Heat fingered up the monastery tower. The great library burned below a blood moon, the setting sun heavy at the edge of the world.
“I must wait for the moon. The master will follow me to hell if the sun shines on these pages.”
“You may have your wish to burn in hell, but we will burn here and now, if we do not descend from this place.”
“You go. There is no place for me to run.”
“Throw the damnable book into the flames, Domingo. His power will end if he has not the words.”
“There is another copy, Ernesto. Do you not understand? I wrote the first book dictated by the Master, but a thief in the night stole the last page. This is my memory of the original, only. A reference to keep hidden for his children. The Master knows all within the original. He needs only the amulet, drawn upon the flyleaf, to posses the key to the powers of Solomon.”
“So let him find another scribe. The world burns outside these walls. We must leave now, Domingo. Can you not smell the flesh of our brothers as they rescue the wisdom of ages?”
“They have their reward, so let them go to it. God keep them. I have only the sleep of the tortured and the arms of the torturer before me. The master will grant me eternal life in this world, if I succeed. He needs but a drop of my blood to awaken the spell. A sacrifice from a son of his making. So you see, this is my rescue. To finish the Book of the Seventy Two, with love for the Master.”
“God’s Grace be upon you, brother Domingo. Repent of your sins, and He will forgive you.”
“My friend, I am not of the living such as you. I am the line of giborim, soulless, doomed.”
Ernesto stumbled away from his friend, seeing him clearly for the first and last time.
The Veil between worlds thinned, then ripped to reveal the thing that was Domingo. Ernesto shielded his heart with his copper cross, and flung his feet down laddered steps from the bell tower peak. Smoke choked his sobs as soot gathered in his tears.
The thing had been his brother.
“God be merciful, I know the mystery of the copper crosses. I must warn my brothers.”Domingo labored long after the last of Ernesto’s smoldering screams fell away. Acrid air sank into his lungs to steal his concentration, and falter his arms. Left and right hands gilded the edge of the fatal final page. A border of ruby red, an line of lapis blue, ringed the palest ivory pages. It was his finest work.
“It is done. I am no longer damned.”
Domingo turned to descend from his high artist’s chair.
“Domingo? To whom do you speak?” A voice broke the roar of the blazing tower.
“Master, I did not hear you.”
“I come for my book, and I find you headed to a window.”
The Master wore his purple cloak and Domingo saw only stubbed black boots. He knew what lay beneath.
“I thought to throw it out the window, to preserve it. The very stone of the tower burns, there is no other way.”
“Give me the book Domingo. I would see it safely gone.”
Domingo opened the brilliant tomb to a page at its center. A ribbon marked page. He lifted a sacred dagger to draw the gifted blood.
“You must make the spell now, Master. I would be immortal, as you promised. I cannot die of fire to go scarred and brutalized into hell.
“Domingo, my son. Your body will go the way of all flesh. Dust to dust.”
“You promised Master. Even you cannot break a sacred promise.”
“The promise will be kept…”
“Without the spell, how can it be? The tower burns the leather upon my very feet, Master. It must be now. You must do this. Now!”
The jeweled dagger buried itself to the hilt in Domingo’s heart, clean between ribs. The astonished monk withdrew the curved blade in his hand, and watched blood drip onto the page. Vivid red upon the spell of the immortals.
“I have kept my promise, my son. Your blood will live millennia before the day of your judgement.”
Domingo raged in his last moment. Betrayed by the love of a father.
“My blood will cry out from the ground, as did Abel’s to the God in the Heavens.
The Master approached to lift the tomb as it slipped from dying fingers.
“Perhaps. Perhaps not, but be certain of this one thing, Domingo.
“God will not hear your calls. He does not hear the call of the giborhim.
“I curse you, Master.”
“No, Domingo. It is I who curse you. Each time this book is used in worship to the one, another demon will come to lay claim to your torment.”
Domingo’s life leaked to his shoes, and hissed. On his face, the horror of hades reflected in his eyes.
He lay in the arms of his torturers.
The Master tucked the thick, tooled leather into his cloak.