Ch4.44 Fatal Prophecy

As the God Striker, drained, goes inactive, Dion begins to see the room more clearly than before. And he sees his best friend across the room – dead or merely unconscious, he has no idea. He begins to rise, but feels a weight on his thigh.

He realizes that, almost without thought, he has been comforting the youngest Bunny, the one from whom he acquired the God Striker. She is weeping, shivering, traumatized by all the violence around her. He can’t just dump her on the floor. Then Kori and Chime, the two just ahead of her in age, come to his assistance, while Sage moves toward Alma.

As Dion hands the young Bunny over to them, he sees her looking at him, her tear-filled eyes holding an emotional intensity he has not seen from her before. But he has no time to think of that.

He pushes himself upright and half-stumbles across the room. Passing Sky – registering his existence fully for the first time, and the Commander’s as well – he glances down and sees Alma shivering in the Inspector’s arms. What she did to the Archon, tearing his soul from him… Dion tries to tell himself that she couldn’t help it, that it was necessary, but he remembers shouting to stop her, how she killed the helpless, already defeated god. Is this what it means to be Guardia? He cannot reconcile the conflicting emotions as they battle for dominance in his thoughts.

He forces himself to focus on Geryon. Falling to his knees in front of his friend, his best friend. The only brother he ever had, if not in blood, then by spirit. Touching his friend's torso lightly, he uses a little of his nearly exhausted mana to cast a probing spell into the gryphon before him...and feels life. Nearly collapsing with relief, he feels tears threatening to spill over as he burns more precious mana, exploring, boosting life and repairing.

A sudden bolt of mana surges into him, creating a shock in his system as it refills his reserves. He releases the spell and quickly turns to find the source.
Math stands above him.
“See to your friend,” the Archon instructs him softly, and then turns to join the Commander, Sky, and Alma by Nekh's remains.
Dion, nodding, returns to the prone gryphon, leveraging the refreshed source of mana to pour healing energy into his friend. He feels two soft forms pressing against him on either side as Cherry and Merri kneel next to him, wiping tears from their eyes.
“Is he gonna be OK?” Cherry finally dares to ask.

“Ain't there nowt we can do?” Merri whispers.
Eyes closed and concentrating, Dion responds in a soft, low voice. “He’s hurt, badly. But…but he's tough.” He wonders if he’s trying to convince them, or himself.
As the god finishes his statement, he is rewarded with a sudden deep breath from his friend. Slowly moving his head, Geryon opens his eyes and looks up. “What...what happened?”
The girls laugh for the first time, hugging each other as Dion smiles towards his friend. “It’s over. He’s finished.”
Geryon’s eyes suddenly get wide. “Did I beat him?”
Now, it’s Dion’s time to chuckle. “You did your part, my friend. More so with the gift you were carrying.”

Before the two friends can say any more, Cherry and Merri are suddenly fussing over Geryon like mothers, carefully stroking his fur and feathers.

“Och, ye puir wee bairn,” Merri murmurs soothingly.

“What’d you think you were doin’?” Cherry chides. “Takin’ on a god! An Archon! You’re crazy, you big, awesome hero, you!” She kisses him, pressing her full lips to his beak.

“Our dear, brave defender,” Merri says, before suddenly sobbing and throwing her arms around his neck. “Oh, we thought ye were daid!”

“Ow! Ow!” the gryphon complains, though seeming quite pleased nonetheless. He relaxes slightly in their delightful care, closing his eyes momentarily, until Dion’s words finally connect. “The Percussorem?” he asks, getting a nod from his friend. “You killed him?” Geryon asks with concern, his mind fearing the repercussions.
“No. I used it, but stopped it before it finished him. But then...”  Dion says softly and then nods his head in the direction of Alma.
Geryon looks over at the goddess, who is now in the arms of Sage, still sitting on the floor, while the Inspector talks quietly but intensely with the Commander and Math off to one side. “I suppose they can’t challenge a member of the Death Clan for taking a life,” the gryphon says hopefully.
“We will see,” Dion says now straightening up and rising. “But, for now, you rest here. I’ve cast a number of healing spells on you, but they’re going to take time to do their work fully.”
As he steps away, he hears Merri saying, “Aye, he is our champion!”
“Oh…I only did what I had to,” Geryon modestly responds, his voice muffled against Cherry’s ample bosom.  “But, I think I’ll need some nursing for awhile until I mend,” he states with an implied invitation, gaining laughter and more hugs from the lady Bunnies.
The antics bring a smile to his face, and then Dion feels a hand slip into his. He looks down and sees the youngest Bunny at his side again, still looking very frightened, Chime and Kori standing behind her, the former looking annoyed with her, the latter looking apologetic. Dion shakes his head at them to tell them not to worry, and lifts her in his arms. She is as small as a child, easily lifted and held, but he knows her size is deceptive – the Bunnies are all on the small side, compared to humans. She is actually in her early teens, if he remembers correctly.
He rocks her in his arms and shushes her gently, using his considerable charm to captivate her full attention. Quoting an old half-remembered song, he says, “Now, little flower, no longer need you cry. You are safe.”
Her huge, blue eyes locked on his, the Bunny falls silent. But then she says in a hesitant stammer, “Not… F-flower.
“Name is…Tulip.”

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