Chapter XIV - Soul MasksMature

Chapter XIV

Nine crimson robed figure stood around me, masks engraved with mystical glyphs and sigils hid their face. They stood at the edge of a spotlight's illumination, their back to the light, facing the darkness.

The figures waited motionlessly for my answer, not a single sound broke the silence and for a minute.

“Who are you?” I asked to the robes.

One of them spoke, a man's voice that I couldn't recognize “We wear the blood soaked cloaks, we oppose what comes from the outside.”

“With divine powers” declared another man in a confident and charismatic voice.

“With arcane fire and swords of will” cherished a woman from behind me.

“With knives and shotguns” Complete a third unknown man.

“That, is who we are.” Began Nova, the only voice I had recognized so far. “We stand between the light and darkness, watching for the coming storm. We call ourselves the scarlet circle.”

“The coming storm?” I asked

She paced around me for a few seconds. As she moved, so did the lights and the other members. “They say that the end is nigh, that we are living our final days.

We see it every night On television, bombarded with lies to cover the rot eating society at it's core. In the empty eyes of thousands of missing persons, plastered over every street corners.  While they go on with their lives, some plot against them, conspires with things that should not be, to gain power and gratification.

Maybe it's true. Maybe it is nearly time...

But there's one thing we know: Evil is real.

It is an absolute darker than anything people could imagine. That is a truth that comes in many form, in forgotten books and tablets better left burried, in names that should never be spoken, in sunken cities where sleeping gods wait for the stars to be right.

Now, the end is almost upon us, but there's still time. Time for one last hail Mary before the dice is cast.”

“What can we do?”

“Fight to delay the inevitable.” Claimed another woman, probably Camilla, hard to tell with the mask screwing their voices.

“Is that all?”

“There's still an alternate way, one where we could win.” Claimed Nova

“Why don't we pursue it then?”

“Because it cannot be pursued.” She declared bluntly. “That path is ascension, it is to become something new, transcend humanity, mortality and pass on to the next step of existence.”

“Is it that hard?”

“Impossible actually. To move on, one must not just master the craft, he must master himself. It is to attain the ultimate powers but at the same time, being detached, unfettered from earthly desires. It is to both reach Nirvana AND supreme powers. To search for one neglects the other.”

“Then is there nothing we can do?”

“We can fight. Destroy those who pose a threat to our world. You have seen the New World Order, those are our main enemies, they hunted down the practitioner of the arts until we were nearly extinct.

If they were defeated, we could stand a chance to win. But we are out-manned, out-gunned, out-resourced in every manners. They can clone M.I.Bs, they wield weapons that people believe only exist on TV. And more importantly; their hyper science, It is a corruption of the magical arts we wield, cut down into perfectly square pieces each fitted with one another. At it's core, it is nothing more than magic made uniform, rigid, static, that has been labeled science.

Despite that, they still wield an advantage over us”

“What is that?”

“Try shooting fire balls downtown, you will feel the strain of all those minds opposing yours. Shoot a gadget with the same effect, now it's entirely believable to them.”

“I see...”

“Now, do you understand what we fight for?”

“I do.”

All of them spoke in unison, asking me; “The Circle open it's door to you Ezekiel Black, son of Elijah. Shall you join us between light and dark? Take upon the blood stained cloak and fight those who should not be?”

I knew it was merely formality, in reality I couldn't say no. It was too late to go back. It had been over a month ago.

“I accept your request.” I declared.

As I spoke these words, all light were shut plunging the room into pure darkness. I felt my clothes fall onto the ground by themselves, all around me, I felt the smooth touch of silk run across my body. All by itself, the robe adjusted to my size all while a white, plain porcelain mask slowly descended unto my face.

When it touched my skin, I felt a jolt of power run all around my nerves, before coming back into the mask. The thing didn't have any eye or mouth holes yet I saw clearer than ever...

I saw...

*****

Rain poured all across the field, delivered by thick inky black clouds. It was the afternoon yet it was darker than night. I walked slowly across the clearing, leaving the cover of the ages old oaks behind me.

There she was, my lady...

Oh how majestic she looked in her dark gowns. She laid her back onto a large, smooth rock, a musty tome on her laps.

“I am glad to see you” I whispered to her.

She gave me a smile and took my hand, lowering me to her level. Inside her book, was a list of name, each and everyone crossed out. She gave it to me and I read for a moment.

Camilla Knight - Keith Drummers - Nova – Ezekiel Black

Many more names were written, I recognized several, old friends, co-workers and et cetera.

Out of her bag, she took another book, much smaller this time, handing it to me. Written in italic on the cover was “Draft II” I wasn't sure If I wanted to read it, but curiosity won in the end. In this one, only one page had anything written onto it. Two words.

“Ezekiel Black" My name had been crossed over several times, rendering it nearly unreadable.

“I choose which one happens?”

She nodded and pointed to the side. On the left side of the field was a large cross. A man nailed to it... Carefully, I came closer until I noticed it.

“DAD?” I yelled in shock.

“Zeke...” The man whispered.

I wanted to get him off the cross but as I did, the Lady in black stopped me, sadly shaking her head.

“Why... Can't I?...”

“It's alright son... I knew this would happen, listen to me” he said. “You have to continue what I couldn't finish. Saving people.”

As he said those last lines, he coughed up blood and as he shook, his necklace fell onto my hand. An old battered silver cross I always wore now...

“Don't give up... Finish it all... and... don't look... back...” He begged me his voice weakening by the seconds.

He didn't get time to say more as his body withered to ashes within a moment. Without warning, a bird perched himself upon my shoulder, a blood stained raven gazed at me.

With a swipe of it's talon, it took the pendant away from me and flew up, right into the sky. As he disappeared behind the clouds, a powerful thump echoed through the air.
The clouds exploded into thousands of tiny water droplets, back was the sun, coming back onto our lives accompanied by a rainbow.
Not far from me, I saw it crash down.

The Raven laid on the floor, broken, with one last croak, it handed my the pendant again. “Why did you do that?” I asked the animal.

“...Because... the sun must set to rise...” The bird replied, sporting an out of place Brooklyn accent.

*****


My eyes opened, switching from one world to another. The mask softly fell onto my hands, it was no longer plain, it now sported a painting. A blood splattered raven.

“It is time for you to answer one last question Ezekiel. What, is thy name?”

“I am... Sanguis Corvus..” I declared without even haven thought about it.

“Then welcome onto the Circle brother”

She put her hand upon mine and a burning sensation flared upon my left hand. There, words had been burned into my wrist, glowing bright orange.

"Pugnare tenebras stamus in caligine abditus"

The End

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