Nightmarish figures darted through the streets of ‘Caliet’ on this night as they did any other eve, clad in bedraggled bandages. They were lepers, forgotten folk who feasted quite literally on any hapless dregs of the gutter.
From the relative safety of a ledge above the street out of sight, peeled away one of their number. A gaunt wretch by the name of ‘Dollifer’ who looked on as thieves or vagabonds were clubbed and dragged away to one of the many large grates in the road and taken beneath the city where they would be prepared for the evening meal.
Dollifer was skinnier than most of his cannibalistic community as he did not partake in the grisly feasts. It reviled him to a point where the others could barely tolerate him. They even made the comment that his disfigurement was even more hideous to look upon than the rest of them. So while their sagging faces and missing protrusions could be seen through their semi covered wrappings, they insisted that Dollifer meticulously clad himself at all times.
His attention was drawn to the sight of a pirate and a prostitute being dragged away unconsciously but then his ears pricked up to a familiar sound…a young girl struggled, giving muffled screams at the filthy half fingerless hands, then he felt his felt plummet as a nauseous lump to the bottom of his stomach.
It was ‘Ampelia’, an angelic owner of a market stall that he had watched from afar and at night, albeit unbeknownst to her, he listened as she sang for hours of the beauty and the life of her village, but now she was gone. He would hear her no more.
Dollifer made ready to climb down from where he stood when he noticed that another person sat on another ledge not far from him.
“Greetings.” Said the man clad in white.
Even seated, Dollifer could see he was tall, even taller and broader of frame than any other man he had seen before. He was clad as a warrior of nobility, with gold leafed greaves, gauntlets, breastplate and a magnificent sword.
“How long have you been here?!” called the gaunt man.
“I have watched you for quite awhile, Dollifer!” he called pleasantly. “And in answer to your unasked question, I am ‘Michael’, a soldier of my master.”
“Who is your master?!”
“Someone you are yet to meet, but that is not important! Why do you not rescue Ampelia?”
“What? Do you know what they would do to me? Or how many of them there are?!”
“Why is that important, Dollifer? A man should fight for the woman he loves.”
“Not that she knows it.” He said sourly.
“So she cannot return that love, so what is the point?” pressed the angel.
“Aye…” paused Dollifer, floundering for words. “…I would attempt to save her and they would slay both of us. The outcome would be the same regardless of what I do.
Even if I were blessed by some unknown God for my efforts, she would not love me afterwards.”
“Should that be the point, young man…in determining whether you try or not?” Michael pressed gently.
Dollifer sighed, dropping his head. He could debate with the angel no further as he knew him to be right.
“I will go.” He whispered. “I will do what I can to save her.” He said with teary eyes at the fear he now felt.
“I know more about you than you know, Dollifer. You are a good man who has not allowed himself to be tainted with the blood of the innocents, but you have always rued the day you were born for being so craven, but today you have become the bravest man I have known.”
Dollifer sniggered derisively.
“Aye, you do not understand what bravery is. It is not about trusting in your gifts. It is doing what you fear most to do, as you know it to be right.”
Dollifer nodded in agreement, pushing himself to his feet.
“Well then, I suppose I must meet my fate.”
“Before you do…” spoke Michael. “…I would like to reward you for your decision.”
The angel removed his right gauntlet and tossed it to the leper, who immediately put it on. A feeling of raw energy flowed through his body, filling his every sinew with power.
“My gauntlet will protect you. Now do what you know to be right.”
The theme is ‘perfect love cast out fear.’
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