Title: Ante Praevisa Merita
Rating/Characters: If you've read the Old Testament, you're old enough. Holtz, Connor
Summary: Holtz' religious training of Connor (Steven) while in Quor-Toth, or How do you make a child kill their father and think it's in the name of the Lord.
Notes: Beta'd by cityphonelines, with great thanks. Written for the lynnevitational. WARNING: There is physical abuse of a teen-aged Connor within. Thanks to the craziness of the Old Testament, for the Vatican putting their Papal decrees from the 15-18th centuries online, for Dante's Comedie, and a shudder to all the religious zealots/philosphers of the past.
********* In Materia Necessaria *********
"I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you, that in this, and in all things, you may do God's will in the service of the kingdom of his Christ. Amen."
Holtz held up the toddler in the harsh sun - he didn't burn. He took the brackish water he had collected for this purpose, dipped his finger in and drew a cross on the child's forehead. Again, the child didn't burn. But God, in His wisdom, most likely prepared the way for the babe to be a vessel for Holtz' righteous anger and thus made him able to have the sacred rites administered to him.
Steven, as he was being confirmed today under his new name, wriggled in his father's grip and smiled up at the man who did not smile back. He began to fuss; Holtz set him down on a large boulder, dipped his finger in the animal fat he had rendered and continued.
"Accipe signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti. Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit. Father, I beseech thee. Give him strength untold. Give him power over his enemies. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen."
He bent down to eye level with the child. "Now, Steven, say 'amen.' "
Connor rubbed his eyes with grimy fists and muttered " 'men."
********* Auto-de-fè *********
Holtz looked at his hands thoughtfully. He spoke to the boy, still looking at his hands. "And how did the prophet Moses in vetus testamentum instruct his people to discipline their children if they were stubborn or rebellious, Connor?"
The teen aged boy braced himself. When Holtz referred to him by the monster's chosen name for him, the punishment would be severe. "He said they should bring the son to the elders so that the child may be stoned until he dies from it. And you have instructed me that you are my Elder, and so you must mete my punishment."
"Very good. But you cannot die, can you?"
"And why not?"
Connor looked his father in the eye, knowing it would please him. "Because mine is a perpetual life. I am in Purgatory paying for the sins of my father. And I must kill him to be clean."
"And so here we are, my boy."
Holtz hefted a stone in his hand that was larger than an egg. At his feet was a pile of similar-sized stones. "Let us begin."
Connor could not cover his face, nor his belly or other body parts. His hands had been bound to two trees with his naked form suspended between them. Once when he was about eight or so he had pulled free, almost mindless from the pain of his penance. That was when Holtz had broken his leg. It had taken him over twenty blows with a large club to do so, but it was a punishment Connor hadn't forgotten. He did not flinch this time but looked straight ahead and spoke the words he'd been taught.
"O my God, I am heartily sorry..."
The first stone hit his cheek with a sickening thud.
"...I detest myself for the sins committed and rebuke Satan..."
Two stones in quick succession hit his bare genitalia; Connor saw stars at the corner of his vision. He sucked in a breath and continued as his father threw stone after stone at his body drawing blood and in some cases tearing the flesh away from bone.
"...there is sorrow in my heart all the day-"
"No, there is not. But there will be." A larger stone, almost too large for Holtz' hand, smashed into his mouth stopping his words.
********* In Persona Christi *********
Night was coming. Connor stirred and gagged. He spat a mouthful of blood and checked to see if he still had all his teeth. He had; Father had again been kind. Holtz stepped out from the trees wielding a knife. "Are you ready for the next step?" Connor nodded.
Holtz cut him down. Connor fell to the ground and pulled himself on his belly to Holtz. He held on to the man's feet and began, "I am reconciled to you, my Father, as your grateful child. I am thankful for the blessings of our Lord."
"What are your sins, boy?"
"I have forgotten to honor my Father. I have taken food without giving it to you first, as is your right. I have indulged sin in my heart. I ask for your pardon with a contrite and broken spirit."
Holtz bent over and spoke softly near the boy's ear. "I absolve you from your sin. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," Holtz crossed himself surreptitiously, "Stand."
Connor pushed himself up to standing, his head bowed. "Ad Maiorem Dei Glorium. For the Greater Glory of God."
A ghost of a smile crossed Holtz' face. "Yes. In His name. Now. Let us go home." He led Connor back through the woods to their shelter among the crags and boulders. As they neared their home, Connor's ears pricked. He tilted his head to the side, then moved with lightening speed; he ran towards his father, twisted left, stepped up and pushed off a boulder and spun backwards, catching a large bird of prey rocketing towards them. The struggling creature's cruel beak had been inches from Holtz' bare neck.
Holtz blinked, shock barely evident on his features. Connor grinned hugely. "The Lord will provide. I'll start a fire." He twisted the large bird's neck and the beast stopped struggling as Connor walked off with it to find kindling.
********** Didache *********
"Do you love me, son?"
"Yes, of course I do."
"Then you love God." Holtz stopped to grunt from the force of the heavy blade as it drove into the wooden log. "Do you know that no matter what it is you do, God cannot love you?"
A pause. "Yes."
Holtz continued splitting logs for their fire. "And why is that?"
"Because I am the child of demons. I am made of His antithesis. God despises sin, and I am sin incarnate."
Holtz looked up and smiled slowly. "Precisely. Go on ahead and wash up in the stream. We'll eat once I'm finished here."
Connor nodded and stopped stacking the large rocks that made a wall in front of their cave and left to cleanse himself.
********** De Anima *********
(Of The Soul)
"Do I have a soul?" Connor kept his eyes on the animal he was skinning for their dinner.
Holtz paused from his work and looked up. "I don't know. I've often wondered. It depends on who we ask, I believe. Are we created with a soul? Do we have a soul that is created by our mother and our father's? Is a soul given to us before that magical spark of love - or in your case, sin - and we exist in a between world before being birthed? Long has that question troubled the greatest minds, Steven."
Connor's hand had stilled, as has his whole body, intent on hearing every word. He bent back to the animal quickly and continued separating the meat from the skin. "What do you think?"
Holtz sat back on his haunches, his hands dangling between his knees as he regarded the boy. "No. I don't believe you do. Neither your mother nor the demon that is your true father had any soul."
Connor made to interrupt; Holtz held a hand up to silence him. "Yes, I know that we had been told that he had regained his soul. But it was no longer his, was it? All the evil he had done... He will have a heavy price to pay."
Holtz rubbed his chin thoughtfully and continued, "The body that grew you, that nurtured you until I was able to take you away had no soul, no goodness at all. Darla was a thing of evil. A thing that fed on innocents to make you, in fact. I cannot believe in a God that would allow such a thing to have a pure and good soul reside within."
Connor bowed his head. "Yes, Dad."
Holtz looked up sharply. "I am your father."
Connor blinked. "Yes, Father."
********** Da Mihi Castitatem Et Continentiam, Sed Noli Modo **********
(Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet - St. Augustine)
He knelt in the shadows of the trees. It was the place where he cleaned his kills; no monsters or beasts would come there for the strong smell of blood that lingered. Connor pulled at the laces of his rough breeches and closed his eyes. He didn't know why he hid himself to do this. Perhaps it was because he'd never seen his father perform this on himself, so it must not be righteous. He had never been told not to touch himself, only that he was not to touch his father.
"Tertullian taught us that polluted things, when touched, pollute. You, Connor, are polluted. But we will make you clean one day."
Connor slid his hand into his loosened pants and cupped himself. He stroked and fondled his growing hardness, his eyes shut tight. He began moving faster, shocked at the sensation of pleasure so unfamiliar coursing through his body. A snapped twig sounded behind him. He fumbled with his laces quickly.
"Chastity is a gift of the Holy Spirit, Steven. Do you know that you are spilling your seed? Wasting potential? Do you understand that a righteous man would know that it is sacred, that it will one day create his child? The deliberate use of the sexual organ, for whatever reason, outside of a holy and blessed marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose, which is to create a child to raise up in His name."
Connor stood with his back to his father. Shame washed over him. "I didn't know that."
Holtz crossed the forest floor and leaned his weight onto a hand pressed against the rough bark of a tree. "But would your seed create an innocent and beloved child in God's image, Steven?"
Connor turned and looked at his father.
"It is a sin to spill your seed. Or rather, it is a sin for a child of God to do so. You, my dear boy, are a child of the devil, and so I believe you must. If you seek repentance, you must rid yourself of it." Holtz' voice, as ever, was never louder than a steady rumble of authority. His eyes were wild, however. "The child you would grow!"
He crossed to Connor looked him in the eye. He never touched his son unless to teach lessons. "Carry on. Rid yourself of demons." He turned on his heel and walked away. Connor bit his lip and decided to find something to kill instead.
********* Benedictio *********
"Steven, a Jesuit once said 'Give me the child until he is ten, and I will give you a man.' I have had you much longer, I believe. These extra years have refined you, made you stronger."
Connor smiled - rare was praise from his father.
"But never forget, you are steeped in sin. You are to bring light back unto the world, however. The true world, not this hell where I have raised you." Holtz smiled before taking a large bite of the food his son had caught and prepared. Connor would eat when Holtz had taken his fill. "Tell me the commandments."
"I am the Lord your God and thou shalt have no other gods before me. Honor thy mother and thy father if they are honorable. Thou shalt not kill, unless I have commanded it. Thou shalt not lie with another unless given in holy matrimony. Thou shalt not lie nor steal. Thou shalt not suffer a witch nor demon to live, for they are an abomination before Me. Thou shalt not do any of these things in mind or in deed, for I am a vengeful God and I will know it."
"You cannot honor your mother nor your father, can you? And you must kill. You must lie. More sin..." He sucked the meat's juices from the side of his fist, ignoring the rumbling from his son's belly before him. "But if you will shed your father's blood, you can be made clean."
Connor knelt at his father's side and recited. "Think not that I am come to send peace: I came not to send peace but a sword."
Holtz smiled and patted the log next to him. "Very good. I'm very pleased with you, Steven." He handed a joint to the boy and watched him eat.
********* Lasciate Ogne Speranza, Voi Ch'intrate *********
(Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here)
Connor tightened the laces holding the weapons to his arms. The water slugs fed heavily here; the demons that fed on them should be coming. He wasn't disappointed. A large horned monster broke through the trees to his right coming at him. He ducked and as the beast moved over him, struck upwards with the knife he had fashioned. The beast cried out and backed away; these beasts knew who The Destroyer was.
The earth moved violently under their feet. Both Connor and the monster staggered to keep standing. The demon moved first, knocking Connor over, then leaping through a clearing behind the boy. Connor gave chase. He leapt over rocks and crags, almost losing the beast once. The landscape changed to bare, scorched earth suddenly. He saw the beast leap through a sphere encircled with fire. "Primum Mobile..." he whispered. A sly grin broke out on his face. "Dad."
"I will go and do that which the Lord hath commanded." He jumped through the portal to the City of Angels.