We both laid on the floor of St. Augustine's for what seemed like a long time. Father Quinton had just called more magic in the span of five minutes than he probably had in his whole life. From summoning down holy bolts to banishing a demon, to healing the wounds I had suffered, he had pushed himself to hard... and to far.
The same could be said of me I guess. I was drained, both physically and spiritually. The duality of my heritage made me unique among my species, able to walk both in the dark and the light. By day, exposure to sunlight causes me to shift to my light form, a burning creature composed of light and heat. By night, the moon calls my dark form, a creature of swirling blackness. The essence of both natures, with the needs and hungers that go with both.
In my youth I was taught how to manage my night form by my father and his tutors, but I had to hide by day. There was no one to teach me how to control my other form as the light walkers had pulled from this world shortly after my birth. With no way to control that part I simply learned to hide, learned to live like a Night Walker.
It had been so long since I had transformed into that creature I forgot how changing back made me feel. I had also never expelled so much energy during a transformation. I could feel the emptiness inside me, not just from hunger but from draining so much of my own self in that fight.
I continued to sit there, looking over at Quint, knowing I would need to check on him. He had proved his worth tonight, talking me back from the edge, but I was so tired. I looked down at the rosary still in my hand and wondered if Quint knew what it meant to me. Next to Jules jacket, nothing else I owned meant more to me. This rosary represented everything I did this job for. Father Malkin's rosary.
Malkin was my first handler from the church before Quint had came. Mal was a pretty progressive thinker for a man of God. There had been an Uprising that had killed a lot of Norms. A really bad one. Some User had tapped into a Well of Souls, a sort of device that if you channel enough dark magic into it you could raise the dead back to life. Unfortunately the more magic you channel, the more sentient it becomes. The guy had become obsessed with reviving his wife and he poured to much of himself into the artifact.
After it took control of him it began raising armies, scores of walking dead that attacked Norm, Fell and Night Walker alike. The church, long mankind's only defense, helped rally against the User and the dead, forging an uneasy peace in the process. Between this act and what happened to Juliet at The Copper Cup in the months prior, everyone knew something had to be done. To protect this peace, someone would police each city with the full backing of all three factions. I was chosen through my fathers will, though I think it had more to do with no one caring if a half breed died or not. The important thing was that I didn't play sides, my stance among Night Walkers was well known, and the Fell vouched for my affection for Norms based on what had happened with Juliet. Father Malkin was chosen to assist me by the church.
Mal had been one of the lead supporters of the treaty and forging a peace. He accepted me for what I was, and proved himself to be a capable and determined friend. Through him he helped me cope with the guilt I faced over Jules, and offered my salvation through God.
I took his death hard, he had trusted me to save him like I had trusted him to save me and again I let someone I cared about down. Again I wasn't there to protect him. I could still see the dead pulling him apart piece by piece as I arrived to late to save him, though his sacrifice had saved the young girl he had been protecting. I had taken his rosary as a reminder of my failure. A reminder that allowed someone of my ilk, someone damned, to walk the same halls as he had.
I closed my fingers around the rosary and shoved those thoughts into the corner of my mind. I had to much to deal with without a trip down fucking memory lane. I picked myself up slowly off the floor and felt the stabbing sensation of pins run down my legs as the blood flow began circulating. Gingerly I limped over to Quint and fell to the floor beside him.
I checked his vitals really fast and everything seemed okay. He had simply passed out from the exertion. I pulled his fingers apart from around the shotgun and maneuvered him into a sitting position.
"Padre......Padre.....You still with me?"
His eyes fluttered open and he let out a soft groan. Rubbing his head head he sat forward and stretched.
"Our Lord in Heaven, mercy."
That was about as close as I have ever heard Quint to cursing in the time I had known him. It was all the more surreal to watch him throw up seconds later. That usually happens when you draw to much power, sort of your bodies way of fighting back. He leaned back against the wall beside me and looked over.
"You okay Alex? I've.....I've never seen you do that before. I've also never seen you take that many wounds..."
He kind of trailed off toward the end and I knew he was feeling awkward. He had taken a leap of faith in casting healing magic on me. If he didn't truly believe in his heart that I was worthy it wouldn't have worked and I would have bled to death. That spell had saved my life, just as his swift action had before that. If he hadn't of acted when he did, I wouldn't be here and I made sure to tell him.
"Look Padre... You did great. I'm not going to be winning any beauty pageants for a while but the way you handled that demon and that User, you earned it today. You saved my life not once, but twice tonight and I owe you."
Quint kind of sheepishly grinned and looked around. The church was really torn up. He was going to have to get some major Church Users in here to get protection spells on this place. Now that we knew what they were capable off, they wouldn't be able to pull this trick twice. Still I didn't know why those fuckers had shown up or what they wanted. Or better yet who they worked for. I also didn't know why Quint had insisted I come over tonight. Most importantly though, I didn't know who the girl they were looking for was, and if she really was a Light Walker.
I slowly stood up and walked over to where I had shed my rig and jacket. My shirt and pants where nearly torn off my body, covered in burn marks, claw scrapes, and blood. I needed to change, and I needed some answers. We were also gonna need a place to hole up, with my apartment without wards and the church compromised we were in danger.
I looked over to Quint who was finally picking himself off of the floor. he wiped his arm against his mouth and wobbled towards the living quarters. I grabbed my gear off the floor and helped him to the back. Pulling up to the same chairs we had sat in last night, I threw my gear over the back of the chair and made some coffee. We had been silent most of the time. I had been trying to allow Quint some time to gather his thoughts, get his wits about him. It was now time for some questions. I poured the coffee into a mug and slid it in front of him.
"Look Padre, time to lay it all out for me. What the fuck just happened here? Who is the girl they are looking for?"
Quint took a long pull of the coffee and looked back at me.
"Maybe its better that I show you."
Unsteadily he got to his feet and headed towards the pantry. Opening it he waved his hand in an arcane motion and I could see the blue aura of holy magic flow forth. Across the floor a sigil lit in the tell tale shades of blue as Quint repeated a prayer. As he approached the climax of the incantation, the floor shifted downward, as the stone blocks reformed themselves into a spiral staircase descending into the depths of the Church.
Now I knew about the church's catacombs and what was interred in the basement. There was some nasty shit downstairs. This was completely knew to me though. Even Mal had never shown me this.
"I'm sorry Alex. What I am about to show you we who serve the Order were sworn to secrecy to preserve. In the years before the Treaty the Church had dedicated itself to protecting its people from the things they couldn't fight or comprehend. This section of the catacombs were sealed off and warded by the highest of our order to be protected. Warded by angels, or what you call Light Walkers, its protections with our own would protect it from detection or entrance without consent. Just as with divine healing, should you not prove worthy no amount of protection would save you from the spells within."
"This was our base of operations wherein we would monitor the actions of the others. A sanctuary within a sanctuary. When you came to work for us, we knew not how much we could trust you. With your duality, you may have been able to pass into the room due to your Light Walker heritage, we also knew that you had been raised by the Night and could still owe loyalty to them. So we hid it."
I can't say I was surprised. I knew the Church had been protecting Norms before the treaty, we just didn't realize they had been this organized. I was impressed. As we winded back down the staircase Quint continued.
"After tonight there can be no doubt in my mind where your heart lies. The trust Father Malkin had in you I understand now, for many of our order do not trust you. In showing you this, I hope you can understand the importance of who lies below."
As we got to the bottom of the stairs I was filled with questions concerning our mystery woman. If the Light Walkers had returned it could mean many different things, and I didn't see to many good options in any of them. I watched as Quint lit another sigil and opened another door at the bottom of the stairs. We walked in and I could see the back of a girls head reading a book. As the door opened she turned her head and stood up.
I dropped my rig and coat with a clatter as my breath left my body. It was Juliet. My Juliet.
End of Line.