[Memoirs of Sir Dolorem
It has been six days, and Sylvester has still not woken up. By the grace of Solis, he is medically sound, but the Solarium exhaustion has taken a toll on his mind. Inquisitor High Lord has returned to the Holy Land, but the healers are here, keeping a strict eye.
I regret what happened, and if I knew he would go this far for me, I would have rejected the late Archbishop Lucas's order. This boy, merely eight, who should be enjoying his childhood carelessly, under our protection, is here forced to fight to protect others.
It fills my heart that he thinks I'm this important to him, enough to put his own life at risk. It seems it wasn't only me who felt attached after eight years of protecting, feeding, and cleaning him. He reminds me so much of my son, Nicolas… so much that I can't help but think, what if… they were still alive.
But I feel that Sylvester also has many secrets. Some of them came to my notice during this recent ordeal. Keeping them a secret for him is the least I can do to repay this debt on life I now owe. When he truly feels I am trustworthy, I believe he shall share them with me on his own.
Until then, I shall give my all to protect him, even if it costs me my life, for he is the future of the faith, as Lord Inquisitor said.
He is the bar…]
"What are you writing?"
Sir Dolorem turned to look at Sylvester's bed, exhilarated by the voice he unknowingly longed to hear again. "Master Maximilian, please wait! I will call the healers!"
"No, wait! Call the cook. I'm so hungry. Also, no need to worry, I am fine and dandy." Sylvester lifted his hand to look. "From the condition of my hands not being skin and bones anymore, I reckon I am healed."
Thud!—all of a sudden, Sir Dolorem dropped to his knees and held his head low near the bed.
"Master Maximilian, forgive me for what has happened to you. Your well-being was my duty, and I failed at it miserably. I forgot my duty is greater than mere exorcisms, I forgot my first and foremost duty lies towards you. I shall accept any punishment you deem fit."
Sylvester shifted to the bed's edge and then smacked Sir Dolorem on his bald head. "You stain the work I put into saving you by doing this, Sir Dolorem. Get up!"
Sir Dolorem stood up and sat on a wooden stool beside the bed. "Master Maximilian…"
Sylvester raised his hand to gesture to him to remain quiet. "It was worth it! I do not regret going in there to save you. You would have died a slow death and then would have been eaten by that thing otherwise. It's a sad end to a knight.
"But there is one punishment I can think of."
"I will accept any punishment, Master Maximilian."
Sylvester smiled and ordered. "You shall obey my command from now on. I do not need you needlessly putting your life at risk. You being alive to me is more important than your death, remember that."
Sir Dolorem's eyes suddenly flashed with a hint of emotion. A smile appeared on his face as he nodded. "I vow to follow you to the depths of inferno if you order me."
Feeling relaxed and much better, Sylvester moved a bit to make himself comfortable on the bed. Miraj was sleeping inside the blanket, tucked between his side and the arm, after all. 'I hope I don't fail the exam now and… others are alive.'
"One more thing, don't tell mother about what happened here. Or else she will be too frightened every time I leave the Holy Land later." He requested.
"I will not, but Lord Inquisitor was here too. He healed you for three days and nights without moving. He might tell her."
Sylvester was not worried about that. "He likely won't."
'He is the man who is afraid of Xavia holding me back, after all. The last thing he'd want is for her to become possessive now.' Sylvester thought, remembering what had occurred in the Palace of Queen Rexina.
Sir Dolorem quickly checked the door and received a tray full of fine cuisine with various bowls and plates. He then set it all on the table beside Sylvester's bed.
"How long was I unconscious?"
"Six days, Master Maximilian."
'That's a lot…' he thought. "How serious was my condition?"
Sir Dolorem frowned suddenly. "It was a strange situation. You should have been a dead man by the look of your body. There is no record of someone being as Solarium deficient as you, but somehow you were getting better on your own. But the blood quantity in your body was extremely low and constantly dropping, despite no wounds.
"We had to feed you special herbs to produce more blood."
Sylvester nodded and decided not to forget. While casting the shield, he felt something strange happening to himself in the cave. The more his body mass was dried, and his skin got paler, the more magic he felt coming out. From Xavia's lessons, he knew that in cases of Solarium exhaustion, wizards simply drop dead after spending it all. They don't become pale.
"Please eat this." Sir Dolorem gave him a plate full of various foods. There was meat porridge, orange juice, fruits, and roasted liver of some animal.
"Take one plate for yourself and eat with me, Sir Dolorem. I will not hear a no." Sylvester ordered, smirking as well, because he was using the vow the man made not long ago.
Sighing, Sir Dolorem took a plate for himself. Then he prayed before eating. "O' Solis, I thank you for your grace and your light that kept us alive. Thank you for Master Maximilian's healthy recovery and for granting us this food. May your light enlighten us."
The two silently started eating after that. Sylvester was secretly feeding Miraj as well, carefully dropping chunks of meat to his side.
"How were they like?" Sylvester suddenly inquired.
Sir Dolorem knew what was being asked. He took a long sigh and looked at the food bowl aimlessly. "Sweet… kind. She was an amazing woman who added colors to my dull life. She was my joy, the reason I longed to go home. Then she gave me a son, born a few months before you. Little Nicolas, he was a child with intelligent eyes.
"W-When I was assigned to work in the Southern Kingdoms, I had the chance of returning home—only to find my world ruined."
Sir Dolorem's shoulders fell, and emotions overwhelmed him. "All I found were their ashes, stored by the town's monastery."
Sylvester's eyes, too, turned hazy when he heard the description. He knew what it felt like to lose one's family. Diana and his unborn son… were his life's bliss, until they became the memories that broke him. However, he had reached his closure before dying.
"Did you punish the two men who caused the riots?" he inquired.
Sir Dolorem shook his head. "There were more than two hundred people involved in the burning that night. The matter was presided over by the Baron of the region. He deemed the case unsolvable because no one man was responsible for it. However, one contender for the election of Foxholm town's chief was held accountable and punished with death.
"But I believe it was a farce, as the other contender was a distant relative of the Baron."
Sylvester sighed in disappointment. "Injustice! Sir Dolorem, once I complete my education, let's go to the town and punish the real criminals. These arrogant, unfaithful heathens should never be left unpunished, for they are akin to rotten apples on a tree and keep spoiling the others, tarnishing the name of Solis."
"There is no need to."
Sylvester interrupted. "It's not for you. It's for the sake of justice. Where is this Foxholm?"
"In the Highland Kingdom, Master Maximilian."
That brought back some bad memories for Sylvester. He was also born in the Highland Kingdom, in a remote southwestern village. 'I wonder how that healer did as the new village chief.'
The two then ate their food silently. The little talk had brought back some memories for both. Some worth cherishing, some worth sighing over.
The next day, Sylvester felt even better and decided it was time to return and deal with the examination. He also wished to see how many other God's Favored survived.
So, with the Church healers, he proceeded to the luxury stagecoach once belonging to Archbishop Lucas.
The whole town had come to say their final goodbye. The people looked much happier since the mines were open again, and they could extract gold.
Chief Marigold, being a little extra, started crying and hugged Sylvester. "Favored One, this town will forever be grateful for all you have done. Since we have more gold now, please accept this again."
Sylvester didn't even resist and took a bag of gold, not coins this time, but bars. "Thank you, Chief Marigold. I shall donate it to the temple. I will also pray for lasting peace and happiness in this village."
He didn't wish to drag it too long, so he sang a very short hymn for the people to remember him by. Then, he repeated the same movements, turning his hand and the back of the head into a bulb.
♫This land has again been unsoiled,
The plans of the evil family have been foiled.
I wish for eternal lasting warmth here,
Joy may remain for a hundred years.
Fear no evil of darkness or within.
Keep praying and stay far from sin.
Solis shall cleanse your mind from the ruckus.
May his holy light forever enlighten us.♫
"We are blessed!" The people knelt and saw Sylvester enter the luxurious stagecoach.
Then, his stagecoach was escorted away with two Inquisitor knights on single horses. Sylvester kept waving his hand until the town was out of view.
With that, he couldn't help but feel a sense of weight being lifted off his shoulder.
"This took longer than I expected." Finally, Sylvester relaxed in the soft seat where the Archbishop once sat.
"Argh! What now?" Sylvester stopped himself from cursing at the sudden halting of the carriage. They had just moved out of Goldstown, so it was strange that someone would do something suspicious here.
Sir Dolorem looked outside quickly. An exchange of words was going on with the Inquisitor knights at the front and a dozen more ordinary knights on horses. But it didn't take long before the stagecoach was once again moving. However, one of the escorting Inquisitor Knights soon came to the window to report.
"Who were they?" Sir Dolorem asked.
"Knights of Riveria Kingdom, Sir. The Gracia Kingdom has declared war on Riveria, so the soldiers from Riveria are invading the strategic locations of the Gracia Kingdom, such as this gold mining town."