Father Clemens

Father Clemens

A Chapter by David Darabian
"

A priest finds a secluded chamber of the Vatican and begins to read from an old book by an unknown author.

"

 

 

I should never have done what I did, and what I did my people still suffer by. Another day, another time, vengeance will be mine.

 

He closed the book and tried to find the name of the author, but without luck. It looked old, perhaps a couple of centuries. He had worked in the library for close to seven years and never had anyone told him of this secluded chamber. He wondered why.

“Father Clemens, are you down here?” The voice startled him since he hadn’t heard Father Gasparus come down. For some reason he hid the book in his robe. It felt as if he had stumbled upon something that his fellow colleagues wanted to stay hidden. I will get expelled from the order for this, he thought to himself.

“Yes, Father!” He said and hurried away from the dusty shelf to the section with 15th century poetry. Just as he grabbed a book Father Gasparus rounded the corner and walked up to him.

“Willowfeldt, makes you cry and laugh at the same time.”

“W-what?” Father Clemens said before he understood that Father Gasparus was referring to the book in his hand. “Oh yes… no other quite like him.” He said and forced a smile.

“Indeed.” Father Gasparus said and looked at him suspiciously. 

As they walked back through the dim corridor he could feel Father Gasparus’ eyes looking at him every now and then; which made the hair on his neck stand on-end, but he dared not look back.

“Were you looking for me?” He said as steadily as he could when they reached the stairs at the far end of the corridor.

“Yes, Father Nicholas has asked me to find and bring you to him.” Father Gasparus answered and started to climb the stairs close behind Father Clemens.

“Do you know what it is he needs of me?” Father Clemens then asked when he realized that Father Gasparus wasn’t about to continue.

“I’m afraid I didn’t ask. Surely he wants you to help him with the filing cabinets; your help is deeply appreciated Father Clemens.”

He swallowed a big lump of saliva down his dry throat and pretended not to have heard Father Gasparus’ spiteful tone. Maybe Gasparus knew that he was concealing another book in his robe? He dismissed the thought. No one knew, not yet anyway.

When they reached the more recognizable parts of the complex Father Gasparus bid him farewell before adding. “Keep away from the chambers down there, it’s dangerous. You might get lost.”

 

He hurried back to his quarters and locked the door behind him; his heart pounded so hard he almost feared someone would hear it. For several minutes he stood with his back against the door half expecting someone would break it in and confront him, but it never happened. Finally he calmed himself, tossed Willowfeldt aside and pulled out the book from under his robe. His hands were shaking so terribly that he had to place the book on the desk to be able to read. He prayed for forgiveness before opening it, gazing at the first recognizable words.

 

I should never have done what I did, and what I did my people still suffer by. Another day, another time, vengeance will be mine.

 

Had I know the events that followed - the choice would have been simple. I wanted the flower and the weed to grow side by side, not drinking each other’s water, how could I have been so naive? Sharing was never a word with meaning in human ears; we are hunted because we are.

 

With every inch of my body I resist the urge to stop, I struggle forward in a never-ending blizzard and yet I feel that the storm some day will end.

 

Life lasts longer on hope.

 

 

“Archers stand ready.” Her voice echoed over the men and they followed her bidding, grabbing arrows from the ground in front and fitted them onto their bows. “Aim!”

The men all raised their bows so that the arrowhead all pointed towards the sky, and then followed the creaking sound of hundreds of bowstrings being stretched simultaneously.

“LOOSE!” She cried and instantly heard the thrum of arrows taking flight. For a few heartbeats the day blackened by the thick cloud of arrows flying towards the enormous force that raced in their direction. The arrows rained down, killing and maiming hundreds, but instead of slowing down their pace increased.

Again she ordered for another volley, but its effect was the same as the last. When the enemy was close enough for her to see the banner of the blood-red cross she ordered her heavy cavalry to charge, followed by the infantry. The ground shook as they raced down the slope.

“NO MERCY!” She shouted.

“NO PAIN!” Was the immediate response from the thousands of troops running and riding behind her. As the distance closed she could see the brute and filthy faces of her enemies.

“FOR THE OWL!” Someone in the back screamed, instantly being repeated by the others.

 

The rap on the door had him knock down a porcelain figure from his desk " breaking into thousand pieces.

“Are you okay?” It was the familiar voice of Sister Juliana.

He quickly tucked the book under his bed sheets and leaned down to pick up the shards.

“Yes, I’m fine.”

“May I come in?” She said and pushed the handle down only to find the door locked.

He hurried to the door and opened it, still with shards in his hand. Sister Juliana’s face always reflected the mood she was in, this time she looked sincerely worried. “I heard something break, sure you’re okay Father?” She then saw the shards in his hand, some of who had pierced his skin " dripping blood on the floor. “Oh my, you’re bleeding!”

“I’m fine Sister,” he said, but she insisted on bandaging his hand. Luckily he had a first-aid-kit in the bathroom.

“Now isn’t that better?” She said with a smile after she was finished, no doubt proud of her accomplishment.

“Much better, thank you Sister.”

She nodded. “You’re welcome Father Clemens. Now let me clean this up so you won’t get any more nasty gashes.”

Despite his objections she tidied up the floor, carefully picking up every little shard. Time seemed to race away and all he could see was Sister Juliana squatting and moving inch by inch across the floor. When she finally stopped and straightened he thanked her and almost pushed her out of the door. “Father… Father…,” she said when he was about to close the door.

“Yes?”

“I came to tell you that Father Andreas is helping Father Nicholas, so you are in no hurry.”

“Ah… thank you!” He said as gentle as he could before slamming the door shut and rushing back.”

He had only just picked up the book before another rap came from the door.

“Yes?”

“It’s me again Father, I wanted to ask you something…” Sister Juliana said.

“Go ahead…”

She was quiet for a while before saying: “I feel silly talking to a door.”

“Don’t be ashamed Sister, now was there something else?”

“I… never mind Father, I’ll talk to you again when you are less busy.”

He heard her footsteps disappear down the hall before he resumed to the book.

 

I was the first wife of the human father but still I’m regarded as a castaway. My deepest regret is that I let the offspring of my former husband roam the earth.

 

My tongue tastes blood and hungers for more.

 

“FOR THE OWL!” They cried and charged straight on. The manoeuvre stunned the enemy and the brief hesitation was enough to turn the well spaced lines into turmoil. Lilith raced her horse and carved into the opposing force like a wedge in a mile long wall, which began to crack. Screams filled the battlefield as the horses trampled those who stood in their way. She could feel every strike her sabre delivered; slashing into flesh and bone bringing down men on both of her sides. Even though the enemy were notably in majority they soon turned and fled. She let her men pursue the fleeing force, realising too late that it was a trap. Before she had a chance to gather her divided troops, a previously hidden cavalry division of the blood-red cross flanked her. The situation changed in an instant, the fleeing men regrouped and charged their shocked pursuers.

Lilith, fall back!” She saw Asmodai in the throng of men, recognisable on his black stallion racing towards her. Then something struck her head, everything went black and she felt herself falling from the saddle.

 

Yet I don’t know where my son is held, but in due time he will be freed and the battle that should have been will be and have been done.

 

Forgive me Asmodai for I know I have faltered.

 

When she came to and tried to open her eyes every speck of light felt like a dagger piercing her scull. She traced her lips with her tongue feeling caked blood on her lips and in her mouth. Her right hip and shoulder was the worst; one small movement was enough to make her head spin in pain. She tried to open her eyes again and little by little the world around her emerged. When her eyes finally adjusted to the dimness in the chamber she saw that a man was standing in front of her. He was wearing a decorated gold-woven robe with a large red cross on his chest. His beard was long and white with streaks of grey as was his wavy hair that reached down to his shoulders. He had his right hand clasped around a silvery hilt of a sword, while his left rested on his waist. When he saw her move he looked up and met her stare. His eyes had that fiercely devoted look that all believers had, as if they were justified in carrying out persecutions and slaughter.

 

“My name is Jacques de’Molay. I am the Grandmaster of the holy Knights Templar order.” He said to her in a hard dark voice, heavily flavoured by Frankish. When she didn’t answer he continued. “I presume that you are the one your people call the owl…” An amused smirk appeared on his face when she remained silent. “Fine, I’ll let you hang for another week and when I return I hope you will be more willing to talk. For your own sake.” He turned and left the dungeon, closely followed by two personal guards. Her whole body ached and she had lost the feeling in both of her arms. They had shackled her to the wall in the simile of a cross with arms outstretched and legs tight together. She wanted to scream but the thought of pleasing her keepers kept her from doing so. Humans really were experts in the art of torture, force-feeding her so she wouldn’t die and tormenting her so she didn’t want to live.

 

 After what must have been a week the Grandmaster returned, only to find out that his questions remained unanswered. “Your troops have all been killed or imprisoned, it is pointless for you to resist.” Jacques was a bad liar. She could hear him struggle with the words as if he wasn’t used to lying. He didn’t have that amused smirk any longer. Instead an annoyed sigh gave away his frustration. “Another week.” The echo of the dungeon door being slammed shut when he left made her gloat over his despair. Even though she knew that he was lying she couldn’t keep herself from wondering what had happened to Asmodai. She hoped he was safe.

 

Rattle from the dungeon door woke her up. Had it been one week already? The man she knew as Jacques de’Molay entered the room together with his escort - now with a different expression. “Bring her down.”

“But sire…” One of the guards objected but was cut short.

“Now!” His voice was sharp and determined and his eyes icy blue eyes never left hers. He kept his right hand close to his sword on his hip, occasionally fingering the hilt as to make sure it was there. His guards had their swords drawn and were standing on either side of the Grandmaster.

Had he began to feel pity for her? She despised him even more.

As they unlocked the chains she fell to the floor, her arms too weak to break the fall. She hit the ground hard and had the wind was knocked out of her; which started a moment’s uncontrollable fit of cough. Red phlegm dripped from her lips but she remained still, grateful to be out of the clutches but afraid of what was going to happen. When she saw a shadow looming over her she stiffened and readied herself to die. The shadow remained still for a moment before it leaned down and looked at her. “I never knew hell-spawns had such dignity. You have my respect for all it’s worth.” Jacques said mildly while he studied her.

Her dry throat hurt when she struggled for words. “I am no hell-spawn and neither are my children.” She finally managed to say in a hoarse voice, her lungs burned with every word.

He straightened and laughed, surely surprised that she finally talked and amused by her answer. “Might I ask what it is you are then?” He said in a tone full of mockery.

She raised her head and looked straight at him before she answered. “I am the first wife of Adam, the wife of the Samael " keeper of the gates of paradise and the mother of all daemons. I am Kiskil-lilla, Lilitu and Lilith. I am human!” The anger flared in her and she glared at the Grandmaster with such hatred that he stepped back and stared at her in disbelief. “You are filled with lies, that’s what you are!” He hissed and rushed for the door.

“Sire, what should we…”

“Let her be,” he said and left the uneasy guards alone with her.

 

 

It seemed like it was written by Lilith " the first wife of Adam according to some, and mere folklore to most. The sentences were hard to translate, sometimes read literally and sometimes as metaphors. Father Clemens still trembled, but not so much out of fright as of excitement when he looked at the last couple of sentences again.

 

Seekers of the truth often become blind and deaf when faced with their goal. Ignorance is sustained when the truth differs.

 

He thought about it for a moment until the meaning finally occurred, and instantly his heart was filled with fright. Was she about to… no she couldn’t! He didn’t want to believe it. Was she about to reveal life’s greatest mysteries? She is just a myth! No one knows the secret of God! He told himself.

 

 

Weeks had passed since she’d last seen Jacques de’Molay. She had regained some of her strength and her wounds had begun to heal. She was sitting with her back against the damp stone wall when she heard sounds from behind the dungeon door, followed by the rattling of keys to the lock. Before the door opened she knew that it was he whom had returned. His confident grin greeted her as he stepped in together with his two guards. He didn’t care for a greeting but cut straight to the point.

“If you truly are Lilith, mentioned in the Alphabet of Ben-Sira, then you should know the name of God.”

When she hesitated his smile widened, clearly thinking that he’d detected her lie. “As you see I don’t let anything slip by. I must admit that it is an interesting book even though it is untrue, the tales of Lilith and Adam is captivating and when…”

“God is no more.” She broke in, wanting his smile to perish.

Even though this was a serious claim he laughed scornfully at her. “A hell-spawn saying that God is dead… how original.”

She continued as if he hadn’t interrupted her, while struggling to get to her feet. “God is a title that hasn’t been claimed for nearly six thousand years, and before that it was occupied by Senoy, Sansenoy and Semangelof, the three most powerful angels at that time.”

His laughter echoed in the bare dungeon, soon accompanied with his two personal guards’. He was seriously amused. “Your words are indeed filled with lies, tell me truth and I might consider letting you free.” He said, clearly mocking her with no intention of letting her go free.

“I know your secret.” She said and winced when pain shot through the wound on her hip that still hadn’t fully healed.

“Really? And what might that be? Let me remind you that all I know I share with my templar brothers, we don’t keep anything from each other.” He sounded convincing, she could give him that. The many years of denial has paid its toll. She thought bitterly.

“And a very noble Order you are. I guess you don’t mind if I tell them your secret then”, she said and met his gleaming grin, which began to fade.

 “Leave us!” He barked at his two guards who immediately hurried for the door. When he heard the door close he fixed his eyes on her. “Tell me!”

“I know the tale about the nine knights and their noble quest to protect the pilgrims, but we both know that isn’t the truth.”

His new posture affirmed that her words had hit their mark. He just stared at her without uttering a word.

“I know about the unknown ninth knight, said to have been Hugh Comte de Champagne " to be a lie. The ninth knight was my grandson. You fought him on the battlefield without knowing that it was him " one of the founders of your pitiful order. Even though his so called brothers at that time knew that he was neither religious nor human they treated him no different than they did each other. Am I right?”

“Y-Y-You are not a Grandmaster, how can you possibly know these things?”

His face had turned pale and his eyes looked at her in disbelief. She could see a change in him. Had he begun to believe in who she was?

“His name is Asmodai and like his templar brothers he wanted to find the Dagger of Power; a talisman that according to legend gives the wielder the power to change destiny. It was said to be buried in the old Temple of Solomon and for nine years they dug until finally they found it along with a small parchment.”

The Grandmaster sunk to his knees with tears in his eyes. “It is just a myth, a made up story…,” he said but his voice betrayed him, he knew it was the truth.

Herein rests the son of our most trusted servant and…” quoting the words she knew were written on the parchment.

“…the son of man's first queen,” he finished the last words he had memorized for so long with a heavy sigh, tears streamed down his face.

“Yes, I see you are finally beginning to realise the truth.” She said. He didn’t answer so she continued.

“Only one of the knights knew what it really meant to wield the Dagger of Power, Asmodai, but they didn’t listen to him. He tried to warn them that the dagger wasn’t meant to be wielded by humans. With such a powerful talisman within reach their former loyalty to each other and to the king began to tear. As the months went by the knights began to question each other, they quarrelled over who should be its wielder but never did they reach a decision. Asmodai watched his brothers change into fierce enemies until he one night decided to steal it and bring it to me. Unfortunately he was caught before he was able to reach me, and they cast him out of the order. He could easily have killed the eight knights had he wanted to but his feelings forbade him” She paused and looked at the shattered man in front of her. He was on his knees with his hands clasped tightly together, mumbling something indistinct. Tears were rolling down his cheeks. “That is the true nature of your so called hell-spawns,” she finished.

 

After a moment he quieted and stared at the dungeon floor, as if hoping to find an answer in the cracks in between the stones. Then suddenly he sprung to his feet. “LIES!” He cried out and seemed to struggle over what to say next. “The Alphabet of Ben-Sira is a collection of mere folk-tales that heathens claim true only to soil the pure Christian faith! You are not Lilith!” His eyes glowed feverish, as if he was trying to convince not only her, but himself as well. She knew that he was a devoted believer who lived by the teachings of the Bible, for him to accept the truth; that the Knights Templar had been created by a nonhuman, that God was a mere title among angels and that no one had occupied that title for several centuries " which meant that now there was no God " had to be excruciating.

 

Even the hardest rock is still just a rock that can be broken.

 

He staggered out of the dungeon and left her standing in her cell with renewed strength glowing from her eyes. When the door was closing she saw him drop to his knees and cry in front of his shocked men who had been waiting outside. One of the guards shot her a frightened glance before the door banged shut and swallowed the cell in darkness. In some strange way she couldn’t help but feel sorry for the Grandmaster. Even though she had been imprisoned and tormented at his orders she knew that his suffering was far worse; having dedicated a lifetime to a scam and that all the murders committed in that name were unjust.  

 

Not more than an hour later the Grandmaster’s two personal guards came to fetch her. They seemed nervous and kept a distance from her; clearly afraid that she might weaken them in the same way that she had their Grandmaster. She tried to take a step but her legs failed her and she would have fallen hadn’t one of the guards caught her. She could feel his hands tremble as he steadied her, and when she looked at him gratefully he flinched but kept his hold on her. Gently he helped her out of the dungeon and up a long spiralling stairway, through a long and narrow dim-lit corridor and then finally into a grand room where a young boy was pouring steaming hot water into a wooden tub. When the boy saw them he quickly emptied the bucket and ducked out past them, careful not to meet their eyes. The guards helped her to the tub and left thereafter.

 

It was a majestic room surely used by kings or queens should they ever visit. Large oil paintings of at least a dozen different lords were hanging on the walls and in the far side of the room stood a large oaken bed draped in red velvet. She carefully made her way to the bed, stepping over woolly furs and exotic carpets from the Far East. When she neared she saw that a dark blue gown had been lain out on the bed for her together with a pair of white furry slippers. The fireplace had been lit and was sending warm caressing air through her body which almost made her knees buckle. She closed her eyes for a moment while she steadied herself to the bedpost and listened to the fire crackle and gnaw through timber. The sound was as sweet as music. She took a deep breath and filled her lungs with the warmth and the flowery smell from the water in the tub.

 

From a large window adjacent to the fireplace light was sipping through the curtains. She walked over and slid the curtain to the side. The sun was about to disappear down the horizon but was being replaced by smaller lights coming from hundreds of windows from below. The city was vast and there didn’t seem to be an end to the many rooftops that tiled the ground. She heard an owl hoot in the distant but it was too dark to make out. Relief washed over her when she felt Asmodai stare on her; safely watching her from one of the many windows from below.

She made her way back to the tub and took another deep breath again. After she had dipped her finger and felt the warmth it didn’t take long before nothing but her head was sticking up from the water. When she finished the bath she crept down between the bedcovers and fell asleep.

 

She woke by a rap at the door. “The Grandmaster wants to see you.” A man’s voice called from behind the door. She put on the blue gown and the slippers. For a moment she just stroked the soft fabric that she’d been away from for so long. It felt as if all she’d ever worn were tattered wool and studded leather. The memories of silk and satin were as distant as the warm bath had been till last night. Another rap followed. “May we enter?” It was the same voice as before. She found it peculiar that they were asking her for permission.

“You may,” she answered and two personal guards entered. Something was different, but she couldn’t determine what.

“Please come with us.” The taller of the two guards said in a mild voice. The guard wasn’t someone she’d seen before. He had a youthful appearance despite his blond beard stubble and his nose was a bit too big for his face. He was dressed in the regular templar uniform with a black cape draped around his shoulders and a sword strapped on his hip. The other guard was dressed alike but older, shorter and a bit stocky. His skin was sunburned and furrowed, which witnessed of years in the open, and his dark eyes of battle.

She was escorted through another couple of corridors before they reached a very modest wooden door blocked by another guard. They stopped and waited for the other guard to open the door. It was the same guard that had helped escort her the day before. When he opened the door he took her arm and helped her through, this time without flinching.

“Thank you.” She said.

“My pleasure, Mother.” He replied and saluted her.

 

 

Father Clemens dropped the book to the floor, his vision started to go black and he felt dizzy. He sat down on his bed and tried to calm himself. Had he read it right? Was it possible? The church had known about this secret for over a century but kept it hidden. He had to inform the organisation. He rushed out through the hall and headed toward the novices’ chambers where he knew a phone was located. For once he cursed the primitive life he had chosen. When it came in views range he was relieved to see that no one occupied it. He tried to remember the numbers he once was forced to memorize and luckily his memory didn’t fail him.

Seven ring tones passed before someone finally picked up. He could hear someone breathing in the other end but apart from that the person remained quiet.

“May I speak to Tobias?” He said, not knowing what to say.

“You have the wrong number,” a dark hollow voice answered shortly, but without hanging up.

Father Clemens knew there was something he was supposed to do, if he only could remember what. When he was about to give up it came back to him. “Abraham; father of all true religions.” He said.

“Please hold.”

“Yes?” Father Clemens recognised the voice even though it had been long since he’d last heard it.

“Tobias, it’s Roberto…” He said.

“Ah... hello Roberto, is everything fine? You sound worried…”

“Fine, fine… listen I need to see you right away. It’s of great importance.”

“What is it?”

“I need to see you in person, I’ll explain everything then. I got to go.”

“No, listen Roberto… Roberto?”

 

Panic raged through him as he ran back through the corridors. How could he have been so stupid and to forget to lock the door! When he neared his room he saw that the door was open. It’s too late, the book will be burned and I will get expelled. Just as he was about to enter he met Sister Juliana on her way out. She flinched, obviously not prepared to be meeting someone " least of all him.

“Oh I’m sorry. I came to check on your bandages,” she said in an awkward tone. She had seen the book, no doubt. He needed to play along, he needed time. “I’m fine Sister, thank you for asking. Do you want to come in for a cup of tea? We can talk about that thing you wanted to tell me earlier.”

“No, I can’t Father, I need to…go…and help Father Peter with something.” He smiled inwardly at her inability to lie and hoped that his bluff would buy him the time he needed.

“Ah… ok Sister, please come back soon though, I’ll be here the whole day… have to catch up on my reading.”

She smiled and nodded nervously. “I will Father,” she said and hurried off.

The book was lying on the floor where he had left it, visible for anyone who entered. Damn! He tucked the book in his robe and hurried back out. He set of in a brisk trot through the corridors that led him through the main gate out of the complex and finally into the Vatican City centre. He could feel the stares at the back of his head but no one attempted to stop him and why would they? They didn’t know what he knew, not yet. The City was swarming with tourists who came to praise Pope Nicodemus and to feel closer to God. He didn’t question their faith even though he thought it a bit peculiar since God was everywhere, or at least so he had thought until recently. His mind was in turmoil and the only reasonable thought he had left was: Get the book to New Amsterdam!

 

“Taxi, taxi!” He waved as he’d seen folks do when in a hurry and sure enough, a taxi stopped in front of him only seconds later. He jumped into the backseat and told the driver to get to the St. Martín Plaza. That was where the main post office was located and it was there that all post was gathered before being sent off. If there was a place where he could hope to have the book securely posted it would be from there; where thousands upon thousands letters and packages were sent every day.

After twenty minutes of nervous sweating and half a dozen honks and low curses from the taxi driver, they reached the plaza. He then realised that he didn’t have his wallet to pay for the fare, and when he began to explain that the taxi driver just waved it off. “I can’t take money from a man of God. It would be like taking money from God himself. A blessing for my newborn daughter will be more than enough.” He answered calmly before he hit the horn again and swore out loud when a car darted past inches away from a collision.

Father Clemens thanked him, blessed his daughter with a few well picked words and then hurried out towards the post office. People looked at him when he ran across the plaza, some with wide-spread eyes " as if they thought he was being chased by ghouls or demons. It wasn’t very often people saw sweaty priests run in full sprint across a plaza dressed in a devotees robe.

 

As he entered the post office the queue let him forward; they too realising that he was there on important matters. The large lady from behind the counter looked at him with a worried expression when he approached. “May I help you, Father?”

“Yes, please! I need this packaged sent.” He took the book out from under his robe and gave it to the lady, somewhat reluctantly. She took the book and walked out through a door in the back; disappearing out of sight for a moment before she returned with a parcel in her left hand. “Please write the name and address of the receiver here,” she said and pointed at the top of the parcel. He couldn’t remember the address to the organisation’s headquarters anymore, should it be where it had been when he visited it last; fifteen years ago. He couldn’t write “la Legion d’Abraham” on it either; it would doubtlessly be inspected if he did. Instead he wrote the only name he could think of; the name his friend and the only link her had to the organisation: Tobias Tiernay, New Amsterdam. He handed it back to the lady and mumbled a low prayer for safe travel.

After the quick visit to the post office he wandered towards the eastern parts of the city towards St. Vincent’s chapel. There he would seek guidance from an old friend, the only one in the city he half trusted right now. When he had walked for a good hour or two a black Mercedes screeched to a halt in front of him. Two men dressed in black suits darted out and grabbed him by his arms and hauled him back in. They looked like typical Sicilians with broad bull’s necks and shoulders. Their hair was well-cut and it gleamed like polished wood even in the gloominess of the car.   

 

He knew where they were taking him and of course why but he tried the unwitting tactics. “Where are you taking me? Who are you? Let me off! I’m a man of God!” It didn’t have any effect, if something it only seemed to make the big vein on their foreheads throb faster. The car swished through the centre, past red lights and zigzagged in front of cars that answered in a symphony of car honks. A short moment later they reached the Vatican complex. The car stopped by a hooded man standing in an alley by a broken street light that seemed to have been waiting for them. Once again he was hauled, only this time towards the hooded man.

“Give it to me!” He recognized the voice from under the hood as Father Gasparus’.

“Give what?” He tried in an attempt to sound innocent.

“The book!” Father Gasparus said sharply. “Sister Juliana told me you had it.” The hint of annoyance was clear in his voice.

“Book?” He said and shrugged. “I don’t know what you are talking about.” His tone gave away the lie but he was passed caring. He would most definitely get expelled and there was nothing he could do to change it.

“Don’t play coy with me!” Father Gasparus said in a menacing tone and gestured for the two men to haul him back into the car. “You will stand accounted for your sins!” He said with pure hatred in his voice before he closed his door. The last words send a chill down his spine and Father Clemens began to feel a bit anxious.

 

Through the toned windows he could see that they had left the main road and now travelled on a smaller dirt road which was lined by dense forest. It had started to grow dark and for perhaps the twentieth time in the last hour he asked the men where they were going. Suddenly the car stopped and he was dragged towards an old stone windmill that was built in a glade on a small hill overlooking the forest.

 

“What are you doing? What is this place?” He tried, and squirmed in their grip. The hinges in the thick wooden door creaked when it opened and a cloud of dust billowed when Clemens landed face down on the floor. It smelled of damp and mould and when the door was closed the only light left came from the tiny chink from under the door. When his eyes adapted to the darkness and he could see that a stairway spiralled up and ended in a clouded opening forty meters up or so, which as far as he could see, was the only way out except for the door.

 

The stairway had lost half of its steps and the other half seemed to be ready to split and fall to the floor. He gently placed his foot on the step and held his breath when it creaked disturbingly. Just three more steps. Careful! For the last hour or two, he had walked patiently up the fragile stairs, feeling his weight with every step. It had grown darker and he could see the glow of the moon coming from the opening a couple of steps away. He guessed it wasn’t long until midnight. Dust rained down when he placed his foot on the step. He traced his foot over the step and felt with his weight again; he held his breath and took another step. Relief rushed through him when he finally had both feet on the ledge, feeling solid stone beneath the delicate timber.

 

The feeling lasted only till he lifted his gaze and saw the landscape. The forest stretched miles in every direction and there were no sign of any households. Except for the lights coming from what seemed like two cars headed in his direction and the glow from moon, it was all dark. He waved his arms at the approaching cars but when they came closer he saw that it was the same type of black Mercedes that had brought him there. What were they going to do to him? What could they do? He dared not answer his own questions. Carefully he turned back and began the slow descend. When he was halfway down the stairway creaked violently and he knew what was about to happen. Together with wooden boards, nails and crumbled mortar he fell headlong to the ground, and cried out when he felt a sharp stab of pain from his right foot. The door opened immediately and one of the goons entered together with Father Gasparus. When Father Gasparus saw him in pain, buried under a couple of boards, he smiled “God is merciful to his followers and merciless to his foes indeed”

“What am I doing here?” He was furious, he wanted answers.

“You are to be judged” Father Gasparus said plainly.

From the front door Father Clemens could see a streak of smoke swirling in the air, his eyes widened and he began to feel real fright for what he now knew was planned for him.

“You can’t do this! Everyone will know! This isn’t the Christian way!” He screamed at Father Gasparus, who looked at him with indifferent eyes. The other goon entered the room and together with his partner they cleared the rubble off Father Clemens and grabbed him under his arms once again. This time Father Clemens wasn’t as cooperative as he had been before. He twisted back and forward, trying to break free from their grip but he knew it was pointless. He had broken his foot so even if he did manage to break free from their iron grip he wouldn’t be able to outrun them.

 

Encircled around a large heap of collected debris waited a handful of people; one of whom was holding a torch. When he got closer he saw that the people gathered were all priests, most, if not all, from the Vatican even. The recognizable faces were of priest around seventy who had stayed in their rooms all their life to examine or translate old writings. When he got close enough to see the one carrying the torch he couldn’t believe his eyes.

Sister Juliana!

“Don’t speak my name heretic! Least of all don’t call me sister!” Her eyes were murderous as if she was watching the Devil himself. “To think that I once had feelings for you!” She said with a tremor.

They tied him to a pole in the midst of the gathered rubble. Father Gasparus walked up to the heap and looked at him with disgust before he turned to the others. “We are here today to send one of the Devil’s kin back to the flames from which he came from. If anyone has anything to say in defence of this…man, say so now.” The only sound came from the wood creaking under him as he shifted his weight. “Let the cleansing begin!” Father Gasparus roared.

Sister Juliana took a step forward and looked Father Clemens in the eyes " hers were moist.

“Sister Juliana, please…”

“May God have mercy on your soul.” She said and dipped the torch onto the debris.

 




© 2010 David Darabian



Author's Note

David Darabian
Revised to the better, hopefully.

My Review

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Featured Review

I absolutely loved this chapter David. There was so much depth in the story and the characters. You pulled off the changing point of view from Father Clemens to Lilith masterfully, which can be difficult to do for many writers. I never felt lost in the transistion. I also love the way you were so descriptive throughout the story allowing me to feel like I was there and part of the fight. Only very few technical edits needed in all. I would love to read more of this story!

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

I absolutely loved this chapter David. There was so much depth in the story and the characters. You pulled off the changing point of view from Father Clemens to Lilith masterfully, which can be difficult to do for many writers. I never felt lost in the transistion. I also love the way you were so descriptive throughout the story allowing me to feel like I was there and part of the fight. Only very few technical edits needed in all. I would love to read more of this story!

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wow David.
Aside from some grammar technicalities that was one of the best stories I've read in a long time. No lie. The way you built the story up to the very end was masterful. Was Sister Juliana who I think she was?
Now being a Christian myself I have certain beliefs that of course conflict with your story. But the fact that I kept reading for reading's sake tells you what a great job you did. I'm impressed.
Bravo

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Holy crap, this is EPIC!
Yeah, there are mistakes but they don't take away.
But they do need to be fixed eventually.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wow, that was intense! The myth is very well-developed, and for all I know, it could be a preexisting story. That last scene was shocking. That's no ordinary religious order! Are they the modern version of the Knights Templar or some other enemy of Lilith's?
I have a strong feeling that Father Clemens is dead now and that Tobias Tiernay is going to get that book and carry on the investigation. When you said New Amsterdam, did you mean New York City?
I laughed when Juliana said that she didn't like talking to a door, and Clemens said, "Don't be ashamed." A little passive-aggressive there.

Technical Mistakes:

"the more you threw at it the more fierce it flowed" - "fierce" should be "fiercely" because "flowed" needs an adverb.
"You're troops have all been killed or imprisoned" - "You're" should be "Your."
"quoting the words she knew was written on the parchment." - "was" should be "were."
"the son of mans first queen" - "mans" should be "man's."
"through a corridor and in to a grand room" - "in to" should be "into."
"furnished with a large bed on the far side with a red velvet cover and a dozen pillows the same as the cover." - Using the same word twice in the same sentence is awkward. It might read better as "...with a red velvet cover and a dozen pillows of the same fabric."
"He rushed out trough the hall" - "trough" should be "through"
"no one stopped him and why would they." - There should be a question mark instead of a period here.
"you would guess Organized crime nine out of ten times," - "Organized" doesn't need to be capitalized. There's nothing grammatically wrong with saying "nine out of ten times" but people normally say "nine times out of ten."
"he didn't do any more attempts." - "make" would sound better than "do"
"Don't coy with me!" - It should be "Don't play coy with me!"
"The stairs had lost half of its steps" - This could be "The stairway had lost half of its steps" or "The stairs had lost half of their steps."

And when ending a line of dialogue with a comma, it should be ," and not ", . I saw that a lot.

Something that was historically incorrect was the pair of moccasins on the bed. Moccasins are a piece of Native American culture, and the flashbacks seem to have been from before European contact with the Americas. Slippers would work instead of moccasins there.
This story was very intriguing, and I look forward to reading more. The holy men are such chilling villains. Juliana is the scariest. She betrayed Clemens, putting the ideology of the order before love and friendship. Who knows what else she'll do?

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wow... I'm completely awed that was really good...its just... wow so information ... just wow that was really good!

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Oh my goodness, David -- what a story! Wow -- I was enthralled all the way through. History, myth, a fictional reality, all intertwined into a compelling storyline. With an unexpected ending. How fine!

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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David Darabian
David Darabian

Stockholm, Sweden



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My name is David Darabian. I'm born and raised in a town called Lund in Sweden and I like most of you guys here I love creativity. Let's inspire each other! ...Yeah I know, lousy presentation. Not p.. more..

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