“Lo, even in death my Exaltation shall not end.
I shall return to you, in glory and brilliance,
And the fires of industry and invention
Shall brightly burn in the sky once more.
Look for my resurrection, and prepare
For your servitude does not end in slaughter."

-The Manuals of Sacred Procedure, Vol. IX, by Davros, the Augmeticist

“He is… not what I expected.”

Tharion found the admission difficult to speak, even to one as close as Azrael had become. The People of the Air were close, especially those born and bred in the Stormspire Citadel, but Azrael had become as close as a brother to Tharion. The leader of the small band had come to lean on his cousin as a confidante, but even so, confessing to such a heretical thought took effort.

Azrael laid his hand on Tharion’s shoulder, nodding. “I admit, coz, I have shared similar doubts.”

The pair watched from the narrow doorway into the brig of the Storm Light’s brig, their wings blocking the view into the cramped, dank cells from above. Within, Saffuran Somei sat on a small, wooden stool, a thick, musty tome open across his knees. He was reading, softly and slowly, to the occupant of the dingy prison, a slender, attractive young individual who was trying to disguise academic interest behind a facade of righteous anger.

Forever’s Promise had sworn to kill Somei, as well as the others on the ship. Instead of exacting revenge, however, Somei had risked his own life to save the young Sidereal, and though he had reluctantly agreed to the necessity of incarceration aboard their airship, Somei had endured viperous spite and venomous abuse, repaying them with patience and kindness.

“He sits down here daily,” Azrael murmured. “At least an hour every day, sometimes more. He reads anything he can bring; tawdry romances, dusty technical manuals, even religious pamphlets.”

“Does the Sidereal respond?”

Azrael shrugged. “Most often with insults. Once, a conversation almost happened, but the prisoner seemed to remember in time.”

Across the room, Somei stood, closing the tome slowly. He extended a hand through the bars, offering it to Forever’s Promise. He received only a stony glare, and after long, awkward moments, he nodded and retracted his arm.

Tharion clapped his hand on top of Azrael’s. “You misunderstand me, dear friend. My surprise is not doubt. The dedication, the single-mindedness, and above all the calm, all speak to the words written in the Sacred Procedures. I have seen how he interacts with those he calls allies, now, even the captain, and I see clearly the purpose and focus of our lord Davros.”

As they parted, bowing, to let Somei sheepishly slide past them, Tharion smiled and shook his head ruefully.

“He’s just not what I expected.”


Exalted: Northern Skies SaffuranSomei