ella sat there in her glad rags, waiting as if smiting was ever the bee's knees. She sat there, a bus ticket proudly displayed as she fanned herself unnecessarily with it. It was her one last jab at Janus, because the ticket glowed between her fingers, and perhaps they would go looking once she'd departed dearly.
Around Ella, flowers of all colour bloomed riotous and entirely dangerous.
Claire wasn't powerful. The Spear was powerful. The Armor (back in Rome) was powerful. Claire was merely human. She'd learned how to fight, she'd learned how to hunt, she'd learned ancient languages, and she'd learned ritual magic. Perhaps some people would equate that with power because they were not common knowledge, but she had no idea how the world really worked. Ask her to list out different supernatural creatures that use ice magic, but do not ask the woman to drive a car.
The flowers? Expected, and not amusing in the slightest. Claire pulled the cardigan off from her armor and let it fall to the ground to shed what semblance of innocence she may have had. Spear sliced through the nearby demonic flora with a blinding colorless holy fire, leaving nothing behind in the wake of the blade but salt, and sulfur, and pure white ash. Claire was often unassuming, but tonight she embodied the avenging angel of legend that was merely whispered of in abominations' nightmares.
Wasn't it a shame that the flower fica couldn't be killed nice and slow? Claire knew means of torture that broke demons, torture she had used on the Cardinals until they begged for the sweet release of death. The leather-clad soldier stood perfectly still among the flowers, unnaturally so, with her arms at her sides and spear loose in her fingers. She was not standing at attention but at rest, like a savage animal confident of the brutality coiled up inside of her. There was no need to posture.
"This ends tonight." She didn't want to kill. That wasn't her. That wasn't Temperance. She didn't want to kill. She didn't. The bile of sin spores clung to the back of her throat. Why was that demon holding a bus ticket? No matter. It would be investigated later. After the unassuming woman was sent back to Hell. Claire's eyes stayed glued, unblinking, upon the flower woman and ready to strike as her hand motioned to Carver. He could begin the ritual. Hopefully he wasn't currently as drawn to blood as Claire was.
Carver stood behind Claire, looming in the darkness. He was half. Half here, half not. Half the light of heaven, half the fires of Hell. The Saints had kept him from faltering for a long time. Their whispering like a ball of twine he could follow back home. They were gone now and the only thing he had was a broken soul and anger towards anything that sought to do the same to others that was done to him. He was powerful. That connection between up there and down below, but it was untrained and forbidden. Carver locked it up tight. Or, so he thought.
Temperance didn’t want to kill, but Carver did. He wanted this woman to be dust that couldn’t even make it back home to her cage. “It looks like she’s heading back now.” Carver murmured and eyed the ticket, finding the symbolism without realizing it might actually be literal. “Is this what she wants?” He whispered to Temperance with a look at the flower demon before kneeling and beginning the ritual to banish the demon. It was an old Inquisitor tradition that anyone worth their salt knew how to do. But, there was another way. One that would rip this demon from this earth cruelly.
“After what she did to me, you think she deserves and easy way out?” Carver asked and the air sparked, like something strange was happening to the ritual he was creating. He tempted her with cruelty that was bright and righteous as the Holy Spirit. A bad combination.
Ella watched the woman and her spear, and wasn't that the cat's meow? It was delightful, and Ella continued to fan herself with that glowing ticket, as if this was a show put on merely for her thrill and enjoyment. She was a diva in a theater box, high above a crowd, and they were the stage her gaze was set upon. She even clapped daintily, that ticket still between her fingers. "Bravisima, gal," she told the woman with the dagger. Sweet, sweet divinity!
The not-quite dead woman's attention turned to Carver now. "We're old friends, aren't we?" she asked with intimate lasciviousness that fairly dripped from entertained mouth. Her freckles were brightly in attendance with her mirth, and the flowers that remained around her whispered indiscretions and brought doubt to little human ears. "Is this she?" she continued, leaning back further, as if to better peruse the woman, as if she and Carver had myriad confidences between them. Ella's gaze was assessing. "I'm not quite sure, darling," she told Carver. "I rather think she could do better." And she leaned closer again, this time in confidence, as if imparting dear secrets to dear Carver. "She knows it herself, you see. You're rather beneath her." Ella looked very sorry for that. She did adore a good love story.
But she did like the sullen boy-man, and Ella strove to make amends, truly she did. "If you embraced all that darkness I can see swirling within you, then she'd find you thrilling, my love." The flowers whispered the truth of Ella's words, they agreed and they murmured about all the yummy darkness in the angry man stood there.
Ella sat back again, and her ticketed hand pointed at the fierce be'daggered woman. "She likes darkness, you see. Take my word, darling, she's a sinner, just as you long to be, just as you are at your dead and filthy core." And with that, the flowers bloomed riotous and tall. They struck out with limbs made of green. They scratched and clawed offensively. Ella, you see, had never died. She was a plaything, and she was ready to become bones. And so the flowers did her bidding, they attacked in tumult, and she sat back and awaited anger and the end of things.
"She has accepted her fate." Yet Claire was not entirely certain. This had to be a trap. It seemed too easy, and the demon was absolutely thrilled by their presence. Carver's presence specifically. The sheltered warrior wasn't the master of social cues, but even she understood what the demon was implying. Her eyes darted to Carver, part acceptance that she did not believe he would, but more of the hurt that he had so adamantly been trying to bring out in her before. There was no logic behind how angry she was with the idea of him being with that woman, but she absolutely was and Claire shut down cold with a warrior's detachment.
"What she deserves is not for us to dole out." Bitter distaste tainted her words, but whatever was happening with the ritual was wrong. She could feel it. "That is what she wants," but the demon knew too much. Or assumed. Either way it was too close to revelation of her friendship with Daniel for her taste. Daniel deserved her patience and mercy. This demon did not. With that, any trace of Claire had vanished, and the weapon she was born to be took over. "She will die. We do this right." She voiced her view to Carver. Did she have any intention of stopping him if he decided to continue? Not at all. Temperance would not even acknowledge the demon's taunts. She did not deserve it. The demon deserved pain.
Especially with the onslaught of spores and attacking flowers. Temperance was whirling dervish of sterling blade and lignum vitae that strands of silver moonlight spun through shadow to cling to. Carver was her priority as he needed to finish the ritual without being clawed at by the attacking flowers. And Temperance did what she knew how to do best. She prayed. With every step she took, with every swing of her spear, she prayed for forgiveness. "Confiteor Deo omnipoténti," she slashed at thorny vine which clawed at Carver before erupting into holy fire from touch of the spear. "Beátæ Mariæ semper Vírgini," she spun and flipped, guided by the wind to strike at incoming threats fast and true. "Beáto Michaéli Archángelo," a waver of sudden pain in her voice as thorns pierced through leather and drew blood down the length of her back and across her calves. "Beáto Ioánni Baptístæ," the girl limped back into action, instinct from years of training guiding her through the pain like a wave to the beach. "Sanctis Apóstolis Petro et Paulo," the whirl of blade cut through the air to signal slash and shred of attacking flora. "Ómnibus Sanctis, et vobis, fratres," holy flame burst from sliced stalks as she danced with death, a long lost lover finally returned. "Quia peccávi nimis cogitatióne, verbo et ópere," because spilling blood was who she was, and boiling anger inside of her made it easy to fall into habits ingrained into every fiber of her being.
The Bellatora stood tall as ash and sulfur fluttered down like gentle snow around them, her steeled eyes pierced solid upon the demon, double-edged and dangerous. Her fist came up to strike her breast over her heart with each admission of fault, "Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa." This was her most grievous fault. Pray for her, and forgive her for what she was about to do. Spear poised for attack, Temperance rushed the woman with every intention to run her through with the holy relic. Nowhere fatal. The demon didn't deserve the release of death quite so quickly. The ritual would determine that.
Carver shook his head at the notion he might be rotten to his core. There were times in Italy where he worked alongside the faithful and it made him feel unfixable. A broken toy of the Holy Spirit that was the first to be torn apart by demons. The Inquisition built him up, it tore down the worry he was not good enough and replaced it with the very wrath of God. It made him harsh and a little hollow inside, but when was being full of love and life ever done him any favors? He looked up at the demon and stared at her with darkness she would have known from the place between here and Hell. That long elevator drop. He wasn’t rotten, he was corrupted. And, the Bellatora was righteous fury in steel and fire.
The thorns slashed and reached for him and Carver didn’t flinch. He continued with the rite, perhaps indulging in the pain like a good Catholic was taught to do. The only thing that made him hesitate was when Bellatora beat her chest and prayed for forgiveness. Carver knew that a good Inquisitor was supposed to take note of small joys such as bringing pain to those born of evil. But, Carver was no good paladin.
Blood poured from his arms and face from the strikes of thorns and the sting of their bite made him grind his teeth. He whispered in Latin and then pressed his hands together, forming an red circle on the ground before him. The ground opened and black mist swirled in the middle, kissing the flowers nearby and inviting them back down to their hellish garden. “It’s ready, my bella.” Carver said, eyes closed. The eternal battle between Heaven and Hell tore his emotions open from the grave they had been resting in. He felt everything in a rush when a portal to below was open. Every pain, every love.
And, so she was bella, not Bellatora. The portal crackled with strong magic. Hell invited them all in, Carver could hear the demons singing.
Ella was quite pleased with the emotions she saw on the woman's face, and wasn't that a real dandy display of wonderment? Ella clapped with slow precision, her applause rather like the press of hands offered at a fine opera house. The woman transformed, and Ella behaved as if it was all for her benefit. "Oh, lovely!" She looked toward Carver. "Isn't she magnificent, darling?" But she turned her expression pitying, the corners of her mouth tilting downward. "If she weren't so much the bee's knees, then you might stand more of a chance, darling. You know I'd have you find love where you wished it, but look at her! She will never be for you. Oh, dear." She clapped a hand daintily over her mouth. Poor, poor Carver. "You know the truth of my words. You both do. It's important to accept, darlings."
But, darlings, Ella wanted this death, but not as a plaything. The impressive woman came at her with the spear, and Ella knew she would not make this a thing of quickness. There was a portal opening, and she glanced down at it a moment, and she allowed the spear to pierce her, but she wasn't done. No, darlings, not yet. "Torture?" she asked, and she giggled through the pain of the spear. "How decidedly unchristian of you both. And you say the demons are the evil ones?" The words came with difficulty, but they came. "I've seen more cruelty from both of you than I have from any of them."
The portal crackled, and Ella smiled at it. "You're helping me home, which I must thank you for." And the way she bled, it indicated the truth of it. This woman, Ella, she was no demon. She was not dead. She was a human, perfectly alive and with vitals diminishing. She touched her fingers to where she bled stickily, and she smiled the sweetest and most angelic of smiles at them. "But be it on your hands that you killed a mortal, a human, and you cast her into Hell. No salvation here, because it's personal, isn't it? This is revenge, and it tastes sweet on both your lips. Oh, dear, you are stained little things."
With a flick of wrist, she called a vine to her, one that wrapped tight around her own throat. If this torture proved too terrible, and if she didn't lose consciousness quickly enough, then the vines would finish it for them.
Maybe it was the woman's lies. Maybe it was Carver calling her 'Bella' after he had treated her so coldly. Maybe it was the prick and scratch of thorns that left her blood exposed to sin spores. Whatever it was, Claire had gone past the point of no return. "What were you expecting? Forgiveness? Your sins run deeper than even we are allowed to forgive." With the spear inside of Ella, Claire braced her stance and picked the woman up with the weapon to flip the demon up and over her head to slam her down on her back right in front of the portal. Claire's strength alone shoved the spear deep to keep the Ella pinned to the ground. "Did you expect that if there is a threat to our way of life, for us to not fight for what is right? Or have you been so blinded by their lies that you honestly believe what you have been given is kindness?"
Claire chided the woman as she paced back and forth over top of Ella, but seemed unmoved by the vine around her throat or the massive weapon that stuck through the left side of her chest. "You chose your path and this is the end you determined through your actions. He will bring you home in the final days. Everyone will be forgiven and welcomed into His arms. It is not your fault you lost faith in Him. He never lost faith in you. He loves you still, even though you turned your back to Him," Claire tilted her head and considered the woman beneath her, a shimmer of purity in her eyes that matched the glow of the spear which pulsed with each beat of Ella's heart, and the Bellatora simply knew. Knowledge reflected in the softer tone, "You wanted to survive. The strongest instinct we have. They used that to lure you in."
If there seemed to be a moment of compassion, a brief flash of empathy to the temptation the woman had given into, it was erased just as quickly. Claire's features were razor sharp, eyes narrowed with righteous fury, "How foolish. All you were fed were lies." The stink of Hell spread through the clearing from the open portal, the screeching songs of the demons echoing around them. She ripped the spear free with no concern for the woman's well-being and she began a chant. The words were ancient, in a language long since dead, but she spoke with precision and conviction. She invoked the power of the Christ, she willed the evil from the world, and the words shook the air around the clearing. From the moon above, light poured into the area, eradicating shadow and leaving nowhere for anyone to hide. Brighter than a snowfield at high noon, she called down the Holy Spirit to take this demon from their world. The only darkness around leaked from the rip into Hell, and even those shadows shirked away. What effect it had on the others was personal to them, but for Claire it was as warm and comfortable as a security blanket.
No, it was not how other Inquisitors completed the ritual. It was how the Bellatoras through time had done so, and one of the reasons they were only called in for the massive threats. It would also mark little Ella when she got back into Hell, letting her bossman know exactly who had sent her home. Remember, Claire had called down a holy war upon this little thorn in her side, and that didn't go away quite as easily as one would like. "Finish her," Claire said to Carver, "Send her home." This demon was not her enemy. She had attacked Carver personally. True justice could only be meted out by his hand. An eye for an eye. All he had to do was push her in, if he didn't want her to suffer any further. But if he wanted to cut out her lying tongue and disembowel her as well, Claire didn't see any problem with that. Sometimes, people needed to get hit.
Carver’s focus shook as the demons from hell began to sing their siren song. It reminded him of those old black and white cartoons they’d play for free at the library. The films that weren’t too scary for kids those days but now it was just unnerving. High pitched and picking up speed like a strong wind. And, familiar. Like an old friend. “Cecilia.” Carver whispered and ached, hand gripping his chest like his heart had broken. Cecilia, the would-be Saint that used to follow him around wasn’t a Saint at all?
The flower demon and Claire spit words at each other, the darkness and light always at an eternal standstill with each other without anything in between. Except him. The flower demon was right, he enjoyed hurting her much more than God would ever approve of. And, Claire was also right. What was the point in forgiving her for her evil? She might have once been something good, but Hell corrupted to the core. Rot inside and out.
Anger pulsed through him and he shouted, ugly and raw like that fresh wound into hell. She said finish her, so Carver did. The portal welcomed the demon back in, vines grabbing hold and tugging her down to her home. Carver didn’t watch, eyes squeezed shut and he wrapped his arms around his sides, kneeling in front of the portal as if he were going to fall in after her. After the flower demon was gone, the song of the demons started to fade, save for one voice. Claire would hear it too, the beautiful song of what Carver had truly believed was a Saint.
He listened to the song a moment too long and then with a twist of his hand, closed the portal up. The ground reformed and then the world went quiet. Carver shook and as the world went silent, Claire could hear him sobbing. He shook his head and then stumbled to his feet. “I need to be alone.” He whispered to her and then turned to vanish into the night.
Claire watched. She did not tear her vision away from the both of them, her own doubts crawling through her brain like maggots through rotten meat. As the rage boiled just beneath the surface, she wanted him to hurt the demon. She wanted to see that all her little implications had been lies. It was wrong, of course it was, but it was very human. Even the acceptance that perhaps Carver wanted to follow his alleged consort down into Hell.
Cecilia's voice rang clear as a bell, easily recognizable amid the rest of the hellish sounds, and Claire's eyes went wide. The warrior didn't flinch, battle reflexes honed by demon trickery, but she understood what had happened. Everything Carver believed had been torn away from him in that one moment. But what if it hadn't? They were demons. They manipulated. It could all be just a ploy to drag him down, to break the faith of an Inquisitor.
The blinding white light died away as the portal closed, leaving them both cloaked in the darkness of night. Claire was still angry, filled with unholy fury, but the sobs stopped all of that. The spear collapsed to the ground, abandoned in favor of solace. Her hand reached out for him, a natural offer of comfort that was turned away when he got up to leave. "Carver," she tried to call after him to no avail, the sting of his words an unrelenting gnaw of ache in her heart.
Maybe he was right. Maybe he should be alone. Carver knew what he needed better than she would. He had learned a terrible truth, and she only caused him pain. He needed help from someone other than her. Claire picked up the spear once more from the bloody dirt, and quietly went about sanctifying the grounds. "In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti..."