For flofx‘s commissioned prompt, a continuation of
“There are fairies in your church.”
Bishop Macnamilla was of an older school of thought, practically antediluvian. Most of the time, Father Nehemiah avoided conflict by avoiding the Ninth Street house where the Bishop kept his residence. The Father’s church was new, and not entirely conventional, and not near Ninth Street, and the Bishop’s body as well as his mind were old, and did not move easily.
But someone had said something, the Father was certain. The jowls on the Bishop were shaking in the way the once-fat man only did when he had been being yelled at by a parishioner who Didn’t Like Something. Probably not one of Nehemiah’s regulars. But sometimes the gossips from the other churches liked to stop in and visit.
“There are fairies.” Sometimes he could get away with just agreeing with the Bishop until he went away. “Margaret and LaKeisha are in there now. They’ve been helping Mrs. Bao with the cleaning, as it’s almost Easter time.”
“You have fairies in your church services, Father Nehemiah.”
He wasn’t going to be able to dance around this. “Better than having them standing outside the gates, glaring.”
“Do you know what happens when you allow – INVITE the fair folk into consecrated ground?” He was bellowing, or trying to. He must have been an impressive man before the long waste of age started eating him away.
“I’ve heard the stories. Mrs. Bao told me some of them. The kirkevaren told me others – and the fairies told me another set.”
“Ruin and ruination is what you get. Sin and sinners. Filth and the filthy.” The Bishop shook his head. “It leads to nothing but badness.”
“And blood?” Nehemiah drew himself up. He was tall, taller than the Bishop’s shrunken form by nearly a foot. “I know why there were no fairies in the church before, sir.”
“There are no FAIRIES in the church,” the Bishop shouted the word as if it were an obscenity, “because to allow them into out sanctified ground taints not only the ground but the entire city.”
Father Nehemiah was boggled enough by this to lose the edge of his anger, although he did remain standing straight, staring down at the top of the Bishop’s head. “You are aware, sir, that you live in the densest population of fae in the country, correct? The city is teeming with fairies.”
“The city is rotten with them. The elders did not listen to me. They were squeamish.” The older man’s voice finally dropped. “No. It was me. I was squeamish. I knew what needed to be done, and I could not do it. I failed my superiors. I killed them, Nehemiah, I killed those fairies you have heard of. I spilled their blood in the name of the city and its sanctity. I scrubbed the floors with the blood. I blessed the altars with it. But, in the end, I could not do what needed to be done.”
He didn’t have to ask, although he wished that he did. He’d already heard enough to put the rest together.
“You killed them before you buried them, you mean.” It hadn’t been meant to be another lamb under the church at all. “You blessed their deaths, instead of leaving them to roam.”
“I could have saved us all. I could have protected us all from what’s in the wind. But they look human, Nehemiah. They look human. And that was my undoing.”