“Black birds tend to like shiny things.” ~ The Bloody Raven
A very recent acquisition to my Mexican Silver Stack is this big 1948 Cuauhtemoc 5 Peso crown size coin. Commemorating the last Aztec ruler of Tenochtitlan whose namesake translates to “Descending Eagle” a fearsome name to his rivals and many other indigenous nations.
I was considering saving this beautiful silver coin for a different story but due to the modest size of my Mexican silver coin collection and this story going longer than I thought … sacrifices must be made to wind down the story of the 1811 version of the Bloody Raven, Sister Teresa D’Mordecai.
Sister Theresa D'Mordecai - The Hidden Enemy among us.
The old ebony wood cross on the wall of her bed chamber came back in focus. Sister Carmen Maria places the oil lamp back down on the table shifting the shadows across her spartan bed chamber. The pain in her chest was still almost unbearable, Teresa slowly turned her head towards José’s glum face.
Her weak smile put a glimmer of hope in his eyes. Her left hand reached for his cheek, but José took hold of it, affectionately kissed and held it against his bruised cheek. He turns to the Surgeon, "Her hand feels cold Doctor."
It was hard enough to remove the bullet lodged deep in her chest. The Surgeon swallowed hard as he prepared the hot iron to cauterize the gaping wound, then glances back to José, “Ready my General?”
With no guarantees José was concerned if she was not able to endure the next procedure. Almost the last of the reserve chloroform was exhausted and it would be a week before any more could be delivered by horseback from his office in Mexico City in the best of circumstances. Her smile and nod were not assuring enough to José, but she drew what energy she could to whisper, "Go ahead, it must be done. "
Being a Night Walker has advantages, according to Machel’s Book of the Despised as the new stronger Kindred body can endure far more pain and injury than normal human Kine.
Machel had documented cases of the warrior Kindred continue to fight in the absence of a limb or whilst impaled with spear or beset upon with arrows and even several blows of the sword yet able to carry on fighting.
Her 260-year existence was proof of that. With the effects of eternal lead poisoning it was not good to leave a lead ball in your flesh whether Kine or Kindred.
“She is what?” Mother Amelia Evangelista’s jaw dropped. The Mother Superior may not be superficially judgemental but when it came to anything resembling demons her response was fanatical as if it were a call to arms. She immediately turns to an old cabinet and retrieved from the shelf an ornate crucifix, the Book of Exorcism, and vial of Holy Water.
The mother Superior’s reaction was no surprise to Sister Argénta as when it comes to the subject of Demons Sister Eva was known as the Iron Lady of Exorcism by her contemporaries, they say a gift from God, and credited to her numerous successful encounters back in Europe but none since heading St. Angelista Convent for twelve years.
The Sisters in the room murmured between themselves as Argénta found herself in the unenviable place of defending Sister Teresa or whatever she really was. She shifted in her chair still favoring the wound in her calf. “She is no mere human, nor a mere demon. Lt. Guerrero and Guadalupe saw her put her own body in harms way and took the bullet meant for the General. I saw her defend the wagons and in part saved most of the treasure.
The Mother Superior glared at Argénta, “My Child you have no idea what you are saying! This creature must be purged from among us and cannot infiltrate the purity of our Order!”
"It is done. We can finally dress the wound. You have an amazing constitution Sister Teresa. Too few men ever survive this far with such a wound, God is with you." The army doctor wipes his hands with a cloth, he noted the numerous scars and old wounds over her body, she was clear that she was familiar war, violence and pain in her past, then he looked into her tired face. The last vestiges of her alter ego mysteriously vanish. "We can only hope God grant you grace and a full recovery. Thank you for saving my General, Sister."
Despite the assuring accolades Teresa closed her heavy eyes unable to face those she committed her heart to protect. Her secret no longer secret and wrestled with the urge to hide in the shadows from their sight.
The Surgeon quickly packs and covers the wound. Turning to the Creole nun, "Be sure to change the dressing at least twice a day and watch for infection. " Then turns to José, "General, I need to check on the other wounded, there is nothing more I can do. "
"Gracias Doctor, gracias." José replied as he held her hand.
The Minor Bonus Silver Coin
“I just got this ...” Sister Felicia placed a head piece before the Mother Superior. She notes the tear in the veil and blood stains on the white underveil, "A local soldier says he found Sister De la Rosa’s veil among the headstones of the cemetery after the battle. Rumors around the village are now saying it was left by the spirit of Sister De La Rosa. The village children remember the very morning she left to join Father Hidalgo to minister to his Army. She promised to come back to St. Angelista and protect the people. She was very fond of the village children like as her own. We still have a few hand drawn Sunday school pictures in the classroom depicting Rosa as the avenging angel. When news came that she and Father Hidalgo were executed the village mourned especially for Sister De La Rosa. After the battle in the cemetery some Villagers are convinced that Teresa is De La Rosa who had come back from the dead."
Sister Eva was wide eyed and slapped her desk, "That is so absurd, can mere peasants understand the struggle of hosts of heaven and the hoards of hell. This is just as much a holy war as well as war of Independence. Satan is a dangerous and deceitful creature who holds no means of scruples." The Mother Superior placed the items upon her desk and recalled from memory her knowledge of exorcism, “I can not fathom a demon in the guise as a Holy Sister of the Church all but proof that nothing is sacred to evil. God forgive us of this oversight. We must purge the evil from among us!”
The Mother Superior orders the women present to kneel in repentance. Sister Argénta hesitated as if reluctant to be part of what the Senior Nun was planning. The Mother Superior takes a deep breath, turns to the other Nuns and growled, “I will be vehemently opposed to anyone addressing her as Sister!”
Sister Ana remain steadfast outside the doorway to Teresa’s room to pray for her. She clearly heard the of searing of flesh followed by the agonizing moan from the Sister whom she had come to most admire.
Sister Carmen emerges from the door as Ana only catches a brief glimpse of Teresa. Carmen thrusts a bucket to Ana, “We need fresh water.” Ana made haste, she ruminated on what little information she had. Recalling the unexpected sounds of warfare from the direction of the cemetery, then news first came from Sister Isabella who heard it from Sister Clarita who had in turn verified by Sister Argénta as she watched General Morelos personally carried Teresa into her bed chamber followed by the Revolutionary Army’s surgeon. Ana may be the youngest of the Sisterhood but resented being kept in the dark.
Sister Carmen lifted the blanket over to protect the wound and keep Teresa warm. Carmen could see in plain display a man in love, it was as if he could only will his energy and strength through his hand into the badly wounded Nun hoping that she would recover in the most miraculous means possible.
Carmen turns down lamp at the bedside then looks into the General tired eyes, “General, please get some rest. We will care for Sister Teresa. Please send Sister Ana in when you see her.”
The dawn begins to peek over the horizon bringing an end to the longest night of his experience. Outside the Nun's quarters Josè gave his stiff back a stretch and took a deep contemplative breath appearing to have come to some decision. Across the compound Mother Eva emerges from the Chapel leading a procession of Nuns. Argénta kept pace as best she could with her makeshift crutch.
Morelos spots his junior officers reclined by the courtyard fire pit, “Lt Guadalupe, Lt Guerrero I have decided to relieve myself as General to be with my Teresa, she needs me.”
The two shocked officers looked at each other. Rebel soldiers nearby overhear their beloved General and could hardly believed what their charismatic leader just uttered. The soldiers pick themselves up and gathered around the officers.
Lt. Guerrero scratched his head, “But General…”
Mother Eva stepped in front of the General, "So she bewitched you Father Morelos!" Her glare was more a sense of betrayal as their eyes met. "You of all should realize what we are dealing with! She is possessed by a Demon all this time and yet you continue fraternize with evil!"
Morelos demeanor hardened on the Mother Superior's accusation, but rather than allowing himself to react viscerally he stood his ground, "And you should know by now that I weigh upon man or woman more by their deeds than their words or mere appearance!"
"I must haste to purge what is evil, this is my convent, and I am responsible for it's purity before God."
"God calls us to act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with Him. Can you cure the disease without killing the patient?"
"Father Morelos, you have already betrayed your wife and child by in adding to your sins this demon woman as a mistress, do not betray the Army of Independence too by resigning! You already face the same fate as Father Hidalgo…"
Teresa grimaces as she shifted in her bed, “I am thirsty."
“Sister Teresa?” responded Ana.
“Near the top of my wood cross please depress the symbol of the moon.”
"Yes, Sister Teresa, I will!" Ana perked and her fingers ran over the carved figures to the symbol of a moon. Depressing the moon, a small compartment opens. Ana removes a cloth wrapped small black cube with red oriental markings. "What is this Sister Teresa?"
"A special dry concentrate like Tea, an Asian medicine that will help me heal. Please scrape off a few pinches into a cup of warm water for me."
Ana scraped the black cube with a knife and poured the black powder into a cup of warm water, then stirring it into some sanguine mixture.
There was no courteous knock on the bed chamber doorway as it swung open with a violent thud. The stern Mother Superior stood imposing in its frame holding aloft the silver crucifix of Horace in her left hand almost in a manner as to strike her with it, "In nomine dei adiuro vos! "
The unnatural glare emanated from the crucifix sent a stabbing pain in Teresa's eyes. Blinded but she remembered that the effect was temporary.
"What manner of heathen sorcery is this!" The Mother Superior snatches the cup from Sister Ana and smelling the contents, "This is BLOOD! The Devil's Work!" She concluded and threw the cup out the open window.
"NO! Please don't!" Protested Teresa as her vision slowly returns, “You don't understand!"
Argénta and José elbow their way into the bedchamber and were shocked over Evangelista's cruel expression.
The Mother then spots the black cube on the table, picks it up and takes a cautious sniff, "It is also BLOOD! God's curse be upon you!" The senior Nun spots the small heating stove and opens the little hatch.
Teresa now becomes alarmed at what the Mother Superior was about to do, she was reduced to pleading, "I beg you Mother please don't destroy that!"
Previous chapters of Sister Teresa D’Mordecai;
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“Et lux in tenebris to serve laboro, sum sicarius” “I work in the shadows to serve the Light, I am an Assassin”