Chapter Four – For I have sinned
*Translated from French
Father Francesco sat in the confession booth waiting. The day had been slow with only a couple of scared little old ladies confessing their sin of not going to confessional in the last thirty days. He tried to concentrate on the mass he would be giving late on in the day, but even through the cool stones of the church he could feel the warm Provence afternoon tickling the stained glass windows and it was gently wooing him to sleep. He knew the village long joked of the sleepy Priest of St Anna which was long-established tradition in this town, and who was he to argue with tradition? It was just another day in paradise for the elderly Priest as he played his role in God’s plan.
The sleepy Father woke up as the booth door shook signaling the arrival of a new confessor, he could see much through the screen a vague outline of a gaunt face with long straggly hair. Clearing his throat the elderly Priest began the confession, “*In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. You may speak my child…”
“*Forgive me Father for we have sinned it has been… An age has passed since our last confession, we accuse ourselves of the following sins,” said the stranger his voice out of sync. “*We have been found wanting. We’ve coveted another man’s ox. We have committed murder against our brothers. We have lusted. We have taken many men’s wives. We are an adulterer. We have taken the Lords name in vain. We have stolen and walked with demons… All this we have done and more yet we will do before the end of days.”
Father Francesco felt his stomach turn and then he felt a stab of anger, how dare someone disrespect the sanctity of the confessional, “*My son the sacred covenant of the confessional is no place for a prank like this. Be gone with you.”
“*Will you not forgive our sins Father?” said the voice, the octaves of it grating against the old Fathers hearing. “*We have many more to confess, this Vermus alone will test your faith. Can you lead this lost lamb back to the light?”
“*No I will not and I do not wish to hear more! Begone or I will call the Gendarmerie and have you arrested.”
“*Pity… You break the confessional Father and not hear our sins. For forgiveness may save so many and is next to Godliness.”
“*My son you have to leave now,” said the old Priest feeling uncomfortable and beginning to sweat, it felt like someone was squeezing his heart in a vice. The voice was hurting his ears, it was unnatural to hear and he started to breathe heavily.
“Frendo suus pectus pectoris,” said the voice as the Priest witnessed the shadowy figure leave the booth. A moment later Father Francesco felt a sharp pain in his chest, he gurgled and fell back against the wooden wall of the confessional.
“Now walk with your God Vermus, your pitiful animus will not be noticed,” said the voice again, the source of the voice was a gangly looking man in a dirty brown long coat, who replied in a much more normal human sounding voice, “Master, are we in the right place?”
“Yes, yes… Now we have had our fun it is time to go to work… Down to the crypt to the grave of the Sir Robberto. We will have time for the joke of the sleepy Priest of St Anna is generational and we not won’t be disturbed as we work,” said the voice.
The gangly man-made his way to the back of the church, passing the prayer candles and found a moment of delight snuffing them out, giggling as each one sent up a pyre of black oily smoke.
“Come Christian, no time for play… Our task is far from complete.”
Following directions of the Dark, Christian worked his way to the back of the church finding a hidden star well behind the altar that was illuminated by a huge stained glass window depicting the Crusading Knight Robberto slaying a large white worm with a thunderbolt clenched in his fist. As he followed the stairs down into the crypts the cool air brushed against his skin soothing the itching sensation he had been feeling; which had been getting more intense since the Dark took direct possession of him. The stone passage soon gave way to a tunnel hew straight out the foundation rock before he came to a rotting wooden door, “How much further Master?”
“Just beyond the door the Vermus who built the church did so a score of yards from the resting place of the Knight. Falsely claiming St Anna as holy ground.”
Christian put his shoulder to the door but it wouldn’t give, the door was soft and spongy that told of its age, and the metal of the ring-shaped handle flaked in his bony hand.
“Open it Vermus, apply your pitiful animus to the lock.”
As the Dark needled at him Christian tried to clear his head, the Dark scratched at him like nails down a blackboard. It was getting harder to concentrate, to be able to form the words of the indice and direct the flow of energy; he was beginning to feel less and less like himself. Finally grasping the words he spoke them while applying pressure on the old door.
The door creaked in its frame and the wood cracked, grasping the handle, Christian cleared his head and spoke again, adding more power to the words.
This time the door just snapped, a clean break around the iron handle and Christian, a little winded pushed the wooden door open fighting down an unfamiliar pins and needle feeling in his arm. He had never before felt the strain of an indice before and the discomfort surprised him. Beyond the wooden door the stone hewed passage gave way to a large earthen room, on the far side of this room on shelf was a stone casket engraved with worn looking markings. Carefully Christian stepped into the room which was knee-deep in muddy water from recent rains and poor drainage. A sudden feeling of weakness washed over him and he stumbled forward, flailing for his balance before dropping down onto his knees in the dark water cursing.
“Vermus get up!”
“Sorry Master,” said Christian getting up and wading over to the stone casket, what was going on? He didn’t feel this weak when dispatching CT or that foolish fat man in the silly mask. Although physically he was getting thinner this was the first time he was feeling any effects of the Dark joined with him. Clearing his swimming head, he leaned against the stone casket, his vision enhanced by the Dark he could see the markings were a mix of heraldry and Angel signs meant to ward off evil. Christian found himself chuckling, the vitality of the markings had worn with age and there use as wards had long since fallen aside.
“Vermus.. Do it now!”
The Dark screamed in his head and Christin shuddered, breaking the door had spent more energy than he thought it would he wasn’t sure if he had the strength to break the casket, “Master please one moment of pity… I feel weak.”
“Pity? You want PITY?!? We are close to gaining everything and we will lose it because your animus is weak? You Worm… Vae! Break the casket now or do you not wish to stand by my right hand in the new orbis… For I can easily find another vessel to use.”
No Master… Forgive me…” said Christian hurriedly now he was so close to ultimate power he would not let his body let him down. Summoning up all his strength Christian tried to clear his head, as the Dark pushed down on him. The pressure he felt was intense and he could barely form the words before the power of the verse ran around his mouth trying to trip up his tongue to release it. Biting his tongue he raised his right fist that was clad in the burnished metal gauntlet and fastened to the vambrace; he could feel the devices vibrate with the building power.
The word shook the room, and Christian went light-headed as his punched the stone casket with his gauntleted hand. His hand spasmed with pain and the stone under it shattered like brittle candy. The sheer feedback from the force of the blow knocked him of his feet and he flew across the room as the casket exploded around him .
“Hurry now Vermus get the device before the chamber comes down on us!”
Unable to move Christian clawed at the earthen wall. All his strength was spent and he could barely keep his head above the muddy water. The chamber was slowly starting to cave in, already one corner had collapsed and the earth from above was pouring down.
“Get Up VERMUS!”
It was no good Christian fell into unconsciousness and was slipping under the water. Then like a puppet on a string Christian stood straight up and walked in a froglike pattern over to the broken sarcophagus, his head lolling to one side. A moment of stiff limbed fumbling with the long dead Knights body and Christian’s bony hands were wrapped around a large piece of shoulder armor decorated with a dark gem. Two tugs and it was free and Christian lurched towards the door, stepping through just as the chamber collapsed, the sudden rush of air knocking his body to the ground and Christian didn’t move anymore…
To be continued…