Axel gritted his teeth in a desperate attempt to ignore the near crippling pain radiating from his back. He had to ignore it. He didn’t have time to think about it. Monsters were everywhere. They were attacking. And his guildmates were…they were all suffering from a varying degree of hexes.
He was the only one standing. He was the only one who could fight these things.
Fighting was all he was good at.
He had to keep going. For everyone’s sake. There was no question whether or not he would live through this; he would. No matter what. He wasn’t going to let a bunch of arrogant hexers and their dirty little tricks take him away from Lynus and his guild.
A soft purple light suddenly surrounded him. It was startling, and yet comforting at the same time. It felt familiar. As did the etching of his skin on his back. This feeling…it reminded him of Lynus’ gentle healing.
And yet it felt slightly…different.
Directing his axe toward the head of another derange ragelope, Axel managed to turn around enough to look behind him. As he did so, he froze.
Lynus had reached the battlefield. But what was happening…wasn’t normal. He had never, ever seen Lynus heal anyone like this!
Lynus stood near the centre of the impromptu battlefield. His hands were interlocked together and resting comfortable near his stomach. His hair floated angelically from an unfelt breeze and a soft, violet formed around him. His eyes were half-lidded, yet they appeared hazy. Lips slightly parted, but not moving as if he was uttering a spell.
Then the strangest thing happened. Something that made Axel’s heart all but stop beating.
A pair of what could only be described as angel wings suddenly unfurled from his back, spreading out to their full length behind him in a magical display before gently folding back to rest majestically by his sides. They were pure white, soft and feathery, the wing tips ending a mere inch from the ground.
The violet light around him brightened and so did the light surrounding Axel and everyone else upon the battlefield. When it did, Axel felt the pain on his back abruptly dissipate and the vine-like bindings at his feet disappear at the exact same time.
The startled gasps and murmurs from others around him caused Axel to briefly move his gaze away from Lynus to the rest of his guildmates. Jhon picked himself off the ground as Tobyn looked down at his arms in surprise. Lirit was slowly relinquishing his hold on Macerio who was trying to sit up in a startled manner. Hamza was up on his feet also with Cedric glued to his side. And Shen had taken straight to his feet, sword clutched in one hand while Magnus stay sat on the ground, eyes wide as he stared directly at Lynus.
In fact everyone was staring at him with wide eyes and mouths agape in pure surprise. Axel was certain that he was no different as he turned to stare at Lynus once more. And as he did, the severity of what just happened struck him.
All the curses and hexes, every single ailment, bind and injury were gone. All of them. Taken care of completely.
A different kind of curse suddenly tumbled from the lips of the hexer closest to Lynus. “Fuck. He really is the Guardian of Healing.”
Wh-what did this mean? What did any of this mean? What the hell was going on?!
“Don’t just stand there gaping!” Mahogany abruptly shouted, attempting to pull everyone out of their shock. “Kill those monsters and arrest those hexers! This may be your only chance!”
That seemed to be enough to pull everyone out of their stunned revered. And they immediately returned to the task at hand.
With a snarl on his lips, Axel whirled around and gripped his axe with both hands. He then systematically started aiming for the monsters’ weak points and virtually killing them with a single strike each. The sooner he killed these monsters the sooner he could get to Lynus and pull him out of…whatever he was doing.
After taking the head off of a charging raptor, Axel turned back around to look at Lynus once more.
The wings on Lynus’ back suddenly dissipated in a sparkle of scattered light and the violet aura surrounding him faded out. His arms feel limply at his sides and he staggered forward. He suddenly lurched forward with a forceful cough, his head falling forward and his hair curtaining around his face. He then crumbled painfully and listlessly to the ground. His hair sprawled out him as he rolled onto his side, wrapped his arms around his torso and coughed violently again.
“Lynus!” Axel yelled as he pushed forward, barely pausing to strike down a foe that got in his way.
Within the matter of seconds he was at Lynus’ side, kneeling on the ground and frantically, while being cautious, pulled Lynus into his arms. As his head lolled back against his arm, Axel felt his panic rise. Not only was Lynus completely limp and pale, there was blood on his lips.
Splatters and specks of blood were on his lips and on the ground where his head lay when he fell.
Was that why he coughed? Was he coughing up blood?!
Out of seeming nowhere Darrell appeared and knelt down next to Lynus and immediately began examining him. Frantically. Checking his pulse, his breathing, literally anything he could.
“What the hell was that?” Axel desperately asked as he cradled Lynus against his chest.
Darrell looked at him, pale and wide-eyed. “I haven’t the faintest idea,” he admitted.
Shit. What was going on? What was happening to him?
“We need to take him to the hospital,” Darrell stated with a confused look on his face. “I don’t know what happened. Dr Stiles might. He’s…stable, but I want him to be in the hospital in case anything should happen.”
“Yeah, ok,” Axel murmured as he scooped Lynus into his arms and cradled his far too fragile form against his chest.
As he stood up, he glanced around to see where the rest of his guildmates were. After Mahogany had issued out the command to attack the monsters and arrest the hexers, Axel had concentrated on defeating the FOEs, getting rid of them as quickly as possible and left the arrest of the hexers to the others.
All the monsters had been defeated, their carcasses littering the area like trash.
His guildmates were all standing and unharmed. Their previous status ailments completely gone. The same for Cosmos, and Ryker and Darrell. He wasn’t sure when they had entered the fray, but assumed that they were no doubt prompted to get involved by the chaos of panicked monsters and by the screams of terrified locals and guards alike.
But…had they seen what happened with Lynus, also?
If it was just them, it was…alright. He wasn’t comfortable with anyone else seeing him like that, though. And those hexers…
He didn’t get to punch one of those hexers in the face like he so badly wanted. But that didn’t matter right now. He had more important things to worry about.
“Axel!” Hamza called out to him where he stood with a hexer lying possibly unconscious at his feet. “Take Lynus to the hospital. Do not worry about things here. We will take care of everything else.”
Yeah, there was nothing more Axel could do here to help. The frown on Hamza’s face was quite telling. He was pissed off enough to ensure that those hexers got their punishment. They will pay for what they’ve done.
So, Axel would leave everything to him.
“I’ll go, too,” Darrell said as he holstered his own bag upon his shoulder. “I’m not needed here. Lynus…took care of everyone already.”
“Yeah…” Axel murmured as he cradled Lynus closer and turned to head in the direction of the hospital.
He had honestly lost count the number of times he had trodden the path to the hospital. Escorted Lynus to and from as he worked his shifts. Walked him there in the dead of night after being called for a Code Blue. Having taking other guilds or guards there for healing and treatment.
There were only…a couple of times that he had to take Lynus there for treatment. Literally having to carry him in his arms. Even if the event itself was rare…he still didn’t like it.
The hospital was bustling with frantic medics and healers dealing with those caught up in the monster invasion. But Axel didn’t pay them much attention. He simply followed where Darrell directed him, staying quiet but keeping a firm hold on Lynus until he was directed to lay him upon a bed.
As Axel gently placed Lynus upon the hospital bed he glanced over to where Darrell stood with Dr Stiles, the redheaded medic seemingly telling him as detailed as possible what had just occurred. And Dr Stiles seemed gobsmacked by what he was hearing. Axel couldn’t hear what was being said between the two, but he could tell by reading Dr Stiles’ lips that he was asking “what?” with a bewildered look on his face a lot…
Axel refused to step away from the bed and from Lynus, even as Dr Stiles immediately began inspecting him. He continued to clutch Lynus’ pale hand in his, letting go only once to help the head doctor remove his far too large woollen cardigan to make him more comfortable.
Thankfully, Dr Stiles made no attempt to push him away. There was no reason why he should even try. He knew just how stubborn Axel was in regards to Lynus.
After what felt like an hour or so, Dr Stiles finally stepped back from the bed with a frown on his face. Immediately, Axel felt his throat go dry.
“What’s wrong with him?” he asked.
The answer Dr Stiles gave him was confusing, however. “Exhaustion.”
Axel furrowed his brow slightly. “Is that all? But-”
“Yes, just exhaustion,” Dr Stiles interrupted as he planted a hand on his hip and stared down at Lynus. “A severe case, yes. Signs of stress and fatigue with minor inflammation, but nothing else. Stress was the cause to him coughing up blood. And his energy levels are low, as to be expected. But I can find nothing else wrong with him. There is no trauma to his back. Other than a few bruises from collapsing so suddenly, there is nothing to cause great concern. Just the exhaustion.”
Axel should feel relieved by the head doctor’s diagnosis. But he still felt…uneasy. “He’ll be all right?”
“There’s little to no reason why he shouldn’t be,” Dr Stiles answered quickly again, finally taking his gaze away from Lynus to look over at Axel. “Severe exhaustion is no laughing matter, of course, but it is treatable. I want to keep him here, just as a precaution and I will personally see to him myself. He’ll be placed in a private room. There will be an extra bed in there, but that’s yours. I know you won’t want to let him out of your sight for a minute.”
He didn’t want him out of his sight for even a second!
“Do you have any idea what happened?”
Dr Stiles was silent for a moment as he held his chin in thought. “Honestly? I do have a theory. But I need to do more research…” he suddenly removed his hand from his chin and reached out to grasp Axel by his shoulder. He looked directly into his eyes as he spoke, “He’ll be ok, Axel. He’ll live. He’ll wake up in a day or two. He’ll be fine, I can promise you that.”
That was honestly reassuring. But he wouldn’t be fully reassured until Lynus woke up and told him that himself. With a small, apologetic smile on his lips and a sense of empathy mixed with guilt in his eyes. Only then…
The door to the examination room suddenly opening gained Axel’s immediate attention. Still on alert from all that happened, he instantly turned and felt himself go tense in preparation for a possible threat. Thankfully, it was Hamza who stepped inside. With him was Mahogany, the hexer lingering back a couple of steps.
“How is he?” Hamza asked as his gaze immediately shot over to where Lynus lay silently upon the bed.
“Still unconscious,” Dr Stiles answered as he dropped his hand from Axel’s shoulder to give Hamza his full attention. “There is nothing to be concerned about. He is suffering from a severe case of exhaustion. Nothing else. With rest, he will recover quickly. It will take a while, I won’t gloss over that fact. But he will be fine. Do tell the others of your guild. They won’t be fully reassured, but at least they won’t panic.”
The relief on Hamza’s face was palpable and he released a sigh. “Ah, yes. I best get someone to inform them quickly.”
“And those hexers?”
“We managed to arrest four of them, of which will need hospital attention themselves,” Hamza replied gruffly, with a slight narrowing of his eyes.
And despite himself, Axel felt the corner of his mouth twitch into a half smirk.
“But they can wait,” Hamza continued. “Two had unfortunately fled, but we highly doubt they will have the courage to return any time soon. The others are dealing with the four as we speak. They honestly wanted to rush to the hospital immediately, but their need for a minor bit of revenge kept them back. Also, I do suppose Derek would not be pleased to have them all barrel their way into the ward, yes?
“Pleased? No,” Dr Stiles responded as he folded his arms tightly over his chest. However, he also sighed and shook his head. “Understanding? Yes. Still, I’m glad I don’t have to play traffic officer with everyone.”
Hamza gave Dr Stiles a tired but grateful smile before he turned and motion toward Mahogany with his hand. “Here, Mahogany has some information that may prove useful to you.”
Dr Stiles looked somewhat curious as Mahogany stepped forward. “So you’re Mahogany? Lynus mentioned you.”
“Hmm,” Mahogany answered airily in response as his gaze settled upon Lynus. “The Guardian of Miraculous Healing. He most certainly lives up to his reputation, does he not?”
Axel frowned. “Do you know what that was?” he asked, somewhat protectively.
Surprisingly, Mahogany nodded his head and turned his gaze away from Lynus to look at the three of them in turn. “What you all saw was his true spiritual self; powerful, radiant, intelligent. His wings are a physical representation of this shining through to the surface. And, not surprisingly, his aura is that of the Violet Ray. Truly, he is a powerful healer. Fortunate for everyone involved today.”
Axel found his gaze drifting back over to Lynus. A physical representation? Those wings were a part of his aura. They…suited him. But they also scared the hell out of him. Axel, along with so many others, had always thought and teased that Lynus was an angel sent to earth to heal…
The sound of Dr Stiles murmuring to himself caused Axel to turn his attention back to Mahogany. He had a more important question he hoped the hexer would answer for him. “But he’s going to be ok, right?”
“It’s nothing to fear,” Mahogany didn’t hesitate to answer with a small smile. “He is going to be more than a little tired for the next couple of days, but his energy will return quickly. Of course, that also depends on how much of that miraculous healing energy of his is directed inwards. Do not worry yourselves.”
“I wish to keep him here for a day or two at least,” Dr Stiles added protectively.
Mahogany simply nodded his head. “If that will ease your minds, do so,” he said before he turned to face Hamza. “Now, if you would excuse me; I would like to have a word with those we managed to arrest during this debacle.”
Hamza nodded his head before his eyes abruptly narrowed. “Yes,” he murmured. “So would I.”
Axel wasn’t sure if the temperature in the room actually dropped, or it was the effect of the cold, biting tone of Hamza’s voice that made everyone shiver. Either way, Hamza was sure to have a lot to ask those hexers and he wasn’t in the mood for any bullshit.
Good. Those hexers deserve everything they get.
“But first,” Hamza said as he turned toward the door. “I will need to speak to the others. They are beside themselves with worry.”
… … … … …
As a leader of such a close-knit guild, it was never easy to inform his guildmates of the health and wellbeing of another. Seeing their concerned faces as they rush over to him, crowding him as they ask questions and protective demand answers was both endearing and painful.
All Hamza could do was comfort them with words of reassurance. Tell them that Lynus was going to be fine. That he was in the protective care of Axel and Dr Stiles. That his display of wings was just a sign of a powerful healing spell. Tell them all, reassure them all that Lynus, that everyone, was going to be fine.
The battle of the Hex Plague was over.
Now? It was time to recover and to comfort one another.
And right now, they needed to give their unending support to Axel and to each other.
“You have quite the compassionate and supportive guild,” Mahogany commented seemingly idly from where he walked next to Hamza as they headed off together to finally speak with those egotistical hexers.
“Yes, I am quite fortunate,” Hamza replied honestly. “They…worry for each other greatly.”
“Yes, that is truly obvious,” Mahogany continued to sound relaxed and somewhat airy. Suddenly, however, his voice took on a both serious and wistful tone. “Truthfully, I had been worried about how Lynus would handle such stresses. It wouldn’t be unheard of for a medic to push themselves so far beyond their limit that they lose their own lives. It has happened before.”
Hamza glanced at him. “And Lynus now?”
“Now?” Mahogany repeated and hummed for a moment. “I’m not so worried about that. He has the spiritual and mental understanding to know what to do and how it must be done, all while ensuring that he also stays alive for the sake of others. There’s nothing to fear.”
He sounded so sure. “What of you? What do you wish to do now?”
Mahogany simply hummed in response, though making no other attempt to answer. “Hmm.”
Hamza turned his attention forward. “Four of the six hexers may have been arrested but there are still two more out there. Do you think they will try to garner revenge?”
“They will not be pleased, no,” Mahogany answered readily once more. “But do I foresee them gaining revenge any time soon? No, I do not.”
Hamza’s eyes narrowed. “But they may still return for revenge?”
“These hexers are driven by their egos,” Mahogany reminded him. “They are likely to seek revenge. But how they will go about it is another matter. I suggest we continue on the path we are on; create charms and tonics in preparation of another epidemic. Just in case.”
“And Lynus?” Hamza asked. “Will they come after him?”
“More likely than not,” Mahogany replied somewhat dismissively.
Hamza immediately frowned. “So-”
“Not to worry,” Mahogany cut him off. “Hexes will not affect him.”
That surprised Hamza, but perhaps not as much as it should have. “He’s gained immunity?” he arranged that as a question, but he had reached that conclusion himself.
And Mahogany affirmed that belief. “I believe so.”
“I wish to loiter around, as it were, just to keep an eye on your guild,” Mahogany unexpectedly stated, causing Hamza to turn his attention towards him once more. “They are rather…interesting. In particular your medic friend. His wings are most intriguing. Perhaps I can even help him to manifest them into the physical realm at will. They would be useful, yes? They suit him well.”
Now, that was truly a surprise for Hamza. “That can happen?”
Mahogany nodded his head and reached up with a hand to touch the chains that cross over his chest. “Oh yes. These chains that we hexers wear and carry are an example. When a hexer is created, these chains manifest from the etheric realm as a symbol of our new role in this world. Of our burdens that we must carry. And of how we had fought to remain in the physical world.”
Once more Hamza was surprised by the admission. He had heard theories that the chains that hexers wore were what kept them grounded in the physical plane. But there were also theories that should anything happen to those chains, the hexer would…fail to exist. It was a curious theory. One that was undoubtedly unsettling.
Those wings that Lynus exhibited weren’t of the same…were they?
“In any case,” Mahogany continued as he dropped his hand from his chest and finally turned his gaze to look directly upon Hamza. “I do hope that my hexer abilities will be useful to you some time in the future.”
“Ah,” Hamza murmured in agreement. It seemed that Mahogany had already made up his mind. “You were a great help to us during this time. We will be happy to have you around.”
Mahogany’s smile was that of both relief and gratitude.