The Train. It was a word that had made Patrick's spine shiver. Somehow putting that guttural 'trah' sound next to the shrieking 'rain' made it seemed both primal and wild. A beast of iron, fed on fire and steam, that once tamed by experts could be made to haul people and things across the world at fearsome speed. He had been told stories of this beast by the older Monks of the monastery, tales of men climbing on its back, the animal itself moving so fast the wind howled by, while the men fought and robbed and fell. He had thought it was a mythical thing, like a giraffe or a unicorn. The products of fancy and boredom.
But then he had heard that they would ride the Train. That it was a thing, tangible and real, something that really would roar out across the plains, confined to the tracks of black iron, less it ravage the countryside. He had not been quite certain he believed his fellows when it was claimed they could take the train to Madison. He suspected they were having a little fun at the bumpkin monk's expense.
But no, it was true. The fee they would pay to ride the beast would be a dead man, murdered by their hands. He knew the men he were with were hard, but he did not think they would kill for a silly prank And somehow, a dead man seemed a fitting price to pay. The Train seemed a creature of darkness and toil. Perhaps the man's soul would go to feed the beast, tame it for the ride. Patrick said a brief prayer at the thought. The works of the Enemy were manifold, and it was his duty to combat them. Were he to die in the struggle, that would ensure his place as a martyr by the side of the Son in Heaven.
He had been working himself up for the fight the whole way back from the Monastery, his errand of fetching the Mayor complete. The blood pumped in his ears, and he could feel the tightness in his chest and twitchy-ness in hand and foot that often preceded a fight.
The others, Klaus and Marcus and Lelo, presented their victim to Gumble. The monk was glad he had not had to be a part of that particular killing. The man's head, from the jaws up, was missing. Instead there was a bloody pulped mess. Klaus was covered in blood and brain matter. It looked horrible, and could not have been an easy death for the man. A single arrow through the eye could have ended it much cleaner, Patrick thought. Though perhaps a soul freed in blood and torment would be a better toll for the Train. Gumble seemed pleased, but that was only to be expected, unholy madman that he was.
They entered the Train Station, the cage for the beast. The Mayor talked briefly with the Guards and Gumble, and it occurred to him briefly to be surprised how friendly they all were. He had forgotten that the Mayor should be the Phil's blood enemy, but it appeared they were on friendly terms. The Mayor's bodyguard was nearly killed out of hand, though, so Patrick assumed he was not in on whatever deal the Mayor had made with Gumble. The monk's hand twitched to his sword. It would be a relief to fight mere men, as out-numbered and over-matched as they were, but some compromise was found. No, it seemed it was predestinate. God had chosen Patrick to fight and kill the Train, as George had conquered the Dragon.
They passed through a set of rooms full of Phil's, all armed and belligerent. Guards for the Monster, Patrick assumed. One final set of doors, and Patrick would finally lay eyes on his Nemesis. He followed the others through, one hand on the sword, the other fluttering over the rosary on his belt, unsure which would be of more use in combating the beast.
There was a moment of confusion on the other side of the door. Bernie, the Mayor's bodyguard, bumped into his back, and murmured an apology, still apparently frightened out of his wits after his close call. There was a great, dark hall, a perfect lair for a monster. Patrick looked around, frantic to find it, worried it lingered behind and overhead. But no, there was just the row of peculiar metal rooms, rusty and ill maintained, all in a row. Perhaps the Train lurked behind... No.
Realization hit the monk with the force of a sledgehammer. His faced turned bright red, and he glanced quickly around, now out of an acute sense of embarrassment. But no one had noticed his nervousness, the keyed up energy that readied a man for a deadly fight. Perhaps they had all felt that way, though for different reasons.
Of course the little rooms were the Train. Much that had been told to him now made sense. It was no beast, just a machine from Before, something that man had made and then lost the knowledge of how to make again. Though apparently Gumble and his men knew how to operate the thing. Someone had been having some fun with him, but it was not his present companions, but rather his brother monks. Well, that was fine. It was a good reminder of his naivety, his inexperience. A reminder to stay humble.
Patrick breathed out a deep, ragged breath, rolling his shoulders in an attempt to release some of the tension that had collected there. It would be a simple, easy ride to Madison after all.