The lack of natural light was perfect for this inquisition, as Rachael Shadden sat before her computer examining the Academy’s website. Carefully, she studied the women with long, willowy limbs who could have been the daughters of the mermaids of the deep. Every conceivable shade of hair splashed before her.
Other scenes depicted them bound tightly in leather as their flesh poured from the restraints. And the breasts. All of them. Nothing less than a DD.
Aimlessly, she lit a cigarette and sat back in the chair.
What are you up to, Phillipe? she wondered. She stabbed at the keyboard. What she needed was a password that would allow her to access the personnel files.
Something that Phillipe always referred to…ah yes… “NIL SINE DEO” The main menu offering myriad possibilities popped up. She clicked on
Mission Statement For A New Millennium
The Brotherhood of the Academy, founded in 1668 by Raphael Louis de Charlemagne, Crown Prince of Trattenbourgh, continues the work of its twelve charter members in the twenty-first century. While we await Raphael’s promised return, we strive diligently to unlock the mysteries of the universe still surrounding us.
The original fields of study, including Law, Philosophy, Mathematics, Theology, Alchemy, Medicine, Astronomy and Astrology, are the Academy’s main focus with subgroups, which include, but are not limited to, Scriptural Scholars and World Religions, Cancer Research and Human Sexuality, Space Travel and Alien Invasions, Genetic Research and Longevity.
Raphael himself bequeathed the Brotherhood and all of Trattenbourgh to the Lafayette Family for it’s care and safekeeping, as Raphael has promised to return.
1. Raphael Louis de Charlemagne - Founder, Philosopher, Mathematician, Master of Rhetoric. Educated at the Monastery of St. Martin in Tours, France. Higher Education at the University of Paris where he studied Philosophy and Medicine.
Prince Raphael was the first born of the thirty-sixth generation of Emperor Charlemagne, prophesied by an Angel of the Lord to redeem the Franks from the Curse of Charlemagne. At the age of five, Raphael broke the Curse as foretold and Trattenbourgh returned to its former glory under his leadership. Raphael, at the end of his life, was raptured into Heaven, intact.
2. Phillipe Lafayette - Educated at the Monastery of St. Martin, in Tours, France. Phillipe was born in 1647 to a musketeer in the service of Louis XIII. When his father was murdered in an uprising of the peasantry, King Louis took Phillipe’s education upon himself. At the Monastery of St. Martin in Tours, Phillipe met Raphael. Higher Education under the direction of the Alchemist, Maurice.
When Raphael founded the Brotherhood in 1668, Phillipe joined the ranks as resident Alchemist. When Raphael was recalled from the University of Paris to his native Trattenbourgh by his father, King Charles XII, Phillipe took up residence in Trattenbourgh with Raphael.
As a member of the Court of Trattenbourgh, Phillipe labored in the dungeon laboratory to unlock the mysteries of matter. On the morning of 6 Aug 1675, the Day of the Transfiguration of the Lord, the Philosopher’s Stone was bestowed upon Phillipe by God. Phillipe was subsequently tortured by the Church and died shortly thereafter from the wounds inflicted.
3. Jean Paul de Orleans - Educated at the Monastery of St. Martin in Tours, France. Higher Education at the University of Paris in the field of Medicine with a particular interest in reproduction. He served as the King’s personal physician and was later elevated to a Count of the Court by Raphael. Jean Paul died in Colonial Virginia of yellow fever.
4. Arnaud Von Tratten - A younger brother to Raphael, Arnaud, uneducated formally, studied weaponry and led the military. Little more is known about Arnaud.
Rachael smirked at the implication. That Arnaud was anything less than the second most powerful man in Trattenbourgh was Phillipe’s way of saying Arnaud didn’t matter to Trattenbourgh or Raphael. Or that Raphael and Arnaud weren’t lovers and famed for their devotion to each other. Ah, so little had changed with Phillipe.
Yet she continued to read:
1. Raphael Louis II - Crown Prince of Trattenbourgh. Raphael’s only son was educated in house by Raphael, Jean Paul, Phillipe and Arnaud in their various disciplines. When Raphael Louis II was age nine, Phillipe Lafayette conveyed the knowledge of the Philosopher’s Stone to him. However, Louie, unsatisfied with this miraculous gift, went on to study the Dark Arts with a gypsy witch. Louie died in Salem, Massachusetts, burned alive at the stake for witchcraft. He was cast into Hell for Eternity for his crimes against God; Louie is merely remembered as The Warlock.
Rachael turned away from the screen and wrapped her arms around her body. She could feel the flames as they singed the hair on her legs and chest. The flames rose, the smell of whale oil putrid, the cackling of the wood deafening. The screams of her betrothed, Annie, shattered her senses as they stood on the pyre, lashed together and awaited death.
Phillipe, you bastard, was all she could think.
Rather than dwell on what was forever past and required only the ultimate in revenge, she moved onto the next topic.
The last known refuge of the Franks, situated on the border of France, Belgium and Germany, some two hundred square miles, is the land the Franks first inhabited when they swept out of the Northern Steppes after the time of Christ.
Otto Von Tratten, who was an illegitimate son of Charlemagne, and whose mother was a Bavarian Princess held for ransom, was bequeathed the mountainous region upon his father’s death.
In 814 AD, Otto returned to the very habitable and defensible land to build a nation for the Franks. The Castle construction was begun in 820 AD and continued through the time of Raphael. The original Cathedral was built in 825 and razed in 1502. A lavish gothic structure replaced it and is still standing.
As early as 1958, plans to restore these two structures began. As the time of Raphael’s coronation grows near, work has begun in earnest. From the Throne of Trattenbourgh, Raphael will once again rule over a populated and prosperous nation.
Oh, Rachael breathed. Still, a fucking nut case. That Phillipe had used the last three hundred years to hone his skills at propaganda into a fine art was obvious. But he was always brilliant, that she had to concede. Blindingly brilliant even in 1680, when he was the resident alchemist and she but the nine-year old Crown Prince who unwittingly stumbled into the laboratory and had The Gift poured over her body.
Quickly, she scrolled through another list of current members and employees.
Andrew Barrington Miller V. 6’3”, 225 lbs. 44 years old. White, blond, brown. CEO of Miller Industries. Single. One son, Austin Barrington Miller.
Inducted as a Knight of the Order of the Phoenix at age 21. To date, the most decorated Knight in the Order for heroism. Second in command of the worldwide security force. Forty-five kills.
Rachael nodded. She would expect nothing less.
Phillipe Lafayette XVI - 5’10”, 152 lbs. White, blond, gray. Twelve wives, one husband, thirty children. As an original member of the Brotherhood of the Academy, Phillipe Lafayette is Director of the Academy. His authority is superseded only by Raphael, Crown Prince of Trattenbourgh, and Founder of the Brotherhood of the Academy.
Rachael smirked as she studied the accompanying picture. The body was definitely descended from the Lafayette Family with its tousled blond hair and angular features. A mere wisp of a man with a narrow nose and thin, pale lips. An aged member of the family evident in the muscle-less neck and drawn shoulders.
In the dungeon laboratory, Phillipe was bestowed by God, the Philosopher’s Stone...
Blahblahblah, she thought. Still the most arrogant narcissist God bothered to let live. But who’s next? she wondered. As if she had to ask. Phillipe had the power to steal the flesh from its owner. Phillipe could dispatch the current occupant and transmigrate into fully-grown bodies.
She caught the name of Marcel Lafayette and linked to that page.
5’10”, 150 lbs. White, blond, gray.
The picture was an exact copy of Phillipe. Supposedly a son. At least that’s what Phillipe wanted the world to believe. And this Marcel who had no mother listed was supposedly conjured in the laboratory by Phillipe’s amazing alchemical skills.
She huffed at the implication. A wizard, a magician or maybe a god. There was no limit to Phillipe’s egomaniacal ravings, and all this when the Academy had discovered the secrets of human cloning decades ago.
With her gaze fixed on the screen, she reached out with her psychic senses to connect with this Marcel. He was equally as intelligent as Phillipe, she realized, but he had some serious emotional problems. Yet the idea that Phillipe was cloning himself to have perfect bodies to inhabit when the old ones wore out amused her.
Yes, the old ones always wear out, don’t they, mon ami? The idea that Phillipe might have already perfected a breed of homo sapiens that could withstand transmigration intact was exhilarating suddenly. Twice now, she had attempted that very feat, but the bodies grew ill and died from the attempt. Transfusing a soul into a full-grown body vibrating on a different frequency than herself was akin to transfusing the wrong type blood. The flesh always rejected the soul.
Fascinating, she thought. It was obvious that Phillipe was cloning himself to have a body to inhabit so that he could maintain seamless control of the Academy through the centuries. Absolutely fascinating.
But there was something about this Marcel that made her uneasy. He didn’t originate from this world. Would this Marcel allow himself to be evicted from his own body so that Phillipe could have it? She smiled. A clash of the Titans.
She flopped back in the chair to remember vividly the day Phillipe bestowed the Stone upon her. She also remembered the day in Salem that she burned at the stake and promptly descended into Hell. Would Phillipe remember her? Would he recognize her aura as easily as she recognized his, though she inhabited this new and healthy body, its gender female? Or was this perfect body the ultimate disguise?
Returning to the computer, she noted that the third in command was listed as Phillipe Lafayette XVII designated as the Sagittarian. His appearance very much a descendant of the House of Von Tratten, the hair black and baby blue eyes, pale but intelligent. At six feet and a 180 pounds he could be related.
Mother...Charmange Lafayette with an accompanying picture.
“Exquisite,” Rachael mewed as she studied the pure black hair and gaseous blue eyes. Most definitely a descendant of the House of Von Tratten.
Yet a chill stirred deep inside of her and settled in to remain. The implication was clear. Phillipe had bred every female descendant of the House of Von Tratten in an attempt to create the next incarnation of Raphael. A quiet rage bubbled, but it wasn’t enough to warm her.
Aggravated, she stabbed at the keyboard to return to the main menu.
Arabian Philosophy and Customs
Classical Archives and Current Archeology Sites
Egyptian Archives/St. Mark and the Copts
Legal Codes of the Occident/ Lex Talons/Vatican/Academy
Medical Advances/ 1950 – present
Political Archives of the Occident
She lay back in the chair and stretched her heavy legs outward. Not a single mortal in a single incarnation would have the time required to study every one of those topics. But she knew Phillipe better than anyone else. Except for maybe this man named Barry.
“Barry Miller,” she whispered as she linked back to his bio to study his headshot.
“I’d know you anywhere,” she whispered with a salacious smile. Even in the picture his aura was unmistakable.
Just then, the door to her room thrust open. Hurriedly, she reached forward to switch off the monitor leaving the room in total darkness. The intruder stumbled, and then fell, only to disintegrate to the most pitiful sobbing on the floor.
Filled with a gross sympathy, something akin to pity yet churning in her stomach like boiling oil, Rachael curled to the sound of desolation. Her mother was empty inside, aching so deeply she could barely breathe. Night after night after miserable night, her mother came to her like this. Devastated, empty, alone.
Slowly, Rachael unwound and arose. Within the small seams of light from the street lamps invading the room around the edges of the curtains, she could see the outline of her mother curled on the floor heaving hopelessly. The slight body trembled with the agony inside like a child swept away by a flood. Carefully, she bent to slide her hands under that puddle of flesh.
Instantly, the older woman reacted and turned toward the warmth. The bone-thin arms wrapped tightly around her neck and the entire body curled, merely a ball of quivering molecules barely connected within the skin.
“Sean,” she moaned on a slight breath, conveying a desperate need.
Carefully, Rachael tucked her mother’s face to her own throat to cradle it there.
“No, Claudia, it’s me...Rachael,” she whispered into the deepest night. The response was merely a shudder, the convulsion of consciousness as it slipped away.
She laid the body on the bed and pulled the blanket up. She took the lighter from the nightstand to animate the candle nearby should Claudia awaken in the blackness.
And then she fell against the wall, unable to support herself any longer. Without will, she slid down it, her vision caught on her drunken mother who every day expended the energy to commit suicide...slowly.
Roughly, her hands ground into each other, the first moment she’d let herself feel a little of the rage she’d contained so long. This wasn’t right and nothing could make it right. But somehow this mess had to be cleaned up. She could think of only one place to start.
“Phillipe, my old friend. My teacher...my beloved. You are dismissed.”