The Devil's Burden
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Brother Laguna watched in horror as the monastery burnt down around him. The screams of his fellow monks filled the air along with the heavy smoke and flames. Outlaws were inside the buildings, murdering as they swept from room to room. The monastery had become a slaughterhouse and Brother Laguna could do nothing but watch, paralysed by fear and indecision. This couldn’t happen here could it? He’d left those days of violence in his past, in South America, the dreams of which still haunted him nightly. In those days he’d been the Terror of the Incas – a nightmare figure they told stories about to their children. But he’d left all that behind and sought refuge and peace in the Order of the Sacred Heart. He was no longer a man of violence. But to do nothing but wander through the carnage looking upon it all like a ghost – No! He must act. But his hands would not unclench from the fists they’d formed and his mind was frozen.
How had this happened? Brother Helyetic! The thought of that treacherous bastard sent a hot stab of anger through Laguna’s body. Good – that was it – anger, remember? He was still capable of feeling something, of doing something. The image of Father Olivier’s bloody corpse lying in the vestry came to Laguna’s mind and he felt the anger deepen. Betrayed! Brother Helyetic had sworn an oath – he had been ordained as a fellow brother not six months ago, but it had all been a ruse. He’d murdered Olivier and stolen the Order’s irreplaceable treasure – a vial of the blood of Jesus Christ. Brother Laguna had seen Helyetic flee the monastery even as the flames rose and the outlaws came and he’d done nothing.
If only Solomon Kane were here. The Puritan had made the monastery his home alongside Brother Laguna. They were two lost souls searching for peace and refuge away from the chaos of the outside world. Kane had been Brother Laguna’s inspiration. If a man who’d seen such terrible evil could find peace, perhaps it was possible for Brother Laguna too. But Solomon Kane was gone. He’d left the monastery years ago to take his final wanderings; a mysterious pilgrimage that he would reveal nothing about. Kane would not have been frozen with fear. He would have done something – anything. Laguna willed his body to move but it would not respond. There were less screams now. Most of his Brothers would be dead and now the outlaws were coming for him.
The pale face of Brother Helyetic came before him again: those dark burning eyes, the sly smile. They had been fools to trust him. Helyetic had destroyed everything Laguna had worked for. Anger flashed through Laguna again and then it caught fire like a spark thrown onto straw. A fierce fire began to burn deep in his chest. It spread through his body and limbs and brought him back to life. Brother Laguna knew what he had to do, what he must do. For the sake of all that was dear to him he must kill Helyetic. He must have vengeance. The anger burst forth from him in a rage filled, blood hungry scream. He staggered to his cell and pulled open the chest that had remained sealed for the three long years he’d spent in the monastery. There was the cold glitter of steel. He raised his old sword, his face twisted in rage and ran towards the outlaws. The Terror of the Incas was back.