Cardinal Ernst von Henckelman was in a rather somber mood this evening at the palazzo, just outside of Rome. He had poured himself a quite liberal drink of Napoleonic Cognac and was puffing on a Ramon Allones Specially Selected while enjoying the comfort of a leather armchair in the library. In his lap, was a huge tome, which he opened and begun reading the ancient history of the Order. It was a matter of doing things the way they had always been done; borderline superstition. He had read the same chapter of the tome on every evening he had sent someone out on a quest to fight the powers of darkness. As had his predecessor and his before him, all through the ages.
For the Order was old. As old as the Church, most of his order-brethren would say. But the fact of the matter was that without the Order, there would be no Church. Actually, with almost complete certainty, there wouldn’t be much of anything anyone would care about on the darkened, scorched, remains of God’s green Earth. Von Henckelman read the pages very slowly, taking in every word on its own, every sentence in its structure and every paragraph in its truest form. For this Tome spoke the truth. It spoke of worlds colliding in Chaos, monsters rising from utmost darkness, humanity being lifted up from ignorance and the foundation of the Order. An Order with a mission so simple, yet complicated, that it would never be completed; at least not until the end of the world. And that was it. That was the true mission of the order. To stave off the end of the world as everyone knows it and keep the Powers of Darkness at bay. Regular people, or Lambs as he thought of them, would never know of the eternal struggle that was fought beyond their sight, even beyond their understanding or comprehension. For the legends were true; almost all of them, to a much larger degree than almost anyone could ever imagine: St George had really slain a Dragon, Oedipus a Cyclops and Van Helsing had finally bested Count Dracula. These beasts weren’t only the stuff of stories to be read by the light the bedside lamp or used to scare children at campfires. They were real, and if the Order did what it was supposed to do, no-one would ever be any the wiser. Then parents all around the world would be completely right when they assured their children that there weren’t any monsters hiding under their beds or in their closets.
That’s why the Order had the Archangels. Men like Absalom David; men who were their first line of defense against the powers of Darkness. Men without any family but the Order, who would most likely lose their lives in the struggle, men who would be missed by no-one when they did so; their final resting place more often than not, an unmarked grave in a far-away place. Von Henckel slowly started reading the names of the Archangels who had fallen through the years, for here they would not be forgotten. He silently hoped that he wouldn’t have to add another to the already far too long list. No man should have to bury his own son, the saying went. And the Archangels were his sons, each and every one of them; though not in blood, then in spirit.
The cigar had burnt down to a small stub in the ashtray, the glass of cognac untouched on the table beside him. It was always the same; even after so many years, it was always the same.
The Cardinal rose from his chair, put the tome on its proper place at a reading table, blew out a candle and slowly walked towards the Chapel of the palazzo where he was going to spend the night in prayer: praying for the safe return of his Archangel.