Dark Arts
inhuman who has never been alive on this earth. It collects
the souls of the talented and desperate. We’ve managed to find
evidence of it and the shard together going back to 1938, but
that’s just for musicians. Gladys found evidence that one of the
earliest people to have dealings with that demon was Pope John the
Twelfth. All of them rose to high power or fame, and they were all
twenty seven when they died.”
    “I’m not twenty seven,” Max said. “Safe for
a few years.”
    “This is when we think you’ll be approached,
right now.”
    “I knew it was going to happen before the
Dawn Shard was a part of this, thank you,” Sam said.
    “Yes, we know,” Gladys said. “Not everyone
has good sight in both worlds.”
    “I’ll trade my third eye for a good lung,”
Samuel said. He turned towards Max, gravely serious. “It’s on you,
son. That demon is going to approach you with temptations you
cannot imagine, and it will be just as you’re starting to believe.
You’ve tried for a while to be famous on your own, to get
recognized for all your hard work, and you see that road coming to
an end. I know what that’s like, more than you know.”
    “All right,” Max said quietly. “That’s as
much as I can take. I’m sorry you’ve got fewer days ahead than
behind,” he told Sam. “But I’m going to take a few of these.” He
pointed at the platter on the table. “Then I’m going to get some
gas from the shed, top up my bike, and disappear for a few hours.”
No one said anything more as he pushed one-quarter sandwich in his
mouth and took two more in each hand then left.

III
    Maxwell didn’t intend to ride to his
father’s gravesite, but he was rolling down the pebbly drive into
the old graveyard before he realized it. The once whitewashed
church standing by the graveyard was being reclaimed by the forest,
abandoned before Max arrived in Canada. One wall had fallen in, and
the eastern side had fallen outwards. Rotting pews were barely
visible beneath the wreckage of the simple old wood shingle roof.
The entrance, really an archway thee feet deep set into the low
front wall, still stood, its door absent now, though Max could
remember the finely carved cedar of the heavy door, with its iron
handles. He drove onto the flat stones that marked the end of the
graveyard path in front of the church, grabbed a blanket from his
saddlebags and walked to the quiet plot where his father was laid
to rest.
    A few dead branches had fallen across his
father’s grave and those surrounding it. The grass was a little
long, but lush and green. Max took some time to clear the branches
away from several plots, throwing them into the bush surrounding
the quiet site.
    When he was finished he looked at the simple
grey stone. There was a pentagram with oak leaves around it above
his father’s epitaph, which read:
     
    Charles Foster
Father
Community Leader
He will be missed.
1910 - 1969
     
    There was a ritual his father insisted on
when Max was given the first ring that didn’t have much meaning
beyond the aesthetic. Anything that didn’t have religious meaning
had to be left by the door. Max maintained a version of that
ritual, pulling a silver ram’s head, a pentagram, the circular Seal
of Julius, and a treble clef ring off his fingers. The Seal of
Julius and pentagram were religious symbols, but they meant little
to him other than looking flashy and feeling good on his fingers.
He put them all on top of his father’s rounded gravestone, hung his
leather jacket on one side, and lay down beneath it, using his
folded blanket as a pillow.
    The smell of the earth and humid air
surrounded him, he listened to the sounds of birds and rustling
leaves for a while before beginning the next part of his visit. The
long shade allowed the grass to grow thick and richly green. With
the tall trees surrounding the small graveyard, it was difficult to
tell what time it was, but Max knew it was early afternoon. To him
it had already been a

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