Chapter 5 – A father or a wizard?

Without saying a word, she followed him. Within moments they were clear of the trees and able to see the back of Raymond’s house again. For some reason they seemed to arrive back in the yard in half the time they spent looking for the village. The back of the house looked exactly like the front, its architect obviously cared more for practicality than artistic design. As Raymond and the confused young woman walked across the back yard rain began to fall slowly, but quickly escalated to a violent downpour before they cleared the yard. They ran until they arrived in the porch under the balcony. Brownie looked at the soaked stairs to the top floor.

“There’s stairs inside too.” Raymond informed Brownie, “It would be the dryer choice.”

Raymond unlocked the back door and walked into his house with Brownie close behind him, she shuffled carefully into the house holding her book in front of her with a finger between the pages marking where she left off. The tops of the pages had a fringe of moisture on them from the trip through the rain, but it appeared no permanent damage was done. Immediately after Raymond made that little observation, he heard knocking at the front door across from them. Raymond rushed over to greet his new visitor.

He opened the door and outside was a middle aged man with slightly tan skin, jet black hair and a full beard. The mysterious man wore a short button-up green robe with grey pants underneath. His attire indicated that he was wealthy but eccentric. Rain poured down behind him, but he did not seem to be wet at all. He must have been waiting at the door before it started. Perhaps he had knocked twice and Raymond missed the first time while he was outside.

“Good afternoon sir.” The man spoke in an accent that Raymond had never heard before.

Brownie walked up to the door to see what was going on, but she stayed behind Raymond.

“Hello there, how can I help?” Raymond greeted the man.

“Ah good you’ve got Blaire with you too.” The man looked at Brownie then back at Raymond. “This saves me an extra trip.”

Raymond could not figure out why the man called the young woman Blaire. He turned around to look at her and noticed that same look of confusion on her face that he observed on her during the wagon ride earlier.

“Well let’s just get all of the small talk out of the way right now.” The man began to explain himself, “My name is Father Nicodemus.
“I have no surname, and I am not a priest either.
“Raymond, I was the mysterious man who was there with Rose when your mother was killed.”

Raymond stared at the man for a moment and raised an eyebrow.

“Before you ask, Blaire, yes… the Rose I just mentioned was indeed Rose Everest and I will send you to her when it stops raining.” The man added.

“She knows I’m here?” The young woman asked the strange man, her tone of voice sounded somewhat excited.

“She does.” He answered, “I told her.”

Brownie looked as if she was trying to contain a smile.

“Oh by the way, you could not lead Raymond through the forest because I created an illusion that would prevent you from reaching the village.” The mysterious man added. “You were going the right way, but I wanted to meet Raymond here so I blocked you.”

Raymond stared at the man as questions raced through his mind. What was Father Nicodemus doing when Rachel died? How could he create such an illusion? Why does he know Rose, and why does Rose know Brownie?

“Father Nicodemus…” Raymond muttered, “You did what?”

“I’ll explain everything,” Nicodemus started. “First you should know, I have been alive for nearly 800 years,”
“I have picked up some interesting abilities.
“I can read and manipulate people’s minds, yours’ included.
“So I can create illusions if I need to.”

“Oy.” Raymond shuttered. “What do you want from us?”

“I want to be your guide, I want to help, I have an offer for you and I want to be your friend.”

Raymond glanced at Brownie. She stood still staring at the rain out the open door and smiling. This reminded Raymond of his surroundings and they fact that they still stood at the front door. Also the fact that this Nicodemus fellow still was not making any sense.

“Well come in.” Raymond invited Nicodemus, “Have a seat.
“And please, explain that last thing you just said.”

Raymond and Brownie sat down on the pillow next to the back window, but Nicodemus sat on the edge of the table in the middle of the room.

“Actually I need to talk to you alone, Raymond.” Said Nicodemus, “Blaire, can you head upstairs for a few moments?”

Her smile dropped and she looked out the window at the rain. It still poured down hard outside, and the sunlight barely penetrated the clouds so the room was very dark. Raymond’s house appeared rather creepy in the dark, which was a major contrast to the simple inviting nature it had in the daylight. Raymond thought it looked cool this way though, and he still loved rain. Brownie stood up and turned toward Nicodemus.

“OK, I’ll go.” She mumbled with a frown.

“Don’t worry, Rose is actually on her way now.” Nicodemus comforted her, “I sent her a telepathic message.
“I will knock on this door the INSTANT she arrives.”

Nicodemus pointed to the door at the bottom of the indoor stairs. Brownie turned to Raymond and smiled at him then she headed up the stairs closing the door behind her. Father Nicodemus slowly walked toward the window with his hands clasped behind his back.  He stood in front of the window and stared out.

“Rose said you like rain.” Nicodemus stated without turning around, “she said she was going to try to enjoy it as much as you today.
“She’s out there now walking this way.
“She couldn’t wait for the storm any longer, she wants to meet Blaire now.”

“How long of a walk is it?” Raymond asked, “and why has she never told me about ‘Blaire’?”

“She’ll be here soon.” The man answered, “I may be able to read her mind, but I don’t abuse this gift.
“She will have to be the one to tell you why she thinks what she thinks, and why she never told you about Blaire.”

Silence filled the room for a short moment. Raymond began to notice the sound of the rain hitting the grass outside.

“Now!” Nicodemus shouted as he sharply and swiftly turned away from the window and faced Raymond. “I really do need to talk to you.”

“About what?”

“You, the village and Blaire.” Said Nicodemus.

“Brownie’s name is really Blaire?” Asked Raymond.

“Yes and no.
“Her origin is still very much unknown to even her, yet there is a very interesting story behind what she does know of her past.
“I will let her explain that to you herself if she wants to, but I will tell you that she is likely about to be adopted by Rose and will once again be given the name Blaire.”

“Adopt her!” Raymond exclaimed, “and to think she hasn’t ever told me even about this girl’s existence.”

The room got silent and Raymond watched as Nicodemus began to pace around it. The mysterious man leaned against the wall then turned to the table and bumped it lightly a few times with his fist. After that he leaned his head back and began to survey the ceiling.

“Well,” Raymond interrupted the quiet, “tell me about me, the village and Blaire.”

“Ah of course!” Nicodemus shouted with a smile. “I’ll start with you.
“As soon as you came close to this city I could sense you.
“As I said, I can read minds and your mind is a massive battlefield right now.
“I like that, its a good sign.”

“Why is that?” Raymond asked.

“Because good and evil should never be forced to coexist.
“Most people determine what they feel is right and stick with it.
“The fighting stops.
“Good will never triumph over evil without a fight, yet they are not fighting.
“So even though they feel like good people, most acts of goodness that come without a mental fight don’t really count in the end.
“In YOUR mind, you actively battle with the temptation to do evil.
“And I can sense that the good side has been winning.”

“Well, what if someone never had a bad thought to fight with?” Raymond inquired.

“Then their acts of goodness would be purely instinctive and lack depth compared to someone who actually had to make the choice.”

Nicodemus walked out of the living room and wondered into the bedroom leaving Raymond sitting in front of the window. A moment later the mysterious man slid back in through the door way and returned to the living room. He sat down on the edge of the table facing the stairs to the second floor. He seemed to survey the edges of the stairway door.

“Anyway, I have a job opportunity for you, and I would be devastated if you do not accept.” He quickly jerked his head and snapped his stare toward Raymond. “I just want you to do two things for me.”

Raymond tilted his head. “What two things?”

“First, teach Blaire how to fight mentally like you do.” Father Nicodemus answered. “Second, become a part of Red Feather’s village like your father did.”

“Why?” Asked Raymond.

“Because the villagers also fight the great mental battle, they are good people.”

“What about Blaire, can’t you teach her instead?”

“No.” Nicodemus lowered his head kind of sad like, “I can teach all sorts, men, women and children, but for some reason I can not teach Blaire.”

“What makes you sure I can then?” Raymond inquired.

“I am sure because I KNOW.
“It’s one of those things that you might not understand, but I do.

Unsatisfied with that answer, Raymond began to question the validity of the man’s claims. However, after a moment of thought, the front door opened. Rose appeared behind it, soaked thoroughly from the rain.

Without a word she waved at Raymond then looked at Nicodemus. The mysterious man nodded at her then pointed to the door to the stairs that Brownie had gone up. Rose quickly closed the front door then opened the door to the stairs and rushed through it closing it behind her. She left a linear puddle of water that had dripped off her clothes. Her silence and speed led Raymond to believe that her business with Brownie was more than important to her.

“OK, two questions.” Raymond resurrected the previous conversation with Nicodemus, “Why can’t Rose teach Blaire that mind stuff, and why do you care so much?”

Raymond was still uncertain what to think about Blaire, or Brownie or whatever her real name was. He also wanted to avoid picking up large responsibilities within a week of moving in, let alone the first day.

“Rose is perfect for all of the woman specific advice for Blaire.” Nicodemus quickly responded. “Such is advice that you can not provide, and I will not ask you to.
“However, there is something about Rose that I will tell you if you never mention it to anyone.”

“I won’t tell.”

“She has a bad uncertainty in her mind which would hinder her performance as a teacher of morality.
“I will not tell you what it is.
“As for why I care, I have a lot of faith in Blaire.
“Again, it is something that I understand and you do not.”

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