Chapter 15: The Breaking of Dawn
"Red sky at night shepherd's delight, Red sky in morning shepherd's warning."
Dahlia knew she was playing a dangerous game but it was one she lived for and she was nothing if not adaptable. The original plan had hit a major snag but nothing she couldn't fix in time. Unfortunately that was fast running out thanks to Leonard. The good news was that her little plan B was coming along nicely. There was more than one way to birth a God and either method would be acceptable in God's eyes. Dahlia just preferred the plan involving her daughter as it had that certain personal touch that she was fond of. Not to mention it had a lot of time and resources invested in it.
She had been questioned by the police about Alessa and the fire. She explained to them that the two of them had gone back to get more clothes and religious items as the day to day practises still needed to be carried out. Dahlia had gone upstairs to get more clothes and Alessa had gone to the alter room. She told the officers that she heard a thump and before long screaming. She had rushed downstairs to save her precious Alessa but the damage was done. She was only grateful that God saw fit to spare the girls life and see to it that she got the medical attention of the best doctors in the area. Dahlia said the girl must have knocked over a candle and tripped or something. All she knew was that her baby girl was on fire when she reached her. She neglected to mention about how the fire spread just so quickly or how that blasted trucker came along to pull an inconvenient superhero stunt. The police knew something was fishy with her story but they had nothing with which to charge her so they were forced to let her go.
Dahlia visited Claudia who was happy to see her and showed her the gateway she drew. That part of the plan worked well at least. No one suspected the children being the Order's main instruments. She kissed her forehead and told her to stay safe. She left the hospital quickly before Kaufmann or one of his lackeys came to winge at her. She couldn't quite face Alessa yet either. The failure and all its consequences were too much to think about right now. She would go back after she had set plan B in motion again. First thing was first. She needed to get to a phone.
Dahlia made her way to the Green Lion and locked all the doors. Sitting down in an armchair she took a few deep breaths before picking up the receiver and dialling. The phone on the other end rang for precisely seven rings then someone picked up.
Dahlia breathed a sigh of relief. "Hello is that the Reverend Stone?"
A prim and proper voice with menacing undertones answered her.
"This is he. Whom might I be addressing?"
"Ah. I had a strong feeling we would be conversing this soon. There is a builder at the ready and the plans are almost passed in order to build a new and dare I say slightly better Wish House. The 4S society will have you placed firmly back on your feet in no time at all."
"Reassuring as that is I am calling you about a different matter. I fear we have lost dear Reverend Wolf to the depths of Brookhaven. We need more than a building replaced. We need the Order of Valtiel to rise from the ashes."
There was a considerable silence on the other end of the phone. "Are you quite sure? I mean you are aware of the full consequences of this action."
"Yes and yes. I have already started the eleventh victim down his path."
The reverend Stone raised an eyebrow at that and grinned. "Excellent. Consider yourself in the services of a new Red Devil. What is the victim's name?"
"Good. A nice strong name. The newspapers will no doubt appreciate that. What progress have you made with him so far?"
"Put it this way. He knows his scriptures and is already establishing a connection to create a sacred birthing chamber."
"Excellent. Good work sister. Now is there another matter that needs my attention?"
"There is nothing else that cannot be fixed at my level."
"I shall rephrase my last question. There is another matter that needs my attention. You are not the first member to contact us. Quite a few have already asked our help in relocating to avoid the attentions of the local law enforcement. However it was a Doctor Kaufmann's request that really interested me."
"That money grubbing drug peddler? What did he want?"
"He seemed a tad frustrated that the Order has been exposed to numerous departments of the police. Thankfully we took steps to put deep cover agents in place as a contingency plan. So the damage was localised to only a few stations. Needless to say we were extremely surprised that the plan needed to be carried out in the first place. I was troubled to hear about these lists of the Orders who's who circulating about general population. I expect a full explanation when we meet again. Luckily for you our diligent members in the law enforcement side of things took care of most of the lists. I have it on good authority that Shepherds Glen is on lockdown because of this fiasco.
So the only forces to worry about are the Silent Hill and Brahms divisions. We are very close to crippling the Brahms force through means of bribes at the highest levels. The rank and file will have to follow their superiors Order given objectives whether they like it or not. As for Silent Hill the plans in place rely on this sacred ground being secure so I plan to purge the remaining members of the force that are not under Order control and replace them with my own disciples. My worries do not really lie with the police. They are easily dealt with."
"What's the problem then?"
"The problem dear sister Dahlia is that the Order itself has gotten sloppy in this area. The Order of Valtiel never really died out you see. We have been keeping our eyes open and intervened only when absolutely necessary without leaving a trace of our involvement. How do you think the mayor developed that bout of sickness so rapidly? We have been keenly watching your plans including all your mistakes, hoping against hope that you children could turn things around yourselves. Well I feel after today that we have been forced out of the shadows and this town will resume normality under our control.
Your plans can proceed as before but you will now run all major decisions past us first. It is past time that this situation was taken care of properly. I will instruct Walter personally in case your plans with the girl fall through entirely. Rest assured sister Dahlia; God will be born and we shall all be rewarded in paradise. I will expect a full debriefing of your operation to date in order to get the full details of what we are taking on and exactly how big of a mess we have to fix. Hold a meeting by the vessels bedside in exactly three hours. My men have already secured the room. I imagine it will take a bit of time to contact the others. I will see you soon sister. God bless the faithful." With that the reverend Stone hung up with a click that may as well have been the thud of a judge's gavel sentencing not only Dahlia but the town of Silent Hill itself.
Dahlia collapsed back into the armchair wiping the sweat that had begun to form on her brow. That conversation took more out of her then she expected. Silent Hill and her branch of the Order were about to fall on hard times. She wondered to herself if she had done the right thing. She had a long night ahead of her. The phone was now heavier then she remembered. Dahlia tried ringing Kaufmann's house but got no answer. There was a similar lack of response from the others she needed. She had some detective work to do it seemed. It was a good hour later after ringing multiple Order safe houses that she had contacted the people she needed including a promise that someone would pass the message on to Kaufmann. She put the down and disconnected it from the wall. She would need a rest before the meeting at Alchemilla.
Alessa and Mark were cold and cramped as they traversed the dark tunnels. They had repositioned themselves so that Mark took the lead again in case they ran into any more of the Wyrms the shadow kid talked about. She called over to him.
"You see it yet?"
"I see something blue and glowing. Let's just hope these things aren't glow worms haha."
"Yeah real funny. Come on I don't want to be stuck down here anymore."
"Ok I'm moving. Oh I can see it now. We're closer than I thought we would be. I wonder how he's doing it. I mean what burns blue that you could pick up around here?"
The tunnel started to shake. All conversation stopped as the pair made a desperate dash for the exit. They tumbled out into the ambulance car park of Alchemilla hospital where they found themselves face to face with a large wolf. It quickly jumped over them to howl into the tunnel creating a strong wind. The Wyrm that had been following the pair inflated and got stuck in the tunnel. The wolf then used a paw to mar a symbol on the outside gate. The hole was swallowed by brickwork again.
Before the two could question what was going on there was a zipping sound as the wolf's head was contorted and two arms came out of the mouth. Soon the upper torso of a man appeared and the form twisted and groaned. It grew to be a young looking Indian man with a wolf skin jacket, leather trousers and walking boots. Alessa and Mark were speechless. The wolf man spoke.
"For people with so many questions I thought you would talk a bit more or do you intend to catch flies with your mouths open like that?"
"Wha..what are you?" Mark stuttered.
"The what does not matter. I am a Shaman."
Alessa tried next. "That explains a lot. My name is Alessa Gillespie. What's yours?"
The Shaman was pleased. "Ah now we're getting somewhere. Proper conversational skills. My name is Running Wolf."
Alessa's eyes widened. "No way."
"Perhaps I was mistaken about the skills. Yes I am Running Wolf. Why the disbelief?"
"It's just you must be a thousand years old by now. Father Wolf told us stories about you and your father. You aren't related to Father Wolf are you?"
Running Wolf shrugged. "Perhaps. I have known many women in my time. I am not anywhere near one thousand years old but I am a lot older than you. It is true that my father and I have had our share of adventures trying hard to keep this place safe. However now I fear something has gone wrong and it's something I'm not sure I can rectify on my own."
Mark spoke up. "That's an understatement. This girl and I have only been here a few hours and we have seen things that would make a normal person's hair stand on end."
The Shaman nodded. "I know. I have seen much too. It seems that the spirits are not content to be silent any longer. Part of the duties my father and I were given was to find and contain any spiritual disturbances but now things have changed so much that it's just not possible to do. I believe the demon trapped in this place is moving to break free from his shackles and he is using you to do it young lady."
"Hey." Mark exclaimed. "Don't scare her."
Running Wolf didn't look worried.
"I would have thought being the Mother of God that she would be used to the idea of giving birth to one."
Alessa looked confused. "I know what I'm meant to be but something went wrong and I'm not that vessel anymore. I lost half of my soul. I think I always knew that God was bad. I mean how can you give birth to something good by setting fire to a kid and filling her heart with hate."
The Shaman nodded and smiled. "You are wiser than I gave you credit for. The God you read about is a demon named Samael. The real Red God has been dead for a long time. There are agents of Her rebirth at work but they are running out of time just as the agents of Samael are running out of time to stop them."
Mark looked worried. "Why? What's coming?"
"War." Running Wolf said simply and quietly. "If the Red God is resurrected before the hour of the final battle then Samael's forces will have a bigger problem than any army Heaven could send against them."
Mark thought about it for a while. "I think we ran into one of the Red God's agents. Twitchy fella with no face."
The Shaman looked puzzled. "Valtiel? You met him?"
Mark nodded. "Saved us from some pretty persistent monsters with red pyramid helmets."
"More has changed than I realised. Valtiel is meant to be under Samael's influence. I heard the Order had their hooks in him too. He is supposed to be a background worker only. A reality shaper. I doubt Samael would have trusted him with anything of importance seeing as he knows Valtiel fought against him. Samael is not really the second chance kind. If he is actively working against the Demon then Valtiel must have found a way to break free from its control."
Alessa looked at him expectantly. "And what does that mean to us?"
"It means the demons power is weakening and we have a chance of saving this land. There is a ceremony I would like to perform to weaken it further. Part of the demon is trapped in you Alessa and part is in your other half. I mean to make the other half of your soul into a separate being so God, the good God, can have a chance to be reborn."
Alessa was more than happy with this. "Sure. What do I have to do? Oh I had better tell you something first. The order has cast a spell to join my soul again but it's going to take time."
This shocked Running Wolf. "I was unaware they had that kind of magic at their disposal. They must have the Flauros. That's impossible though. That particular device was lost centuries ago by a disciple of Lobsel Vith."
"Well I heard them. They did the spell."
"I must take a look into that but first we will give birth to this little soul and hopefully buy some time to think of something before the joining can take place."
Alessa was unsure. "Is it really giving birth?"
"In a way. There is pain, then blood and a lot of pushing." He took out a pin and pricked her finger before she could do anything. He waited to see blood before he wiped the pin in it. He threw the bloodied pin into the blue fire.
Alessa narrowed her eyes while sucking her finger. "What did you do that for?"
"Pain and blood. Now comes the pushing. You need to will your other half into the fire and have her latch onto the bloody pin. I will do the rest."
Alessa shut her eyes and began humming a tune. She cleared her mind and focused on bringing the soul to her while she hummed. The fire danced and twisted into a column. The pin twirled and twisted in the midst of it all. Running Wolf chanted silently whilst kneeling beside the fire. Mark watched in amazement as the fire danced in the courtyard. It made the night sky seem to dance. The north star began to move. Suddenly Mark came to a realisation 'There's no stars in this place.' There would have been no one to answer him as the girl and the Shaman focused on controlling the pillar of blue fire before them. It wound and twisted itself, dancing with the star above it. The star began to descend lightly as if following some invisible staircase downwards.
The fire spread out to form the shape of a large blue bird. The Shaman's eyes went white as he started chanting louder. Mark stood in awe of the whole thing. Small, brightly lit beads of sweat started to form on Alessa's brow. Her humming increased in volume, allowing her to focus. The fire bird detached itself from the wood and soared into the air to retrieve the star. For a brief moment all the creatures, demons and spirits of Silent Hill looked up at the spectacle in the sky knowing it was something they would never see again. Mark noticed the activity around them. Shadowed creatures made for the sewers in fear of the bright light.
The bird plucked the star from the sky and suddenly dived towards the ground, whirling and spinning at incredible speed. Mark wondered what the hell was going on. "It's not going to stop. Take cover!" He tried to grab Alessa and Running Wolf but he may as well have tried to move the hospital. "Aaagh" he said as he covered his face. The firebird hit the wood pile like a wave hitting a rock. Blue fire splashed everywhere and faded instantly. The blast temporarily blinded Mark. When his vision recovered he saw a baby floating in the middle of a fiery flower. It grasped a bloody pin in its tiny fist.
Alessa was physically trembling with the effort of her concentration now. Running Wolf recovered and stood up. He placed his hands in the fire and took the baby from it. He slowly gave the child to Mark checking for possible injuries as he did.
"This is your charge. Whatever has come before this is all that matters now. You must say your goodbyes to the girl. Her journey takes another path from yours. I will see to it that she stays safe. You must get the little one out of the town. It is no longer a safe place for her."
Mark was confused but nodded to show he got the gist of it. Alessa was on the ground. Her breathing was shallow but she was still conscious. She smiled. "Wow that was really something Did I do well?"
Mark showed her the child. "Take a look for yourself."
"She's pretty. It's kind of weird though because she's part of me. I heard the Indian. I know I won't see you for a while. Thank you for helping me when I needed it."
"I'll miss you. It was nice meeting you Alessa. What will happen to baby Alessa once I get her out?"
"No. Not baby Alessa. The Order will search for a girl with a name like that."
"I like the name Cheryl."
Mark sounded an unexpected laugh. It had been years since he had held a child in his arms with that name. "Thank you so much."
Alessa was puzzled and not a little tired. "For what?"
"For a chance of redemption. Take care and try not to forget what’s at stake. I know you are a kid and a lot has been put on you but I want you to remember something."
Alessa was starting to lose consciousness. "What's that?"
"I know this world can be cruel but no matter what happens there is still time to save things. There are always things in the world worth saving."
She nodded with a serious look. "I will remember. Goodbye Mark."
"Goodbye Alessa." With that she passed out.
Running Wolf picked her up. "I will take her to where she needs to be. You know what you need to do."
Mark looked at the child in his arms. "I do. Take care Wolf and thanks for earlier." The two turned away. The Shaman headed into the hospital and Mark made for the highway.
"Quickly he went this way."
Durant sighed. John McCaw turned out to be a good tracker but even he found it difficult to track down an otherworldly creature.
Nathan counted quietly. "Three. Two. One…"
"Aww God damnit! Not another hole!"
"That's the fifth time in this building. You may as well give up and try somewhere else."
He heard a metallic screeching then a solid CLANG. He rushed around the corner.
"What's going on?"
John waved a large red valve in his left hand. "I just changed the rules." A large hand reached out of the hole and grabbed the valve, pulling the previously smug McCaw into the wall. "Aaargh. Sonofa..will you help already? This guy is a real fighter." Durant ran over to McCaw and grabbed hold of the struggling pyramid head. "How is he this strong?"
"I don't know. Why don't you ask him?" Durant quipped.
"Screw you. You ask him. My helmet is the only thing keeping me out of this goddamn hole."
"Right on three."
"Do what on three?"
"Put your foot on the wall and shove off it."
"Three." John McCaw shoved his foot off the wall and pushed off hard. Durant grabbed him and pulled backwards at the same time. The whole lot fell in a heap on the floor. Valtiel struggled hard to get away but the two pyramid heads pinned him fast to the ground.
John spoke. "Easy twitchy. We ain't gonna hurt you we only want to talk."
"How are you going to communicate?" Durant cut in. "He hasn't got a mouth."
McCaw gave the valve handle to Valtiel. "Bang once on the wall for yes. Twice for no. You ok with that?"
The creature looked at the handle then at the monsters holding it down. It hit Durant over the head making a loud CLANG. After his head stopped spinning it was Durant's turn to swear.
"You stupid little git. I'm going to break you into…"
"He said yes."
"Look at him. He's not struggling. That must have been his idea of a joke." McCaw turned to Valtiel. "Was that a jokey way to say yes?"
Valtiel considered banging Durants head again but stuck to hitting the wall. "CLANG."
John got up and waited for Nathan to do the same grudgingly. "Come on Nathan you said yourself he could help."
"That was before. When I didn't think he was an asshole."
John laughed and Valtiel shrugged although it was indistinguishable from his normal twitch.
Durant spoke first. "Ok. First things first. Yes we know about Samael and yes we know about the Red God. What we really need to know before we can help you is have you found a way to bring her back?"
"Have you found a way to break the control Samael had over you?"
"Can you teach us?"
"That wasn't a question smart ass. Is it because we are different?"
Valtiel hesitated before sounding another. "CLANG"
John caught on to where this was going. "Is it because of these helmets?"
"Do you know of a way to get them off?"
"That's not good."
"It wasn't a question. Do you know someone that could help us?"
Another pause before "CLANG."
"I take it that means that there's a problem getting to them."
"We need to get out of His control. Would you take us to them or help us get in contact?"
Valtiel thought for a long time before he came to a decision. "CLANG" He took off down the hall.
"Follow him." The pyramid heads shouted in unison. The pair sped down the corridor to find the creature waiting by a hole in the wall. He gestured for them to enter.
"Here goes nothing." Durant said. They both stepped inside what looked like an old style elevator.
Valtiel stepped in with the valve handle. He inserted it into a control panel and began turning. It was hard to tell but the twitchy monster seemed happy about his work. He hadn't had a conversation in some time. Mostly he was ordered around. This was different though. He got to talk back; after a certain fashion of course. He was still unsure about the two behind him. After all it was a pair like this that helped to make him the way he was now and he was more than a tad resentful about the whole thing. These ones seemed to be different. The punishers had never wished to talk before. Perhaps this was the sign of change he was looking for.
The elevator ascended as he turned the valve. Different locales within the town flashed by wherever there was a gateway. Suddenly he saw a forest and the lift stopped with a jolt as he stopped turning. He motioned the two to step out. They did so looking about themselves to get their bearings.
Dumont recognised the place. "This is the Mother Stone."
"CLANG" Valtiel confirmed as he tapped the handle off the stone. He started looking for something. The creature became frustrated.
"Wander what he's looking for?" John said.
Durant spoke up. "I may have an idea. I read his story a long time ago." Durant walked over to the gate and rubbed out one symbol, breaking the spell and closing the hole. Valtiel became excited as the thing he was looking for had obviously reappeared. He touched certain symbols with gestures that looked strange but obviously had meaning. Valtiel stood back as the symbols slid into one another to form a cavernous entrance with runes around the frame. The runes seemed to be similar to that of a gateway but the spell was obviously a lot older as it involved the use of a living stone.
The three walked inside to find a room full of carved frames and splintered glass.
John spoke up. "Someone had a party."
The others looked at him and shook their heads. Durant inspected the frames and studies his surroundings closely.
"I recognise the description of the place. This is the vault of guardians from your story right?"
"CLANG" Valtiel tapped lightly on the stone. It was obvious he had respect for the place.
Durant looked at the floor. "Those shards aren't glass are they?"
"I've seen this material before. There is a vein of it in the coal mine. I see you want us to rebuild."
"That will take years to do without drawing the attentions of Samael."
"I take it you have been restoring this place for a while now."
"Consider us your colleagues then. I hope this pays off in the end." He picked up a shard and started looking for where it belonged to. He knew it would take a long time but if it rid them of the demons control then it would be worth it. There was a clink as John found two pieces that joined as if by their own force.
"Hey I'm not too bad at this."
Durant smiled under his helmet. Perhaps there was hope to be found in this place after all...