Rodney smiled as he watched the seven 'lucky' priests standing around the altar turn into heaps of mangled flesh in the blink of an eye. Blood splattering in all directions stained the white altar a bright red, and various still-active organs lay writhing on the floor.
This sealed inner room was instantly filled with the pungent scent of blood and the statues of past popes all around seemed to turn from solemn to eerie.
Expressions of fear and panic were the last thing on their faces as they struggled till their eyes gradually dulled as they lost their last breaths.
Rodney strode to the altar, and with great interest, observed the last priest that was still struggling to remain standing.
The main component of Holy Moon Essence was bits of the sacred artifact, ‘Sleeping Moon Child’ which when roused, would modify its host to form a suitable dwelling for the divine to descend, regardless of whether in flesh or spirit.
This was the ‘fetus’.
Needless to say, the silver placenta placed atop the altar in the center was the ‘placenta’.
The entire inner chamber, with runes inscribed all over, was an altar itself and the ‘womb’...
When the ‘fetus’, ‘placenta’ and ‘womb’ all existed together, ‘God’ would be born from the fetus!
Rodney had a look of rapt ecstasy as he watched this scene. This was an actual god that was worshiped for thousands of years.
Today, it shall truly descend from the dream realm to the real world and would truly be gazed by people and be worshiped!
Tentacles sprouted from the priest’s chest dancing wildly as it tugged at both ends of his body, seemingly trying to widen the cavity from which these tentacles were growing out from.
That priest kept coughing out blood, moving his hands frantically as if trying to grab onto something. He struggled for a good fifteen minutes before finally crashing to the ground from exhaustion.
And when he fell, those tentacles seemed to lose all impetus. Shortly after, they turned limp and slumped to the ground as well. On closer look, those slimy, bloody tentacles seemed like intestines.
Silence resumed. Besides corpses strewn on the ground, Rodney and the Saintess were the only two living beings in the room.
At first, Rodney continued staring fixedly at the corpses on the ground with a gaze of longing anticipation. But as time passed, the excitement on his face gradually disappeared and was eventually replaced with disappointment and fury.
All dead… That meant… not a single one of them could withstand the arrival of the Moon. They had all failed!
Rodney slammed his fists on the table and beckoned for the Saintess standing at the side. With a look devoid of emotion, he ordered, “Sheryl, call the next batch in.”
“Yes.” The Saintess withdrew from the chamber, putting on a kindly smile as she went to select the next batch of priests.
“It’s alright, it’s alright…” Rodeny went over to the altar and placated the placenta that was shaking and giving off faint cries. The blood and viscera on the ground was absorbed by the white altar till there was not a drop left and everything was sparkling clean.
With so many more ‘fetuses’, there was bound to be a lucky one.
"Time waits for no man. Looks like it's time to mass distribute Holy Moon Essence..." muttered Rodney to himself.
Annie Tuttle was an ordinary housewife. She had two kids and a husband who was a baker.
At dinner time, while coaxing her children to eat, she heard the news report from the television—Recently, the Church of the Dome had an incident where a priest committed apostasy, and through the use of explosives of unknown origins, blew up two churches that resulted in at least 1700 casualties, including Father Terrence of the Chapel of Charity.
"The people of the Seventh Parish should know Father Terrence well. He was... a father figure to Vincent, who turned his back towards this kindness and lost his humanity, heading straight to the Chapel of Charity after committing apostasy and killing..."
Annie frowned and picked up the remote to switch to a different channel. This was already the third time she was seeing such news.
"Haa..." She sighed.
Father Vincent had helped out her family before. There were weird sounds coming from the attic and walls some time after moving in and so, they had suspected the work of evil spirits.
But after Father Vincent was invited to take a look, he discovered that it was actually due to the bread crumbs and other desserts from the bakery that led to rats breeding and living within the walls.
Father Vincent had helped to hack open the walls and cleaned out the attic to drive all those rats away.
Despite doing something seemingly irrelevant to his job, the amiable priest had just laughed and said that "he would need to serve the faithful wherever the Moon shone."
Annie couldn't forget how the priest with dust all over his face from cleaning out the attic had pulled out a bottle of rat poison and joked that this was how holy water looked like.
How could a kind and caring man like Father Vincent be capable of blowing up two churches and murdering a man who was like a foster father to him.
She wasn't willing to believe Father Vincent was such a person, but her faith in the Church of the Dome made her waver.
Annie shook her head. She was just an ordinary person with enough things to worry about in her daily life. Such matters were too distant to her and there was nothing she could do even if she chose to believe.
"Mom, mom, mom, mom..." Her two children tugged at her clothes again, egging her to go play.
Annie pacified the two young ones and smiled at her husband. In the calm and warm setting, the family prepared for bed as usual.
"Where am I?"
Annie gazed at her surroundings in astonishment. The quiet street was devoid of people and the night was dark. In the distance, there seemed to be the faint noise from far away.
However, Annie remembered that she should have already fallen asleep.
So... I'm dreaming?
Annie trudged forward in a daze, vaguely experiencing a sense of familiarity. She looked up and saw the signboard of the Chapel of Charity.
Chapel of Charity?!
She finally remembered! Wasn't this a street nearby the Chapel of Charity that Father Terrence presided?
The news reports were accurate in that the people of the Seventh Parish knew Father Terrence well. People of Annie's age would come to the Chapel of Charity for treatment when they were young.
The vague memory became clear in an instant and Annie instinctively wanted to knock on the door.
But before she could move, a figure appeared around the corner, making Annie jump.
She watched in startlement as that figure stumbled and fell at the door. The person's body was charred black and covered with blood. Two bloody holes existed where eyes were supposed to be, but Annie recognized this face.
Annie covered her mouth as her eyes widened in disbelief.
But what happened next really overturned her perception of whatever she knew...
The next day.
Annie woke up early but still laid in her bed, staring blankly at the ceiling.
She didn't know what that dream meant, but the ghastly Waning Crescent Apostle, deceased Father Terrence, and Father Vincent who weeped soundlessly within flames were all fresh in her mind.
A chilling thought kept running through her mind. Could... Could this be the actual truth?
"Waa! Mummy, help! I'm scared!" The kids woke up in tears, wailing as they recounted their nightmare incoherently.
Goosebumps appeared on her skin as she listened to her children. The words used by the kids differed, but on a whole, what they had experienced was exactly the same as her dream!
There's no way this is a coincidence!
Could it be Father Vincent's vengeful ghost?
But why did Father Vincent look like that in the dream?
Was it the reason why he committed apostasy?
Was all that happened in the dream real?
The distraught Annie led her children out to the living room and saw her husband sitting on the sofa in a daze. His blank expression made her ask, "George, did you have that dream too?"
George froze, and his expression turned grave. "Did you all dream about it too?"
The two adults stared at each other, realizing that something wasn't right as a chill went down their spines.
George gulped and forced a smile. "Let's not panic first. Perhaps we ought to head to church..."
However, his voice trailed off towards the end. If everything in the dream was true, could the Church of the Dome be trusted?
The phone in the living room rang and Annie went over to answer it. It was her good friend Athena.
She was also a believer of the Church of the Dome and had also been helped by Father Vincent in the past.
That plump middle-aged woman asked hesitantly, "Annie, did... did you all have that dream?"