TMStarnes2013

Novelist and more.

Champions of the Veil Chapter Eighteen

a old church

 Our trio of heroes, having survived time traveling to the past, and narrowly escaping demon ridden New Orleans police, are now en-route to Memphis Tennessee to challenge the serial killing demon which framed Robert in the death of a family years before.

And then there’s Sam…

Chapter 18

Appearance can always be changed, but the talent stays the same.

–Jennifer Hudson

Sam drifted into sleep by the sounds of the tires rolling on the pavement.

He awoke to find himself standing in the aisle of a small church.

The church may have been able to house one hundred people. The windows stained glass depicted various events from the bible. Lines of old style wooden pews with hymnals placed randomly in the seats formed two sides. A plain wooden pulpit stood with a plain wooden cross suspended on the wall behind it. To the left of the pulpit on a raised dais an old-fashioned organ waited and on the opposite wall, a seating area for a choir sat empty.

A lone man sat at the front pew; his head bowed in prayer.

“Uh, hello?” Sam quietly called, realizing he must be dreaming.

The man stood and turned to face Sam with a smile.

The tall slim black man dressed in an old-fashioned Preachers’ garb from an older time. Sam instantly sensed he wasn’t what he seemed.

“Samuel, it is about time we talked,” the Preacher replied walking down the aisle toward him.

Sam took a step back, “Whoa, hold up there buddy. This may be a dream and it may not but you’re not what you seem.”

The Preacher stopped where he was smiling wider, “Well Samuel you seem to be coming along nicely. Your powers as a Champion are advancing quickly. You are correct. I am not what I seem and yes, this is a dream. Although it is a communication as well, most dreams are after all.”

Sam’s right eyebrow rose, “Okay…I’ll bite I guess. Who are you?”

“This form or my reality?”

Sam rolled his eyes, “Again…okay… let’s go with your reality first. Whatever that means?”

The Preacher indicated a pew, “Would you like to sit down first?”

“No, that’s fine. Just needing some answers right now,” he sensed the being didn’t mean him harm, in fact, he sensed comfort emanating from the being.

“Well I go by many names, but technically I am known as ‘The Word’ and yes as in ‘The Word of the Lord thy God’ that ‘Word’,” he gave a playful grin.

Sam blinked in surprise, “Uh, aren’t you supposed to be like an Indian or something according to Robert?”

The Preacher moved over to a pew to his left sitting down three pews forward while offering Sam the opposing side.

“Well, Samuel, to Robert I am. He believes in reincarnation so I appear to him as Askonae; one of his past and most peacefully lived incarnations. To you, who does not believe in such things, I am appearing as one of your ancestors. An ancestor who was a Preacher, obviously. You can call me Ezra.”

Slowly moving toward the offered pew, that is until Ezra mentioned he took the form of an ancestor, Sam took two steps back.

“Okay hold it right there. I don’t know if you can see the obvious or not but I’m white. You’re a black man. Ezra, I think you may not be what you claim to be.”

Ezra laughed leaning back slapping his knees, “It is true what the hosts say about you! You are so skeptical and suspicious! I love it! Your type of Champion is the type I enjoy the most. Okay, you will need proof. Guardians? If you please?”

Ezra held out his hands as Sam’s guardian angels flew directly toward the black man’s palms, landed, then knelt and bowed their heads.

Ezra smiled at Sam, “Do you believe your angels would be so willing to do this if I meant you harm? By the way, they say you are much improved after your trip to New Orleans. Four stars apiece they tell me. Alright, thank you, back to your duties.”

Sam stared as the small angels flew back to him and around his head, landing on opposing shoulders.

“Now it would be easier if you would sit then we could talk comfortably,” Ezra motioned toward the pew again.

This time Sam sat down.

“I still don’t understand how you can say you’re an ancestor of mine while I’m a white guy.”

Ezra sighed, “If everyone on this planet realized how they were connected, who their ancestors where, who their descendants will be, most would be more tolerant while others would go insane.”

“Well, it is kind of a shock. But then, I’m picking up some of Robert’s wilder beliefs so I’ll take it with a pinch of salt.”

Ezra grinned, “Two years ago and you would still be fighting me on such a small matter. You are doing well indeed. Robert is infectious. Too bad we do not have more Champions like him. Well, first things first. I am sure you have some questions so go ahead and ask. You so do love to investigate.”

“Okay. Which religion is correct?”

“All of them.”

Sam rolled his eyes, “Which is the closest to what God wants then?”

“All of them again, that is, if they serve the divine.”

Undaunted Sam waved his hands, “Which will get it correct?” he insisted.

“It is a while off, after the aliens land I believe.”

Sam sat straighter.

The Preacher laughed, “I am kidding. Ezra had a good sense of humor.”

Sam slumped in disappointment, “Oh, okay then-”

“It will be long before those aliens arrive anyway,” Ezra said offhandedly.

Sam grinned, “You know I do believe in aliens don’t you? What am I saying? Of course you do.”

Ezra nodded slowly, “And well you should. They have been around this planet for centuries. A few could not understand why Christ was sacrificed but the hosts explained it to them.”

Sam grinned, thinking The Word was pulling his leg, Ezra returned his grin with a serious expression.

Sam frowned, “Are you serious?”

“Yes.”

Sam frowned more, “No really, are you serious?”

“Yes.”

Sam leaned back in his pew staring slack-jawed at the other being.

Ezra smirked, “Why the strange look? With the most Divine all things are possible both great and small. Anything man can conceive of, the most Divine has already finished. Even the original beings of this planet continue to evolve not to mention your species. Before you ask, yes, creationism and evolution both are correct in their own ways. It is complicated and it would take forever to try to explain it and the human mind is not ready to understand so please do not ask me to explain.”

Sam nodded, silently contemplating.

“More questions?”

Sam remembered something from earlier, “Uh, the dark spires back in New Orleans what exactly was that about?”

The black man’s face took on a grim aspect. “A…build up…of malignancy is growing in the area which within a few years from your perspective will create a terrible event happening in Louisiana especially around New Orleans. Humanity will be tested there and other places around the world over the next few years and how they handle these events will reflect upon them in the book of life.”

Sam frowned, “Can you be more specific?”

“No.”

He said it with such finality Sam decided to turn to other subjects.

“Alright, this…thing… we’re chasing that put Robert in the Asylum, why is it traveling around and killing people?”

Ezra shrugged, “It is its nature. It is traveling due to actions in Robert’s past. The malign do not like him nor did they like his father or grandfather. The Key Signorum has been well used by his bloodline, which makes him and them a target. All Champions will be a target of the malign at some point in their existence. When I say target I mean specifically targeted. The young companion with you, Raquel, has been targeted many times while younger but warriors instinctively are able to battle the dark forces, keeping them at bay. Champions are closer to protectors so sometimes they will be able to fight back and sometimes not so much as Robert told you.”

Sam leaned forward and crossed his arms over the pew in front of him, “Yeah, let’s talk about Raquel. What’s her story?”

“Well, that is her story, is it not?” Ezra smiled pleasantly.

“So I guess that means you’re not going to tell me anything about her?”

Ezra merely tilted his head.

Sam threw up his hands, “Okay, Okay. So why are you choosing to talk to me now?”

Ezra clapped his hands, “Finally we are coming to something of significance. As I did with Robert, when you awaken I will have opened part of your consciousness which will provide you better aid and understanding of your role as a burgeoning Champion, it will become more natural and instinctual when you access your powers. You have the abilities to persuade and console so far. You have other powers but that is all you truly need to know about at this time. I am sure you watched Robert fighting the creature that killed his mother, you will develop the same abilities in time, but you are untried in combat so be wary.”

“I thought the Key gave him those powers?”

Ezra shook his head, “No, he possessed those abilities already. The Key merely empowers the possessor with his abilities.”

“So it’s like a power booster?”

He laughed slapping his knees again, “More, Samuel, more than just a power boost. The Key possesses power of a star if needed.”

“Are you serious?”

Ezra nodded, “Of course, the Key Signorum has appeared many times in history in different forms. That is one of the reasons the possessor of the Key be chosen wisely. As Robert said, its secrecy from the malign must be kept at all times until it is sorely needed. In addition, the bearer must be strong enough to wield its power. Robert’s bloodline is one line strong enough to possess it for extended periods of time.”

Sam nodded, “So how do I and Raquel fit in?”

“Well, every knight needs squires,” he grinned.

Sam tilted his head to the left, “So I’m guessing I’m the squire. What does that make her?”

He scratched his chin, “Hmm, emotional support?”

Sam laughed, “He needs emotional support? Now just the thought of what I’ve seen him do so far terrifies me, and you’re saying he needs emotional support?” he tossed his hands in the air again.

Ezra chuckled, “You all need some at one time or another Samuel, even the hosts of Heaven. Yet it comes in many forms. A word given there, a hand given here, a tool offered when needed. Many forms, Samuel, many forms, think of Raquel as emotional support for everyone, to help and guide those who appear to need it.”

Sam scratched his chin, “Well he really was kind of mess when I first met him.”

“That was the Devil’s doing, I aided him in removing a curse.”

“But he’s still kind of…goofy,” He shrugged.

Ezra snickered, “And that is his nature, his shield is laughter and silliness to cope with what he has experienced in his life. Just as your nature is to be…cautious.”

Sam nodded, “So this thing in Memphis, how tough is it going to be for the three of us if it had the power to subdue Robert’s powers?”

“It will be a trial, but the creature caught Robert by surprise. Robert is prepared now. That I can tell you, but there will be other trials along the way so prepare yourself for them. Now you should rest. You will need it. I must awaken your innate powers before you return to consciousness.”

Ezra and the church began to fade away as Sam faded into a deeper, regular sleep.

To be continued…

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