Grayson, Phoebe, and Avice followed the priest to a door that was to the right of the podium.
When the priest opened the door, a small cold breeze past by them, making Phoebe shiver and grab onto Grayson.
Grayson looked through the doorway to see where it was leading them to. Instead of finding just a hallway, he found stairs spiraling down into the earth.
“Where are we going?” Phoebe asked in a shaky voice.
The priest chuckled while descending the stairs. “To your rooms! Sister Jane and I have rooms down here, and there are plenty of open ones so it would only make sense to have you two down here with us.”
He stopped and turned around, his head lifting in order to look at their faces. “Unless you feel more comfortable sleeping on the benches?”
Phoebe glanced at Grayson with embarrassment in her eyes. “No, no. This will be fine.”
With this, the priest continued his descent.
Turning his attention to Avice, Grayson jerked his chin out towards the nave. Avice croaked softly, understanding he wanted her to watch the front while they were here.
She flew away from him as he started walking through the doorway, Phoebe following while clutching the back of his vest.
It did not take long to get down the stairs. It stopped in front of a rotting door with a circular handle. The priest looked back at them over his shoulder, making sure they were still following him.
The door creaked loudly as he opened it, revealing a long hallway with several doors running along it on either side.
“Your rooms are down the hall and the last two on the left. To the right, there is a sitting room with a fireplace. Get yourselves settled while I build a fire. Sister Jane will be down soon with a tub of water for you to clean yourselves in before dinner.” The priest spoke as he started walking down the hall.
Grayson eyed the basement. It was old but seemed to be incredibly sturdy. The walls were made of brick and the floor was smooth dirt. The whole place smelled earthy, confirming Grayson’s belief that they were underground.
As he walked towards the last doors, he noticed all the other doors were decaying. Some were barely hanging on the hinges, while others had chunks of wood missing.
When he got to the last two rooms, Grayson was pleasantly surprised that they were on the hinges and not in pieces.
Phoebe clutched his vest tighter.
“I think this was a bad idea,” Phoebe whispered as she tried getting closer to Grayson.
Grinning, Grayson looked over his shoulder at her. “You wanted shelter and food. We can’t go back now; it would be considered rude since they already made our rooms.”
Phoebe bit her lip. “I guess you’re right.”
Releasing his vest, Phoebe stepped towards the other door. Blowing out a breath, she opened the door and stepped past the frame, disappearing into the room.
Grayson turned towards his door. Not feeling the anxiety Phoebe was feeling, he grabbed the doorknob and pushed it open.
Stepping into the room, Grayson stopped in his tracks. He paled at the sight while sweat started to bead on his forehead. His breathing became erratic as his sight slowly doubled.
The room looked exactly like his delusions. It was dark, but candelabras decorated the room to give it an eerie gloom. The bed was in the middle of the room with red and black silk sheets. There was a fireplace on the side that was already lit, with two glasses of red wine on the mantel. One was nearly empty already.
In the shadows, Grayson saw movement. It was right by the bed, but as the figure started to step forward, Grayson stumbled backwards out of the room. He threw his back against the wall next to the door frame, trying to steady his breathing and calm his nerves.
As the fear disappeared, it was quickly replaced with anger. Flaring his nostrils and clenching his sword, he looked back into the room, preparing for the site and the wrath he was about to bring.
But it was not the same room.
This room was nothing like the room he previously saw.
The room was dirty and dusty. It only held a small straw bed with blankets on top in the middle of the room, with a broken mirror and dresser off to the side. There was a fireplace opposite the dresser, but it was not lit yet, and looked like it had not been used in many years. In the far corner, close to the fireplace, was a small white crib. It was the only piece of furniture that looked to be in decent condition.
There was only one candle that helped light the room. It was on the dresser as the mirror bounced the light back to the room, giving off a soft glow. The smell of earth, mold, and straw seemed to wrap around Grayson as he took in the room.
It was not the red, silky room that stunk of despair and sex. This caused Grayson to release a breath that he did not realize he was holding.
Relief flooded him as he made his way to the bed. His shoulders slumped over as he sat down, running a hand threw his matted hair. The straw dug into his skin as he let his hands drop. He was not at ease. The church gave him a chill he could not fight off, a feeling of dread that was slowly eating at him.
Sighing, Grayson took off his vest, scrunching his nose at the smell they gave off.
Just as he was about to go find the nun to ask for the bucket of water that was promised and soap, she came into the room struggling with the little tub of water she had.
Grayson got up and grabbed the tub from her before she spilt it.
The nun glared at him while he muttered a thank you and set it near the dresser.
“It is not warm. And dinner will be ready in 30 minutes, do not be late.” She spat out while tossing a bar of soap on the floor before slamming the old door shut, making Grayson wonder if she was the one to practically destroy all the other doors.
Grayson stripped and washed his body with the ice-cold water. Once he was done, he used the leftover water to clean his clothes with the bar of soap.
He laid the wet clothing near the fireplace, planning on lighting it later to keep the chill at bay.
Being completely naked in the room, Grayson soon realized he was in a predicament. The clothes he just cleaned were his only clothes.
Quickly moving to the dresser, he sighed in relief when he saw there were men’s clothing in the drawers.
It was nothing fancy, for which Grayson was glad for. There was a simple cotton shirt with a dark brown vest and matching dark brown breeches. The stockings were in another drawer while he spotted a heavy woolen black coat hanging next to the door. The buttons were polished silver, making Grayson wonder if there was someone that had departed in a hurry since such a prestigious coat was left hanging in the room.
After he made sure his sword was secured at his hip, Grayson walked out the room with a determined stride.
He noted that Phoebe’s door was open, most likely on her way to dinner already.
As he strode by the room, he noticed something peculiar out of the corner of his eye. Stopping suddenly, he reversed his steps and stopped in front of the room. In the same corner of his room, next to the fireplace, was a well-taken care of crib. It was identical to the one in his room.
Narrowing his eyes, Grayson slowly walked away, feeling slightly disturbed at this discovery.
Shaking off the odd feeling, Grayson realized he had not heard from his demon for a while.
‘Demon?’ He whispered in his head.
He was only met with silence.
Grayson realized that he had not felt his presence since he entered the church. This caused a chill to run up his spine as he also realized it was his own mind that played that trick on him earlier with the red, silken room, not his demon.
His sanity was beginning to slip.
Quickening his pace, Grayson silently vowed they would leave early in the morning.
A loud thud made Avice tilt her head towards the noise.
She was sitting in the rafters above the church benches, having just finished her task of making sure the church was safe.
There was nothing out of the ordinary. While searching for any type of danger, she would catch the nun and priest running around tidying the old church as much as possible.
It did not make much of a difference, but Avice still appreciated their effort.
The door that led to the basement opened suddenly, bringing Avice out of her trance. Grayson emerged in borrowed clothing that made him seem of high status.
Avice noted he looked fairly good when dressed fancier.
She let out a soft croak, making Grayson turn towards her at the sound. He did a slight nod of acknowledgement, then headed towards the dining area which was located through another door behind the podium and altar.
A faint sound of something shattering reached Avice’s bird ears. The sound was not made from glass, and it was not from inside the church.
Swiftly, she flew to the heavy wooden doors. With no one around and no way she could open the door with her wings, Avice quickly transformed into a human. She shivered as the cold air touched her skin, making her miss her dark feathers already.
Pulling with all her strength, Avice was able to open the door just enough to slip her body through to the outside.
The wind was blowing harshly with flakes of snow swirling with it. Avice was shocked at how fast the weather had changed. Not liking how cold it was in her human form, she retreated to her raven form.
Once her transformation was complete, she hopped down a few steps and shook out her feathers in satisfaction.
Spreading her wings, Avice flew against the wind, deciding to land on a statue to better survey the area and figure out what that noise was.
However, she quickly noticed something was off about the garden.
The flowers were all smooshed to the ground, like they were stepped on by one giant foot. There were no footsteps though, instead there was a trail of what looked like slime or drool left on the bed of broken flowers.
The statue of Mary was also pushed over and broken into several chunks.
Avice landed next to the statue, surveying the damage of the garden.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw something slither around the corner of the church. Moving her head just enough for one of her eyes to watch the spot, Avice felt the wind die down to nothing with a few snowflakes floating down.
Avice held still, her feathers starting to stand on end with the feeling of uneasiness.
Turning and prepping to fly, a smell invaded her bird nostrils, causing her to pause in mid bend. The pause ended up costing her.
She felt a strange hand slap her down onto the ground. Being pinned on the ground, she was at the mercy of something wide and soft while also fetid. She choked as she felt slime replace the soft mass that was previously assaulting her.
With the need to inform her Master, Avice twitched her wings, trying to wiggle her way out from under the hand. Momentarily, the hand lifted, giving Avice a false sense of freedom. It was quickly replaced with hopelessness when the hand smashed down on her again, effectively knocking her out.