The Chronicles of Claudia Labelle -- Part XII
Entry XVII –
I had a dream last night. A beautiful one, indeed. When I awoke, I did not want to rise, for I truly believed what I had experienced was real. It may seem strange, but in the dream, I was lost in the forest, and I very much enjoyed the wandering. The trees and ground were thick with freshly fallen snow, and the sun was high in the sky on a cloudless midday. My senses were enhanced, that I remember for sure, as I could so vividly see the sparkling rainbow of colors from the sunlight reflecting off the snowflakes. The wind was loud, yet graceful to my ears, and the cold temperature did not affect my skin. I moved swiftly through the snow as if my feet were weightless with each perfect step. My body was strong and sturdy, and for once my mind was at peace.
Unfortunately, I had to wake up and return to reality. My disturbing and unnerving reality.
After sitting here for a moment, and reading over what I have just written, I have come to realize that if I am ever to grow, if I am ever to conquer my fears, if I am ever to be truly happy and live my life the way I choose to live it . . . I must learn to accept my gift and who I am. I must learn to control my gift and who I am. I must learn to free myself from the nightmares that plague my mind.
From this point forward I dedicate myself to the mastery of my born talents. Nothing more and nothing less.
Early in the Morning – 18th of November 1097
Entry XVIII –
I met with the Prior in the dining room of the Inn at midday. He was eating fish stew by the stone fireplace, wrapped up in thick robes as it was exceptionally cold today. There were a few other patrons scattered throughout the room, and the innkeeper was pouring mead into a few tankards at the bar.
I did not hesitate to sit next to the Prior, but he did not say anything at first and was remarkably quiet. He shyly glanced at me and continued to slurp the stew. I wanted to say something, but I felt it was not my place to speak before him, and it seemed as though my eagerness to continue my study of mediumship would go unsatisfied in the morning hours. It was my hope that, maybe, if I practice my gift while the sun is high in the sky, I may be better equipped to confront the horrors of the night.
I soon heard him sigh, and he placed the wooden spoon down on the table. “How are you feeling this morning?” he asked. “I wished to check up on you an hour after we returned to the inn yestreen, but the door to your room was locked.”
“I am feeling well, actually,” I said.
“Even after what you saw? Are you sure? Miss Labelle, you need not lie to me. I can only imagine what horrors you must have witnessed. It is all right to feel anguish, to be afraid, or even despair. These reactions are normal and natural when exposed to such atrocities.”
“No, Prior Anders, truly I am well. And I dare not lie to you.”
He stroked his white beard and glanced to the barmaid that carried a couple of tankards as she passed by our table. He then leaned forward toward me, and whispered, “When you looked at me through the lens of a medium, what was it that you saw? What made me look different? What frightened you?”
“I do not even know what I saw of you.”
“Surely there must be something you can tell me,” he said, returning to his straight up position. “Your face cringed as though I was revolting. As though I was some sort of horrific monster.”
“No. No, you were not the monster.” I sighed and crossed my arms along the wooden table to support my chest. “Your skin was wrinkled to the very bone, and your eyes were missing. There was blood on your hands, it dripped from your fingertips, and seeped from your sleeves. But the most peculiar of all was a symbol burnt into the robes you were wearing; it was a cross, an upside down cross. What do you suppose that means?”
“What else did you see?”
He avoided my question, and despite my sudden annoyance, I decided it would be best to follow along. “I saw a woman. A dead woman. In the process of being disemboweled and devoured by a small group of monsters.”
“What did these monsters look like?”
“Naked, hairless, slender, pale, and morbidly deranged.”
“How many were there?”
“And so it was, I may presume, those creatures and their actions that caused you to vomit?”
“Yes,” I concluded and continued to talk before he could say anything more. “And if I may speak freely, Prior Anders, it seems as though you are not telling me something.”
His shoulders perked up, and he stared upon me intently. It was clear to me at the moment that he was not at all chipper with my attitude, but I did not care. He was and had been, restricting knowledge that I was clearly hungry for, and I was not going to allow it any longer. “And why is it that you would say such a thing, Miss Labelle?” he asked.
“Because you avoided my question.”
He sighed and looked down at the cold stew that he had not touched for some time. He was quiet, and I allowed that. I was not going to force an answer out of him; I simply wanted his honesty on all matters at hand. There was a long pause between the both of us; the crackling of the fire took the place of our words for a short time. He then sighed once more, and finally said, “You have been so kind to share such deep secrets with me, Miss Labelle, and I am very thankful that you have trusted me with the knowledge of the burden you carry. A young and beautiful woman such as yourself should never have to bare witness to the darkest horrors of the known world, and I commend your bravery when learning to control your gift. As you have shared so much with me, I believe it is time for me to share some of myself with you. What I am about to tell you is deeply personal, and should never be repeated. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Throughout my time spent researching the seemingly unnatural entities that exist, and throughout my study of history and theology, of languages and cultures, I found myself questioning my own beliefs. Questioning my faith in God and his grace. The Church claims the Bible is the only source of truth, and that all other forms of understanding are poison to the mind. It may be they are correct, as my mind has been corrupted. Even now I may say a prayer every night, but deep down I question if prayer is nothing more than wasted effort. It is blasphemy to speak of, and though I may be the headmaster of a Priory, the Church would surely put my life to the stake.”
“God is the creator of all things,” I said. “He is the bringer of life, as we are made in His image. He is pure, and untouched by corruption. It is we humans that are sinful, bound by our basic urges for pleasure and leisure—”
“What God would unleash demons across the land? Devilish leeches that hide in the shadows and feast upon the essence of the weak?” he asked, his voice raised. I did not say anything and only stared at him. The crackling of the fire returned to the space between us, as we both came to a short pause. “I do not wish to debate with you, Miss Labelle.”
“Nor do I with you.”
“Then let us not,” he said. “Now, if you will excuse me, I must return to my room.” Prior Anders then left the table, seeming to be in pain as he stood up, and went upstairs to his room. I did not help him, as I knew he would not let me. I sat there for a few minutes more, staring into the bright flames that danced within the stone fireplace and pondered my own fragile existence.
The Prior has again not come out of his room since the afternoon. Although I worry for his safety, I will not disturb him, and instead, will focus on myself this evening. I must practice control of my gift in solitude tonight, and hopefully, by tomorrow morning, I may have a better understanding of it. And, hopefully, by then the Prior will finally be able to assist.
18th of November 1097
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