Blackwood farm, p.50

Blackwood Farm, page 50

 part  #9 of  The Vampire Chronicles Series


Blackwood Farm

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  SUMMER NIGHT. The sun didn't set until six-thirty. Quiet lay over Blackwood Farm.

  Clem had banked the firewood high around the entire tomb, and wood and coal were layered on top of it. And everywhere stood the candles.

  Merrick was there in a lovely full-skirted dress of black cotton with long sleeves, and beads of jet around her throat. Her hair was free. And she carried with her a very large bag covered with fancy and glittering beadwork with two grips for handles, which she carefully set beside one of the tombs, and she made the Sign of the Cross and laid her hand respectfully on that grave, which was to be the altar.

  With a lighter she ignited the first candle. Then from the bag she took a long taper, and, once it was lighted, went to the other candles one by one. Slowly the little cemetery filled with light.

  Lestat stood at my side with his hand in the small of my back. I was shivering as if I was cold.

  At last the entire graveyard was illuminated, and as Clem had put several rows of candles in the little church, which I had forgotten altogether, they were lighted by Merrick as well, and a flickering light came from the church windows.

  I felt a cold trepidation as Merrick lifted the can of kerosene and poured it over the coals and the wood lavishly, and then applied the taper and stepped back. I had never seen a freestanding fire of this size.

  "Come here to me, both of you," she called out. "And be my helpers, and repeat what I tell you to repeat and do as I say. What you've believed in the past is not important. Believe with me now. That is everything. And you must put your faith in what I do and say to make this exorcism strong. "

  We both gave her our consent.

  "Quinn, don't fear it," she said.

  The fire was blazing and crackling. I stepped back, instinctively, and Merrick and Lestat moved back as well. Lestat seemed particularly to hate it. Merrick seemed in some way fascinated. Too fascinated, I thought, but then what did I know?

  "Tell me the true names of Garwain's parents and ancestors, as you know them," said Merrick.

  "Julien and Grace; Gravier and Alice; Thomas and Rose; Patsy -- that's all. "

  "Very well. Now remember what I've said to you," she told us. And, stepping back, she reached into the large black bag again and took from it a golden knife. With the knife she slashed at her wrist, and, drawing as close to the fire as she could, she let her blood splash into it.

  Then Lestat, fearing for her, yanked her back from the scorching flames.

  She drew in her breath as though she had been in danger and even frightened herself. Then she brought out a chalice from the bag, and she told me to hold it, and she slashed her wrist again, deeply and roughly, and the blood flowed into the cup, and she took it from me, and she heaved the blood into the flames.

  The heat of the fire was dreadful now, and it frightened me and I hated it. I hated it with a Blood Hunter's instinct and a human's instinct. I was relieved when Merrick took the chalice from my hands.

  Suddenly Merrick threw back her head and raised her arms, forcing us both to step away from her and give her room. She cried out:

  "Lord God, Who made all things, seen and unseen, bring your servant Garwain to me, for he still roams the Earthly Realm and is lost to your Wisdom and your Protection! Bring him here to me, Lord, that I may guide him to you. Lord, hear my cry. Lord, let my cry come unto you. Hear your servant Merrick. Look not on my sins, but on my cause! Join your voices with me, Lestat and Tarquin! Now. "

  "Hear us, O Lord," I said immediately, hearing Lestat murmuring a similar prayer. "O Lord, hear us. Bring Garwain here. "

  Frightened as I was, I found myself suddenly locked to the ceremony, and as Merrick continued, Lestat and I murmured some of the more familiar chants.

  "Lord, look with mercy on your servant Garwain," called out Merrick, "who from infancy has roamed in confusion among other mortals, lost from the Light and no doubt hungering for it. Lord, hear our prayer. Lord, look down on Garwain, Lord, send Garwain to us!"

  All of a sudden, a huge gust of wind swept the nearby oak trees, and a shower of leaves came down on the fire, which sent up a roar of crackling, and the wind greatly excited it and increased it, and I saw above it, as best as I could, the figure of Goblin as my double, his eyes red in the light of the fire.

  "You think a spirit doesn't know the tricks of a witch, Merrick," said Goblin in his low flat voice, which carried over the noise of the fire -- a voice I hadn't heard in over four years. "You think I don't know you want to kill me, Merrick? You hate me, Merrick. "

  At once the figure began to thin out and grow immense and come down with full force upon Merrick, but she cried out:

  "Burn now, burn!"

  And we all cut loose with our force against him, crying out the single word, "burn," as we sent the power, and as he rose over the flames we saw him, a thing of myriad tiny flames, paralyzed above the fire and retracting and howling in a soundless and ghastly confusion, and then turning in on himself and coiling so that he became a formed wind assaulting the altar, and then a funnel as he bore down on Merrick once again.

  The noise was intolerable. The leaves were a hurricane upon us and the blaze flared. Merrick staggered backwards, but we kept up the force, crying out:

  "Burn, Garwain, burn!"

  "Burn till all of you is pure ghost as it should be!" cried Merrick, "and you can pass into the Light as God wills, Garwain!"

  And then she turned and from the large black bag she snatched a small bundle, and, peeling back the white blankets that covered it, she revealed the small shriveled corpse of a child!

  "This is you, Garwain!" she cried out. "This is you, brought from your grave, the body from which you departed, wandering astray, confounded and confused! This is your mortal body, your infant self, and from this self you have roamed lost and feeding upon Quinn! See this tiny form, this is your form, Goblin!"

  "Liar!" came his voice, and he rose up on this side of the altar, right before us, my doppelg?nger down to the buttons, raging at her and trying to snatch the tiny black shriveled infant out of her arms, but she wouldn't let it go and she roared at him:

  "You are smoke and mirrors, you are air and will and theft and terror. Go where God will send you! Lord, I beg you, take this servant, take him as you will!"

  His image wavered. He was trying to fuse with her. She was resisting him with all her power. I could see him faltering and fading. He grew pale and large and billowing in the firelight. What did the fire feel like to him?

  Once again, he rose high above us, spread out above us like a canopy.

  I raised my voice: "Dear God, who made Julien, Gravier, Patsy, take him, take this orphan! Grace, Alice, Rose, come for this doomed wanderer. Add your prayers to ours. "

  "Yes," cried Merrick, clutching the infant corpse tight to her breast, "Julien, Gravier, Thomas -- I beg you, come from your eternal rest and take this child into the Light, take him!"

  "I repudiate you, Goblin, now and forever!" I called out. "I do so before God! Before Pops, before all my ancestors, before the angels and the saints! O Lord hear my prayer!"

  "O Lord, hear our cry!" pleaded Merrick.

  She lifted the baby up, and I saw with my own eyes a living child! I saw its limbs move, I heard its mewling! I heard its crying!

  "Yes, Goblin!" she cried out. "Your infant self, yes! Come into this form. Come into your rightful flesh! I adjure you, come as I command you. "

  High above the fire the giant image of Goblin shivered, horrific and weak and confused, and then plunged, plunged into the crying infant. I saw it. I felt it. I said in my heart: Amen, brother, amen.

  There came a terrible wailing and once again the branches of the oak trees thrashed in the wind.

  And then there was utter stillness except for the fire. There was a stillness so total that it seemed the Earth had stopped turning.

  Only the fire roared.

  I realized I was on the grou
nd. An invisible force had knocked me down.

  I was seeing a brilliant light but it wasn't hurting my eyes. It was nothing short of magnificent and it was falling down on the fire, and yet something terrible was happening in the fire.

  Merrick had gone into the fire. Merrick had climbed up on the altar and had gone into the fire with the baby and they were both burning. They were burning -- unspeakable, irrevocable -- but in the pure celestial Light I saw figures moving, thin figures -- the gaunt unmistakable figure of Pops in the Light, and with him an infant, a tiny infant toddling along, and there also was Merrick, Merrick and a small old woman, and I saw Merrick turn and raise her hand as if to say farewell.

  I lay transfixed by the Light, by its immensity and the undeniable sense of love that seemed part of its nature.

  I think that I cried.

  Then slowly the great wealth of blessed Light faded. Its warmth and its glory went away. The heat of the night closed around me. The Earth was the lonely Earth again.

  Rediscovering my limbs and how to use them I rose to my feet and realized Lestat had pulled Merrick's body from the fire and was sobbing and trying to put out the flames that were consuming her, beating at her burning figure with his coat.

  "She's gone, I saw her go," I said.

  But he was frantic. He wouldn't listen to me. The flames were finally smothered, but half her face was burnt away and most of her torso and her right arm. It was a dreadful sight. He slit his wrist, he let the thick, viscid blood pour down on her body, but nothing happened. I knew what he wanted to happen. I knew the lore.

  "She's gone," I said again. "I saw her go. I saw her in the Light. She waved farewell. "

  Lestat stood up. He wiped at his blood tears and at the soot on his face. He couldn't stop crying. I loved him.

  We lifted her remains and put them on the altar together. We built up the fire and it wasn't long before the body was ashes, and we scattered them. And the fire and Merrick's body were no more.

  The humid night was quiet and calm and the cemetery lay in darkness.

  Lestat cried.

  "She was so young among us," he said. "It's always the young ones who end it. The ones for whom mortality holds magic. As we grow older it's eternity that is our boon. "
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