With a screech of wooden legs dragging across wooden floor, a dresser slammed into the front door of the dormitory-like building, one of the legs snapping as it reached the end of its journey, the entire cabinet, still filled with cloth and boots, leaned heavily on the door. A bench followed with a slam, then a table, three chairs, another bench. Someone approached the pile with a hammer and nails, tearing pieces off of it to hammer them into the adjacent walls. The mood in the room was tense, but there was an attempt at levity.
“Does this count as willful destruction?” One of the black-clad young woman asked.
Another grinned at her in a flash of teeth. “I wonder if they’ll punish themselves for breaking it?” A table soared over their heads, and the two women ducked and covered, backing away from the barricade in brisk retreat as another table, this time their heavy dining table, came down in front of the two windows that were the only other entrance to the street outside. A broad shoulder slammed into it, shoving the entire thing against the windows. The hammer came next, bolting it there with nails.
The cult was riding high on the adrenalin of knowing the moment they had prepared for was coming. The City was coming. William had said so. He had said almost nothing else, except to the Sirens. Their Chosen had retreated into the gardens to prepare. Not one of them had seen him for hours.
They knew, however, in that roundabout way that cultists knew anything, that they had not been abandoned. What point was there in actually saying that Melodia was always with them? If they doubted, they merely needed to ask the sirens to offer another song. But they, too, had retreated into the garden. That sense of nervous anticipation was only heightened by having all those that were closest to her in one place. Maybe she would come herself? It seemed like the time. Everything seemed like it was right.
And in the garden, William prepared.
It was a place that he had requested grown as he remembered it. They had cleared, disassembled another building that stood there and converted or removed its inhabitants. The lot had been clear once, after all, before foundations were laid to make room for more people and fewer sculptures. He had found them buried there. He had unearthed the first with his own hands and directed the believers to find the others. One by one, Melodia’s art had resurfaced. He had struggled to find words for them, and they had watched for the days it took of him wandering among the fresh plants and touching each of the statues in turn to name what they were.
“Sacred.” was the word, and they repeated it in silence. It felt powerful, illicit. A secret that only they shared. And the pulse that followed now grew in the garden. It was a beacon, something that they gathered around and tended in groups or alone. The statues and their garden were sacred. They were a special place, important to William, important to Melodia.
The City had a temple again and its agents would be here soon to defile it.