The early morning sun set fire to the stained glass windows as Father Gerald looked out over the bowed heads of his frightened congregation. The news had come only minutes after midnight, the Fae were invading from the south.
It was almost inconceivable, the Fae had not bothered the Valley is almost four generations. To be honest, he had not been sure they were not just a myth to scare children, despite the holy scrolls warning of the return of the Fae. Within an hour the entire valley was huddled in his sanctuary, hands clasped, eyes wide with terror. Only three had been lost, the first, the father of the child that first woke Gerald, and a couple who had been too wrapped up in each other to notice the first calls from the wolves.
Gerald turned the page, it was beautifully illuminated with ivy, leaves, flowers, and thorns and he use to marvel at the amazing detail on each page. If you relaxed your eyes and looked at the page the lines and swirls would swim and flow until you could see the faces of the Fae. Tonight, as he lay down the old page and moved on to the next, he realized something, and his hands began to shake.
The faces were not a product of his imagination, he could clearly see now how they were deliberately woven into the design. The original scribes had incorporated the Fae into their holy books.
“Fear not, for I am always with you.” Gerald read the first line. He knew his voice was not steady any longer, but the cries and howls of the wolves had gone from distant and mournful to very close and intimidating. The church reeked of the incense used at the alter and the raw fear of those gathered here.
“I have given you these iron nails as my symbol that I will protect you from the creatures from the veil.” Every church in the kingdom featured a large sculpture crafted from pure iron nails in every nave.
“My consecrated ground cannot be trespassed upon by the dark things.” The sound of the wolves was now joined by the thunder of horses’ hooves and as one the congregation held their breath. Had the Queen sent soldiers already?
Voices outside the main doors dashed those hopes before the thought was fully formed, the lilting melodious tones of the language of the Fae slipped through the cracks and crevices. His voice seemed to cast spell on those present, even without knowing the words, they understood the message. “Come out. Come to us.”
“Close your ears to the voice of the viper!” Gerald shouted over the insidious chanting. “The snake loves you not, only the true god will save you!” There was now confusion in the huddled mass of humanity in front of him. A soft murmur started up.
“Foolish creatures.” The large double doors at the front of the church flew open, letting in shards of brittle daylight. There on the threshold stood one of the Fae. He was tall, and terrible in his beauty, the sun rising behind him.
He did not cross into the nave, and a brief wrinkle of his nose as if in disgust at the sight of the iron sculpture gave Gerald a surge of hope. It was true, the Fae could not tolerate the iron. They may be saved yet.
“If you will not come to me, you will die,” he said simply. Even speaking the tongue of the realm his voice was hypnotic. Gerald fought to free himself from the glamour.
“Close your ears to the viper!” Gerald bellowed. “The forked tongue speaks only in lies!” His congregation grew more restless, a young man near the back suddenly stood and broke free, dashing to the outside. None of the others did.
“Know this, old man,” The dark eyes speared Gerald. “You have killed them all. This is your doing.”
The doors slammed shut and the sound of scrapping and thumps quickly followed. The people sat stunned. They looked to Gerald, but he had no answers, but they did not have long to wonder. The first acrid whiff of smoke filtered into the room just before the flame became visible, licking up the walls like great orange tongues.