Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.


Chapter Five Hundred and Fifty: A sword, a ghost, and some Templars

CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY

“Wait, what happened in the garage?” Jacob asked. “I ask because I know that Blane is going to feel bad about it.”

Jacob looked from face to face. No one seemed to know what had happened in the garage.

“I can only tell you what I see,” Delphie said.

They fell silent and waited for her to continue.

“You’re sure you want to hear this?” Delphie asked, looking up at the adults before her. “It’s pretty gory.”

“Just an outline,” Sam said in defense of Delphie. “Will that suffice? Or do you really need the gory details?”

Jacob tipped his head back and forth as if he was deciding.

“I’ve already seen the gore,” Blane said pressing the palms of his hands away from him. “I don’t need gory details.”

“No, I don’t need the gory details,” Jacob said with a nod. “I was kidding.”

He gave Delphie a wide, boyish grin, and she chuckled.

“The easiest place to start is this: We know that objects hold energy,” Delphie said. She looked up at the group. Seeing confusion, she added, “Science tells us that everything in our world is made out of the same substance.”

Abi shifted uncomfortably but didn’t say anything.

“Electrons?” Aden asked.

“Exactly,” Delphie said. “The difference between a stone and the meal we just ate is the manner in which these electrons were put together.”

Abi picked up a fork from the table.

“A fork,” Abi said. She turned her hand over. “A stone.”

Everyone gasped at the magic.

“Same material makes both objects,” Abi said blushing. “Every configuration of the same matter has its own energetic signature.”

“Every object has its own energy,” Delphie said.

This time when she looked up, everyone was nodding.

“Intense moments — emotional scenes, violent acts, tense moments — they all release a certain amount of energy,” Delphie said.

“The reason we energetically clean our apartment every week,” Sandy said with a snort.

“Too much teenage drama energy,” Aden said with a laugh.

Everyone smiled at their joke.

“Exactly,” Delphie said.

“These swords have been used in some of history’s most intense and violent times,” Delphie said. “The older blades — like the one Blane took — have been used to kill and maim people for a thousand years.”

“More,” Abi said.

“Or more,” Delphie said.

“I worked on a blade this week that is a head stealer,” Nelson said. “It was … intense. It sparks with power.”

“Who possesses that blade?” Perses asked.

“Princess Edith,” Nelson said.

“Really?” Perses asked.

“She says she took it from a Viking,” Nelson said.

“There’s a story that the Vikings landed on the Isle of Man but were repelled by a vicious fairy army,” Pierre said. “The blade Nelson is referring to was with the Viking raiding party.”

“But these swords were made in France?” Jacob asked.

“Emphasis on Viking raiding party,” Pierre said. “They stole it from its original owner.”

Delphie watched all of this conversation with a kind of smug satisfaction. If they chattered about swords and objects of power, she wouldn’t have to relive the events that happened in the garage. The only person who appeared to notice her satisfaction was Jacob.

“So what you’re saying is that, every time these swords were used, they took on the energy of what they were used for,” Jacob said, shifting the conversation.

Everyone in the room turned to look at Delphie. She looked overwhelmed and shook her head. Abi took over.

“We live in a cause and effect world,” Abi said.

“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction,” Jill said. “Newton’s Third Law.”

“That’s correct,” Delphie said, finding her ground again.

“The energy couldn’t discharge because of the power of that other blade,” Jacob said.

“Exactly,” Delphie said. “You have cause, but no effect — no equal and opposite reaction. Unbeknownst to anyone, these swords stored the energy of their actions.”

Everyone fell silent digesting the information.

“Like ghosts,” Delphie said softly. “What are ghosts, but life energy that is not dispersed by death?”

“What happened when the order was released from the protection of the blade?” Blane asked, his anxiety and guilt reflected came through in his voice.

The emotion in Blane’s voice caused Delphie to look up at him. For a moment, the room was silent again. No one dared to move.

“First, you should know,” Abi said, breaking the silence, “there were powerful beings watching these Templars the moment they reached the reservation.”

“Gando Peaches and his vet group,” Jacob said.

“No,” Abi said. “I mean, yes, Gando and his friends were there. You should know that this region of the world has its own protectors. They are the ones who woke Gando to the danger from these strangers.”

“Naayé’neizghání and his brother, Tóbájíshchíní,” Delphie said.

“I thought I saw them there,” Perses said. “I was surprised that they were not taking a more active role.”

“What are we talking about?” Aden asked.

“The Diné Gods — Naayé’neizghání and Tóbájíshchíní,” Delphie said. “Naayé’neizghání is called ‘the Slayer of Ancient Gods’ and Tóbájíshchíní is called ‘Born of Water.’”

“Were you threatened by them?” Blane looked at Heather and then Perses.

They shook their heads.

“They don’t mean us or Abi,” Heather said. “In fact, Abi helped them find a region where they would be happy …”

“The area of the four sacred mountains,” Jacob said. “The Navajo Recreation.”

“ … when they came to this planet,” Heather nodded in agreement with Jacob.

“But …” Blane said.

“It’s just a name,” Perses said.

Abi and Heather nodded.

“Naayé’neizghání and Tóbájíshchíní were there in the garage,” Delphie said. “They wanted to hear the plan and intervene if they could. Their vision has been shared with me.”

“And what do you see?” Jacob asked.

“I see spirits of people coming out of the swords,” Delphie said. “They easily overcame the person wielding the sword. It was as if the person holding the sword was paralyzed or simply incapable of fighting back. The whole thing happened very, very fast.” After a moment, she added another, “Very fast. Very bloody.”

Delphie nodded.

“Naayé’neizghání and Tóbájíshchíní stood there and watched,” Delphie said. “They would have happily taken the blame for the deaths, but they wanted to share what they had seen with me, in case I wanted to share it with Abi and the rest of you.”

No one said anything for a moment.

“Then I will tell the order that …” Pierre said.

“Naayé’neizghání and Tóbájíshchíní killed the Templars,” Abi said with some finality.

Pierre nodded.

“And the police?” Blane asked.

“They already believe that Naayé’neizghání and Tóbájíshchíní killed the Templars,” Delphie said. “It’s just taking them a while to get around to it.”

Blane nodded.

“So, again, if the order continues, it will be clear of this criminal stain,” Delphie said with a nod. “Do you wish the order to continue?”

“There is a question about this wealth or prize or maybe treasure that only Nelson can get,” Pierre said. “People have heard about it for a long, long time. They aren’t likely to forget it, especially now that they know there is an heir.”

All eyes turned to Nelson. He was leaning backing in his chair. His arms were crossed and his eyes were rolled to the ceiling. In one sudden movement, he sat up. He pointed to Delphie.

“What is this ‘treasure’?” Nelson towered over Delphie. His raw frustration made his voice loud and aggressive.

“Watch your tone,” Sam said, standing in defense of Delphie.

“Dad,” Jacob said with a shake of his head. “He’s just upset.”

“No, he’s right,” Nelson said. “I am angry. I don’t need to take it out on our Delphie. I am sorry, ma’am. I am just getting …”

“The life you’ve always dreamed of,” Delphie said with a nod. “And now this.”

“This bullshit that doesn’t have anything to me,” Nelson said. “My mother’s life was taken for it. My father has lived in terrible pain for … nothing, something that happened more than a thousand years ago. I am not an immortal being. I have only one life. I want to live it and …”

“Shackles,” Delphie said. “Yes. You feel shackled by the past and your connection to events that have nothing to do with you.”

At this truth, Nelson gasped a breath. He sucked in another breath. Nodding, he let out the air.

“I think you’ll find that almost everyone in this room understands how you feel,” Delphie said. She nodded to Perses. “He didn’t ask to be born into a barely formed world. He was assigned his first wife. She …”

Delphie gestured to Cleo the cat, who was standing on the table in front of Perses.

“You’ve known,” Heather said.

“Who else could she be?” Delphie asked. “She’s always been welcome in my home and will be for as long as she wants or needs to be here.”

“Thank you,” Perses said.

Cleo picked her way across the table and slipped onto Delphie’s lap.

“Everyone here has made their own choice,” Delphie said. “Some, like Heather, have taken on their parent’s burden to save their parent and the world. Others, like Jacob, have taken on the responsibility and transmuted it into something that will benefit everyone who works there.”

“I rejected mine completely,” Aden said. “Sandy walks a line between caring for her father and creating her own life.”

“I can only love my mother in my heart, because she sacrificed her life for me,” Sandy said, in a low tone. “From birth to her death, she did it for me. As yours did. That has to matter. I try to live my life to its fullest in reflection of her sacrifice. As do you.”

Sandy and Nelson’s eyes caught. Nelson nodded at this shared truth.

“I change my mind on a daily basis,” Valerie said, when Nelson looked up again. “Some days, I am working to be here in Denver and live the life my mother couldn’t live. Other days, I’m out doing my own thing — achieving, becoming, growing my own way.”

“You asked what the treasure is,” Delphie said looking at Nelson. All eye turned to her. “Right now, the ‘treasure’ is this question — who am I? You’ve learned tonight that you have an ancient ancestor who is a direct descendent of Gilfand. Your ancestor took up an anvil and a hammer to become a blacksmith. Your family has continued in this tradition.”

“Your mother’s family has always been scholars,” Delphie said. “She was a promising PhD scientist. Your father is, as well. You are a mixture of them and became a medical doctor and a forensic scientist. You will always feel the pull between your need to beat metal and your desire to understand. The scholar; the blacksmith — your treasure is to decide what you wish to do with it.”

“Is there an actual treasure?” Pierre asked.

Delphie shook her head.

“What does that mean?” Nelson’s voice rose with desperation.

“You don’t get it,” Delphie said. “This is the problem with orders such as the Templars. They get so focused on gold and jewels that they miss the real treasures available in this temporal, short life. Would you give up your new life for a few trinkets?”

“But there are trinkets?” Pierre asked.

Delphie raised her hands in frustration and Pierre laughed. Delphie shook his head, and Pierre blew her a kiss.

“What is in this ‘treasure’ that you want so badly?” Abi asked, in a soft, low tone. “You expect us to believe that jewel, gold, paintings, books … anything material is a treasure to you?”

Pierre’s head jerked up to look at Abi. With their look, the entire room could see the treasure Pierre longed for — his wife, Nelson’s mother. She was wearing a white chemise that was nearly see through. Barefoot and her hair free, she looked like a free spirit of the 1970s. She smiled at her son. Pierre’s eyes flicked to the apparition. Nelson fell into his chair.

“You may speak,” Jacob said.

“You?” Pierre looked at Jacob.

Jacob pointed to Blane. Blane held one hand to his mouth and another hand open.

“You may speak,” Delphie said.

For a long moment, Pierre just looked at his beloved.

“I don’t know what to say,” Pierre said to Delphie.

“Ask her about this treasure,” Delphie said. “What is it? Should you find it?”

The apparition leaned down and held out her hand. Pierre held out his hand to her.

“What is it, my love?” the apparition said in Blane’s voice.

“The Order has ordered our son to find the treasure,” Pierre said. “This is the only way they will leave him alone.”

The apparition gave a slight shake of her head.

“Of course, they do,” the apparition said.

“My father, yours, are dead and they still …” Pierre dared not take his eyes off her or she would disappear again.

“Yes, I am aware,” the apparition said, quickly.

“This treasure could …” Pierre said.

“Treasure!” the apparition said. “You know how many people have died in service of this treasure?”

“I do,” Pierre said.

“What is the treasure, Mom?” Nelson asked.

“Oh child, what did Bernard love most?” the apparition asked.

“Power,” Pierre said.

“Gold, jewels, finery,” Nelson said.

“What would he put in his treasury?” the apparition asked.

“The bodies of those who knew where it was,” Delphie said softly.

Horrified, everyone turned to look at Delphie. The apparition nodded in agreement.

“What do I do?” Pierre asked.

The apparition simply smiled at him. Pierre began to cry.

“Are these the things you value most, son?” the apparition asked. “Money, power, jewels, silence, secrets?”

“No,” Nelson said.

“Then this is no treasure for you,” the apparition said. She turned to Blane, “Let’s let them think for a while.”

Blane closed his hand and the apparition disappeared.

“Why do you cry?” Sandy asked Pierre in a kind voice.

“We had this plan,” Pierre said. He looked up to the spot where the apparition had been. “Once we were away safely, we were going to tell the British Museum or possibly the Museum of Antiquities about the treasure and where we thought it might be. The treasure would be revealed to the world as the order wanted. The order would not have access to the treasure. We would be free.”

“Why does the order want this treasure so badly?” Aden asked.

“They want to expand,” Pierre said. “They feel that this is a time where the world would be receptive to them again. The decline of the Catholic Church makes it less dangerous for them. The call against Islam and Islamic countries gives credence to their mission. They believe that, with the proper funding, they could take back Jerusalem.”

Shocked, everyone turned to look at Pierre. He held up his hands as if he was being accused.

“It is not my plan, nor that of my beloveds,” Pierre said.

“No one ran that shit by me,” Nelson said. He crossed his arms. “There’s no way I would participate in that shit.”

“They said there is only one other way in which they will leave you alone,” Pierre said.

“And that is?” Sam asked.

“If he breeds with Olympia,” Pierre said, nodding to Heather.

Heather blushed, and Blane scowled. Everyone else looked disgusted.

“Now I am a prized heifer?” Nelson asked. Shaking his head, he repeated vehemently, “No. This is stupid. No.”

“We should find this treasure and give it to the museums,” Sam said.

“Do you know where it might be?” Abi asked.

Nodding, Pierre grunted.

“Has it occurred to anyone that the swords you hold in your home are worth more than any treasure trove?” Blane asked. “I assume you will receive the others when the police are done.”

“It is my position in the order,” Pierre said.

“They are trying to finance a war,” Jacob said. “You need to get rid of what you have.”

Pierre looked up at Jacob. He didn’t say anything he simply blinked.

“It would me truly leaving the order,” Delphie said.

Pierre nodded, looking down at his tea cup.

“You asked me about the future of the order,” Delphie said. “I will tell you this, Pierre Semaines.”

Pierre looked up at her.

“You do this thing — give or sell the swords to museums, find the dragon’s hoard and turn it over to be studied by museums, participate in real academic research into the order — you will do something no one else has been able to do,” Delphie said.

She paused to catch her breath.

“Which is?” Nelson asked.

“You will bring an end to the order,” Delphie said. “You should know that now, before you start on this road, because you will need allies to make it happen.”

“Who?” Pierre asked. “You’re an Oracle. Your kind has advised many a General. Who would I need on my side to bring about the end of the Templars?”

Delphie looked up at Pierre. After a long moment, she shook her head.

“No one,” Delphie said. “Everyone. I don’t know them to tell you one person over another. But I will say that many involved are, right now, wishing the end of this order. No one dares come forward for fear of death.”

“How do I find out who?” Pierre asked.

“You can bring me a photo,” Delphie said with a shrug. “Sometimes that works. But …”

Delphie’s eyes flicked to Nelson.

“What?” Nelson asked. “Just say it.”

“The bravest way would be to have your son publicly say that he will not participate in the order,” Delphie said. “The biggest way to do that is to, as Blane and Jacob suggested, sell or give the swords to a museum.”

Clearly conflicted, Pierre looked away.

“You don’t want that,” Delphie said.

“I don’t want my son to risk his life,” Pierre said.

“My life is already on the line,” Nelson said.

Pierre looked at Nelson. After a moment, he nodded. Pierre’s shoulders dropped with the weight of the gravity of this situation.

“Then what is it?” Delphie asked.

“These weapons …” Pierre said. “Ancient. Deadly. So dangerous. I have felt as if I were saving the world from them. Now, you’re telling me to let them out into the world where they could …”

Pierre shook his head.

“Think about it,” Delphie said. “Your elder sister is on a plane to Denver right now. She would like to speak with you in private.”

“Really?” Pierre asked.

“She brought the swords in her collection with her,” Delphie said. “She will be here by the time you leave for work.”

Delphie looked at Nelson.

“You should go with him,” Delphie said.

“I’ll call Ava to see if I can have the day off,” Nelson said.

Delphie nodded as if something had been decided. The room held the heavy energy of fate and expectation. They finished their dessert and slowly made their way to their apartments. With Sam clearing the last of the dishes, Jacob was filling the dishwasher while Blane cleaned up the kitchen.

“You okay? All of that takes a lot out of you,” Jeraine said. He hadn’t said anything through the entire event. Delphie looked up at him and nodded. “Why don’t I help you back to your apartment?”

“I’d like that,” Delphie said. “Thanks.”

Jeraine helped Delphie to her feet. With his arm around her, he led her to her apartment.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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