TMStarnes2013

Novelist and more.

Champions of the Veil Chapter Thirteen

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The trio of Champions, after meeting a retired Champion and the ex Goddess Bastet at the entrance of St. Louis cathedral in New Orleans, having learned new information and the younger, lesser skilled Champions having met both the divine and malign beyond the Veil, must now visit Robert’s grandfather in Italy. Which won’t be hard, they just have to step down the street in New Orleans to get there in a matter of seconds.

The hard part is they plan to meet his grandfather in 1865.

Chapter 1 3

The reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is that they have a common enemy.

Sam Levenson

            Robert patted Sam on the back telling him to smile as he knocked on the New Orleans nunnery front doors.

Several moments passed then the right door to the nunnery opened and a five-foot tall rotund nun with the air of a Mother Superior answered the door.

“Yes, May I help you?” she gave them withering looks.

Sam started to introduce them but Robert interrupted.

“Hello, Sister my name is Father Roberts and this is Father Samuel. We’ve been sent by his Holiness to check the integrity of some of the Holy documents enclosed in the upper vaults. We also need to research some items inside.”

Sam looked at Robert widening his eyes until he felt power flowing from Robert toward him. During their wait for the door to open, Robert must have used his powers to hide their form. He assumed the Nun saw two Priests standing in front of her.

“I see Father, do you have an edict from his Holiness?” she asked not budging from the door.

“Certainly, right here in my briefcase.” he replied reaching into his back pocket producing the receipt from the café.

She took the receipt appearing to read it for several seconds, “Everything seems to be in order, you’ll have to wait please, only Father De Luca has the access codes.”

“Thank you.” he grinned at Sam waiting patiently.

The older nun pulled a rope beside the main doors. Presently another nun appeared, “Sister Margaret could you fetch Father De Luca? Tell him an envoy from the Vatican has arrived and needs to grant them access to the upper Vaults please.”

“Yes Mother Superior.” She hurried off.

“How is the weather in Rome?” She asked them.

“Unusually warm for this time of year, between you and I, if it weren’t for air conditioning his Holiness wouldn’t be able to wear his habit without it.”

She smiled; a tall, slim, dark-haired Italian priest entered the foyer.

“Hello, I’m Father De Luca. How may I help you?”

Robert repeated his requests, offering the receipt to the Priest. Once he finished reading it, he motioned for them to follow.

“That will be all Mother Superior; I’ll escort them to the Vault, perhaps you could prepare them some coffee for when they return.”

“That would be lovely.” Robert smiled indicating Sam to follow.

They walked toward the back of the entrance hall, down a long hallway, past several doors, around a prayer alcove, through locked offices and eventually came to a curving staircase.

Father De Luca finally spoke, “I hope this has nothing to do with my predecessor’s handling of the vault several years ago? Our inventory went well. The three that sleep weren’t disturbed. Since I took over the custodianship, everything has been smoothly handled I assure you.”

The Priest led the way up the staircase; Robert looked back sticking his tongue out at Sam as he answered.

“Yes, I heard of the incident. Some maniac saying he needed a piece of Holy Scripture or something. How did he get in?”

Robert pointed at himself behind his back for Sam, indicating it was Robert, himself, the priest meant.

“No one has ever figured it out. Father Benoit said the fanatic was the Devil himself.” De Luca huffed.

“So strange, no wonder he was reassigned.”

Eventually they came to a platform at the top of the staircase.

The hermetically sealed repository of the Vatican residing in the United States.

Sam stared, momentarily stunned.

The room spread over half of the building. The viewing windows stretched the length of the wall with one section made into a door with a coded keypad. Another set of windows remained behind that set with an area to sit and put on clean suits looking like something out of a biological warfare movie. Behind the second sealed area, shelf after shelf of rolled tubes Sam guessed contained writings. Several eight by ten and larger wrapped square objects, possibly covered paintings of various sizes leaned against walls. Here and there among the shelves, weapons from different periods sat alongside boxes with identification numbers. The most predominant feature toward the front of the room were three coffin-shaped boxes, two lying on their backs while one stood upright placed haphazardly in the room.

“Those who sleep,” Robert whispered, bringing a finger to his lips.

Father De Luca approached the coded keyboard entering the appropriate numbers. The door hissed open as a continuous blast of cool air flooded out of the adjoining dressing area.

“I always tell the petitioners to make sure they wear the clean suits and to be as quiet as possible to not disturb the sleeping ones. The door opens easily from the inside to allow you entrance and exit. Please come and let me know when you have finished your studies as per the requirements of the Vatican. Father Roberts, Father Samuel.” The priest nodded. leaving them.

Robert closed the door after they entered, waiting until the priest descended the staircase before hovering his hand near the outer keyboard. Waves of energy, now visible to Sam’s sight, wrapped around the pad.

Satisfied, Robert clapped his hands together, “There. That will stop us from being interrupted.”

Sam went to put on one of the clean suits.

“What are you doing?” Robert asked.

“Putting on a suit.”

“Oh, pfft.” He said moving toward the second door.

Robert pointed at the coffins, “By the way, be quiet…and respectful. It wouldn’t be a good idea to wake them up. They get grumpy. Well, two will, one is more evenly tempered and their coffins are mostly sound proof. Mostly.” He opened the door.

“Who’s in there?” Sam went in cautiously.

“People.”

“Who?”

“Famous people.”

“Who exactly?”

“People you let rest.” Robert smiled, moving along the right wall, inspecting numbers on wrapped oblong objects.

Sam didn’t approach the coffins but inspected them a little closer. They appeared ancient covered with varying degrees of dust yet their construction implied they were from different ages.

“Are they…Vampires?” he asked in a hushed tone.

Still inspecting numbers, Robert chuckled; “There’s no such thing as vampires. Well, not in here…not in this nunnery…to my knowledge…I think…my memory’s still not so good.” He shrugged, “Meh, probably not. Ah!” He indicated one of the covered standing oblong objects.

Robert carefully uncovered a mirror. Spirals rotated in a clockwise and counterclockwise fashion, silver covering the back and the edges of the looking-glass.

“Here we are!” he said making faces in the mirror checking his teeth.

Sam stepped closer, “So what exactly is going to happen?”

“The Word made me remember this last time we talked. I cast a blessing. Mentally requesting the place we would like to go but where I’ve already been and voila! There we are! Simple really, just defies time and space that’s all.”

Sam frowned at him, “You’re nuts.”

“Observe, my erstwhile friend.” He cracked his knuckles.

“Do you even know what ‘erstwhile’ means?”

Robert thought about it, “No. Now be quite and let me concentrate.”

Robert raised his left hand over the Key Signorum in his chest, softly speaking a prayer, moving his right hand in a circular fashion. He began on the outer edge of the mirror then moved inward toward the center. Following his hand gestures, the reflected image blurred like watercolor paint. The reflection swirled into a mass of colors trailing after his hand. Sam stepped backward when the colors stretched outward lightly touching Robert’s palm pulling back into the mirror.

The colors moved of their own accord then, one color then another took prominence in the reflection. Eventually they slowed, revealing a dark flat area on a sandy hillock with stars twinkling in the sky.

“Holy-“ Sam gawked.

Robert sighed, “Yep, it is that. One of the many secrets of the Vatican. Dominus Ominous, Dominantly Ominous,” He beamed, “Hop through!” He placed his hand on Sam’s back.

Sam shrank from his touch, “Whoa, Whoa, I don’t know about this!”

Robert gave him an exaggerated disgusted look, “Alright then I’ll go first, you chicken.”

He stepped over the mirrors threshold into the scenery. Passing through, Robert appeared to slow and stretch through the mirror. On the other side, he motioned to Sam to join him. Sam could see his mouth moving but no sounds escaped.

Sam paced back and forth in front of the mirror trying to awaken his courage.

“This is too much. This is too much. It’s like something out of some fantasy book! This is too much!” his unbelieving nature began to take control of his confidence.

He heard a creek behind him.

Turning, he saw the previously closed, upright coffin standing slightly ajar.

“What the-?” he stopped pacing.

A husky feminine voice answered him.

“Step through, Champion. It will be all right. For a Champion you show considerable caution.” The woman’s voice had a heavy accent he couldn’t place but startled him enough to trip backwards over the edge of the mirror.

“AHHHHHHHHH!” Sam cried falling through, feeling a slight tug from behind like cobwebs evaporating as he passed.

Robert caught him as he fell.

“They…one…they-” he stammered pointing back at the hole in the air appearing to be a doorway back to the nunnery.

Robert steadied him, “Deep breath, what happened?”

“One of those sleepers! A woman, she spoke to me!”

He smiled, “Oh, her. Yeah, she has a habit of speaking more than the others. What did she say?” he helped him regain his footing.

“She told me to step through, that it was going to be-” he stopped, looking around.

Around them, ruins rose in Roman classical designs. Some Sam recognized but they were in a much-lessened state of repair compared to what he usually saw in travel brochures and history books.

“We…we’re in the past.” he whispered.

“Yes…yes we are.” Robert whispered, mocking him.

The mirror portal floating in the air, began collapsing in upon itself, swirling with colors.

“Wait! How do we get back!” he lunged for the portal but Robert stopped him.

“It’s alright. Just remember where we are. I can get us back just as long as we come back to this spot.”

“Yeah, but what happens to me if something happens to you?”

Robert shrugged, “You’ll probably end up a rich man if you remember your history. We’re at the end of the late eighteen hundreds. Trust me; I’ll get us out of here. Faith my friend gotta have it.”

The portal blinked out of existence as Sam set his surroundings to memory.

When he checked on Robert, he strolled through the ruins in a seemingly random fashion.

Sam hurried beside him, “So I guess you’re looking for your grandfather?”

He nodded, “Hmm? What? Oh, yeah, I guess I should be doing that shouldn’t I? I was just admiring the scenery.”

Sam regarded him in surprise.

Robert broke into a grin, “I’m kidding Sam. I’m trying to get my bearings on where we are in these ruins. My grandfather took my father to this place where he said he found the Key and he, in turn, took me. But that was many decades later so things look different now so I’m trying to sort out the difference.”

Excavations were in progress, he could tell by all the archeological tools and tents set up everywhere. In the distance, lights came on in some of the far off tents and in the not too distant city.

“My grandfather always worked late, my father told me, usually on his own without help after the Italians and the rest of his team went back home or went into town for dinner. He told me grandpa said he had found the Key just after sunset.”

Robert patted his chest over the Key.

“Holy crap!” he cried pulling up his shirt.

Robert stared at his chest and stomach, where the familiar burn mark of the Key usually appeared. He looked into the sky, and wiggled his fingers in his ears. He no longer had the sight to see beyond the Veil or hear it. Neither could Sam. What astounded them both was the lengthy scar on Robert’s belly had disappeared and the burn marks from the insertion of the Key Signorum were gone from his body.

“I can’t feel it! It’s gone!” he slapped his chest.

“I know what’s going on.” Sam rubbed his chin.

“Well, give me some information please!” the panicking Champion asked.

Sam mentioned his sight and hearing were no longer working. Robert rubbed his flat belly pulling his pants out a little to see if the scar was totally gone. It was.

Sam remained calm, more than Robert for once, “You’re not here yet. Your family hasn’t found the Key yet. We’re in the past remember? You don’t exist in this time. I‘ve read about people who said they had slipped into the past finding out they literally weren’t born. I believe that’s what has happened. Remember I deal with the weird and unexplained?”

Robert relaxed, “You’re right, you’re right. Whew! For a moment there, I thought for sure we were in trouble. Memory isn’t what it used to be, I’ve done this before. See, Sam I am, there’s a reason for you being with me after all, to calm me down. I shouldn’t be surprised, I’ve used the mirror before but this has never happened. The Key Signorum always comes with me. I don’t understand why it and my scar didn’t come along with the ride this time?”

Sam shrugged, “I don’t think I could help you with your craziness or answer why it’s happening like this. Time travel is new to me, and stop with the Sam I am!”

“Hello? Who’s there? Ryan? Alim? Is that you?” a man called out to them from the direction of an oil lamp illuminating a gully twenty feet away.

“Ah, my guess is that would be Gramps.” Robert turned and walked toward the man.

Sam marveled at the ease Robert switched gears with the wonders in his life. One moment he could panic the next, total serenity. He could only speculate as to how much Robert had actually witnessed in his life to become so easy-going.

Robert waved at the man, “Hello there, we’re looking for Oliver Tobias Wilcox! Could you possibly direct us to him?”

“Americans? Well, hello! Welcome. I’m the man you seek, sir,” his accent implied British inflection, “Please, watch your footing, there’s loose gravel here you could either fall or hurt yourself or possible disturb our findings.” Oliver requested.

“Come along Sam! Mind your footing.”

Sam followed in Robert’s steps approaching the man who would become his new friends’ grandfather.

Sam didn’t know what to expect, when he finally saw Oliver Wilcox illuminated by his lamp, he almost laughed. He wore what could only be compared to as a jungle adventurer in an old black and white Tarzan movie. Oliver appeared in his late twenties or early thirties with handle bar moustache, pith helmet, white clothing, high boots and a small kukri in a sheath around his belt.

“Greetings, gentlemen, you appear to have the better of me. You seem to know who I am but I don’t believe I know you.”

He extended his hand toward Robert to help him down into the gully where he stood.

“Of course, Professor, introductions are in order. My name is Robert Cox and my colleague is Samuel Brady, we’re from the American consul.”

Oliver nodded to Sam, “Mister Brady. Mr. Cox is there a problem? My papers I assure you are in proper order. The liaisons from the museum of antiquities say we are in total compliance with our excavation.”

“Oh, no, no, no. No problem Professor. We heard a fellow American was out here and decided to come visit you. Samuel and I are somewhat of minor historians and we would much care to hear what you might have found during your diggings.” His manner of speech changed to the older style his grandfather spoke.

Oliver beamed, “Excellent, excellent. Men of history. I admire that. Please come to my tent, I just found an interesting object.” He picked up a small satchel.

Oliver led the way, Robert staggered and Sam rushed forward, supporting him from behind.

Sam whispered, “Are you okay?”

“It’s in the bag; I felt it return to my chest, the Key.”

“Careful now, mind the steps they were hastily constructed.” Oliver hurried out of the gully.

His tent sat nearest to the area where he currently worked. Entering, he lit another oil lamp placing the one he carried on a low table giving the area enough light.

The time travelers inspected the tent. Professor Wilcox had a system to his documentation of his findings, but only he knew what they were. His tent lay scattered with various objects and tagged items. He placed a crude chair for Robert to sit and a box for Sam sitting down himself on a small, unmade cot, pulling a low table closer to him, placing some of the items down to the ground making room for the bag carrying the Key.

“I do not receive many visitors to my tent so please excuse the sparseness of furniture. Would you like some tea perhaps?” He motioned toward a small wood burning stove with a teapot.

Robert beamed, “Ah, no thank you Professor, we don’t plan to stay long, we have other prior commitments. But please show us something interesting so we can go away happy men.”

“Yes, by all means. I have found something extraordinary!” He unpacked the bag holding several bundles of cloth wrapped items.

Carefully Oliver unrolled a bundle reverently placing the Key on the small table.

Robert played dumb, “An Ankh? In Rome? It appears to be made of amber. Taken from conquered Egyptians?”

Oliver grinned, “Yes, that is what it would seem to be would it not, but it is not. If you look closely inside the amber, you will notice insects. Please look.”

Robert picked up the Key, pretending to be fascinated, handing it to Sam who did likewise.

Oliver began lecturing, “The insects, if you could read ancient Latin and Aramaic, are shaped into words. Letters made of insects, in amber! It is extraordinary! Do you have any idea how long it takes to make amber? It also does not appear to be a random occurrence either. Who and how was it made? I cannot even begin to speculate. If you look at the loop of the Ankh, it is the only part in Aramaic. On one side, it says one thing but if you turn it around to the other side it says another, yet you cannot see one side through the amber to the other side. Extraordinary.”

Robert nodded solemnly, “Quiet extraordinary. Why do you think it is here?”

Oliver took the Key, “That I could not tell you, I am absolutely befuddled as to the reason it should be found here. The area I was excavating was a home, a typical dwelling of the original inhabitants of this region. Nothing out of the ordinary about it. Yet I felt compelled to dig in that area, then I came upon this.”

Sam and Robert exchanged glances, “Compelled?”

“Yes. I was going to finish an excavation I and my compatriot Ryan worked earlier today, yet an urge to dig there overcame me. I am so pleased I followed my intuition.”

“Can you read anything in the amber?

He pointed at the Key, “So far, all I have been able to read is Key Signorum which means-”

“Key of signs.” Robert finished for him.

Oliver looked up smiling “Ah, you know some Latin! Quite correct.”

“I also know some Aramaic.”

He set the Key down, “Truly? Aramaic is not commonly known or widely studied language. How is it you know?”

“Well, first let me say when you decipher the Aramaic around the loops, don’t read them out loud or let anyone else, or put them to pen to paper for others to read. Sometimes Signorum can also mean Virtutibus or ‘miracles’.”

Oliver examined them quizzically; both glanced down and to the side.

Oliver pulled the Key closer to him, “You say you gentlemen are from the American consul?”

Robert nodded, “Yes I did.”

“May I see your papers?”

Robert shrugged, “Actually we don’t have any, and I did say we were from the consul, but I lied.”

Oliver, surprisingly fast, pulled the kukris from its sheath and stood.

“Explain yourselves! Or I shall call for my men.”

Sam started to protest but Robert placed a hand on his shoulder.

In a calm voice, Robert motioned for everyone to remain calm, “Certainly, as I said this is Samuel Brady but he is in actuality a paranormal investigator. I’m not Robert Cox, but I am an archeologist, an antiquarian but not from the consul. My real name is Robert Oliver Wilcox. I was named after my grandfather…Oliver Tobias Wilcox.”

Oliver frowned at Robert as Sam nodded his head in agreement.

“Madness! Who are you truly? You’re younger than I am. I am not even married. You say you’re my grandson. More like grave robbers both of you. The Italian authorities will have your heads if you try to rob this site-”

Robert interrupted him by opening his shirt showing him the familiar brand from the Key on his chest. The impression was unmistakable.

Oliver pointed with his kukris, “What…is that?” he whispered.

Robert traced the mark, “Inside my body, from my time, is the Key. I come from a long line of, for a better set of words: Champions. We guard our reality from what’s beyond the Veil of other realities. The Key was given to you to find to start the Champions in our family lineage. Angels directed you toward the Key. You passed it on to my father, your son, who passed it on to me.”

Confused, Oliver sat down, “You speak madness.”

Robert nodded, “My father brought me here when I was a boy to this place where you are now…or were, to show me where to go. He told me a man came out of the future to tell his father, you, about the Key and what should and shouldn’t be done with it. How to use it. He didn’t tell me it was really me showing you. That I was the man from the future, but I figured it out recently.”

“I do not believe you.” Oliver sat back down, lowering the kukris beside him.

“You told dad you were open-minded even for your time but it took the man from the future to warning you would believe him once you took a sketch of the Key with you to the Vatican in a week’s time. You hid the Key in a place you never revealed to anyone offering only the sketch of a rubbing of the Key.”

Oliver doubted him, “Why would I lie to the Vatican?”

“Papal authorities were extremely interested in the sketch. They asked if they could study it within the libraries they had, you agreed. When you returned here, the Italian authorities had confiscated all your equipment, and the site banned to foreigners. Your papers were revoked, and you were ordered to leave the area immediately or face imprisonment.”

“But why?” he asked, putting away his kukris.

“Because there are…unseen parties moving in the Vatican, years from now there’ll be wars encouraging the retrieval of religious artifacts paramount to the success of countries engaged in the war. Heaven and Hell are constantly at war, we Champions of the Veil are merely a buffer and cannon fodder between them. The Key is a very powerful artifact, if in the wrong hands, the way for further evil to enter the world and perhaps take over mankind.”

“Evil? Even in the Vatican?”

Robert chuckled, “What resides in the Vatican? Men. Humans. Humans who can be either strong or weak of will. The ones wanting the Key the most are the weaker ones who serve the wrong side either willingly or unwillingly. Which reminds me, now you have the Key you’ll begin to see the unseen world. The Divine and Malign beyond the Veil. There are rules you must follow in avoiding unintentional battle with them.” Robert quickly told him his rules.

“How do you know all this?”

“My father told me, my grandfather told him and the future man told you.”

“You being the man?” Oliver scratched his chin.

“Correct.”

“Extraordinary.   I am beginning to believe you. But who is Mr. Brady here.”

Sam straitened, “Oh, I’m a Champion in training, I suppose you could say.”

“Ah, so there are many Champions?”

Robert nodded, “Yes, male, female, family lines or special individuals. There’s a Warrior line, one of which is waiting for us back in our time. All nations, all belief systems are protected and defended until the final battle between what’s beyond if it ever comes. No matter what the individuals believe there is only one Creator, or head God, or Greatest Spirit, just the religions worship it in their own way. No one is completely right, or completely wrong.”

Oliver absorbed what he just heard, “So what should I do with the Key?”

“You’ll have to leave Italy. From what my father told me, you traveled for many years, you never told him all the places you went. You recommended for him to do the same. When he married, you told mom and dad to never remain in one place too long or the unseen could gather forces against you possibly taking the Key. Over the years you learned tricks to fool the Malign, so did my father, I followed in both your footsteps.”

Oliver tipped back his pith helmet, “How can I know if any of this is true? You two could just be two insane grave robbers with a fantastical story.”

Robert thought for a moment, “Has the German Empire been proclaimed in Versailles yet?”

“The German ‘Empire’?” Oliver’s brows furrowed.

Robert smirked, “I take that as a no. In 1871, Germany will become an Empire and it will be announced in Versailles.”

“That’s five years from now.” Oliver said.

“Then that should be a factor in all I‘m telling you. You‘ll have your doubts so will grandmother until it happens. You’ll prepare yourselves and my father in using the Key and training him to be an archeologist.”

“Grandmother?” He grinned, “Where do I meet her?”

“Now grandpa,” Robert laughed, “That would be cheating, let me just say both of you told Dad it was romantic.”

“Well I guess I’ll wait then.” he shrugged.

“Your trust in what I‘ve said will be reinforced when you travel to the Vatican though, just remember the rules when you see beyond the Veil. Remember evil can go into the same places as goodness; they were all Angels at one time, the myth of evil not being able to cross over onto holy ground are lies. Lies spread by evil for their own ends. Their power is heavily lessened, yet still effective. Only the strongest have no problem being on holy ground. So be careful.”

Oliver sat his helmet back on his head, “Extraordinary. How did you two get here? You said you are from our future how did you do that?”

Robert clapped his hands together, “Oh, yes! The man also told you there was a mirror in the repository in a nunnery in New Orleans in America that could help you travel in time. Another one is stored in the vaults of the Vatican. Which we’ve just visited the one in New Orleans. You can only control where you go in time if there is a person there you know and the exact time or if you have been there before. The one in the Vatican can take you anywhere, anytime, without any prior knowledge of the time or place. It’s the more dangerous of the two but the good thing is very few know how to make it work, thank goodness. I received divine help in making the one in the Nunnery work. I was recently cursed to forget what I know but divine help changed all of that.”

Oliver stared at the Key, “I need to pass this on to my children don’t I?” he asked.

“Yes, but then, you already did.”

“Yes, I suppose I did.”

“Sammy, would you mind moving out of earshot? There are a few things I need to tell my grandfather for his ears alone. Just, uh, wander around a bit.”

Sam shrugged, “I suppose I knew this was coming. Something to do only with your family line and the Key, I know, I know.”

Sam exited the tent and for the next twenty minutes wandered around the campsite until Robert opened the tent flap escorting his grandfather outside.

“Well that’s about all I can remember the man telling you and we have to return back to our own time.”

Oliver stopped him, “Did…we ever get to know each other?”

Robert shrugged, “Dad told me you liked surprises, so I probably shouldn’t answer that question.”

“Then just let me say if anything you have said is true then remember this as a way of thanks.”

The two men embraced.

Robert coughed, his voice strained, “So hopefully you’ll remember everything I told you.”

“I shall, although I think it is a bit funny hugging my grandson who appears to be older than I.”

“Would you like to see us return to our time?”

Oliver brightened, “I would be delighted. Maybe it will make your story more believable.” he picked up a lamp from inside the tent following them.

They arrived at the portal are where they extended their goodbyes, Sam coughing to interrupt their goodbyes.

“Ready, Sam I am?” Robert asked.

“I’ve got my fingers crossed.”

Robert chanted, rotating his hands in a counter-clockwise fashion. Streamers of light slowly drifted toward his fingers. The colors of light changed tones as the portal grew. Oliver gasped as the colors began to turn counterclockwise beneath his hands while the interior chamber of the sealed room of the New Orleans nunnery began to take shape.   Once stabilized, Sam had to raise his leg to step through while Robert told his grandfather goodbye one last time, following Sam through.

“Well that was interesting.” Sam stared at the three caskets particularly the one with the female voice.

Robert waved at Oliver as the portal collapsed reflecting Robert own image, “Oh, come off it, you thought it was great,” He felt his stomach, “Oh hey, my scar is back.”

He raised his shirt; the scar looked the same as ever.

Sam paced, never taking his full attention away from the coffins, “I’m trying to get some things straight in my head.”

Robert pressed his shirt down, “Sure Sammy, toss it at me.”

“You were the man that came back to tell your grandfather about the Key, right?”

“Yep.”

“Yet if you hadn’t come back he wouldn’t have known about the Key and would have turned it over to the Vatican-”

“Hold it right there,” he gave an exasperated sigh, “If you’re trying to figure out time travel, don’t. It’ll give you a headache. Things work the way they do…just because they do. I once read from the teachings of the compassionate Buddha which said if you‘re hit with an arrow, should you really care where the wood for the shaft was grown? Or where the feathers came from for the balance of the arrow? Or should you worry about what village the person who shot the arrow was from? Or how he was raised, does he have brothers or sisters? Is the person rich or poor? No, you should only be concerned that you’ve been struck with an arrow. The rest doesn’t matter. It just is. ‘Course, that’s not a direct quote, but the best I can remember.”

Sam sighed, “Right, okay, whatever you say. So what do we do now?”

“Well, the future man also visiting my father, on a particularly bad day,” he looked disheartened.

“So now we go to visit your father?”

“Yes. Near my sixteenth birthday. The worst day of my life.”

Sam frowned, “Why? What happened?”

Robert raised his shirt, “That’s when I got this.” He pointed at his belly scar.

“You sure you want to do this…what am I saying, you already have.”

“One more time through the looking glass, Alice.” he returned to the mirror starting the spell again. When the image cleared, Sam realized he knew the area in the mirror, high in a mountainous region. It was Machu Picchu. Less cleared, and not as neatly manicured as present day. The scene drifted down to ground level.

“After you.” Robert gave him a bowed flourish.

“Never been to Machu Picchu, this might be interesting.”

 

“Trust me, keep your wits about you, this is going to be anything but interesting.”

Sam stepped through the portal Robert steeled himself and followed.

As his rear leg passed through, Raquel arrived at the top of the stairs with Father De Luca’s arm twisted behind his back walking with a limp. She held her butterfly knife to his throat. She saw Robert step through at the last second.

“Robert! Wait!” She yelled but the mirror returned to a mirror once more.

To be continued…

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