Jack Churchill awoke with a start. His hand reaching for the sword on his hip before he realized he was in bed. silk sheets and pajamas, his wife asleep next to him and nothing trying to kill him. It had seemed so real, the man at the alter, the devil who would not die, the events of that mad evening at the end.
He’d been kept up by it many nights since, unable to comprehend the man who’d run the Ritual. He’d been standing on a grenade and hadn’t been injured. He’d taken a bullet to the head and hadn’t flinched. They’d revented the ritual, but had no idea what he’d been trying to do, but the unanimous view of the ole Hellbats had been ‘nothing good’.
Most of the others had gone their ways, he hadn’t heard from any in years, but when last he’d seen them they had shared a few words of truth on this matter. All were haunted by that battle at the standing stones. All were afraid of the man who would not die. Some said Jack was losing his grip on reality, trying to track these things down, that he’d become obsessed and had to let it go. But none of them had, because none of them could.
He stood quietly and slipped into his slippers. When the dream came their was no point in trying to sleep, so he headed down stairs.
In the kitchen he found Renner the Butler playing cards with a few of the boys from town. He sprung up as soon as Jack entered in PJ’s and smoking jacket. The butler quickly apologized for not asking before having friends over, but Jack shushed him with a wave and said as long as Renner brought him some tea in the library as soon as possible and promised too trounce his rivals at cards.
Jack entered the family library and for a moment was still, drinking in the undisturbed quiet of the room. This was a place of immense peace, making it by far his favorite room in the house. He walked silently between the high rows, enjoying the clear moonlight that poured in through two story windows looking out over the grounds. He was startled from his reverie as Renner turned on a light and place a tea tray nearby. Jack paused for a moment to reflect before a quick word of thanks was exchanged and Renner returned to his game.
Now Jack moved with purpose to the back of the library, far from windows and into the back shelves where even the maids hardly ever tread. He found what he was looking for almost at once, even in the dim light, and pulled a lever behind on of the books. The shelf next to it slid back and aside. Jack sipped his tea as he walked into his personal collection. Almost a thousand books on all manner of dark art and sorcery.
He’d started the study shortly after the war but it had taken so many hours of his time that his wife had objected and he’d hidden it to continue his search in peace.
He sat at his desk and resumed his study he’d left off the day before, tracing the history of the Spear of Destiny. He’d learned much since the war, about the Spears origins, the many legends that surrounded it, and even a few parties in the world who would be interested in it’s ‘use’ for their own means.
But the one thing that frustrated him persisted. Somehow the Nazi’s had known right where to dig for the Spear and all he could find were vague allusion to it ‘disappearing’ around a certain point. If he could find out how the Nazi bastards had found it, maybe he could find out who that priest had been, maybe, just maybe, he could get some closure.
A movement in the corner of his eye caused Jack to jump and reach for his sword for the second time that night, only this time he found it close at hand, leaning on the desk. He looked around, the weapon half-drawn, but saw nothing. He stepped out of the hidden room and looked to his right just as something darted away to his left. He followed it quickly, sword drawn now, and raced around the bookcase, the vigor of a young man once again in his veins.
Again he saw nothing, but for a moment believed there might truly be something he could not see. Then the thought, or realization drifted into his mind that this was just his own foolish paranoia, that there was no real danger to him here.
He walked back to the study and sat down, taking another sip of his tea and sheathing the blade that had helped him through the war. He was about to return to his book when he noticed it missing. He’d set it down… somewhere… when he’d been startled. He cast about and finally gave an aggravated curse at his own old age. Ah well, perhaps the next book had something useful.