Gaebril Van Rose was called a man who could accomplish anything. Whether it be on the fields of battle or at home. He had never lost once. When the bandits and invaders had come to pillage his home, he had rallied the troops and fought them off. When his people were being cheated from their money from neighboring places, he had set things right and set up fair trade. When he was forced to marry, he had risen and made his betrothed love him and learned to love her before the marriage. He was truly a man amongst men with little in the way of faults.
Then why was his only son talking to something unseen about such dark things!?
He had to grip the edge of his shaving stand to prevent himself from growing too angry. Behind him, his wife came to lay a hand on his shoulder. As always, she was trying to soothe his rage. It wouldn’t help any, however. Gaebril did not take failure lightly. He turned and pulled Helen into an embrace. He could not let his home life fail due to a minor set-back. He had not lost in being a father yet.
Helen held onto him, letting her golden curls lay upon Gaebril’s chest. She was just as lovely as the day they had met, though the stress of this situation was starting to affect her as well.
“Worry not, Helen,” Gaebril told her softly, “I will make our son see the truth of things.” He pulled her face and stared into her blue eyes with his own bark brown ones. “This I promise you.”
They kissed, and then Gabril sent her to the kitchen. She looked as if she needed to eat and the act was often an ease on the conscience. Gabril himself finished his shaving and headed toward his only son’s room.
The mansion they lived in was large, though most of the rooms Gabril had were empty. He made sure to keep his child as close as possible, though. One would think it was fatherly affection, but really it was to keep an eye on the lad. And his… friend.
Gabril stopped at the door and listened before knocking.
A small voice came through the wood. It was that of his son, Bain.
“… Guess it’s acceptable.”
“Well, there’s nothing really in the dark that isn’t in the light, right?”
“Yes… Bones seem to be in living people and dead. I guess you’re right.”
Gaebril started to knock and ease his son of this nonsense, but then Bain spoke once more, causing him to pause.
“I don’t know if they would like me digging up their bones, though!”
What in God’s Grace..? Gaebril knocked, trying not to hit the wood too hard. He didn’t want to scare the lad. “Bain, it’s your father.”
Bain whispered something and then his small feet made sounds that signaled his move to open the door. Gaebril waited patiently as his son came into view. The boy was only ten in age, but already he had reached Gaebril’s chest. His mother’s family influence, no doubt. On his head was short and messy black hair, just like Gaebril had, and he wore his neat clothing that said he planned to go outside.
“Son, who were you talking to?” Gaebril asked as softly as he could. He had read the books. It’s best to be gentle yet straight forward when questioning a child.
Bain shuffled nervously. “I don’t know, father.”
“Son, if there is someone here I don’t know about, then I must know.”
Bain didn’t say anything more and acted like he had been scolded. Gaebril was almost tempted to bring him to a priest, but that would start rumors and possibly come back to haunt both Gaebril and Bain. He couldn’t chance it. Not if Bain was ever to lead the people in the future.
What could he do?
Then, an idea came to Gaebril.
“Come, son,” Gaebril said, turning to walk away. “There is something I wish to give you.”
Bain followed along, obviously dreading what would come, though Gaebril could not fathom why. When he looked back, it seemed Bain was listening to someone beside him. It was just a feeling, but Gaebril thought he might feel a presence there himself. No, that was silly. But if he could then his idea might just work after all.
They headed into the attic, finding the dusty place filled with boxes and shelves of family heirlooms and artifacts recovered by the Rose family over the generations. It only took Gaebril a few moments to find what he was looking for: A small box with ornate designs. Gaebril took it and pulled it open, revealing the simple rosary inside.
“Son,” Gaebril said, “This is a rosary made by the first Lord Rose for his wife, Elizabeth. I was told by my grandfather that the rosary helped her find peace in the night and free her from stress. I am hoping it will do the same for you.”
Bain nodded solemnly and bent down slightly while Gaebril fit the heirloom around his son’s neck. He personally didn’t believe that a rosary could do anything, but it was something he had to try. And he had heard of certain things giving people a peace of mind in times of hardship. Maybe this would do the same…
At first, there was no difference. But Gaebril didn’t expect any difference. He had hoped for one, though. Then, he saw his son’s face grow startled. The lad started to look around, as if something had just happened and he was trying to figure out what it was. After a moment of that, he grew excited.
“Father! He’s gone!”
Gaebril smiled. It had worked, then. His son had-
A dark figure stood behind Bain. Gaebril quickly pulled his son back and pulled the knife he kept on him at all times. Bain tried to turn to see what was happening, but Gaebril wouldn’t allow the boy to move. Was this black-cloaked figure an assassin sent by the Gorrow Brothers? They had been angry at his victory the previous year.
No, this figure seemed… vicious, almost as if it was a force Gaebril should be afraid of. Like a rabid dog or a bear protecting its children.
“Who are you?” Gaebril demanded.
The figure chuckled in a raspy voice. It sounded almost too raspy to be human, but that was impossible. “I am called Dethnus Ackearose,” the figure said, looking up. “And I will be back to teach the boy my Morals.”
Gaebril’s hands started to shake as he saw the being’s face. His knife fell to the ground and he pulled Bain further away. There was no way this could be happening. No way in God’s Name that it could happen. It must have been the devil’s work!
For the bones of a man should never walk.
The skull laughed at Gaebril’s fear and then vanished like it had never been there at all. Bain fell unconscious at the same time. It had been the first time Gaebril was truly unable to act.
Later, Bain would wake, forgetting ever talking to an unseen being. His father would begin distancing himself from his family and drinking in secret. And his mother would lose her life to an unknown illness.
Dethnus, of course, would be waiting to teach his Morals.