Angry flames surrounded the entirety of the white marble table. It tossed and wildly reached as high as the ceiling went, but there was no evidence of smoke inhaled or seen. The flames weren’t normal though for it couldn’t burn and it was in the shade of blue and violet. As unearthly as it was, it seemed to envelope a lying, unconscious man. His arms were restrained on each of the table’s edge. His feet - with the same treatment. Called by most of the resident staff as André, he was the eldest son of the Rogratiatto Family Master of the House, Monsieur Alfon Rogratiatto.
For the most part, it wasn’t the man’s willingness to be a sacrifice in a demonic possession, but he accepted anyway. For the most part, it was the the family’s endeavor to capture and control the demon now residing destructively inside him. With all the planning and careful estimation, neither of the family members had expected that their plans would go awry. They had never expected that such a demon would be this powerful to infest itself inside André’s body for good.
“Any day now your son will die if you let your greed get to you Alfon! S’il vous plait...je vous en prie. Nous avons besoin d’aide! Let us call for help! I don’t want our son to suffer any longer!” A woman dressed in all black pleaded to her husband, kneeling on the floor in front of him with eyes beaming with tears. She sobbed and sobbed until her lungs could do no more. This was her last resort in talking some sense on her husband’s stone-like disposition hoping that he would concede...praying that he would relent.
Alfon, after heaving a deep sigh, bellowed in rage, “La bonté Regina! Don’t think even for a second that I am not worried with our son!” He stood up from sitting in the master chair and waltzed around the room, avoiding contact with his wife’s tear-drenched eyes and his son’s precarious situation. Holding his head down, he thought of ways on how to save his son’s life and there was only one answer that could give him light and it seems, his wife also knew of this for a fact.
“Then, please...please...call the Vatican! Take that demon away from André’s body!” Regina stressed. She stood up, clutched the hem of her dress with both hands and carefully watched her husband’s movements. Whatever he was thinking now, she hoped that it was alike to what she suggested.
There was no other way in the first place. They both knew that only Vatican exorcist priests could do the job. They both knew that Vatican exorcist priests can help save their son’s life. Even if it was against their beliefs and against the brotherhood, they had to make an exception for André; for their eldest son who would soon be the heir to the family’s immense fortune.
Alfon, with a scrunched up nose, hissed, and this time, felt it considerate to view his son’s failure for the last time.
“Go, ” he whispered after a long battle of seconds, “Call Cardinal Allesna.”
His wife gasped and with a quick nod of relief, stalked out of the room, wiping her tears dry with a handkerchief before anyone could see.
When Alfon was left alone, he fell back in his chair and wiped a bead of sweat in his forehead. Surely, he thought, there was another way to get this demon in the family’s good will. The conjurer who summoned this entity of the night had vouched that a healthy man such as his son could do the job properly; that he could be an appropriate vessel for the entity to reside. He had crossed his heart that everything would turn out right, but now this has happened.
“Tsk. What to do...what to do?” he reiterated to himself, feeling utterly muddled as he gazed at the blue and violet flames streaking towards the ceiling.
Walking along the corridor hastily, Regina’s pace was cut off when a hard turn in an intersection, she saw the root cause of her eldest son’s poor state: Ysabelle Rogratiatto.
The lovely fall of the woman’s dark brownish hair, the vibrancy of her fair skin and the fresh pink blush of her cheeks defined all that is the word youth and beauty. She looked ethereal wearing an emerald green sleeveless dress and beige stilettos. A pair of flower-shaped pearl earrings and necklace decorated her ears and slender neck, making her look like a woman of stature: of wisdom and strength.
The older woman always envied the twenty-five year old Ysabelle, but only in thoughts she could do that. Nobody, even her as the Mistress of the House, dared to show that kind of emotion for it was deemed unfit to even think of it in the first place. Instead, to match with the younger woman’s beauty, she dyed her hair blonde and placed thick false eyelashes. She also wore clothes that were fit for a Mistress and decorated herself with gemstones jewelries in the ears and neck.
“Aunt Regina, why do you cry?” Ysabelle asked, noticing a few more rogue tears in her Auntie’s eyes. She wanted to show sympathy, maybe touch her shoulder, but refrained in the end. It was not like the Mistress of the House would accept her show of affection with warm welcome. Already she knew that her Aunt harbored ill feelings towards her the moment André conceded to being the demon sacrifice.
Regina, still using the handy cloth, dried the salty liquid. “Nothing, Ysabelle, I am just worried with my son, ” she answered stiffly, not looking her in the eye, “I should go.” Not caring to wait for a reply or a nod, she took off and continued her way towards the study room where she can contact through phone the current Vatican Secretariat of State, Cardinal Bartholomew Allesna.
Once Ysabelle was alone in the wide corridor, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Always this way it provided her a sense of calm. Being treated differently and reservedly by the members of the family was usual for her; too usual in fact ever since her protected life. It, however, always gives her the feeling of sadness and emptiness, something that she knew would last for a sea of lifetime.
Deciding to proceed to the Altar room, she advanced her steps with lengthy strides, wanting to reach the location in time.
“Uncle?” she called softly as she pushed the mahogany door open.
“Ysabelle, come, ” Alfon invited who was still sitting in his master chair.
Once she entered, what caught her eyes were the dancing flames around André’s body. This ultimately weakened her knees. Amidst the family’s reserved treatment, their better welfare was her desire; good health, harmony and inner peace in each of the members and that includes André. She hadn’t wished for her cousin to volunteer himself as a sacrifice. They all knew it was a risky move. To play with a demon always end up with abysmal things. She knew it was against his will and he knew it was dangerous, so why did he in the end?
Since a month ago, she had seen her unconscious cousin like this. Just like this. He had signs of life -- breathing and a pulse -- but was left in a vegetative state: closed eyes, paralyzed limbs, and same old lying position. He had been like this since the conjurer summoned the demon, since it took over André’s body. Demon possessions are supposed to be destructive and wild in nature, but this one was a rare sight. It was as if it was just waiting for a prime opportunity for something to happen.
Catching a good lump on her throat, she continued where her Uncle was sitting, disregarding the sight taunting her.
“Uncle, your guests have arrived, ” she informed whilst standing in his side. This much close, she noticed that her uncle had wrinkles in the forehead more than the usual. He was a handsome man during his prime age many years back, but right now, what Ysabelle could see was an aging man with graying hair and beard burdened with a lot of worries.
Alfon, only remembering that he was the host of the party, looked up and nodded slightly, giving her a once-over.
“You look beautiful, Ysabelle. As always...” he commented with sincerity.
A soft laugh escaped from her then, but it was only fleeting. “I am only wearing this dress because of the party, Uncle. You know how I look like without your constant gatherings.”
“Hmmm...but I am not referring to the dress, ma belle dame. I am referring to you.”
Alfon stood up and took out Ysabelle’s both hands. Holding it tightly, he proceeded to announce with caution, taking note of the hints of sadness she was showing, “I can see in your eyes that you suffer seeing André like this as much as we do. I know you worry for him too, Ysabelle. I know also that deep in your heart, you are clinging on that little spark of hope, but I see that our plan is not possible anymore. It wouldn’t yield, Ysabelle. There is nothing we can do. If I keep this up, my son will--”
Ysabelle immediately shook her head, interrupting him. She wanted to say her words, but Alfon continued with guilt in his eyes, “I’m sorry to have failed you.”
“No, please don’t say that Uncle!” she quickly replied. “André’s life...André’s life is more important to me than...”
But she couldn’t get the right words out. Taking a deep breath, she hoped that it was enough to calm the loud beating of her heart. She didn’t have any plans on releasing tears this night at all, but it seems just thinking about the circumstances of her life, it made her emotionally unstable. Any moment now, her eyes would water, but it was a good thing the Master of the House quickly took measures in order to stop it.
“We should go to the drawing room before you start crying here, ” he stated thoughtfully and patted her shoulder in light motions. Talking about sensitive issues is better left done at the right time, and they knew it quite well.
Ysabelle painfully forced a small laugh. “Yes, yes...I think we should, Uncle, ” she responded and off they went out of the Altar room leaving the possessed André alone.
She hated it that they had to deal with a creature of the dark in order to put things in their right order. It was dangerous, but it was the only way in the end. However, putting all things into consideration, it was never worth sacrificing anything -- even a life -- for the sake of her one final wish.