Chapter [???]: Byron returns home
● Late Awakening Era: Garrison, 2028
At 12:02 AM, Byron stepped off the train at Garrison station, then called a car to bring him to 3 Maple Drive.
“Here we are. 3 Maple Drive.” His driver squinted out the window, trying to make out looming forms in the dark as the car idled. The driver glanced at Bryon in the rear mirror. “Is this the right address?”
“Goodnight,” said Byron, and then closed the car door behind him. The car motored off down the winding drive to the main road.
Byron stood before a wrought iron gate which had been rewelded to spell the words “DUELEY MANOR.” He unlocked it with a heavy metal key from his briefcase. The gate opened to a Victorian mansion, rotting in disrepair…with one exception: the end of the east wing of the house was webbed in scaffolding, its windows paned instead of hollowed, with the rudiments of a new paint job stretching across the paneling.
Byron paced around the yard, passing stone crosses engraved with snakes, doves, and gods. He gathered the usual materials and scents: A blood-red maple leaf. A lichen-covered oak branch. The wing of a dead butterfly. A fresh blue rose. A sparrow nest filled with cracked spotted eggs. Musk gland carved from the carcass of a newly slain deer, a bullet-wound in its side winding through its lungs. A one shot kill.
Byron gathered all of these, folding them into a leather pouch, which he drew closed with a string. Then he walked back toward the house. On the way he passed a grave marked “Nuada O’Connor; 1941-2019; The Order Lives On.” Engraved into the stone was the silhouette of a man with the horns of a stag. Byron paused before it for a moment and nodded to the tombstone. Then he approached the front door and inserted a skeleton key. It unlocked with a deep click. Pressing his shoulder against door, he shoved it inward, stirring up a cloud of dust.
To the left of the doorframe waited a candle in a brass holder on a small table. Bryon struck a match to light it, revealing a genealogy map hanging from the wall, ornately framed. At the top was a coat of arms with three stags reading “Doyle” in hand-drawn script. Under it, in a separate smaller frame, was a sheet of parchment stamped with the letters “IRA.” On top of this parchment was a patch with a green, white, and orange Phoenix surrounded by the letters, “Out of The Ashes Arose The Provisionals.”
Byron picked the candle up up with his left hand. Then, with his right hand. he flicked open his blade. It’s golden ornaments gleamed in the light of the flame.
With ceremonial slowness, Byron stalked the hallways. His steps creaking the floorboards. He held his knife at the ready.
He stopped outside a room in the west wing and laid the candle on the ground to free his left hand. As he opened the door a mouse scurried out. With blinding quickness he snatched it by its tail.
Byron dangled the mouse in front him. It desperately shuddered and twisted to escape. His hand tightened around his blade. The mouse looked at him with small beady eyes. He looked back with disgust and contempt, with a force dwarfing the form of the frantic mouse. It let out a tiny squeal. Byron closed his eyes and released something in his chest. He turned his neck in a slow circle. He swallowed and breathed out evenly. The mouse slowed in its flailing, then stopped. Bryon opened his eyes. He and the mouse shared a steady gaze. Then he lowered the mouse to the ground and let it scamper off.
He closed his switchblade, for now. He was in no state to hold his own yet – not against Slif or the other inner ones. And so he entered the room, laid down on the floor, and began his preparations. He began to remember.