Another Story VIII

VIII.
Luthen continued as if the squire had responded.

“I knew it was the devil, when he walked into the church. His smile told me, and the too-loud clank of his iron shoes. He burned the eye, like sun-pain — reaching back into your head even as you blink. I looked into his green-grass eyes and knew.”

Jonas reeled back, and stumbled towards the linen-draped dead. In the uncertain light shed by the priest’s eldritch flame he tried to pick out faces. Was his father here – his sister? The sickly sweet stench of mulberry hung about the corpses.

“He walked up and took my right hand and stroked it with his left. ‘There now’, he said, ‘Seen a little too much haven’t we?’. He touched my face, so gently.”

Collapsing onto his knees, the squire looked over his shoulder. Luthen spoke quietly, blank face illuminated. Something twanged in Jonas’ heart, and his fingers tightened around the blade.

“As Gilead burned, they came. One at a time, then in droves — so eager to escape the flames. I poured the golden water for them, and kissed their lips once -twice – thrice! It was so good to save them — so right. “

The dark-haired boy rose and spun.

Jonas spoke at last. He screamed “Monster!”

The squire’s good steel punched through the priest’s chest. Luthen looked into his eyes with surprise.

“Are you the Hand of God?”, he whispered longingly.

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