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tibi paratum

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~ ~ 10 November 1999 ~ ~

Mijn lieve zus,

It pains me to write this letter to you, but I know I must.

In two days' time, I will destroy the castle, the only home I've had for the last fifteen years. In the grand tradition of Rayne men and Legacy Precepts, I will likely forfeit my own life in the process. I find it almost amusingly ironic that I will lose my life for the Legacy and the greater good on the thirtieth anniversary of Father's death. You will not be able to stop me, Ingrid, and I do not wish you to feel any guilt over that fact.

The demons of the sepulchers have returned, Ingrid. Father's spirit is tormented and haunts me daily. The demons wish to activate the five sepulchers and destroy life as we know it. We were able to stop them once, but only barely. It will not be so easy this time. You know as well as I do that I must do whatever it takes to preserve the safety of the world, up to and including sacrificing my own life in the process.

There are so many things I wish to say to you, dear Ingrid, but I fear there is no time. I have gathered several of Father's journals, as well as my own and other important books from the castle library. They will be delivered to you with this letter one week after... Enough of that for now. You know that these books must be kept safe until Nick and the others can rebuild the Legacy House. The hallowed ground of the Carmelite Monastery of Our Lady and Saint Therese is the safest place that I know of. Do not let the ruling council of the Legacy get their hands on those books, Ingrid.

When Alex and Nick come to you, and they will, please help them deal with their grief and mourning process. I don't know if Rachel or young Katherine will come to you. They weren't as close to you as Alex and Nick. Perhaps you could also reach out to Philip, as well? Both to assist him in his grief and to see if he would reach out to Nick. Alex might do well to spend some time in your company. I've a feeling she will be angry with me, more so than anyone else living in the castle. Please help her, Ingrid.

I wish that I could see you one more time before I do what must be done. I apologize for making your life miserable at times. And I must thank you once again for trying to keep me safe and innocent all those years ago. You have been the best big sister a man could ever ask for, even if I wasn't always the best little brother to you. Please know that I do what I must to keep the rest of humanity safe from the darkness that has stalked our family for centuries.

The mantle of spiritual leader to our small, but fierce family of choice now falls to you more heavily, Ingrid, but I know you are strong enough to bear it.

Ik hou van jou, Ingrid.

Je kleine broertje,
Derek

~ ~ 15 June 1959 ~ ~

The nightmare comes on swiftly.

One minute, he's deeply asleep, relaxed in his bed, and the next has him gripping his bedding in terror, unable to wake up from the images in his mind.

A young man rides in a battered jeep in the deepest hours of night. There is a horrible storm raging, thunder and lightning rending the sky in blinding streaks of jagged light. The young man speaks halting Latin, corrected gruffly by an older man.

"…et coitio ad abyssum--"

"Tibi paratum. You don't know what that means, do you?"

"Go back to the abyss?"

"I banish thee to the abyss for thee prepared. Your Latin is pitiful. When I was fifteen, I wanted to be an archaeologist, and I stuck to it. I could read and write Latin, ancient Hebrew, and Greek."

"And I guess that about makes you God, doesn't it?" the young man replies with a roll of his eyes.

The older man glares at him and drinks from a flask, one hand on the wheel in an attempt to keep the jeep on the pockmarked, muddy road. He reaches for the wrinkled parchment of the map, squinting at it intently for a moment before dropping it and turning his eyes back to the road.

"Vides fidelum veritatum pue."

"Faith has need of the whole truth."

They fight more, arguing about the trip and holidays and demons in boxes until the young man grabs the map and throws it out the window.

The scene shifts suddenly.

The young man still sits in the jeep in the rainy, dark night, the older man nowhere to be seen. The young man is angry, even worried, and then he can feel something bad come over him, a sense of foreboding about the older man. He gets out of the jeep to retrieve the map, taking off in the direction the older man had disappeared in. He wanders deep into a cave, trusting only the torch in his hand and the sensation tugging at his gut. Finding the older man, he tries to coax him away from an odd little box in the dirt. Demons fly out of the box and attack the older man.

"Dad!" the young man calls in the chaos, alternating with the older man yelling about a key.

Suddenly the demons are gone, sucked back into the box. The young man stares at the older man, tries to hold him close.

"Derek, I'm so sorry."

"I can get you out of here." As he speaks, the older man pulls a ring from his right hand and places it in the younger man's hand, wrapping both of their hands around it protectively. "Don't do this, Father."

"The burden is yours now," are the last words the older man speaks.

Five-year-old Derek awakens with a scream, the image of his father's Legacy ring burned into his memory. In retrospect, he recognizes his father, and not only because of the ring, but nothing else makes any sense.

"Derek?"

That sounds like Ingrid, but he's afraid to answer her, afraid that this is still part of the strange nightmare he's been stuck in.

"Derek?" she asks again, and his mattress dips as she climbs into bed with him. "Lieveling, what's wrong? You're trembling." Derek simply burrows into his sister's embrace, shaking his head. Ingrid continues to hold him close, rubbing his back just like their mother has in the past. "Derek, you know you're safe now. It was just a bad dream. If you talk about it, it won't be so scary."

"D-Does Father have his ring?" he finally asks, sniffling and rubbing his nose against the back of his sleeve.

"Father has only two rings that he wears at all times, broertje, you know that." When he nods, she smiles and continues, "Which ring do you mean?"

"The Legacy ring."

"It never leaves his hand, as you well know."

"I know."

"Why do you ask? Did he lose it in your nightmare?"

Derek shakes his head and begins to recount his nightmare. As he speaks, Ingrid frowns at the realization of what has happened to her baby brother. She is only nine, but she already deals with the stigma of the Sight and, like their mother, had hoped that Derek would be free of it. Having the Sight will only bring him sorrow and trials of faith; she can feel it deep in her bones that it will affect him more strongly than herself.

"How could I see Father's death?" Derek asks, bringing her back from her thoughts. "We have no brothers, so who was that boy? Was-- Was it me? How is that possible?"

Ingrid hates that both of their parents are gone to London for some Legacy event, that she and her brother are in their grandmother's care. Their grandmother who is far too religious to believe in what happens to their family. She cannot keep the truth from her little brother, but she can perhaps soften the blow.

"It may have been a nightmare, lieveling, and if it was, then you can forget it ever happened."

"What if it's not?"

"Well, that means that you have inherited the Sight from our mother's family, just as I have."

Derek's eyes widen as he stares at her, tears still falling slowly down his cheeks. "The Sight? Does that mean this will come true?"

"Not necessarily. It very well could be a bad dream because you're missing our parents. You must remember, Derek, that the Sight shows us possibilities, not true realities." She swallows thickly at the lie. "If you see this vision again, that will prove it's real, especially if you are the boy in the dream. But if you never see it again, then it was just a nightmare that you can forget about." She runs her fingers through his hair. "In fact, I insist that you put it out of your mind and dream instead of the sweets that Mother will bring us back from London when she and Father return in two days." His face lights up at her words, and she grins and taps the tips of his nose. "And now, we should get back to sleep before Grandmother finds us. You know how she gets, broertje."

Derek giggles and nods, wrapping his arms around her neck to hug her tightly. "Dank je, zus."

~ ~ 12 November 2000 ~ ~

Mijn lieve broer,

It has been one year since you died, thirty-one years since Father died. I have come to intensely dislike this date, truth be told. But I am trying not to hold that against you or Father.

I miss you, Derek. More than words can say. Satan and the Dark Side have tempted me sorely over this past year, playing on my grief and loneliness, but God has given me the strength and inner peace to resist the temptation of succumbing to the darker forces at play.

Alex has spent a great deal of time this past year here at the convent. She is here again today, in fact, and sleeps fitfully in the cell next to mine. Once my morning ablutions and tasks are completed, she and I will meet up with Nick, Rachel, Kat, and Kristin to take a trip out to the island.

Nick's been working with the Legacy Council to get the castle rebuilt. I know it's not what you wanted, but it's what Nick has chosen as Precept of the San Francisco House. Ultimately, I think you knew he'd find a way to do it, just as I think you hoped Philip would come back to the Legacy one day. He hasn't come back fulltime, but Nick's been working with him a lot more as they try to reconstruct the house here.

This doesn't mean that Philip has forsaken his vows, because he hasn't. He and I have been talking about the nature of good and evil and God's plan. Alex has joined us several times. The discussions seem to help her. Your death and the destruction of the castle have hit her the hardest, Derek, and she is lost without you. I think she may be considering taking vows.

You were so instrumental to how things ran here, broertje, and everyone is struggling still a year later. We need your guidance. I'm not used to being the one they all turn to, but I am up to the challenge until Nick can get the San Francisco House fully reinstated.

I feel the need to apologize to you, Derek, even though I know you cannot hear it. I lied to you forty-one years ago, the night you dreamed of Father's death. I lied to you because I didn't wish on you the kind of burden the Sight gives a person. You were just a baby, you deserved a proper childhood before Father's perfectionistic streak got hold of you. When you spoke with me after he died, when you told me that you didn't wish to see me, I was hurt, but I knew I deserved that penance for my sins.

I have confessed to that sin and the associated guilt practically every day since Father died. Mother Superior and the priests have tried and failed more times than I can count over the years to get me to release that guilt. Mother Superior is fond of reminding me Let go and let God, but I struggle with that. For you, and for the family of choice that you left behind, I will work harder on this now.

I wish I could say more, but I hear Alex stirring next door. The walls in this convent aren't nearly as thick as anyone would like to believe. Apparently I have spent the entire night in contemplation and reflection. I can sleep tonight, when the worst of the emotions have been felt and spent.

I miss you and I love you, Derek. That will never change.

Je grote zus,
Ingrid