Chapter Eleven: Strange tidings.
It took Anthony a long time to get used to seeing military personnel on the streets. The hummers that patrolled the streets gave him an uneasy feeling. He didn’t like the imposed curfew of 10:00 pm because it didn’t give him much time to get home after work. He realized that news reports were probably being filtered for the so called “common good.” The world of freedom that was America was no more. It has been four months since Martial Law was declared and no one felt any safer than they were before. There were people being arrested for sedition and unpatriotic acts amidst rumors of relocation and reeducation camps.
In spite of all of this Anthony did not worry too much about the outside since all that he cared about was there at the Seminary with him. His training was nearing completion and things with Amanda were as good as they always were. Amanda was now in classes for confirmation. She already went through with her Baptism, Reconciliation and First Communion. Anthony was very happy with her decision to pursue her Faith. It was more than he could ever ask of her and was glad he didn’t have to ask her. They even started saying their prayers together whenever there was time available.
Anthony loved the swordplay training more than anything else he was working on at the time. Whether he won or lost a sparring session, it was the most fun he would have most days. He was getting very good at the sword too, so good in fact, that he was able to beat Jonathan more often than not. Sir Kelly was very impressed with both of his students. Jonathan was a skilled fighter too but Kelly noticed he did not have the “killer instinct” that Anthony possessed. Anthony was never afraid to make a move while Jonathan would at times hesitate to perform certain moves if they would hurt Anthony. Sir Kelly also thought that Anthony had what it took to possibly take over as the trainer someday.
Anthony lay on his bed eagerly awaiting Christmas. He found what he thought was the perfect gift for Amanda. He stared at the little piece of gold, rolling around in his fingers. He gave her a heart pendant for her birthday and managed to find a matching ring. His thoughts those days weighed heavily on asking her to marry him. He knew they were young but he knew had found exactly what he needed. He considered the reasons for marrying her and felt it was the best thing for both of them. Staring at the ring he couldn’t help but read and reread the engraving he had the jeweler inscribe on the inside of the band. “Forever yours.”
He hoped it wasn’t too much with the engraving. He has outright said it many times that she owned his heart and now he was saying it again. He sighed deeply. He knew that by the time Christmas was here he would be a Knight. He went through so much for his training and he has the bumps to prove it. There were definitely certain aspects of his job he didn’t like. He wasn’t particularly fond of changing adults’ briefs. He would come home smelling something awful. The last part of his training, learning the history of the order, was something he was happy to do except for having to write down all of his visions.
It was December 23rd and he was alone in his room. Amanda was off at Confirmation class. He didn’t much mind the alone time, as he never got much of it. He just tended to think too much about everything. He was deep in thought when there was a knock on the door and then he heard Jonathan speaking. “Hey Anthony, I was down getting my mail and I saw that you have a letter. I brought it up to you.”
Anthony got up and opened the door. “Thanks man. I wonder who it’s from. I can’t remember the last time I got a letter here.”
Anthony scanned the front of the envelope and could not see a return address. He opened the letter and saw who it was from. He politely thanked Jonathan and closed the door. He sat down on his bed and carefully unfolded the letter. He had no idea why Charles would be writing him a letter. He hadn’t heard anything from him since their last encounter in hell. He sat there considering not reading it and throwing it in the garbage. He didn’t want to open this can of worms again. He wanted to be free from Charles but his curiosity finally got the better of him.
By the time you read this I will have Amanda back in my possession. I set a little trap for her and I am confident that it will work. You will come alone to the river in Jamestown where this all began.
Anthony panicked and ran out of his room as fast as his feet could carry him. He reached the room where the Confirmation class was being held. He looked through the door’s window and couldn’t see Amanda. He opened the door and asked, “Where’s Amanda? Hasn’t she been in class?”
Father Byrnes turned to him, “No she told me earlier that she wasn’t feeling well”
“Thanks father, sorry to interrupt.” He closed the door. His mind was racing faster than he could keep up with. Despite his head telling to be back into the room to tell Father Byrnes about the letter his heart screamed at him to take action immediately. He ran back to his room and grabbed his sword. He decided this would end tonight no matter what. He got into this truck and hesitated one last time. After thinking to himself for a moment he spoke to himself saying, “Ahh hell.” He started the truck and put it into drive.
He had to take the back roads to get to Jamestown because the interstate highways were kept clear for military use only. He wasn’t as familiar with these roads but was able to get to Jamestown just before 10:00 pm. He drove straight to McCrosky Park but instead of driving into the park he stopped on the street. He looked around to make sure there weren’t any soldiers patrolling the area. He stepped out of his truck and attached his sword to his belt. He ran towards the bridge.
The cold was affecting his muscles as he ran but he pushed through the discomfort. He got to the bridge and stopped. He looked around carefully. He looked into the trees and saw nothing. The bright winter nights gave him plenty of light to see his surroundings. He decided to use some stealth from this point because he didn’t want to give his presence away too quickly. Slowly, he trudged through the knee deep snow. His eyes would dart right to left as he took each step because he did not want to be surprised. He would stop every ten feet then turn so he could see behind him. The walk from the bridge would normally have taken a few minutes but it took him almost a quarter of an hour.
He slowly stepped out onto the main path and saw nothing. He walked forward and listened intently but the only sound he could hear was the snow crunching under his feet. Then without warning Charles jumped out in front of him wearing full body armor and sword drawn. Anthony stepped back, drew his sword and said. “Where’s Amanda”
“In a safe place.” Charles replied.
Anthony held back his anger as he asked, “Where Charles, I have no time for games.”
Charles started laughing hysterically. The sound of the laughter burned in Anthony’s ears. It should have been a sign to Anthony that he let out his anger too quickly as he yelled, “TELL ME WHERE SHE IS NOW!”
Charles held his stomach as he finished laughing. “You are so stupid. I have no idea where she is exactly but she isn’t here. Did you really think with all that protection at the Seminary I would be able to get her? I knew she wasn’t there because one of my friends told me she left earlier. I had them slip my little letter into your mailbox and I waited. You fell for it hook, line and sinker.”
Anthony suddenly felt rather stupid. He let his emotions get the better of him. Anthony calmed himself down and said, “Charles, it isn’t too late for you. Please, come back with me.”
“I am not going anywhere and most certainly not with you. Besides, who said you were leaving anyway.” Charles looked up and gave the signal. Slowly a feeling both cold and hot entered into Anthony’s mind. It was like someone applied icy hot directly to his brain. The woods became alive around Anthony as he saw from what seemed to be out of nowhere armored knights surrounding him. He stood there and raised his sword as Charles continued speaking, “Don’t worry. These Knights are here just to make sure you don’t run away.”
Anthony scoffed at Charles, “Knights? Is that what you call them? If they follow Remus they aren’t any Knights I would recognize.”
Charles spoke with a confidence Anthony did not recognize from him before. “They are properly called Death Knights. This isn’t any fantasy game, they are the real deal. They will soon rise as the dominant force in the world and you won’t be able to stop them.”
Charles stepped forward but did not swing. He held his sword in the ready position steadily as he approached Anthony. Anthony stood his ground, cleared his mind so he could focus on his enemy. He stepped to his left causing Charles to go his left as well. They circled each other for a couple of moments. Charles got impatient and decided to strike. Charles yelled and swung his sword from left to right aiming for Anthony’s ribs. Anthony parried the swing and returned with an over the head counterattack. Charles rolled sideways and landed back on his feet. He was slower than Anthony because of the armor but still able to move decently fast.
Anthony swung again this time right to left aiming for Charles leg. Charles tried to block but was unable to get his sword there in time. Anthony’s sword crashed into Charles’s leg plate crushing it inward. Charles yelled as he felt the metal crushing his leg. Charles dropped his guard and Anthony swung again this time in an upward swing that caught Charles’s helmet. The helmet flew off his head causing the metal to nick Charles face. Charles felt the blood trickle down his cheek and wiped it away with back of his hand. Charles’s face distorted with anger then feigned a move forward then to the left causing Anthony to step back. He took advantage of Anthony’s distraction and swung catching Anthony’s left arm.
Anthony’s right hand went up to his wound and felt blood flowing. He then steadied himself and went right back into his fighting position. Charles pressed the attack forward with an overhead chop. Anthony dodged to the right and as he moved he swung with everything he had connecting on Charles midsection. Charles fell to his knees and screamed in pain. Anthony saw blood flowing from the fresh wound. His hit was able to penetrate the plate armor effectively putting Charles down.
Anthony was breathing heavy as she stared down his enemy. He stopped his attack and said, “It’s over. You are down and you have a severe injury. Let’s put a stop to this madness Charles please!”
“I won’t stop until your DEAD.” Charles yelled as he flung himself up towards Anthony. Anthony grabbed Charles and rolled backwards. He planted his foot on Charles chest and flung Charles onto the frozen river causing the ice to crack. Anthony looked up to see Charles lying there. Anthony looked back to check on the Death Knights who were standing their ground and still not moving. He looked again at Charles to see him trying to stand up. Anthony looked at the ice crack as Charles localized his weight more and more.
“CHARLES STOP! LOOK AT THE ICE!” Anthony yelled and pointed down.
“Nothing will stop me from getting you.” Charles said as he stood up straight. He took a step towards Anthony and his right foot broke through the ice.
“NOOOOOO!” Anthony yelled and threw himself forward onto his stomach. He crawled out to Charles who was struggling to keep a hold of the ice. Anthony reached for Charles’s hand and grabbed it. “I won’t let you die like this.” Charles reached back with one of his hands and pulled out a knife. Charles brought the knife down stabbing Anthony through his left hand. Anthony yelled but wouldn’t let go of Charles. “You idiot I am trying to help you.”
Anthony saw in that moment that it didn’t matter how much he tried, Charles appeared to be a lost cause. “I would rather DIE!” Charles replied.
The pain in Anthony’s hand and arm were growing more intense by the moment. He felt his grip on Charles slipping and he realized that he could not hold on much longer. His strength was leaving him so Anthony made a choice. “Good bye Charles.” Was all Anthony could say as he let go entirely. Charles struggled trying to get a grip on the ice but to no avail. Charles went under the water and all Anthony saw were bubbles floating to the surface. Anthony looked away because he could not bear to watch. He crawled away and grabbed his sword where he had dropped it noticing that the Death Knights were moving towards him. As Anthony stood up he realized that Charles’s knife was still stuck in his hand. He gripped his sword with his right hand readying for another fight.
Anthony stood his ground but was looking for a way out. Just as the Death Knights were about to get to him he heard shouting coming from in the trees. The Death Knights turned to see the Knights of the Archangels coming through the thicket. Anthony swung his sword across his body decapitating the Death Knight directly in front of him. The other Knights moved in engaging their enemy. The Knights of the Archangels fought valiantly as Anthony stood there watching them. He pulled the knife out of his hand and looked at it. It had a strange symbol on it that he had seen somewhere before but at that moment couldn’t remember where exactly. He looked up to see his brothers finishing off the rest of the Death Knights without much trouble.
Sir Kelly approached Anthony with a very angry look on his face. “You should NOT have gone off on your own. You were really lucky Amanda found that letter and came to me right away. This would have ended very differently if she hadn’t. We don’t have much time to get to the church before the soldiers will start to harass us. We will continue this conversation there.”
Anthony put his sword back into its scabbard and said, “Yes sir.” He ran as fast as he could back to his truck. He saw Amanda there waiting for him behind the driver’s seat. “You can drive, my hands all messed up.” She looked down with wide eyes as the blood dripped from his hand and then she saw his shoulder bleeding as well. She didn’t even say a word; she just drove as fast as she could to the local Catholic Church. They hurried inside where Sir Kelly was sitting at the kitchen table waiting for them.
Kelly tried his best to contain his anger as he said, “What were you thinking, huh? I am surprised you didn’t have a vision warning you against this. Why did you put your fellow Knights in danger?”
Anthony looked from Kelly’s face to Amanda’s. “I did it without thinking. I would have to say it was a mixture of anger and pride. I was so mad that he took her that I couldn’t stop myself and I was convinced that I would save him like I saved her. I see now not just how wrong I was but also how sinful I was as well. Two of the seven deadliest committed in one night. There really isn’t anything more you can say to me to make me feel worse. I know what I have done Sir Kelly and I know saying I am sorry isn’t enough.”
Sir Kelly studied these words in his head before saying, “I am sorry for your loss. I understand he was a childhood friend. Pray for his soul and put this matter behind you. I will see to our accommodations for the night. Excuse me please.”
Amanda had busied herself while they talked by working on Anthony’s wounds. She wasn’t exactly a doctor but first aid was pretty much common sense. He didn’t notice her applying the peroxide because his hand and arm were numb from the blood loss. He could still move his fingers although it hurt a great deal when he did. “You’re going to have to see a doctor in the morning. I can stop the bleeding and keep it from being infected but there could be internal damage I can’t get to.” Amanda said with a tone of concern in her voice.
Anthony looked at her and said, “Where were you? You weren’t in class or anywhere else that you would normally be. I was so scared that he might kill you before I got there.”
Amanda sighed heavily then said, “I wasn’t sick. I told Father Byrnes that because I was running out of time to get your Christmas present. I was at the store the whole time. I am so sorry I didn’t tell you. I just…wanted….”
Anthony reached out with his right hand placing it on her shoulder saying, “It’s ok Amanda. I don’t blame you for what happened tonight. This was entirely my fault. I would go through hell for you because it is my choice to make. You don’t have to ask for anything from me.”
Anthony was shocked to hear her concern turn to anger as she said, “You are going to get yourself killed because of me aren’t you? Have you seen this yet? Is that where you are heading.”
“I know at least one more time I will have to do this. I am not sure if I rescue you or not but I know I will come to find you. Please do me one favor. Don’t leave me because you feel guilty. Every time I put myself into danger I do it because I choose to. I will promise you one thing too. I will exercise better judgment in the future.” Anthony said.
Amanda rubbed Anthony’s hand as she said, “I won’t leave you. I really have nowhere else to go. I am just glad you’re safe.”
Sir Kelly came back shortly to tell them there were cots set up in the living room for them to sleep on when they are ready. Anthony felt woozy from the loss of blood and decided to lie down as soon as possible. He fell asleep quickly as Amanda watched over him. She would not sleep that night because she was worried about Anthony’s condition. As soon as the sun was up she woke him, fed him breakfast and drove him to the hospital for proper treatment.
She had a lot of time to think that night about what to tell the doctors. She told Anthony to them that he was attacked by someone he didn’t know. The person tried to mug him just before curfew but he was able to defend himself. However, in the process of defending himself he was cut in the arm and stabbed through the hand. As the doctor stitched Anthony’s wounds Amanda sat by his side through it all. She was rubbing his arm and he looked down at her hand. He saw her tattoo again. He never gave much thought to her tattoo, mostly because he had no idea what it meant.
Oddly, he just encountered the exact same symbol on the knife that Charles used to stab him. He looked up at her face and she met his gaze. He was staring at her for a long before he finally said something. “What’s that mean, that symbol on your hand?” She looked down at it and was silent for a while. She looked back at him and he could tell this was a sensitive matter to her.
Anthony thought he knew everything about her story by now so he was a little surprised to hear her say, “Remus forced me to get it. I have no idea what it means exactly he just said it’s a symbol of his ownership over me.”
“Charles had that exact same mark on the handle of his knife.” Anthony replied.
Amanda had nothing more to say on the matter and Anthony didn’t suspect there was anything else that she knew. He decided he would check on this later. He felt he was examined, poked and prodded by every nurse and doctor in the ER. He had been X-Rayed and they even thought an M.R.I. of his hand might help but he refused. He said he was perfectly fine and wanted to leave as soon as possible. His extreme dislike for hospitals did extend to him being a patient.
The doctors prescribed him hydrocodone for the pain before they left to return back to the Seminary. Amanda drove because Anthony was under the influence of his pain medication. They reached the Seminary a little after noon and they were met in the parking lot by Sir Kelly. He instructed Amanda to go to her room and wait for Anthony there. He told Anthony to follow him to the conference room. Anthony walked behind him with his head down. He had a feeling that he would be punished harshly for what he just did.
They entered the conference room and Anthony saw Sir Alexander Simonet and four other Knights that he did not know. He was instructed to sit down at the table. He did so then Sir Kelly said, “Anthony, the Knights gathered here are in the commanders of six of the seven legions. I myself am commander of the 1st Legion, St. Michael's. I will let the others introduce themselves.”
Sir Alexander stood up then said, “Hello there Anthony, I am commander of the 2nd Legion, St. Gabriel’s.” Sir Alexander bowed then sat back down.
The Knight to his right stood and said, “Sir Andrew Shaw. I am originally from New York. I was a stock broker for a few years, made a lot of money before joining the Order. I am happy to say I am now the Commander of the 3rd Legion, St. Uriel’s. It is a pleasure to meet you.” Sir Andrew sat back down.
The next Knight to stand introduced himself saying, “Sir Gabe Gibson. I grew up right here in Fargo and I worked directly for the Bishop. He recruited me a few years ago and now I am the Chosen of St. Phanuel and Commander of the 4th Legion. Nice to meet you.”
Anthony looked to the next Knight who appeared to be not much older than Anthony. “Sir Ryan Benjamin, Commander of the 5th Legion and Chosen of St. Zarachiel. Until now I was the youngest Commander in the history of the Order.”
“Until now?” Anthony asked.
“Hold your horses Anthony, we are getting to that.” Sir Kelly replied.
The last Knight in the room stood up and spoke with Irish accent saying, “Sir Shawn O’Grady. Immigrant from Ireland, former IRA operative and now I am Commander of the 6th Legion and the Chosen of St. Simiel. So great to meet you finally.”
Anthony felt obligated to say something so he said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you all. I wish it was under better circumstances.”
Sir Alexander spoke, “The circumstances are what they are for a reason. I am sure you are thinking you are here for punishment and maybe you are. It all depends on how you look at it.”
Sir Gabe then spoke, “We are the War Council of the Knights of the Archangels. You have not known about us as of yet because normally only Knights are allowed to come before us. We have ourselves a situation that is a little different than any we have had before. Usually we only meet when selecting new Council members and only then with fully fledged Knights.”
Sir Andrew then spoke, “We summoned you here because you were the first to encounter a Nephilim and now because of your recent actions, we have too. Those Death Knights we fought last night were Nephilim, take out your sword and look at the blood on it.”
Anthony drew his sword and saw the blood on it was black and oily. He got the sudden urge to clean this filth of off his sword as quickly as possible. He tried to use his sleeve to wipe the blood off but all he was able to do was smear it. He didn’t like how this blood felt on his fingers, it was somehow heavy and slightly burned. “This is the oddest blood I have ever seen.”
Sir Kelly then spoke, “Yes. As the one who brought us this information about the Nephilim and up until now the only one to face one down we have decided to invite you to join the council. The leader from St. Raphael’s legion has been dead since the attack on New York City. We are extending the invitation to you because of your experience so far. You will be dubbed a Knight on Christmas day and on that night we will reconvene to discuss strategy.”
Anthony could hardly believe his ears. He felt extremely honored by this offer. Suddenly the knowledge of which he gained last night was burning in his head so he spoke, “I have a few things I need to tell you all before we go any further. First, I don’t know if you guys know this or not but we are being watched. Charles told me so before I fought him last night. Did anyone here know this?”
Sir Kelly replied saying, “We had suspicions about it but nothing confirmed until now. What else do you have?”
Anthony reached back and grabbed Charles’s knife from his belt. “This knife was used to stab me last night. This symbol is the symbol for Remus, who is the one pulling Charles’s strings. He was the first Nephilim I encountered and I believe him to be different from the ones last night. He has intelligence where the ones last night seemed more like drones to me.”
Sir Alexander then said, “Thank you for your input is there anything else?”
Anthony shook his head saying, “Not at this time.”
Sir Kelly looked at Anthony saying, “You may go and rest. I am sure your injuries aren’t very pleasant.”
Anthony said goodbye to everyone as he departed the conference room. He was surprised by their decision to promote him even though he was both young and impetuous. He could only conclude that they were desperate to keep on par with the Death Knights. He was concerned deeply because it seemed that time was not on their side. He made it to his room and found Amanda waiting for him like always. He explained to her what just happened and she sat there quietly listening.
He realized that it was Christmas Eve that day and he hadn’t yet given her his present. “I don’t know what your family tradition was but my family always exchanged gifts on Christmas Eve. I have yours here.” He pulled out the little box from his pocket and was half amazed it was still in good shape. He handed it to her and she looked at it for a second before opening it. She opened it, she gasped and her hand flew to her mouth.
“I have thought this over quite a bit and I don’t know if anyone else would understand. I know we are heading towards a dark time for the world and I will only be able to make it through it with you by my side.” He then got down on one knee and took her hand. “Will you marry me?”
She sat there with her mouth open in complete shock for what seemed like an eternity to Anthony. Slowly, a smile appeared on her face as a tear dropped from her eye. “Yes, I will.”
She pulled him in for a kiss and he wrapped his arms around her. He didn’t know if this was a mistake or not but it certainly felt right. He had prayed about it several times and felt in his heart that God was telling him to do this. He knew that his life would be hell without her and that was more than enough of a reason to marry her. He took the ring out of the box then placed it on her finger. She stared at the ring admiring how it looked on her finger. She pulled away from him and reached into her own pocket. She brought her hand back out and was holding a box of her own.
“I thought long and hard about what I should get you for Christmas. I found out they were selling this at an antique store downtown and I just had to get it.” She handed him the present with a huge smile on her face. He opened it to find a necklace with the symbol of St. Raphael on the medal hanging from it. He could see it was old from the corrosion on it but he thought it was exquisitely beautiful. He took the medal out to examine it closer finding the fish was surrounded by emeralds. He turned it over to see his initials had been engraved on the back.
“Thank you babe. I love it.” He said as he undid the clasp, wrapped it around his neck where he redid the clasp. He looked down on it seeing the medal lay directly above his heart. He smiled and kissed her again.
They spent the night discussing their wedding which they wanted to have happen as quickly as possible. He knew that it would be difficult to get Father Byrnes to do it because typically the Church does not marry people under the age of 20. Marrying at their age was not uncommon necessarily but is discouraged in the Church. They were so wrapped up in wedding talk that they didn’t realize it was after 11:00 pm and they would have to get ready for midnight mass. Amanda went back to her room to get dressed in the best outfit she had which was a blue long sleeved blouse with a long black skirt. They made it to mass together on time and then after mass went to bed. Even after exchanging gifts and Anthony proposing marriage it turned out that the next day would be the one to remember.
Anthony and Amanda were summoned early the next morning to the church where Anthony would be Knighted along with Jonathan. As with their swearing in ceremony as Squires they were pulled aside in the Sacristy by Father Byrnes. He instructed them to get into their robes then said, “The first part of the ceremony will include your fellow Knights dressing you in your armor. The second part of the ceremony will be you completing the vows you took as Squires and finally you will be dubbed Knights by the Bishop.” He then extended his arm to the corner of the Sacristy saying, “Once again, I will hear your confessions before we proceed.”
Jonathan went first time and after he was done with his penance walked out to the entrance of the Church. Anthony then gave his confession, did his penance and joined Jonathan in front of the Church. Anthony was less nervous this time than he was before the first ceremony mostly because he felt he had earned what was about to happen. Anthony couldn’t help but smile as he saw Jonathan shifting back and forth obviously the nervous one this time. They heard the music begin and they walked in towards the Altar as they did last time. They stopped then turned to face the opposite way of each other. They each had two Knights that were assigned to dress them.
Sir Kelly and Sir Gabe brought over to Anthony his boots. Sir Kelly lifted each foot as Sir Gabe pulled the boots onto Anthony’s feet. Anthony watched as they walked away to grab the next piece of armor which was his greaves. Sir Gabe and Sir Kelly connected the plates around Anthony’s hips first then attached the leg plates to that. They walked away again bringing back a chain mail shirt which they slipped over Anthony’s head. They then attached the plate cuirass over that. Anthony noticed the plates clasped together on the sides under his arms. Sir Kelly walked away by himself to grab the final piece of armor, the helm. Anthony bowed his head so Sir Kelly could easily place it on his head.
They then turned to face the Sanctuary and knelt before the Altar. Bishop Samuels stepped before Anthony first and with Anthony’s sword in hand spoke. “This sword is to be used only in the Service of God. Do you swear that it will only be used to defend yourself and others? That you would suffer the pains of death and hell before you would use it against the innocent or for personal gain?”
Anthony nodded his head as he said, “I do so swear.”
“I dub you Sir Anthony Sanders.” As he said that he tapped each of Anthony’s shoulders with the sword. Then repeated the same steps with Jonathan before saying, “Rise and be Recognized, Knight of the Archangels.”
Anthony rose, took his sword and turned around. Once Jonathan was on his feet they both lifted their swords in the air. The crowd erupted in applause as Anthony and Jonathan exchanged smiles. Anthony’s pride swelled as he felt a real sense of accomplishment for the first time in his life. After a few moments they put their swords inside their scabbards then led the procession down to the dining hall where another feast was prepared for them.