Chapter Ten: Lessons Learned
Anthony was back in room a few minutes later getting ready for the workout Jonathan told them they would be doing. He was so excited that he could hardly contain it. He got dressed in sweat clothes and thought that would be appropriate for a workout. He was almost running down the halls as he made his way down to the gym. The gym building was attached near the dining hall. It had a weight training facility, cardio training and a basketball court. He remembered playing basketball as a student here and having a lot of fun doing it. He stepped onto the court to see Jonathan was already there and dressed up in pads while holding a wooden sword. Anthony saw another man standing by the bleachers with a box sitting next to him
“Ahh. Squire Anthony, welcome!”
“Yes Sir.” He replied as he walked towards the man who extended his hand to Anthony.
“I am Sir Kelly Kowalsky. I shall be your trainer in the ways of the sword. Put on these safety pads and grab your practice sword.”
“It is ni-“Anthony started speaking but was cut off by Sir Kelly.
“No talking is allowed on the training floor unless I ask you a question. If you have a question you can raise your hand. Understood?” Kelly said with a flat even tone in his voice.
Anthony straightened up and said, “Yes Sir.”
Anthony assessed the pads before putting them on. They reminded him of hockey pads. They would cover the ankles up to his knees, what looked like a flak jacket around his waist and ribs, padded gloves, elbow pads and shoulder pads. He started putting the pads on and noticed that under them all was a plastic helmet. He thought to himself that they really take safety seriously here. He got them all on without any trouble, grabbed the practice sword then stepped out on the court next to Jonathan. He stopped and waited for instructions.
Sir Kelly started to pace back and forth in front of them. Anthony was a little intimidated by Kelly’s demeanor but tried to not let it show. Kelly then started speaking, “The truth is you are NOT good enough to be here. No one is. You will need to be broken before I can rebuild you into what you need to be. Fear. Pain. Anger. These things have no place in my training room. You will leave everything at the door. This is your world and I am your only hope of ever leaving again. Now face each other and FIGHT.”
Anthony hesitated and raised his hand. Sir Kelly nodded his approval to speak. “Just like that, fight? No instruction?”
Kelly's voice remained calm but stern as he said, “How can I teach you unless I see what you know? NOW FIGHT.”
Anthony grabbed his sword with both hands and stared down Jonathan. He figured waiting was not an option. He swing sideways, right to left causing Jonathan to step back and parry. The wooden swords made a strange noise as they connected. Anthony swung the sword back and stepped forward for an overhead swing. Jonathan tried to block but couldn’t get the sword up in time. Anthony’s sword came crashing down on Jonathan's shoulder pad. Jonathan stepped back from the blow.
Kelly held his hands up saying, “THAT’S enough.” He looked at Anthony and said, “Not bad, for a beginner.” Then he turned his attention to Jonathan saying, “Jonathan, keep your sword up and that won’t happen again.”
It went on like that for another 4 hours. In spite of all the bumps and bruises they actually had a lot of fun in training that day. They took off their pads and joked amongst themselves. They exited out of the basketball court heading straight to the dining room. They were both extremely hungry because neither actually ate breakfast. They came into the dining hall to see Amanda sitting with Father Byrnes eating lunch together. Anthony and Jonathan got their food and sat down quickly.
“How was training” Amanda asked as soon as they sat down.
“Good. We are a little beat up but otherwise fine.” Anthony said as he nudged Jonathan.
“Oh yeah.” That was all Jonathan could say because he dove into his food.
Anthony directed his attention to Amanda. “How was your morning?”
“Good. Father and I had a nice long talk about things. I decided to attend regular spiritual direction sessions with him.” Anthony’s heart melted. He was very happy to hear this news. He took a bite of his sandwich and thought to himself. He was wondering if they got a chance to talk about everything and figured they did. He spooned some soup into his mouth then noticed that Amanda and Father Byrnes were getting quite friendly. He was happy to see this because he was worried she wouldn’t assimilate into this lifestyle very easily.
That day saw the return of the Seminarians from their summer vacation. They all thought it was quite a shock to see a girl living in the dorm. They had to set up a special schedule for her to use the showers so no one else would be in there. They accommodated her in every way possible way. Father Byrnes had told the Seminarians enough of her story to get them to understand why she was there. The Seminarians were still not permitted to know the full story or to have any knowledge about the Knights.
In the afternoon Anthony’s presence was once again requested but this time he was asked to report to a classroom. He was joined this time by not just Jonathan but a couple of other knights as well. He, of course, sat right next to Jonathan. They chit chatted about this and that as the door opened and they saw a man carrying some books enter the room. He had a full beard and a countenance that reminded Anthony of a Middle Eastern person. The man approached the front of the classroom and set down the books he was carrying on the teacher’s desk. He turned to face the class saying, “I am Sir Alexander Simonet and my job is to instruct you all in the history of the Order. First thing I like to do is to get to know you all a bit before proceeding.” Pointing towards Anthony he said, “Let’s Start with you.”
Anthony stood up and said, “I am Squire Anthony Sanders. I grew up in Jamestown. I have two brothers and two sisters. I attended the Seminary for three years and since coming here I have been receiving visions.” He sat back down.
“Hmmm. That doesn’t really tell us much about you. What do you like to do for fun?” Sir Alexander asked.
Anthony stood back up saying, “I enjoy long walks on the beach and listening to classical music.” Everyone in attendance shared a good laugh. “Seriously though. My idea of fun is a day spent with absolutely nothing to do.”
Nodding his head Sir Alexander said, “Nice. Alright, next.” He pointed to Jonathan.
“My name is Jonathan Greenwood. I grew up in Duluth, MN and I have two little sisters, both of which have a crush on Anthony.” Again, more laughter filled the room. “I enjoy a day out at the lake, swimming and sitting by the campfire.”
The other knights all stood up and told a bit about themselves. When the last one was finished Sir Alexander started speaking again. “I am actually not a member of the Catholic Church as of yet. I actually belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church. Not many people know this, but the Pope has been in negotiations with our leaders for some time now. We are so close to being reunited that the Pope has allowed members of our Church to join the Order. We actually expect to be reunited fully in a matter of a few months now.”
Anthony and Jonathan looked at each other. They knew this was one of the last pieces of the puzzle that was said to happen just before the end came. Sir Alexander noticed their reaction so he said, “I know what you two are thinking and it’s very possible that you are correct. As it is, the Lord works in mysterious ways and we aren’t sure of anything at this point.” Sir Alexander walked over to the chalk board, picked up a piece of chalk and began writing. He turned to the class and started to speak again. “Now, getting on with things. For your first lesson we will literally start at the beginning of the Order. It was founded by a tenth century Italian monk turned Knight named Gregori All’inzio. He, like the both of you, started receiving visions around the age of fifteen. He began writing them all down, starting the scrolls of which we will be studying in upcoming lessons. On a side note, we will need you both to add your own visions to the scrolls, when you have time.”
Anthony raised his hand and Sir Alexander gave him the signal to speak. “So has every “seer” contributed to the scrolls?”
Sir Alexander nodded his head saying, “Those that were able to. It was not always easy finding seers. In fact, you and Jonathan are the youngest we have had in a few centuries I believe. It sometimes took years and even decades to find them. Generally, there have been seers once a generation. Our last ones died in the 1970’s. So we have been waiting for you both to arrive for some time now.”
Sir Alexander went on to tell the story of how Sir Gregori secretly met with Pope Marinus II gaining permission to stay at the Vatican. Pope Marinus II did not start the Order of the Archangels; however, he did plant the groundwork for it. He set up a private guard to protect Gregori and those protectors eventually grew into the Knighthood. Gregori was the first to be knighted and according to his visions the Knighthood was set up with seven Legions. Each Legion was assigned their own Patron Archangel. Why Raphael was chosen for Gregori’s legion, he never disclosed and no one ever figured it out. There was a lot of speculation though.
Class ended with Anthony’s head full of even more information that he had a hard time processing it all. He found himself wandering around the Seminary. His mind was full of thoughts of swords and history lessons. He wandered out the back door of the Seminary all by himself making his way towards his spot by the river. Supper would soon be served in the cafeteria but he was not yet hungry. He laid back on the grass feeling the wind against his face. The smell of the water filled his nostrils and soon there wasn’t a single thought in his head. His eyes closed allowing sleep to overcome him.
He saw himself walking down a beach with Amanda walking next to him, holding his arm. He could feel no sense of danger or any other worry for that matter. He felt as if there was nothing in the world but him and Amanda. He wondered if the war was over and they were able to start their happily ever after. He looked out over the water and guessed that this was an ocean, which one, he could not tell. He could not see anyone else which is something he didn’t mind. Even in his dreams he preferred to be alone with Amanda. They stopped walking after a little while and she kissed him.
Gently he felt her hands on him shaking him slightly. He couldn’t help but wonder why she would be shaking him when suddenly his eyes opened and Amanda was smiling down at him. “It’s time for supper hun.” She said to him softly. He pulled himself up and they walked inside to the cafeteria together. Amanda couldn’t help but notice that he was in a very good mood that evening. They attended evening prayer together after supper and both went to bed. Anthony had a pretty full day and even with the nap he took was completely exhausted by the time he made it to his bed that night.
The next day he woke up to someone knocking on his door yet again. He opened the door to see Father Koenig standing there. “Anthony, good morning. We need you to come down the conference room once you get yourself ready.” Anthony nodded as he closed his door. He turned to his sink, turned on the faucet and splashed water on his face. He brushed his teeth slowly because he wasn’t fully awake. He could tell there it was light outside so it couldn’t be too early in the day. He finished getting himself ready then made his way down to the conference room.
He arrived to see Amanda and Jonathan were already there. Father Koenig motioned for Anthony to sit down. He then gave them all a sheet of paper. Anthony looked at the paper to see a list of jobs that would qualify as service to the community. “Oh, so we get to pick a job today huh?” Anthony asked trying to focus his mind.
“Yes. These are the ones that we have determined acceptable. You can choose any one on the list that you feel you are capable of doing.” Father Koenig replied.
“Why am I here Father?” Amanda asked.
He looked at her and said, “We are sorry Amanda, you need to earn your keep around here. Unfortunately room and board for you isn’t exactly inexpensive. We only require that you make a payment of $300 a month. Do you find that acceptable?”
Amanda replied, “Yes, Father.”
He smiled at her saying, “Good.” He turned his attention to both Jonathan and Anthony saying, “I will give you a few minutes to look it over.”
Anthony scanned the list a few times before having one job catch his eye. He read it intently. Certified Nursing assistant at Villa Maria Nursing Home. Job duties include walking residents, taking residents vitals, feeding residents. Must be able to lift 50+ pounds. He thought to himself that it didn’t sound so bad. He laughed and couldn’t help but think, “What’s the worst that can happen at a job like that?” He then spoke aloud saying, “I found that one I want.” Both Amanda and Jonathan said the same thing right after he did.
Jonathan named his job first saying, “I am going to work for meals on wheels.” Anthony couldn’t help but imagine him dropping off meals in his Camaro which brought a smile to his face.
Amanda then said, “I am going to be a CNA.” Anthony looked at her completely forgetting the image of Jonathan and his nice car.
Anthony smirked before saying, “I am going to be the same as Amanda.”
Father Koenig smiled again then said, “Good choices all of you.” Turning his attention to Anthony he said, “Did you pick your job because Amanda chose the same?”
Anthony quickly said, “No Father. I had decided it all on my own. It looked like the best choice for me.”
“Ok then. You are all excused to go to breakfast. You all will be starting your jobs tomorrow after school or training as that is necessary for being a CNA.” Father Koenig said before leaving the room himself.
They all made their way down to the cafeteria talking about idle chit chat. Anthony noticed that day’s paper was sitting on the breakfast table. He saw the headline “Hand of God held Responsible for bombings.” He thought to himself, “who is the Hand of God?” His eyes found the article quickly. He learned that the Hand of God was new terrorist organization who seemed to defy normal expectations. They allowed people of all walks of life to join them in their proclaimed, “Crusade against Evil.” Skin color, creed, or nationality did not matter to them. Anyone who wanted to fight the evils of today was welcome to join as long as they believe in God.
The more Anthony read, the more disgusted he was. These terrorists seemed to only make things worse for people of Faith. Leaders from all over the world denounced them and implied strongly that people of Faith were to be watched closely. He couldn’t help but worry that people would be watching the Seminary soon. It would be difficult to keep the Knighthood a complete secret under those circumstances. Amanda was trying to get his attention for a few seconds before he finally looked up from the paper.
“Anthony, look at the TV.” She said turning towards the TV herself.
Anthony looked towards the TV that was located in the corner of the cafeteria to see the news was on. The anchor was speaking of current events worldwide. “At this time we confirm that Oslo, Norway, Berlin, Germany and Paris, France have all been destroyed in the same way New York and Los Angeles were. The Hand of God group is taking credit for the bombings.” Amanda grabbed a hold of Anthony strongly. Scared couldn’t even begin to explain how she felt at that moment.
The Anchor continued to speak, “In a few moments we will have a live feed of the President who will be addressing these bombings. We have been told that he has a few major announcements to make regarding not only the terrorist bombings but our current military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.” The Anchor continued to speak for a few more minutes, and then the screen changed showing the President approaching the podium in the White House press room. Anthony held Amanda close as the President started to speak.
“My fellow Americans. The events of the past few days have been terrible indeed. We must pull together with our neighbors and stand against those who would murder our friends, our families. The terrorist organization known as “The Hand of God” is now public enemy number one. We have intelligence reports of this group operating in the United States and they are planning more nuclear attacks on American cities. In response to this, I have pulled all our forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan to assist in our efforts to find these terrorists in our own country. This is the single greatest threat our nation has ever faced. Our own citizens are involved with carrying out nuclear attacks on our own cities. In response to this I am a declaring a state of Martial Law effective immediately. We are imposing a 10:00 pm curfew nationwide and we will be conducting security checks in every major city. We will defeat this enemy and once that is done we will end the Martial Law. I will now answer any questions that you may have….”
Anthony and Jonathan exchanged worried looks. They knew in their hearts that this was not going to end well for anyone. Anthony was never a fan of this President for his socialistic politics but he wasn’t really afraid of him assuming total power. Anthony never bought into all the conspiracy theories that kept saying the President would do this sort of thing. It was a scary thought to have a socialist in power but he never thought it would be possible that one would suspend the constitution effectively making himself a dictator. He squeezed Amanda harder without even thinking about it. They sat there for a very long, never finishing their breakfasts.
Life in the United States changed dramatically that day, but people found a way to go on with their lives. Anthony, Amanda and Jonathan attended school, went to work and still managed to make personal time for each other. Anthony would even be able to take Amanda out on a few dates making them both happy to get out of the Seminary. The biggest adjustment was having soldiers on the streets that could and often would do random security checks on people. They noticed that the Seminary was also being watched, as was, all Churches and Church ran schools.