February 23 at 10:30 PM
Photo courtesy of Thomas van den Berg
Clarence followed the footfalls in a circle, and cursed anew. "In the darkest soil I shall bury thee," he uttered, slashing the fire. Hot embers spilled out, steaming the fading snow. He chopped again and again until the stable teetered, and then crumbled, one leg less.
"If I have to pry you from Satan himself, I shall have thee," Clarence vowed, flames licking off his blade. Falling snow turned to rain, washing the stains away.
He glanced at the wavering structures, until one drew his ire. "A church?" Clarence chuckled. Stepping over to the smoldering ruins, he spotted an unblemished rosary. "Fools." He picked it up, and tossed it into the lake. "Not even the Lord Almighty can save your black souls." The disciple watched bead after bead descend into the dark waters, another promise unkept.
"Salvation. It cannot be obtained through prayer alone." He stared into the lake. "Even through one's actions, there is no guarantee. Destiny must play a hand, and only then will you be worthy of spreading God's word."
Clarence stalked the muddy street, the inferno erasing all traces of the snowstorm. He peered at the corpses with indifference; clearly unworthy, clearly not part of God's plan. Even Clarence's heart thawed, if an instant, when he spotted the naked mother and child. "My Lord, what has she done?"
Behind, the creature of Black Lake rose from the water, standing upon legions of tendrils. As the disciple and his minions combed the remains, the demon peered at them from its black shell.
Sensing opportunity, Yakim stood, and walked to the edge of town. "You claim the Lord as your shield, yet you wield him as a sword. If he were almighty, you would need neither."
"You dare make a mockery of the Lord, unbeliever?" Clarence gripped the flaming sword.
"The Lord makes a mockery of you, imbecile," Yakim replied.
The creature crept forward silently, towering above the flames.
"If it is redemption you seek, then I shall reveal him to thee." Clarence took the blade with both hands.
"Be only concerned for your own," Yakim grinned, exposing her fangs.
Tendrils slammed down, flattening coachman and carriage underneath. As the henchmen cowered, the creature swept them into the fire.
"You dare challenge me, hellspawn?" Clarence turned.
Like a cat, the disciple dodged the whipping tendrils, and sprinted up the coils. Before the creature could snare him, Clarence leapt towards its many eyes, sword slashing down. In an unkind twist, the creature snapped forward, catching the disciple in its mouth, and dove back into the frigid waters.
"Redeemed," Yakim sighed.