Ridrian spotted Iona and Dylan. Eris, who looked like she had no idea what to do, was holding an unconscious Iona, and Dylan was checking her pulse.
“She’s okay,” Dylan said. “She just fainted.”
“Thank goodness, Iona.” Eris started to hug Iona, but Ridrian leveled Lotuburu at her neck and her face turned ashen.
“Get off,” he growled.
“Get off,” he repeated.
It dawned on Eris that she was in no position to protest. She carefully laid Iona on the ground and stepped away. Sheathing his sword, Ridrian lifted Iona in his arms. As he made to leave the room, Dylan called after him.
“Wait, Your Majesty!”
“Shut up,” Ridrian snapped. “I shouldn’t have trusted incompetent buffoons like you.”
“You can’t take her back to the palace,” Dylan said urgently.
“The Lesprey mansion has the divine defense on. The palace is dangerous!”
“There’s nothing in the palace!” Eris added, desperation in her tone. “You can’t stop the demons!”
Ridrian ignored them. Eris and Dylan exchanged a glance, then hurried out of the building.
Atop the watchtower at the center of the Empire stood a man wearing a white raven mask. He pulled off the mask, his purple eyes curving.
“Hm. Good,” he muttered. “All according to plan.”
He gazed at the light particles floating about and scowled. If he touched one of them, his fingers would burn. He waved them aside with his cane. The second they came in contact with the dark smoke emanating from the cane, the light particles disappeared.
“I didn’t think you’d use such means, Theres.” He chuckled. “How fun.”
He tugged his mask back on. The violet eyes shone brightly.
“Even so, we’re going to win this time. Now, shall we proceed with the next plan?”
Piett waved his cane and turned around, and the white gentleman at the top of the watch tower disappeared without a trace.
Ravis was getting his shoulders and hands treated by a doctor.
“Are you okay, High Priest?”
Ravis held his head, hazy from the morphine. He saw his shoulder and hand covered in white bandages and immediately remembered how he’d been injured.
“How long was I gone!” he demanded, getting off the bed. “What about Iona? Did His Majesty come?”
“It-it’s only been an hour. Neither of them has returned.”
Ravis bit his lips and made to leave the bedroom. Just then, the door swung open.
“Ravis.” It was Ridrian. He had an aggressive look on his face and was carrying an unconscious Iona in his arms.
“Your Majesty!” Ravis exclaimed. “Iona!”
Iona was pale, but she didn’t seem hurt, thank goodness.
“What happened? Why is Iona unconscious?”
Ridrian had initially considered heading to the palace, ignoring Eris and Dylan’s protests. He’d intended to take Iona to the best doctors in the Empire. Then he remembered that Ravis was at the Lesprey mansion.
He wasn’t going to trust the God-serving slave, Ravis had healed Iona a few times before. Besides, he might know something about that pillar of light from earlier.
Ridrian gingerly set Iona on the bed, his face darkening as he stretched a blanket over her.
“Ravis. Treat her.”
Ravis nodded and instantly began to examine her. After confirming that he didn’t have any major injuries, he began healing her with divine power. But today felt a little different. Something inside of her was gently wrapping around Ravis’s divine power. Something about the weird feeling was familiar.
His eyes widened slowly. “This is…”
“What?” Ridrian demanded. “Say it.”
“Iona’s activated divine power.”
“What? Divine power?”
It dawned on Ridrian that his assumptions had been correct. His eyes grew wide. He’d found it weird before, but she really did have divine power.
But if that was true, then now way was he okay.
He clenched his fist. “Nonsense. Doesn’t divine power happen at a very young age? Even you were just a baby…”
He trailed off, staring at the look on Ravis’s face. “You…you knew.”
“Your Majesty,” Ravis said, looking suddenly on edge.
“You knew that Iona had divine power!” Ridrian raged, grabbing him by the collar. “You would dare hide such an important fact?”
Ravis didn’t resist. Instead, he let Ridrian drag him.
“Theres told me when he descended,” he explained. “That she was someone he was looking over. And that’s why he blessed her.”
“What else do you know?”
Ravis was silent for a moment. He gazed into the emperor’s eyes, then turned his gaze.
“He told me to look after her,” he said.
Ridrian knew why Ravis had hesitated to respond. The last time they’d spoke, he’d stabbed him in the shoulder because of the silver ring.
“Oh, it’s so hot,” murmured a voice.
Iona sat up just then, pulling the blanket off herself.