The Unleashing of Orochi
It was a dark night made even darker by grayish clouds that covered the moon hiding it away like a stolen pearl. A lone figure walked along the rocky edge of Cape Elizabeth stopping to stare down at the rough waters below. The waters seemed to be in more turmoil than usual with the waves slapping hard and loud against the rocks, as if they were trying to send a warning. Siobhan CuCullen had left her two young sons at home so as to perform a duty she wasn’t sure she was capable of handling but knew she couldn’t avoid. Reaching deep into herself touching the core of her special talents, she looked up at the sky in order to focus all her powers. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the gray clouds began to part exposing that hidden white moon. It seemed for a moment as if someone turned on the lights in a dark room, as the glow of the moon appeared in the sky. Now Siobhan could see properly the terrain.
Turning away from the water she continued walking along the rocky promontory of Two Light State Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. A short distance away she could see a lone figure standing with arms raised to the sky. From her vantage point she could feel the awesome power of this figure. As she got closer she recognized the figure: it was Baal. He was the reason she was here. It was her duty to stop him, a so-called Boss demon, from raising the snake demon Orochi in this genesis ground of evil, which was Cape Elizabeth, Maine. It was her duty to do this or to die trying. This was an oath she had made a long time ago and her people took oaths seriously. Noticing the lithe and beautiful figure of Siobhan CuCullen walking towards him, Baal lowered his arms and turned to face her. He was an attractive man dressed for a cool autumn evening.
“Good evening, Siobhan,” he said in an inviting voice. “I wish it was Brian who came tonight instead of you. I would have preferred to slay him than you. It would have been so much more fulfilling.”
“I can’t let you bring Orochi into this world from the next, Baal,” she stated defiantly.
“Too late for that; he’s on his way,” he said then looked at a spot on the rocky ground beside him. The rocky patch of ground turned to liquid. A green scaly hand with long talons reached out of this liquid and grabbed at the hard ground until it found a grip then a second green scaly hand did the same thing. With great effort Orochi pulled himself out of the dark liquid and onto the ground. He was horrible to look at, a man snake with yellow eyes, green scaly skin, and a red tongue that licked at its missing lips. Baal helped this demon to its feet.
“I’m sorry about this, Siobhan, but you are too late to stop me. It is done,” Baal said.
With those words the human face Baal showed the world dissolved away and was replaced by a red face with a rocky ridge along his brow. His eyes turned from an attractive blue to a deep burning yellowish orange. Now standing before Siobhan CuCullen were two demons capable of killing her husband, a man who was difficult to kill, let alone killing her. Lowering her head she reached out to nature asking for its assistance. She felt the spark of power begin to flow through her, a feeling of power that gave her hope and focus in her fight.
In the graceful, slithering way of a snake Orochi began to move forward on two feet, but suddenly hands of rock reached up from the ground and grabbed him holding him in place for Siobhan to attack. With a roar of anger he began to fight at these elemental rock hands, but the rock proved to be too strong for him. Baal turned to help him, but before he could assist him a rumble of thunder shook the ground around him and a clap of white hot lightening hit him square on the chest sending him flying back onto the ground.
Siobhan turned her attention back to Orochi directing several bolts of crackling hot white lightening at him. One after another they hit him, as more powerful hands of rock reached up to hold him in place. Orochi screamed in pain as he tried desperately to break the rock bonds that restrained him. As he continued to strain and exert himself several of the rock hands crumbled away under his strength, but as one hand crumbled another emerged from the rocky ground to replace it and hold the snake demon back.
“Well, Done. I expected nothing less from a Triune Conjurer of your powers, Siobhan,” Baal stated then unleashed a bolt of blue energy from his mouth that was aimed at her.
Siobhan barely dodged the bolt of negative energy he released as a weapon, which hit the ground where she stood exploding the rock under her feet and sending it flying in all directions. A few shards of this rock shrapnel lodged itself in her left thigh, as she rolled away from the destruction and a few more in her side. Reaching down to her thigh she felt wetness. The blood on her hand looked almost black in the moonlight. She ignored the pain and kept rolling away from the area of destruction and got slowly up to face Baal, who had freed Orochi from his earthen bonds.
“That looked painful,” he said to her but she didn’t answer him. “Join us, Siobhan. The Illuminatii can always use a talented Triune Conjurer. You could become Morgana’s right hand woman. You could perform great feats and accomplish unimaginable things and live your life without rules or interference from those with little imaginations. Doesn’t that sound like more fun than living by rules and dying a painful death?” With another bolt of lightening hitting him in the chest Baal clapped his hands together sending waves of negative energy towards Siobhan. She attempted to dodge these waves but as she ducked one, another would hit her sending a concussion of horrible pain throughout her body. But she did not succumb to it. Instead of falling in defeat she sent back several bolts of lightening at Baal, who did his best to avoid them. As they fought the rock tomb cracked wide open and Orochi burst out of it. He was breathing hard and his already demonic looking yellow eyes expressed a ferocity and hatred that frightened Siobhan. Nothing would satisfy this creature but her blood now.
Siobhan was now in pain, bleeding from several wounds, and completely exhausted from the fight. She felt her power waning, as her ability to partner with nature needed concentrated energy and focus. Although she was a Triune Conjurer, as were many in her bloodline, she was not as powerful a one as her cousin Sian, who was considered the most powerful of this time. But more than her powers were dissolving; she also felt her hope waning, which was even worse for her. Hope was a powerful tool for a Triune Conjurer because it allowed you to stay in balance with nature. She needed her husband Brian here to push her on through the pain and self-doubt, to give her someone to protect and someone to support her.
“Let me kill you now and maybe I won’t go to your home and kill your children,” Baal said petulantly.
“You know my answer, Baal,” she said.
“Oh, yes, your husband and children, you don’t want to desert them because you love them, don’t you? How sweet, yet also how predictable,” he started to finish what he was saying when a giant rock tomb engulfed Orochi completely and a bright white bolt of lightening hit Baal sending him to his knees and angering him.
With those words Siobhan dug deep into herself and summoned up a whirlwind, which was about to grab Baal, but Orochi jumped into its path and began to battle the whirling twister in the air flailing away with it. He battled the wind itself. As quick as she could adjust she sent another white, hot lightening bolt at Baal. Bolt after bolt the lightening struck at him and he fought it until finally he unleashed another bolt of blue negative energy, which partially hit Siobhan causing her excruciating pain. She fell to the ground lying there still.
Since Siobhan had concentrated most of her attention on Baal, Orochi finally defeated the whirlwind but was tired and Baal looked as if he had expended a great amount of energy fighting Siobhan. He stopped the snake demon that wanted to rush recklessly forward after her. Baal stared Orochi down calming him and regaining control of him and the situation.
“Siobhan, let the snake kill you painlessly and I give you my word that I will not kill your children once we are done here,” Baal said in a soothing, charming voice.
“How can I trust you, Baal,” she desperately asked as she slowly got up.
“You can’t trust me. But you have weakened both of us and I am willing to bet that your children are protected by the best Ardal Cathal you have left in this area, though not the best you have,” he said. “If we continue this battle in the end Orochi and I will prevail and you will die. Yes, you will cause us more trouble, more pain, which will in turn make both of us even more angry than we are now. If this occurs I will gladly help Orochi do away with your children’s protection then watch him devour them whole. But if this was up to him…”
Siobhan faced turned white at the thought of her children being devoured by Orochi. Baal noticed this. He returned himself to his human form in order to present a normal face to her then continued speaking: “let me kill you then and we will both leave this place and be on our way to where we must go. Your children will not be harmed.”
Siobhan was completely exhausted now beyond putting up a good fight. She stood up and for a moment thought of continuing the battle, but she knew she couldn’t win. She could feel her body weakened and shaking; the energy to even summon another lightening bolt was way beyond her now. Her children, though, she couldn’t let them down, but could she trust Baal to keep his word? She looked at him. He nodded his head, as if he was responding to the thoughts in her mind. She nodded back at him, thought of her children whom she loved, then of her husband who she hoped would not allow her death to change him then let Baal know that she was trusting him with another more pronounced nod in his direction.
“It is a deal then, Siobhan. You have made the right choice. I’ll do this myself,” he said then unleashed a bolt of blue negative energy hitting her squarely on the chest and sending her off the promontory and into the rough water below.
“Let us kill her children as revenge for her attack on us. I’m hungry; I want to eat them,” hissed Orochi.
“No, I gave her my word,” Baal said.
“But she is Bene Lumen and we are Illuminatii,” hissed Orochi.
“That doesn’t make a difference to me. I may be evil but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep my word now and again.”
“I shall kill her children without your help then,” Orochi hissed.
“I forgot that you are a snake,” Baal stated lazily then hit Orochi with a bolt of blue negative energy sending him into his back. “Now go crawl away on your belly.”
Orochi got up off the ground quickly and looked at Baal with hate. But he didn’t attack him. Baal was too powerful to attack when he expected an attack. Orochi knew this and knew not to push his luck against Baal.
“I said I gave her my word, which means you will not touch her children. Not unless they grow up and become a problem then I will gladly help serve them to you for dinner,” Baal stated. “Now let’s be gone from here.”
With those words he cast a spell on Orochi turning him into a human looking male, not as handsome as himself, but appealing. As they turned to leave dark storm clouds once again covered the moon hiding it away from sight, then with a loud rumble of thunder and a clap of lightening, it began to rain. Baal looked up at the sky as if to check if this was nature’s way of mourning Siobhan CuCullen. Torrents of rain fell hard to the ground quickly forming puddles. This just might be nature’s way of mourning, he thought. He laughed and continued on his way.
It was a bitter cold Wednesday in March. Even for a New England state, which was known for the month of March coming in roaring like a frozen lion and settling down like a spring lamb; it was cold. Seven adults and two boys gathered together on a stark rock promontory at Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine overlooking the rough waters of Casco Bay. A sharp wind, that felt as if it could cut right through the skin and penetrate to the bone, blew hard and constant leaving those gathered chilled, as they stood there on the rocky promontory. Above them the gray sky, which was filled with ominous and darkening storm clouds, threatened to release buckets of cold rain adding to the bleakness of the day.
The gathered individuals were an odd looking mix of people. The oldest in the small crowd was a craggy, rough faced man with white hair and black eyebrows named Mallory Fergus, who was dressed in a gray Savile Row overcoat covering a gray Savile Row suit. He had come from Scotland for this understated and eccentric funeral ceremony because of the importance of the dead they mourned there. Coming along with him from Scotland was the burly, tall, dark haired and pockmark faced Boris Diaghilev, who was dressed in a heavy black coat with a gray fur coat and a gray fur hat he liked to call his Cossack’s hat; the always regal and austerely beautiful Sian Boru, who was dressed in a fur lined brown cloak with a hood that covered her head and obscured her face; the slight bodied, though self-assured, Rabbi Jacob Justiz, who dressed in a simple black suit with a simple black overcoat and black fedora covering his mousy brown hair; the slightly pudgy bodied and fair haired Father Michael Mueller, who was dressed in his black priest’s clothes along with a Roman collar with a simple black overcoat protecting him from the chill and holding a golden urn in his right arm; and the long salt and pepper hair, which was tied back by a single strip of buckskin, and passive faced Graham Stonefeather, who was dressed in a thick buckskin jacket worn on top of a red ceremonial shirt that was decorated by Native American jewelry and beads and a pair of faded blue jeans.
The last adult member of the group was Brian CuCullen, a handsome dark haired man with the easy and lithe physique of an experienced athlete. He was dressed in a heavy Cumberland jacket, which covered an Irish knit sweater and blue jeans. Beside him stood his two sons, Kieran, the oldest at sixteen who looked much like his father in facial and physical appearance, and Liam, a thin, wiry, copper haired twelve year old. They were both dressed like their father. Unlike the rest of the group who traveled from afar, they lived in Cape Elizabeth.
Two from the group of visitors walked to the edge of the promontory. Father Michael Mueller carried the golden urn gently in his hands, which held the ashes of Paulette Goode, and Graham Stonefeather gently shook two handmade and hand painted for this occasion large ceremonial rattles. Sian Boru dropped the hood of her cloak exposing her high cheekbones; raven black hair and dark blue eyes to the elements. By any standards she possessed an ageless captivating beauty that made most men feel slightly uncomfortable in her presence. Kieran, who looked to be almost overwhelmed by her attractiveness, stared at her with his mouth slightly open, while Liam, who was just getting to the age where he noticed such things as someone’s appearance, looked at her with great curiosity. There was something about her, beyond her obvious beauty, which drew his complete attention, though. He felt as if he knew this person without ever having met her before. Liam watched her closely as she lifted her face to the heavens and looked to breathe in deeply and then silently mouth some words.
Suddenly, he felt an odd surge of energy, which felt like a heavy dose of static electricity, flow through his body starting at the base of his spine and moving up into his brain then the biting wind that made this spot so uncomfortable to stand at stopped. It was not the first time he had felt this odd surge of energy flow through his bones. The very first time he felt it was during a blizzard when he was just eight years old. Kieran and he were playing in front of their house when the wind suddenly picked up to the point where he was frightened that he’d be blown away by it. Unexpectedly, as he wished that the hard winds would stop that exact odd feeling of energy surged through his body and the wind astonishingly died down enough for him and Kieran to run into the house and avoid the storm. He had always thought that the odd sensation he fest was caused by excitement or a rush of adrenaline, but this time was different from other times, this time he knew that feeling of energy was caused by Sian Boru, who had ignited something in him. She turned her dark eyes in Liam’s direction and offered him a smile, as if to say that he had understood what she had done, then she turned her gaze to Father Mueller, who cleared his throat. Graham Stonefeather stopped shaking his rattles.
“Did you feel that,” Liam whispered to his brother.
“Feel what,” Kieran whispered back not taking his eyes off of the raven haired woman whose natural beauty had him enthralled.
“I don’t know, you know, the thing that just happened with the wind a second ago. It was strange.”
“Shut up, midget, the priest is going to talk. Dad warned us about being respectful,” Kieran quietly told him.
“Paulette vas special, but all of us vho are here knew dat,” the priest said with a very thick and rough German accent. “Her strength vas impressive, but she vas far from da strongest of us.”
Liam could see his father shift his weight slightly from one foot to the other when the priest made this comment. The old man with the craggy face looked over at his father nodded at him and smiled gently. It was an unexpected smile because it was so pleasant and made the harshness of his face completely disappear. Their father nodded in return but did not return the smile.
“But even more impressive than her strength vas her spirit,” the priest continued. “Dis vas vhat made her zo special. She had indomitable spirit, which drove her to be zo important to our society. I remember vhen she vas furst told that she’d be coming here to Cape Elizabeth. Her brown eyes grew bright and a genuine smile of pleasure broke out over her face. She knew vhat it meant to be assigned here, yet she wanted dat burden. She vanted to play a role, which few of us vould want und it vas because of her spirit, her strong and joyful spirit, dat she vanted to play da role, which she had been chosen for. Vas a remarkable voman she vas. I vill miss her.”
All of the mourners shook their heads in agreement, except for Kieran and Liam, who only knew Paulette as a sometimes houseguest. When Paulette did stay with them she spent all her time huddled with their father asking him endless questions, which they weren’t supposed to hear, and listening to advice from him, which they were also not supposed to hear either. She was nice enough to them, but she never came to see them only to see their father, who treated her like a teacher treated a student, even though they appeared to be the same age. Liam continued to look from person to person wondering who they were and how their father knew them. When each of these people saw Brian CuCullen they treated him as if they had known him a very long time. Although they had never seen any of these people before, they knew his and Kieran names without being told who they were and even knew personal bits of information about them, like how Liam liked video games and Kieran was a good athlete. As for Kieran, he just seemed to stare at the beautiful dark haired woman throughout the whole funeral.
“Paulette vas a friend to all of us here, a loyal und devoted friend. May Got bless her soul,” the priest broke the silence with these words.
Liam stood by his father on his right hand side checking out these strangers he had never seen before. For the CuCullen’s Two Light State Park was always thought of as a sad place since it was from these rocky headlands that Siobhan CuCullen fell to her death some ten years ago leaving Liam and Kieran motherless and Brian CuCullen a widow. Liam remembered when their father told them about how their mother must have fallen while taking a hike on a dark night. Since he was only two years old back then he couldn’t understand why he just didn’t kiss her booboos and she’d be all right, but his brother Kieran, who was six years old, immediately understood what a fall from the headlands into Casco Bay meant: it was death. Liam recalled how he began to cry and didn’t stop until well into the night. That was the last time he saw his brother Kieran cry.
Shortly, after their mother died Paulette Goode arrived in Cape Elizabeth and moved into their old large home which was not that far off from Beckett’s Castle, a mansion that was said to be haunted. They moved into a new place not too far from the water in a small Cape Cod house. Once their mother died their father quit whatever he did for a living, the two boys were never sure what that was either, and bought a boat and took up fishing, actually he took up trapping lobsters. Now that he had turned twelve he wanted his dad to take him out to check the traps, but he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t let Liam do anything which he thought was too dangerous, or in which he could get badly hurt. Brian CuCullen was overprotective of both his sons never letting them close to any physical danger if he could help it. Their father was even against Kieran joining the football team, though Kieran did it anyway and now was the star running back.
“Now before ve give her ashes to da vind,” the priest said who placed the urn down on the ground, “because as ve know her spirit is already at rest, Mallory would like to say a few vords.”
The older man walked towards the urn. Since the wind was gone his white hair remained undisturbed making it seem as if they were actually standing inside instead of outside. Liam stared at his face. He wasn’t ugly so much as extremely weathered, Liam thought. Some of the older fishermen he had seen in town had faces like this, except their faces were less weathered. It was as if this man had the weathering of several lifetimes on his face. And unlike most old men that Liam saw, even the ones that still were active pulling traps and such, this one didn’t have a hesitant, pained, or feeble walk, but strode surely and strongly to his destination. Everything about this old man seemed to be imbued with some sort of strength, or power, as if he once upon a time had been a very powerful man, who had not lost all of his power in old age. He gracefully bent down and picked up the urn. After staring at it for a moment he knotted his thick black eyebrows then held it delicately in his left arm. Once a few moments of silence had passed he turned his thick nose, which looked as if it had been broken several times, and tough features towards the mourners. His gruff expression suddenly turned soft and gentle, and even tears began to appear in his gray eyes.
“Paulette, I daresay was one of my favorite students. I hate to admit this, especially in front of so many of my old students here today, but it is true,” he said in a clipped English accent. “Why was she one of my favorites? The answer is so simple that it is almost embarrassing to say aloud: because Paulette loved to play Scrabble with me.”
Several of the people in the funeral party softly laughed at this comment. Even their father laughed noticed Liam. He was somewhat surprised at this because his father seemed so upset at Paulette’s death that he thought he would never smile again when he heard her name. What’s so funny about Scrabble, he thought to himself, I’ve never even played it.
“Yes, Scrabble. Young Mr. CuCullen there, another one of my favorites,” he said nodding at Brian CuCullen, “would play chess with me for hours, trying to pick my brain for strategies and tactics, but never would he play me in Scrabble. Words meant nothing to him back then. He had no time for anything that did not further his studies. How times change. But Paulette would gladly indulge me in a game, and on top of that she would even let me use archaic and ancient words then take my word for it that they were correctly spelt or even existed in the first place. How delightful to find such a trusting soul in these difficult days, who kept her gentle humanity no matter what she faced. And now this soul has been taken from us; so sad to see her taken before her time. But how many can we say that about? So few of us are able to reach my ripe old age, or would even want to reach my age.”
The old man now looked down at the urn in his left arm and patted it with his right hand. Looking at the mourners Liam noticed that most of them had tears forming in their eyes, including their father who he had barely seen tear up since their mother died. For the first time he realized that Paulette’s friendship must have been really important to him. She was a better friend than Liam had understood she was. Kieran didn’t notice any of this because he continued to sneak glances at the raven-haired woman. It appeared that she was the only thing on his mind at this funeral.
“Rabbi, will you please do the honors with the urn,” Mallory said and held the urn out with his left hand.
Rabbi Justiz came walking slowly forward. He had a gentle face that Liam thought should have a smile on it not the frown, which dominated it at the moment. Reaching Mallory he took the urn in his two hands then walked to the edge of the promontory and began to open it up. Before he could open it completely, though, the beautiful woman once again lifted her face to heaven and mouthed some silent words. Again Liam could feel an odd surge of energy rush through him, but this time the surge left a tingling feeling behind, a tingling feeling tinted with a bit of darkness, though he wasn’t sure where the dark feeling came from. It was as if he had released some of this energy himself. The wind suddenly reappeared, but instead of blowing in their faces like it had before, it blew out towards to the rough blue water of the Atlantic. The Rabbi opened the urn and began to pour the ashes out of it. Instead of flowing from the urn to the ground the ashes of Paulette Goode flew into the air and were carried away by the wind towards the ocean. Everyone bowed their head in silent prayer, except Liam who exchanged stares with the woman again. This time her smile was different from before, this time her smile seemed to be a smile of satisfaction instead of friendship.
“Well, let us find somewhere warmer in order to talk over good times, and even some not so good times. I believe that Mr. CuCullen has offered us the use of his home where we may enjoy something warm to drink and a little nosh before we prepare for our trip back. Now is the time to remember Paulette as she was and as we should remember her: a wonderful human being who performed her duty with courage and grace,” Mallory said.
Everyone turned from the promontory and started walking away from the water. Brian CuCullen hesitated for a few moments remaining to stare at the remnants of the ashes as they drifted on the breeze seemingly being carried gently by the wind out onto Casco Bay. Both his sons looked at him at the same time. Their expressions asked him if it was time to leave so that they could go home and warm up.
“Come on boys, let’s go back to the house. We have guests to take care of,” Brian CuCullen said solemnly to his sons.
“They are behind in their studies and completely ignorant of the truth of their situation, of what they were born to become and do with their lives. Luckily, Liam will be entering the first level so he should be able to deal with his ignorance easier. But he has no idea about the truth of us or what we do, or why we even exist. It will take special effort to get him adjusted properly. Brian, it is wrong that he is ignorant of our history and our mission. You and Siobhan are both part of that mission and history. You should have told them the truth. And as for Kieran, he must start at the fourth level because of his age, which means he is woefully unprepared for the tasks ahead of him. This late a start might keep him from fulfilling his full potential and we know what that means. You may have deprived us of something special in him,” Liam heard the man called Mallory say to their father in a voice that sounded like a rebuke. “I wish that they both had been enrolled at the proper age, especially considering how potentially important they both are to us.”
“I never expected to enroll them at all, regardless of their potential importance to the society, Mallory. Paulette’s death, though, has changed all that. Her death changed everything, didn’t it? Her death was like a marker being called in. I now have to payoff that marker, don’t I,” Brian CuCullen responded to the rebuke.
“Her death was a tragedy but, at the very least, it made you come to your senses finally and rejoin us. Good can come from evil. We need you. Paulette will have served a final great purpose if this had made you realize that you had to return to us, that you were needed. You should never have left us to begin with that was wrong headed of you,” Mallory stated with a biting tone.
“I…,” Brian CuCullen started to say then noticed his youngest son standing behind the kitchen door and listening in on them.
Mallory and Brian were standing in the kitchen alone while everyone else mingled near a buffet table with had on it lasagna, ham, potato salad, quiche, assorted grilled vegetables, and an angel food cake with chocolate frosting located in the small dining room of the modest house. Since Kieran was fascinated with everything that Sian Boru said or did and wouldn’t talk to his brother, Liam decided to hide out in the kitchen. When his Father entered with Mallory, he hid behind the door hoping that they would only be in the kitchen for a few moments. He didn’t mean to be there when Mallory and his Father started to talk seriously, but he was. The fact that he was there was not his fault, but the fact that he hid behind the door and listened to them was.
“He has been there since we entered the kitchen. Liam has big ears, I think, which is a good thing and a bad thing. Big ears mean you learn about things you shouldn’t know, which is good. It also means you learn about things which you aren’t prepared to know about, which is bad,” Mallory said with a voice that betrayed his amusement.
“You should have told me he was there,” Brian CuCullen said to Mallory, who ignored him then he turned to his son. “Get in the room right now, young man. I need to talk to Mallory in private.”
“Don’t blame your son for the fact that your skills are rusty, Brian,” Mallory stated. “Ten years ago you would have noticed him there the second we entered the kitchen. Ten years ago you would have heard his breathing, smelled his scent, felt his presence without even seeing him. You need to get that rust off before you resume your duties.”
“I am not rusty.”
“You didn’t notice him behind the door. That is proof of your rust.”
“I missed noticing him because I’ve grown so used to him being where he shouldn’t be that I’ve become blind to him,” Brian CuCullen stated half in frustration and half in amusement. Mallory nodded his head in disapproval, as if he thought Brian CuCullen was deluding himself.
“Dad,” Liam interrupted their argument.
“Yes, Liam Xavier,” his father answered in a voice which showed he was irritated that his son had embarrassed him.
“Are you taking us out of school, Dad? Are we leaving Cape Elizabeth,” he asked quickly.
“Maybe, yes… I don’t know. What am I saying…I can’t lie to you? Yes, I am taking you out of school and you are leaving Cape Elizabeth,” his father answered, though he could tell he didn’t want to answer him.
“Because it’s time that you and Kieran get some proper schooling and when I mean proper schooling I am talking about learning skills and tools you will need to deal with the unique challenges that you’ll face in this life. Challenges I had hoped that you would never have to face.”
“Kieran won’t like this, Dad,” Liam said. “He’s the star of the football team and he’s got a new girlfriend. He won’t want to leave Cape Elizabeth. Dad, he loves it here.”
“Your brother has a girlfriend,” Brian CuCullen said in a voice that was brimming with surprise.
“Yeah, sure. He doesn’t go out with his friends every night, you know, most of the times he is going out with her. He and Karen…”
“Her name is Karen,” his father asked.
“Yeah, Karen Maloney. I think you know her father. You know Mr. Maloney. He owns the coffee place you go to all the time. You love that place.”
“Yeah, sure I know him. He’s a nice guy. Why didn’t your brother let me know that he was dating? He should have told me about her.”
“He didn’t want to give you the chance to say no to his dating, dad. You know that you don’t like us to do anything without your permission and Kieran is tired of that,” Liam answered honestly.
“You are very rusty indeed, Brian,” Mallory added finally breaking his own quiet.
“What you are witnessing is not rust, it is the byproduct of raising two young boys by yourself,” Brian CuCullen defended himself.
“When will you bring them to us, so they may begin their training,” Mallory asked.
“Around the beginning of August at the earliest. That should be enough time for you and whomever you’ve chosen to give them some special attention before start of school. I want some of the summer with them,” CuCullen answered.
“Good enough, Brian. I will prepare tutors for them. They have a lot of catching up to do, especially Kieran. As do you, also, Brian. Ten years of inactivity isn’t easy to shake off. Once you drop them off, I expect you to report to Avalon for some training,” Mallory warned.
“I guess all of us will have to work hard in the coming months,” Brian CuCullen said then turned to stare at Liam. “No mentioning of a new school to your brother yet, okay? I want to tell him when the time is right. Understood?”
“I understand, Dad,” Liam replied. “Where is this new school?”
“Ahhh, it is some place where only those who belong there can find or even enter. It is a place where only those who are chosen can seek, or know about. It is a very special place,” Mallory answered instead of his father.
“Where’s that? New Jersey?”
Mallory laughed at this question. Even Brian CuCullen laughed at his son’s misguided question. Liam could feel his face turn red with embarrassment. He didn’t mean to say something amusing; he was actually being serious. Wasn’t New Jersey where his father said he had to go every time he took a trip that he and Kieran couldn’t go on? At least that was where his father told him he was going. Now he doubted that was true.
“I can see this one is going to be a delight to oversee and teach,” Mallory said with a hint of delight. “He is so much like Siobhan in looks and I am willing to bet in gifts, also. You have two very special sons, Brian. You should be proud of them. You are very lucky man.”
“I’m not sure about that, Mallory,” Brian CuCullen replied showing his annoyance.
“Sian told me that she could feel him this morning at that lovely park where we had the funeral for Paulette. Yes, she could feel that he has the gift. She was very impressed by the depth of his power, too. He does come from a special bloodline and we know how strong a bloodline that is.”
Liam listened closely willing himself not to ask questions because he knew his father would end the conversation. He did feel something strange back at Two Lights State Park; he felt something odd when the woman… when the woman stopped the wind. Yes, she stopped the wind. It didn’t stop on its own, but she stopped it. Unable to explain it rationally, even to himself, he still knew that she stopped the wind.
“Is she sure,” his father asked Mallory.
“Who will tutor him then,” asked Brian with some concern in his voice.
“I believe she may do it herself. She told me that she has a feeling about him, that he will need special tutoring and help in fulfilling his full potential and that potential may truly be exceptional,” Mallory said.
“Oh,” mumbled Brian CuCullen.
Liam couldn’t control himself any further. He needed to ask because he needed to make sure he was right.
“She stopped the wind from blowing this morning, didn’t she? She controlled the wind back there, didn’t she?” Liam quickly blurted out not wanting to leave the kitchen.
Mallory simply smiled at this observation by Liam. But his father didn’t find it a smiling matter, as he was frowning. Liam had seen that frown on his father’s face before, too. It appeared every time either he or Kieran did something that made them stand out in a crowd, made them seem above average. Their father never seemed to want them to stand out in a crowd or to be too far above average. He often felt as if his father wanted him to hide.
“And he is smart, too. I’m not sure about Kieran, though I have a feeling about him, but my feelings have been known to be wrong over the years. This one, though, I think will be a very special student. He is smart and he has gifts,” Mallory stated with a smile on his lips.
“Too smart for his own good,” Brian CuCullen said in a voice that sounded sad.
“Being smart is good. Smart people can end up doing great things,” Liam stated defiantly.
He had been told too many times by his father that he was too smart for his own good. Liam knew this was meant as a criticism, but he chose to take it as a compliment, a badge of honor to live up to, like being a jock was something Kieran wanted to live up to. He wanted to be too smart for his own good. Kieran was the jock, but he had curiosity.
“You are right about that, Liam CuCullen,” Mallory agreed. “The Society has need for smart, above average people like you. We need all the gifted students we can get so that we can fulfill our mission.”
“What mission, what society,” asked Liam.
“I will tell you its name since you asked and your so bright, I know how torturous it is for bright boys and girls to wait for answers, but that is all I will tell you for now. You cannot tell anyone the name of this society, not even your brother who you admire so much. The name must be kept secret for now. We are part of a society called the Bene Lumen. How best do I describe the Bene Lumen? Ahh, yes, we stand in the way of the darkness, which wishes to spread throughout the world. Your father is one of us and you and your brother were born one of us, even though for the longest time your father didn’t want you to be part of it.”
“But no more questions,” Mallory said in a tone that made Liam not want to ask any more questions.
“You must be hungry. Go get something to eat in the dining room,” his father ordered then ushered him out of the kitchen and into the dining room of their small house. Everyone had moved from the dining room to the even smaller living room, except for Graham Stonefeather. He stood by the table staring at the food looking as if he couldn’t make up his mind.
“Your father did this on purpose, I know he did,” he said as Liam walked over to the plates and picked one up.
“Huh,” he mumbled.
“He baked a honey ham, as well as made a thick, cheesy lasagna. He knows I love them both and can’t resist them. But he also knows that I have to watch my weight, so I can only have one of them. He’s got an evil side, your dad does. He must be a real pain in the behind to deal with,” he said with plenty of good-natured humor in his voice.
“Yeah, I guess so,” Liam said with his mind still preoccupied by everything he had just heard. But most of all he wrapped his mind around the fact that the beautiful woman had made the wind stop and what was the society of Bene Lumen.
“Okay, I’m going with the lasagna. You can’t get good lasagna where we are,” he stated.
“Where’s that,” Liam asked quickly as his mind snapped away from his thoughts.
“So you want to know where I come from,” Stonefeather said. “Well, it’s a place where you can only find if you’re supposed to be there.”
“The old guy said something like that in the kitchen,” Liam blurted out.
“The old guy? Oh, Mallory, or I should say Mr. Fergus to you. Well, that’s the best answer you’ll get from any of us,” Stonefeather said with a smile.
“Because it’s the truth. Now do you want a piece of lasagna or the ham? I recommend the ham, so I can pick a piece or two of it off your plate?”
“I’ll have the ham,” Liam answered.
“Good answer. You may not believe this, but you just made a good friend,” Stonefeather said as he piled five slices of ham onto Liam’s extended plate.
“Thank you,” Liam said automatically.
“And polite. We should be very good friends when you get to school. Now how about some potato salad,” he said as he piled a large mound of potato salad onto his plate. “And take two forks— one for you, and one for me for when I steal some of your ham and potato salad. You see I’m looking out for my weight and I find it better for my weight to steal food off of others plates than to pile it up on my own plate.”
“Why,” Liam asked.
“I feel less guilty.”
“Sometimes the correct answer to a question is not why but why not,” he said with a smile then took one of the forks off of Liam’s plate and sampled a piece of ham. “Good ham.”