The Last Lantern

Chapter 16 - The Inquisition

@copyright Jean G Hontz 2009


"You don't look like a god. How am I supposed to know you aren't just some crazy old man. You don't act much like a god either," Molly added, narrowing her eyes at him. He looked to be about Sir Reginald's age. There was nothing remarkable about him. He wasn't particularly handsome, as you would assume a god would be. His eyes were a rather boring old gray. His clothing wasn't rich, in fact it looked worn and faded. And, the damning thing from Molly's viewpoint, he didn't have a sword.

The crazy old man who called himself a god struggled with his lips for a moment. "Very true. Good point. What do I need to do to convince you I'm who I say I am?" He wasn't sure that question was very wise, but he didn't have a lot of time here.

Molly frowned furiously. "I don't know. I mean, I'm not sure what gods do."

"Miracles, or so I'm told," the crazy old man replied.

"Well, then do a miracle," Molly suggested.

"Any particular miracle you have in mind? I wouldn't want to waste the energy to create a miracle only to have you say it wasn't good enough."

Molly frowned again. This was harder than she thought. "Say something inside my head again. Something only a god would know," she suggested.

You think Phillip is incredibly handsome and you are jealous he has a sword.

Molly jumped. "NOT TRUE!"

The god grinned. "Oh yes it is. You think Vaal is handsome too, but he frightens you a bit."

Molly looked around. She was in a room, supposedly locked, supposedly by herself. Yet this man had appeared here with her. He could, she supposed, have just come through the door when she was sleeping. I mean, she hadn't seen him just appear here or anything. And he hardly looked like a god. Truth to tell she found him boringly ordinary, and he was desperately in need of a hair cut.

"I am not," the god replied. "I like my hair this way, thank you very much."

"It's all shaggy," Molly pointed out. "Not the same length. It won't even tie back with a bit of leather or something because much of it is too short to do that. Doesn't it get in your way?"

"Of course not," the god retorted somewhat heatedly.

"Okay, but mine gets in my way, so I thought..." Molly let her voice fade away as she considered this man who was a god. "Do you always look like this?"

"No. I can appear how I want to," the Heretic replied.

"That's handy. Show me," Molly demanded.

The Heretic frowned in displeasure. But his face began to flow and change and suddenly he was Vaal.

Molly scooted away from him then to get her back to the wall and her knees up between them. She wished she had a sword.

"I'm sorry," the god said, his face flowing back to its original features, or at least the features he'd been wearing when he'd first awakened her.

The lock in the door to the hallway rattled and suddenly the door slammed open and Sir Donal rushed in, without his boots or shirt, wearing only his britches. But he, Molly was not surprised to see, had a sword in his hand. He looked around, breathing hard. All he saw was Molly.

"Are you all right?" he asked her. "I thought I heard voices."

Molly was a bit confused, as the god was still sitting on the foot of her bed. The god shook his head and put his finger to his lips.

"I.. Uhm. I was talking to myself," Molly told Sir Donal, who was walking around the room looking in corners and even bent down to look under the bed. Then he double checked the window and saw that it was securely locked.

"You won't do anything silly, will you, like trying to escape through a blizzard," Sir Donal asked, squinting at her. Perhaps he couldn't see all that well through an invisible god.

"No. I won't," Molly finally conceded. She really wasn't dumb enough to try to get away in this sort of weather. Well, if a door were left open... "No, I won't.."

"Good," Sir Donal said with some relief. "It'll be my head if anything happens to you."

"I'd hate for anything to happen to your head," Molly replied. She was sort of beginning to be sincere about that. He was very handsome, after all.

Sir Donal grinned, and was even cuter. "Thanks. I rather like my head where it is too. Now, go to sleep, Lady Elizabeth. If the storm lets up we'll be on the road at dawn. Good night."

Molly watched him leave, and listened as he re-bolted the door.

"We'd best speak mind-to-mind then", the god suggested.

Molly's mouth fell open. She couldn't do that.

The god grinned. "You just did."

"Oh. Oh. Why couldn't he see you?"

"I didn't want him to." Then the Heretic held something out to her. "Your locket. Phillip found it beside the road. Brother Vaal thought that if I brought it to you, it might reassure you somehow."

To her own immense disgust, Molly's eyes filled with tears as she took it. The pictures inside were the only ones she had of her parents, whom she'd never known. She was no longer certain what happened to them, or why they'd left her. Even so. "Thank you," she whispered. It was miracle enough for her to have her locket and the precious pictures back.

When she looked up, the god was gone. She lay back down under the warm covers and thought that, all right, she'd try to believe that Sir Donal and Lady Emily would not hurt her. But that didn't meant there weren't others who might.

Molly wished someone would explain something to her, just once! Instead they spoke in riddles, hidden meanings threaded through their speech, meant for others to understand but not for her. How was it that Phillip found the locket? Phillip? No one had explained a thing to her! Why they were taking her, where they were taking her? Was this about her father or her mother, ro somehow was it because she was their daughter? Or Miss Throckmorton have had something to do with this? Did it have to do with her grandfather, or Sir Reginald? She turned over and buried her head in her pillow and fought away the tears. She hated to cry. It was so... weak. She didn't want to be weak. Ever!


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