28 December 2004
"What was that?" Akshainie called as she ran over to us. She stopped when she saw Henry, then turned to me. "You're a priest! Can you not simply heal him?"
"I do not think that word means what you think it means!" I answered.
"To the water!" She didn't even wait for us to acknowledge her words before she was off again, slithering through the cave at top speed. Tadzio and I looked at each other, then I threw Henry over my shoulder and ran after her.
When I got to the brook she was already in the water with her eyes closed, chanting and holding her hands over the surface. The water around her and under her hands was glowing. I knelt down at the edge of the water beside her, unsure what she wanted me to do.
"I am not a healer," she said, softly, "but if the River Network will allow it, I can buy him some time." I nodded, as I heard Tadzio approach and stop next to me. She held her arms out to me, and I handed Henry over and stood up to watch. As she lowered him into the glowing water, I glanced over and noticed Tadzio had the book.
"Why did you grab the book?!" I demanded.
"It may yet be useful," he answered.
"I will get us the real thing, and that should not be in the hands of mortals!"
"Well it's a good thing I am no longer mortal, isn't it!"
"By the gods," Akshainie hissed, "could you idiots do that somewhere else?" I grunted and glared at Tadzio, whose eyes grew wide as the pages began to faintly glow again.
"Give me the book," I said. Tadzio handed it to me, and I walked about a hundred feet away and focused. The glow remained for a moment, then began to fade. Once it was gone, the book caught flame, and let out an otherworldly scream that sent birds flying away. I did not relent or let go of the book until it was completely consumed and the fire in my hand died out. I walked back to Tadzio, who was sulking.
"I would have probably been fine, but you know I would accept if I wasn't," he said.
"If and when you die, old man, it will not be just to prove me wrong."
"Oh, but now it must be! One last joke on my way out." Henry coughed, and we both knelt immediately to check on him. Akshainie was lifting him from the water and his wounds were still faintly glowing; they looked much better, but he would still need medical attention.
"Can you get him to a hospital?" Tadzio nodded, and Akshainie handed Henry to him.
"Will you not come with us?" I sighed.
"No," I said, looking to Akshainie. "I think we need to get that book, and I fear the fastest way is in this very brook." She smiled, extending her hand to me.
"Very well. It was good to meet you, Miss Akshainie. Bene, until next time." I nodded, and watched him run off with Henry before taking Akshainie's hand and falling beneath the brook into the River Network.
28 December 2004
Henry finally pinpointed the location of this relic shortly after the rest of us had gone to bed, so despite his excitement it was generally agreed that we would set out first thing in the morning.
Where we were going was a cave about two miles from our cabin. It was near a few other small openings in the rocks, and apparently a significant portion of his time researching was learning which cave we wanted and which path to follow once we'd entered. We traveled light; while there was the possibility we would need to spend some time in the cave, Akshainie and I knew we could go an extended period without food and water and Tadzio brushed off any concern but made sure to grab his extra large travel mug for coffee, which meant only Henry had a day's worth of supplies on hand. Akshainie decided to grab a snack on the way, however, and snatched a couple fish out of a brook as we passed. She offered one to each of us, but Tadzio declined and Henry expressed concern about eating raw fish. She shrugged and started eating hers as it was; I heated mine up in my hands before doing the same.
I grew thankful for the time Henry spent in research when I saw how much of a maze the cave was. He had managed to draw up a map by piecing together accounts from various journals and interviews he had found, bought, or conducted himself, and that map led us well through the cave and only made us stop and verify our orientation twice. We finally found ourselves in a dead end chamber, engraved with symbols from all over the world that strongly resembled the markings I found in the cave where I first encountered the Brood. I informed Akshainie of this, and she demanded everyone stop and help record what we found. Henry pulled a digital camera from his bag, taught her how to use it, and then insisted the rest of us press on to the darker section ahead.
As we shone our lights on the end of the chamber, we found a rough-hewn pedestal with a large, dust-covered, leather-bound book. Henry blew it off, and I recognized the shifting letters on the cover.
"This is a replica of the Book of Shadows?" I asked.
"A replica?" Henry replied, turning to me.
"Why are we looking for the Book of Shadows?"
"Remember, when we first met, and I told you there was a rumored tome with all the information we could ever want about demonic forces? This is that book!"
"You seem concerned about this," Tadzio said.
"We could have saved a great deal of time if you had simply told me this is what we were looking for."
"You knew the Book of Shadows was here?!" Henry demanded.
"I know where the Book of Shadows is, and this is not the place."
"Why have you never mentioned this!? How long have you known?"
"I've always known. I...did not know it was relevant. I know where it is, I have never asked what it is."
"The Pope hiding it in his personal library, Bene?" Tadzio asked, leaning back against a wall.
"No, it..." I sighed and rubbed the bridge of my nose. "It does not belong to the Church. It belongs to me."
"You own this book and don't know what it is?" Henry yelled, picking up the book. I noticed a faint glow begin to emanate from the pages but did not have time to react before he grabbed the front cover. "This book contains everything, Benedict! You can track every demon in real time with it, if you can break the code!" He threw the cover open, and just as he went to point at something on the page a bolt of dark lightning erupted from the book and struck him in the chest. The book fell to the ground as Tadzio and I ran over to him. He was unconscious and barely breathing, his shirt torn open and his chest badly burned; the back of his head was bleeding from where it hit the wall, and his arm looked like it was laying wrong, possibly broken. Tadzio began cursing in Spanish as he checked Henry, then turned to me with fear in his eyes.
"I do not think there is a hospital close enough to save him," he said.
Translated From the confiscated diary of Tadzio García
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post deleted at 23:25:09 pacific time, 18 december 2004
Evidence compiled for use during the trial of Father Benedict de Monte.
Book Of Shadows
Brood Of Nachash
Dr Francesca Harris
Father Josef Klappenger
Mark Of The Beast
Queen Of Heaven