They were singing at the Chapel as Justinian walked through the heavy oaken doors. For about a minute, it seemed to him he was in the Lands of Light once again. Each of the Sacred Seven had their alcove and their altar, painted each in their proper colors--gold and silver, blue and purple, green, orange and red. Candles blazed before each of them, and everything sparkled.
And then he saw the large altar at the head of the Chapel. A large statue of a serene-looking woman wearing a crown, mounted upon a large dragon, and bearing a child in her arms stood there. And as he took that in, he began to absorb the song they sang.
“--And who shall have a flowery throne? Darksome Lady, show me the way! Oh, brothers, let’s go down----let’s go down--come on down--oh, brothers, down to the river to pray! As I went down to the river to pray…”
Justinian frowned to himself. Was there a limit to how much--blasphemy he would have to endure here? He turned towards Nisrioch, chatting with Jean and Elaine.
“--Actual work of Diomedes le Desirous,” he was saying, pointing at a stained glass window as Justinian approached. “You can see it in the vivid colors…”
“Dark Lord,” said Justinian through clenched teeth. “You neglected to mention that this is a Mikhelite chapel!”
Nisrioch nodded. “Indeed. Pallasian Mikhelites to be exact.” He shrugged. “What did you expect? Mikhelites are the only followers of the Seven and the Holy Light who live in the Lands of Night. My thrice-great grandfather built this chapel for the use of those whom House Cthonique happened to employ, Lord Enil being a tolerant, broad-minded man. His son Eregal was--less tolerant. Eregal’s son Melchizedek was tolerant, but not particularly interested in gaining the favor of a rather disliked minority. His son Tidal--” Nisrioch shut his eyes, and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “I’m sorry. I do tend to ramble on the family history. Suffice it to say--this chapel did not lead to the great age of acceptance the Mikhelites envisioned. Not for a while anyway.”
Justinian took a deep breath. “A most instructive look at this building’s history, Lord Nisrioch. Now--do you expect me to make my offerings here?”
“Oh, come on, Sigma!” snapped Jean. “Do you think they have an extra, more appropriate chapel tucked away somewhere? This is as good as it’s going to get, and you have to admit, it’s better than you expected.”
“‘The Seven are Sun and Moon, Wind and Storm, Earth, Wave and Fire,’” recited Nisrioch, “‘but They are also Justice, Faith, Courage, and Love. Where Good is, They are.’” He smiled gently. “Whatever theological differences I might have with him, I have to admit, your Julian had a way with words.” Nisrioch placed a hand on Justinian’s shoulder. “Those things are here. Good is here. And thus--by your count, the Seven are also here.”
Justinian glanced around the room, his eyes falling on those stained glass windows Nisrioch had been pointing out earlier. They showed a strange and blasphemous creation tale. Doumah Dalkiel rested on a dragon, holding a shining child to her breast. The words “The Holy Light She Bore For Us,” were written below. On the next, Dalkiel and the child--Mikhel apparently--were crafting a man of gold and a woman of silver--Uriel and Anael, he realized. “The Sun And Moon She Made For Us,” were written below. The next one showed the pair making two men. Justinian recognized Orifiel and Ramiel immediately by their respective wings and thunderbolt. “She Causes The Wind To Blow And The Storms To Rage For Us,” it said below. The next one showed Tamiel rising from the waves, and Sofiel rising from the ground at Dalkiel’s beckoning. “She Made The Great Waters, And The Good Earth For Us,” declared the window. The next window showed fiery Jehuel bowing before Dalkiel. “The Mighty Fire She Brought To Us.” The final window, placed behind the altar showed the Seven gathered around Dalkiel in adoration, Mikhel on her lap. The dragon circled around them, enfolding them all. Written above and below the figure were the words, “From Her All Things Come, To Her All Things Go. Praise And Adore Her With Great Rejoicing, Lady Of All Darkness, Queen Of Sacred Night, Mother To Creation.”
Justinian shut his eyes. “I--must pray and give offering.” He wandered over to the Jehuel’s altar, and prepared.
A short, slightly chubby Erl in the dress of a Guardsman approached Nisrioch. “Your Excellency,” he said with a bow.
“Ahh, Palamedes Woodash,” declared Nisrioch, bowing in return. “Excellent to see you. How’s old Persante doing?”
“Very well, Dark Lord,” replied Palamedes, handing Nisrioch a letter. Nisrioch peeled it open, read it, and stared for a moment. Finally he coughed, and turned.
“So--how about our next stop is my mystical laboratory?” he said with a smile. “I have a little business there it seems.”
Elaine blinked. “Umm--sure. That sounds--fun.”
Jean sighed. “As long as it doesn’t turn out like the… special collection.” She shuddered slightly. Hoppedance seemed to consider cawing--and then stopped. Jean looked at Justinian. “Umm--are you--coming with us?”
Justinian looked at her, from his place before Ramiel’s altar. “I’ll--stay here. For a while, at least.”
Jean gave him a sympathetic nod. “See you then.”
Justinian went back to his prayers. Oh, Mighty Ramiel, forgive me my trespasses. Be as Thunder at my back, as Lightning to my enemies…