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Brendan Carroll's Blog
The Ancient Order of the Red Cross of Gold is set upon by unexplained forces as the alchemist and assassin, Chevalier Mark Ramsay, learns a powerful lesson about physical alchemy when he unexpectedly 'gives birth' to the mythical Philosopher's Stone.
The alchemist must produce a different version of the elusive Philosopher's Stone in order to fulfil certain prophecies concerning the mystery held by the Knight of the Golden Key. Unfortunately, he is not aware of the processes at work.
While his beloved Meredith and the Grand Master seek to bring an even more dangerous object of verneration from its centuries long hiding place, Mark is beset with personal problems of enormous proportions.
A loose end in the form of a renegade ex-Templar that should have been taken care of years before rears it's head and makes the Knight of Death even more miserable than he already is.
A strange transformation induced by the supernatural powers associated with the Ark of the Covenant lead to even more problems for the Knight after the Ark is temporarily moved into his laboratory in Scotland, leaving him with a lifelong memento in the form of a bizarre ornament that seems to have a life of its own.
As if these 'minor annoyances' are not enough, his next door neighbor becomes entwined in his life with deadly consequences.
It is a miracle that even the immortals survive. But the Will of God cannot be denied or ignored.
Mark Andrew was drawn inexorably down to the cellar and then on to the laboratory. Cold sweat poured down his face and he was shaking all over as he approached the heavily reinforced, almost invisible door leading into the lab. It took three tries to open the bolt and pull it back, so badly were his hands shaking. He pushed the door open cautiously and stood back, waiting for something to happen. The room beyond was filled with a soft glow and yet he knew that no candles or lamps were lit inside. He stepped into the room and looked for the source of the light. The wooden crate sat in the corner that he had hastily cleared for it and nothing had changed in that respect. The light came from everywhere and nowhere. As he looked about the laboratory, he noticed that his breathing was loud and raspy in his ears as if they were stopped up. To dispel the unnatural, unnerving glow, he struck a match and lit one of the small oil lamps amidst the familiar clutter on the worktable. His eyes fell on the bell jar and the strands of hair under the glass. At first, he thought his eyes were playing tricks on him in the gloom. He froze and squeezed his eyes shut, willing all to be normal, but the hair was moving of its own accord when he opened them again. The three strands were no longer braided, but were twisting and writhing about each other in a mesmerizing ballet rising up in the center of the jar. Two of the three strands each held one of the silver earrings and the third strand, without ornamentation, strove between them, wrapping itself first around one and then the other, trying to pull one of the ornaments free. Mark watched in horrified fascination as the unadorned piece tried again and again to dislodge one of the silver trinkets from the other two, writhing and whipping frantically like a slender black serpent. The tiniest whisper of noise reached his ears from beneath the thick glass as the earrings tinkled and the hair swished against the table top. His heart caught in his throat as he felt a scream welling up. It was impossible. Horrible. He wanted to smash the jar and destroy the thing, but he was paralyzed with fear and a morbid fascination. Of all the terrifying things he had witnessed in his long life, nothing had ever frightened him to such an extent. An errant trickle of sweat ran down his forehead and stung his left eye.
Very slowly, he backed away from the bench and then stumbled from the laboratory into the cellar, gasping for air. The bolt on the door defied him devilishly before he could get it closed again and he skinned his knuckles on the rough wood. The scream he had suppressed came out in a sort of whimpering whine as he fell back up the stairs, stumbling on each step. When he made it back to the kitchen, he collapsed onto the bench at the table in the semi-gloom of the midsummer’s night. The sun, not quite below the horizon, sent rose colored streaks through the smoky air, reminding him of blood. A glass of water, abandoned on the table, served to lubricate his parched dry mouth as he swallowed hard, trying to clear his throat and his head well enough to regain some portion of control before someone found him curled on the kitchen floor, screaming for his long dead mother. He was losing his mind. He was sure of it.