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THANKFULLY STILL, THEY made it to the Temple in good time, although with scattered wits and a car riddled with bullet holes, thoroughly bashed in from all sides.

Davies had nearly run the car right into the building at the speed with which he came, but was able to apply the brakes a foot or two before the main entrance, causing everyone around to clear away in panic. Then four women from the Sisterhood rushed out to receive them as they alighted from the car, having been forewarned that they were en route by Sister Agatha.

Detective Davies glanced at the area around in apprehensively, to be sure that there were no imminent dangers about. Then he yanked the backdoor of the car open, helped Samantha out, and then he hauled Alan’s limp frame up in his arms but not without a measure of difficulty.

Then supported by one of the women who were around, offering little help to Samantha and Agatha, both of whom had small scratches on their hands, shoulders or face aside from the fact that they were still shaking, he carried the boy into the temple. The Sisters led the way to the underground Sanctuary where Davies gently put Alan down, laying him flat on his back on the bare floor.

Stepping into the Sanctuary, Samantha stared at the place with nervous anxiety, feeling tired and unwell and generally shred in her heart. There was a stone altar set in the middle of the hall, and beside it, a bowl of Holy Water, a sharp blade, seven red-back Bibles and seven silver goblets, along with a scaled down model of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem and the Ark of the Covenant, both cast in gold.

Then on the wall at the back of the hall was a giant-sized depiction of the Magen David, the six-pointed star of King David. The same depiction covered nearly half the space on the floor, in the middle of which Alan had been laid. There was also a large chain placed on the ground, not very far from Alan and the religious items.

Samantha felt the chills, wondering how the events of the ritual would begin and end, and what the purpose were for the things she was looking at, in particular the chains.

Some minutes later, one of the Sisters came up and asked Samantha if she would like something to eat. She shook her hand warily, lost in thought.

“You should eat,” said Agatha, standing beside her. “You need your strength.”

“I’m fine,” she returned, with a gentle sigh.

“No, you’re not,” Davies cut in kindly.

She looked at him, said nothing.

“Come on, let’s go get something to eat,” he told her.

Samantha hesitated, turned and cast a forlorn look at her son lying there on the floor, almost lifeless.

“He’s not going anywhere, Samantha.”

She nodded quietly. Then they all went out of the temple to the dining area where a small meal was set before each of them. They ate quietly as though in mourning, and then after a few hours of waiting, Agatha Tronnel informed them that it was time to return to the Sanctuary for the Rite to commence.

The time was past 7 pm.

Samantha Prince gasped uncertainly, exchanged nervous glances with Detective Davies, who took her hand reassuringly as they both followed Agatha and the Sisters in front through the narrow door and down the stairs to the Hall below, where Alan Prince lay in a trance-like coma.

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