On the hilltop steeped in summer-green trees stood a man with the darkest brow in the cloud-shadowed valley. He would not sit, for his feet were restless. The valley lay beneath, in his keeping.

We have heard of his baptism, his youth, and the feat of arms he worked against lawless men; and how at age thirty-three and three months, he found himself in the keeping of St. Michael’s Church of faithless creatures who called themselves men. This warrior became a deacon with two healing hands.

Rome sent the Priest called Viggo to feed the church and to minister to the people (who by God’s grace were only just discovering their personhood) with the deacon.

That church, that Godless church, was far from Rome and had no shepherd before these two men came. The stomachs of their sheep had lain hollow and empty for far too long.

But why was the dark-browed deacon here upon the summer hill? He searched for a cup. Ivory. Made by worthy hands for worthy use. The Chalice. This, and the Father’s blessing, had breathed true spirit into the forest. St. Michael’s had shepherds. St. Michael’s drank the blood of the Lord. The loss of the cup was no small loss for the cup was life.

The sky was dark to match his mood as the quiet man named Deacon Farin trudged through the foot-high leaves in search of that holy cup. Its bearer had become fodder for this valley’s monsters, and there was little hope that the cup had survived, save divine hope, though that seemed foolish on a day so dank as this.

What did Deacon Farin find?

He came to the crest of the hill.

The tallest tree in the valley’s wood had stood at the top of the hill for ages, but some wicked man had been about the forest with his axe today, and had chopped the tall tree down. The branches reached skyward like oblong arms with twisted digits. The stump remained untouched, but was marked up by quite unclear instructions.

“Find the chalice, find a turn, find the chalice, right the spurn.”

The ivory cup lay broken on the stump.

From its bowl, Deacon Farin saw, streams of Holy Blood come frothing forth like a never-ending brook of life.

The mangled oak stump absorbed the blood and began to grow to life – but as it did its mighty best, a snake the width of six rats twined about the stump and ate its bark away, and so the tree would die again.

Deacon Farin picked up the Chalice. Turned its rim upon the head of the snake.

The blood poured forth and shimmered like liquid flame, and smote the snake. And the snake wretched up the wood of the tree and dissolved in violent fashion, until nought was left but a pathetic inch of the serpent’s tail.

Having defeated a devil (for the snake was hellspawned), Deacon Farin took up the cup and turned down the valley and hurried down to St. Michael’s.

The tree regrew and bloomed.

Advertisements