Crispen's Rose: Chapter One

Crispen's Rose: Chapter One

A Chapter by Rhayne




Marseilles, France

Spring 1798


The roofing of the old Monastery is barely holding together against the angry winds.  Inside, a young Monk peers out the window trying to see through the sheets of rain pelting against it.  It is the worst storm he has ever seen.  Father Elliot sits calmly at his desk busily writing in his journal as if he were oblivious to the storm.  Suddenly the small door to the room swings open nearly extinguishing Father Elliot’s candle.  Another brown cloaked young Monk hurries in. He seems troubled as he frantically signs with his hands.

“What is it, Chanler?  Is the storm frightening you?”

Chanler signs harder, faster, pulling at Father Elliot’s sleeve urging him to follow.  Chanler was born mute though his hearing had been unaffected by the disease his mother had contracted during her pregnancy.  He was placed in the caring arms of the monastery when he was six weeks old when both his parents died of the dreaded influenza.  At eighteen he accepted the offer to become a member of the Order and teach the disabled children left in their care. 

“Chanler, slow down and tell me again” said Father Elliot.

Chanler swallows hard, takes a deep breath and then signs again. “Crispin, Father, he’s painting like a mad man, frightening the other patients in the ward”, Paul, the other monk interpretted.

Paul runs past them to unlock the heavy door to the ward.  Screams and hysterical laughter seeps through the cracks in the old wood. 

“Hurry, Paul, it sounds like they are tearing the place apart!” said Father Elliot. 

Paul finally opens the lock and pushes through the door to find pandemonium inside.  Several men have disrobed and are running wildly around the room flailing their arms about.  Another is curled in a fetal position in the corner sucking his thumb.  An older man sits in the center of his bed pounding his fists into his stomach.  In the center of the room is a younger man dressed in a long night shirt stained with different colors of paint.  His long black hair pulled back in a disheveled ponytail.  A large canvas tied to an easel stands before him as he strikes it with quick short blows of a thin brush.  Three strikes, he stands back to look, leans in again to give it two more strikes. Paul and Chanler try to calm the other patients and get them back to bed.  The flashes of lightning provide more than enough light needed to see around the room, adding more fuel to the already frantic patients.  Father Elliot walks calmly to Crispin with more interest in what is on the canvas than Crispin’s condition. Crispin wipes his brow with his sleeve and continues to jab at the canvas.  His dark brown eyes are now wildly black and glossy behind the few strands of hair that swing in front of them.  A trickle of blood forms at the corner of his mouth where he has bitten his lip.

“Don’t try and stop me, Father Elliot, I must finish this. I must.”

Father Elliot had no intention of trying to stop him.  He had been trying to reach Crispin for months as he lay in his bed staring at the ceiling.  Chanler seemed to be the only one he would respond to and allow to spoon feed him on the nights he had to be restrained because of nightmares.  Crispin had been brought to the monastery by his father who feared that he would be executed for sorcery should he keep painting the things he called ‘future’.   Or if he kept speaking of time travel and magical powers he had in another time and place.  And then there was Rose, the woman who seemed to be the cause of all of Crispin’s troubles and sickness.  Rose.  The beautiful woman he loved and lost.  Lost because he broke the rules of the supreme beings who had sent him forward in time and gave him immortal powers and then forbid him to love a mortal being. 

Father Elliot steps behind Crispin to peer over his shoulder. His eyes widen as his heart begins to race.  Suddenly it becomes clear why some of the men were disrobed and running about.  Crispin continues to paint feverishly.  His hands shaking violently away from the canvas and steady as a rock each time he touched the brush to it.  The image was perfection, hauntingly beautiful and completely sinful.  Father Elliot crosses his chest and bows his head, praying for Crispin’s soul.  Crispin throws down his brush and picks up another, a smaller more pointed one. He dips it slightly in the black paint and slowly he signs his name to the canvas in the lower right corner.

“Finally, it is finished” he whispers and immediately collapses to the floor.

Father Elliot and Chanler lift his limp fevered body to his bed when suddenly the storm ceases.  The winds, the rain, all cleared away as if it had never happened.  Chanler crosses his chest and then signs to Father Elliot, ‘the storm began when Crispin began painting, Father Elliot, I swear it upon my own soul’.

“No, Chanler, you mustn’t swear at all.  It was just a coincidence, I’m sure.  Get some water and help me clean him up. It’s going to be a long night.”

Chanler touches Father Elliot’s shoulder for his attention and then signs, ‘and the painting?’

“Cover it and take it out to the supply hut and don’t let anyone see it.  Put it where it cannot be seen.  Do not mention it to anyone.  Do you understand, Chanler?  I will send a messenger to his father in the morning.”

Chanler slowly covers the canvas not meaning to stare but just cannot help himself.  He had often talked with Crispin about his adventures or rather, he listened to him ramble on and on. He has grown to like Crispin very much.  They are not that far apart in age.  Only eight years.  Crispin is actually the closest in age to him than anyone at the monastery.  The children he teaches are much too young to associate with outside the classroom and most of the patients are old enough to be his father.  Crispin is like an older brother.  Crispin talks of his younger brother, Alexander, often.  They were very close.  Chanler likes being compared to Alexander because Alexander also has a deformity.  He was born with crippled hands and a weak heart.  He has not been able to make the trip to visit Crispin because of his illness.  Chanler hopes to meet him someday.  Maybe that someday will be when Crispin gets well of his brain fever, the illness that causes him to be so irrational and confused.

“Chanler, the water, boy, get me the water!” orders Father Elliot when he notices Chanler gawking at the painting. 

Ashamed and embarrassed, Chanler throws the sheet over the canvas and hurries to fetch a bowl of water and towels.  Paul finishes tucking in the last patient and the ward is once again quiet and orderly with just a few moans and snores.  Father Elliot gently brushes back the hair from Crispin’s moist forehead.  He wonders what is going on inside the young man’s head right now as his eyes twitch and partially open and then close again.  His hands quiver and his fingers fold as if he were still holding a brush. Chanler squeezes the water from the cloth and lays it folded on Crispin’s forehead.  Father Elliot squeezes another cloth and gently wipes away the blood from his mouth and smooths the cool cloth over his glistening neck where his pulse can be seen beating rapidly.  Crispin moans softly her name, “Rose”.  Father Elliot’s heart aches knowing the torture Crispin is enduring.  Chanler reaches over and lightly touches Father Elliot’s hand and signs, ‘what does the painting mean, Father?  Why does he paint such things?’

“I do not know, Chanler.  It’s almost as though he is possessed.”

‘Are you going to show it to his father?’ he signs.

“I do not want to but I have to.”

‘What if Crispin asks for it tomorrow?  What are you going to tell him?’ he signs again.

“Let’s deal with that tomorrow.  Hopefully, he will just think he dreamed it all.  It’s late, Chanler, you go to bed and I’ll sit with him for a while and make sure he’s all right.”

Chanler signs frantically, ‘but you have so much work tomorrow and I have no classes.  I should sit with him.  I really want to.’  ‘Please?’ his eyes and hands beg.

“All right.  But you will have to promise me that you will wake me if he becomes disturbed again or if the fever gets any worse.”

‘I promise, Father.  Sleep well’.

With that promise, Father Elliot retires for the night and Chanler pulls a chair close to Crispin’s bed and settles in.

Unable to sleep, Father Elliot returns to his journal to enter tonight’s events.  His heart is heavy with worry that Crispin is indeed possessed.  He will have to write to his dear friend, Victor, and tell him that his son’s condition is worsening, that he will need to come immediately.  After sealing the parchment with wax, Father Elliot falls to his knees and prays for all the sick men in the ward.  His lengthy prayers exhaust him to sleep. 

All in the ward are sleeping except Chanler who kneels by Crispin’s bed also near exhaustion from prayer.  A hand lightly touches his head causing him to rise. 

“Chanler, why do you pray over me so?  You should be in your bed, should you not?”  Crispin’s voice was a hoarse whisper.

Chanler begins to sign but Crispin halts his fast-moving hands with his own, “you do not need to talk with your hands to me, Chanler.  I can hear your thoughts clear enough.  I have always heard you but you must not tell anyone I have told you this.  They would not believe you anyway and worse, they would lock you in here with the rest of us devils.”

The look in Chanler’s eyes was evidence enough that he didn’t believe Crispin.  He began to sign anyway, ‘please Crispin, you must stop saying such things.  It is why you are here and you will never leave if you continue this way.  I long for you to get well so I can journey home with you and meet your family, your brother Alexander.’

“Then I will prove it to you.  Stand at the foot of my bed with your back to me, your arms at your side.”

Chanler’s eyes fill with tears at his persistence.  He begins to sign.

“No, Chanler, just do it!” he whispers angrily.

Chanler shuffles slowly to the foot of the bed and turns his back, his arms down.

“Now, think of something that you have never told me.  Something that you know I would not possibly know.”

Tears squeeze from Chanler’s closed eyes as he thinks of an event that happened to him long ago.  Crispin begins to say the words from Chanler’s mind.

“You saw a young woman in the field while you were plowing. She was crying.  You stopped plowing and went to her thinking she was hurt.  Her face was bruised.  She told you she was hiding from her father because he beat her.  You vowed to help her escape and gave her your day’s ration of food and more from the cook after lying to him about soiling your own food.  You gave her your only possession of value.  A necklace left to you by your mother.  You gave it to her to sell for safe passage away to find relatives who would take her in.  You still pray for forgiveness for your deception.”

Chanler turns suddenly.  The look of fear on his face as he crosses his chest and backs away.

“I am not a demon, Chanler.  I cannot hurt you or anyone. I cannot explain how I can do this.  It is something that happened to me a long time ago.  Something I have never told anyone because I knew they would react to it just the way you are now.  Please do not be frightened of me.  You are my only friend, Chanler.  I need you to trust me.”

Chanler forces himself to move back to his chair where he pounces down hard in disbelief.  His hands are pressed hard against the seat by the weight of his thighs.  His eyes close.

‘You can hear me now?’ he thinks.

“Yes, I can hear you now” replies Crispin.  “Chanler, you have to help me get out of here or I will die.  I am not insane. Not the way these other poor souls are.  I think you know this is true.  Do I not speak to you as a normal man would?  Do I not have normal mannerisms?  This ability that makes me different from others, I was not born with it.  These gifts were given to me by a man who saved me from death.”

‘God or one of his Angels?’ thinks Chanler.

“No, he was not, but he was not evil, Chanler.  I cannot explain who or what he was but he was kind to me.  He healed my wounds and carried me home in his arms.”

‘This was the man you called Barcelli.  The man you spoke of before to me.  You were very fevered that night.  I took nothing you said seriously’ Chanler speaks from his mind.

“Then I have told you about him.  Yes, his name is Barcelli. He is a large man with long curly hair and bearded face.  His eyes, Chanler, his eyes are so blue they are like lights.  His hands are huge and they heal when he commands.  He’s not evil, Chanler, I promise you.  If he had not come to me when he did, I would have surely died.”

Chanler notices that Crispin’s energy soars as he talks about the man.  His eyes clear of the haze that had been there for months. Color fills his cheeks again.  He pushes himself up, resting against the rough wood of the headboard.  Chanler pours a cup of water and hands it to him as he coughs from the excitement of being able to talk about this mysterious man.

‘Slow down and speak softer, Crispin.  You’ll wake the others’ Chanler thinks.  ‘You have never told me exactly what happened to you that night.  How did you get the wounds you speak of?’

Crispin’s expression drops to solemn as he remembers that fateful night.  The night that changed his life forever.  He had never told anyone of it before for fear that he would be locked away just as he has been.  Now he can break his silence and take a chance that Chanler can be trusted.

“Alexander needed medicine.  My mother feared he was dying. My father was ill as well, so my mother sent for me at the school where I was studying art.  I was returning home with the medicine when three men approached me on the path.  It was dark.  I couldn’t see their faces.  One of them pulled me from my horse and threw me to the ground.  They demanded I give them my money or they would kill me.  I had no money, only the medicine.  The medicine I would have done anything to protect.  They didn’t believe me and began to search my pockets.  They found the medicine and when they discovered that it was not ale they threw it into the brush and began to beat me.  Suddenly, I felt a burning in my side and then another burning in my stomach.  I became dizzy and weak.  They dropped me to the ground.  That was when I realized I had been stabbed.  I saw the man wipe my blood from the blade onto my cloak as he laughed.  The moonlight came through the trees and shown on the blade as he prepared to again plunge it into me. But he did not.  A noise startled them and they ran away into the woods.  I could taste my blood in my throat and began choking.  Then I heard a voice.  It was soft, soothing.  So much so that I almost forgot my pain.  I opened my eyes to a face above me.  His eyes were the first thing I noticed.  They were so bright and shining even though the moonlight was behind him.  He spoke to me again, calling my name, ’Crispin. Crispin Aleron’.  I could not answer aloud.  My throat was filled with blood.  Then he told me that he could hear my thoughts that I need not try to speak aloud.  Then he said to me, “you are near death, my boy, do you want to live?  If you want to live, I can help you but you must speak it clearly in your mind. But before you do, I must tell you something very important.  If you choose to live, then you will be changed forever.  The life you know now will not exist any longer.  You will not be the same man that all know you to be.  Answer now, my boy” he said.  And of course, I said ‘yes’.  Then I felt his hands upon me, each covering a wound.  There was a lot of heat and then the pain faded.  I was weak but I never lost consciousness.  He picked me up and with my horse trailing behind us, he carried me the rest of the way to my mother’s house.  There was still a slash wound to my shoulder which he explained to my mother was the cause of my weakness. I could not understand then why he did not heal that wound as well.  But later I came to is complicated. He had healed the wounds that would have killed me and even the shoulder wound healed faster than normal.  I was up in a matter of hours.  He had gone away after explaining to my mother and father what had happened to me.  Alexander got his medicine and I was alive.  The man had saved us both.  Several days later, he came to me again in the middle of the night.  I know not how he got into our house without waking my father.  He is such a light sleeper.  But he was standing over me once again with the moonlight from my window behind him.  Alexander slept peacefully in his bed next to mine.  He looked down at me with those eyes and said, “it is time now.  You have healed nicely and it is time for you to come with me”.  I hesitated because suddenly, I felt frightened of him.  He was wanting me to leave my family in the stillness of night, never to see them again I feared.  He knew my thoughts.  He smiled and touched my shoulder in a friendly gesture and said, “do not fret, my boy, you may see your family again someday.  But you have given your word that you accepted the consequences of my help.  Now it is time for you to make good your word.  You must come with me.  There are wondrous things I have to show you.  There are powers you have within you that I have to teach you to use.  Powers such as you have never seen before. Powers you could never imagine to exist.  They exist in you now.  Rise, Crispin, and get dressed.  You need not bring anything with you.  All will be provided for your journey”. I was afraid, Chanler, and yet not afraid.  It seemed the right thing to do.  Just as we were about to leave, I asked for a moment to say goodbye to Alexander.  I was careful not to wake him.  I only wanted to touch him.  I turned to the man and that was when I realized that I did not even know his name.  He heard my thought and spoke, “Barcelli is my name” he said, “and you do not need my help to do what you want to do for your brother.  You have it within yourself”.  He knew I was going to ask him to heal Alexander.  I lay my hands upon his twisted fingers and closed my eyes.  I repeated in my mind over and over, heal these hands, heal these hands until I could feel heat rising from deep inside me, down my arms and into my hands.  The heat left me and then I opened my eyes, looking down at his.  Chanler, I was stunned to see his fingers as straight as my own, the knots that were covering the tops of his hands were completely disappeared.  I felt weak and on the verge of tears when Barcelli enveloped me in his arms and suddenly, we were outside the house.  My only regret was that I was unable to heal his heart.  I remember vowing to Alexander that I would return and take care of his heart as soon as I could.  I never got that chance, Chanler.  That is why Alexander is still weak and sickly.  I failed him.”

It is still unclear to Chanler if Crispin’s story is believable.  He had already proven his ability to read his thoughts and he had seen the scar on Crispin’s shoulder but none to his side or stomach.  The day Crispin’s father brought him here, he overheard the conversation between him and Father Elliot about the miraculous healing of Alexander’s hands.  That he had awakened one morning and they were healed.  Father Elliot said that it was only the work of God and to be thankful and praise Him for the blessing.  After remembering these things, Crispin’s story was becoming more believable.  He leans over to Crispin and grasps his wrist and talks to him with his eyes and mind, ‘you have not failed him.  He lives and now he uses his hands.  He is happy to be alive and able to do the things he can.  And he can because of you.  And you were able to do this for him because of God.  Barcelli is undoubtedly one of God’s Angels.  You were blessed, Crispin.  Because of this, it confuses me even more as to why you would paint the things you have.  Why your mind is filled with this woman, Rose.  This woman cannot be a part of God’s blessing for you but a demon sent to destroy your faith.  Maybe even your life, the freedom of it.’

Suddenly, Crispin becomes enraged, pulling his wrist from Chanler’s grasp.  His dark eyes fill with anger, his tone harsh, “Rose is not a demon, Chanler, and I forbid you think of her as such.  Barcelli is not an Angel.  He told me so and I believe him.  Rose would never hurt me or anyone.  You don’t understand what I am telling you.  Rose does not exist in this this year, seventeen hundred and ninety-eight.  She lives in the year two thousand and fourteen, Chanler.  I have traveled there. I have seen what the future holds.  It is like nothing you could ever imagine.  My paintings are of what I have seen.  The machines, the evolution of food and knowledge. Chanler, it is beyond this world.”

Chanler looks around the room, worried that Crispin’s outburst had awakened the others.  They slept soundly.  Crispin bounds from his bed, further worrying Chanler that something was happening that would be beyond his control.  Crispin senses his fear and bounces across the bed toward him, taking Chanler by the shoulders.  Where had all this energy come from all of a sudden. Just moments ago, Crispin was weakened with fever.

“Chanler, do you not see that it is this place that has made me ill?  Do you not see that permitting me to talk about my true feelings and my true self is healing me?  I cannot suppress it any longer.  That is why you must help me escape from here.  I need to find Barcelli and learn what I must do to make amends for the offenses I have committed.  I must find a way back to Rose.  There has to be something I can do to make them understand that we belong together.  Even if it means to give up these powers, to give up my family, to become mortal again.  If that is what it takes to be with her, then so be it.  I love her, Chanler, more than I have ever loved anyone in my life.  I do not want to live like this.  I do not want to live at all if it means living without her.”

‘Please, Crispin, please get back in your bed and speak softer.  You will wake the others and they will wake Father Elliot.  He will be angry that we are talking like this.  Please?’

Crispin stares into his eyes for a moment, letting his hands slide gently off Chanler’s shoulders.  He sinks down onto the bed, lowering his head. 

‘Crispin, if you traveled to the future, then what happened to cause you to return here?  Please, finish your story.  I would like to know everything.’

“Oh Chanler, there is so much to tell.  The sun will rise before I could tell you everything.”

‘Then just tell me of Rose and what happened to bring you back here.’

He lay back onto the pillows and begins to reminisce as Chanler pulls the blanket over him.

“Rose is as beautiful as any Angel in Heaven, Chanler.  Her hair is golden as the sun.  Her eyes as green as an emerald ocean.  Her a newborn baby, so soft and smooth.  Her lips are like a ripe peach, soft, tender and sweet.  When I was in her arms, Chanler, I felt like a King and she was my Queen.  She made me feel like I could conquer any quest and never shed a drop of blood of my own or of my enemy.  I felt complete peace and warmth just being in her presence.  Chanler, I could go on and on but you would still never truly understand.  You have never known a woman, have you, Chanler?”

‘Of course not.  It is forbidden us to know sins of the flesh.  You must know this, Crispin.’

“Yes, I do.”

‘So, what happened?’ Chanler continues.

“Barcelli had explained that it was also forbidden for me or those of our kind, to have a relationship with mortal beings.  Meaning that we could not..”

Chanler raises his hand, ‘I know what you mean.  Go on.’

“Well, I broke that rule without knowing the full consequence of it.  When I left Rose sleeping, I stood and watched her, knowing that it would probably be the last time I would see her.  I wanted to etch the scene of her into my mind forever, to remember every detail of her body, her room, of that night.  As I closed the glass door to her bedroom and stepped away from the house, Barcelli suddenly appeared in front of me.  He was very angry and wanted to argue with me.  He told me that the Council of Seven knew what I had done and had sent him to punish me.  He was to be punished as well since he had not taught me to resist the temptations.  That, I regret.  Barcelli should not be punished for my sins, as they see sins.  So, I begged the Council of Seven to permit me a trial to try and clear Barcelli. They did and I was able to save him by severing ties between him and myself as long as I accepted my own punishment.  I did and that is why I was returned here.  My punishment was to be returned to my own time with all the knowledge that I had acquired and to remember always the woman I love, Rose.  They knew that I would be too weak to keep it all inside and therefore, I would be deemed insane and locked away to die a lonely man.  They were right, Chanler.  I cannot keep it all inside.  It will drive me insane.  It is driving me insane.  Will you help me?”

Chanler seems to be contemplating the whole story as Crispin patiently awaits his decision.  Even though Crispin could violate the privacy of Chanler’s mind, he did not and somehow Chanler knew this.  After several minutes the crow of the rooster warns of the sun’s rising, he answers, ‘I will help you.  I do not know how, but I will try.’

© 2019 Rhayne

Multiverse of Possibility
St. Augustine's Arches

Author's Note

I bolded the font just for you, my friend.

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I read chapter two first and then came right here to read the beginning. I love the story so far, and I wish I'd read it in order so that the suspense had more of an effect. It's so brilliantly written, and I look forward to reading about Crispin's great escape.

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Added on September 9, 2019
Last Updated on September 13, 2019



Nashville, NC

Time to spare now in this MeMa's lair and what better thing to do than what I love second to my Grandchildren; Write. I have so many stories I need to dust off and finish. I love that I've found this .. more..


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