Seventeen year old Damien Thorn sat at his desk, staring out the window from one of the classrooms of Georgetown Private School. Most teachers scolded students for daydreaming, but they didn't have to with Mr. Thorn. Even when not devoting his full attention, Damien always managed to get a perfect score. Most of the teachers barely ever kept an eye on Damien, since he was such the perfect student. Regardless, there were a pair of eyes on him, since his first day of life; the same eyes that watched him, even now.
High upon the roof of the School, Payden was perched atop a belfry. He observed his prize with such pride, he barely noticed the presence of another. He set his sights across the roof and saw a familiar winged-form.
“It has been a long time, brother,” said Payden, as the figure – Klatus – was instantly standing beside him. “I hope you and the others have been well.”
“Why do you still bother with this thing?” said Klatus, somewhat frustrated. “I've kept my eye on you, when I could spare. You've reduced yourself to living among them, living off of doll after doll. This is the behavior of a spawn; not a noble.”
“Spawn. Noble. They are but mere titles... titles that will soon have no meaning.”
“Why do you speak as such? Your machinations worry me, brother. They worry us all.”
Payden ignored the attempt to unsettle him. “So, you've told our brothers and sisters?”
Payden turned to Klatus, with a wide grin. “But you haven't told Father.”
Klatus looked away, as he sighed.
Payden chuckled, as he returned his gaze to Damien. “I'm honored you show such affection, as to try and ward me from my future. However, you and I know none of our brethren would approach Him with such a tale, out of fear what his wrath would bring upon all of below.”
Klatus reached out and grabbed Payden by the shoulder. “Be done with this game of yours. No creature – in Heaven or Hell – can change the fate given to them; that is the law.”
“Who's law?” asked Payden, as he shrugged off Klatus' grip. “Laws are the constructs of lower beings. There is no fate. There is no destiny. There are no laws.”
Klatus backed away from his brother; shocked by his words. “What has happened to you?”
Payden stood tall and stretched his wings. “Freedom, brother. Freedom to do as I wish.”
Payden looked upon Klatus and could see the worry and confusion on his face. “Worry not, brother. This road is mine. Remain clear of my path and Father shall not punish you, should he manage to discover my plans.”
“And what are your plans? What is it you hope to achieve?”
Payden breathed deep and smiled his crooked smile. “Best you not know.”
Klatus shook his head in defeat. “Do as you wish. I have said my piece.”
Payden stepped down and placed his arm across Klatus' shoulders. “Indeed you have. Now, though I do relish your company, I do believe you are here for another reason.”
“I see your time here has not dulled your senses,” said Klatus, with a halfhearted grin. “A Great Feast has begun. Our brothers and sisters await over the horizon. They can smell the chaos that is to follow here.”
Suddenly, an airliner roared overhead; barely a hundred feet above the school. The brothers watched, as it descended rapidly in the distance, until it vanished over the hill; toward Washington, DC. A moment later, a clap of thunder blasted through the school; cracking the windows. A plume of fire and smoke rose in the distance.
Payden nodded in approval. “I know how you despise the dolls, dear brother. But you have to agree: Without them, we wouldn't be able to enjoy ourselves so.”
“That is one item we do agree upon. Come. Join us.”
“Oh, brother, but I would,” Payden gave a firm grip to the back of Klatus' leathery neck. “There is no nectar as sweet as a tormented soul birthed from tragedy. However, I must remain.”
“I will never understand your plans, brother,” Klatus sighed. “But I do wish you success.”
Payden kissed Klatus upon his brow and took a step back. Within a blink of his eyes, his brother was gone. He watched the smoke, while memories of men clashing swords and firing guns danced within his head.
“Feast well,” he said, as he looked down at Damien; who remained in his seat, as the other students ran to the windows and yelled into their cellphones.
“Our time is fast approaching, soulless one. Let these fools have their war. We will use it to our advantage.”
Damien looked up from his desk at the belfry. A familiar feeling came over his body; a feeling he'd had since he could remember. A feeling of darkness and despair. A feeling of... joy.
In Italy, high in the Apennine Mountains, laid a monastery. Benedictine Monks roamed it's halls, as they went about their day in prayer and labor. The tranquility was interrupted, however, by the sounds of screaming. Two of the monks, tending a garden in the courtyard, dropped their tools and raced toward the wailing. They came upon a door and quickly rushed inside.
A fellow monk violently tossed in his bed, as he screamed like a man dying.
“Brother Brennan, control yourself!” one of the monks pleaded.
“What is the matter?!” asked the other.
“Destruction!” Brother Brennan shouted. “Chaos! Good God... they're feeding! They're feeding!”
The monks threw themselves on him, as he continued his ravings.
“Death follows him, everywhere he goes! He will ride upon a golden chariot and bring good fortune to all, but it's a lie! It's all a goddamned lie!”
Brother Brennan lunged and grabbed one of the monks by the collar.
“The Knights have fallen and the Shield is broken! Only the Crown remains; the Crown he wishes to claim as his own!”
While the monk struggled to restrain Brother Brennan, the other let go and stepped back. He'd never seen or heard such things from the always quiet and kind Brother Brennan. While they struggled, he found his eyes wandering the room.
Paintings and pictures were plastered all over the walls. Many of them of a baby sleeping upon a cradle of thorns. Others of a winged monster that stood behind trees and doors. He came across some fresh drawings; the paste holding them were still damp.
Depicted were identical knights with pentangular shields, standing above a domed crown. Another painting showed the knights lying on the ground; arrows protruding from their bodies. Another had the domed crown with a rose underneath; a rose with heavily shaded, bleeding thorns. His eyes finally fell on the last painting: Seven daggers forming a circle.
“He showed me!” Brennan's screams continued. “He showed me how to save ourselves! He showed me the weapons to wield against the evil one! The soulless one! The daggers! The daggers can kill him!”
“Who?” the other monk asked, as he continued his attempts to restrain Brennan. “Who are they supposed to kill?”
Brennan tightened his grip on the monk's collar and pulled him close. The thrashing and screaming had stopped, as he stared his fellow Brother in the eyes – with calm and lucidity.