With the children’s minds soothed, the story resumed.
“The turncoat expected a hero’s welcome when he crossed into the village. Instead, he was forced to wait for hours before the warlords would even consent to meet with him. He was treated with a cold disdain and the more he divulged, the less impressed they appeared. Insulted by their callous treatment of his efforts, the man withheld a great deal from Demetrios’ plans, deciding to switch sides again. Perhaps, he concluded, it would be better to fight on the side of freedom. In truth, the warlords knew that a man who would betray his compatriots could never be trusted. They didn’t even need to use black magic to know that the traitor’s heart had been corrupted. All along, the warlords had planned to kill their lackey. His blackened heart would be more useful to them to conjure one of their most wicked spells. They believed a traitor’s blood became irreversibly tainted and as it pumped through the body, the heart warped and became stained with a dark evil. The traitor’s heart would be cut from his body while he was still alive and tossed, mid-beat into the flaming cauldron. Once combined with the key ingredients from their spell books, the evil would concentrate. Then the warlords would be able to release the wickedness back into the world as a demon- a demon they commanded.”
The old man paused for a drink while his grandchildren whispered excitedly amongst themselves. They had been anxiously waiting for the really scary parts to take off and finally the story was weaving in that direction. Even Maddie was hoping the traitor would suffer yet she did not like the idea of the warlords having control over a wicked demon. She feared for the brave captains and their loyal men.
“Grandpa, how come the warlords can be traitors and no one cuts out their heart?” Nathan asked.
His grandfather smiled in return. He had hoped that one of the boys might notice the correlation between the minion’s treachery and the fact that the warlords had commanded him to do just that.
“Have you heard this story before?” He asked the boy, teasingly, for he was certain the boy had never heard this story before.
“Nope,” Nathan responded. “It’s just not fair that they sent that man off to spy and then they call him a traitor. They’re the traitors for using evil to make people into slaves and then they pretend that they’re good when they’re really the bad guys! Does the black magic backfire?”
At this, his siblings shushed Nathan and told him to quit interrupting Grandpa. They preferred hearing the story the way it was intended rather than their brother’s attempts to puzzle it out. But before their grandfather could continue, another interruption plagued them.
“Are you all having a good time?” Their mother asked. “I hope the story is almost over because we’ve got an early bedtime tonight.”
The cries in protest rose loud and bitter. Friday nights had always been the one night they were allowed to stay up later. Instead they were being sent to bed earlier than a school night.
“Did you forget we’re spending the weekend at Uncle Mike’s? It’s Tyler’s birthday so we need to hit the road early to get there in time for the party.”
Now the kids were torn. Their Cousin Tyler’s party would ordinarily be a source of great excitement but they’d been sucked into the story and hated the idea of missing out on two whole nights while they were away. Tyler was a cousin on their father’s side so their maternal grandparents would not be attending the party and even if they did, there was no way their grandfather would tell that story outside of his own home. Since school was closed for Veteran’s day, they would not return until Monday afternoon. In support of his daughter, the old man ordered everyone to bed with the promise that they would start the story earlier on Monday as a compromise. He tucked the children into bed and wondered what he was going to do with his spare time for those two days.
****Please return for Part 6 on Monday, November 11th****