Summary: She'd had many names, worn many faces, and lived many lives but throughout time she was known only as The Beloved
The monks of Blackwater Monastery had been accused of the perversion of Christianity, the practicing of dark rituals, and conversing with Satan. The armies of the King of England were at the gates, prepared to cleans the once holy grounds and suitably punish all those guilty of witchcraft within the walls of the building.
Father Adney, the leader of the monastery, knew many people would die that day. He hoped not all of his monks would be slaughtered, that some would manage to escape, but more than that he hoped the Dagger of the Beloved could be found in time to protect the maiden Maitane from taint.
“Father Adney!” The man turned to the one who called his name.
“What is it, Brother?” he asked.
“The Dagger has been found but,” the ground shook as the front gates of the monastery were broken down. “The army is on its way.”
Adney pressed his lips together in hurried thought. “Have it brought to the tower and I will start the ritual.”
The monk hurriedly left to fetch the dagger to the tower while Father Adney made his way there. He bade the guards standing at the door to the tower to hold off the enemy as long as they could and to admit no one but the carrier of the Dagger to the tower.
Adney rushed up the spiraling stairs to the tower room, pausing only for a few moments to catch his breath. The lovely lady Maitane rose from her chair to graciously offer the older man help.
“There is no time, my dear.” Father Adney said to her. “The walls have been breached and we must protect you. You know what must be done.”
The dark haired girl paled slightly but showed no change of emotion on her face. “Yes, Father.” She said quietly, then left him to sit in her simple chair in the center of the circular room.
Father Adney drew a deep breath and said a prayer. What he had to do was for her own good, after all. There was no reason to feel any emotion other than benevolence for the gift he was giving her. What he was protecting her from, and by proxy protecting everyone from, was more important than one life.
His movements were smooth and confident as he started the ritual, drawing runes and diagrams on the wooden floor of the chamber. His chanting monotone and barely audible as he started the complex series of spells he needed.
The only interruption was the arrival of a monk carrying the much needed Dagger of the Beloved.
“Thank you, Brother. Protect us as you can, your sacrifice will be rewarded in Heaven.” Adney said, patting the man on the shoulder.
The relative peace didn’t last long. The thunder of many boots on the stairs told Father Adney he didn’t have much time, seconds at the most. There wasn’t time to finish the ritual.
With shaking hands he walked over to the chair where the maiden sat, silently watching him. With a grim look on his face he slid the Dagger of the Beloved into Maitane’s heart as the door to her tower room was knocked in. The purity of the Beloved was safe, but Father Adney didn’t know if the half finished ritual was enough to bind her soul to this world to be reborn into a form in which she could be looked after by a monk of Blackwater Monastery.
As Adney looked into the face of the oncoming soldiers with Maitane’s blood still warm on his hands, he accepted his fate and prayed to God that he would be reborn in time to look after his charge in the next life and protect her then as he did in this one.
His death was quick.