Tears of Blood
Kurtis looked up. Next to him stood a man about fifty years old, covered in a black hooded robe, so that only his face could be seen - very attractive once, now crossed by deep lines of expression as a result of a dominant spirit. The hair, as the slight beard, were gray-haired while his eyes glared at him with an intense distinctive blue glow.
A strong and wiry hand clutched his shoulder while snatching the Chirugai from his powerless fingers. His touch was amazingly real and consistent. I didn’t send you this to cut off your head, as you can imagine.
“You’re here.” Kurtis murmured, smiling slightly.
Looks like I’ve arrived in time, said Konstantin, without moving his lips, as all dead people seemed to talk in that place.
The old Fighter sat, staring inquisitively at his son. He retained the same stern and inflexible look Kurtis remembered in him.
“You’re not doing me a favor.” The ex-legionnaire muttered.
For the Light’s sake, Kurtis. You haven’t come this far to end like this.
Kurtis tried to stand up, but again the pain forced him to sit down. “You know nothing.” He muttered. “You’ve no idea of what I’ve endured.”
The Lux Veritatis are martyrs. We were born to suffer.
“Fuck that shit!” Kurtis exploded, glaring at him.
“I’m not your puppet anymore, Father.” The young Fighter turned her face. “If you’re here to give a speech for the Order’s cause, you can go back to rest.” He bent and buried his head in his arms. He was exhausted, too exhausted.
Konstantin squeezed the Chirugai in his hand and stared at the horizon. I know you endure a heavy burden, Kurtis.
“A heavy burden?” His son laugh bitterly. “I fucked up my life. 35 years old and I’m done.”
I know, but there’s still more to be done. You know it...
“Why’re you here?” Kurtis cut him off.
First, to prevent you from doing something stupid. And second, to guide you, Son, because you’re absolutely lost. To help you to avoid the upcoming disaster. I barely knew you and we never got along, but you’re my son, my blood flows through your veins and you’re the strongest Fighter ever born.
“Yeah, sure.” Kurtis laughed sarcastically.
Besides, there was a time you wanted revenge. You saved your mother and have always fought the demons. I owe you one.
“What I did, I did because I had no other choice. I’m not the hero you expected me to be. So leave me alone, I want to die and you’re in my way.”
The woman you love is here, in the Vortex.
There was a moment of silence, in which Kurtis looked at his father with an impenetrable expression. Anyone would’ve assumed that he didn’t give a damn about it, but Konstantin knew that face, similar to his own when inside his last will was crumbling under an apparent calm.
Even you know what that diabolical vision which almost leads you to suicide means. Lara will die on Lilith’s altar, and your child with her. You must stop it.
“How!” He cried in despair, covering with a sharp blow of his arm that immensity. “I can’t see her, Father! Not her or the others that were supposed to be here! Why have this farsee if I can’t use it!”
The Gift is in you, but you never mastered it as you should. You’re powerful, but the power takes you, you don’t take it. Only when you accept this and truly internalize the Gift, as you should have done so long ago - not rebuking it like a cancer or a disgusting ulcer; only then, you’ll embrace all the power within you, in a way neither I nor your grandfather ever achieved.
Kurtis stared at him for a moment in silence. Then he said without apparent emotion: “Mother misses you.”
A shadow of pain crossed Konstantin’s pale face. When raising, Kurtis saw traces of nails in his father’s wrists. His bare feet poking under his tunic were also nailed.
I never gave her what she deserved. I’ve always dreamed of her. Every moment that passes is one less time for us to meet again. I also sacrificed my whole life, Kurtis.
“Gimme that.” The young Fighter said, noting the Chirugai.
When you don’t try to cut off your head again.
“No. For Lara.” He answered laconically.
Konstantin handed it over. The touch of his father was cold, hard, but real. It was still amazing. The key is to unleash the Light within you.
“I don’t believe in the Light.”
That’s your problem. You deny what makes you strong, and instead you believe in demons, immortals, in all that assaults you and makes you weaker.
“I can see them - not the Light.”
Because you don’t believe in it. You’ve grown up denying who you are and rejecting the Gift that was in you. Now it’s too late. You may need to pay a high price for the Light to come to you.
“I’m sick of riddles. You talk like a Nephilim.”
Perhaps if we’d been as honest as they were, we would’ve had more success. But we’re mortal and carry around these flaws. You should stop resisting what you are. You’ve never been an ordinary man, and you’ll never be. Neither the Legion nor war have changed that. Renouncing Lara won’t avail you, she’s followed you knowing she may die.
“That’s so typical of her.” Kurtis sighed, surveying the landscape.
If you can’t get to her level, you don’t deserve her - and that can be done only by recognizing who you are and why you’re here.
“The only thing I’ve always wanted is to live in peace.” Kurtis turned his face towards his father. “But you all denied this to me - angels and demons. If I’d done what you asked from me I’d have ended crucified by your side.”
Konstantin nodded his head in affirmation. True. And then, with your death, a path of destiny would’ve been cut. Lara wouldn’t have meet you, she wouldn’t have conceived a child from you, and probably now she would be far away and safe from the darkness. But Eckhardt and Karel would’ve won, or perhaps they would’ve found her and killed her for intruding. The world would be a very dark place now. Nothing happens by chance, but you’ve taken too long a time denying yourself. It’s time to come to the Light. To that Light. You must reacquaint yourself.
“Sounds like Buddhist crap.” Kurtis’ tone was quite sarcastic.
You haven’t changed at all. You’re like me. There was, nevertheless, affection in his voice, in a man who’d barely had any chance to show affection in his whole life. There’s something you must know. Something related to you, and that’s the reason why you’re not a common Lux Veritatis. The Order always wondered why you, me, your grandfather, and our ancestors were different, a lineage of Fighters as never had existed. There was a feature that distinguished us, deep blue eyes inherited unchanged to any genetic mix, but there wasn’t any other proof. Until I died and went to the other side I didn’t know this terrible secret. Bathsheba knows this and the awareness of that truth is tormenting and destroying her. That should be your main advantage over her - you must not be affected by this.
“How did she know?”
She learned this through a Vatican cardinal, a certain Ercole Monteleone.
“Sounds familiar to me.” Kurtis muttered, remembering the capo who’d almost managed to kill Lara.
In his youth Karel himself had visited him and told him the truth. I don’t understand why he did it, maybe he was so twisted, so much that I never suspected he was a Nephilim, at least until I was crucified and I could see him from above. Then the blindfold dropped from my eyes. Too late.
“What terrible secret is that?” Seeing the hesitation of his father, Kurtis laughed. “C’mon, I’m a tough guy. I don’t think this will kill me.”
Centuries ago, Lilith was incarnated in a mortal woman. She did it to punish Her children, the Nephilim.
“Thought she’d fucked them up enough by creating the Periapt, the Shards, and the Scepter, and then giving them to us.”
Her treachery went further. She seduced a Fighter and bred a child. That brother believed she was a mortal woman, but he never heard again of her until a baby of few months was returned to the Order, with startling blue eyes not belonging to his father.
Konstantin paused to glare at his son, who looked at him for a moment in silence, speechless. Then the young Fighter buried his head in his chest and his shoulders began to shake from chuckling. Finally, Kurtis threw his head back and laughed, though it was a mirthless laugh.
I’d say you find it funny that our bloodline descends from Lilith Herself.
“Whatever. So that bothers Bathsheba? I don’t give a damn whether I descended from Lilith or anyone else.”
This makes us, to our regret, brothers of blood with the Nephili themselves. That’s what’s tormenting Bathsheba.
“Not me. I killed her father and I’ll kill her if she hurts Lara. Not gonna be stopped by her pretty face.”
That makes you stronger than she - but you still don’t get it. Here’s a more complex game. Lilith has been having fun all these centuries during Her lethargy, watching Her two bloodlines of children killing each other. And now She asks the last Nephilim to give Her the life of the last of her other children, still unborn. This is a wicked game with one goal: to ensure Her return.
“We’re playthings of the gods.” Kurtis shrugged. “Well, I’ve always done things my way. Seems a shame to stop now.”
You may not have to kill her, Kurtis.
“That’s up to me.”
Blood begets blood. I know that was never my philosophy, but I didn’t discover it until it was too late. You must stop this cycle of suffering, and prevent Lilith’s awakening. She wants to destroy the world in revenge for what they did to Her at the dawn of humanity: confine Her to the abyss by the sake of love.”
“How am I supposed to do that?”
Eventually, if the Light comes into you, you’ll know. It hasn’t been revealed to me.
“I knew it.” Kurtis scoffed, standing up. His ankle was still swollen but at least he could stand on his feet. It took him a moment to realize that the figure of his father was fading away.
I must leave... I can’t stay here any longer...
“Father!” His son exclaimed.
Remember what you heard. Believe in yourself, accept what you are - for the answer to everything only can be given by yourself.
Konstantin’s figure faded into the air. Kurtis reached for him, but he was disembodied.
Tell your mother... I’ll be waiting for her...
“Well! Something interesting at last!” Lara walked to the edge of the precipice. There was a huge gap between two fractures on the horizon, seeming endless. She couldn’t see the bottom, since at a few meters deep a thick fog wrapped everything. The rocky walls were steep, making it easy to climb. “I thought everything was the same damn place.” She said to herself.
Without further ado, and before Bathsheba’s curious eyes, the British explorer sat on the edge of the abyss, turned and slowly held on a ledge nearby, trying not to crush her belly against the rocky wall - which would’ve given her more stability.
“You’re a strange woman.” The Nephilim said. “You can slip and kill yourself.”
“I prefer that to die of boredom. Also, there are no demons - and after all, isn’t your task to look after me, huh? Then take care of your business.”
Lara continued descending, satisfied with that exercise, which at least entertained her. The air was cool and helped to dry the sweat from her skin, while leaving a dazed feeling. By clinging to a ledge of the wall and scanning the fog, she shuddered: a few inches in front of her Bathsheba’s slender figure was floating, suspended in the air like a ghost. Lara grunted and resumed her descending. Luckily that wasn’t too stressful for the slight weight she began to feel inside her.
She didn’t know how long she took to get to the bottom. She stopped to rest from time to time, until a thick darkness wrapped her and her feet touched ground. She leaned against the wall and sat there, breathing laboriously. Bathsheba touched down gently, but her face turned immediately to a nearby cave. “We’re not alone.” The beauty announced.
Lara hadn’t heard anything, but it wouldn’t have been sensible to discuss the Nephilim’s sixth sense, as she wouldn’t have discussed Kurtis’. She grabbed her gun and headed over there. Bathsheba didn’t move an inch. “Are you frightened?” Lara scoffed.
She shook her head.
Lara was surprised to find a shape huddled on the floor. She was almost naked, with her clothes in tatters and covered in blood and dirt. Her grimy hands pulled at her very short hair in silence. Lara didn’t recognize her at first, but then... “Giselle!” She exclaimed, astonished.
The creature looked up and fixed on her an insane glance. Her eyes were still green and luminous, but lit with a spark of madness. She stared at her enemy for a moment. Then she threw her head back and let out a hoarse laugh. She was missing several teeth. “Do you also come to haunt me, bitch?” The Cabal scientist snapped in a voice that seemed not hers. “Come on!” She yelled, throwing a blow at her, a dirty hand with broken nails where more than one finger was missing. “Come here!”
Lara could have killed her or kicked her to the ground - but she was absolutely disgusted. Giselle was insane, or so it seemed. Something or someone had left her in that status, and it had finally come to affect her mind.
“What happened to you?”
The doctor let out another monstrous laugh, crouched and began to rock back and forth, like an ape, while humming under her breath: “They see me, hear me, follow me...they are thousands of hands, don’t you know? They come one after another to judge me and touch me, undress me, pull my hair...they pulled out my teeth, cut my fingers...la-la-la-la...” She laughed and swung her head from side to side. Her skin was cold and her lips bluish, her eyes bruised and puffy with dark circles. Her half-naked body was covered with bruises, cuts and burns.
“She’s crazy.” Lara said, then turned towards Bathsheba, who looked at the scene, very pale.
“My mother’s paying for what she’s done.” The Nephilim said. “All the people whom she killed in her experiments and treatments have been coming for revenge. They have done with her what they wanted - now she’s alienated. This is her Bitter Path, prepared for her from the beginning. She’s the Angel of Death. Now, the dead have come to make her pay.”
Suddenly, Giselle screamed. She stared towards no particular location and spread her arms, starting to jerk spasmodically: “No! Go away! Why have you come back? Leave me alone! You’ve done enough...let me go... don’t hurt me... nooo...” Like a possessed, she writhed on the floor, shook, screamed and convulsed spasmodically, as if someone were kicking her. For no apparent reason, she started to leak blood from the mouth, nose and ears.
Lara approached towards her, but was stopped by Bathsheba: “Don’t touch her! That would be worse.”
“What the hell....?”
“Revenge will be relentless. You can’t see them, but they’re now here. Forget about this, that’s her punishment.”
Lara turned away. She knew how much damage that woman had done. She was trying to hate her. That woman had tortured Kurtis without mercy, just for the sake of revenge. She’d killed Vlad and left Selma in a coma. She locked Marcus in a cell for years. She had so much innocent blood noted on her account. Lara tried to hate her with all her might, but she couldn’t overcome the feeling of horror, disgust and compassion for a punishment that her mind couldn’t understand. She stepped back.
Giselle stretched her arms towards them. “Get them off me! Tell them to go!”
“I’m sorry, Giselle. I told you.” Bathsheba hissed. “Now neither I nor anyone can help you.” She turned and walked away.
Lara followed her, turning her head every few minutes. The screams of the tortured one were running until they became extinct. So that was the Bitter Path. Too much pain.
“Your time will come, too!” Bathsheba murmured, looking askance at Lara, who didn’t hear her.
Maddalena had nearly died of terror when Kurtis had attempted suicide. She’d pounced on him, she’d cried, she’d beaten, pushed him and tried to snatch that horrible weapon from his fingers- all useless. He couldn’t see or hear her. But suddenly, he’d stopped after cutting his neck skin slightly, and had begun to wander and speak alone, like a madman. The redhead girl hadn’t seen neither that hubbub of abortions, nor Konstantin. It was evident for her that Kurtis was losing his mind. That hurt as if the damage was addressed to herself.
And it hurt her later even more, when Moloch returned.
The Prince of All Incubi appeared shortly after Konstantin’s visit. He came surrounded by several incubi, which took shape in the air a few feet from where Kurtis rested. He seemed not to see them.
You won’t fool me this time, smiled the devil. You’d be able to play dead and let me cut your fingers for when I was distracted in collecting them, you’ll skip my neck. Who trained you so well?
“You.” Kurtis said, without moving a muscle.
Demons released a string of cruel laughter. Maddalena shuddered. She was very close to them. An incubus turned and looked directly at her face. She screamed.
The Innocent is there, Moloch said, still looking towards Kurtis. She’s been following you for a while now trying to take care of you. Pathetic. Today we’ll have fun as ever.
“Cocky Moloch.” The Lux Veritatis muttered. “Wasting time on me when your real deal is that Nephilim.”
My real deal are both of you - specially you. I haven’t forgotten the times you made me bite the dust.
“You mad?” He jumped. The incubi’s wings deployed immediately. “Six to one. Not fair.”
This is Hell, mortal. Deal with it.
Maddalena screamed again when the five incubi pounced on him. Moloch stood in his spot, smiling, to admire his work. Soon after, Kurtis had managed to kill three of them, although he was bleeding from several new wounds and faced new difficulties for the other two surround him. He took a long time to cast down another one, but at the same time the second hit him in the neck with a backlash. He fell without a cry, suddenly unconscious.
Perfect. At his word, six incubi emerged from nowhere and surrounded her prince. They carried wooden stakes, ropes and nails. Moloch bent and picked up the Chirugai, his blades still open. You know what to do.
“No!” Maddalena shouted and threw herself over Kurtis’ lying body to protect him. The vision of the big rusty nails made her fear the worse, but her reaction amused the hellish creatures, who unleashed their laughter.
Take her from here. Hold her up ahead, I want her to see everything.
Sharp claws, hard and scaly arms, ripped her from there. She screamed, bit, kicked and spat, but it was useless. It didn’t mind how much she struggled, she couldn’t escape from the incubus which kept her immobilized and whispered cruelties in her ear. She’d no choice but to watch helplessly as those beings sank four stakes in the ground and tied Kurtis to them, leaving him lying in X position. With a pull of the strings, he was raised a few inches above the ground - even that made not him wake.
Then Moloch told them to bring her. The incubus dragged her there and forced her to kneel before him. Tell me, you love this man? Even more than your own life?
Maddalena nodded, trembling. Then she said: “Please, don’t hurt him anymore!”
Would you like to see yourself united to him?
The Voice promised you that, right? But...how long these incorporeal beings take to fulfill their promises! Sure you’re dying of impatience. We, the incubi, are far more practical. We’ll solve the problem in the blink of an eye. I will join you to him at this very moment!
An incubus took her arm with strength and forced her to put her hand on Kurtis’ hand, tied to a stake. Maddalena, unconsciously, gripped that dear hand, laced her fingers with his, gripping tight that feverish and bloody hand.
Ah, perfect. And now the ultimate union.
Seeing an incubus bringing a nail and a hammer, she started screaming. She squirmed, trying to escape, but Moloch now was holding her arm tightly, keeping her from letting go of Kurtis’ hand. The incubus brought the huge and rusty nail tip to the back of Maddalena’s delicate hand and then struck the hammer on the nail head.
A stabbing, horrible pain, pierced her all over. She screamed. That hammer struck four more times. The nail went through her hand and Kurtis’, burrowing into the wood of the stake. Blood splattered on both their faces. The Lux Veritatis’ body jerked, as if he were awakening to the intense pain.
Now the other one. Of course, my dear, we won’t leave this unfinished.
The incubus’ sarcastic laughter echoed in her ears. Then, four other hammer strikes, four lashes of unbearable pain, which made her almost faint. Her two hands nailed to Kurtis’ hands, he face up, she near his head.
Now you’re finally united, said Moloch, and a chorus of monstrous laughters accompanied his comment. Maddalena bent and dropped her head on Kurtis’ shoulder, covering his face with her hair.
Then he opened his eyes and looked around, confused.
Moloch ordered the other incubi to leave. They vanished without further ado. He checked his work, satisfied, enjoying the pain and confusion of his victims. The blood had soaked the stakes and was dripping on the floor - her blood, merged with his blood.
“What have you done?” Kurtis said, trying to lift his head, turning towards Moloch. “What did you do, motherfucker?” He didn’t care about himself - neither the throbbing pain of his pierced hands, nor the insufferable and uncomfortable position. “Leave her alone. This is just you and me.”
But she wanted to be with you. Don’t you see? Ah! Now you can see her, right?
Maddalena’s burning tears fell over Kurtis’ face. He looked up and saw her for the first time.
Moloch walked to them, holding the Chirugai in his paw. He leaned close to the Fighter and approached the blades to his face. Now beg me to have mercy on you.
“You sick fuck. Let her go.”
Beg me to release her. Cry a little. I’m tired of your bravery. How can I force you to scream? Ah, yes, I have an idea. The blade’s tips stroked Kurtis’ cheek. Maddalena whimpered. Beg me to have mercy on you, or I’ll cut your eyes out with this. Come on. Do it.
I’ll cut first the right one and then the left one. Then I will put them in a box and serve them to that British bitch. Come on. Beg me. I want to hear you loud and clear.
“Why - why are you doing this?” Maddalena cried, horrified.
He has humiliated me many times, growled the incubus, showing her the empty socket on his face, last time he cut my eye out. What does your human law say? An eye for an eye...
The demon didn’t finish the sentence. Kurtis took a breath and spat on his very face. That destroyed the remains of Moloch’s patience. Without a single word, the incubus grabbed Kurtis’ head back and drove the Chirugai’s blade in with surgical precision.
“For God’s sake!” Maddalena shrieked.
But it was too late.
A liquid, bloody fire went across his head. For a moment, he’d the horrible feeling that his skull would burst into a thousand pieces. The viscous, burning blackness filling his vision slowly melted, and through its cracks emerged a splendid ray of light, a bright and magnificent aura that filled him completely. The grief left him in a cry of pain. A pure clarity invaded his body and mind and, little by little, everything started to take shape. The reality rippled and stretched again, clothed in light, a white light with yellowish loopholes, which didn’t hurt neither his sight nor his tired soul.
Kurtis didn’t realize his tortured body was being released until he felt his back touching the ground. He heard a woman mourning near him. He spread his hands to touch her and felt her small sticky hands, perforated like his own hands.
“I’ve... freed myself...” He heard the woman sobbing in time intervals. “Please be calm... I’m freeing you... hold on...”
The pain of his hands was throbbing, but he felt his head as if full of cotton. The light danced before his face and noticed, slowly, the luminous, soft figure of the crying woman who was attending him. “Giulia.” He muttered.
“Calm down... don’t move ... now, now I’m going to take care of you...”
Maddalena had mourned bitterly in her struggle to free herself once Moloch had left, taking those beautiful blue eyes with him. She wept with anger and bitterness as she pulled out the nails, ripped her blouse into strips to bandage her hands, and proceeded to untie and lay on the ground the man she loved more than life.
“What happened?” Kurtis stammered, trying to lift a hand to touch his face.
Maddalena stopped him. “No, don’t touch yourself.” She sobbed. “Kurtis... Moloch... has cut out your eyes... you’re blind, Kurtis...”
It couldn’t be. It made no sense. He saw light, lots of light. Everything was light, even Maddalena was light. “But I can see... everything’s full of light, Giulia...”
She wasn’t listening. She could only mourn and try to hold the blood flowing from his empty sockets, his torn eyelids, and whisper: “Easy, easy... I’ll wrap this... I’ll put a cloth... don’t worry, I’m here, I’ll guide you, I won’t abandon you, I swear, amore mio...”
Kurtis raised his hands and touched his face, soaked in blood. Could that have happened? “Giulia, now I get it... it’s the Light ... I see the Light!”
She wasn’t listening. She tore a strip from her blouse, folded several times and bandaged Kurtis’ face, covering his hideous mutilation. Then she hugged him and kissed his bloodied lips repeatedly. He was too shocked to react.
“You’re still bleeding.” She lamented. “I don’t know what to do...”
Kurtis regained the usual tone of his voice, cold and sure. “I won’t stop bleeding. He ripped my eyes off with the Chirugai. The wounds caused by this weapon never heal. I’ll always bleed.” He rose, helped by Maddalena. “We must go on. Now... now I know what to do.” He muttered.
“You must rest. You’ve been tortured... both of us should rest.”
He shook his head vehemently. No. She couldn’t understand. He actually could see, he saw the Light, he saw things in the form given by the Light. For the first time, he saw everything clearly. “This is the sacrifice my father foretold me.” He said to Maddalena, who didn’t understand. “My eyes, my sight, in exchange for the Light. Now I get it.”
Under the bandage, streams of falling blood continued to run down his cheeks and dripped on his chest. Thick tears of blood.