Rain pelted down on the long brim of Caleb's hat, water dripping off its sides and streaming down the back and shoulders of his long leather trench coat. The various shops and stores around him were empty; whether this had to do with the rain or Caleb's presence was unknown. The man stared grimly down at his own reflection in a puddle, his glowing red eyes starring back at him from the pool in as vacant a manner as they themselves had first been received. Caleb's face was ragged and unshaven, his hat ratty and worn. That hat had remained his best and most faithful friend in both life and death for decades now. His only friend it seemed.
A crack of thunder jolted Caleb from his memories. A few rain drops could be ignored, but not even Caleb wanted to be stuck out in the middle of a thunderstorm. He looked around at the various dark and empty buildings that lined the street about him, searching for somewhere warm and dry where he could be reasonably satisfied that his old and now moist flesh would not be left to rot. The light of a burning torch caught Caleb's eye, and he promptly moved to have a better look. The building from which the torch was perched definitely seemed out of place when compared to the others; it was lighten up warmly, almost cheerfully, and pervaded such an air of liveliness as to perk even the old gunslinger's often muted interest. Caleb drew closer, hoping to warm up by the heat of the fire, before almost immediately halting again upon seeing the shapes of moving figures coming from inside the still more illuminated building.
Caleb hid himself behind one of the large pillars that supported the overhanging eave that still managed to shield the torch's burning flame from the deluge of rain, and gazed cautiously inside. A congregation of cultists sat around an Elder sitting upon a large throne, his body cloaked in a crimson red robe. The Cabal had fragmented after Caleb's initial onslaught had cost them their god, and while they were all in theory still part of one larger organization, the cult was now further divided into new individual chapters that were given far greater autonomy than ever would have been allowed of back in Caleb's days of subservience and penance to the cult. The procession spoke English instead of the traditional Cultist, showing even more the naivety and inexperience of the fresh recruits that these new chapters were meant to ingratiate. Caleb slid open the building's window and tried his best to listen in on the aspiring group's conversation.
"What is this we hear about a special object coming into our possession?" one of the cultists inquired, an almost comically youthful excitement in his voice.
"You speak of the scroll young one?" the man on the throne responded, significant age and a more than fair amount of wisdom discernible in his voice. This was obviously the leader of the group.
"What can this scroll accomplish Elder?" another cultist interjected, altogether too much excitement and eagerness in his voice. It all seemed like kindergarten as far as Caleb was concerned.
"Patience is a virtue I expect you all to learn!" the Elder proclaimed, his intimidating eyes gazing across the room at all those who attended his presence, including inadvertently Caleb. Not wishing to betray his position, and still fully cognizant of the fact that he remained the scariest thing in and around the room, Caleb became the only one present not to actively shy away from the old man's reproach. "Let us return to the matter at hand..." the Elder continued, finally allowing his severity to drop enough for his followers to begin to let their guards down once again. "We have recently been entrusted with a most sacred and empowering object, one that can control even the process of life and death itself." A mummer of hushed voices echoed through the crowd
"Where did this artifact originate Elder?" one of the brighter cultists asked, one of the few in the group more interested in the significance of the object rather than the prestige that its possession would obviously confer upon them.
"It had long been kept in Lord Tchernobog's great Hall of Epiphany, originally to be placed in the hand's of his Chosen one" the Elder answered slowly, the group absorbing his every word. "Only recently after the fall of our Lord has the scroll been placed in mortal hands."
"What will we do with it!?" another cultist exclaimed, once again far too eager.
"Silence when I am speaking!" the Elder called out, once again freezing everyone in the entire room with the exception of their ever so quiet eavesdropper. After a few more long drawn out moments, the Elder began to speak again, finally satisfied with the overall deportment of the now suitably cowed assemblage. "The scroll is to be kept in a nearby Castle, where no one other than the Highest Elders of the Cabal is to be permitted access to it" the Elder explained, his voice still caustic.
"Then why was it sent to us great Elder?" one of the cultists called out, disappointment evident in his voice. Another flash of lightning crashed down somewhere into the far distant ground, briefly illuminating the entrance of a dark figure into the building, an event which was still nonetheless not noticed or remarked upon by anyone else in the room.
"To keep it out of the hands of the Betrayer" the Elder stated, a deep burning hatred in his tone.
"Who happened to be listening to every word!" Caleb's deep gravely voice boomed out, cutting through the room. All the cultists turned to see the old gunslinger standing in the doorway, his hands grasping his sawed-off shotgun tightly, demonstrating beyond a doubt that he still had at least one more trusted friend on his person after all.
"Today we witness the fall of the Great Betrayer!" the Elder enthused, as weapons appeared out of every robe in the building. Caleb immediately started firing round after round of shells into the group, loading and unloading his favoured weapon at an almost impossible speed, his aim as exact and precise as only someone who has been shooting for more than one lifetime can. The cultists, in comparison, were all new and barely trained recruits, who tried their meagre best to fight off Caleb's viscous onslaught. The violent scene was over almost before it had began, and before long only one other living soul remained in the building.
"My scroll please Elder..." Caleb demanded menacingly, his shotgun pressed against the man's throat. The Elder held the scroll under his robes in clenched hands, fear in his ancient eyes. To Caleb's surprise the man's expression suddenly changed to that of a deep smile. Caleb turned too late to see the gargoyle behind him, as it suddenly pushed him into the wall with a force that could only be made possible by muscles of stone. Caleb quickly pulled himself together and turned around, only to see the gargoyle flying off into the suddenly clear moonlight, the scroll in its talons.
"Better luck next time betrayer!" the Elder sneered. Caleb was in no mood, and dismissively fired a few shells into the Elder before turning to leave. The rain having finally stopped outside, Caleb walked out into the moist gloom.
"Looks like there's killing to do" he commented to himself, before proactively reloading his sawed-off.
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Some might recall that I had previously made mention as part of the Blood Wiki's sixth anniversary that I had plans to once again invest some of my time in an area of Blood fandom that I had formerly been quite involved in. To that end I present Scroll, a story I originally began in the summer of 2008 as a kind of retelling of the story behind Cryptic Passage in an attempt to bring it further in line with the main Blood canon. Designed to be published in multiple parts, I shall endeavour to release a new instalment of Scroll every Sunday from March 9th on until the story is complete.