As Dietrich tossed in restless semi-consciousness,
Benedict noticed a wispy mist filtering into the room.
At first he suspected fire. Already agitated,
He quickly began to panic and rushed into the hall.
The creeping mist did not behave as smoke.
It bounced along the hallway floor – not rising,
Giving off no heat, giving off no acrid odor.
His fear gave way to curiosity.
Cautiously but steadily he shuffled through the mist
Toward the double doors of the sanctuary.
They opened of their own accord.
He saw a faint glow – steady, unlike candlelight…
More like moonlight. Moonlight? In the church?
It shouldn’t be; the moon was but a crescent,
All but absent from the autumn sky,
And the stained glass of the Abbey
Should have dimmed what little light it shed.
“What witchery is this?” he asked out loud.
He heard no reply, no echo of his voice,
No indication Vaxen Abbey’s sanctuary
Stood at all behind those doors;
It sounded, it smelt, it felt like empty night
And he could not resist its pull.
Come, Benedict. Come.
Confess the revenge that fills your heart,
That fills the woods of Vaxen with your hate.
Come to me and seek forgiveness…
Seek the means to save your friend…
Seek the means to save Lilian.
The voice would not be refused, Benedict knew.
His feet carried his frightened soul
Into the darkness of the Abbey
Through the forest of revenge,
Past the roots of evil,
Into the lair of the beast he had summoned
And the ancient altar known only as
The Hunter’s Crossroad.
He knelt in that sacred grove,
Its pews sculpted from giant roots,
Facing the pillar of stones with its brazen altar cross.
You are summoned to our congregation, Benedict,
As you summoned the child Dietrich…
And now he saw the wolves.
The specters took their places and watched him,
Watched him with their glowing red eyes…
Do you fear the wolves, Benedict?
Benedict shook uncontrollably,
Unable to lift his eyes to the cross before him,
Afraid he would find himself facing his judge
And be found guilty.
Speak to me, Benedict.
“Y-y-yes,” he stammered. “Yes, I f-fear them.”
And well you should, Benedict. Your folly is great:
You called upon powers not sought in ages,
For their purpose is beyond the wisdom of men;
You called upon those powers in ignorance,
Unaware of the price they would demand;
You called upon those powers in unbelief,
Because you trusted not My judgments;
And you called upon those powers in pride,
Believing yourself capable of such judgments.
The price of revenge is high, Benedict,
And you lack the currency to pay.
“But my Lord, I followed the ritual thoroughly!”
Benedict cried out. “What price did I leave unpaid?”
My foolish, foolish child, the voice replied sadly.
To summon the Hound of Heaven
And unleash him upon the evil in the land
Leaves the gate to the Abyss unattended.
An unspeakable evil has escaped, and he will not return easily.
The price of revenge is innocence, and payment is due.
Choose you now the debtor –
Will your friend Dietrich pay the price, or will Miss Lilian?