Authors: R. Scott VanKirk
Tags: #Mighty Finn #3
Ancient Enemy #3
R. Scott VanKirk
Art by R. Scott VanKirk
Edited by Jessica Knauss
Errors and Omissions by R. Scott VanKirk
Quantum Duck Ink
Centennial CO 80111
To everyone from Vibrant Solar – Thanks for everything.
To Jim Butcher for many hours of entertainment and inspiration. I hope I can return the favor.
Special Note 1
The Templar's Legacy is the third book in the Ancient Enemy series following the adventures of Finn Morgenstern and his friends. While this book could be read stand alone, you will get more out of it if you read the first two books in the series in order.
Special Note 2
While I have taken every effort to write this book in grammatically correct English, if you find an error, please let me know at
so I can fix it for others. I welcome all comments and suggestions. You can visit me at my web-page to see what else I am up to at Http
No person, place, or thing you know, or think you know, is depicted in this book so you can't sue me.
Table Of Contents
Some of Dr. Anderson’s “special” patients had an unfortunate tendency to try and eat me. That’s why we planned to always have two burly orderlies on hand when I worked with them. It didn’t exactly make me feel good about what I was going to do, but it helped build an illusion of security.
I took a deep breath, girded my loins, and entered the plushly appointed room. The physical appearance of the woman I was supposed to help barely registered. The black stain that drenched her aura commanded my full attention.
Its greasy, cold hunger filled my senses and triggered an avalanche of unpleasant memories. Each one struck me like a runaway boulder: Erik’s shadow-infected presence at Gregg’s wake just before he shot Dave. The terrifying speed at which the spark of my will had been snuffed as the monstrous spirit, Wendigota, possessed me. Daniel’s death as I ripped out his soul and devoured it without lifting a finger. The delicious satisfaction as the aching void of hunger, which defined Wendigota, was momentarily appeased.
Fight or flight were the options presented to me by my limbic system, and I didn’t know if I could win another fight. When Wendigota, which now lay locked within me in a golden cage, squirmed in recognition of this new shadow, I started shaking with panic. Spring, my live-in dryad, shared my fear.
Shit Finn, run away! We don’t have to do this! Just tell Holly that there isn’t anything you can do to help these people.
Spring’s words didn’t elicit their intended cowardice. Instead, images of my little sister came and kicked my conscience in the nards. The pain of it overwhelmed my fear. Holly knew what it felt like to be ridden by one of these shadows. She’d spent her entire life bearing that awful weight before I’d inadvertently ripped it off of her and nearly killed her in the process. Even after everything that happened with Wendigota, the granddaddy of all these shadows, she begged me to help the other people at Shady Oaks. That’s why I was here.
Finn, letting guilt override your fear is not a survival trait! You are afraid for a very good reason.
I’m sorry, Spring. I promised Holly I ‘d do this. I can’t leave without even trying.
I tried to reassure my inner caveman as I reassured Spring. I didn’t have to touch a shadow again. I didn’t have to get close to it. I didn’t have to do anything but talk to its victim. It would be okay. The bad monster couldn’t touch me, couldn’t hurt me.
Spring, as always, followed my thoughts. No, no, Finn! What if it does? What if this one can jump off this lady? Tell Holly that whenever you get close to one, Wendigota starts to break free. She’ll understand and we won’t ever have to come back here.
I’ll know, Spring. I’m already carrying enough guilt for three people, any more would break me.
You’re an idiot!
To release the tension, I grabbed the Caduceus hanging from a chain around my neck and felt its soothing beat. A craggly piece of hard black driftwood, the power it offered would keep me safe. I could use it to protect myself.
I took a couple of deep breaths and forced myself to look at my first patient in the visual spectrum.
Janice sat between two mountain-sized men in a Hilton-grade comfy chair. Her mu-mu-covered bulk barely fit in the generous seat, and her haunted, bruised eyes scanned me nervously.
The smell of her assailed me as soon as I started paying attention. A miasma of stale cigarettes augmented with some rather... um... earthy, undertones.
Dr. Anderson stood next to her with a hand on her shoulder. “Janice, this is Finn. He’s the one who’s going to try and help you today. Finn, meet Janice.”
I nodded at her a little nervously. “Hi, Janice.” I was ready to spring out of there if she charged, but she sat and stared at me with just a slight widening of her eyes. As expected, in my second sight, Janice’s lime-green aura struggled under the weight of the hyperactive black oil-slick.
As I approached, the thick dark stain swirled in agitation around her. The answering squirm from its bigger brother, locked in its cage of my will deep inside my mind, shot a cold jet of fear across my bow. My nerve threatened to break, so I made sure Spring was monitoring our unwilling tenant.
Janice didn’t try to jump me, but she did greet me in a cigarette-roughened voice, which would have been sexy without the added visuals and odorals (if that’s not a word, it should be).
“Hello Finn, what’s a nice boy like you doing in a pit like this?”
I ventured a nervous smile, took a shaky breath, and sat down in the second comfy chair a good eight feet away. “Just lucky, I guess. I’m the envy of all my friends.”
She let out a deep Cathleen Turner chuckle. I would have relaxed more if the darkness riding her hadn’t pooled on the front of her aura and strained to reach me with little black tentacles.
“You and me both.” Janice leaned forward and said, “So you’re the exorcist Dr. Frankenstein here was telling me about?”
I laughed at the doc’s surprised expression. “Yep, though I’m more like a swami.”
“Okay pretty boy, I’m all yours.”
Pretty boy? She was crazy. “Right. Okay, well, has the doc told you what we’ve discovered about your condition?”
“That I’m crazy? You don’t need a PhD to me tell that.”
Like a lot of the patients I met here, once I got past my initial impressions, I found myself liking her. Unfortunately, my enjoyment of her banter was short-lived. It was obvious that the good doctor hadn’t told her what was really going on. He was leaving it up to me. I glared my thanks at him and then tried to figure out what to tell her.
“Well, I can’t say if you’re crazy or not, but I can tell you that, like a lot of people in this clinic, your condition is either caused by an external agency, or at least made worse by it. It’s something like a demon or an evil-spirit that’s attached to your aura.”
And eating her soul.
I don’t think she needs to know that just now Spring. Besides, without the Caduceus, it can’t eat very much.
Unless it gets to you.
Janice interpreted my pause a prompt.
“An evil-spirit has attached itself to my aura.” Her face conveyed her trouble digesting this tidbit of new-age speak far more than her words.
“I know that’s hard to swallow, but it’s true. I’ll give you the short version of my history with these things. When I was ten years old, I started having night terrors. Something monstrous, black, cold, and hungry hunted me through my dreams.”
Her eyes widened and her flushed face grew pale.
“These dreams haunted me for weeks until my dad helped me. He taught me a way to protect myself, a meditation technique he borrowed from shamanic practices. When I practiced what he taught me, I could keep the black monsters away. After a while, they stopped bothering me.”
I had her full attention now. There was a hunger in her eyes that had nothing to do with the hunger of the thing riding her.
“Now it gets harder to believe. Recently, I’ve learned that the black monsters are real. I’ve learned how to see auras. The thing all the crystal-touting new-agers go on about. With my new sight, the monster on you looks like a coating of black, oily slime poured over your aura.”
I decided to spare her more detail. I didn’t want to freak her out even more.
“It’s attached itself to you, and I want to help you get rid of it. I’m going to try and teach you what my dad taught me.”
“I don’t know if this will work, but I don’t think it can hurt.”
She smirked. “You don’t
it can hurt?”
I blushed and examined my hands. “No, this is all new to me.”
She gave a short bark of a laugh, exposing yellowed and crooked teeth, leaned back in her chair, and waved me on. “Okay then, swami away.”
I looked up and licked my lips. “Okay. It’s pretty easy to do.”
She raised an eyebrow, and I hastened to add, “Well, it’s easy to describe anyway.” I took a deep breath and dove in. “Basically, I create a golden shield around myself. In my imagination, I make this shield impenetrable. Nothing bad can get through it and the shadows just splash right off.”