Guardians of the Herald – Issue #104

“So then I left to find you guys,” Billy said, finishing the recap of what he’d just said and done in Colonel Peters’ office.

“William, I cannot express the level of concern and worry your tale fills me with,” Hugh de Payens said, sitting on the edge of his bed.  Planche brought him and Billy a cup of hot tea, and returned to the small table to retrieve his own.  The two man room Hugh and Planche currently occupied was a much better set of accommodations than the cell they previously were staying in, but it was still quite limited with space just enough for the two beds, a desk and chair at the foot of each, and a tiny table which held an efficiency microwave oven between the two.

“Sans blague,” Planche said, as he sat on the edge of his bed next to Billy and sipped his own tea, closing his eyes as he enjoyed the warming pleasure of the hot beverage.

“I’m sorry to have woken you up but I didn’t know what else to do and we have to help this herald-guy, whoever he is,” Billy said, still pleading as though Hugh and Planche hadn’t been open to the idea.

“Yes, yes we must help him, oui,” Hugh said, waving a settling hand in Billy’s direction.  “But what you did was an incredibly dangerous thing William, and you must promise us you will not do it again until we have had time to train you properly.”

“I’m not going to just sit by and…”  Billy stopped mid-sentence as his brain caught up with what Hugh had just said.  “Wait, did you just say until you’ve had time to train me?”

“Yes, William,” Hugh confirmed.  Planche simply nodded his head with his eyes still closed as he enjoyed another sip of his tea.  Billy starred at Planche a moment and watched the man absorbed in his simple pleasure.  He looked down at his own tea and then at Planche’s cup.  They appeared to hold the same beverage.  He sipped his and waited.  There was a flavoring of some kind he couldn’t place but the dark brown liquid tasted quite good with a subtle flavor not at all as harsh as the coffee he’d sampled before.

“What is this stuff?” Billy asked, taking another sip and trying to place the flavor.

“Le thé Earl Grey chaude,” Planche said, opening his eyes and smiling at him over the edge of his cup as he sipped again.  Hugh raised his mug and sipped as well.  Billy looked confused at the two men though he thought he understood Planche to mean it was a tea of some kind.

“He said tea, Earl Grey, hot.  One of the only consumables the English produce that is actually worth consuming,” Hugh said taking another sip.  “Yes, William, we will train you.  You’ve shown more promise, more gift for spiritual warfare than any other novice I’ve ever read about in our order, or anywhere else for that matter.”

“But I’ve never really liked sports,” he replied.  It was true.  He’d tried out for a few teams in high school, and actually done quite well once until the coach began focusing only on winning the game.  He wanted to have fun when he played and the coach had taken all the fun out of it.

“This is not about liking sports,” Planche said. “This is about using the gift God has given you for the purpose for which he has put you here.”

“It doesn’t feel like a gift.  It feels like a prison,” Billy said, thinking back on how Colonel Peters had been acting recently.

“That’s because they have strict rules here,” Hugh said.  “You haven’t been adhering to those rules and you must.  You must learn to follow the rules because in spiritual warfare the rules matter a great deal and not following them can get you or others with you killed.”

“I don’t think I want that kind of responsibility,” Billy said, sipping his Earl Grey tea and trying to get lost in the cup.

“It is your choice, mon ami,” Hugh said sitting forward on his bed.  “You have the potential to be a great paladin if you decide to set your foot upon that path, William.”

“I don’t know what a paladin is?  I don’t even know what the word means,” he said sloshing some of his tea out by accident.  Planche frowned first at the cup and then at Billy before moving to get a paper towel to clean up the mess.

Hugh silently rose and moved to the desk at the foot of his bed.  He set down his mug of tea and picked up a large, well-worn black book.  The cover had some lettering on it that clearly had once been inscribed with gold gilding, but had since worn off.  Billy couldn’t make out what the letters said.

“You do not know a great many things about the world, William” Hugh said, opening the book to somewhere near the end as he returned to his seat.  “But it is time you learned.”

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Guardians of the Herald is a weekly serial published and copyright by The Cavalier, Mark Malcolm.  To catch up on the first 45 issues you can either read them for free on the web site or purchase the compilation, Guardians of the Herald Issues 1-45: Angels and Demons for the Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Guardians-Herald-Issues-1-45-Angels-ebook/dp/B00IJIFXSY.

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