Paladin’s Curse: Chapter 1.1

Wooster, Ohio

An obnoxious ringtone yanked me out of my usual nightmare. In it, I was forced to watch as my wife and daughter were once again torn apart in front of my eyes. At least four days a week I woke up in a cold sweat from this nightmare. Tonight, the phone saved me from that fate. My nightmare was interrupted just before the dogman ripped out my little girl’s throat.Groaning, I sat up and looked around in confusion. I was not back at the small apartment I call home. I was in another hotel room. From the looks of it, I was in one that was on the cheaper side of my budget. I was in a small room with a single queen-size bed. The closet-sized bathroom smelled slightly musty, and I wasn’t sure that my sheets were any better. I blinked the sleep out of my eyes and looked around.

Groaning, I sat up and looked around in confusion. I was not back at the small apartment I call home. I was in another hotel room. From the looks of it, I was in one that was on the cheaper side of my budget. I was in a small room with a single queen-size bed. The closet-sized bathroom smelled slightly musty, and I wasn’t sure that my sheets were any better. I blinked the sleep out of my eyes and looked around. Light was bleeding around the edges of the blackout curtain.
My phone yelped again, and I picked it up. Looking at the caller ID, I groaned again. My boss.“What’s up, Doc? To what do I owe this pleasure?”

“What’s up, Doc? To what do I owe this pleasure?”I could hear the smile in her voice, “Good afternoon, Pete. I understand you had a little trouble last night. Anything we need to talk about?” She sounded concerned.

I could hear the smile in her voice, “Good afternoon, Pete. I understand you had a little trouble last night. Anything we need to talk about?” She sounded concerned.Even though she couldn’t see me, I shook my head, “No, ma'am. Assistant Director Mulder handled that. I had to deal with a jail that didn’t want my prisoner.”

Even though she couldn’t see me, I shook my head, “No, ma'am. Assistant Director Mulder handled that. I had to deal with a jail that didn’t want my prisoner.”

“That sounds great, Pete. Let's talk about this current assignment.”

I reached over and grabbed the notebook and pen laying on the nightstand. Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I switched the phone to speaker and said, “Go ahead. I’m ready.”

“As Jonas told you last night, we’ve got rumors of cult activity in Wooster, Ohio, and the surrounding area.” The priest took a deep breath, and paused as if consulting her notes. “Normally, neither the Order or the OTA would get involved with a local cult. Usually, if they get out of hand, local law enforcement deals with them. This time around, this cult seems to be playing for a bigger pot. If they are able to call what they are trying to summon, it will be a very bad day for that state.”

I thought for a moment. “Okay, who are they and what are they trying to summon? I’ve dealt with a few cultists, and very little has ever been successfully summoned. Why are these guys so important?”

“The cult is using knowledge gleaned from a thousand years, and they are attempting to summon something very monstrous.” She paused, and again I heard the shuffle of paper. She continued, “They are trying to summon a creature they call the ‘Undying Night.’ The Order has records of the creature, and our records show the name ‘Ravening Sorrow.’”

I looked at my notes. “What is this cult called? Any background information?”

She cleared her throat, a bemused tone in her voice. “I think you will get a kick out of the this. These guys are always so pretentious. The Cult is officially called the ‘Argent Truth of the Lord’s Fellowship.’”

I snorted in derision. “That sounds like something that the Vatican put together. What else do you know about them?”

“They were founded about a thousand years ago by heretics inside the church. According to the Order’s records, one of the founding members was a stonemason. He was building some ornate arches for his shop and accidentally stumbled upon a portal. What he let through the gate changed him.” Doc paused a moment, then continued. “Actually, the records translate better as ‘he was infected,’rather than changed.’”

I winced. “Any idea what infected him?”

“Just some sort of possessing force. The records were unclear on the type of invader, just that a priest was able to banish the creature. The stonemason was changed permanently. He started the cult based on whatever crazy was bouncing around inside his head.”

I leaned back a bit and thought before speaking. “Ok—crazy cult with a goofy name. Got it. So why now? And why in the middle of Ohio?”

Doc gave a dry chuckle, “Why now? Because those idiots have decided to summon what they think is a dark master who will rule the world. You and I both know that whatever comes through is not going to be any dark master, it will be some evil manifestation that needs to be banished back to wherever it came from. Why Ohio? Because that’s where forecasting says the problem is originating, and Spooky was able to confirm that the problem stems from north central Ohio.”

I sighed. Heavily. I can’t believe I’m dealing with this. I spoke once again to Doc, “I don’t suppose you can find someone else for this? I was going to take a vacation after that last sorcerer.”

“You haven’t taken a vacation in a couple years,”she laughed. “You are the only independent agent Section 28 has in the area. And more importantly, you’re the the only Templar in the area. Consider this a joint operation between the OTA and the Order. If you need any help, call me or the ops center. Any questions?”

I gritted my teeth—It was going to be one of those days. “So what now? Any idea where to start looking for this cult?”

I could hear the smile in her voice when she replied, “You’re the Templar Knight. You can handle it.”

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