The Tale of Robert Elm (Part III)

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With my heart thundering I bolted back to the roof as fast as lighting and hurled myself from the roof. Using my prior climbing skills I tucked my legs in and rolled across the grass. I only sustained few minor bruises. I ran around the side of the house, up the stairs, and back into my room just as I heard the great hall open. I heard Lombard's thundering footsteps as he climbed the stair and approached the door. The door opened and the giant's eyes met mine.

"Good to see your evening was a relaxing one, friend."

I shrugged and said, "I've had better. I had a strange nightmare. Really messed with my head... How did your ritual go?" playing dumb with him as best I could.

Lombard nodded, "All was well. The congregation is eagerly awaiting this Sunday's celebration. Enjoy your rest, friend." I could still see little bits of hastily wiped-away viscera clinging to his mask.

Lombard shut the door as I heard the rest of the worshipers coming in to the entrance hall. I sat and pondered my situation. I was trapped in this God-forsaken place for one more week until they had decided to kill me... I had one week to discover what was really going on here and seven short days to plan my escape.

The next morning I woke up early and ran off to the library, thinking that would be a good place to learn some information. The place had a wealth of books, everything from "War and Peace" to "Pat the Bunny". I wandered the endless shelves until I reached the back corner of the room. All that sat on the last dusty shelf was an old book with a leather cover. Nothing about it caught my eye save for the title: "The Book of Sekra". Remembering the mysterious name from the horror of last night, I snatched up the scripture and scurried out of the library unnoticed.

I sat at the desk in my room and flung open the ancient volume. Before me sprawled mounds of text in old English. Though it was in English it was still difficult to understand as I trudged through chapters of sacrifice and lore. I found not much beyond useless gibberish about ceremonies (a few of which I recognized) the method in which one is to fasten a goat's head to their own and a full page print of a slender woman sitting on a throne with what looked like blood spattered around her mouth. Below, it read "Sekra her Holiness". I returned the book to the library and decided to scour the grounds.

Seeing as there was no way I could budge the padlock on the concrete shack, I instead made my way to the chapel. The door slid open easily enough, and inside was what appeared to be a graveyard of old boxes and furniture. After searching for a few hours I found nothing of interest amongst the stacks of rotting wood. The school house next door yielded similar results. A few desks sat in simple rows with a teacher's desk with a plaque bearing the name "Master Lombard" and a chalk board at the front of the room. Nothing else. Feeling defeated I emerged from the building when something caught my eye. In the grass at the door of the concrete building sat a shining padlock. My heart leaped into my throat and I sprinted toward the shack. I reached for the iron handle of the door when it suddenly sprang open. A short stubby man emerged quickly, shutting the door, he noticed me and pushed his back against the door and spoke.

"Oh, no no no no no, boy, don't go in there. This place is not for the outsiders! Turn back around, boy! Go back to your room, lest I call for the headmaster!"

I sighed and grudgingly returned to the house. Though I was distraught over this defeat, I returned to my bed and met sleep with open arms.

During the following days, I felt my sanity slipping away as I slowly came to grips with my fate. I stayed in bed most of the days, refusing to eat and trying to relive as many happy memories as I could before Sunday's inevitable bloodletting. Several times during my stay I had seen people running for the woods, but they were almost immediately apprehended by groups of men clad in red cloaks. I feared the same would happen to me, and decided against making a run for it. Eventually pulling myself up on Saturday night, I thought about my situation once more. Clasping my hands together, I contemplated how I could possibly survive. By the time I shut my eyes, I had summoned my last shreds of bravery and constructed a plan with a mental image of the house so I would know my best route out of this place. Shutting my plans away in my head and taking a deep breath, I surrendered to my subconscious.

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