The rain seemed to get colder and colder with each step Sybil took. It didn't seem like the lights in the church were getting any closer. On the contrary, they seemed farther.
Sybil's journey had been a long one, but it was almost over. Her town had been wiped out by disease, with her, her mother, and her infant son being the sole survivors. They had immediately begun their trek to the nearest town, which was several days on foot. Her elderly mother moved onto the House of God soon after their departure, and Sybil feared she would soon join her.
Please, God, let me bring my boy to safety. She clutched the baby to her chest, wrapped the cloak tighter around them, and strode on.
It was impossible to see in the heavy rain, and several times she slipped and fell in the watery mud. All she could think was that she was thankful it wasn't frozen, for she landed on her head many times.
On the outskirts of the town, Sybil's body began to stop working.
Left, right. In, out. Left, right. In, out. Sybil had to tell her body to walk, to breathe. I can't take it, she thought. I'm going to-
Sybil's right knee buckled and she began to fall. She tried to regain her balance, but she couldn't regain her footing in the watery mud. She slipped, and her worst fear was realized. Submerged in the mud was a large sharp rock. Sybil's head hit the rock, and her life ended before she could comprehend what had happened.
In the fall, her cloak flew open. Large, cold droplets of rain hit the baby's face like stones. He began to cry.
The next day the rain stopped. The mud began to freeze in the midwinter cold.
A widow living at the edge of town was the first to notice the body. Her entire right side was under the now-freezing mud, and a baby clad in rags was draped over her left side. He was crying.
The widow took the baby to the church, where the Father took him in and named him Ambrose, meaning "eternal."
The church was alive with activity. Nuns and friars scurried about in a mad rush to finish preparing the church in time for The Lord's birthday. The cloths were to be lain out, the pews straightened, the candles lit, and a general tidying-up was in order. Amid the chaos, a small boy with raven hair strode confidently up to the altar and began placing items on it's top.
Eight years ago today, Ambrose's mother died bringing him to this church. Father Obesus took him in and raised him as a Child in Christ. And as soon as he could, Ambrose began working around the church to repay the Father.
He usually did tasks such as this, tasks that the older ones either couldn't do or wouldn't be bothered with. Many were the times when he chased the vermin animals into their hidey-holes and rid them from the building. Just as often he acted as a manservant to the Father, a job he enjoyed far more than the rat-hunting.
The jobs that were restricted from Ambrose were ones that involved him going into the village. While other children would've wondered why, Ambrose knew, because the Father told him. It was his eyes.
"Ambrose," Father Obesus had said when Ambrose had asked, "You see, the people of this town do not know you. They look at you and see your eyes. Your red eyes." Ambrose had given him a puzzled look. Father Obesus put an arm around him. "They would think you were possessed."
"Oh…" The revelation was surprising to him. To Ambrose, his red eyes were as normal as his nose and his hands.
But that was years ago. Now it was a fact of life that people would be prejudiced about his eyes.
Ambrose set a copy of the Bible on the altar, and then promptly turned and left the room.
Hours later, Ambrose blew out the last ornate candelabrum and locked the church. This years Christmas mass had been much bigger than anticipated, and thus had ran longer, and Ambrose had been left with the clean up. He yawned and began shuffling back to his room, adjacent to the Father's.
Upon entering his dark room, Ambrose knelt before his bed, clasped his cross necklace in his hands, and sleepily recited a prayer.
Qui es in caelis,
Sanctificetur nomen tuum.
Adveniat regnum tuum.
Fiat voluntas tua,
Sicut in coelo et in terra.
Da nobis hodie panem nostrum cotidianum
Et dimitte nos debita nostra sicut
Et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
Ne nos inferas in tentationem,
Sed libera nos a malo.
Tuum est regnum,
Et gloria in saecula.
Ambrose stood up and dragged himself onto his straw mattress. Ignoring the bedbugs, he pulled the covers over his head and soon fell fast asleep.
His pleasant dreams were interrupted by a very strange one. It felt very real and believable in comparison to his normal dreams.
The first thing he noticed was that he felt older. He was in a fantastic kitchen, the likes of which he had never seen before. A large stove sat in one corner, and a marble countertop was before Ambrose. He seemed to be kneading some sort of dough. The long sleeves of his white shirt were rolled up to his elbows, exposing pale, elegant hands with black fingernails. To Ambrose's bewilderment, he noticed an elaborate black pentacle tattooed on the back of his left hand. When he looked closely, he noticed that some of the markings read, when in the correct order, "TE-TRA-GRAM-MA-TON," which Ambrose knew was a reference to the true name of his God. He wondered why he would ever get such a blasphemous tattoo. His train of thought was interrupted when a tiny bell marked "Study" rang to his right. He frowned.
"The Young Master is very impatient," Ambrose grumbled. "He knows we have a very important guest arriving soon…" And with that, Ambrose left the kitchen.
In less than a minute, he was in front of a large hardwood door. He opened it. A youthful, yet commanding voice said, "Sebastian, I want something sweet," before the door was even finished swinging open.
"Ambrose, wake up."
The Father was shaking his shoulder. It was about time to wake up, judging by the dim light in the room. But the Father was acting oddly. He had an odd look in his eye that Ambrose did not know, He had known the Father for as long as he could remember, but he had never seen this look before.
The Father handed him a brown robe and told him to put it on. Ambrose did as he was told, and pulled his cross out so it could be seen. "Where are we going, Father Obesus?" Ambrose asked. "What is going on?"
"Nothing that concerns you," Father Obesus snapped. Ambrose bowed his head and followed the Father into the pre-dawn world outside.