He owed his unprecedented soberness to the pestering old coot, who disrupted his drinking mood altogether. He stormed off the bar in a grumpy rage, and met up with his colleague – as he always did – on his way back to the church for his midday sermon.
“Good day, Father Seth. You look rather… awake, today!”
“Oh yeah, All thanks to that lunatic giving me a lecture on my sins! He calls himself Torah.”
“Torah? The five scriptures of Moses, no?”
“I don’t care what he claims to be. Cardinal Sin is so infamous that every moral citizen wants to admonish him for a God reason. I don’t give them a damn!”
“You’re saying you’re sinless then?” joked Reverend Paul.
Two fluttering black robes wandering the streets was not any uncommon sight in this Vatican City full of priests, yet most people eluded at the sight of the towering “Black Priest”, another name to euphemize the more fear-provoking identity, Cardinal Sin.
“Ahh….” Reverend Paul, at abrupt thought, exclaimed, “you may not return to the House today, Reverence. Father Collins replaced you for the sermon.”
“And?” Seth squinted at his colleague doubtfully, “I don’t suppose Archbishop Ferdinand would let me slack off like this, would he?”
“True! It seems like nothing could deceive your eyes, Father Seth.”
“Should I take it as a compliment?” Seth frowned.
Paul chuckled. “Father Ferdinand arranged an appointment for you. The Archbishop asked me to – ”
“Ferdinand!” yelled Seth, “he’s fast getting on my nerves! Who does he think he is, ordering me around like a chicken? Arranging appointments without my consent!”
“Calm down, Father Seth. You’ve already agreed to this from the time you pledged your allegiance to the House. At least the new Pope spared your life and restored your dignity. Besides, you’re the best Exorcist around, I dare say. In fact, the Pope and Father Ferdinand sees highly of you.”
“Perhaps they do, and make me a slave for this excuse. But anyway, forget about work for now, will you, Paul? It’s since long we’ve a, how should I say, friend-to-friend chat.”
The scorching heat of heaven’s flame was too much for even a man like Cardinal Sin to bear. Their natural sense of perseverance led them to the public gardens, and found themselves trees to cover from the brilliance.
“Has work numbed my senses?” asked Seth, “I wasn’t even aware of a place like this. The foliage, greens. This is Eden, is it not?”
“This is not Eden,” Paul shook his head, “perhaps Father Seth, you’ve been in the cloisters for too long. This tract of land is just an ephemeral mirage to satiate our carnal sentience, but once cataclysm surfaces, all will be lost! But fear not, father Seth, for the Lord promised us the passage to Eden at the end of days.”
“Really?” quipped Seth cynically, “does He not banished our forefathers from that sanctuary in the beginning of days? What makes you think He wants us back now?”
“There are reasons. I, as your friend, would not mind your call to question God’s integrity, but others do. They are sensitive issues, and you should know how to play your role, as a Cardinal.”
“And perhaps, this is the reason why I called you a friend. The others – they are a bunch of morons! Their blinded dedication… no! I’ve seen how corrupted they are, misusing the name of God for their own misdeeds! They’re in no position to condemn me!”
“They’re the sinners, Father. But we needn’t care, for we follow the steps that God paved for us and the route to salvation is clear.”
“I don’t need Eden. The way here is fine.”
“You’ve been inside the cloisters for too long. The world has changed much, Father. The era of peace is no more. You’re unaware of the chaos in the outside world.”
“Our Saviour has prophesied this a long time ago, and the prophesy has proven itself: Lucifer will rise in the end of days! There’ll be false prophets, the Anti-Christ, to cloud our mind. World War III is in the verge of breaking, and we, the Romans, are threatened. The infidels have risen into such power that they’re bound to conquer the world. They have captured even Pope Peter into exile, not that you do not know. And they’ll spread their own religion to us and to the Gentiles, to try to sway our faiths. And we, the believers, will be harshly oppressed. But this is God’s decree to have us pay for our forefathers’ sins. For He’ll lead us to fight this war, and that, He promised, will be our last salvation.”