Father Hough slowly walked the hallways and corridors of Metamor Keep. It was several hours before dawn and the great fortress was still asleep. He liked to walk at this hour because it was so quiet, and it allowed him to think in peace.
He had a lot to think about. It was Sunday morning. He should be in the Large hall preparing for the service, but he couldn't work up the enthusiasm. So many things had happened to him lately. Was this really where Eli wanted him to be? Was he really worthy of serving his god? Last year he had been a simple priest with an unusual congregation at Metamor Keep One that he visited several times a year. Now he was one of those strange creatures. He still found the boys face that stared back at him from the mirror a little unsettling. Hough shivered and tried not to think about Loriod, but the memories flooded into his mind anyway. He leaned against the wall and fought the pain and terror that swept through him.
Something bumped against Hough's right foot. Reaching down he discovered that it was a small iron ball, about the size of his fist.
"Hello Father," a voice said from the passage. In a moment a gray metal fox walked up to Hough.
Hough smiled and all his pain and bad memories vanished. "Madog! What are you doing here?" he asked.
"Bored. Misha still asleep, so I come play with you," Madog replied.
Laughing, Hough nodded. He couldn't stay sad with Madog around. The automaton always knew how to cheer him up. "Sure, I'll play." He picked up the iron ball and rolled it all the way down the hall. Madog let out a loud yip, and took off in pursuit, yipping and growling all the way.
In a few moments the automaton came back proudly bearing the ball in his teeth. He dropped it at Hough's feet and it hit the stones with a loud "clunk."
The father picked up the ball again and with all his strength rolled it down the hallway. It ricocheted off one wall and bounced around a corner. Madog in close pursuit, ran yipping and barking after it. The metal animal Swerved around a corner and disappeared from sight. Shortly, Madog trotted back into view carrying his beloved ball.
For the next hour the two played together, first fetch, and when that got boring, hide and go seek. Finally they made their way back to Hough's apartment.
As they reached the door Madog spoke, "what do we do now?"
"It's time for my morning devotions," came the answer.
"OH! Sounds fun! I watch," Madog said.
"You have to promise to sit quietly. All right?" Father Hough said.
"No problem," Madog said.
Hough opened the door and the fox slipped quickly through into the room beyond. The reverend followed but found no sign of Madog. He looked around and noticed a door that hadn't been there before. It was half open.
"OOOOH! Nice," came the fox's voice through the door.
"What are you looking at Madog?" Hough asked. He opened the door fully and walked through.
Hough found himself standing in one corner of a large room, over two stories tall. Tall stained glass windows lit row upon row of seats in the long room. Near the door he had entered was a large altar of a fine, dark, polished wood. At the far end were two large wooden doors that no doubt led into a corridor or hallway.
"What is this place?" Madog asked. "It not here before."
"It's a sanctuary," Hough answered.
"A what?" came the question.
"It's a place of worship. How did it get here? Who built it? It didn't just appear," Hough said, confused.
Madog looked around. "Kyia built it for you."
The father looked at Madog. "Who?" he asked.
"The Keep herself built it for you," came the reply.
"AH! I've heard of it happening but never seen it happen," Hough said with awe in his voice.
"She make a very nice place," the fox said.
"Yes she did. Remind me to thank her," Hough said.
"I tell her, next time she play with me," Madog commented.
It took him a moment to realize what the automaton had said. "What? What do you mean next time she plays with you? Who is Kyia?"
Madog didn't answer him but just looked down at the floor and shifted uncertainly.
Hough knelt down next to Madog and looked him straight in the eyes. "Now I don't mean any harm. Who is Kyia? Is she someone here at the keep?" he asked.
The metal creature stared at him for a moment before answering. "Kyia is Metamor Keep."
The boy started to say how silly that idea was but stopped himself. If Madog could be alive, why not the castle itself? "You've met the soul of Metamor Keep?" he asked.
The fox nodded, "Yes, she fun to play with."
"Amazing," Hough said.
"I hear Misha and Charles talking. They say it be nice if they have a place for you to pray in. Big drafty hall not a proper sanctuary Misha said. Matt say you feel better if there a nice sanctuary," Madog commented. "So I tell Kyia and she say no problem. I know just what he wants." He focused his blue eyes on Hough. "You like?"
Hough hugged the metal animal. "It's beautiful," he said. "When you see her, tell Kyia I'm delighted." Suddenly he stood up and raced into his bedroom. Leaving a confused Madog behind. A few moments later the boy priest returned dressed in full ceremonial robes. In his hands were all the objects he needed for his morning devotions. With slow deliberate care he placed everything in its proper place on the altar.
When everything was just right. He started his morning prayers. He gave thanks to Eli for the fine new house he'd been given to watch over. And he was especially thankful for friends both seen and unseen who'd helped him.
When he was finished he looked toward the metal animal who had watched everything without uttering a sound. Madog had been perfectly quiet throughout the whole thing. He had never seen the fox sit still for so long a time. "Thank you for being so patient."
"Excuse me Father," a voice said from the back of the room. Hough turned to find Kimberly and Matthias standing in the door way. They were staring in amazement at the sanctuary.
Hough waved hem in, "Come in, and welcome to Metamor keeps new chapel."
The two rat morphs carefully walked into the room. "This is beautiful," Kimberly commented.
Matthias nodded in agreement. "We were headed for the hall but instead we wound up here," Matthias said.
Hough smiled at that comment but didn't say anything. Soon other people began to arrive. He greeted them all with a cheerful smile and a warm welcome. The doubts and fears of a few hours ago were forgotten like a bad dream after waking.