“Fraters and Sorors,” intoned Frater Princeps at the front of the church. “We are close to concluding a dream of one hundred years. Tonight we shall use this lens, this mirror, to call down the Dark Light of the veiled moon. On this night, the longest, darkest night, we shall call down the shadow and make the Summum Malorum. This Dark Stone, this evil, will grant the order unparalleled power over life and death and the riches of the world. For where the alchemists sought only to prolong life, we seek also to end it, and whilst they sought only riches, we seek to destroy our enemies’ wealth.”
Frater Princeps went to an altar covered with cloth where there was a screen and pulled both cloth and screen away. They revealed a large container, shaped like a giant bullet pointing up, made of wrought iron. Pipes came out from the side and fed into a larger container underneath, which formed the altar. Frater Princeps then signalled to two people dressed in robes on either side. They both stood by statues of angels with swords. They pulled the swords down like levers, and the roof over the altar started to open up, exposing the moon above. A shadow was starting to form over it. Frater Princeps went to the top of the smaller container and opened the lid. He slid a small glass item across the opening.
“Nothing can stop it now,” he said to the church. The large group of people in robes all muttered in approval. Suddenly, the entrance door swung open at the back of the church and Sir John, Marie, and Phlebotomous charged in.
“Stand back, I am a vampire!” said Phlebotomous. Immediately the man closest to him exposed his neck.
“Bite me! Give me your Dark Gift!” he said. The person next to him did the same, and soon Phlebotomous was surrounded by a group of people asking to be bitten.
“Get away from me, you freaks!” he said as they crowded into him shouting “Me! Me!”
Sir John and Marie headed for the altar.
“Use magic to stop Anglestone, no, immobilize the crowd, no, can you close the roof?” said Sir John to Marie. She started to speak but stopped each time as he changed his mind. They were at the altar when someone large stepped forward.
“Clackprattle?” said Sir John.
“Welcome, Sir John,” said Clackprattle. “It’s so nice that you came here to be the Stone’s first victim.”
“It is complete!” said Frater Princeps, bringing forth a shiny dark green object on a cushion. “The Summum Malorum is formed.”
A short person in a hood sidled next to Marie.
“How delighted I am to once again make your acquaintance, Marie,” said the man. “I have truly missed our conversations.”
“Pook.” said Marie. “Didn’t you learn last time?”
“Oh, yes,” he said. “Clackprattle, go and get the stone.”
“It’s Frater Gra…” started Clackprattle.
“Yes, whatever, get the stone, that is why we joined this ridiculous order,” said Pook.
“All right,” said Clackprattle. Marie watched as he headed for the altar.
“Oh, Marie?” said Pook. “You should always watch the hand, not the puppet.”
He glanced up, and as she followed his gaze she saw a large chunk of masonry falling toward Sir John.