Oriana arrived back the main chamber to find Paul on the embankment and standing upright. Kelly was busy gesticulating flamboyantly. Realising that Kelly was clearly trying to keep Suvarin distracted for her still Oriana quickly rushed forward to inspect Paul’s knee.
“You can stand on it now?”
Paul explained that Suvarin had given him some medication for the pain and that it was fine to stand on it, just not to carry anything or run for a few days at least.
“You must be some kind of physiotherapist!” exclaimed Oriana.
Suvarin looked at her with an expression of puzzlement on her face, “Has Kent told you about the Salvati?”
“Only that you’re one of the five orders of the Aeshir,” then before she could stop herself, “and that you’re forbidden to carry weapons or do anyone any harm.”
“Oh! Yes, that is true. We are forbidden to carry weapons, but to say that we can’t do anyone any harm is another matter. There are strict rules regarding such matters, yes. It is odd that Kent should tell you that much about us but not about other aspects; such as our primary goals and values.”
“Yes, it is, so, if the Druids are the nerdy, preachy types of your religion, what are the Salvati?”
“We’re the healers, pharmacists, midwives, medical scientists, surgeons, nutritionists, sentinels against environmental toxins and pollutants, all things related to physical health, fitness, and growth. We are responsible for protecting the physical health of the faithful.”
“Wow! So health is taken very seriously by the Aeshir?”
“Tremendously! We’re actually the biggest order in terms of numbers. I made up my own little motto about what the Salvati are all about: healthy body, healthy faith.”
“Well, that sounds great, so why do you hide underground?”
Suvarin blushed and became apprehensive, “I am sorry, I would like to answer your questions, as you are sincere in your quest for knowledge, but as you are unpledged it is not fitting for me to answer some of these questions.”
“I mean that you haven’t pledged an oath to the Aeshir. You’re not part of the faithful; you haven’t been seasoned and neither are you pledged.”
“What is this pledge?”
“It’s pledge of allegiance to the Aeshir, to keep your word, and respect the property of others.”
“But if I agreed to live in one of your monasteries for three months, and then took the pledge, then you would tell me about what you are doing here?”
“Of course, I would answer all of your questions enthusiastically, I am proud of my work here.”
Oriana pounced, “So you’re up to something here?”
Suvarin looked a combination of embarrassed and hurt. Oriana instantly felt some regret for her attempt to trap Suvarin. Before she could apologise Kent and Laneg returned. Laneg took Suvarin aside and whispered something in her ear. The young woman quickly ran to the ladder and commenced climbing up into the space above. Laneg then turned to face the rest of the group.
“Now Kent here has informed me of what happened to you, let me start by saying that I am terribly sorry that you have gotten involved in our conflict with the Tyranni. The good news is that the video you have will give you some reassurance that you won’t be harmed outright by the Tyranni, the bad news is that they are sure to approach you all in the coming days and weeks. If not to test your faith in yourselves and your moral integrity, they will test your loyalty to each other in an effort to get a hold of that video. It is my belief that if you stand strong then in a few weeks they will simply give up on you and then leave this town in search of someone else they can either victimise or recruit.
“I am sorry that I cannot invite you to stay with us for the night, but it is for your own safety that you know as little about this facility as possible. If you found out anything concrete about this facility the Tyranni would harass you until the end of time. So, it is better that you know nothing. To that end we have decided to move you out of here immediately.”
“So we have to go back up the canal again to Kent’s place?” cried Kelly with exasperation.
“No, that is too risky; instead you will have to take the tunnels from here blind folded.”
“Blindfolded!” exclaimed the three youths.
“Yes, Kent here will guide you through the tunnels to a safe place to exit.”
“But my leg!” protested Paul.
“Suvarin will go with you; she has a stretcher specially designed for these tunnels. You will have to take turns to carry Paul out.”
The three youths protested emphatically but Laneg would not yield.
“The Tyranni are looking for an excuse to carry out violence. If the three of you are found altogether in the group like this, they might just see it as an opportunity to remove all the eye witnesses at once and run the risk of the video being revealed. Ironically, you are safest if there are never more than two of you together after this night. I include Kent here in your group. You should all make time to spend with him as he can help you deal with the lies and tricks of the Tyranni. As a Druid this kind of intellectual warfare is his speciality. You might not know this, but the Salvati serve to protect all aspects of the physical health of the faithful, but the Druids serve to protect all aspects of the mind and spirits of the faithful. Kent will be an excellent resource for you in the coming weeks. With that all said, and Suvarin here returning with the stretcher, I will wish you well and that after your trials with the Tyranni are concluded maybe we can meet again and get to know each other properly under better circumstances.”