CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FIFTY-TWO
The creature moved closer and sniffed at him. Nelson shook with fear.
“What do you need to know?” Nelson asked.
The creature was silent for a long moment. Nelson could almost hear it think.
“Why are you here? In this place? Out of time?” the creature asked.
“I am trapped here,” Nelson said. “I am to be the last Grandmaster of the Templars; to end all of this madness in the modern world. I am hopelessly lost. Out of time, as you said. I am trapped, stuck in this horror, repeating day after day, and . . .”
Nelson felt tears roll down his face. Embarrassed, he shook his head.
“Yes,” said the creature, its voice shifted to soothing, nearly kind. “Yes. I know this as well.”
“Why are you here?” Nelson asked.
“My sister needs something,” the creature said.
“Something?” Nelson asked. “What kind of thing?”
“Something stolen. . .” The creature’s words were filled with rage and malice. The snakes on the creature’s head hissed. “. . . by these very men.”
“How could men steal from you?” Nelson asked.
“Yes,” the creature said. “That is the question. And yet, they steal. They rape. They murder.”
Nelson nodded. He bent over and threw up. As if to purge himself of this place, his stomach heaved all of its contents in successive rounds until he was dry heaving.
When he looked up, the creature was kneeling in the mud. Her head was bowed. Even the snakes seemed to have their heads lowered in submission. The two other creatures held the same posture.
The figure of a tall, thin, dark skinned woman walked toward him.
“Abi!” Nelson said. His heart soared with hope.
“Bow, boy,” the creature near him whispered. “This is not your friend. The woman you know is merely a projection — an image — of her true self. You cannot look upon her true self. None of us can. She is too powerful.
Avoiding his own vomit, Nelson dropped to his knees and bowed his head. The dark skinned woman’s feet appeared before his eyes.
“Do you remember our conversation about the Templar hoard?” the powerful goddess said in Abi’s voice.
“I do,” Nelson said. “Thank you for helping Alex and I find it.”
The goddess made a noise that sounded like a laugh.
“Within the hoard is the head of a gorgon,” the goddess said. “Look upon it and you will turn to stone.”
“Okay,” Nelson said.
“You must find the head and return it to these three sisters,” the goddess said.
“How?” Nelson asked.
“When you find the hoard, the sisters will return to you and only you,” the goddess said. “They will not kill you. They cannot kill you. But do not tempt your fate by looking upon them. They are not the most patient or trustworthy of creatures.”
“It’s true,” the creature near him said. “I like this one. He’s. . . brave and true. As you said he would be.”
“Yes, he is,” the goddess said.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...
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