Grayson sat at the end of the long table, across from the priest.
Phoebe was sitting to the left of him, while the nun sat near the priest on his left.
Bowls of vegetable soup and stale bread was served with a glass of red wine. Phoebe and the others ate vehemently, nearly finishing their food within minutes.
The priest picked up his wine glass, lifting it up high. “To our honored guests! May God watch over your journey and be in your favor.” The red liquid swirled as he lifted it to his lips, causing a small drop to drip onto his white collar.
The nun timidly took a sip of the wine before setting the glass down and scolding the priest for being sloppy.
Phoebe gulped her wine then continued her eating, not paying much attention to anything else.
Grayson decided not to cheers to the priest’s words. He could tell the priest was drunk, most likely already indulging secretly before dinner.
‘Perhaps that is why the nun is so against visitors. She does not want anyone to see her priest, a man dedicated to God, drunk off wine,’ Grayson thought as he continued to observe the two while slowly eating his soup.
They were like an old married couple. Bickering about the amount of wine he could have and the mess that was starting to become evident around his bowl. The nun fussed with his wine-stained collar, trying to soak up as much of the red as she could while he attempted to continue drinking from the glass
The scene brought a ghost of a smile to his lips, reminding him tenderly of Eleanor.
Grayson downed the wine and was about to stand up to leave when he felt Phoebe put her hand on his.
He looked at her, waiting for her to explain.
Her eyes bore into his with such concern, that Grayson felt slightly bad for putting her through so much already.
“You need to eat, Grayson. You need to replenish your strength so you can save Eleanor.” She whispered softly while letting go of his hand.
Looking down at his food, he did not realize that he had barely eaten any of it. So, he sat down and ate the soup and bread with vigor.
“Do you need another wine?” The priest bellowed out while swaying ever so slightly.
Grayson nodded his head with a mouth full of bread.
The priest smiled while nudging the nun to serve more wine. She reluctantly got up.
“So, my son, what brings you to travel this way? Surely you know that winter is upon us?”
Grayson grabbed the bottle from the nun when she was about to pour the liquid into his glass. She glared at him before walking back to her seat.
“I am not your son. And it is none of your concern about our journey.” Grayson lifted the bottle to his lips before gulping back nearly half of it.
“I would like to ask you a question instead,” Grayson murmured while wiping his mouth with the arm of his new shirt.
The priest gestured for him to continue.
“Why would a church have rooms with cribs in them? Your faith is against those who do not wait till marriage to have sex, so why provide refuge for those that do not follow your faith?”
The priest and nun passed a look between them that normally would go unnoticed, but to Grayson it was as clear as day.
“We help those in need. And most of those that need our help are either pregnant or have children with them…” The priest tried to answer with an even voice.
Lifting an eyebrow and the bottle of wine to his lips, Grayson shrugged, deciding it was none of his business.
Just as he finished the bottle of wine, he felt the church shift slightly. A loud noise between a wail and a howl penetrated the quiet ambience that had settled around them.
The priest and nun snapped their focuses towards the front of the church, their faces filled with apprehension.
“I told you not to let them stay!” The nun hissed at the priest.
The priest gulped before standing up and grabbing an unopened bottle of wine from the shelf behind him.
“What is going on?” Phoebe asked, still sitting in her chair with the spoon half way to her mouth.
Grayson had already left his seat, walking fast towards the front. Phoebe immediately put down the spoon as soon as she saw Grayson leave, needing to fulfill her obligation to always follow his lead.
Once Grayson was outside, he found broken statues and trails of slime all through the garden. He slowly ascended the stairs, tilting his head up slightly to get a scent.
The smell was oddly familiar, making Grayson halt on the last step and think of the possible source.
“Avice!” Phoebe cried out from behind Grayson.
Looking out more, Grayson finally saw Avice in her raven form. She laying was unconscious next to a broken statue of the Virgin Mary.
Phoebe ran past Grayson to the raven, gently scooping her up in her arms as her skirts swirled around her like a protective cocoon. Cooing and stroking Avice’s feathers, Phoebe did not realize there was something slowly moving towards her.
“Grayson, she’s hurt! We need –“ Phoebe spoke urgently as she spun around to face Grayson, only to be interrupted by something coming from the woods.
It was hideous. It was a pile of bones and flesh fused together in an unorderly fashion. The body had many mouths that were painfully moaning and dripping saliva as if it could not quench the need for something delicious. There was a massive mouth in front, near the arms, with teeth and a large tongue constantly moving. It stunk like baby vomit and anguish, although it still did not stink as bad as the ghouls, but in its own way it was vile.
It was an abomination.
The abomination slinked towards Phoebe, its overly long arms dragging its massive body leaving a trail of wet scum. As it crept closer, Grayson noticed that it did not have legs. It was just a large blob with arms.
The priest was nursing the bottle of wine with tears running down his face, sobbing and gulping as if that was the only thing he knew how to do. The nun was close by, with her hand on the priest’s shoulder and her eyes closed.
Grayson took in their appearance, having a sudden understanding of what they were doing.
“You have done this before.” He stated to them simply. The nun opened her eyes and looked at him. She nodded solemnly, then brought her attention back to the priest. He had lowered the bottle, his hands clenched in fists as he seemed to have an internal struggle.
“We had no cho-ice,” the priest hiccupped. “It would not stop until it…ate…” He trailed off, afraid to speak what the thing wanted most.
“You sacrificed your people… that’s why your church is so empty, and why you drink. You’ve lost your faith, priest.” Grayson mocked him, feeling a sense of justice by this act of disobedience towards the priest’s God.
The priest choked back a sob while angrily facing Grayson, “How dare you! I am doing everything I can to save lives! If this thing doesn’t get its food from us it will go to the town!”
Grayson simply smirked at the priest’s attempt at intimidation and reasoning. Instead, he pulled out his sword and approached the fleshy beast.
Phoebe ended up walking backyards towards the church, hitting the wall next to the stairs while holding Avice close to her chest. The abomination was already in front of her despite its long, thin arms dragging its heavy body.
Just as it was about to grab her, Grayson swung his sword up and struck down hard. The abomination did not flinch as the sword tried to cut through its arm.
Instead, it pushed away the sword and Grayson, effectively making him fly several yards away.
Grayson landed on his back, the wind knocked out of him. Gasping for air, he looked back at the abomination as it grabbed Phoebe. She was too terrified to move as it brought her closer to its large mouth.
When it opened its mouth to reveal sharp teeth, Phoebe screamed. The abomination seemed to ignore her as its large, blue/gray tongue started to lick her from toe to head in one long stroke.
It paused, then let a dissatisfied growl before starting to move away from Phoebe, who dropped to her knees while glistening with saliva.
Grayson furrowed his eyebrows in confusion.
‘It…it tasted her?’ He thought as he tried to stand up.
‘Look closer at it.’ His demon whispered softly.
Grayson perked up at the voice. Even though he wanted to speak to his demon, Grayson heeded his words and examined the abomination.
He soon realized that the thing could not see. Nor could it hear. It was a massive body of flesh and mouths. There was no possible way it could know where its victims were.
To test a theory that was developing in Grayson’s mind, he stopped on the ground and stabbed the earth with his sword.
The abomination halted, then turned towards Grayson.
‘Interesting, it feels the vibrations from the ground…’ He thought as he pulled the sword out of the ground and slashing through the air a few times to clean off the blade.
The abomination continued to crawl towards Grayson, giving him a better look at it.
That’s when Grayson realized something else that rendered the thing at a disadvantage. It did not have a nose. The mouth was its only breath source.
Another piece clicked in his head as he remember Phoebe being licked. It was measuring and tasting her, making sure she was a good meal.
Grayson’s eyes widened in shock as the final piece fell together.
‘It smells like baby vomit.’
Grayson roared in pure anger as he focused on the priest, who was still on his knees clutching the bottle of wine and hiccupping.
Just as the abomination reached for Grayson, he swerved out of its way and ran towards the priest, his sword at his side ready to strike.
He felt his eyes darken and his teeth sharpen while letting his rage take over.
Without a second thought, Grayson swung his sword at the priest’s head. The kill was swift and without resistance as the blade sliced through his neck.
Grayson stopped short on the other side of the priest, his back to him as his head fell of his body.
The nun screamed loudly, but was cut short when Grayson raised the tip of his blade to her throat.
His black eyes seem to scream vengeance as he allowed the nun to live a little longer.
“You disgusting people! Worthless, selfish scums! I want to hear what you and your priest feed this abomination! I want to hear you say it in front of me and your GOD!”
The nun’s eyes filled with tears of sorrow as she kneeled before Grayson at the mercy of his sword.
She clasped her hands together in prayer. She began to pray while squeezing her eyes shut, the tears finally escaping down her cheeks.
Grayson growled inhumanly. He thrusted the tip of the sword closer to her neck as he yelled out, “Tell me!”
The nun jerked at his tone and volume. Feeling defeated, her shoulders slumped as she looked Grayson in the eye. Her eyes took his black ones in surprise, but she did not let them distract her.
“We fed it abandoned and unborn babies,” She whispered, her lower lip quivering at the confession.
Grayson gritted his teeth while trying to keep his anger from boiling over. He wanted more answers, he could feel it within his bones that there was more to the story.
“How did it become that? Why did it become that?”
The nun shook her head. “It’s a terrible story, one I would rather forget.”
Grayson lowered his sword and slowly kneeled so his face was inches away from the nun’s. “Tell me.”
His voice indicated there was no room for argument. The nun glanced at the abomination, which was searching around the area Grayson was at. It looked pathetic and weak in that moment, but the nun knew better. She knew she had a limited time before it became violent with hunger. Taking a deep breath, the nun began the story.