Our first sequel. And the third, count it, the THIRD entry from Mr Alpha.
Friar Matthew Condon’s head swivelled toward the door as it opened and Father Fabris entered. “Brothers,” Fabris said, “The Holy Father has led to Horatii to his private chapel to pray. We, however, have further duties to perform.”
Father Thiebault nodded solemnly “I know Brother, but I fear that the heaviest portion of our burden will fall on Brother Matthew.”
Matthew felt his face go slack with surprise. “But…But, we have performed our duties! What more do we need to do?”
Father Fabris eased into the third wooden chair in the otherwise empty room, and then leaned forward and stared at the floor. After a few moments in thought he began to speak as he continued to stare at the plain boards. “Brother, what has happened is unprecedented in the records of the Church and even in the tales of antiquity. In the ancient tales men only battled one or two monsters. In our records it is the same. The relics we hold in trust came alive only singly, and even then, only if another had not been created before the Terminatus was performed. But now, NOW they have all come alive, as you and we witnessed. A new hero and his weapon have been created and an army of demons has invaded. We are traveling a path in blackest night, with nothing to guide our way. We need knowledge and I fear that the burden of obtaining it falls upon you, as both Father Thiebault and I are too old and weak to do what must be done.”
Matthew straightened in his chair. “Of course Brother, I will do whatever the Holy Mother Church needs me to do.”
Father Thiebault smiled grimly, “You should remember the old soldiers’ creed Brother, ‘Never volunteer for anything.’”
Father Fabris nodded slowly “Wise words Brother, but we must ask our younger brother to ignore them this time.” Straightening, he looked into Matthews face. “Have you ever wondered Brother why, of all the objects in the reliquary, it is a small handful of pebbles that occupies the middle?”
Matthew felt his breathing speed up slightly. “Yes Brother. But I assumed that I would be granted that knowledge when it was time.”
“That time has come. Brother Thiebault, you have studied those relics and the records relating to them in much greater depth then myself. Please tell us both what we know of them and what must be done next.”
Thiebault rose to his feet and began pacing. “Brothers, these have been kept by the Church because it was from these that we were given the knowledge how to perform the Terminatus. Only one man ever used them to obtain that knowledge and he left dire warnings about the dangers of using them further and the horrendous cost of that use. I am not sure that our “modern” formulation that avoids that cost will work. We can but try. I have contacted the papal doctor to arrange for the materials we will require and will instruct Brother Matthew in the ritual.”
“Ritual?” asked Matthew.
“Yes Brother. These stones come from the demons and their use requires a magical ritual. They are called Seer Stones and the ancient who found them,” and here Thiebaut’s mouth quirked into a wry grin “you may have heard of. Myrddin, or the modern version of his name, Merlin.” His grin grew wider at Matthews’s start of surprise. “Yes, Brother. Excalibur was not the only relic to come to us from him.” The grin suddenly dropped from his face. “He must have been a genius to discover what he did. But the cost to him! I prayed for his poor soul for a full day after I read his writings. You see Brothers, the ritual requires massive amounts of blood.”
Matthews face went pale as the implications of that slammed into his brain.