Happy Tyr’s Day.
Rogue Wizard’s Journal January 7th, 2019
After two days of waiting for Lunette to show up; but she remained a no show, I finally had one of those problems that required me to leave the house. I was running out of food. So, I threw my college hooded sweatshirt over my shoulders and after gathering my wallet and my keys headed out. Winter had finally arrived with the snow and cold; so I braced against the wind as I walked along. It jumped into the Dodge Journey and took off toward the nearest town with a Wal-Mart.
Based on what I knew, this would mean crossing the battle lines into mage territory, but it was midday and so I wasn’t to worried that the forces of mages would attack me. They don’t like that kind of attention. Despite this, I kept myself alert. Of course the benefit of being a battle-mage is that you carry your weapons with you at all times. No concealed weapon permit required. I went to Wal-Mart, got my groceries and a few other items and after paying, loaded the Dodge up and headed home.
There was some sort of accident; probably due to the snow and ice, on my normal route home. So the authorities were routing people different ways. I turned on a side street long before that and took a way that was a little more circuitous but would still get me home in short order. It was one of those roads that thirty years ago had been busy but with the freeway since was pretty abandoned. I was driving by an old abandoned church and a strange feeling struck me.
Remember that thing about magic being drawn to magic? That is what was happening. I could sense it. I stopped the car and backed up into the church’s small parking lot. The sign read ‘Faith Church” but the message in the message board of the sign said –
‘Closed’. The snow couldn’t disguise the fact that the yard had been overgrown with weeds. There were no other buildings close by and in fact trees kind of isolated this small church with it’s small steeple on a corner of the road. It had been painted white, but it was slipping into gray. The front doors were chained.
As I looked at the chained doors, I was thinking about how remarkably similar this church was to my last one as far as design. Tall steeple with a sanctuary over the basement. The little white church of song and postcards. Mine had been much larger but just as old and made of Michigan white pine. It required constant maintenance to just keep it looking good and standing. Expensive maintenance that I had often wondered what good could have been done to help people with all that money. Didn’t matter anymore, but this whole concept of maintaining a building sure seems to be an excuse not to help people in retrospect.
I approached the doors and looked at the lock. I could feel something drawing me to the inside, but I with the chained door I was pretty much stuck looking through the windows. They were stained glass, so there was no way to really see inside. Then the lock popped open. I looked twice and double checked the lock but it had been opened. The chains fell open as I removed it, and I opened the right door.
Oddly enough the inside was in pretty good repair. The entry way had its coat rack and bulletin board on which remained a couple newspaper clippings. It was the obituaries first of the last pastor of the place. The second of a nineteen year old girl. Date of death for both was the same day. Then memory bank in my head awakened and I remembered the story from ten years ago.
The pastor and this young lady had been having an affair. His wife found out and threatened to tell the whole congregation if he didn’t end it. He did end it, by committing suicide. The girl was the one who discovered the body and she too killed herself. Star-crossed lovers. What a tragic and evil tale. All because of the judgmental nature of Christians, who righteousness is supposedly as filthy rags, but they had created an atmosphere of self-righteousness so strong, that the shame of what was happening was too great, so they ended their lives.
Of course my own failure at marriage fidelity flooded my memories at that moment. The story was similar, but the end very different. I guess the difference was I left my faith behind. The judgmental nature of supposed sinners who bask in the forgiveness of God when given to them; but then turn around and judge harshly other sinners is a hypocrisy I simply dismiss as no longer part of my life. The anger of all that was welling inside me; however, and I could feel the fury building my magical rage.
With that thought a voice spoke behind me.
“Tragic isn’t it?”
I turned around expecting to see some caretaker, but instead I saw a ghost. A literal ghost. Well, two actually. The first looked like a middle-aged gentleman in a suit and tie. He had glasses and in his free hand was a Bible. His other hand held the hand of a young beautiful woman. She was in a dress and had a flower in her hair. Colors are difficult with ghosts, as they are usually white and various shades of grey. The flower in her hair however was red and gold indicating it was something special to her. She smiled at me. Of course they were both partially transparent, as I could see coat rack behind them
Now I have met ghosts before. Most of them are pretty harmless; just souls with some unfinished business. I of course had that first moment of queasy stomach knowing you talking to someone dead, then I was OK.
“Actually, I was thinking about how my own story is pretty close to yours, only without the ending.”
“Yes, that ending could have been different. What is commonly known is not even true. We were actually found naked in each others arms. We had made love one last time before taking the pills. They left that out; changed the whole story actually. That and the fact were found up on the pulpit on a blanket on the floor. One last ‘desecration’ they wanted to forget by not talking about it. What you probably know is false. That tends to be the way of things.”
I smirked as I recognized the sarcasm in his voice; so similar to my own. He chuckled and as I looked at the girl, she looked down and had her cheeks been able to show color they might have shown a little blush.
“Don’t worry about it young lady. You were in love and had nothing to be ashamed of in truth. I don’t get it though, what’s the unfinished business both of you could have?”
The girl spoke this time. Her voice was a soft soprano, I could tell she must have sung in the choir.
“We are were not sure for a long time. My mother and his wife are still alive. Both of us had harsh last words with them, but it doesn’t explain it. Although if it is the reason then when they die, we might fade but we no longer think so. We felt you drive by and now know what it is.”
“Me. I don’t recall meeting either of you in life.”
The man spoke this time.
“Basically Dickens and his ghost Marley in a Christmas Carol. One last act of penance to someone who needs our message. We know now that someone is you.”
“Yes, we know your story, it was heavy on your thoughts a few moment ago. That fury inside you is very powerful. It needs release or it will consume you, like our love consumed us. The fire it creates burns everything and if you don’t find a target outside yourself to direct it towards…. ”
The girls voice was hauntingly beautiful as she spoke. I nodded at her words.
“My fury is directed at those who have lied about me and at the Council for killing my wife when we were just beginning to love each other deeply again. In part, I suppose it is fueled by my loneliness and the thoughts of a few treacherous actions I want justice for. Christianity’s ‘turn the other cheek’ seems very stupid when it comes to justice.”
The man spoke this time.
“Yes, it does cause people to be abused and shamed then justify those that do it to them. Understand we are not saying your fury is bad; just dangerous. Our message to you is a little more centered on letting go of the past, so you can focus that fire of your fury at a proper target now and not at yourself.”
I nodded. I knew what he meant. My rage was mostly self-destructive right now. It didn’t create any positive action. The only positive effect is that it fueled my magic with tremendous power. But where to focus that power?
“You said you had a message for me, each of you. What is it?”
“You first my dear,” the man said.
“I speak to you as a woman with a woman’s heart. This last year you have loved two women deeply. One hurt you and the other forgave you. I want to submit to you that the one that hurt you might have done you a tremendous favor. You may very well have avoided a lot of rage directed at you and her because of her choice to leave you. I don’t know her, but I know it crossed my mind more than once to leave; so we could live and maybe love again. It might have been her motivation. She may have been the smart one on the decision, because you couldn’t be. If there is a need for forgiveness that will help you and not upset your sense of justice; it is probably to forgive her.”
Tears poured down my cheeks. The truth of what she said made it hurt again, but her words rang true, and I had made a commitment to the truth. As I looked at the ghost girl I saw her start to fade. She had been right. Her unfinished business was her message to me.
The man looked at her.
“Go my dear, I will be along shortly.”
I watched as the girl completely disappeared. Then he looked at me. He looked like he was about to cry himself.
“My message is man to man. I have learned the folly of worrying too much about what people will think of me. I paid for that with my foolish death. The only honor that matters is what you have for yourself. Remember that, when opinion is against you for doing the right thing or even for just following your heart. Your honor is within you, it is not the product of whether other people respect you or not. Had I known that, the two of us might still be alive.”
I nodded again and then he too began to fade.
“Looks like we were right.”
“Thank you, both of you.”
He nodded and faded out of sight. Now the church foyer had a truly empty feeling. Whatever spirit this little church had left and now passed on to the other side. It was indeed abandoned now. Kind of a metaphor for my faith in truth. I walked out, padlocked the chains back in place, and then went home.
I don’t know what the future will hold, but I do know that the lessons those two ghosts taught me are going to be with me for a bit.
Author’s Note: You will notice that the dates for the journals are now slipping into the past. This is by design as one of the magical forms my character uses is divination. The ability to see the future is part of that. From an authorship stand point that means using twenty- twenty hindsight instead. There will be times where nothing is happening, and the time line used here can catch up, but I am going to keep it at leas a month into the past from now on to reflect the characters powers.
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.