Herah held back a squeal as the shirtless Oni beneath her continued their work on what looked to be an axe of some type. While observing the smither at their work, Herah had allowed all of her senses to focus on the numerous Oni at work in the massive forge that nearly took up as much room as the birthing area. The forge had thousands of workers on it, some making axes (like the one Herah was currently watching) others swords, shields and arrows. The Oni seemed to be preparing for a war.
A war with Alex's group to be exact.
The sound of metal striking metal rung through Herah's ears like a wondrous melody, the taste of the metallic fumes were absolutely delightful on her tongue, and the sight of the hammer striking hot steel was simple enticing to the youngling. Herah had even had her nose Reunir, the aroma of hot steel and iron causing Herah to bite her lips and close her eyes in pleasure.
Herah spent a few more minutes watching the Oni finish up bending and drawing the ax head a bit more before deciding to leave. Herah flew up from the area (the youngling made sure to Rompu her nose) and towards the cathedral where Max and herself were to meet back up.
Herah thought about how it was rather easy for the two to infiltrate the base. Max had simply said: Within the Oni base, we're unnoticeable to them. Herah had felt Max's Presence wash over her for a brief moment (Herah had actually let out a pleasant snort of fire when it came over her), and immediately decided to test out Max's lie.
Herah kicked one of the two Oni guarding the "entrance" right in between the legs.
A squeal of agony and several laughs later, Herah and Max split up to take on each of their own objectives, using two of the human's cards that were now ear pieces to communicate. It was now two hours since the two had split up, Herah scoping out her part in just thirty minutes of that time. Afterwards, the Cendreux spent the rest of it watching the Oni blacksmiths do their work.
"Herah," The youngling in question winced slightly at Max's voice appearing in her ear, "I finished scoping out the Oni creation plant. I'm heading towards the cathedral now."
"Ok," Herah responded, "I'm already heading there myself."
"See you soon, lava tits."
Herah gave a small chuckle before focusing on her surroundings once again. The youngling was flying right above the building that her and Max were to meet each other.
The cathedral (as Max called it) had an interesting design to Herah. It had four rising towers located on each of its four corners, each rising up to the height of the trees that surrounded the Oni fortress. This was just the boxing for the real attraction, however, the center building. It looked like it was made mostly of stone, with hints of metal here and there. The building held the general shape of a sword with the hilt and guard in an obtusely round cast. Herah flew down into the front where a tiny courtyard sat in front of the building. Herah flew in through this entrance and landed on the edge of a grass-filled courtyard, just ten feet away from where a peculiar Oni stood in the center, seemingly grunting to themselves while staring off into space.
The peculiarness of this Oni started with their clothing. Unlike most of the Oni Herah had seen, this one wore what looked to be a white cassock, a religious garb that the youngling often saw on priest of La Flamme. More importantly, Herah knew it was made of wool, which should've been impossible due to the lack of animals on the planet.
The next thing about the Oni that was peculiar was their physical features. The Oni were many colors, but this was the only one Herah had seen that had completely black skin. They had a very slim physique and had to be around 6,7, just beating Herah's height by two inches. The Oni was also the only one Herah had seen that had hair, it was bleach white and cut so short that it was like a small rug atop of their head.
The most distinguishing feature of this Oni, however, had tp do with what they were missing.
This Oni wore no mask on their face, revealing a face that was very human in appearance. It was soft and round, causing the Oni priest (Herah named them, due to their attire) to have a rather boyish face. Their eyes were a dull silver, the priest lacking in pupils of any form or shape. They held a small smile upon their face, allowing Herah to see the flat and wide teeth that filled the priest's mouth.
Herah heard the approaching sound of footsteps, folded her wings back in, and turned to face Max, the human wearing an extremely perverse smile.
"Why are you smiling like that?" Herah asked, finding Max's expression a bit disturbing.
"There are male and female Oni," Was all Herah got in response.
"I'm not going to even open that can of worms." Herah nodded towards the Oni priest, "Check this out, I think I found a weird one."
Max looked at the Oni priest, and asked, "Is it just me or is he looking directly at you?"
Herah turned back to face the priest and emerald met silver. Herah's eyes widened in surprise before narrowing into a glare. After a few seconds of eye contact, Herah, with a flap of her wings, disappeared from Max's sight with a the tell-tale signs of the sound barrier breaking signaling her speed. The youngling near instantaneously reappeared in front of the Oni priest, her left hand in a spear-like shape as it zoomed towards the priest's throat for a quick kill.
"Please," The priest spoke with a strong and smooth masculine voice, their left hand snatching Herah by the wrist before her hand could reach him. The Oni held Herah's wrist tightly as the youngling tried to force her hand into their throat, ¨As the only priest and communicator to our lord, Log-sama, I only partake in violence as a last resort.¨
In response, Herah flexed her claw muscles.
Herah's middle, ring, and index claws shot from their fleshy sheaths and into the throat of the priest. The youngling only got an apologetic smile in return for her troubles as the priest easily ripped her claws from his neck, crimson rolling down his throat for but a few moments before tiny black tendrils sewed the wound shut. The priest then followed this up by raising Herah off the ground by her wrist, and saying,
"Please calm yourself, let us have pleasant chat."
"Herah maybe we should-"
For his troubles, Herah attempted to spear the priest with her other hand. This attempt ended like the last, with the priest's hand holding her wrist and an apologetic smile on his face. Herah continued in her attempts to physically overpower for a few more moments but decided to abandon that endeavor for another.
Herah began to take a deep breath, but before her flames could even begin to travel up her throat, black goop shot from the priest's forehead and onto Herah's mouth. Herah squirmed a bit at the feeling of the goop stretching out over her mouth and then becoming more skin-like in its texture.
"Please?" The priest asked, "Let's not fight."
"MMMM!" Was Herah's muffled response.
Both the priest and Herah turned towards Max (both having forgotten that the human was there) and found her surrounded by a whirlwind of cards. With a snap of her fingers, the cards around Max stopped and all pointed towards Herah and the priest.
"Please, I do not want to engage in violence." The priest told Max with a small frown.
"Drop lava tits and uncover her mouth, then we can talk this out."
"I would, but I feel it better if we gave your friend some time to-"
And just like that the cards shot towards the Oni priest and Herah, speeding through the air at the speed of bullets.
From the priest back, four black tendrils (these as thick as ropes) shot out and created a large black buckler shield in between the pair and the speeding cards.
Herah groaned at the sounds of the cards bouncing off of the shield hit her ears.
"There is a fireball falling towards you from above."
Herah and the priest both looked up to see a fireball the size of a boulder appear in place of one of Max's cards.
"Log protect m-"
The pair found themselves enveloped in a tiny inferno, causing the priest to drop Herah (the youngling landing in a crouch) and for whatever covered her mouth to burn away. Herah then speared the priest in the chest with her left hand.
Blood poured from both the Oni's newly added wound, as the priest continued to look at Herah with an apologetic smile, the youngling growling and twisting her hand in response to this.
"Please," The priest sounded as if they were absolutely begging, "Let's just chat, see if we can talk this out."
The begging in his tone, caused Herah to pause for a moment and think to herself.
'Dammit! By all rights this priest is our enemy.'
Herah stared the priest in his eye, not finding anything even remotely threatening in them at all.
Herah let out a sigh as the realization hit her.
This priest truly and honestly had no intention of fighting the pair.
"Max," Herah turned towards the human, the buckler the priest had made from earlier obstructing his view, "Reel your cards back in and come here."
"Is he still alive?" Max asked, Herah noting the tiny bit of hopefulness in the human's voice.
"Yes, but I gave him a pretty bad chest wound. I need you to come here and get something from my backpack."
"No need for that now."
Herah turned back towards the priest, and found him smiling happily at her.
"What do you mean?" Herah had pointed towards her left hand with her right, "You kinda have a hand-sized hole in your chest."
"I have to agree with Herah," Both turned to Max (who had been forgotten once again) and saw her wincing at the priest wounds, "I don't exactly think that you'll be walking that off. How do you plan to heal from that."
The priest just continued on smiling before suddenly backing up from Herah, pulling himself free from Herah's hand. Before either Herah or Max could do anything else, the black shield that the priest had created from earlier began to revert back into four tendrils that retracted back into the back of the priest. After the four tendrils were back inside of the priest, Herah and Max watched as small tendrils began to fill the hole Herah had put in the priest's chest. After a second, the wound was gone and even the hole in his cassock was fixed.
"See, I'm fine." The priest said, before walking towards the doors of the cathedral and gesturing for the two to follow him, "Now let's go inside and have that chat."
The trio paused and turned towards the entrance of the courtyard, where two Oni had appeared.
"GRRWW!" The priest responded, seemingly calm while gesturing towards Herah and Max.
"GRR?" One of the Oni responded, this one red-skinned and wearing only a loincloth.
"GRRAAN?" The priest asked, once again pointing towards the pair next to him.
The pair just shook their heads.
"GRRWW?" Another Oni, this one blue and wearing pants and shirts made of leaves, pointed towards the scorch mark left by Max's fire.
"GRRUUM." Was the priest response.
This seemed to satisfy the two Oni, who turned around and walked off.
"What the fuck were you guys talking about?" Herah asked.
"They asked what had happened." The priest responded while opening up the doors to the cathedral.
"What did you say?" This question coming from Max.
"I told them that I was communicating with Log-sama." Was the priest response before gesturing for the two to go inside.
Max went right ahead, but Herah paused to look back at the burnt grass. This was because the burns had somehow created a spiral pattern in the grass. Shaking her head at this, Herah also made note of a spot where the grass was completely gone. It wasn't too large, just around the size of her hand in fact.
"Are you coming lava tits, that's what your friend called you isn't it?" The priest said to Herah in an unassuming tone.
Herah filed away the empty patch of grass into the back of her mind, before turning back to the priest and saying,
"My name is Herah War Hej, and never call me lava tits again."
Herah then walked past the priest and into the cathedral, the Oni following closely behind after closing the door.
"So what did you want to talk about?" Herah asked, looking around at the layout of the cathedral.
The trio were walking down a long aisle of marble that seemed to extend towards the very end of the cathedral, with pillar after pillar framing the walkway
"Let's reach the apse first. Until then, why don't you just admire the interior of the cathedral, Log-sama tells me you like it." Was the priest's answer, Herah noticing a hint of nervousness in their voice. Filing this to the back of her mind with the absent grass, Herah decided that her questions could wait.
Admiring art would always take center stage when La Flamme wasn't involved.
The interior of the cathedral was made of statuary marble, this went for the floor, walls, and pillars. In between each pillar were rows of benches, that took up most of the room in the large open space the group walked through. The benches were made of the same trees that filled the forest, and every single one had a log carved into the back of them (which Herah smiled at, recognizing it as an artistic signature).
Continuing her walk down the aisle, Herah looked up at the chandeliers that hung above her on the roof of the cathedral, numerous lights filling each one. Herah also got to get a look at what looked to her as narrative art. The paintings looked to have started at the very beginning of the cathedral, but the one Herah had started at looked to be the beginning of a separate story. It shows a single Oni standing amidst a pile of what looked to be its dead brethren. The Oni was extremely muscular with red skin and a loincloth.
"What happened here?" Herah asked pointing up at the painting.
The priest looked up at it and said, "That was how my people's second penance began."
"Penance?" Max asked, the entire group now looking at the painting that was above. "What are you paying for?"
The priest looked down from the painting and directly towards Herah as his answer left his mouth.
Herah's eyes widened in surprise before narrowing in suspicion.
"What do you know?" The youngling asked, her suspicion at the priest running high.
The priest gave Herah a sad smile before saying, "That a majority of your people did the same thing, and that your goddess was a lot more accepting of it. That you hate the Nettoyant for their actions. And the reason you're so dedicated to La Flamme is because-"
The priest paused to swerve his head out of the way of an incoming fist from Herah, the youngling holding murder in her eyes.
"Whatever you learned from Norwe," The priest gasped in surprise, "About me, keep to yourself."
"Why don't we," Both the priest and Herah turned to Max (who they had forgotten once again), who was pointing up back at the painting, "Get back to the story?"
The priest nodded at this before looking back up at the painting atop of the ceiling and beginning the story.
"When an Oni does enough evil, such as massacring a group of their brothers and sisters, they began to change." The priest walked up a bit, Herah and Max following behind, to the next painting.
This one had the same red Oni from the first painting beginning to change. Their neck down to their fingertips was bleached, while the rest of the Oni's body maintained its red coloring. The Oni's mask had a crack down it, looking as if it was just falling off of their face.
"Their skin becomes white, while their mask breaks apart and they began to grow until they dwarf the trees that fill our home."
The priest walked forward once again, to another piece of the ceiling art. This one showed the Oni after finishing its transformation, rampaging through the forest with a tree in either hand.
"We call them Human, named after the one in this very painting."
"What happened to it?" Max asked
The priest walked forward and pointed towards another piece of the art. This showed a green-skinned and extremely fit Oni dressed much like the priest, battling with the Human. The priest was much smaller in comparison to the Human, wielding a strange axe with what looked to be tree branches growing out of their back. Herah also noticed that another Oni seemed to be coming from behind the Human with what looked to be a massive chain.
"Diavolo Giovanni, the priest before me and the Kijo you see with the sickle, held off the Human for 29 days as our leader had chains forged to contain them. This was Diavolo's first trial of penance as our priest, and the second one that we completed."
"You admire this Diavolo, don't you?" Herah raised a brow at the admiration (that the priest didn't even try to hide) the priest clearly held towards Diavolo.
"He was a close friend and role model to me." The priest looked down with a small smile on his face, "Diavolo never once doubted Log-sama, never thought once that maybe we didn't deserve what we were going through wasn't fair to us." The priest looked back up at the painting above his head, "Diavolo was much like you, always able to worship and praise our lord without a second thought." The priest's tone softened, "To be honest, I'm jealous."
"Of what?" Herah asked, the youngling havingng an inkling of why.
"Don't worry about it." The priest responded quickly, his voice regaining its strength and smoothness. "Back to the story, where happened next?" The priest paused to think, tapping his chin in deep thought with his mouth slightly agape. Herah watched as the priest's finger got closer and closer to his mouth. Until it was right over it, and with swiftness his teeth bit.
"What the ash?!"
"Are you okay?" Max asked, freaking out.
"Huh," The priest looked at both Herah and Max, blood dripping from both his mouth and missing forefinger with his expression being confused. "Oh this," The priest indicated towards his missing finger, "It'll grow back in, right about now."
And just as the words left his mouth, several small tendrils shot out of the what was left of his finger and merged into each other until a new finger was grown entirely.
"See good as new," The priest showed off his finger to the two, "Nothing wrong at all."
Herah just shook her head while Max gave a nervous smile to the priest.
"Just, please don't do that again," Max said, "Self-mutilation doesn't rub me the right way."
"My apologies." The priest bowed, before flinging his body into an upright position with a smile on his face, "I remember now. Diavolo held off the Human for 29 days, and on the following day our leader of the time, Stonedust Kujo, brought out the chain that would bind the Human."
The priest walked forward once again before reaching another painting on the ceiling. This one showed the human bound in chains, with a sack over its head inside of a darkened area.
"And once our leader arrived, both he and Diavolo bound the Human in chains and dragged them away to be imprisoned. And with that trial ended, we had paid penance for our lack of integrity."
"Lack of integrity?" Max asked.
The priest looked down from the painting and kept walking forward, Herah and Max following not too long afterward.
"Integrity, obedience, patience, trust, and love. These five things my people were found to be sorely lacking in. So these five things we must pay penance for." The priest paused briefly, a thought seemingly coming to him, before turning to the two behind him," Would you like to know the history of my people?"
Herah and Max traded a quick look with each other before both nodding yes to the priest question. The priest nodded back, before turning around and continuing towards his destination. The Oni began to speak once again.
"About three centuries ago, 3,405 years to be exact, a being of magnificent power and knowledge cut eight masks from a tree and gifted them with life. These were the first of my people and the being who made them went by the name of Norwe at the time."
The trio finally reached the end of the path, where a large room in the shape of a half dome sat. A small set of stairs led up to an altar, that sat right in front of the stone back wall. Atop of it sat a small statute (just a wee bit larger than Herah's head) of a log made of gold.
"But as the years went on my people began to call the being by a different name," The priest walked up to the altar and grabbed the golden log, raising it above his head and saying, "Log-sama. After creating those eight Oni, Log-sama only asked of us three thing. Never abandon them, never attempt to replace them, and always remain on this planet, Bizarre is what we call it." The priest sat the log back down on the altar before turning back to Herah and Max, the two standing below the steps looking up at the priest.
"For one and a half of those centuries, my people did exactly as asked. We worshipped Log-sama, we built this cathedral for him, as a designated place of worship in fact." The priest waved his hand through the air, gesturing at the entirety of the cathedral, "However, around the middle of the second century after my people's creation, a movement began to abandon our past. To abandon Log-sama and pursue other things. Their biggest push was towards leaving the planet to find a better supply of trees and water."
The priest pointed toward his right, towards where the massive pile of logs the Max and Herah saw earlier was located.
"Those logs over there are a result of three long centuries of hard work, and we've had to be slow with the process in which we add Oni. Since we can't supply as many as we could produce with the proper space or water to live a fulfilling life. Normally that area is mostly empty with a single Oni being made every two days."
The priest lowered his hand.
"Back to what I was saying, this new group was led by the predecessor to the current chief and the one before her. His name was Ripple Clacker and his group nearly caused the destruction of all Oni as we know it." The priest, while clearly attempting to not show it, held intense hatred for Ripple Clacker by the sounds of it, "Another group led by the priest who came before me and Diavolo, Frozen Light, challenged Ripple's group. A civil war broke out that ended after four years with Ripple's group on top.
The priest leaned his back on the altar, a look of sadness on his face as it stared back at a solemn-looking Max and a glaring Herah.
"What happened next?" Herah asked.
"For about two hundred years, we, surprisingly enough, prospered. Under the lead of Ripple Clacker, all those of the group who fought against his could live. They just had to abandon their worshipping of Log-sama. Ripple's entire reasoning for abandoning them in the first place was because he felt that the way of our lord was holding us back. So most of the group accepted and just quit, but not Frozen Light. Frozen Light worshipped Log-sama in secret, begging our lord for forgiveness. As the 200 hundred years went by, my people made advancement after advancement in technology, but as soon as we reached the 200th year Log-sama reappeared. And they weren't happy."
"What did he do?" Max asked, biting her nails in nervousness.
"Log-sama almost erased my people from the face of our planet. Instead, they decided that to have mercy."
The priest stood up front his spot on the altar, turned around and looked up towards something, causing Herah and Max looking up in response. And when Herah saw it, the youngling couldn't help but let out a whistle of appreciation.
The trio looked upon a circular window made of stained glass. From the edge of the window towards the center were long panels of green, yellow, blue, and purple stained glass. In the center of all this was a log made up of tiny diamond-shaped red and brown stained glass.
"They appeared to us in that form and told us that thanks to Frozen Light, our people would be given a second chance in the form of what they called penance: a series of five trials. But we would have to face these trials without any of the knowledge gained from our years of abandonment." The priest with his back still towards Herah and Max, raised his right hand and snapped it, "And with those words, Log-sama robbed us of all of our advancements and the knowledge that allowed us to create them.
The priest turned back towards Herah and Max, and raised his left hand with two fingers in the air.
"We've already completed four of our trials. I showed you integrity, and before that one, Frozen Light and Ripple led us through the trial of patience. It was a ten-year long drought that ended with both leaders dead, due to another civil war between the two. Afterward, their proteges, Stardust Kujo and Diavolo became our leader and our priest, respectfully."
The priest raised another finger.
"Eighty years after the trial of integrity, Stardust and Diavolo led our people through the trial of trust. This trial had an unknown murderer appear among us that we had to figure out who was which. It was during this trial that I was born and began to study under Diavolo to one day replace him."
The priest gained a wistful smile before continuing, "It was three days after I was born when we first met. I had stumbled into this very cathedral, and had found him praying. Since I was a new born, I had little to no knowledge regarding pretty much everything, but Diavolo decided then and there that I would be his protege."
The priest let out a content sigh before continuing on in his story.
"It was only thanks to him, and not that bastard Stardust, that our people didn't devolve into senseless slaughter and another civil war. The trial ended after ten murders and years, with the killer being found and punished."
The priest once again gained a wistful smile, the Oni rubbing his eyes a bit as well. The priest then walked around to the back of the altar and grabbed the golden log that sat atop of it. It was about the size of his torso and the priest held the log to his chest tightly.
"It would be another century before my first trial as priest occurred. Throughout this century, Diavolo taught me to love Log-sama. He taught me about how Log-sama cared for us greatly and only asked for simple things. He taught me that as long as I loved and trusted in Log-sama I would be lead to happiness. Diavolo taught me to believe that Log-sama rewarded obedience, and never did wrong to those who followed them without problem." The priest let out a small, extremely bitter chuckle before continuing with a heavy voice, "Diavolo was the most devoted of all of Log-sama's followers that I'd ever known. Definitely more than myself."
Herah and Max watched in silence as tears began to pour from the eyes of the priest, his expression becoming that of an emotionally wrecked child. HIs next words came out dripping with sorrow.
"Then, the trial of love rolled around. And the current chief and myself had the most simple of objectives. It was prove our love for Log-sama exceeded all else." A choked sob escaped the priest mouth, his silver eyes pouring tears down his cheeks. "So the protege had to kill Stardust Kujo while I had to kill Diavolo."
"Damn." Herah said, the youngling having become extremely uncomfortable over the breakdown that was happening before her very eyes. The youngling looked towards Max and found that the girl was crying silent tears, her empathy clearly getting the better of her.
"After that, we both replaced our respective mentors. String Kujo became our current chief while my mask broke, confirming my transformation into a Koji. This allowed for me to become the new priest of our people." The priest had now calmed down, tears still streaming down his face as another bitter chuckle left him, "The absolute worst part of it was how okay Diavolo seemed to be perfectly fine with it. When I came to strike him down, he just smiled at me." The priest plastered a somber smile onto his face, "He smiled at me and said it was okay. Just trust in Log-sama and everything would be fine."
"What-" Max began, herself sounding absolutely heartbroken, "What was Diavolo to you?"
The priest's smile changed from sorrowful to melancholy, as even more tears poured down his cheeks.
"He was my father. That Koji raised me and loved me, and I miss him so much."
The priest let out a deep breath, allowing for the breath to calm himself down. After a few more deep breaths, the priest bowed to both Herah and Max and said,
"I apologize for that, I'm still not over Diavolo's death." The priest returned to his standing position and placed the golden log back on the table. "After becoming the priest of my people, I began to hear the whispers of Log-sama. The Maker would provide bits of information here and there, but usually they whisper sweet nothings. This was why I sent out Gold Experience, Under World, Sky High, and Bohemian Rhapsody to scout your group out, but since they never returned I'm guessing they're dead. I'll make sure to prepare their tombs later."
"Where was I again?" The priest thought out loud, his voice lacking its strength from earlier and sounding, just, lost.
Herah watched in pity as the priest bit off his middle finger, the missing digit growing back soon afterward. The Koji (as named by himself) looked lost, the priest clearly not in the best state of mind. Herah heard Max wince in discomfort as the priest bit off another finger, before deciding to help the priest out.
"You had just told us about how Norwe whispers to you." Herah offered up, and the priest grabbed at this.
"Oh yes, so now here we are." The priest waved his hand over the entire cathedral, "With only penance for lack of obedience left to be completed. And if done, my people will be saved and Diavolo's death would be for something."
The priest took another deep breath before leaning onto the altar and giving Max and Herah a long stare. After a few moments of awkward silence, the priest began to speak once again.
"I bet you're wondering why I told you all of that, huh?' The priest asked, clearly attempting to lighten up his voice.
"Yeah," Max answered while using the sleeves of her coat to wipe her nose, as sniffles began to leave her.
Herah just nodded yes.
"I tell you all of this," The priest began, "Because I hope knowing all of this might convince you to stand aside and allow for my people to take down that tree. If you stand by, we won't have to hurt each other."
Both Herah and Max looked at each other, Max giving Herah a begging look while the youngling grimly shook her head no.
Turning back to the priest, Herah answered with another question, "Do you know why we here?"
"To participate in Recompense, in order to save not only yourselves but your universes."
Herah nodded before saying,"We're supposed to be entertaining Norwe and I don't believe they find peace between us too entertaining.
"Log-sama doesn't find the idea too exciting." The priest answered, clearly unhappy with his Maker's answer.
"Plus," Herah added, her voice toneless "I'm not willing to risk La Flamme for anything. As someone else who devotes their entire life to their creator, I hope you understand."
The priest gave Herah an understanding smile and said, "That's why I'm jealous of you and Diavolo. Nothing can get in between you and your mistress. I hope to one day do the same. I know that if I can get my people through this trial, that I will finally be able to give myself to my lord completely."
"I'm sorry." Max said, her voice small and quiet.
"Don't be," The priest responded, his voice now soft and sorrowful, "I should be the one to apologize.
"Why is-" Just before Max could finish, Herah's senses began to yell at her to protect Max.
Herah grunted in pain, now standing in front of Max with her left armed raised and being pierced by a spear-like tendril that had replaced the priest's right hand. The priest drew his spear tendril back before turning it into a hand once again.
Herah looked at her arm, blood dripping from a hole in her wrist that had some of the priest's black tendrils rapidly spreading throughout it.
Thinking quickly, Herah threw her arm into the air and yelled.,
Herah bit back a scream of agony as pain exploded from her left elbow as Jeffery completely tore off her arm from the elbow up.
"Herah!" Max shouted in shock.
"Don't worry, puff, about, puff, me." Herah said haggardly before taking a deep breath, "I'll be fine."
Herah raised her right hand, calling Jeffery to it. The sentient pencil flew into her hand, while sending her an image of an ambulance and herself.
"First, we need to, puff, handle this. I know you hate, puff, fighting with me in fights, puff, you think I can handle, but I need you."
Jeffery sent Herah an image of herself and themselves with a thumbs up following afterward.
"Thanks, Jeffery." Herah (still standing at the base of the stairs) pointed her pencil at the priest, "Max, get ready."
The human nodded in response and pulled out her deck of cards. Max then threw them into the air and said, "52 Pickup."
All 52 cards stopped and began spinning around Max, surrounding the human in a whirlwind of cards.
The priest looked down at the pair with a long face before letting out a sigh.
"Allow me to introduce myself," The priest pointed at himself, "I am Moon Jashin, the current priest of Log-sama, and I hope you accept my sincerest apologies." Moon raised his left hand, the limb breaking apart into black tendrils before reforming as a massive four-bladed claw.
"Because I'm going to kill you now."