The home of Marco Cusmano was always a grim place. Of course those who had spent their childhood here has their share of happy memories, but each moment of joy was tainted by the echo of their father’s enigmatic “business”. A darkness that haunted every smile, a pain behind every embrace.
Though to lend Marco some credit, he was not the cause of the most recent darkness to dwell within the walls of the Cusmano home. Recently Dominic Cusmano has been struck with a mysterious affliction. It began as a fever that worsened and worsened; next the young man’s eyes became a dark crimson color, than his voice took on a strange pitch and his personality had become odd and unpredictable.
The family doctor was stumped, the family priest however was not. The good Father was convinced it was a possession, he tried all he could to exorcise what he called a “demon” from the boy’s soul; To no avail. Finally the “affliction” had progressed so far that Marco himself took action into his own hands. He used his contacts in the criminal world and discovered some of his less human criminal colleagues had occasional run-ins with a paranormal expert called the Draoi.
Marco immediately called on this person, and after a lengthy debate in price, he hired him. His wife, an even more devout catholic than he was, refused to talk with him; Saying he had made compact with the Devil. Marco was sure she would forgive him, if this Draoi cured their son. He was reflecting on this in his study when his maid came in.
“Your guest is here Mister Cusmano.”
“Splendid, thank you Emilie.”
Riordan was trying to ease up on the “paranormal expert” biz. He wanted to focus some more on his heroic pursuits, after all he had a lot to make up for, but the price was far too tempting pass up. As the maid let him into the foyer he found himself having second thoughts, he had heard the rumors about the Cusmano crime family; Was he doing a good deed, with the added bonus of cash, or was he just aiding and abetting a criminal mastermind?
“Mister Draoi, I presume?” A confident and rough voice said, drawing Riordan out of his daze. Marco took notice of the Riordan’s wooden staff and bright green shirt emblazoned with a large celtic tree insignia and wrote it off as him being one of those people.
“Just the Draoi, it’s not my name; more of a title. The name’s Burke, Riordan Burke.”He said with a smile.
“Uh, yes. Well please come with me.” Marco Cusmano led the Riordan to his son’s bedroom. He saw the man was tied to the bed; the odd thing was he didn’t seem to fighting his captivity; He was smiling, not insanely or evilly, just warm smile.
“It burns does not, I mean does not burn. Brilliant!” He laughed.
“He rambles on about burning and fire a lot these days. The priest did all he could, but the demon is still in there.” Marco said, tensely rubbing his temples.
“There is no demon in this house.” Riordan said flatly as he moved closer to Dominic.
“What do you mean, the impossibly high fever and the levitation and all his incoherent talk about burning and stuff that happened centuries ago. The priest must be right, he is possessed by a demon!”
“If the priest was right then why am I here Mister Cusmano? Don’t wander into this arena blindly based on your own assumption and need for control. Please trust your instinct that maybe I know something you don’t.” Riordan said coldly as he sat next to Dominic’s bed.
“Are you out of your mind talking to me like that boy?”
“Many people would say I am “out of my mind,” some would be right, but frankly no at this moment I don’t believe I am crazy. I am however someone who can and will help you with this problem.” He said calmly, unafraid of the reputed mobster’s wrath.
“Okay then if it is not a demon, what is it?”
“I’m not sure yet. I’d know if it was a demon though they are flashy and like to make their presence known with the classic dread and chills and all that cliché stuff. They like to make it painful for their hosts and generally act unpleasant. He seems quite stable and even happy, This is no demon.”
“Demons,” Dominic, or whatever was inside of him, said with a laugh, “I don’t care for them at all; Them at all, They at all?”
“No you had it right the first time, it’s them at all.” Draoi corrected him patiently.
“Ah, Thank you keltoi.” The entity said kindly.
“Keltoi?” The growing ever more frustrated Marco questioned.
“It’s an old fashion way of saying Celt, I’m Irish… more or less.”Riordan said turning to Marco only for a moment before turning back to the man’s son.
“Irish, Irishman, how it changes…” The entity smiled with Dominic’s mouth, “Irishman guess what?”
“It does not burn, It stays and does not tarry into ash. How lovely.” the entity said motioning to the ropes tying him down.
“Ah I think I see now.”Riordan said with a satisfied smile.
“What do you see?” Marco demanded.
“Hold on, I’m onto something here.”
“He does not see, Irishman. He thinks he power has, has power, but he can’t even see.” The entity laughed again, “He brought a disciple of the Jewish king to read at me, it was fascinating Irishman.” The entity said as if he was sharing a humorous anecdote with a friend over drinks.
“Yes the priest, if the old fogey had been halfway clued in he would have seen you weren’t a demon from miles away.” Riordan laughed. Marco, though still ignorant of the real goings on, was quite incensed that they were now chatting about him and his parish priest of over a decade.
“A demon, Dominic thought that at first to. Dominic saw the fire and was scared, Dominic sees now though.” The entity said, in a quite sweet tone.
“How dare you speak of my son!”
“He yells again…” The entity laughed.
“That’s it!” Marco lunged forward. Riordan threw himself into a standing position and pushed Marco gently but firmly backwards. “Lay hands on me again devil-worshipper and no one will ever find your body.”
‘How do I get myself in these situations?’ Riordan thought to himself.