II : Keep Us Safe From Wrath

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Joseph Seed's Sanctuary
Hope County Central
Present Day

She nodded at the pale blond with a thin frame who'd caught her mid-daydream. By the chilling gaunt and the way she moved, Diana wasn't sure if she was real or an apparition. She was graceful lithe as she walked about, almost mirroring the same mannerisms as their sister Faith.

The Church of Eden's Gate was empty when they passed, its doors wide open to let the air run through it. Weeds surrounding it were overgrown, vines of green and orange entwined in the lattice and pillars. Traces of summer left the trees brittle and yellowing with fall beginning its transition to take over the county. Eden's Gate insignia had been tagged over with "Blasphemer" and "False God" in red paint.

How did it come to this? Diana grimaced at the damage to her brother-in-law's property. From what she recalled, billboards in the Henbane were destroyed as well as the statue they were once able to spot from almost every spot in the county—and even minute destruction like this caused by the Forsaken was disheartening and upsetting. The trail to his estate was wide and barren, a path of dirt with dying grass lined each side. Remains of Bliss flowers were dried up and broken along the way. The family's symbol of unity, strength and uprising was now a relic loss and defeat. The short walk felt excruciating due to the silence between them, but Diana focused on the girl ahead of her and the sound of Morris' footsteps to keep her head clear of the grief that overcame her.

Joseph Seed's manor stood tall beyond the wilted trees, and its unkempt foliage told her the pride in his home was long gone. They stepped inside and she found the house, once gorgeous and decorated, now sparse and empty. It was void of many possessions, picture frames that lined the walls, furniture had been removed and what remained there was collecting a fair amount of dust. Only a few trinkets of Joseph's collections were left on display. No, Joseph wasn't ever a materialist, but it no longer felt like a home, just a hollow hideaway.

Passing the foyer, they reached the double doors beside the stairs. It was the doorway that led into Joseph's office, they knew, so Morris leaned down to open it for Diana.

"Just her." The girl said, gently placing a hand on Morris' chest to keep him back. "And Father requests that there are no weapons, please."

Diana glanced over at her lieutenant with a confident nod to signify she would be safe inside with her estranged brother-in-law, even unarmed. She knew well enough how to protect herself; the Joseph Seed she once knew was a pacifist—to an extent—far more diplomatic than the spitfire John or warrior Jacob. Nevertheless, she and Jacob constantly trained together, and he was easily double the body mass of his younger brother Joseph. She would be fine, she told herself. He wouldn't hurt her.

Diana would comply to leave her weapons behind. They would be safe in Morris' care, she knew, and so she shed herself of any weaponry she had on hand, visible and concealed. The backpack, the rifle, the pistol, the knife... the matching blade Jacob gifted her when they first started dating. Even the stiletto in her boot, her backup, was surrendered.

Morris begrudgingly accepted them. He tried to hide his consternation but failed as he felt the frown pull on the corners of his thin mouth. He kept an eye on Diana as she passed, only comfortable with her decision when she nodded at him again for reassurance. The girl guided him away from the door, to settle in the dining room or lounge area, to give Diana and Joseph some privacy.

The door creaked ominously when it opened, and Diana took a deep breath as she entered the room. After the door quietly clicked shut, she turned and spotted him by the open window across the room.

There he was.

Joseph Seed...

The Father.

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