Sunesis at Iasis opened the Agabus’s eyes to his mother’s wisdom. Jora was strong, so much stronger than Andre ever realized. She was a natural as a healer with the perfect bedside manner and unflinching reserve in the face of intense medical situations. Two weeks into their internship at the Manor had them in a room with a screaming six-year-old who nearly severed his finger while playing in his father’s barn. He was hysterical and wouldn’t let anyone near him until Jora swooped in and managed to calm him down with her soothing voice and quick wit. Within minutes she had him distracted and even smiling while the healers put his finger back in order and stitched it securely.
“Wow.” Andre couldn’t help remark on her abilities from where the rest of the interns stood in a tight group as far from the patient as possible.
“Yeah,” AJ agreed. “Good thing she was here or one of us would have had to step in.”
Declan was also amazed. “Look at her! The kid loves her.”
“Everybody loves her,” Svana input without malice. She knew what kind of power her sister held in regards to a natural healing touch, and she was actually quite proud. “She said she wanted to be a healer. She’s always said it. Every day. Since birth. Every day.”
It was fabulous to get to watch Jora in her element, but Andre also enjoyed getting an in-depth look at the procedures used at Iasis to ensure the complete healing and health of its patients. Though there were many forms of medications available, they were not the first method of care at the Manor. The healers relied most on natural and spiritual means to give the best care possible to those in need.
Cuts and breaks were not just stitched and set. They were touched with prayer for quick and proper healing. Cancerous tumors were removed by accomplished surgeons, but this was rarely needed as prayer itself had been known to recall health in miraculous but commonplace occurrences. Koinonians believed in healthy living, consuming natural foods, getting proper rest, and exercising with sport and hard work. Injuries and physical illness were not altogether a problem at Iasis. Their main concentration was on debilitations of the mind, and it was in the psychology department that Andre finally found something he was honestly interested in.
The interns were not restricted to any certain department of health within the Manor. Once they had been introduced to every service of healing, they were free to pick where they wanted to devote most of their time while interning at Iasis. Jora, of course, concentrated on her specialty of states of emergency on the first floor. Declan found his place shadowing the security staff, and Svana spent most of her days in the children’s ward down the hall from where Andre sat in on council sessions picking the brains of psychologists and councilors with a fantastic understanding of spiritual warfare of the soul.
On a snowy morning in January, Andre walked with Svana to the third floor and left her at the nurses’ station in the children’s ward. May Beth George was behind the counter. She looked up and greeted them with a smile over a chart she was filling out.
Andre was surprised to see her. “I didn’t know you worked here.”
She blushed under the attention of the Agabus. “Yeah, I just finished my training. This is my first week on this floor.”
“How’s Eva today, May Beth?” Svana asked before heading down the hall toward one of the patient rooms, leaving Andre without even saying goodbye.
“She’s doing better,” May Beth answered and began to follow her. “See you later, Agabus.”
Andre turned the other direction and pushed his way through two sets of doors before entering a completely different looking wing of the Manor. The floors were covered in a plush, sound-dampening carpet, the walls were painted in soothing colors, and the lights were soft in shaded lamps.
A large oak desk stood in the middle of a room with a receptionist sitting behind it. He looked up when Andre entered and nodded in hello. “Conference in room three,” he told him, pointing over his shoulder down a separate hall lined with solid doors. The door to room three was open, and Andre stepped in, quietly taking an empty chair just inside so as not to disturb the discussion already in session.
“…she has a history of chemical depression, so it comes of no surprise. Standard treatment applies. I would expect results in as early as a week.”
“Not if she is resistant to the treatment. She shows signs of obsessive attention-seeking tendencies. In her case her monoamine imbalance is an excuse to draw sympathy and only escalates when it is ignored. We may need to consider medicating until the real issue of low self-worth is addressed.”
“I agree with Dr. Howell and subscribe a low-dose antidepressant to be administered once daily along with continued spiritual well-being treatments if the patient signs off in agreement. We will monitor the effects and alter our course when the poor self-worth is no longer an issue.
“Alright, moving on— Dr. Jasper, please fill us in on your traumatic stress patient.”
“He continues to struggle but I see improvements with each consecutive session. He finds the most difficulty with sleeping but feels, as I do, that chemicals would not help him here. He is down to two or three hours of hard sleep but anything beyond that is dream racked and a hindrance to his improvement.”
“Are they repetitive nightmares of his incident or progressive?”
Andre suddenly realized they were talking about Costa and was surprised that they would do so in front of him. Figuring he should leave before he heard anything further, he began to rise out of his chair to duck into the hall.
“Stay, Agabus.” Dr. Jasper waved a lazy hand from his arm rest. “My patient is aware that you attend these sessions. He is not bothered by your presence.”
Andre hesitated before sinking back into his seat. Touching the door with his foot, he encouraged it to close. He might be free to listen in, but he did not feel that anyone else should be privy to the komer’s business.
“What would you consider the main road block for the patient’s inability to recover effectively?” The discussion continued as if Andre had not interrupted its flow.
“Guilt, mainly,” Jasper responded. “He feels the freedom of Mercy, but the phantom of his brash actions clings relentlessly. He cannot seem to shake it off.”
“And your remedy?”
“A cognitive flip, I think. He is focusing too much on the mistakes and not on the reason behind the trauma. It is not so much how he was lured in, but why. We are working on looking at the source of his torture as not being the threat but as him being a threat to the source. He was entrapped so as to be out of the way. Isn’t that correct, Agabus?” Jasper included Andre unexpectedly in the discussion.
“What?” Andre was not prepared for this. “Oh, yeah. And as bait, I guess.”
“Bait?” one of the other physiologists asked.
“Yeah, to get me out of the way.”
“Yes!” Jasper latched onto this, writing something rapidly on a pad of notes in front of him. “His value made him vulnerable to entrapment. It is not that he was easily lured. It is that it was important that he be lured. His intentions were honorable, he believed himself to be following orders based off of the information he had. There is no dishonor in that.”
“It had to happen,” Andre said without meaning to, and all eyes in the room turned to him. He appeared apologetic for speaking out of turn and interrupting the session once again, but he was encouraged to explain. “It had to,” he repeated. “For other things to happen as they’re supposed to, he had to be taken.” His statement seemed to settle around the room, and Dr. Jasper made another quick jot on his notepaper.
“Tell him that.” Andre looked at Costa’s physician to ensure he would heed his request. “Tell him that things had to happen ‘to prove our Lord’s Might,’ ” he quoted Malachi. “It wouldn’t have mattered what he would have done, he had to go.”
Dr. Jasper nodded slowly while deep in thought. “And now he needs to come back.”
Andre spent his entire morning lost in the discussion of the human brain and how it can destroy a man. He was amazed by the knowledge of the doctors and longed to possess even a fraction of their combined intelligence. The thought of spending a lifetime sifting through the mysteries of the body, mind, and soul was formidable. The fact that they all were so complex, that if one was in poor condition than they all tended to be, was fascinating to think about.
When the morning session ended, the prophet walked out of the Psychology Ward knowing he could do that every day and not grow bored. It was the first time during Sunesis that he had some hope in finding a profession on the island that would keep his interest. His mind was on Costa when he glanced up and saw Kylan Kirkeby standing in the hall by the doors to the Children’s Ward. He met Andre’s eye and smiled with a warm greeting.
“Kylan,” Andre nodded. “Is it still snowing?” He noticed the damp shoulders of Kylan’s overcoat.
“Oh, yeah. It’s a whiteout out there. Ma didn’t want the girls driving home in it.” He looked up as Svana walked through the doors in search of her brother.
“Sorry,” she apologized as she slipped on her coat. “That took longer than I thought. Where’s Jora? Hey, Dre, are you going to make it home okay? It looks crazy out there.”
“I’ll make it.”
“Jora’s waiting in the foyer downstairs,” Kylan told his sister. “Walk down with us, Agabus?”
Andre accepted the invitation and they took the two flights of stairs to the first floor. Jora met them in the hall with a smile and posed the same question as her twin. “It looks pretty bad, Dre. Maybe you should just ride into town with us and spend the night.”
It was a generous offer, but Andre wasn’t even listening. He was staring out the glass front doors onto the open front lawn in front of the Manor with something on his mind.
“Andre?” Jora had to nudge him to regain his attention.
“I can make it,” he repeated. The three Kirkeby siblings gave him similar expressions of doubt while hesitating by the door. “I will,” he promised. “I’ll call you when I get there so you know.”
“Please do.” Jora looked worried before getting lost in a swirl of white, running off the steps after Svana and climbing quickly into Kylan’s waiting car.
Andre watched to ensure they got out of the parking lot full of condensing snow before buttoning up his coat and raising the collar. Leaving the warm, brightly lit Iasis hall, he ran to his car half buried in fresh powder. He hoped the kids had gotten home from school safe in that mess. Quickly brushing the snow off the windshield, he turned the heater on high and pulled out of the lot.
It was slow going all the way out to the farm. Visibility was next to zero, and Andre very nearly slid into the ditch making the turn off the highway onto the dirt road leading home. He very much hoped there would not be anyone coming the opposite direction for he could not tell what side of the road he was driving on, or even if he was precariously close to the shoulder.
“A little help here,” he said, and was thankful when the snow cleared enough to allow him to find the driveway without driving past it. He was glad to see both Demi and Laken’s vehicles parked near the house when he pulled in. As soon as he turned the motor off, the kitchen door opened and his aunt was frantically waving.
“Thank Theos!” she exclaimed when he stepped out and jogged through the wet mess to the house. “I called the Manor, but they said you had already left. I wasn’t sure you would try to make it. Were you even able to see?”
“Barely.” He stomped his snow packed shoes on the mat as she shut the storm out behind him. Reaching for the phone, Andre dialed the Kirkeby residence. Jora immediately picked up on the line and sounded relieved to hear that he had made it safely. Andre joked that there shouldn’t have been any doubt and hoped she would not pick up on the strain which lay beneath his light humor.
After he hung up, Andre moved to the kitchen window and peered out, seeing nothing but snow and a faint outline of the roof of the barn. “Is Laken out there?”
Demi nodded as she placed the kettle on the stove to make him some tea. “He’s checking on the animals and then he’ll be in. Davi’s with him.”
Andre could hear the girls playing in their room. The house was a comfortable shelter from the storm. He should relax after having made it home where all his family was safe, but all he saw was the snow.
Demi set a mug on the table. “Have a seat. They’ll be back in a minute.”
He did as she requested in troubled silence.
The prophet tried for the sake of his family to act normal that evening. The girls begged for popcorn and board games, cocoa and half-a-dozen stories before calming down and going to bed. After Davi mercilessly beat Andre in a game of checkers, the prophet checked the clock. It was a few minutes passed nine when he decided it was time to go to bed. He was by no means tired. He simply needed to separate himself from his family to escape the need to share in lighthearted conversation.
He lay on his mattress with his mind was on overdrive. It frustrated Andre that he did not understand more from the vision. He had no way of knowing what snow storm it referred to but had a strong feeling that the time was near. Pretending to be asleep when Davi entered their room for bed, he listened in the dark and soon heard the steady breathing of his sleeping brother. Demi and Laken’s quiet voices moved down the hall as they crossed to their own room followed by the light going out. The house was dark and quiet, and the prophet waited.
His bedside clock slowly ticked away the seconds, minutes, and then hours. It was one o’clock in the morning when the Panoplia appeared, but Andre was not surprised nor was he asleep. He had been expecting them.
“Where?” he asked before Chesed could speak. He did not miss the fact that she came alone. He did not miss that Lavi was not the one to find him.
“The healing house lawn,” she told him. “You must hurry. The warning bells are about to toll.”
Andre tossed aside his bedding and jumped out of bed still fully clothed. He rushed into the kitchen, stepped into his shoes, and grabbed his coat and keys. Yanking the door open, he found the snow had not lessened in intensity, but was falling thicker and swirled erratically under the commanding strength of the wind. Tossing his keys back into the house in the direction of the table, he pulled the door shut behind him. “You’re going to have to take me,” he told her. “I can’t drive in this.”
Without hesitating, Chesed grabbed him beneath the arms and lifted Andre quickly off the ground. He hated the feeling of helplessness he received from the flight while carried by a spirit. Closing his eyes, he braced himself against the storm and hoped it would not take her long to get him back to Iasis. Andre regretted having ever left, knowing now it had been foolish of him to have done so.
Chesed flew quickly, crossing the whitewashed moors north toward the shore. As she neared Iasis, she dropped in altitude, and Andre opened his eyes just before she released him into the snow. The prophet hit the ground and rolled to his feet, stopping short on the lawn before the healing house with the reality of his vision playing out before his eyes.
There in the open courtyard stood the spirit of chaos himself with fangs bared and claws poised in combat with the Panoplia Warrior while the wind drove strong gusts of snow in irate directions and created a blinding veil to hide their defensive blows.
“Lavi!” The wind stripped Andre’s voice down to nothing, and he began to run, sliding on the soles of his shoes as they hit slick patches of ice forming on the paved walkway curving up to the front steps of Iasis. Shamira stood before the door with her penetrating gaze on the battle being played out before her. Andre turned to see the Daimon called Havoc crush Lavi into the ground with a vice grip on the Panoplia’s shoulders with both claws. Lavi’s face was set, his eyes two pillars of fire as he wrestled Havoc into the snow and reached for his spear lying nearby.
Havoc kicked out with his rear limb, preventing the Warrior from obtaining his weapon and landing heavily on Lavi’s arm with the heel of his foot. The sound of a Panoplia in pain was wrenching to the soul. When it was mixed with the growl of Evil’s offspring, it made the prophet’s insides turn cold, and he watched in horror as Havoc picked Lavi up and flung him like a sack of flour onto the ice with a blow which shook the earth.
“Help him!” Andre screamed at Shamira and Chesed in desperation.
Neither of the Panoplia drew their eyes away from the scene on the lawn, nor did they answer his plea. Feeling a panic rise within him, Andre was torn between running to the spirit’s aid and rushing to the source of the intrusion.
Pulling his eyes away from the fight, he ran up the stairs into the Manor as the alarm bells began to ring across the island. He collided with someone bursting out of the doors, and stood back to see Komer Turay looking deathly pale and erratic. “Agabus,” he said breathlessly, skidding to a stop. “You heard…you’re here. The healer…I need to meet the elders.”
“What happened?” Andre demanded, holding Turay by the arms and not allowing him to leave until he spoke clearly. It was difficult to concentrate on the komer’s face with the scene playing out behind him and the ring of battle mixed with alarm bells filling his ears.
“Costa is here,” Turay told him, pulling free and nearly falling down the steps in his agitation. “Inside, with the healers…with her.”
“Who!” Andre demanded with his hand on the door to keep it from closing.
Turay darted into the dark and obscuring snow without another word.
Andre wasted no more time, pushing his way through the half open door and into the blinding light of the hall. Looking to either side of the entrance, he saw no one but heard voices. “Costa!” he yelled and started toward an open door on his right. Stopping abruptly at the threshold, he found the komer in the middle of a tight group of healers, many of which he recognized from his service hours.
Costa turned at his call and met him at the door. “It’s happened,” he stated before Andre caught a glimpse of what the healers’ attentions were intent upon in the center of the room. “He broke in.”
Andre moved slowly across the threshold while staring in disbelief as the healers stepped back from a motionless form stretched on the flat surface of a surgeon’s table. The room was sterile and spacious with many windows facing the lawn and rows of stiff chairs lining the walls. A viewing room for the recently deceased.
May Beth George lay dead upon the table; the demise of her own unspeakable actions the likes of which had never been carried out on Koinonian soil since the day of its birth.
“Over-medicated,” Costa spoke at his shoulder. “She ingested stolen pills from the stores in the pharmacy.”
Andre could not pull his eyes away from the table. Costa got in front of him, forcing him to focus on the present. “Where is he, Dre? The Thief, where is he?”
Returning from his shock with a jolt, Andre looked up at the uncovered bank of windows. Drawing away from Costa, he hurried around the table and the cluster of murmuring healers and stepped close to the glass. The komer moved in behind him, waiting for an answer while Andre found Lavi in the snow, arms locked with the beast bearing down on him with dripping fangs about to pierce the flesh at the Warrior’s exposed neck.
“Turay went to meet the elders,” he spoke with his heart beating furiously in his chest.
“Yes,” Costa responded.
“And the alarms…they’ll tell the people in the village.”
“Yes,” Costa seemed unsure of what he was getting at. “Of course, why?”
“Has anyone told them who?”
“Who is dead!” Andre grew impatient, spinning around to face the komer and the row of stunned healers. “May Beth, do they know it is her and how she died?”
Costa opened his mouth to reply before making the connection. Understanding read like horror in his eyes, and he stepped back and turned to flee from the room to try and rectify the mistake.
He could try, but the prophet knew it would be too late. Andre moved back to the window in time to see Lavi fall as Havoc sank his razor sharp teeth into the spirit and tore a great wound from ear to the muscle of the Warrior’s strong shoulder. He watched in with a sick feeling in his gut as the Panoplia cried out in agony. Amnon appeared out of the storm, and his presence away from the Sanctuary meant only one thing. The Hupsoma was splintered, the Protection was losing ground. Fear had driven the people from their diligent prayers and rendered the Panoplia useless. The news of May Beth’s suicide had reached the village. Havoc had spread his chaos, striking the hearts of the Koinonians with a death blow.
Bolting from the window, Andre ran from the room out into the hall. He heard Costa yelling into the phone through an open door, but he did not stop to tell him what he had seen. Bursting out the doors back into the howling wind and snow, the prophet sprinted across the courtyard with an anguished yell ripping from his throat. He spotted the Warrior’s spear glistening on the ground and stooped to pick it up, launching it at the Daimon with all of his might. The tip glanced off the beast’s hindquarters and knocked him back as he released his hold on the spirit and focused his terror on the Agabus with a deafening growl.
Havoc crouched and prepared to strike the prophet down when his head jerked in attention, hearing the call of his master on the air. “Leave him,” Abaddon’s command echoed off the mountainside and rolled into the valley. “Return to your host and finish what you have begun.”
Havoc answered with a conceding snarl, turning in the snow and dropping on all fours before charging into the night. He disappeared behind the storm in the direction of the village, leaving Lavi broken upon the ground.
Andre rushed to the Panoplia’s side and knelt in the snow. The spirits gathered solemnly on every side, closing in around their wounded warrior and creating a dome of peace out of the raging storm. The howl of the wind abruptly ceased, warmth filled the space, and the snow dissipated.
Andre touched Lavi’s cool arm and held his breath while searching for signs that he was alright. Panoplia could not die, but could they be killed? The prophet did not know, and didn’t want to find out. “Chesed,” he pleaded, moving back as she stepped in and put a healing hand on the gapping, oozing wound on Lavi’s shoulder. His eyelids fluttered, showing solid black like a midnight, moonless sky between the slits.
“Leave us, Agabus,” Chesed told him steadily. “There are things even you cannot see. You are needed elsewhere.” She met his gaze with intensity, and Andre inched back from the ground where Lavi lay. His knee hit something cold and solid as he moved. Looking down, he felt with his hand and picked up the Warrior’s dagger. The prophet clutched the handle tightly in his fist, got to his feet, and backed out of the healing circle as the Panoplia disappeared.