The Climb to Calvary

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  1. Beautancus

    Beautancus Timeout

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    "History is never done, especially not with Cussians. And we are only just getting started with it." - Dr. Xaphan Hammond; New Model Nativist, volume 8, March 1992 issue

    "Cardinal Xaphan" first passed that pithy, if often horribly misquoted to the masses in the spring of '92, but it had always been present in the Cussian collective subconscious. Outsiders, even other Engellkin had an incredibly hard time grasping just how viscerally connected to the past the "Cavalier Midengells" truly were. That stemmed from Nativism, first and last, but it was a trait that permeated all quarters of society, even those on the outer margins.

    The stubbornly persistent Indigene Animists, Shamanists and Totemists rejected nearly every aspect of modern technology to live amongst their ancestors, by maintaining and "sharing" in their Neolithic lifestyle and traditions. The inoffensive and pacifistic Quakers, who happily segregated themselves from the wider "heathenized society" of their native land, would never forget that their Lord and Savior had revealed the way of friendship and grace to them in Beautancus
    .

    It was even true for other, more controversial breeds of Cussian Fictionals, none more so than the faithful sons and daughters of Tibur, scattered and few as those that yet remained now were. Short of being Chiricahua, Kawetseka or Tascalora, one would be hard pressed to name any group that had fought harder against or suffered more savagely at the hands of Cussian Nativists than had the adherents of Tiburan Catholicism. For most of those that remained, that suffering was precisely their reason for doing so.

    The Hebrews of old had been savaged beneath the lash of Ashur and Chaldea for far longer - and they had abided in their faith. The Holy Patriarchs and Sainted Martyrs of the early Church had persevered in the face of far more direct and pitiless persecutions by the pagans of Ancient Tibur - whom they had, in the end, converted one and all. God's grace worked on God's time, in the hearts of men and nations.

    Theophilus St. Amand was but one among the number that lingered in this strange land. The history of his family in these lands predated their possession by Engell or Cussian, and had weathered countless Indigene warpaths and Nativist reprisals in those centuries.

    Of those, the final years of the Troubles and the years immediately following them had been the worst by whole orders of magnitude. Despite their deep local connections and having avoided any association with the Milites Domini or the Nameless Kingdom, his family had been forced to change their name (which now read as "Sandman" on all of their legal documents) to avoid the state-mandated pogroms and asset seizures. All the same, most of their fortune and many of their properties had not survived the slow collapse of the Old Confederacy.

    They'd held on though, long enough to bounce back with the rest of Beautancus in the boom of the 20th century's third quarter. Theophilus, or as he was known to most of the world - "Phil" - had parlayed that into further success in his own time, but now that it - his time - was drawing to a close he felt the compulsion to honor the ancient faith of his forefathers more and more.

    He loved his friends and neighbors dearly, they weren't bad people. He worried for their souls though, and had amended to do what he could to save even a few of them from the damnation their wrathful pride would no doubt have purchased.

    Phil was already a noted booster for a number of charitable organizations and Relief Societies within the city, including the very one that Ralph and Vincent were working in.

    He also contributed directly to Holy Tibur's missionary efforts to Westernesse, going so far as to host them in his own home when needed. He'd been aware that Vincent would be coming for some while now, but word of his arrival and how to make contact had lagged some weeks behind.

    The word had finally arrived though, around the same time the great blaze on the waterfront had broken out. It had taken some time to get into this part of town, but Phil was confident he'd timed his arrival to catch Vincent before he left for the day.

    And there he was, walking out the door. It had been a rough day for everyone in the medical field in this part of the city today, and some of the weight of it seemed to linger on the young missionary's features.

    Phil wasted no time, and made a beeline right for him. "Sir, excuse me, but do you have the time?"

    As Vincent turned Phil could not help but beam - he always loved this part. Dangling from beneath his palm was a tiny, silver charm - an ikhthus.


     
  2. Elben

    Elben Well-Known Member

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    Vincent looked at the man asking him for the time and as his arm came up so he could look at his watch, he caught sight of the charm the other man had dangling and the priest came up short in barely concealed surprise. The young priest had been waiting for such a sign, he by now he didn't think it would ever come. Now that it had, he was suddenly worried that he had given himself away to someone not friendly.

    Shaking it off, he finished his move and looked at the time, "It's 3:16." Obviously it was later than that, but he had to play it out as he had been trained. "Say, is your name John?"
     
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  3. Beautancus

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    Phil beamed at the younger man, deftly allowing the charm to slip back into his sleeve before grabbing Vincent's hand up in an enthusiastic shake. Despite his obvious delight at finding his new friend, Phil checked their surroundings and leaned in close to respond, his voice hushed. "Maranatha."

    Assured that the designated counter-response was successfully delivered and received, and patting Vincent on the back as if he were a long-lost nephew, the Cussian could hardly contain himself. "Sandman's the name actually, Phil Sandman. A pleasure to make your acquaintance young man, and truly. Your work here is an inspiration to me and mine in a way that few things could be."

    They walked a bit, sharing further introductions and talk about the day's "excitement" (as Phil tactfully referenced it), and the general state of the city in recent weeks and months. Phil supposed Vincent was taking some measure of him as they talked, which was to be expected. After some while, and gauging that the younger man had begun to let his guard down, Phil nodded back in the direction they come from, where Phil had parked.

    "It's been quite the eventful day for you, and I imagine you've worked up quite the appetite, fighting the good fight as you are. My wife, Molly, promised she'd have supper on the table by the time I got back... suppose I could interest you in doing us the favor of joining us for a meal?"

    Even before he was done asking the question, Phil's brows furrowed. "It's out of town, I should note, though not that far. We'll take the bridge out to the marshes and be there, under half an hour. One of those fine old plantation houses the coast is so famous for. We have plenty of spare beds and rooms, if you'd care or need a decent place to lay your head for the night."
     
  4. Elben

    Elben Well-Known Member

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    The next few days had been busy ones for Vincent. Once the word had been secretly passed around, the priest had found himself with many parishoners all waiting for him. His arrival had fallen on the eve of a fortuitous day, one of a plenary indulgence where those who met the basic requirements, prayer in one's local church and a good confession in the days around the holy day, could gain the relief of all the temporal punishment of their sins.

    Vincent said Mass, with several of his new friends serving beside him, and then had spent many hours hearing the confessions of the Cussian underground Christians. At night, he was fed well and then he and Phil would talk long into the night after Molly had gone to bed. Then Vincent had said his prayers and gone to sleep in the guest room offered him.

    "Protect us, Lord, while we are awake and safeguard us while we sleep; that we may keep watch with Christ, and rest in peace."
     
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  5. Elben

    Elben Well-Known Member

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    Detention

    Having found a string to tear off his bedding, Vincent had tied ten small knots and one large one down the length of the string. His rough rosary in hand, the priest was able to efficiently call on the Blessed Mother for her aid.

    Things had happened fast and he wasn't sure who all of his new associates had been snatched up with him. He prayed that those most vulnerable were okay. The priest had no idea what was going to happen next.

    Lord, if please give me strength to not betray myself and those You've placed in my care.
     
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  6. Beautancus

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    Observing general population with a face pinched and sour, Warden Jeff Coolidge resolved himself to the inevitable.

    No matter how they tried, no matter the angle they pressed or lead they leaned on, State* simply could not produce any further evidence against Vincent, not to hang an espionage case on. The political climate was cool enough that the foreign cleric could still be held for a shorter rendition of "
    indefinitely," but that had its limits as well.

    "We're gonna have to cut this bugger loose, sooner than later," SSB's South-Central Regional Director had told him over a call, some short minutes before. "
    Fictional barbarian really is what he looks like, and just."

    Coolidge couldn't cipher any of that, himself, and didn't really believe Vincent was just Fictional cleric. The idea that someone would devote themself to such an idea so fully was completely beyond the man. There had to be something more to this creature.

    "Until the Azraqi talks are done, anyway. Plenty of time for him to slip up and prove me wrong between now and then..." the Warden didn't like it, but that was all there was for it.

    The Regional Director was right too. There would be plenty of time between now and then, for any number of things to be discovered. Or to transpire.
     

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