Chapter 4: Words behind closed doors
"Red sky at night shepherd's delight, Red sky in morning shepherd's warning."
Leonard was seeing red after witnessing Dahlia go into the director’s office without so much as a word to him. It seemed that the witch had betrayed him and was looking to take his position in the Order. He stormed upstairs to beat the wall in angry solitude. He opened the old wooden door with a creak to discover Vincent still inside. The boy was pouring over his copy of the scriptures as if it were the key to a puzzle that had tormented him for years. Leonard put a hand on the boy's shoulder and made Vincent jump.
Vincent realised who it was and smiled, pushing his glasses back up to the bridge of his nose. His hair was dishevelled and he looked a bit of a mess. It was apparent that he had not slept that night. Leonard smiled proud that such a dedicated student should wish to be taught by him. "Good morning young Vincent" Wolf intoned, "How are your studies progressing?"
Vincent scratched his head, trying to fix his hair a bit. He knew he needed to get ready for another day but he was sure that he was on the verge of unlocking something never before seen by man. If only he could have a few more hours with his thoughts and the scriptures. It wasn't that he didn't respect Father Wolf in fact he thought that the priest was the best teacher that he had ever had. As good a teacher as Father Wolf was; he sure had lousy timing. "Good day Father Wolf. How are you this morning? Well I trust."
Leonard sighed, "I am now. You know you remind me of myself when I was young. Totally absorbed in the scriptures. So much so that it seemed that the world itself was but a dream. These days though the world has become an unspeakable nightmare of corruption and sin. So many in this town have wavered from a good life of faith and righteousness in Order to pursue the pleasures of the flesh. Give me hope young Vincent. Promise me that you would never commit such an act."
Vincent looked shocked at the accusation "Father you know this work is my life; my very reason for being. I serve God and God alone."
Leonard smiled and patted Vincent on the head "Of course I knew that my eager young student. I just needed to hear it to cheer me up."
Vincent turned to him, "Do not worry Father. I will bring the people back. With God on our side and the seal of Metatron, we simply cannot fail."
Leonard started to walk back out onto the landing. "My good student. What would we do without your unfailing optimism and strength of faith? Go down and have some breakfast. You can return to your studies later. A starving disciple is not an attentive one. If you need me I will be in the basement praying, just knock on the door and I will answer as soon as I can. There is much to be prayed for on this day."
With that Leonard trudged down the stairs towards the alter in the basement where he locked himself in and started to pray. He poured his heart out to God. How he was distraught that over the years the Order had been defiled by the ways of the Christian. He and Dahlia were the only two purists left that he knew of. He conveyed his worry to God that he suspected that Dahlia had become tainted by the world as of late. She was definitely up to something. He prayed for strength, wisdom and foresight to prepare for his enemies attacks. He continued telling God everything. Vincent decided not to disturb Father Wolf as he knew that the priest would likely be in there all day from the look on Wolf's face.
Vincent went into the kitchen. He took his glasses off to rub his eyes. 'I've been reading too long' he thought as he then used the end of his T-shirt to clean the lenses of his glasses. Popping them back up onto the bridge of his nose he looked around the kitchen to see what there was to eat for breakfast. He grabbed some bread from the breadbin and popped it in the toaster. Looking out the window he saw Walter playing on the swing and laughing. Vincent was surprised to see the sky so blue. Normally it was overcast around these parts.
Just as surprising was the view of the lake earlier that morning. The blood red dawn reflected on the still surface of the lake. It was like the old Gods had come back to reclaim the Earth. Vincent was quite sure something was going to happen soon. He remembered there had been strange shadows around the calling stone this morning. It looked like an undefined shape becoming a man and opening a secret door in the rock. When the door closed the man's shadow transformed into a dog-like shape. Vincent thought that it had just been his insomnia-riddled mind playing tricks on him at the time. Now that he thought about it, he was sure that he had seen it as he still remembered it. The elements of the natural were peaceful, but the supernatural beings knew something was going to happen and were getting prepared for something big.
Vincent nearly jumped when his toast popped up. He decided to ponder on these thoughts later as he had more important things to think about. Maybe later he could ask Father Wolf about it, however it would be quite some time before he would get to talk to Father Wolf again. He buttered his toast and started munching on it. He spat it out as quickly as he could, "Ugggh, blue mould." He scraped the mouldy parts of the bread into the bin with a knife and resumed eating. 'Got to have energy if I want to learn,' he thought.
The Director slowly swung his chair away from the window to face Dahlia. "I want to let you in on a little secret Sister Dahlia. May I call you Dahlia?"
Dahlia nodded, "There is no respect lost on my side if formality is dropped. I trust that you feel the same way?"
The Director smiled, "Excellent. I am glad that I can finally speak frankly to someone without being frowned upon. Did you know that I discovered this cult by accident?" Dahlia faked surprise.
She was from the original line of the Order. When her mother died she made Dahlia promise to revive the Order and save the world from the sin of human kind. After years of endless study Dahlia finally discovered a way. She summoned Valtiel to make a deal with him. She would beget a vessel for God and help establish the Order, if he influenced a few people in power to rebuild and support the Order; and since his mistake in sinking the Little Baroness, he had to protect Dahlia's vessel, in order to atone for sinking the vessel that carried quite a few of the main figureheads of the Order. He claimed that he originally had thought that the ship was a sacrificial offering to God and was to travel to her through the gateway in the lake.
She sounded shocked, “You mean the Order almost didn't exist as it is today?"
He nodded solemnly, "I discovered the ancient Order while researching the town's history."
Dahlia knew that too. Valtiel had taken that information on her instruction and disguised himself as the town's librarian. She witnessed the whole exchange from behind a bookshelf. When Nathan gave his books to be stamped in Valtiel slipped the information into one of them before giving them back with a friendly smile. For a second the smile really did split from ear to ear. Nathan's brain did not register the event though.
Dahlia looked back at Nathan; it seemed he was searching for another response. "That's an amazing coincidence to find the righteous path through an accident. I would consider something like that to be fate."
The Director wore a small smile on his face "Exactly. That's the very reason I established the Order and founded the historical society and this orphanage. So I could preserve, nurture and rebuild the Order to its former glory. Though I have to admit that lately it has been hard for me to keep faith as I have never seen any proof of Gods existence."
Dahlia looked at him as if he had just spoken an alien language. "Look around you. Look at the children, their powers, how can you say such a thing."
The Director clasped his hands and put them on his lap "Quite easily Dahlia. I believe in lost souls, spirits and ghosts. I also believe that this is one of the most haunted areas in the world. Their 'powers' as you call them are no more than the dead speaking to us through them. I learned that much power could be controlled, through the calling stone alone, without having a demon manifest itself in a child. I also learned just who your 'God' is. He's a demon trying to trick you all. His name is Samael and he is posing as a benevolent God to gain more souls and escape this prison. Tell me how you believe that the loving Red God of whom you speak so highly would possibly want your child dead? No this demon is an imposter and you need to wake up to that fact. My God, do you even know what will happen to your soul after you have tortured this poor girl to death? I am asking you to stop this madness now Dahlia before it goes any further and the child gets hurt unnecessarily. Save your soul before it becomes damned to eternal torture administered by the cruellest demons that Hell houses."
Dahlia was seized by a fit of rage. She stood up quickly sending her chair to the floor. "You mean to say that I summoned Valtiel for nothing. All this time you were an unbeliever? Hypocrite! You disgusting wasteful wretch! You do not deserve to live for the blasphemous act you have committed. When I chose you to lead I thought you would believe. I obviously presumed too much, but if you did not believe then why did you continue to lead?"
The Director stood up, his face as red as his robe with anger. "Hypocrite? Perhaps at first. I brought this Order back from the ashes and just because I do not fall for the petty tricks of your pathetic 'God' does not mean I can't follow the morals and wisdom that the scriptures of the Order teach." He took the sword out of its sheath and held it to her neck. "Sinner if you believe in 'God' so much maybe it is time that you met Him. I want you to know that you are the last soul he will claim. I am working to disband the Order. We can’t keep doing the bidding of this monster. Your death will be my last necessary evil." With that he raised the sword high above his head. He was not quick enough as Dahlia grabbed his arm on the down-stroke and inverted it, using his own strength to drive the sword deeper into his heart.
Nathan tried to curse her with his last breath but found that the words gurgled and flowed out of his mouth in the form of a dark red stream of blood. He collapsed into his chair with the sword still sticking through his ribs as his lungs filled with blood. It took a further couple of minutes of pain and gurgling noises before he was finally dead, drowned in his own blood. During his death Dahlia kept as still as a mouse, completely fascinated in the process of life ebbing away from a body like that. "I think that it is time that you answered to the God that you didn't have the strength to believe in."
After a while Dahlia couldn't look at the truly agonizing expression on Nathan's face. She pulled his hood over his face, picked up her chair, and sat down to think about how she was going to dispose of the body. She heard the noise of a car pull into the gravel drive. 'That's funny.' She thought, 'Usually no one can ever find this place with directions, let alone intentionally visit us without them.' Dahlia panicked 'What if they find the body now? I can't lead the Order from jail.' She pulled the sword out of his heart and wiped the blade clean on his robe, the crimson hues matching perfectly. She put the sword back in its sheath before dragging a bookcase a little out from the corner of the room and hiding the body behind it. She hoped no one would notice the signs of recent movement in the thin layer of dust that seemed to permanently coat the house.
She took a moment to calm herself. She composed herself in the bathroom next to the office. Just then the door burst open and Dahlia nearly had a heart attack. She was relieved to find that it was only little Walter Sullivan. He was crying. She had to make the house believe that nothing was amiss. She bent down to his level to look him in the eyes.
"What's wrong little one?"
He rubbed a tear away and sniffed. "I fell off the swing and hurt my knee."
Dahlia kept taking looks out the window to see whom it was driving up to the house. "Aww, there now. Come on into the kitchen and lets get you all patched up. I have a plaster and a bowl of ice cream with your name on it. How does that sound?"
Walter perked up immediately and nodded almost leading her into the kitchen. He liked auntie Dahlia, she told him where his Mommy was, gave him a map to find her and even tried helping him to wake her up. He felt safe around her and would do almost as much for her as he would for his mother. Dahlia was glad that Walter had come to her, as she would be able to see who was coming to the door and be able to get the jump on them. She bandaged the scrape on his knee, pinched his cheek and gave him a small bowl of chocolate ice cream, telling him to go and sit down and in future to be more careful. She wished that it were that easy to fix her current problem.