TMStarnes2013

Novelist and more.

Champions of the Veil Chapter Nine

campfire pic

Nearing New Orleans, Raquel takes the wheel, Sam rides shotgun, while Robert…he takes a nap in the backseat.

But then there is dreaming and then there’s “dreaming”…one is your brain sorting through the day, the other is a journey beyond the Veil.

 

Chapter 9

One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.

Rita Mae Brown

 

The sign said five miles to New Orleans. Sam approved of Raquel’s driving skill…reluctantly. In the backseat, Robert lay lengthwise across the fold down seats.

His mind, as he dreamed, was in the other place.

Robert smelled the fresh scent of pine while a breeze blew through his hair. He walked on a familiar path he walked before. The night sky was full of stars; shadows crept across the trees and along the path with illumination from the campfire at the end of the path.

“Hello, at the campfire!” He called out just before he broke from the trees.

“Aanii, Robert! Come, sit by the fire.”

Robert entered a cleared area of the woods. Sitting on a circle of logs around a campfire with a roasting fish spitted over the fire, waited a Native American.

He smiled at Robert, waving him over to sit near him. The Native American’s hair was long, tied in a ponytail down to his waist. He wore fringed buckskins. Lying at his side was a spear, a quiver of arrows, and a bow.

They clasped forearms as Robert sat down.

“What are you cooking? It smells delicious.”

The man smiled, “Salmon. Very good. A large one. Of course we don’t need to eat here, but it does make a more pleasant meeting, yes?”

“It certainly does. So I suppose you wanted to see me. Our last meeting was brief.”

The man took the fish away from the fire and tore some pieces to give Robert as he poured herbs into two bowls of boiling water, which he handed one to Robert.

“I am sorry, but when Brady came in your room, I moved quickly. Thank you for the faith you have. I know you know now he seeks who killed the Scaletti’s.”

Robert bit into the succulent fish and moaned his approval, “I didn’t exactly get your name or who you are, just that I should, and did, need to do as you told me to.”

Speaking through a mouthful of fish, the man replied, “We have met many times before, you just do not remember. I am called ‘The Word’ or the messenger of the Great Spirit. Which you prefer to call the creator.  But…calling me The Word seems too formal. Call me Askonae. It is the name of the person whose body shape I take while we talk. An Ojibwe Native during the French and English war. One of your previous, or it might be future, reincarnations.”

Robert coughed, “Aha! So reincarnation is real!”

“For you it is, because you believe in it. Very strongly.” he sipped from his bowl.

Robert thought for a moment, “What do you mean by future reincarnations?”

Askonae laughed, “Now you sound like Samuel Brady. The Great Spirit is all time, past, present, future. The Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and end. So is time, a circle. Reincarnations do not have to be linear in their incarnations, they can jump to another part of the circle of time and incarnate there if they wish. That is why time travel is so easy.”

“Easy?” He gulped his herbal tea.

Askonae appraised him, “Ah that is right, humans have not mastered time travel in your time except for some holes and accidents…and the portals.”

“Portals?” Robert frowned.

He grinned, “You know of them but have been forced to forget. Yes, it is the reason I told you to take Samuel Brady and go to New Orleans. I put the urge in you to go. I will try to fill in the gaps in your memory as best I can.” He drank some tea.

“Before North America was the United States, the French owned the territories of Louisiana. Little did they know the area up to and including Baton Rouge was and still is a place of great spiritual power. That is why the (he made a whining clicking sound) or the Fallen as humans call them are attracted to there. The (he made a melodious sound) or my kind, are attracted there as well. There are many other places of power throughout the country, and the world, but this area is heavy with it. The Vatican at the time decided to send a repository of ancient artifacts and items of great significance to the nunnery in New Orleans, including the three Immortals.”

“Yes, my father told me about the Immortals, not much, but he did.” Robert felt some of his memory returning.

“Good, for they are still there. However, one of the items the Popes sent to the new world was a time traveling portal, a mirror. It is the height of a tall man and oval. Spirals twist in a clockwise and counterclockwise fashion in silver all around the back and the edges. That is why I urged you when you met Samuel to go to New Orleans. When you leave me, you will have the knowledge again of how to use it.”

Robert ate more fish, “That’s not all is it?”

Askonae shook his head, “No, this particular mirror is dependent on locations previously visited by the user, as opposed to the one in the Vatican vaults that is merely a time device and it is golden where the user may do wherever they wish. Thankfully, the priests who knew how to use that portal passed on to the Great Spirit during World War I, and no one else knew how to use it or that it was even there.” He sighed, “That knowledge was taken from you by the demon you encountered at the Scaletti home which cursed you with insanity and forgetfulness. You have used these portals many times in your past as did your Grandfather and father.”

Askonae stoked the fire, “Now Samuel Brady, as you have probably guessed, is a Champion but not active, his power is at low ebb. You must urge him to become a full Champion a path he may not continue but you have to show him his abilities. He is cynical, but a very good man at heart. That is why I had you take him when you left Shreveport. I am allowed to tell you that you will need him in the near future.”

“What about Raquel? Why was I made to stop for her?”

Askonae stared into the fire, “Yes, ‘Raquel’ as she calls herself is…” He shook his head, “I’m sorry, I cannot tell you that…but she is a warrior instead of a typical champion. While you defend and assist, she primarily attacks. When you attack, she watches your blind spots.” He grinned and leaned toward Robert, “You will find this interesting: she has never been in a serious fight in her life. Yet she is a warrior.”

Robert did find it interesting.

“She also will be needed with you in the near future, her faith is strong whether she uses it or not. But keep her near.”

Robert nodded, “So we’re to go to the nunnery and see my grandfather when we reach New Orleans by using the portal. That I understand, but what am I going to ask my Grandfather.”

Askonae finished his fish, “You will know when you see him, and the time you are going to find him is going to be on the day of his discovery of the Key.”

“About the Key-”

“Before you even ask, only the Great Spirit knows everything about it, and he has not told any of the hosts about it. Even then, only how to activate a portion of its powers. When you wake, not only will I have restored your memories but I will send friends to restore even more.”

“So is that all I need to know?”

“There is danger-”

“There’s always danger.” Robert interrupted.

“-in New Orleans. Somehow, possibly one of the Riders spread the word when you escaped the facility in Shreveport. It appears it sent word through the veil concerning the power you possess, it was smart of you to create the power wards all about your room in Shreveport. Once you collected them and broke out, the Rider sent out the word a Champion has returned. You will be meeting some old friends of ours in the city but you will also meet some new and old enemies. You have been there before. You know what awaits you.”

Robert remained quiet.

“Is there something wrong?”

He shrugged, “Since the Tearer killed the Scaletti family I haven’t been able to control myself as much when dealing with the creatures from beyond the Veil. I freak out. I don’t know what happened during the murders or why I was spared but ever since then I can’t control the shakes or the fears when I’m confronted with them.”

Askonae nodded, appearing solemn for a moment then closed his eyes.

“That is one of the reasons I called you here now, I am going to break the curse the devil placed. I will repeat to you the words the Tearer said to you, the curse, but prepare yourself, much of your knowledge will return and so will your faith.”

“Alright, I guess I’m ready.” Robert replied but he shook like a leaf in a storm.

Askonae tilted his head forward, when he tilted his head back a bright golden lights emanated from both eyes and his open mouth.

He began with a guttural chomping noise.

A crawling, vile voice echoed from The Word known as Askonae.

            “You. You I have saved for last. You’re a Champion. Those that fight on this plane against us the (the same sound Askonae made earlier) we who are older than you. You’re no better to animals to us. Full of shit, and bile, and decay. You’re a Champion and in the time it took me to kill this whelp of a human babe, you just sit there. These meat bags, these walking shit and mud, are what you’re supposed to defend? I know your smell, we know your smell, and you have been among many of us. Even the most powerful of us, and you or your bloodline has seen fit to destroy us and cast us back to our imprisonment. Hah! I have an idea, you, Champion; you will take the blame for my feeding and raping of these children and aged ones. You will be the one they blame. While I go to find others to fill my needs. I curse you to forget all you know, all your experience, all your knowledge. I curse you with insanity. You’re a pathetic Champion, as was your father and whore of a mother. Oh, yes we know of all of your father’s blood kin, your bitch of a sister, your ass of a brother and their offspring. Perhaps when we find them we will sodomize them both as we force them on each other. That would be a sight. While you, you will be stuck in a cell with someone thinking you’re the monster.”

Askonae closed his mouth and eyes.

Robert shrugged, “I don’t remember any of it.”

Askonae nodded, “The demon gave a spell command to make you triply afraid of any of his kind. That is why you are so unnerved when it comes to seeing them now. It takes away your self-reliance, control, and determination with your abilities. It also cast a stasis spell to immobilize you while it made you watch what it did to the Scaletti family. Further adding to your madness…which you were able to suppress. ”

“Are you able to break this spell?”

“I am. My prayers have much power. I am The Word after all. So when you leave I will pray for your release from the creatures hold. It will restore your control, it will take time so you will not be overwhelmed, but it will remove the spell.”

Robert sighed in relief, “You said I would meet help when we reach New Orleans, who are you meaning?”

Askonae grinned happily, “Now that will kill the surprise, one of them you met long ago, the other is a retired Champion, and he will know you when he sees you. Listen to their counsel, they live in the spiritual center of New Orleans and know all of the tales, true or not. Holy sites, blessed sites, cursed sites, and places even five Champions couldn’t go without our aid. They will know what the current conditions of power are in the French Quarter.”

“Is there anything else we’ll need to know?”

He shook his head, “Guide and protect your friends, strengthen your friendships. Remember hope is endless. So is the Great Spirit’s influence.”

Robert glanced back at the fire and saw another fish on the spit.

“Still hungry?” Askonae asked.

To be continued…

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