Every Monday and Thursday brings two more free chapters of my exciting historical paranormal romance novel, Return to Rhonan (that’s four chapters each week). Set mainly in the Scottish Highlands, the reader will find much to enjoy on this mysterious well researched journey.
Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:
Return to Rhonan: Chapters 37 & 38
Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved
Calmly, Father O’Reilly clicked open the battered leather case, lifting out sacred vestments. Putting on the white surplice, he kissed the Alb and the Chaucer before putting them on. Turning he held up the host, ‘In the name of Saint Paul, I abjure thee – get thee hence from this room – foul not these innocents.’
‘Innocents – their mothers licked— ‘
‘Be silent.’ thundered O’Reilly, his stature now straight, his voice deep.
Titters raced around the room mocking.
Laying out the sacraments of salt, oil and another phial of holy water on the table, the priest prayed. ‘The Spirit of Our Lord Jesus Christ is with me as I go into the pits of hell. His strength is with me, his light, the Light of the World banishing all darkness.’
As he spoke, a delicate aroma of the sea wafted into the room followed by a sweet voice. ‘Bye Baby Bunting, Daddy’s gone a huntin….’ Murial’s transparent form wafted before them, now showing her lovely face unmarked with age or death, crystal bright tears streaming down her face. The bundle clutched tightly to her breast. As they backed away O’Reilly whispered, ‘Stay with her, she be protecting ye. Stay.’
Jessie felt her whole body trembling with horror as she looked through the phantom form of Murial standing guard in front of them. Yet, part of her could cry for the sorrow in that beautiful face, the pitiful tiny skeleton. She clutched Douglas’s hand, whilst she felt Dinah shuddering beside her.
The priest rose from his knees, the salt and water before him as he prayed further,
Vos votum ut reddo hic.
Senior , quot es meus foes! Quot consurgo obviam mihi!
Plures es sententia mei â God mos non vindico
Tamen vos , Senior , es a contego inter mihi , meus palma ,
Unus quisnam levo meus caput capitis altus EGO dico sicco ut Senior ,
quod is refero mihi ex suus sanctus mons montis.
LORD, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”’
The voice grunted like a pig. ‘Come to Mama – come to Mama piglet.’
The father took no notice continuing in English,
But you, LORD, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the LORD,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.
Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
From the LORD comes deliverance.’
The voice now started to sing, ‘Stand up, stand up for Jesus …..’
Then came the sing-song whisper, ‘Jess…. oh Jessie… come be my love. . I’ll never leave you…. Daddy’s here with me. The horse is falling. He’s wounded, in agony, Jess. Daddy’s crying for you. …. Mommy’s in heaven; Prissy’s screaming in hell and all is well with your world. BITCH.’
Murial’s voice floated over the words, trying to drown the horror. ‘Bye baby Bunting, Daddy’s gone a huntin…. ’
The demonic voice boomed, ‘Shit in hell, you and your bastard child.’
‘Be silent fiend.’ Shouted the priest. With his back to the window he faced the room. Glancing at the phantom form of Murial almost disappearing, as she guarded the group, he said to Jess, ‘Ignore everything, girl. He’s playing with you.’ Opening the book of Psalms he read,
He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.
He says to himself, “God will never notice;
He covers his face and never sees.”
Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked man;
You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.’’’
The word ‘fatherless’ cut through to Jess’s heart, as she pictured her father dying in a lonely field, her mother committing suicide, her aunt’s agony in the clutch of a virus. Sobbing she felt Douglas draw her into his arms, felt the rapid beat of his heart in this dreadful room.
Weakened, Murial dissolved into tendrils of mist as Father O’Reilly kissed the host, then held it high, walking around the room, ‘Demon begone. Get thee back to Satan and his cohorts. Ye have no place here. Oh Lord and your Holy Saints, deliver us now from this most foul demon.’
The stench left the room as the demonic voice tittered, ‘Don’t forget to wipe your arse.’
Holding his hands high, Father O’Reilly fell to his knees, intoning the prayer of deliverance. The room stilled, yet Jessie was in terrible danger; the soul of Murial doomed unless they got help. The past was spearing through the present. The desolation of the Clearances, the terrible suffering of the souls on this estate, the atrocities, made a portal for the demon – it was all too powerful for the priest. Who could quell the anger, the devastation? Who could put right ancient wrongs?
Looking at Jessie, he said, ‘Ye’ve raised a lake of sorrows, a well of memories that flood our time. Ye are in danger – both ye, and Lucy are sensitives – ye’ve delved too far – now I fear not just for yer safety, but your souls. Tis not the desolate that will hurt ye, oh no, tis the demons of hell that drove their tormentors. A sceptic like you Douglas is the best balance. Ye need to watch Jessie 24/7 as they say. I’ll try to contact an exorcist. Until then don’t delve – don’t even think about it. And you George – ye’ll watch Lucy like a hawk, if it looks like she’s going into trance – just sprinkle the blessed oil and salt over her and pray. I shall leave ye both with the sacraments – use them if ye have to – then get ye to a church. Have a bible near at all times, one blessed is better.’
Douglas scowled, as he said, ‘Bibles, devils, exorcisms, Jesuits, why? Why has this happened?’
‘Because ye raised Murial when you played with that bloody Ouija – more than that ye raised the demon. Ye have to help her.’
‘She was already haunting us father – so was that vile thing – that demon.’
‘Ye’ve made them stronger- ye’ve invited them into your world. They’ll not leave ye alone now.’
‘But how, what is she looking for – why the baby? Why the lullaby. Why is she latching onto Jess.’
Dinah frowned, ‘Maybe that’s it, she lost the baby – or maybe it died.’
Jess said slowly, I get it, She wants to be reunited with Duncan – that baby is their child. Maybe he never found her – never knew there was a child?’
Lucy added, ‘I wonder if the child died without being baptized or something.’
Father O’Reilly stood, knocking the bacchy out of his pipe into the crystal ashtray. ‘Then ye’d best be searching the Church Records. They go back hundreds of years. If she had a child being a Catholic she would have had it baptized. Murial would never have consigned it to hell.’
‘Douglas looked up, ‘Not if she wasn’t here. Remember she disappeared and Duncan went after her.’ Jess bit her lip. ‘Father is right, we must search the Church Records. Murial needs us. Whatever it is – we must try.’
Douglas awoke to a cool tongue licking his chin, black eyes staring into his. Seeing he was awake, Daisy thumped him on the chest with her paw. God she packed a punch. Trouncing on her two front paws, she signalled it was time to play. Propping himself up on his elbow, he looked at the clock, for God’s sake it was only 5.30 am.
He jumped as he heard Phantom’s yowl. That cat really did try to talk, now it looked at him, the pink tongue flicking over his paws, as he cleaned his whiskers. Ruffling the fur of Daisy’s head, he rose, stretching his limbs. The couch was comfortable but hardly long enough for his tall frame, but at least he had actually spent the night in Jessie’s suite as her appointed guardian. He swung his feet to the floor, only for Daisy to lunge for his toes licking them furiously. He tried not to laugh out loud, pushing her away.
Peering through the open door, he glimpsed Jessie fast asleep in the four-poster bed, her hair in disarray spread over the pillow. He caught his breath as she stirred, rolling towards him, her skin opalescent in the soft light. With her rounded curves covered in twisted rolls of sheeting and brocade cover, she might as well have been posing for Dante Rossetti.
He longed to go to her, but knew he was on probation. She wasn’t even sure she could forgive him for his stupid behaviour last week. But, she acceded to the group’s arguments that she should not be left alone any more. If her story was to be believed, she was in mortal danger from the demon and terrified of an appearance by Murial. But, she’d ordered him not to try anything even remotely sexual.
To his relief, it had been a silent night. It seemed Father O’Reilly’s exorcism had worked at least, for the time being. He rose quietly tiptoeing to the bathroom, closing the door gently behind him. The water fairly sizzled on his skin as he lathered, it would be a long day. Sifting through Church Records did not appeal to him. He would much prefer to spend the day walking by the river stopping by a pub for a ploughman’s lunch. As the spray washed the soap suds away, he decided he would take Victor with them today as well as Daisy. They certainly helped to break up the tension still lingering around Jessie. He’d take the four by four whilst the others followed in another car. That way, he had her to himself.
After leaving a village of terraced cottages with tiny gardens profuse with wild flowers, they drove past an old farm slumbering in the sun. Cows chewed grass on sloping fields, whilst calves either gambolled or lay by their mother’s feet. Douglas turned back to the dogs. ‘Hey I think they’ve fallen in love with each other.’
Jessie looked to see the dogs tilting noses to the open window, one square headed with huge black eyes and white fur; her mouth wreathed in a black lipped smile whilst Victor, the Viszla, sat elegantly beside her, raising a red-gold domed head to nibble at Daisy’s ears, his amber eyes slanting in the breeze, long ears flapping. Jessie giggled turning her face to Douglas. His heart jerked as he returned the smile, God, she was so pretty.
The land around the church was wild with marshy ground and tussocks of green grass. Then there were the Stone Age outcrops and tumbledown cottages of stone. He’d come to love this land of his ancestors, with its boggy fields, streams, waterfall, lochs and cloud piercing mountains.
The 13th century church was some distance from the village surrounded by an old moat, some four feet deep framed by willow trees, whilst emerald reeds waved in black water.
Jessie exclaimed, ‘It’s beautiful. Look at the tower, it’s so unusual.’
Tying the dogs to the car Douglas said, ‘Yeah it is.’ The Benedictine Priory was so different to the other churches in the area.
As George and Nat with the two girls drew up, Douglas went over to them. ‘I’ll go and open up. Let’s hope Father O’Reilly remembered to leave them in the porch.’
Walking to the thatch covered lych-gate, Douglas pointed to a notice board. ‘Have a look at this. These are some really old drawings of the monastery that used to be next to the church.’
Jessie peered at the old ink drawings of monastery and monks at work in the gardens or walking into the church. ‘The monastery was pulled down – they left the church standing though.’
To reach the church, they walked through gravestones on either side of the path, many listing to one side or crumbling, others covered in moss. Here and there, they espied the odd date where the lichen had been scraped away.
Jessie paused, ‘Hey look at that.’ She pointed to two gravestones side by side; the writing eradicated but each carrying the carving of a skull.
Douglas said, ‘Must be quite ancient.’
Jessie retorted. ‘I wouldn’t like to come through here at twilight.’ She stopped by a grave with a coffin shape structure to read “1887. To our beloved Harry of eighteen years. Never more to see your dear face by our fireside. Rest in peace beloved son.” It’s so sad.’ Walking through the graves, she found three more all dedicated to young men lost at sea. ‘Oh God, they’re so young. This lad here was only sixteen years old.’
She stopped again at a moss covered stone. ‘Look it’s got a face carved on it with a moon and a headless body by the side of it. 16— or something. Could’ve been a witch d’you think? Come on let’s go into the church.’
On entering, Jessie shivered. ‘I can almost feel the sadness here.’ She looked up at the truncated spire of the Priory in all its mystique and sombre silence.
The others joined them as they walked through the darkened porch, entering to see walls austere and proud, soaring up to arched oak beams.
Nat lowered his voice as he said, ‘Look at the screen to the altar, that brown varnish is covering the gesso work.’
Dinah whispered back, ‘Gesso?’
‘Yeah, moulded plaster – all those intricate designs’
Looking up, Lucy said, ‘The top of it looks almost like lace.’
Jessie shivered feeling a cold breeze sweep through the church. She looked over to Lucy as the odour of seaweed filtered through. Lucy caught her glance, her face whitening.
Unaware of their concern, Douglas walked toward the west end of the church “Here’s the Priory Arms and hey look, there’s a priest’s door. It’s been plastered up – must have been the door the monks used to come into the church from the monastery.’
Nathan pointed to a blocked window in the north chancel, ‘The altar could be watched from rooms built onto the church. They were obviously been taken down when the monastery buildings were destroyed.’
George muttered, ‘Eerie. So much history. Look at this. A wooden hearse.’
‘In the church?’
‘Yes here by the lectern.’
The others crowded around to see the wooden hearse replete wooden handles and iron wheels.
Even Douglas shivered. ‘Morbid. Just think the congregation has to look at that every week. Could be their coffins on there soon. Anyway, let’s go through to the back. The records should be through here somewhere.’
Jessie aware of the odour of seaweed becoming stronger, whispered to Lucy, ‘Can you smell it?’
Lucy nodded. ‘Let’s hope it’s coming in from the sea. Just be prepared.’
Trouping through a narrow corridor of yellowed plastered walls, they passed the vestry full of vestments and choristers’ gowns to find a small musty room of bookshelves and wooden chests.
George said, ‘Hmm you can smell the mildew in here? Let’s split up and search for Murial’s records.’
As Lucy and Dinah scoured the shelves, Jessie noticed a mouldering trunk in the far corner. ‘Hey look here 1800-1815.’ Hesitantly she raised the blackened carved lid to find a host of leather-bound books the odour of must and damp rising to meet her. Gingerly, she opened one of the tomes to see lists of names inscribed in Latin. ‘Think I’ve got something here. Come and have a look.’
No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved
Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here: