“O vis aeternitatis (Power of Eternity) – you who ordered all things in your heart, through your Word all things are created just as you willed, and your very Word calls forth flesh in the shape which was drawn from Adam” – Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179).
The storm was one of the worst of that wretched winter. The ferocious elements summoned by the Almighty must have cleft the wraith’s craft from the sky, for several folk from the village reported a great fiery star descending rapidly above the countryside.
I do not blame them for believing this malevolent portent – roaring through the night sky with an unspeakable cacophony – to have been naught but a dragon. On several occasions during some of those coldest, loneliest winters, I had heard stories about the “ships of the sky” – magnificent shimmering vessels that traversed the clouds, supposedly transporting travellers from beyond the heavens.
Yet never – ever – in my lifetime did I expect to have to deal with any of their devilish occupants myself.
‘Twas Brother Malachi – poor, unsuspecting Brother Malachi – who rushed to the aid of the injured being, which limped pathetically to our main gates on that tempestuous night. Although taking the precaution of locking it in a cell, by some devious sorcery – I dare not contemplate – the thing absorbed Malachi’s form, and now dictates its despicable demands to us in the monk’s crazed mish-mash of Latin and Olde English.
“Have you ever known a place where God would have felt at home?” – William of Baskerville.
ACT I: INTER MUNDOS
“Idiota, Brother Brad!
“Dost thou know what has become of Brother Malachi?”
Father Severinus and his entourage had rode all night – let it be known, at some haste – to protest at my alleged gross mishandling of this whole monstrous incident. Brother William – my assistant – had just returned from tidying the storehouse of medicines, and couldn’t resist listening to our ensuing argument.
“There is no cause for alarm, Father Severinus, I assure thee. The brethren cleared the wreckage to the best of their abilities. I supervised the recovery of fragments from the “ship” myself; its main core was of stupendous proportions. Brother Malachi is locked in a cell, guarded by Brother Berengar. We are quite safe… Isn’t it ironic, though, how something so heaven-sent could be more malevolent than anything Hades could spawn?”
“Blasphemy! I will have nothing to do with this- this black magik, Brother Brad!” Father Severinus blared.
“…Oh, Father?” I instantly realised how inappropriate his title was. “Forgive me, but I was under the impression that “pater” denoted compassion and understanding-“
“Gah!” he grunted, and stormed out of the chamber.
“So be it… dotard,” I seethed under my breath. “Make thy leave…”
I watched hopelessly as the rotund ignoramus Severinus and his entourage rode out of our grounds. We were left to deal with this… dilemma on our own. Again, I would have to finish it myself.
As silence returned to our monastery once more, William wondered: “Brother Brad, why did yon peril have to fall out of the sky?”
At that moment! An abrupt and terrible ear-piercing shriek! The clatter of bowls and other implements crashing to the floor down the hallway! Frantic running up to our door!
William and I watched in horror as Brother Berengar stumbled in, babbling hysterically and tearing at his hair as the most abominable seizure took hold.
“‘Tis Brother Malachi! Oh, heavens, Brother Malachi-!”
I surged forward, my astonishment compelling me to try and shake him back to his senses. “What ails thee, Berengar?!”
“‘Tis Brother Malachi! Oh, blessed saints preserve us! He overpowered me and fled into the forest!”
Christ’s blood – ’twas the last thing we needed!
“Thank the Lord that fool Severinus did not get to see this…” I muttered gratefully.
“Forgive!” Berengar wailed, his grubby mitts locked in shaking prayer. “Paenitet! Sorry! Prithee forgive this dullard, Brother Brad!”
I placed a reassuring hand upon his shoulder. “Peace, Berengar. There be naught ye could hath done…”
In a flash, I pounded up the North Tower; William called frantically after me. In the blustery turret, I squinted at the dank and murky countryside yonder. Just as the boy emerged beside me, I caught sight of Malachi’s dark robe moments before he disappeared into the forest.
So be it. Our former “guest” had headed northeast – predictably back to the site of his downed vessel. “That way, William,” I cried. “We go northeast!”
“Master, what does this all mean?”
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