This Silent Well of Sorrow (Part 3 of 5)

tswos

Part Three of Five

FIRE

The flames rose up into the night sky, licking the velvet curtain as if they sought the favor of those stars that called the heavens home. The bonfire was constructed on a low hill in the ruins of Burg Landskron, the shell of a 13th Century castle overlooking the city of Oppenheim.

Connors DapperLandon Connors stood away from the fire, atop a wooden platform, silently smoking a cigarette. He was dressed in a bespoke suit from Edinburgh’s Stewart Christie & Co, his devil-charmed fedora held in his hands. It was not the hat itself he was thinking of, but of its former owner, his friend and mentor, Sam Hill.

Hill had been a friend to his family since the late forties, when he had come back from World War II and hung his P.I. shingle in Wabash, just a few blocks south of Caliburn House. Growing up in the shadow of his forefathers, learnèd men and magicians for untold centuries, it was the streetwise gumshoe, seemingly immortal and perpetually gruff, who had taken Landon under his wing and showed him the occult from the other side of the equation.

Of course, the fact that Sam Hill was an archangel slumming in a human meat suit was another story altogether. Cast out of heaven and plunged into the abyssal realms, Samael escaped his fate when Nazi necromancers sought his favor in the city Connors was staring down upon.

When Patton’s Third Army invaded Germany, the history books made no mention of what happened beneath Oppenheim, in the cavernous underbelly where Hitler’s Sorcerers sought a pact with Samael to defend the Fatherland. What der Führer’s goons didn’t know was that there was a secret unit among General Patton’s command comprised of nameless men, all dedicated to combating Hitler’s occult forces. They were called Immortals.

One of these Immortals was cut down in a hail of gunfire and he was all but gone, his soul released, but Samael used that moment to wrest control of the broken body and slowly begin to mend it from within. He had secured his escape from the Abyss. There he hid behind an amnesic wall of protection until that barrier was torn down by the devil himself.

Connors put his mentor’s fedora on his head and adjusted the brim. Hill was tucked away in a Hopi kiva, half a world away, but his presence was still felt, each and every time that hat rode atop his fiery locks.

“Are you ready?”

Connors turned to see Tracy Larson at the foot of the platform. She was dressed in jungle khakis and high boots, with a tan blouse over a dark tanktop. Her chestnut hair was pulled back in a ponytail and the small glasses on her face made her look like a student archaeologist, or at least Hollywood’s version of one. She was a pretty girl who had been forced to grow up impossibly fast.

“Absolutely,” Connors replied. He lit another cigarette and climbed down the stairs. From here, he could see the raised canvas tent that she and the others had set up along the ruined fortress wall.

The flap opened and Michelle Hawkes stepped into the firelight. She was clad in a white gown, the hood lowered, a gold chord tied loosely around her waist. She walked over to where their gear was stacked and she picked up a rifle, a Browning Safari 30-06, and tossed it to Tracy.

The teen nodded and passed Connors on the stair to take up a sentry position overlooking their camp.

mhawkesThe occult detective joined Hawkes then. He kissed her gently on the cheek and gave her a wink. She rolled her eyes in response, then pulled back the flap, allowing him to enter the tent.

Inside, a Solomonic Circle was intricately inscribed on the flat stone surface. Nine feet in diameter, the arcane space was accented by nine evenly spaced white candles, while four black candles were set at the cardinals.

Connors set his cane aside and took a worn piece of chalk from his pocket. He stepped into the circle, grimacing as he bent to close each bar behind him. He glanced toward Hawkes who stood outside the candlelight, her beauty enhanced by the stark contrast of light and shadow. She stood, arms folded across her chest, a blue and gold crook and flail held firmly in her hands.

“Khabs Am Pekht,” she said, solemnly.

“Light in extension,” Connors replied. He had taken up a sword from the altar and bowed to the quarters, then to Hawkes, who stood in the east. He raised the blade, addressing her, “Feathered, in flight, the hawk sees what the soul must not.”

“The eye in the triangle is closed.”

Connors raised the sword overhead. “The hand in the square is red.”

“Black,” Hawkes called out.

“Let the ceremony begin,” a voice murmured from the shadows.

guysamaelTheir meditation broken, Connors and Hawkes both looked to the dark corner to the rear of the tent. Believing themselves to be alone, the voice shook them to their core. From out of that blackness, a figure stepped, clad in a tattered blue robe, with a mass of white hair hanging in strands. The weathered face was scarred and haggard, a leather eye patch, crudely made, covering the left eye, and he held on heavily to a shaft of agèd willow.

“Guy?” Connors said. “Is that you, old friend.”

“Guy, we came to find you,” Hawkes added.

The figure held up his hand. “No, at least not wholly,” he said. “I am not he whom you seek, but it is his flesh I wear, though clumsily, to be sure.”

“Wh-what?” they said in unison.

“Landon, I’ve come home.”

to be continued

 

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