The priest felt a small stab of guilt for bringing up that whole painful memory. Being hurtful wasn't at all his style. But if he were to have an active role in all of this, he did not wish to be untruthful to those he held nearest and dearest. Besides, he was a horrible liar. Had the worst poker face of anyone he knew, and could never get his bullshit stories straight. There was simply no way he would be able to lie to Maureen. Or Roxanne, for that matter. They both had an uncanny ability to see right through his feeble deceptions, and keeping something this overwhelming a secret would be impossible for him to do for any length of time.
He was, however, perfectly willing and able to cut the time-traveling stranger out of the inner circle. Kevin found the man to be pushy and opinionated, full of comments and suggestions he had no right to be making. Plus, the way he hung around Roxie, moon-eyed and drooling, annoyed the priest to full proportions. It was bad enough he had been bamboozled into hiring the man, even letting him live on parish property. There was no way he wanted Ian Sawyer anywhere near something as important, as mystical and divine, as Caladbolg.
Beckett saw it different. He respected the young Patriot, and was both impressed and grateful for the help that he'd given them when they had time-traveled. In addition, he felt responsible for the young man's well being, as it was because of their intrusion into the past that the he was now living in the present. Although he would never be as blunt in front of his wife and Roxanne, he felt having an extra male involved in whatever might come their way was surely an asset. Besides, it was his observation that Ian was crazy about Roxanne, and since they didn't stand a chance of separating the two, there was no reason to expend energy trying to do so. The man clearly had been part of the craziness from the beginning, and to cut him out now would be counter productive.
They walked back to the rectory in silence, Caladbolg slung over Beckett's arm in some type of back zippered duffle bag. The night air was warm and calm, a peaceful August evening in direct contradiction to what was churning in both men's heads. It was a few minutes after 11, and the street was quiet and empty. Yet every sound...every rustle of a bush, the humming of crickets, their feet scrapping the rough pavement... was amplified in their ears. It seemed as if they could even hear the blood rushing through their very veins, and Fr. Kevin wondered if it was perhaps because of the sword bouncing against his brother-in-law's shoulder.
The rectory parlor was dark, the flickering light from the television casting a dim glow on three sleeping bodies, Roxanne and Maureen on either end of the sofa, and Ian stretched out on the floor. A half eaten bowl of popcorn, and several empty bottles of ale gave evidence to the night's entertainment. Not wanting to startle them, Beckett went over to his wife and kissed her softly on the cheek. She stirred a bit, then drowsily opened one eye. It took only a second before she recognized the face hovering above her, and squealing, threw herself at him. The high pitch sound jolted Ian awake, and he was on his feet, in defensive posture, before his brain registered who had entered the room. All three of them spoke at once, flinging questions and demands, the volume so loud in his head it seemed unbearable. Fr. Kevin covered his ears with his hands, desperately trying to temper the noise, suddenly frightened about the sword's absolute power over him.
Nothing of importance could be discussed until his sister and her husband had adequately welcomed each other home, which was awkward to say the least. Their making out at the end of his sofa was embarrassing to both he and Roxanne, though Ian found it quite entertaining, grinning and winking, and making Fr. Kevin like him even less. Secretly though, he was happy to see his sister happy. The past few months had been painful for her, and it now appeared that she and Beckett had found some solid ground to their relationship. It was all together a good thing, but he could feel the presence of the sword, propped as it was against the hallway door, and he was anxious to share his concerns with the group.
Maureen insisted on feeding the two of them before anything could be done, and the Ridre Dubh let her do what made her the happiest. Once they had full plates in front of them, and everyone's glass was refilled, all attention turned to Beckett, who did his very best to explain all that had happened since his disappearance from the upstairs bedroom a little more than 24 hours before. He exhibited more patience than Kevin thought capable, with everyone interrupting him with questions and comments of their own. He took each of their inquiries seriously, calmly doing his best to appease their fears. It was a side of his brother-in-law he'd never seen before. He'd always exuded a sense of leadership, of careful control. But now there seemed to be a steely sense of quiet reserve where before there had been only humming hostility. He wasn't sure if it was his role as the Black Knight that had effected the change, or Caladbolg, but it made a striking difference.
Fr. Kevin had expected the others to be shocked by Beckett's mission. Imagined them to be as aghast as he had been at the outright murder of another human being. But it was Kevin who was speechless. None of the three showed the slightest concern over what needed to be done. Even his sister, who couldn't stand the tiniest mistreatment of others, nodded along when Beckett described what She Who Was All had asked. It was as if Owen Kelly ceased to be a real person, and had somehow become the monster under the bed. Both women had blanched at the description of how Kelly planned to increase his own power, the whole idea of creating a life for the purpose of stealing stem cells an atrocity that made them shudder. Ian's lack of modern medicine made it difficult for him to understand just what the Ridre Dubh was trying to explain. His initial discomfort at the sketches the Knight drew describing human reproduction gave way to full anger when he finally understood what the human wizard was up to. He responded with a string of colorful curses, vowing to do whatever he must to prevent such heinous things from happening.
Once he was sure the group understood what was involved, the Black Knight unveiled the sword, explaining what he and Kevin had discovered about his history. For several seconds, no one moved, starring at the thing as if it were a full sized python laying across the Sheriff's palm and not a weapon made of precious metal. The moment Beckett touched it, energy pulsed through the sword, from its pommel to the tip. Eventually Ian stepped forward, asking permission to touch it. Beckett handed the weapon to him, and as soon as it left the Ridre Dubh's hands, it become a simple weapon. Still beautiful, still impressive, but without the strange light that it had exhibited when the Sheriff had possession. It was the same with Roxanne, the weight of the thing extreme, but showing no signs of the mysterious energy it had a few moments earlier.
Maureen declined to touch it, uncertainty and fear plain in her expression. With encouragement from her husband, she eventually laid one hand across the pommel, the other on the blade. Instantly,
the sapphire in the handle crackled to life, causing her to pull her hands away, and leaving her light headed and queasy. To prove his theory, the Black Knight then handed the sword to Fr. Kevin, and as it had with Maureen, the large blue stone came alive. But where its power had made his sister ill, the priest felt energized, acutely aware of every living thing in the room. His friends stared at him as if they were seeing someone they did not recognize, and he wondered if he looked as odd as he felt. Beckett went on to explain how the Fairy Queen had spoken of the need for a Knight's Second, of someone who could be entrusted with the sword, and to aid in the quest. She had told him that his Second was someone he knew well, and that when the time came, Caladbolg would direct him in his choice. It was as the Queen had said. The sword had chosen Kevin.
If any of them had doubts over Kevin's ability to take on this role, they politely kept it to themselves. Maybe they were simply overwhelmed. The things discussed in the rectory parlor were certainly unbelievable and fantastic, events far from being explainable. If the Pastor of Holy Family Church was destined to aid in this war against something evil, then who were they to disagree? It was obvious Kevin had a strong connection to the sword, and if what they had read was true, and the sword had been handed down from St. Michael the Archangel, then maybe it was not too far fetched to accept the notion that a servant of the Divine would be involved.
Beckett gave them little time to ponder the mysteries. He was more interested in a plan of action then debating over the hows and whys of things. He had decided that he and his Second needed to spend some time seriously training with Caladbolg, as neither of them had experience in wielding a long sword. He could not rely on help from his usual sources. His role as the Black Knight, his quest, and the presence of the weapon had to be kept completely hidden from outsiders, and in his head, vowed that The Powers That Be would never ever learn of its mystical existence.
He simply could not pull the thing out and practice maneuvering it in the backyard of the deli, or even on the rectory grounds. He had decided hours ago that the group needed to retreat to somewhere obscure, a spot where they could plan and train in complete privacy.
When he offered his cabin as that place, Kevin felt the breath leave his chest. Even Maureen turned a few shades paler. Their last visit to Beckett's cabin up north was an unpleasant memory. It had been a planned as a Thanksgiving holiday, a chance to enjoy their bounty and gratitude in a tranquil, natural setting. It had been anything but peaceful, and there was little to be thankful for. In those few days, they had become involved in a young woman's murder, been left with an abandoned baby on their doorstep, and been front row witnesses to Beckett's strange, tumultuous relationship with the psychotic Cassandra Donaghue. Both Kevin and Maureen had multiple reasons why they never wanted to step foot in the place again, and their obvious negative reaction did little to make Roxanne and Ian want to agree to a visit.
But the Ridre Dubh refused to take no for an answer. He was adamant that the cabin offered the best place to prepare for what needed to be done. It was large and private, offering the space they needed without the prying eyes of others. It contained all the modern comforts of home, and would be a perfect place for Roxanne to continue to recover from her injuries, as well as enable the five of them to remain together. It was the best solution to the problem, and he was set on his decision whether or not the rest of them agreed. If there had been any doubt about who was in charge, it quickly dissolved. The Black Knight would lead...and they would follow.
Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2015
All Rights Reserved