3 Red Twilight Worldwalkers chapter 3
Deep within the pits of a Jesuit church rest a treasury of books and scrolls, some of which date back to 100 years BCE. The sealing is arched and the room smells old. At a small wooden table illuminated by an oil lamp a woman with golden hair dressed in the clerical red rob of the arch cardinals taps a fist full of papers on the desk before her. She lets out a hard breath as she pushes her glasses up on her noise to level them. She is an odd one, a woman who has assumed the title of cardinal, she is either old with a young face or young with an old body.
The cardinal terns her eyes up to her guest "Father Jacob, I trust you understand that you have asked me to leave my work in Italy to come here to speak to you face to face." She rests her elbows on the table to fold her hands under her chin. "Now you see father the absurdity of a simple parish contacting the senior most member of the Jesuit Knights has not escaped me so I took the liberty of reading over your history." With one hand the arch Cardinal reaches into her deep red robe and produces a rolled up stack of papers. She taps them on the table then pushes up her glasses before beginning to read down a list of facts about Lances' life
"born 1935 in Main, baptized 1950, joined the Mosaic brotherhood 1960, you played baseball for your congestion, you were offered the membership into the circle of bishops 1976, you declined. 1979-1994 you took a pilgrimage, off church funds, to central Europe and visited a good deal of historical sites. After returning home it seems you fell ill and took 6 months off work. During which time you adopted 2 children. 1996 you took up a job as a translator for the church, it seems you can read in 5 languages and speak 4 fluently. But early this year you sent out a letter you your bishop, your parish and to me saying that you are retiring. So you can understand my shock when hardly a month later you are contacting me again pleading me to come see you. In the dead-lands of Nebraska of all places." She sets down the pages and glare over the table to father Jacob.
Lances leans back on his chair in a nearly off-putting display of smugness. "Madam St. Frances, I can't help but say 'you did your diligents' so I will go right head and get to the short and skinny. You and your people, I know your history just like you know mine." Lances removes his glasses and wipes them on his robe "The Knights of Jesuit, or the Brotherhood, like to dress up and play priest. But you are no man of god. The Jesuit knights where founded by a man named Francesco Demolay, Francesco was A wealthy lord with deep connections in both France and Sicily, in some provinces he was even called a warlord. But with the aid of 'the sisterhood of St. Jane' Demolay was able to set himself up a front as a landlord and founder of a coin exchange and even erect a church in his name. all the while running with his old mercenary's out the back door."
Lances leans forth onto the table placing his glasses back on his face. "The brotherhood, is 'the Knights of Demolay' and Demolay is the last organized group of demon hunters pre fourteen hundered."
A strange grin finds the Arch Cardinal's lips as Lances talks "well aren't we the smart librarian?"
Lances eyes are cold as stone as he leers over the table "I have fucked this goat more than once. I know the kinds of games that get played around here. And I will go right ahead and play them for you one more time if you can give me what I want. I will sell your snake oil, push your panacea, read whatever retconned history you want me to read and I won't stop smiling the whole time. I have lied for you and for the church before. You know I can do it."
Magdalen cuts into the monolog "And what is it you want Father Jacob?"
"there is evil in this world with a capital 'E' my baby girl is in the hands of a demon as we speak. I want your blessing, and weapons from your personal armory, and I want to go bet the fear of god into those monsters."
Magdalen's grin grows ever wider as the old preacher spits fire "you have made a good deal of clams, but I can't be expected to take this with nothing more than your word can I?"
Lances nostrils flare and lip curls as he can see he is being played "I dropped a tail cut clean from a demons ass on the doorstep when I came in!" he grips his chair moving in slightly tighter "but if that's not proof enough fine. Bring me an uncut loaf of bread and a pitcher of water and Ill show you something that will bleed the color clean out of your robe.
With a snap of her fingers and a quick gesture St. Frances attendant walks off to find the requested items. Jacob reaches into his coat pulling out his book of prayers as they wait. The book is cradled in a black cloth and wrapped in leather, bound by silver string with a brass buckle that holds the book closed when not in use. The old man whispers to himself as he reads in a language that St. Frances cannot understand.
The water is placed on the table first, it is in a bronze vase, then the uncut bread on a matching saucer. St. Frances leans forth waiting, watching most interested. "your bread father. Impress me."
Lances closes his book placing it back into his inner coat pocket "you are going to eat those words." He places one hand over the water pitcher and starts chanting in a long forgotten tongue. He stops momentarily "what would you be more impressed by: wine, or blood?"
"you're joking right?" the cardinal rest back in her chair taken aback by the statement
"wine it is." Jacob retutns to his chant for only a few moments longer then pulls his hand away from the vase. He sits back and waves the cardinal forward "look."
St. Frances picks the pitcher up rolling it side to side. "it is filled with a black red liquid." Her eyes shift to Jacob "what is it?"
"A 'Morlet' wine if I'm not mistaking"
After a moments contemplation St. Frances places the vase down and chuckles dismissively "that trick could be done with a seltzer tablet."
Lance jaw tightens and he reach out to place one hand over the bread "alright, then for my next trick." He starts to chant once more, the crust of the bread brakes away and from its shell rises a block of roasted beef. "you can't do that with a seltzer tablet."
St. Frances nearly slips from her chair in bewilderment. "Transmutation?" her eyes shot from Lances to the meat and then back "How?" she freezes "how long have you had this power?"
Lances now has the grin on his face as he folds his hands over his chest "about two weeks. Don't think it was long after I left the church that I first used it."
"Can you change other things?" St. Frances looks most interested now
"don't know that for sure. But I can; bless water, mend broken bones, and heal cuts and bruises with a touch. And that's just what I know so far. Imagine what I might find out tomorrow."
St. Frances mumbles to herself "you are some kind of messiah."
"no…" Lance protest "but I am one mean motherfucking servant of god."
"where did this power come from?"
Lances pulls out his book "I know how to pray right. for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."
St. Frances regains her composure "that book you are holding, where did it come from? Is it one of ours?"
"if you take it at face value this is the chronical of the profit Adam as told by saint Enoch. If I understand right Enoch gave this book to King Samsun, who lost it, it then found its way into the hand of Gaius Marcius, then Flavius Belisarius, Martin Luther, a few others and now I have it."
"what is in its pages?"
"amongst other things, the name of god, the names of his brothers and sister. The name of the god that created him…" St. Frances turns bitter and points accusingly, Lances holds up a hand to silencer her premeditatedly "And that is why I hold the book not you. Our god claims to be vain by his own admition saying such things as 'have no gods before me' and 'bring no graven images before me' over the years we just came to believe that meant he was the only god, but god is not a name, it is a description."
St. Frances stands "Give me the book!"
Lances stands slapping his book on the table, the two stare each other down before Lances brakes the silence "Take it. If you can."
Greed flashes in the cardinal's eyes as she swoops in to take the book of prayers. The book emits a shock that forces the cardinal to drop the book. It lands on the ground open then the pages spin pulling the book closed, thunder roars from within its pages till at last the latch clicks itself into place. "Looks like you aren't worthy." Lances proclaims in earnest. Jacob picks the book back up hiding it in his coat.
"the book is alive? And it seems to know who it wants holding it. How may I be of service to you Father Jacob?"
Lances produces a folded up later from a pocket "Let me know if you have seen any of the things on this list."
The rip in timespace heals itself and Cravixs has been returned to his past body. Even the Tamreal, the most perfect entities birthed from the tree of beginnings, have limitations to their powers. 'Action vs. Reaction' is an equation irreparable unbalanced, an order to take an action you must take two steps, ascertain target, then engage target, in order to react you must make four steps, see target, asses target, formulate maneuvers, engage target. This makes first move advantage in any struggle key to clean victory. The other limitation is another that is a fundamental flaw in organic life, to use a modern colloquialism 'input lag' there will always be a moment's hesitation between the time one has a thought and the time that one's body acts one said thought.
As Crow reorients himself a voice can be heard calling to him. One he knows and is less then found of "Behold, For I am Gideon, son of Skoll the Eclipser, she who is the shadow over the Moon. In the name of Asgard, I will punish you 'Worldeater'." Gideon is a giant almost twice Crow's height, he has a bradded red beard with matching breaded hair, is wrapped in wolf hide armor, he has a shield on his back with a high mirror polish, a leather whip hooked onto his belt and holds in his left hand an axe forged of obsidian meteoric stone "prepare yourself for honorable death!" Gideon brings his axe to high ready and rushes forth.
The Asgard are an off shoot of the Tamreal. Not so unlike the Demi, demons or angels, they have holy blood, but no direct link back to the tree of beginnings. The Asgard came to be in a time that is called the 'premortal age'. Simple beast, fish, birds, rodents, bugs and reptiles where strong across the multiverse already but complex, sophisticated beast where still a number of generations out.
Mammon and his sister Chaos had gone out exploring these young worlds that have seemingly become self-sufficient and self-procreating. The two of them experimented with some of these primal lifeforms, foolishly seeing what would become of them when baptized in their holy blood, what happens when the divine touches that which never seen divinity?
The Tamreal would come to find that their experimentation resulted in the birth of a number of animals that had most of their powers and reproduced at an explosive rate. After only a few short hundred years the Asgard populated their home world and learned how to travel to new worlds, they became proud and aggressive, brining faith, convinction, and technology to worlds that might never have found them otherwise. In many ways this fake Tamreal became dangerous to the real ones, teaching their fallowers how to fight.
Gideon brings down his blade slashing at Crow with what should be deadly force, the blade cuts deep, if Cravixs where anything less than god Gideon would have slain him with this strike, but even though the son of the wolf god is mighty, he is not mightier than the god of hunger, the god of the void, the Cravixs!
Where otherwise blood should be spraying from the axe wound carved much of the way thought Crow's body instead sand and mulch ooze out. This is the first domino to fall, the event that triggers the events that he has now lived through a dozen times, the one moment in time that he seem to have no power to change. The wound looks far more horrofinig than it truly is. This body even if destroyed is only a body Cravixs can forge another. But that is time consuming, and if there was one thing that Cravixs hate more so then most it is the loss of time. Most of all when he is so close to his next meal.
Before Cravixs can consume a world protected by the pantheon he must track down the 'keys of salvation' a collection of souls that act like a lock limiting the powers of the gods on clammed world. Only in this body, the smallest and weakest of the forms he can take can Cravixs slip past the door, but not till the door is unlocked can he take his truest form and claim his prize.
With this body damaged the most efficient course of action is to travel back to Yggdrasil and use the soil of eternal garden to pack the wound and wait for his body to regrow. But first, to deal with the son of the wolf goddess.
Crow locks arms with Gideon to push up against the obsidian blade to lift it from his body. The Giant clearly shocked by the power this tiny god called Crow can muster. Crow's eye flash violet as he proclaims "you are a useful rook in this game of kings. Being as such I will need to make use of your might to my own ends someday soon. But not today."
In large Crow is bluffing, in this form Gideon is equally as strong as Crow, but Gideon stands taller and can rest his weight on his blade far more easily then Crow can push up on it, Crow must sidestep and fall onto his magic to win this fight, his magic still eclipsing Gideon's.
Crow dips down to one knee then rolls off to one side to slide away from Gideon. Gideon's axe hits the soft earth underfoot sending out a shockwave forcing the ground to fissure upwards in web lick splinters. Crow kicks off of the ground flouting.
Gideon pulls his shield from his back understanding he no longer has the void-mage on defensive. Crow lnows what he is meant to do now, in the first loop he had cast 'Immolation' to turn his foe to ashes, but the shield Gideon is holding was dipped in the blood of Amaterasu; the goddess of the sun, wolves, nature, and birth. This act has given the shield the power to capture most magic and in the case of invocation redirect the spell at a new target.
But then again, there is no reason to see this fight through to its final idiocy. Crow points at the ground to Gideon's sides, then spins his hand in a figure eight. The earth grows teeth throwing itself at the giant. Gideon demonstrates his heroic heritage thrusting his axe and his shield about smashing apart the pillars of earth. Crow makes lick a conductor waving one hand in the air keeping time, the earth is his orcistra fallowing his every movement. Gideon becomes a dancer in Crows ballet, jumping, ducking and spinning around the ever dividing spires of stone.
With Nordic pseudo god distracted Crow phase shifts away beginning the long walk back home to heal.
After escaping into the ether crow cast a minding spell on himself, he is too far from the mana streams to truly heal but he can use the magical equivalent of field dressing to make his injured arm useful again. Traversing the mist of space and the worlds between sleep and dreams he ducks his head thinking.
"I know the script; I know what I have done in every alternate reality I have been forced to live though. But the first. The first life that I lived, the moment before the time loop began, what was I doing then?"
"Lois-day-O, this is your game, you and you alone have the power to move heaven. And with it comes the power to move time. But you can only spine the clock backwards, the right to change the future belongs to those that have power, and no one or thing has enough power to force my will. There for it is my will that will be done. It is only a matter of time before you come to understand that too."
"you could end this any time you want Lois, return to Yggdrasil, summon Chaos, Sa-la-day-name-O, and me back to your side. the first life to fall from the tree, the gardeners of Eden. All this evil rooted in our division. The four of us witnessed the birth of the first sun, the first universe. Only the nothingness has seen more than us."
A second voice finds its way out of Crow's chest "the nothing gave birth to us, now we must return to the nothing." Nearly crippling hunger grips Crow forcing him to fold partly in half to grip his abdomen in order to hold himself up, his humanity (whatever is left of it) melts from his face, his eyes become like glowing purple stone and his skin marble. That dimension called 'Red Twilight' he should have eaten it long ago. He can't wait to eat again.