by Matt Spencer
YOU WANNA hear about the Reverend, don’t you? Yeah, I’ve gotten good at spotting you nosy fucks. It’s okay. I don’t know why everyone points to me whenever anyone shows up asking about him. I ain’t even the one who blabbed about it to News of the Weird or whatever. Everyone and their dog’s got a podcast or some bullshit these days. Gabe went and blabbed to one of ‘em, before him and his family disappeared, which got ‘em enough hits to monetize their little project, and now everyone wants to know about the Reverend.

Shit, Gabe wasn’t even there that night, but I was. Haven’t been to church since. You might say this is my church now, where you’ll find me on Sundays, especially since the wife packed up and left.

Hey, Clare, can I have another round? Get one for this gentleman while you’re at it. Thanks, darlin’. You know, I never really was the church-going type ‘til I married Maggie, a nice, sweet, little, good Christian girl, girlfriend from my first and only year in college. Back in the day, our differing religious beliefs—she had some, I didn’t—never really got in the way of our torrid romance, probably ‘cause she never took the whole wait until you’re married thing seriously. By the time we found each other again, years later, she was raising a litter of kids on her own after leaving her abusive dick of a husband, and here was me, a down and out loser who’d washed out of the army and just happened to get a job at the local factory, one more dirtbag in this dirtbag town of hers. I don’t know why she ever wanted a thing to do with me in such a state, except her kids liked me, and apparently dudes who know how to eat pussy were scarce in her good Christian men dating pool. We wound up getting hitched, and for a while, it was nicer than anything I’d expected out of life anymore. The only pain-in-the-ass thing was that she insisted I go to church with her on Sundays.

Oh, right. You wanted to hear about the Reverend. That’s the only moniker anyone seems to remember him by. I’m sure he had a real name, or at least one people called him. How could he not? He was our preacher for half a year. Just that now, everyone draws a blank on that particular detail. When people went through the files in his office, for anything officially in writing, anything that would have had his printed name or signature on it has just vanished, no paper trail, no nothing, like he never existed.

The church had a different preacher when Maggie started dragging me there. Nice enough fella, slightly heavyset and fresh-faced, must have just graduated from Cool Youth Pastor or whatever, and already balding. Real down-to-earth kinda guy, delivering his services in khaki pants and plain striped button-up shirts.

Before we get any further, I’d better say up front, if you’re writing this up for some church-related zine, I’m probably gonna offend you, so—No? Okay, cool.

Anyway, soon as Reverend Morris became a missing person, in steps the Reverend. One week, it was Morris up there, and then the next, it was him, as our little community’s new spiritual leader.

You’d have had to have been there, I guess, to get the effect he had on all of us when he first stepped up and introduced himself. He was like something out of another time, out of Depression-era folklore, tall and lean, dressed in black from head to toe, his face and hands like quartz, eyes like pale fire. He spoke in this booming voice about fire and brimstone, and he read from Revelations. As he read us tales of demons and angels clashing in the heavens for supremacy…I tell you, the tranquil Sunday of the chapel bled away, and you were in some blockbuster CGI nightmare, clear as day. I imagined the creatures he described as clearly as I see you now, and I tell you, they were freakier than anything you ever saw in a movie. By the time he finished, I felt like I was coming down from an acid trip or something. That night, I had nightmares about the demons he’d painted in my mind. A grown man who’d never been religious, having nightmares from a scary story a preacher told at church. That was just his first week. Shit, Clare, can I have another?

Look, I’ve read the Bible cover to cover, studied it in school and everything, right? Since marrying Maggie, I realized that a lot of Bible-thumping God-fearing church folks actually ain’t read it, not really. Some of ‘em do, sure, selectively, but mostly they’re content to let their preacher read ‘em what he picks out and tells ‘em what to think about it. Might as well still be in Latin.

Over the following weeks, I started to notice how I didn’t recognize a one of the stories he told from the Bible…except a lot of them sounded familiar from elsewhere, like stories I’d read as a kid from mythology, like from the Greeks or the Norse. He’d just change a few names so it sounded more, y’know, biblical. The rest of the congregation never seemed to notice the difference. But then, who was gonna argue with a captivating speaker with that voice, that kind of overwhelming presence?

Gabe, my buddy from work, went to the same church. When he first invited me to the after-work prayer-meetings in the basement of the church, I had no interest. He’d never struck me as especially religious, just a friendly, goofy, happy-go-lucky redneck stoner kinda guy, one of those folks who say they believe in God and go to church because it’s just the done thing where they come from. Then he started showing up to work with bruises and a slight limp. Then over time, not so much. His mind and reflexes seemed sharper, and he was dropping weight and toning up. So were a few other folks…all people I noticed Gabe getting closer with, all people I’d overheard mention the Reverend’s special prayer group.

I wondered, Holy shit, is the Reverend running a fight club? Hey, that’d actually be pretty awesome. I used to box some, but I’d fallen out of shape since I settled down and got married. So I asked Gabe if the Reverend was still holding those special prayer meetings. You should have seen the way his face lit up, like he’d been waiting for me to ask.

I’d never been down into the Church’s basement before. Hell, I’d never realized the church had a basement. As I followed Gabe down there the first time, it didn’t smell musty like a basement, but rather like fresh, hot sweat, with some weird incense floating on the air. More than anything, it looked like a gym. It was one room, big as the whole church above, maybe bigger, with cinderblock walls and rusty, rumbling pipes running across the ceiling. At the far end stood a body-combat dummy, next to several long canvas bags of equipment stacked up against the wall. There was a big sink with a water heater next to it, on which sat several water bottles. Half a dozen men stood around, along with a few women. I’d met most of them at church, except I was used to seeing them in their Sunday Best, never in sweaty workout clothes like now, so it took me a second to recognize some of them.

From the back of the room came the Reverend. Him I recognized right away, despite looking so unlike himself as I’d gotten used to seeing him. Before that day, I don’t think I could have pictured him in anything but his old-timey black suit. He now wore faded blue jeans and a white T-shirt. That long, creased granite face, those piercing eyes and swept-back black hair remained unmistakable, though. He was suddenly scarier than ever, sending a jolt right through me. He’d always looked fit enough, tall, with a slender, medium build, but it had always been his eyes and booming voice that made him so imposing. You just don’t think of a well-dressed preacher as the physical type, y’know? Now I could see that he was ripped like a prize-fighter, with lean hips, a broad, deep chest, massive shoulders, and corded, veiny arms that looked like they’d been sculpted to crush someone in a vice-grip. Yet his eyes looked more relaxed and pleasant than I’d ever seen them, almost carefree.

‘Ah, Thomas,’ he said as he shook my hand. ‘My prayers have been answered this evening. Long have I told Gabe here that he must guide you to us, that you’d be a valuable addition to this…my other ministry. I’ve known it would be so, since I first laid eyes upon you, and here at last you stand.’

Yeah, the Reverend talked like that, even when he wasn’t preaching. Maybe it sounds silly when I say it, but to hear him talk, in that voice of his, there was nothing silly about it.

I maybe said he had the wrong idea about me, how I wasn’t really religious, how I only went to church ‘cause my wife made me. That didn’t bother him. If anything, he seemed even happier to see me. Just what kind of prayer group was he running here, I asked.

‘Come have a look,’ he said and led me towards the back. ‘Here, we practice another sort of prayer…a purer unity of body and soul. The world above is one of hate and strife, of intolerance and divisiveness, where unholy politicians would turn brother against brother in their own game of greed and hypocrisy, Pharaohs and Philistines all. Up there, brother Thomas, to the common flock, I may preach the gospel of tolerance and charity. Here below, with my own chosen people…I come not with peace, but with the sword.’

That was an actual Bible quote at least, sort of. He crouched, unzipped one of the bags, and I saw just how literally he meant it. The bag was full of swords. And not just those little foils I’d seen on TV in the Olympics, more like actual swords you’d see in a Three Musketeers movie, except fortunately, they weren’t sharpened and they had those rounded plastic tips on the end.

Okay, I thought, so the Reverend runs a fencing club. Cool. He just brings his same flair for the dramatic to it as he does to preaching. The guy just never switches it off.

Maybe I already knew better in the back of my mind, that I’d stepped into something a lot weirder than I’d bargained for, but the appeal of it had already set in.

Hell, I’d always thought it’d be fun to learn fencing. C’mon, who hasn’t watched those historical action movies with lots of sword-fighting, and thought it’d be cool to be Inigo Montoya or Russell Crow in Gladiator, right? Maggie and I liked to take the kids to the Renaissance Fair during the summer, so I remembered one of the performers explaining the difference between Olympic-style sport fencing and historical fencing, and how the latter was closer to the real thing.

The Reverend had us all line up in a circle, then he put us through the warm-up of jumping-jacks, push-ups, crunches and stretches. That alone kicked my ass, so I realized just how out of shape I’d gotten. At first, I thought I might not even make it through my whole first session. After that, he lined us up in three spaced out rows, with him at the front. I was in the back, closest to the door, because I was the newest member. He selected a sword for me—one of the lighter ones with a perforated swept hilt—and showed me how to hold it properly. Then he put us all through some drills, like the four basic guards, how to advance, retreat, lunge, that kind of thing. It all sounds dry and technical to talk about, but it’ll get your blood flowing, that’s for sure. I was already getting in touch with my body on a whole new level, working muscle groups I didn’t even know I had. Finally, he had us put on masks, gloves, and jackets, and partnered us up, first in more drills, then in some matches. He partnered me with an olive-skinned, black-haired gal, and she kicked my ass. So did everyone else I fenced with, at least on that first night. Let me tell ya, buddy, that shit ain’t as easy as it looks in the movies. I quickly realized I was no Inigo Montoya. The more I got the hang of it, though, little by little, the more I loved it.

The first bout I ever won was against the Reverend himself. When I first went up against him, not gonna lie, I was scared shitless. No, we weren’t actually fighting with sharp swords or anything. You go up against a presence like his, though, in any kind of confrontation, you’re gonna be scared. He didn’t wear a fencing jacket like everyone else, so all his lean, hard muscles were on full display, so I could see the overwhelming, dynamic power behind his every little movement. He kept talking while we duelled, in a more relaxed tone than I’d ever heard from him, like we might as well have been relaxing over some beers, all while we shifted and circled each other, our blades whirling and smacking. Like I said, I used to box, so the footwork part came more naturally than anything else, but those swords get heavier than they look, fast. Huffing and sweating like I was, he seemed all the more unreal. Like, have you ever been in a real street fight or anything? Can you imagine being in a real situation, except the other guy just keeps casually reminding you to slow down, to think your way through it, all while the rest of him is still busy kicking your ass? That’s a little like how it felt.

He kept reminding me to quit coming on like a charging bull, that the art of the sword was one of subtlety and finesse. His easy going manner just made him scarier, especially when I felt his every ounce of lean muscle behind those strong parries, as his blade batted mine aside and struck at me like a snake. Maybe that’s what gave me the boost of adrenaline, made it all feel so real. And by real, I mean the world I knew melted away around us. In that moment, I was no longer myself, and he was no longer the Reverend. I was one of those heroes from the stories he told so vividly, and he was one of those monsters he painted in his congregation’s collective mind. We faced each other on some scorched battlefield. I smelled the spilt guts of Gabe and the rest of my fallen buddies, and I knew more than ever that I was out of my depth on this battlefield. I was no hero…except now, I had to be, if I ever wanted to kiss my wife and hug my kids again. There was nothing to do but face this monster. So I threw my all into it like never before. I evaded a thrust, stepped in low, stabbed…and my tip punched him in the chest. Except it didn’t just punch him. I saw and felt sharp steel run him right through.

I thought for a second, Holy shit, I just killed the Reverend! Then I snapped back to reality, like someone flipping on a light switch.

The Reverend was fine. He lowered his blade, drew up proudly, and said, ‘Well done, Thomas.’

I blinked. How had that whole vision felt so real? I still don’t know, but that’s when I knew I was hooked.

In the following months, I went back every week. The Reverend consulted dusty old manuals from the sixteenth century. He read to us from those brittle, yellowing pages, first in the original Italian or German, before orating his own English translation. He’d hold up those old woodcut illustrations for us all to see, then guide us through the intricate movements a step at a time. And always in that booming voice, the one that coiled around your soul, like no worldly drill instructor ever could. He’d drill us ‘til we could barely stand, then he’d make us fence each other. Then one by one, he’d fence with us. I came to notice, he wasn’t so interested in winning. We’d win against him more than he did against us, yet he always made us earn it. He was more in love with the moment, I think, in the artistry of the exchange.

In the smouldering depths behind his eyes, there was always the real him, baiting the real you ever closer to the surface. The more of it he drew out from me, the more I started winning against the others in our own little secret basement prayer group.

At church on Sunday, we prayed to the God of Abraham, the God who knocked up Mary. In the basement on those nights, we prayed to the blade. The Reverend read from the Book of Matthew, how Jesus in the garden said to Peter that those who live by the sword will die by the sword. As he preached the Word, I spotted that sly twist of his lips, like he was whispering to me, What’s so bad about living and dying by the sword, huh, Thomas?

I recalled the visions I sometimes slipped into while fencing. Those had been happening more and more. The more often they happened, the more vivid they got, and the more I lived for such moments. What indeed, Reverend?

Naturally, Maggie was concerned at first, when I came home all banged up. The more toned up and livened up I got, though, the more she liked it, especially for what it brought out of me in the bedroom. Within myself, I’d rediscovered a man who felt worthy of her, a man who knew how to live, not just exist as another wage-slave, something I’d lost somewhere in the drudgery of the ol’ daily grind. She was pleased to see me getting along so well with the Reverend, too, like she thought I’d finally found religion. I guess I had, in a way.

Gabe took to coming home with me after the prayer group, having dinner with me and the wife and kids. One night after he left, little Jenny asked me, ‘Daddy? Are you and Uncle Gabe superheroes?’

My heart always swelled whenever Maggie’s kids called me Daddy. I’d never seen myself as good father material, yet apparently, I’d pulled it off. ‘What do you mean, honey?’ I asked.

‘Someone at school said the Reverend’s a superhero like Professor X, and you and Uncle Gabe are like his X-Men, and you go out and fight demons at night and stuff.’

‘That’s right,’ I said, because what could be the harm, right? ‘You know how when we go to church and the Reverend talks about the demons that plague society, the demons that fill everyone’s head with bad, mean thoughts, so you get those mass-shooter meanies you see on the news? Well, me and your Uncle Gabe, we go out into the fields at night, lure those demons out of this realm into ours, in the flesh, and we slay them with swords.’

Gabe and his family had taken to sharing a pew with mine at church, and it became like a little tradition for us all to go out for lunch together after, at the local diner. One time his wife’s old uncle visited from out of town, and he went to church with us. Nice old guy, sort of an old hippie who never quite left the sixties. Yeah, you know the type. He stuck out like a sore thumb amidst the mostly straightlaced congregation, stank to the rafters of weed.

Then the service started. The Reverend stepped up like usual and started speaking. I glanced over and noticed Gabe’s uncle-in-law shaking like a leaf. He’d gone white as bleached bone, his eyes wide and watery, as he stared at the Reverend.

‘It’s him,’ hissed the old hippie.

‘Who?’ his niece asked.

‘Th-th-the preacher…the Reverend! How has he…Oh God, Doc Campbell was right! Look at him. Look! He ain’t aged a day. How…Oh, God! He…he…’

By now, people around us were getting uncomfortable. Up front, the Reverend kept preaching. Gabe and his wife finally had to get the poor old guy out of there, as discreetly as possible. I don’t know what the poor old crazy bastard told them later, but after that day, Gabe wouldn’t talk to me at work anymore. He and his family stopped showing up at church, and he stopped showing up to our prayer group. He wouldn’t talk to anyone else in the group, either. Eventually, he quit showing up at work, too.

Nor was his uncle-in-law the only one who’d visited our church and not liked what they found. Apparently, a preacher from the next town over had recently dropped in, a friend of our former Reverend, Bill Morris. This other preacher apparently hadn’t heard about Morris’s disappearance ‘til now, and he wasn’t thrilled by the young fella’s replacement. Nor, it turned out, was our Reverend so thrilled to learn of this other preacher going around, asking uncomfortable questions about him, like where exactly he’d come from.

That’s right, the preacher from over in Chesterton. Right, you wanna hear about what happened over there, don’t you? Yeah, I’ve heard all those rumours too. I figured we’d get to that. Just sit tight, that’s right. We’ll get to that. I’ll tell you now, some of those rumours are even true. Hey, whoa, where do you think you’re going? Don’t you try to bail on this! Oh, no, you don’t! Sit your ass right back down and let me finish telling the story. That’s right, just relax. Good boy. Don’t look so tense. Here, let me give you a shoulder-rub.

Hey, Clare, get our reporter friend here another round! That’s right, friend. Yeah, have a smoke. Let me light it for you. What do you think, Clare? Yeah, it looks like this place is cleared out for the afternoon. You don’t mind if our reporter friend has a smoke in here, do you, for his nerves? Aw, hell, you’re right. Hey, friend, let’s go take our drinks to the table out back, where we can drink and talk and smoke in peace. Yeah, right this way. See, ain’t it a lot more quiet and peaceful out here, with God’s good sunlight shining down on us, where it’s all fenced in so no one can see us or trouble us? Yeah, let’s move over into the shade here.

Right, the Chesterton Tent Revival. No, no, that’s okay. Keep your little tape recorder on. I want this story recorded. I want it told. Why else would I have kept you here talking this long?

Anyway, that was around when the Reverend started drilling us all harder. He encouraged us to fight meaner, less safe. He started teaching us grappling techniques. We all started going home more beat-up and bruised than before. Little by little, like a frog that lets itself cook in a pot, he started acting like he was actually training us to be soldiers, like one of those days, he meant to lead us into battle, with actual sharp swords.

Meanwhile, during church, he started talking more and more about that charlatan snake-handler over in Chesterton, how those Chesterton folks were the real trouble-makers, the real children of the devil, with all their faith-proving snake-handling, how one of these days, us Greenridge boys and girls would take up the armour of Christ and go into battle against the real devils of this world…starting with all those Chesterton blasphemers. Then he’d switch topics, talk about all the real evils out there, about the lack of gun control and such.

As summer wore on, we stopped spending our nights practicing in that basement, moved it out into the field out behind the church. The Reverend had had it mowed so it was a nice, smooth space. It felt good, wielding our blades against each other beneath the waning and waxing moon. He started bringing sharp swords, with which we practiced cutting and stabbing, on water bottles and melons and such.

Then came the night when I stepped out onto my porch, on my way out to the weekly prayer group meeting. By then, Maggie didn’t like it so much anymore when I went to those meetings. She didn’t even like going to church anymore. She said the Reverend’s way of preaching had gotten too weird and intense even for her. Talk about irony, right? ‘I can’t even remember the last time he actually mentioned Jesus in one of his sermons,’ she once pointed out. Anyway, she liked to have the kids put to bed by then, so I’d gotten in the habit of slipping out quietly as possible while she saw to them.

From the shadows, the Reverend’s voice echoed, ‘Tonight’s the night, Thomas.’

I jumped, then turned and beheld his silhouette through the late twilit gloom, at the corner of the porch. ‘What are you doing here, man,’ I whispered, ‘er, sorry, Reverend?’

‘My apologies, Thomas. I know that this has been hard for you. I know that your wife does not understand. I pray that she will, in time, as I’m sure so do you. But I wanted to tell you first. The Lord told me that you should hear it first…No, let there be no more lies betwixt us, for surely you must have felt it as well. It is not now, nor has it ever been the God of Abraham for whom I witness, but rather…well, let us call them the Old Lords. Long have you been my best student, my best disciple if you will. Surely you have noticed how the others in the class have come to look to you, second only to myself.’

No, I hadn’t noticed, actually. I didn’t know what to say. As you can imagine, that was all a lot to take in.

‘I need you there, son,’ he continued, ‘by my side, when I tell the rest of them tonight.’

‘Tell them what?’

‘That tonight is the night.’ With that, he walked silently down from the porch. I followed him just as silently, all the way to the church. We stood out back, as one by one, the others arrived.

‘The time has come, brothers and sisters of the sword,’ he declared. ‘This is the night of our pilgrimage, where we take up the sword and go to meet our true enemies, those I have trained you all to face. Some of our own, as you know, have fallen under their spell…those who do not stand with us tonight, who even now lie in wait, for our enemy’s signal, to descend upon us all! We must now go, our sharp blades in hand, house to house, and then we must meet back here, for the journey before us, where we will march to meet them on their own ground.’

He turned, crouched, unzipped two gear bags, and beckoned everyone forward. Within the bags, we all found our respective rapiers of choice. As I took up my favoured swept hilt Florentine blade, something looked different about how it glimmered in the moonlight. I touched the edge, then jerked back as though from a snakebite. My fingertips were red from a shallow cut, for the blade had been honed to razor sharpness. I looked around and saw that everyone else was coming to the same shocked realization. Before we set off, the Reverend poured a special communion wine into a golden chalice, from which we all drank as he passed it around. After that, everything about that night’s a blur…except in all the central moments to which it led, where it all comes back crystal-clear.

I remember our little procession striding through town, our sharp blades at our sides, like a parade of murderous phantoms in the night. The first house we visited was Gabe and his family. Except when Gabe opened the door, he didn’t look like Gabe anymore. His fingernails were long and sharp, and so were his teeth. His eyes glowed with the hellfire of the Devils of the Dark Lands. So did those of his whole family. When they sprang at us with their teeth and claws, we bravely wielded our swords against them. It was the same in the next few houses we visited. I admit, I was nervous, the first couple times a cop car passed us, as we paraded along the grassy roadside, our blades dripping ever thicker rubies. Then it was the Sheriff himself who pulled up next to us, and when he got out, his eyes glowed, and his teeth and claws glittered. I’m the one who skewered that fucker, before his gun could clear its holster.

Hey, man, why do you keep trying to squirm away? I’m just about to get to the good part!

Anyway, from there, the Reverend led us out along a lonely backroad out of town, through darkening trees. I didn’t even realize we’d walked that far, not ‘til we strode out into a vast, grassy field. The hillside banked before us, and we beheld the infernal lights within the revival tent of Chesterton. As we descended the hillside, the writhing and gurgling in the tent got louder and louder, that roiling shadow-play against the canopy framing such abominations as you can’t imagine. But I didn’t have to imagine. I already knew exactly what we’d see, and not just more of the same fanged monsters as back in town, the ones who’d worn the skins of people from the community in which I’d built a life, a home, a family. No, this fresh breed of devils, I’d seen in a million fencing-induced visions, on the battlefields of the Dark Lands. As we approached the tent, they all came out to meet us, like they’d been expecting us, their jaws slavering wetly. These ones carried swords of their own in their clawed fists. I swear to you, man, that’s the Old Lords’ truth. We all froze up at that sight. I looked to my left and saw that same gal I’d first fenced with, the one I mentioned earlier, who’d kicked my ass, long before the Reverend called me his favourite.

As the creatures closed in, their Reverend shouted at them from within the tent, urging them on. Our Reverend strode on, leading us the whole time, right up front, his sword of righteousness in hand. Him and the other Reverend shouted back and forth at each other in their own language, from those other realms, their mouths making sounds no human mouth should be able to form. Either way, I’ll tell you this, man, it was our Reverend who made that first forward lunge, and he stabbed the first of those demons through the heart. The rest of them charged, and so did we. The Reverend let out a roar, like a proper soldier of the Old Lords, as his mighty blade whistled and stabbed and sliced. We all fought like we’d been trained to, and that field ran red. The grass grew soggy around our feet with the blood of friend and foe alike.

I howled as I stabbed and thrust, no more guilt, no more shame, just my feet dancing and shifting beneath me, my blade doing its good work like an extension of my own body, like I’d been born with it in my hand. I earned my sharp blade. I got stabbed in the arms, side, and once in the leg that would have opened my femoral artery, if it had been just an inch closer to my inner thigh, if I hadn’t twisted my hips away just right at the fatal moment.

I don’t even remember how that night ended. All I remember is the sun rising as I staggered home bleeding. Maggie came outside just in time for me to fall to my knees before her, to pass out in her arms as she shouted for the kids to go back inside. She drove me to the emergency room, stayed with me as I recovered from my wounds, and she never asked me any questions about that night, even when the grisly results showed up all over the news, with no sense to be made of it. I kept expecting to wake up handcuffed to my hospital bed, but the police never even came to question me. As soon as I was healed up, though, Maggie packed up, took the kids, and left. I ain’t heard from her since. Not that I can blame her. It’s hard to love a man who’s a soldier of the Old Lords, against the creatures of the Dark Lands.

No one’s seen the Reverend since that night. The church is still closed. Doesn’t really matter. Those of us who were there that night, we know. We know he’s still out there, doing his good work, preaching his own special gospel to the right folks, the ones who’ll listen. Meanwhile, those of us like me and Clare stand ever vigilant. Yeah, man, you know, Clare. I told you earlier, about that gal who kicked my ass, my first night at fencing? Yeah, I forgot to mention, she’s that pretty bartender who’s been serving us our drinks this whole time. We’re always on the lookout, her and me and some others, for the kinds of creatures behind the human faces, who the Reverend taught us how to watch out for, how to spot.

You know, folks like you. Yeah, that’s right, me and Clare, we’ve been onto you this whole time. We like to get ‘em out back here, away from prying eyes that ask too many questions. Oh, look, here she comes now, with our next round of drinks. Well, mine, anyway. She even brought my sword, along with her own.
Third one this week, can you believe that? Let’s see what this one’s made of, huh?

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