Justin could see his father was thinking about something, something to do with the Germans or better said, Grossdeutschlanders. These men had never seen Germany and perhaps their ancestors were entirely from this world. The Nazis allowed 'Aryan' type humans to join in with them.
“They don't like religion?” Don mused. “Sean,” Don said quietly, “Why don't we go say 'hello' to your guests?” he nodded towards the sailors.
“Of course,” Sean gave his father a tight smile, “It's nothing less than my Christian duty.” Sean was still wearing the robes he had worn for Mass however his whole figure shouted, 'fighting-man' to anyone who took in the broad shoulders, strong limbs and great sweep of his chest tapering to his narrow waist.
Don saw the appraising look in the Nazis' eyes as they approached. Some took in the Priest in his sacramental garb, others the big archer at his side.
“Good day,” the leader of the sailors nodded to Sean. He was dressed in an odd fashion for most sailors in the known world. Don and Sean recognized it as typical seaman's garb of the middle of the twentieth century. The spokesman was obviously an officer he had a pair of junior officers with him and three common sailors with him.
“May God Bless, You,” Sean replied signing the cross over the group. The three common sailors were unaffected and retained dour expressions. The leader smiled but there was something tight about his eyes that Don didn't like in the least. However, the two junior officers fairly radiated hostility. Their expressions did not change but there was something definitely not human behind their eyes.
“Or should I say God's Blessing on All Men?” Sean asked lightly. His tone was light but his expression was the polite smile of a duelist saluting his opponent.
To Don's 'sight' the senior officer was able to mask whatever was underneath. The two junior officers on the other hand were men in form only. Something had hollowed out the shells and left nothing human behind. A Shadow Warden had to be able to see and travel the paths between worlds. He sensed that whatever had taken hold in these men came from far gulfs of where any sane person would avoid to look or tread. There were some deeply evil parts of the Shadow-path and these men were in thrall or more likely entirely replaced by whatever lurked in the darkness beyond that Don had ever traveled or ever would travel.
Don guessed it had to do with Vril energy. He knew the Atlanteans had used it and it caused their Island continent to crash into the sea. The Atlanteans according to legend older than the Egyptian Sphinx, had a way to shield themselves from the worst effects of Vril but they claimed to know nothing of how their ancestors had done so nor would they discuss how it had been used save to say it was a mistake.
If the results were anything like the soulless force glaring hatred and destruction from those junior officers' eyes he could see why the Atlanteans wanted nothing to do with the subject.
Don nearly missed the senior officer's introduction, “Johann Oberstfell” he said without offering his rank.
“Father Sean,” Sean replied but did not offer to introduce his father standing next to him. Sean recognized the conversation as dangerous as speaking to an uncaged tiger. More dangerous a tiger would merely eat you. He didn't hate you or want your death for its own sake.
“I see you came to Mass. Was it to your liking?” Sean asked.
“We feel no need for such superstition,” Oberstfell replied not hiding his contempt, “However, the singing was very good.”
Sean immediately spotted the lie and Oberstfell realized his lie had been detected. He was furious but kept his control. Don could see that the lie itself did not bother Oberstfell only being caught by someone he had underestimated.
“It's my understanding that the Nazi party has its own ceremonies and such,” Sean fenced with Oberstfell.
“Those are purely civic ceremonies,” the Nazi lied again, “The only power is in the minds of those watching and in the united soul of Grossdeutschland.”
“Men do not share a soul,” Sean rebuked him sharply, “Each man must work out his own salvation with fear and trembling.”
“Oh, there is some of that in Grossdeutschland but that is for the Enemies of the State.”
“So there are still good souls in Grossdeutschland,” Sean replied. “I wonder what that must be like,” the words were innocent but Sean's meaning was not lost on the Nazi.
“Oh, I do hope you will be our guest one day and find out first hand,” the Nazi was entirely sincere in that desire even if his words were themselves deceitful.
“I am sure I will be,” Sean replied. Don saw uncertainty flicker across Oberstfell's eyes. Sean's confidence and determination shook something inside the Nazi officer. It was a cool day in the shade of great trees but sweat started from the Nazi officers' brows.
“Are you uncomfortable, Oberstfell?” Sean asked politely.
Don spoke up for the first time, “I'd truly hate to see an honest seafarer uncomfortable on dry land, particularly here where God's grace is in such abundance. Perhaps you have yet to find sure footing since you've docked?”
“You needed worry about us,” Oberstfell snapped, “There will be no place that a Grossdeutschland officer will not set his foot upon soon enough.”
“Is that so?” Don replied, “Atlantis, the Sea Havens, the Empire all have a different viewpoint. Their objections to Nazi boots has been rather pointed at times.
“How many real Nazis are there? Just between you me and the tree here,” Don cocked his head towards the tall Atlantean evergreen that resembled a white and gold oak.
“Real Nazis?” Oberstfell pretended to be confused, “All Nazis are 'real' Nazis. The Party is the State and there is nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”
“Well you've told some whoppers but that is the best I've heard all day,” Don replied. “I suppose all your Orcs and Goblins are good little goose-stepping sons of the Reich.”
“The Reich, that is not a word you hear every day,” Oberstfell replied with a reptilian hiss under his mild words.
Don could have kicked himself. The Nazis avoided using that term and tried to make others forget that it had ever existed.
“No, not every day,” Don agreed he decided to advance rather than retreat. He wanted the Nazi to be worried the word was spreading not where Don had heard the term, “I am older than I look I remember when you arrived. Kept a low profile for a while didn't you? Scared? Running from something? Not that you could tell these days. Except for the masks. I suppose you Nazi's have something to hide.”
The two junior officers took a step towards Don and he and his son shifted by long habit to deal with the possible threat. Oberstfell didn't miss that either. He gave a tiny gesture and his men stepped back pretending to relax.
“So, you are men of action as well as words and used to working together. Brothers perhaps? You have the look of those falsche Engel, Tuathe De.” Seeing the look in Sean's eyes he gave a slight smile, “The good Father has the bearing of a soldier and the eyes of a killer. Doesn't your God say, “Thou shall not kill?”
“Thou shall not murder,” Sean replied, “That is a better translation. The church has always allowed the need for self-defense.”
“Pretty as a Waffen SS Oberscharführer's dream recruit both of you. I am certain we'll find a place for your people within our lands one day.”
“Perhaps, perhaps not,” Sean said noncommittally. “God has a plan for all men, including those in Grossdeutschland. That is my plan as well. I take my marching orders from a higher rank than 'Leader'.”
“I suppose you have your powers. Just as we have ours,” Oberstfell replied.
“No, puppets have no power, even when most cannot see the strings, I know my Father can,” Sean stated baldly.
“Puppet am I? Well, puppy I call you and I know how to deal with puppies,” Oberstfell shoved himself forward so that their chests were nearly touching.
“Dog,” Don said. Oberstfell looked confused for a second then heard Dog growling behind him like boulders in a mountain flood. It was a deep sound that rattled even the Nazi officers.
“You know if Dog were a hell hound as some accuse him of being he couldn't come into this atrium,” Don remarked in a mild tone, “His kind used to share the celestial realms with us. They were God's servants as much as they were our own.”
“You threaten me with a dog?!” the reptilian hiss was the true Oberstfell and Don wondered how anyone could mistake him for a human.
Unsure of what had frightened them people moved back from the Nazi officer and the priest and his father confronting them.
“What better way to deal with vermin?” Don replied. “Like rats that flee a sinking ship.”
“In deference to where we are and your childish superstitions I will give you one chance to apologize.”
“Not going to happen, Fritz,” Don replied angry and at the same time happy as only a Tuathe De could be at the prospect of a fight.
“I am obligated to remind you that the Church has forbidden dueling to resolve personal differences. Although trial by combat is still allowed,” Sean said his voice calm as if he were explaining a simple technical detail and his father's life did not hang on the outcome.
“Duly noted. I'll come for Reconciliation tonight.”
“Reconciliation?” Oberstfell said confused, “You want to reconcile with me?”
“No,” Don laughed grimly, “No, you I want to kill. I meant sacramental reconciliation.”
“Then I will see you tomorrow at dawn,” Oberstfell said satisfied.
“You will. Let us meet at the field outside the tower gatehouse tomorrow dawn.”
“Agreed,” Oberstfell snapped, “I will send my second for the details.”
“Fine,” Don replied starting to grow angry with himself. He had meant to bait the Nazis and wound up losing his own cool.
The Nazis stalked off in a group the crowd made way for the angry sailors as they marched out of the atrium.
Don calmed down immediately as soon as the Nazis had left and as they walked back to their rooms he wondered at his anger. Why had he so eagerly responded to the Nazi's taunting? Was there something in Connor's nature that had made him so volatile? Was it the uncanny nature of his enemy so close?
The day had gone wonderfully seeing his son serve Mass and his wife standing at the front in a place of honor. Celebrating the sacrifice of Jesus with the rest of his friends and family in such a beautiful place. Now it was all ashes and dust because he couldn't keep his temper. Don was calm but somber on his way back to their rooms and his family sensing his mood left him to his own thoughts.