Church (Chapter 4, Part 1)

Continued from Church Chapter 3

Make sure you’ve read the other chapters. They can be found here; https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/category/church-novella/

Previously;

Blaze, a warrior angel, who is trapped on earth has made his home in an abandoned church. He fights a taunting daemon and a Demigod Bear. He is rescued by Rain, a Reaper. She takes him back to her ‘home’, a Paradise Garden seemingly inside the remains of a cathedral and encourages Blaze to talk. After which, she tricks him into combat then she revels some of her story and dismisses Blaze.

Chapter 4

‘On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’

Matthew 16:18

I walked away from the ruined remains of the cathedral and didn’t look back. I was seriously tempted too, but a part of me knew if I even caught a glimpse of those stones I would retrace my footsteps, find Rain and hold her tightly to me. I climbed the hill and unfurled my golden red wings at the top. I flapped them, feeling the rush of air around my body before I jumped up and took to the sky.

The time hadn’t changed, I noted as dawn was just touching the horizon like it had been doing when I stepped under the cathedral archway. I was feeling extremely awake and calm, though it was probably a lingering effect from the garden. I raced the coming dawn home and landed next to the lichgate. I watched the sun completely rise above me. Warm light brushed me then hurried in further to light up the clinging shadows.

Taking in a deep breath, I turned back and cast my eyes over the graveyard. Small headstones poked out of the grass and I know what awaited me. Climbing over the gate, my boots hit the grass and the almost lost path underneath. I pulled my robe tighter around me, hunched my shoulders and walked up to the church. I can feel them, the diminishing ghosts. They watched from their burial places and whispered to themselves and each other. A soft crying child wisp brushed my ears and I tried to block it out.

I kept my pace as I began to climb the slope, expecting at any second to be assaulted by the spirits. Ever since I had moved into the church, they had reached out to me when I passed though the graveyard. Their almost faded voices constantly pleaded with me to help them pass over and escape this place. At first, I had been sympathetic with them, who couldn’t be? But I didn’t know how to help them, it wasn’t my job or place to ferry them over. I had countlessly explained this to them, but they didn’t get it and still clutched to my Heavenly light. Now, I had lost my patience with them all and I automatically put up the barriers and ignored them.

I reached the church porch and turned in confusion. I could just about see the spirits, though in the morning glow their forms were fading fast. There was a small girl in a too large white dress, an elderly couple clutching both of each other’s hands, a teenage boy laying in the grass looking bored. There was a young woman clutching a new born to one side and a two year old to the other, she was stood next to a World War One soldier boy. Beyond them was an ancient hobbling woman, an old man with a missing arm and small dog at his feet, a ten year old girl in a summer dress and finally, a middle aged farmer’s wife.

I waited and watched them all vanish as the sunlight finally settled on the graveyard and church. Thoughts tumbled through my mind. This had never happened before. Had they sensed the lingering evil touch from my fight with the Demigod bear and other daemons? Or had my Heavenly light finally faded? I reached for my great sword and slowly eased it out of the sheath at my hip. The weapon still looked normal and though it was heavy, I couldn’t feel its true weight in my hand. Placing the blade back, I ruffled my wings, reassuring myself that they too were still there and working.

For a few seconds, I wondered what else I could do to prove that nothing had changed. I didn’t feel anything different, just the circling puzzlement over the spirits’ reactions. With nothing coming to my mind, I looked out over the graveyard and decided that maybe the ghosts had finally given up on me. Somehow, that thought didn’t make me happier. They had always been active and determined.

I turned, pushed open the door with some force and squeezed inside the church. Nothing looked out of place and it didn’t look like anybody had wondered in. I wedged the door back in place, shutting out the glorious yellow daylight. I let my eyes adjust to the darkness, then set my boots crunching along the floor, just like they always did over the fallen plaster and bricks. The dilapidated pews rose up on either side of me as I walked towards the altar.

For the first time in what felt like awhile, I looked over at the matching four arched windows, two on either side. They were empty of what once had been colourful stained glass depicting famous scenes from the Bible. The fragile remains of the frames now lent against old wooden boards, which were showing signs of rot. I wondered which Biblical scenes they had chosen and how many times the congregation mused over them.

Stepping up to the stone altar, I paused. There should have been a large divided window behind the grey rectangle block. Now there was only another wooden board, which banished the light and allowed darkness to rule. In the walls on either side of the window were etched out crosses. I knelt, put my hands together and cleared my mind. I fell into saying the Lord’s Pray aloud, ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…’ my voice echoed in the dead church.

Afterwards, I slipped into silence, not sure what else to say. I thought about a number of things, but decided that I just couldn’t word anything right. I let my hands fall and lent back, looking up at the window. I should say thank you, I thought, but somehow I just couldn’t do it. What did I have to be thankful for right now? Shelter, I guess. The fact I was still alive. I clenched my fists. I wasn’t thankful for being trapped here though.

I relaxed my hands and got up. I went to the hidden alcove. Pushing open the door, I climbed the spiral staircase upwards and into my room. I light the candle out of habit, swung my sheath sword into place against the desk and stripped out of my clothes. The notebooks I had taken tumbled out and slapped the floor hard. I gathered them up and placed them on the desk.

Once naked, I picked them up again and took them into bed with me. Though it seemed like I had all ready slept, I felt exhausted. My wings wrapped around protectively around me, but I shimmered them away, so I could feel the cold wooden walls on my back.  Arranging the mass of blankets and pillows, I settled back and shut my eyes. I did some deep breathing exercises and succumbed to a meditate like state.

She came to me right away. Rain. She was standing in her Paradise Garden. Her mismatched green and blue eyes were looking out over the railing whilst the animals and stream sing to her. The air was thick with lavender, midnight jasmine and lilies. She had her arms resting on the rail, her light brown hair loose and wind swept. She was wearing the black pants and a white vest top from the training room. I couldn’t see her expression.

I sighed and said her name aloud. It was sweet on my lips like forbidden fruit. Would I ever see her again, like she had promised? Sleep rolled across me and I welcomed it with open arms.

To Be Continued…..

Advertisements

Church (Chapter 2, Part 1)

Continued from the first chapter of Church in the November archive. I would recommend you read that if you already haven’t before continuing. Here’s the link: https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/church-part-1/

Previously;

Blaze, a warrior angel, who is trapped on earth has made his home in a long abandoned church. He fights a taunting daemon, who leads him into a trap to battle a band of demons before facing a Demigod Bear. He is rescued from death by a strange female called Rain.

Chapter 2

 ‘Let light shine out of darkness’

2 Corinthians 4:6

Still sitting on the damp ground, I tried to study Rain, but she was completely wrapped in darkness both in body and mind. Letting that go for a minute, I gathered myself and stood up. My golden red feather wings stretched out then fell into place down my back. The dead Demigod bear had become a faint outline and the daemon that had led me here and his companions had disappeared. Glancing further around, I saw the destruction to the wooded park. Uprooted trees were lying scattered alongside broken branches of all lengths and the wet group was gorged with the trail of the battle.

I noticed Rain following my gaze and turned back to her. With a glance at the almost faded Demigod, her eyes settled on mine and for the first time I noticed that they were mis-matched. Her right one was light green and the left was crystal blue. Her light brown hair seemed shorter than mine and fell about her in choppy waves. Her face was softly rounded and her skin looked flushed, her nose was small and gently rose up, whilst her lips formed a straight pink line, which dipped slightly in the corners as if verging on a frown.

That concave curved katana of her’s was still out and gracefully aimed at the floor. I couldn’t see a sheath at either of her hips. Watching her closely, I got the impression that she was having a telepathic conversation with someone. Though I wasn’t sure how or why that suggestion had come to me.

‘Are you unharmed?’ she asked me sharply.

I nodded, ‘You?’

‘I’m perfectly fine, thank you. Can you please move back to the treeline? I need to cleanse the area.’

I looked behind me and saw the area she wanted me to go to. However, I didn’t know her or her nature and so was wary. I still held my sword, though it felt loose in my hand, so I curled my fingers around the pommel whilst glancing at her weapon. That blade looked wicked and both sides were sharp, though there was a large row of dark brown triangles along the left side. The guard was small and round, the grab black cloth and the pommel flat. The katana looked extremely light weight and completely different to my great sword.

I didn’t want to turn my back and walk away. Quickly, I tried to think of something I could say either to delay my moving or to seek peace with her. However, she seemed lost to a conversation of her own. Then before I could speak, she gave a slight shake of her head as if to say no and turned her back. The kanata dragged along the ground behind her, leaving a trail that seemed too deep for its weight.

Gradually and trying to keep sight of her as long as possible, I turned and walked towards the treeline. The wounds and aches I had received from my battle and fall were healing, though it seemed slower than normal, which meant that more Heavenly power had been drained. From behind me, I heard a soft voice whispering and I looked over my shoulder as I continued and saw that Rain, though she had her back to me, had drawn a circle around her in the ground and was holding the kanata out in front of her.

I made it to the trees and rested against a twisting trunk. I debated keeping my sword out and quickly decided that I should do, just in case. My thoughts turned to leaving and I realised I could do so, but would she follow me? And would we fight? I was in no condition for that, but I was curious about her and why she had saved me from the Demigod.

I saw Rain drop her weapon tip to the ground. A bright circle of blue light flowed out and away from her, rushing off along the surrounding ground and into the trees. Two waves of white light followed in its wake. They hit me, rippling through me and around, but I felt no effects. They vanished somewhere beyond the trees and my sight.  Fascination sparked within me and stunned I watched Rain turning and walking over to me.

‘I’ve not seen a cleansing like that before,’ I called out.

Rain seemed to lift her shoulders in a small shrug. Just before she reached me, she raised the kanata in both hands above her head. Panic shot through me and I readied, only she slipped the sword down her back and her arms dropped to the sides.

‘I’m not an Angel,’ she stated, ‘nor, am I your enemy.’

‘Then what are you?’ I asked, holding my position, ‘I can’t detach your spirit or aura.’

‘It’s complicated. And right now, it’s better you don’t know. Do you want to come with me? This place won’t be safe for much longer. They are gathering already and I don’t think either of us is ready for another battle.’

‘Come where?’ I asked, slightly lowering my sword.

‘I have a place, if you want. We can talk more there. You don’t have to though,’ she added. A trace of a smile crossed her lips then she turned and started walking away.

Frowning, I sheathed my sword and swept my golden red hair backwards. I felt a little tug to follow her and all ready my mind was made up. Just before she went into the other row of trees, I quicken my pace and fell into step behind her. Questions pressed in my mind and on my lips, but I stayed silent just as she did. We walked out of the park, through the outer skirts of the city and into countryside, which I realised lay in the opposite direction of my home.

Another hour later and still in silence, Rain turned off from the side road we had been walking on and led me down a semi-abandoned dirt road, which inclined gently upwards. We stopped at the top and I looked round. There was a touch of light on the horizon and I noticed that the night was passing. Now opposite us, on the flat top of another hill, I saw some large stones that seemed to resemble a ruined cathedral.

I heard her take a deep breath in and set off again. Carefully, I followed her downwards, though long wild grass and up the side of that other hill. When I got to the top, I saw her standing under a massive arch way. It must have once been the door to the cathedral and there was no doubt in my mind that this place could have been anything else.

‘You are welcome here,’ Rain spoke and disappeared inside.

I followed her, unsure what I would find on the other side, but not expecting what my eyes saw laying out before me.

To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 1, Part 2)

Continued from Church Part 1, which can be read below.

Shutting my eyes I drifted into a deep and dreamless sleep. I wasn’t aware of anything around me and even if I had dreamed, no recall would have been possible. When I awoke, it was only to roll over before arranging the blankets and pillows half-consciously. I fell back to sleep, aware of a light scratching sound of some animal but not bothered by it. No dreams manifested this second sleep and I awoke feeling oddly refreshed and bright.

Stretching out, I saw that the candle had turned into a pool of wax, some of which had run down the desk and created a row of stalactites. I got up, scattering the bedding and walking across the floor. It was cold and rough under me. I dressed quickly, though strapping on the metal breast plate and arm guards took time.

Licking my dry lips, I glanced around for some bottled water or even some food. However, the plastic storage box next to the desk was empty and there was nothing else in sight. Grabbing my sword, I went down into the church. My boots clomped loudly on the stone steps then crunched across the floor. I went around the back of the pillar, close to the large alcove where the grand church organ was tucked into. I was half tempted to let my fingers play across the keys and rung out a hymen. The instrument still sounded good, but I was scared that the noise would alert someone to my presence. Through another hidden door here were the priest’s chambers and the three connecting rooms were small. The first held a desk and chair, signalling that it had once been an office. The second was a dressing and storing room, whilst the third held a tiny toilet and sink.

Going into this last room, I ran the tap, washed my hands and face, before drinking the water. It tasted coppery and slightly earthy. Turning the tap off, I give up a silent pray of thanks and walked back into the church. I felt better, but hunger lay heavily in my stomach and I knew I’d have to find something to eat before I started my nightly duties. Hungry and blood were the worse things about taking a body form, even one that was immortal. They were something that couldn’t be escaped from, no matter what and how you tried. I had long experiment with them and also the emotions that I seemed to gain.

Pulling my outer robe more tightly, I walked out of the church. Opening the door let in the darkening late afternoon light and a rain shower. Looking around, I saw no spirits waiting to highjack me, but I knew they were close. Just like my enemies, spirits good or evil are weak in the daytime, no matter the weather, however they still linger. Setting out, I held my head high and made it to the lichgate without hearing or feeling anything. The abandoned road before me looked long and painful today, but I knew that after some food and the first kill, I’d feel better.

I unfurled my wings, though in this body and on Earth, they were invisible to all but the supernatural. Also, they were not hindered by any material and I had great control of them. I stretched them about, feeling them both heavy and weightless on my back. Every golden red feather was in place and most of their edges looked sharp. I was proud of them, like so many of my brothers and sisters were. Flapping them, I thought about the closest village before kicking off the ground and rising up. I flew much like a swan and swept through the rain clouds and the tree tops, before arriving just outside.

It was a picturesque English countryside village; quiet, with everyone close-net and suspicious of strangers, especially foreigners. However and perhaps lucky for me, there was a retired white witch, Granny Malock, living in the last cottage on the far side. It was to there I now fluttered too and landed at her front door. It was easier to obtain the basics from the more knowledgeable and willing, without drawing unwanted attention and questions from others. Though of course all angels knew how to survive and keep secret, just like the rest of the supernatuals did.

I used the knocker lightly and waited, watching the rain fall softly on the nearby thatched roofs and road. A dog barked down the lane followed by a rumble of tractor engine and low mooing cows. The door opened and the old woman waved me in. She was short, but not bend over or walking hobbled. Her bones were strong, like her mind and spirit. Her long white hair was tied into a bun and she wore a simple blue dress and black house shoes.

‘I’ve not seen you awhile, Blaze,’ she began, ‘did you return home?’

‘No. I’m still stuck here.’

She laughed and led me into the small front room. Two arm chairs and a table were gathered around a newly going fire. A tall bookcase took up the wall to my right and there was a curtained window to my left, which looked out onto the front garden. I took my sword off and sat down in one of the chairs. She fussed around, tidying up some books that were on the table and poking the fire, before asking me what I would like.

‘I need a meal. If it’s not too much trouble and some food for a few days to take with me,’ I replied, feeling the notes of guilt and regret in my voice, ‘I hate asking, but it’s easier this way. I shall have to do something for you.’

‘A ticket into Heaven?’ she suggested, then giggled, ‘oh, I know it’s not you who decides such things, but maybe a good word in the right ear?’

I nodded.

Smiling, she left the room and I heard her walk into the kitchen and began making things. I sighed and looked into the flickering flames. The fire was warm and whiffed the scent of burning wood, coal and paper into my face. Nonetheless, it couldn’t stop the heavy scent that coated the cottage. Dried herbs- parsley, mint, garlic, sage amongst others, battled against one another, more exotic plants and fresh lilies. I breathed it all in and imagined what they all could be used for.

I could have dozed whilst she was away, but instead I got up and looked through the books. There was a mixture of fiction and non-fiction in seemingly no order. I pulled the Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table out. It was a favourite of mine, though I could have studied all the world’s legends and myths for years. Siting back down, I flipped through the pages, looking at the coloured pictures and glancing at the words. I drew a comfort and familiarity out of the stories, I guess because I was a knight amongst my kind.

Granny Malock came back with a large tray of food, which looked more like a buffet for a group of people. She set it on the table and told me to have what I liked. Closing the book, I readily ate, thanking her and praising the food too often. She waved it all off. When I had done, she took the rest way and came back with a large basket.

‘Don’t let the rats and mice in that church get to it,’ she said.

‘Of course not!’

‘And really Dear, do you have to live there? I’ve a nice attic room you could have.’

I shook my head, ‘I can’t ask any more of you and anyway I’m fine.’

‘I don’t believe you. That place is such a mess.’

‘I…I feel closer to…home, to Him, there. It’s easier. Please don’t trouble yourself about it. I need very little and seek no comfort.’

She handed me the basket with a little roll of her eyes and a pat on my hands.

‘Honest,’ I replied, ‘and thanks for this.’

We said goodbye and parted. It was still raining as I flew back. After storing the food carefully in the belfry, I left once more and began my duties.

To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 1, Part 1)

‘My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’

Psalm 22:1

 Dawn was approaching; bringing an end to another long night.  I stepped under the lichgate, glancing over my shoulder. At the edges of my vision I could see shadows dancing as they crept from the growing light. Taking a depth breath, I felt the weight of the cloth and amour covering me and heavy sheathed sword on my back. I knew that even in the daytime evil wouldn’t rest, but they were greatly weakened and that always offered me some peace.

Turning back, I walked through, avoiding the dangling moss and the broken beams. The gate which once opened into what had been a small, neat churchyard, was covered in ivy and chained shut. I jumped over and thudded to the ground in my massive leather boots. Sweeping the ends of my robes off the gate, I begin weaving my way through the graveyard.

The dimming lights of restless spirits tugged at me. I waved them off, reminding them it wasn’t my job to claim or guide them. Still they urged me in breathy, faded voices.

‘Please, Sir.’

‘Angel, take me with you.’

‘Blaze. I know that’s your name. Why won’t you help us?’

‘Where’s mama? Have you seen her? Can you take me to her?’

A small hand clutched my trailing robe. I bent my head, ignoring it and pushing through the tall grass and wild weeds. The wind rattled the branches of the dead yew and the bare twigs of the hedgerows. Then the breeze played through my long golden red hair, tossing it into my face. Collecting the strands, I threw them back and carried on.

The grass went right up to the porch, where it became over taken by the mosses and ivy. I stepped inside, flicking my robes up to try and dispelling the spirits. A low weeping tickled my ears before fading into the wind. Despite everything I had to turn around. The graveyard sloped down to the lichgate then ran around the sides and the back of the church where the yew stood. What little remained of the headstones poked up from the plants as if struggling against them. Many more had already succumbed and either lay fallen or so covered that they had become little then mounds.

Beyond the church grounds, a single track road marked out only by a line of trees and a ditch, lead into a maze of farmlands and semi-abandoned tracks. It was from that direction I had come, though I couldn’t recall the actual path I had trod. Leaning against the crumbling porch wall, I watched the sun rising above the trees and the sky turning darker blue. None of that light or colour touched the churchyard. It shied away, as if taunted by those lingering shadows at the lichgate and low surrounding wall.

Finally, I turned and pushed open the arched wooden door. I had to squeeze though, as the door was wedged tightly into its frame and fallen debris was behind it. Pushing it back into place was even worse, but at last the door seemed to settle. The floor crunched due to a covering of fallen plaster and chips of brick under my boots as I stepped inside. I paused, looking down the alley between the remains of the two rows of pews to alter. Sadness gripped my heart and tiredness made the emotion feel stronger and harder to ignore.

Wiping my face, I walked to the alter, avoiding the wood splinters from the dismantled pews and went to a side door in a hidden alcove. It easily opened, revealing a spiral stone staircase to the belfry. Trudging upwards, my sheathed sword scrapped the wall and my boots barely griped the steps. At the top another small door led into a roof room where the church bells had once hung.

Even through it had been days since I’d been ‘home,’ nothing looked out of place. The four boarded up openings let in no light and pressed closely to the wooden walls. I crossed the floor; my footsteps softened by the piles of rugs and removed my sword. I sit it against the wall in between a low desk and a mattress covered in pillows and blankets. I took off my black robe then the first white robe and armour before the second underneath.

Pulling out the chair and sitting down, I unlaced and tugged off my boots and socks. I let them fall. From the desk, I picked up a box of matches and moved the single white candle in its holder closer.  Lighting the match then the candle, played havoc with my perfect night vison, however I felt better with the golden light shining across the room.

Naked, I stood up and went to the bed, where I searched through the blankets until I found a Bible. Rearranging the bedding, I got under countless layers of cotton and wool. Resting my head and the book at a good angle, I carefully opened the pages and glanced down the thin sheets. I knew the tiny words off by heart and yet, I seeked something that I knew was never going to be there. I stopped on a random page and guided by my fingertips read through the Easter story.

The pages yielded not to my silent searching. I closed the book and placed it down. Resting my head back, I watched the candle light flickering across the vaulted ceiling. My heart begged for home and stung painfully. Rubbing my chest helped to ease it and my mind tumbled with a fury of thoughts and questions. Without meaning too, words tumbled out of my mouth in an unstopped stream.

‘Dear Lord, I have only carried out your tasks and done what you have asked of me at every turn. Haven’t I defend you, spread your word and worked with the other angels? I know it is wrong to question, but why me? Why must I become tinted by all this evil and have to live as if Fallen? I don’t understand what I am meant to do now. I can’t get home and my power is fading. Have you forgotten me? Or did I do something, unaware, that has angered you? Please, you must show me what to do. I…fear what I may become…Amen.’

I closed my eyes and listen to the words resonating. Sleep crawled over me and right before I fell to slumber, a distant voice in my head said, ‘there’s work yet to be done, my warrior.’

To Be Continued…