The summer night air felt good as it rushed over me. I glided lazily through the night sky over Manhattan, careful to avoid detection by the people scurrying below. Father Brown wanted me to stay out of sight, until the Cardinal and Bishops decided the best course of action to take. Even through all the changes that had occurred in the course of 1500 years, the political maneuverings inside the Church had managed to remain.
In the meantime, I was forced to endure inaction, boredom and the daily reports on the television of all the atrocities going on in the world. What kind of world had evolved from whence I came? Rampant crime, corruption, constant warring, genocide ... the list of horrors was endless. And here I was, sequestered away, powerless to help, until a handful of cloistered clerics could reach some consensus!
I am tired of waiting. It is obvious to me that the other priests are not taking Father Brown seriously, so I must force the issue. I landed nimbly on the ledge of a squat, concrete building. Peering through the night as Father Brown parked his car in front of a small church. I watched as he hurried inside.
I waited a few moments and scanned the surrounding area, to be certain no one was around. Seeing nothing, I launched myself toward the church and lighted upon its stone roof. I concentrated. Slowly, I felt a coolness overcome me and i pressed my way into the stone roof. I moved sluggishly through the dense material, like a muddy bog, but within moments I had passed through to the inside of the church. I clung reflexively to the ceiling in the shadows of the sanctuary rafters.
Father Brown and another man were engaged in conversation in the pews. I quietly made my way closer to them in the shadows until I could overhear their conversation. I hated skulking about like a thief, but i was learning that oft times an indirect approach to a problem is desired. The two men were in a heated discussion over whether or not the other members old the Society of Watchers were going to hold audience with me. Father Brown was pressing the man (Bishop Whelton I would later learn) to arrange the meeting. But the Bishop was obviously not convinced. Father Brown grew flustered and demanded the others convene.
Bishop Whelton appeared a bit annoyed at the priest's insubordination. He rose and sternly warned Father Brown, "I have grown weary of your flights of fancy, Father Brown. You are in no position to demand anything," his gaze darkened. "You would do well to forget this nonsense. The Church has no place for such delusions and fairy tales!"
Father Brown shook his head, "Fine! Then, I'll go to the Cardinal myself!" he stood and moved to leave.
"That is the official word from the Cardinal, Father Brown," Bishop Whelton smiled coyly. Father Brown stopped at the end of the pew. I could see the frustration and anger in his face. "If you are going to pursue this unreasonable course of action, you should resign your position at St. John's."
Father Brown lowered his face and closed his eyes. After a moment he looked back over his shoulder at the bishop. Then, silently left the sanctuary.
Bishop Whelton smiled at his obvious triumph over his subordinate. And I felt sorrow for Father Brown, bound by his loyalty to the Church, unable to do anything. But, I was not so bound. I peered at the smug bishop, so pompous and full of himself. Proud that he had squelched any hope that Father Brown possessed of getting me an audience with the Cardinal. I had seen and heard enough.
I dropped from the ceiling and landed with a firm thud on the floor of the church. a large chunk of the floor cracked beneath my feet and the loud crash echoed through the once silent church. The bishop nearly jumped out of the pew where he had been gloating the moment before. As his head snapped around to ascertain the source of the cacophany, his eyes flew open wide. "Whaaaaaaaa....?" the bishop's voice trailed off.
I stood straight up, towering above the frightened priest. I half smiled, "Surely the delusions of a lowly priest aren't enough to frighten a powerful bishop?" I mocked. Bishop Whelton was frozen with fear, obviously unsure if I was friend or foe. "I intend you no harm, priest," I attempted to reassure him.
Slowly, the bishop regained his composure, but remained wary. "H-how did you get in here? What do you want with me?" he managed to blurt out.
"All I wanted was an audience with the Watchers. But it seems you are bent on preventing that. I am curious as to why?"
He studied my stone visage for a moment, "The Church does not associate itself with any form of witchcraft. No matter how noble the cause. To do so would undermine all we have fought against since the formation of the Church! Your existence is an abomination!" he spat.
"Abomination...?" I growled. My eyes narrowed and a look of terror returned to the bishop's face. "You really had no belief that I actually existed ... did you? Hmpf... I should have expected as much. Very well, if your Church has abandoned a faithful and devout servant, then I sever my allegiance with it!" My words echoed around us and the cleric stood in stunned silence.
I turned to leave, but paused and looked back toward the bishop, "And should I find that you have sought any retribution against Father Brown, you will see me again, Bishop. With a much fouler disposition." Without even waiting for a response I melded into the wall of the church and out the other side. I launched myself into the night air once again and made my way back to St. John's.
The air inside the small church was deathly still as the winged figure disappeared in the night sky. Bishop Whelton stood in shock at what had just transpired. 'The legend is true,' he thought to himself. 'Perhaps I should have paid more heed to Father Brown's ramblings. An unfortunate wrinkle in my plans, but perhaps salvageable.' The Bishop closed the wide open front door of the church. 'As long as Father Brown and that thing don't go to the Cardinal, then I could possibly turn this to my advantage.' A wry smirk crossed the Bishop's lips.
I am perched at the edge of the roof of St. John's, overlooking the city. . . waiting for Father Brown's inevitable visit. I am still seething over the arrogance of the bishop! So much that I am scarcely aware that Father Brown has made his way to my aerie. He slumps against the wall, defeated. "There is no help coming from the Cardinal, or the Arch-Bishop, Lancelot."
"I know, Father. I paid a visit to the bishop after you left." The priest seemed astonished that I was so bold.
"WHAT?! There is a proper pecking order ... there is ... the chain of command ... " the poor priest was flustered.
"Father Brown," I turned to face him, "I owe you a great deal, for helping me understand this new world in which I find myself. For that, I will ever be indebted to you. But, the beauracracies and political aspirations with in the upper-levels of the Church haven't changed from 1500 years hence. I am not sure why I have been brought forth now, as I am quite certain that Arthur hasn't returned. But I do know that my quest is not to wait around another 1500 years while the clergy decides my fate. I am a man of action, and there is a great need for justice in the world, NOW! "
Father Brown nodded and lowered his gaze. "I know, Lancelot. I am sorry for the lack of faith from my peers, but I am still dedicated to the ideals of the Order. I can still help you, even if we have no offical support from the Church," he smiled ... an impish grin, like that of child who knew he was acting out against his parents.
I smiled back, "Very well, Father. Perhaps we shall attract others to our kabal, those who would help stem the tide of evil sweeping the world today!"
We were pleased with the pact we had forged. Hopefully others out there would join our fight ... other Metas who saw an opportunity to use their abilities for justice and protect those who were unable to protect themselves.
I was lost in thought ... when the priest chimed in, "We'll have to meet someplace away from the church. I imagine that Bishop Whelton will not take kindly to being put in his place. Best to keep a low profile away from here for a bit." I concurred. "There's also another matter we might want to address ..." he left the statement hanging in the night air.
I looked over towards him. "What might that be, Father?"
"Well, your name. You may want to have a super-hero name. Inevitably the media is going to get a hold of you and telling them you're Sir Lancelot of King Arthhur's court is going to raise some eyebrows."
"Raise some eyebrows...?" I was puzzled.
"People are just now beginning to come to grips with the influx of meta-humans in the world, Lancelot. If you start spouting off about Merlin and sorcery and King Arthur people are liable to think you're a little, welll ... errrrr crazy."
The priest had a point. "Well what alias should I go by then?"
"Well, it just so happens I've been compiling a list. Tell me if you like any of these," Father brown produced a small notepad and flipped through it hurriedly. "How about ... The Goodly Gargoyle? Or, or the Fist of Heaven? Or, O Holy Knight?" he sort of chuckled as he said the last one.
I glared at the priest. "Sorry. It's a play on words, see. There's a hymn titled O holy night ... and I thought it, uhhh would, ummm be funny," he grinned sheepishly. "Ok, maybe not. Well I have a bunch of them," Father Brown rambled on .
His voice became a buzz in my ears as he poured through the extensive list of possible hero names he had compiled. I stared out at the velvet blackness of the night sky. Eventually, the sounds of the city and the excited priest faded away. I just stared at the twinkling stars. I had always found some peace and solitude in them. And it was the only part of the world that had not changed.
"Forever Knight," I was vaguely aware I had said it.
"What?" the priest stopped reciting from his list and looked up at me.
"Forever Knight," I repeated. "That will be my name."
"Well, yes. I think maybe you've stumbled onto something there. Stone Knight, no no. Winged Knight, Knight Watchman, Blessed Knight ..."
"No!" I said firmly, "Forever Knight, that is my name." I turned my gaze back to the priest and he could see there was no room for compromise on this issue.
He smiled, "Very well. Forever Knight it is!"
He rose and joined me, overlooking the city. "St. John's owns some land nearby. It's not in use by anyone and there is an simple house that was built on the land. I believe it used to be the home for the priests who oversaw the constuction of the cathedral. It's out of the way and out of sight from the majority of the grounds." The priest pointed in the general direction of which he was speaking.
I nodded, "Let's go inspect my new lodging," as I glided from my perch into the open air above Manhattan.