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The Samhain Chronicles: Ch. 17

by Natalie Gray 2 months ago in Series / Mystery / Love / Humor / Fantasy · updated 2 months ago
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The Iron Boar

The Samhain Chronicles: Ch. 17
Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash

Penelope grumbled to herself as she scratched out a few more notes. She was still fuming at Daniel, not believing he could do something so heinous. On top of that, he completely shut down when she confronted him about it, which was nothing like the man she knew. Granted, he was known to be shy and awkward at times, and she had been quite forceful in her scolding. Penelope paused a moment, wondering if he behaved that way because she had been too hard on him. Try as she might, her temper often did have a way of getting the better of her at the worst of times. She thought back to the look on his face: he seemed embarrassed when she confronted him, remorseful even, and like he wished to say something but couldn't. "Perhaps it had just been a misunderstanding," she mused, feeling a pang of regret at remembering how shocked and miserable he looked when she'd slapped him.

She didn't mean to do it, honestly. She was just so angry... With a heavy sigh, she pushed the thoughts from her mind. She resolved to track him down and try to talk things over later, but for now she still had mountains of work to do. After breezing through her morning chores, Mother Abigail had given her a crinkled bit of paper covered in strange runes to analyze. "You have questions," she'd said, pressing the paper and an old iron key into her palm gently, "This may help to answer them. Go to the Reference section on the second floor. Don't let anyone see you, and lock the door behind you again when you leave." What Mother Abigail referred to as the Reference Section was a tiny alcove crammed in a corner behind a locked wrought iron door. On the other side, the cobweb-covered shelves were lined with crumbling texts and honest-to-God lambskin scrolls, but what they contained was even more fascinating and honestly shocking.

It didn't take Penelope long to realize that the scrolls and books were filled to the brim with material surrounding the occult. Everything from witchcraft to ancient Pagan rites and information on strange, supposedly mythical beings was suddenly at Penelope's fingertips. She understood now why the Mother Superior had kept the section blocked off, and why she seemed so reluctant to give her the key and paper to begin with. She didn't really intend to do so, but before long she found herself sitting cross-legged on the floor with stacks of books, papers and scrolls around her, taking notes and totally engrossed in the wealth of information surrounding her. While she didn't truly believe anything she was reading about, she found it all quite fascinating, particularly the snippets she came across concerning Faeries and what was only referred to as "The Court of the Fae Queen."

It took quite a number of hours to sift through the material to find anything to do with ancient runes though. Eventually she came across a scroll with similar markings, and cross-referenced it with a book she found on old Celtic and Germanic symbols. Languages weren't really her forte, but with the help of both resources she was able to muddle together a semi-coherent translation that she was mostly confident with:

Sickness walks among you; the First Seal is opened. Bow to Iron Boar, or be crushed by the Paw of Black Lion.

Alright, maybe she wasn't quite so sure on the translation. After all, very little of it actually made any sense to her. She remembered Kane saying something about a boar the morning he attacked them, but she had no idea what the "Black Lion" was or the "First Seal". Either way, the message was oddly ominous, and sent a chill down her spine. A soft gurgle under her ribs caused her to glance at her watch, which she did a double-take of. She had been so wrapped up in translating the note that half the day had vanished without her notice. It was almost dinner time and she seemed to have missed lunch, a fact that her stomach seemed keen to inform her of. Hurriedly, she began stowing away all the material she'd dragged out back onto the shelves, still trying to do so neatly and being mindful of the fragile old texts in her haste. As Mother Abigail had instructed she locked the door behind her before leaving, dropping the key into her cardigan pocket with the intent to return it later.

She was out of breath by the time she jogged into the dining hall. Her brown eyes scanned the tables looking for Daniel, but to her befuddlement he didn't seem to be present. The thought crossed her mind that he may be in his rooms sulking, and honestly she couldn't blame him for it. As she took her usual seat across from Sister Marie, it seemed the word on everyone's lips was still surrounding Daniel and the incident last night. "It was nothing," Sister Marie assured them, her face bright pink, "Honestly, just let it go. He didn't harm me, really. I went to check on him and he was having a nightmare. He thought I was one of the villains in his dream, I suppose, which is why he reacted that way."

Penelope paused the buttering of her bread curiously, "A nightmare? He hasn't had a nightmare in weeks. I wonder what on Earth caused their resurgence?"

One of the other sisters around Penelope's age, Dorothy, tusked and shook her head, "Who knows? I feel sorry for him now, to tell the truth, especially after how hard he worked today. After all, everyone gets nightmares, don't they? Sister Agnes had one last night, too."

The middle-aged nun to Penelope's left scowled across the table at her younger counterpart, "In my case, it wasn't a nightmare! I told you, that man was really there in my room! I would swear to it on my life!"

Penelope froze solid. "A man," she repeated, "what man? What did he look like? Did you see his face?" After hearing Sister Agnes recount what she'd experienced the night before, Penelope's blood chilled. She hadn't told a soul, but she had experienced the same thing, and more than once. She had come to believe that it was just an intensely vivid dream, concocted by too much stress and too many hours pouring over books. Hearing Sister Agnes's tale, however, which it turned out a handful of other nuns had experienced too in the past week, Penelope felt a rush of fear. She abandoned her plate without a word or second thought, then ran out of the dining hall to find Daniel.

When she reached the corridor leading to his rooms, she suddenly ran headlong into Dr. Horace, skidding to a stop so that she wouldn't knock him over. "Dr. Horace?" She panted, surprised and confused to see him, "When did you-? Never mind. Where is Daniel?! I must speak with him at once!"

The older man smiled down at her, but there was a coldness in his vibrant eyes. "Hello to you, too, Penny Dear," he grinned, "Unfortunately, Danny is asleep. I just put him to bed myself."

Penelope bristled at his slightly condescending tone, "Very well then, I'll just wake him up. He can sleep later; this is very important."

She tried to brush past the therapist, but he sidestepped into her path again. "There is no need," he murmured, "Daniel has had a hard day. Let him rest; whatever it is can wait until morning. Isn't that right?" Penelope opened her mouth to protest, but strangely forgot what she was going to say. As she stared into those piercing, almost unnaturally green eyes, the matter she'd come to discuss did seem frivolous and silly all of a sudden. Perhaps it could wait. Perhaps...

She shook her head then, chiding herself silently for even thinking such a ridiculous notion. "No," she frowned, "It can't. I'm sorry, Dr. Horace. He'll just have to forgive me for interrupting his slumber." Before the therapist could stop her, she slipped around him and entered Daniel's chambers without knocking. True to Dr. Horace's word, he was tucked up in bed asleep. She paused at seeing his face, so handsome and tranquil as his chest rose and fell in a slow, steady rhythm. She was reminded of the last time she had seen him like this, in the Medical Ward... the day she had declared her love openly for him, and seen what he truly was for the first time. A part of her felt bad for waking him, as he did seem totally exhausted, but she had good reason to. She gave his shoulder a gentle yet firm shake, "Daniel, wake up. I have to talk to you; it's urgent!"

Daniel grumbled and tossed his head with a snort, then blinked his groggy eyes open. "Penelope?" he mumbled, rubbing the sleep from his eyes as he fumbled for his glasses, "What is it? What's going on?"

"I'm terribly sorry, Lad," Dr. Horace sighed irritably, "I tried to tell her you were resting, but she wouldn't listen. Penny, is this really necessary?!"

She ignored the older man as she studied Danny's weary face. As tired as he was, he seemed overly nervous and apprehensive as well, and had difficulty looking her in the eye. She touched his cheek gently, feeling her heart break at the barest flinch he gave. "I'm sorry," she murmured, "for this morning. I was angry, and frustrated, but that is no excuse for hitting you. Sister Marie told me everything." She sat on the edge of the bed and took his hand, lacing her fingers in between his. "She said you attacked her because you were having a nightmare," Penelope stated, searching his eyes for answers, "what was it about? Can you tell me?"

Danny opened his mouth to speak, but just like before, the muscles in his throat began contracting tightly. He seemed frustrated and scared, as if an invisible hand was around his neck preventing him from speaking. At one point he appeared to be choking almost, which concerned Penelope deeply. "Daniel, what's the matter?" She asked, touching his cheek worriedly, "Daniel?"

Suddenly he knocked her hand away as if her touch burned, and his eyes flashed with fear and anger. "Don't touch me," he snapped, "Go away! Leave me in peace!" His eyes widened with shock, as if he had no control over the words that just left his lips. Penelope studied his fear-filled, remorseful eyes, just as shocked and confused as he was. For the briefest of moments, she thought she saw a flicker of green light in his stormy grey irises, but quickly dismissed the thought as her eyes playing tricks on her.

"No," she murmured, taking his hand again with defiance and love, "Daniel, I don't know what's going on inside that head of yours, but whatever it is we can work through it... together. I'm on your side, My Love, and always have been." She sighed quietly and pulled the crinkled paper and small notebook she carried out of her cardigan pockets, "What I came to show you is this; Mother Abigail gave it to me this morning. It took me a while to get it translated, and even now I'm not confident on how well my translation is." Daniel took the paper hesitantly and looked over the runes carefully. "My translation is on the back," she said, managing a small smile, "There was no room on the front, and I figured that chicken scratch was confusing enough."

Daniel squinted at the runes with a frown. "The Paw of the Black Lion," he murmured, "...and yet another mention of the Iron Boar. How strange. Have ye any idea what it means?"

Penelope stared at him slack-jawed, "Daniel... you can actually read those runes? How?! If I had known that, I would have saved myself half a day's work."

The handsome young Scot blinked at her, then looked at the runes again. "I... don't know," he muttered, "I just can. It's as clear to me as plain English." After glancing at her notations on the back, he nodded, "Your translation is fairly accurate... except for this word here: it says 'Pestillence walks among you', not 'sickness', but I can understand how that would be an easy mistake."

"Pestillence?" She repeated, "That seems oddly specific. Also, why does that sound familiar somehow?"

Dr. Horace nicked the paper from Danny's hand with a curt sniff, "It sounds to me like the ravings of a madman. If that is all, Penny Dear, I believe you'd better be on your way now. Danny needs his rest." Daniel nodded and covered his mouth to stifle a yawn.

"Yes, he's right," he mumbled, laying his heavy head back on the pillow with a sigh, "Can we discuss this more in the morning, Dearest? I'm... I'm very tired." Penelope thought she saw the green light in his eyes again for a moment, but was more concerned by how swiftly the Scot seemed to fatigue again.

"There's just one more thing, Daniel," she insisted, nudging him to make sure he was still awake. "Sister Agnes told me over dinner there was a man in her room last night."

Dan nodded sleepily, "I heard that already... idle gossip, that's all it was. Goodnight."

Penelope shook him again in annoyance, "No, Daniel, that's not all! I saw the same man in my room last night too, and the day before that. Daniel, are you listening to me?!"

Dr. Horace pulled her away from the snoring Scot and started pushing her toward the door. "You've said your piece," he frowned, "now let the poor boy rest. Go on, now... back to your dinner, Penny Blossom. Hop to it."

Penelope found herself in the corridor a few minutes later, walking swiftly toward the stairs. She blinked, troubled that she couldn't recall exactly how she'd gotten from Daniel's rooms to the stairs so quickly, nor why she seemed to be walking with a pronounced spring in her step. The entire meeting at Daniel's bedside left her with a bad taste in her mouth, and feeling confused and frustrated. Something was going on with Daniel, something that he wanted to talk to her about desperately but seemed physically unable to. She worried about him, and was losing her patience with Dr. Horace. From their first meeting she honestly didn't care much for him, and his insistence in calling her "Penny" and treating her like a meddlesome little girl was wearing thin. She looked back toward Daniel's rooms, tempted to go back and give the old man a piece of her mind... but something gave her pause. As distasteful as he was, Daniel trusted him with his life for good or ill. With a sigh, she simply shook her head and continued on her way back to the dining hall.


About the author

Natalie Gray

Welcome, Travelers! Allow me to introduce you to a compelling world of Magick and Mystery. My stories are not for the faint of heart, but should you deign to read them I hope you will find them entertaining and intriguing to say the least.

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