“We must make an idol of our fear, and call it God” – Antonius Block.
ACT II: DAEMON FUGIT!
“By thy troth, Will, we must find it! Pack the most basic of provisions; we travel light-“
“But Brother Brad, how can we expect to find this… this thing?”
“Simple, boy. We follow the trail of petrified peasants that thing leaves in its wake. We must hurry. Thou art familiar with the apotheca: the storehouse of medicines?”
“I bid you go fetch that small vial with the green liquid from the top shelf.”
“Wherefore needest it thou, Master?”
“This is most important, for it be the only concoction that can destroy our otherworldly foe. I shall ready the horses and meet thee at the main gate.”
“The only…?” William gingerly took a pace forward. “Then… ye hath dealt with these skyfallen ones before?!”
Methinks perchance this boy was too bright…
“Yea, William… and will again and again, I’m afraid. Now, festinate! I shall see you anon.”
In very little time at all, William came running out of the North Transept, a bulging bag slung across his back; the vial clasped to his chest with both hands – good lad.
He noticed the pointed bundle I cradled: “What be that?”
I unfurled the top end of the cloth, revealing a hilt and hilt-guard. “A sword! I dare not ask what thou wert in thy past life, Master!”
“Fear not, my young friend. I was merely a traveller. In distant lands, one must be… cautious.”
“O splendid scholar, with all these skills… why stay at this monastery?”
“Where else could I write my books…? Come, we cannot allow further delay.”
We mounted our steeds and set out into the far-from-idyllic terrain beyond. The trail was easy – yet so disturbing – to follow.
Regrettably, we discovered the eviscerated maiden whose face had twisted in sheer terror – may she rest in peace; and then we encountered the gibbering shepherd, blabbing something about a “malum diabolicum” – who still managed to give us reliable directions!
Undoubtedly, we were getting closer…
“Ayah, Angelo Maligno!”
I could scarcely believe the frightened croak of the old beggar sitting beside the country lane as we approached him. I hurried over and knelt at his side.
“Be still, my old friend. Tell us, you saw the-“
Confound it! You bonehead, Brad! Only then did I notice that the vagrant was as blind as a trowel.
“Why so flustered, old man?”
“The vile lacerta homos ye seek hath passed by not long past!”
“Nay! How could thou know-?!”
A knowing smile erupted through his unkempt whiskers as he muttered: “I am gifted with powers of a higher order, young Quester. I-I sensed it. What passed this way ’twas certainly not mortal – it felt more sinister than Lucifer ‘isself…! But forgive my fevered ramblings… good den, good sir. My name is Nathaniel…”
“Hardly expected to find such a gifted soul in this lowly spot! Your aid is indeed very much appreciated, Nathaniel. William! Bring forth some bread!”
I passed some of our provisions to Nathaniel, who gorged on them eagerly, as if he’d not partaken of any nourishment for days.
“Oh thank thee, young saints! Thank thee, kindly! I bid you good fortune in your tiresome quest. Fare thee well; may the Lord bless thee!”
“Nay… ’tis too late for Him to bother with me now…if at all. Doth ye know where yon thing dwelt?”
Tired old Nathaniel spoke naught, but waved a trembling bony finger off to his left. My gaze wandered several yards yonder to – Saints preserve us! – the tranquil setting of the Church of St. Mary.
Of all the-?!
“If I kill you, I am bound for Hell. It is a price I shall gladly pay” – Solomon Kane.
ACT III: ANGELO MALIGNO
Without hesitation, we burst into St. Mary’s church.
‘Twas stood, hunched in the centre of the aisle – the belief that daemons could not frequent “holy” sites be damned.
It flicked its cowl back to reveal that Malachi’s facial features had completely disintegrated. The wraith’s true grotesque green head turned menacingly towards us; it barred dripping fangs at us; its low-pitched snarl echoed off the church walls.
“You… it could only be you. Thou art Brad: the one they call the Scribe.”
“Verily, that I be; how do you know who I art, beast? What say you!”
“The hunted must know who his hunter is! Thou art cleverer than those other robed imbeciles: a formidable nemesis to be sure. So, call upon your God to save thee afore ye dare try and smite me, worm!” the wraith chortled.
“Nay: through His “Word, all things are created just as He willed”… where – on Earth – deceitful snake, do ye fit in?!”
“Hmm, my “Word calls forth flesh in the shape which was drawn from Adam.” Mayhap this disenchanted mortal ought to forsake thy misspent quest? …And start worshipping me, ha!”
I bellowed over its gurgling guffaws: “Silentium, dire one! I am too strong-willed to rise to your bait; too stubborn to let you skyfallen scum succeed!”
“Very well, stubborn worm; I shall consign thee to thine own end! Maledixerit tibi voltus, mortalis!”
With that, it unleashed a dagger, hurled it at me, but the deterioration of its human form had diminished its aim, as well as its stamina. The wraith collapsed in a final exhausted heap; the weapon just swished past me.
“Curse me? Ha, yea my misfortune was foretold long before you crash-landed…”
I took forth the vial, and sprayed its noisome contents on my adversary. They fizzled and burned on impact; the beast screamed, clutching a steaming arm.
“You accursed dregs! Backward sapiens…!” the beast spat as the delirium of searing torment set in. “How did you infernal lot ever get to this pitiful stage of evolution?”
“We mortals strive to learn, to build, to prosper-”
“Rot! We are all-too-familiar with the petty troubles of your kind: you crave war and spread famine… and pestilence. I harbour no shame when I aim to… exterminare celerrime praeiudicio!”
“Exterminate? With extreme prejudice? Regrettably for thee, Malachi was a feeble old man; that lifeforce is ebbing quickly from you now. You are in no position to do as thou wilt-”
“Monetae…! …Ultionem!” it rasped, grabbing my arm in one last futile gesture.
I almost felt sorry for this damned shrivelled satyr; ’twas in no fit state to declare or exact such vengeance upon me right now.
While that vile shape writhed on the aisle floor, poor William lay slumped in the rear pews, sobbing uncontrollably. Damn my eyes: yea, I had condemned the archfiend to burn in hell, but in doing so, had consigned my accomplice to endure a living hell…
I leant my angry face closer and gleered at the ailing creature, and whispered with venom: “Know ye this, foul incubus: as long as my cursed life prevails, I shall warn others of thy diabolical presence on this fair and simple Earth; as long as I wield the written word, thy devious intent shall forever be set forth!”
The creature’s hold on my arm gradually loosened, but it managed to waste its dying breath by emitting another condescending splutter: “And there…! Thou art hopelessly mistaken… Brother… Brad.
Brother Brad dedicated the rest of his life to rid our green and pleasant land of the inhuman skyfallen ones. An inestimable number of esoteric tomes describing these Angelos Malos were produced. For many years, Brother Brad’s complete account resided at the Priory of Sele in Upper Beeding, in the southern counties, but during the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1536-40) alas, it was lost.
21st Century Brad is on holiday.