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   Chapter 2 His Arrival

SANCTUM By JMFelic Characters: 18307

Updated: 2018-08-10 21:21


It was an early rainy morning. Dark, heavy clouds loomed over the City of Soren when Father Azrael arrived in the city airport via private airplane commissioned by the Apostolic Nunciature. He had only one luggage in hand and a sling bag containing his personal needs. He was to be greeted by a priest from the Archbishop Palace of Soren and that priest was already waiting for him in the airport lounge area.

He wasn't wearing a priestly robe during the flight, but realizing the immensity of his popularity in the conclave community, it was no wonder the priest recognized him instantly even in his public clothing of black slacks, a white long-sleeved turtleneck shirt, and a black trench coat.

The priest stood up and waved a hand on his way. Father Azrael curved a small smile and proceeded to where he stood.

Father Zefron Mathews was a priest four years older than him. He wore correctional glasses and had a neat army haircut. He was as tall as Father Azrael but had a more sociable aura and a ready practiced smile. When they stood an arm's-length away, it was Father Zefron who exhibited a holier aura considering he wore a common white cassock.

"Father Azrael, I am Father Zefron Matthews the secretary of Bishop Elliot. Welcome to the small and humble City of Soren, " he greeted warmly as he stretched a hand on him. His voice was soft, like a woman's, and Father Azrael thought that it was odd.

"Father Zefron, good to meet you, " he greeted in return and shook his hand.

"Right this way please, " Father Zefron motioned and off they rode an escalator going to the first floor. When they were halfway up, it was he who opened up a light conversation first. "The Bishop has been waiting for you for quite some time now. He was beginning to wonder why the Holy Pope didn't send you here earlier."

Father Azrael's expression remained neutral. "He probably has his own reasons, " he replied with due reservation. He knew the reasons however, but it was a matter only him and the Pope knew about, and of course a handful of other clergymen who preferred to stay silent about it.

"I guess that's the case, " the latter acknowledged with a nod and after that, he stayed silent for the remainder of their walk.

They exited the airport lounge and directly headed for a waiting gray Bentley parked a few meters from the entrance. It was a distance enough to dampen their clothes though as both had no umbrellas in hand.

"Mr. Sherd, to the Archbishop Palace please, " Father Zefron ordered as soon as they both slipped inside the car with him sitting in the front seat while Father Azrael in the back.

"All right, " the driver said with a nod.

It was roughly a thirty-minute drive from the airport back to the Palace. It was a long travel, but Father Azrael made do turning to the outside scenery to amuse his boredom. He had never been in the City of Soren before. Never had he thought that it would look provincial as the car covered a kilometer after, exiting the boundary of the bustling main city to more peaceful and serene farm lands.

'No wonder demons are active here, ' a thought crossed his mind.

Demon boredom - that was what his mind considered. It was always the case every time there was a demon possession, but surely, there were other reasons why these dark entities frequented the same area. Why they seem keen on targeting the St. Therese Charity House. As instructed by the Holy Pope of course, he was to find out the reason behind it.

"Are we heading straight to the Charity House, Father Zefron?" he asked, suddenly feeling impatient.

The one questioned shook his head, turned to look at him from the front seat and replied, "No, Father. Bishop Elliot instructed that you should settle in your room at the Palace first. He will accompany you after that."

"Hmm, I see, " Father Azrael nodded and afterwards returned to watch the various wet greenery that passed them.

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The rain had finally ceased, but its downpour left the road ankle-deep flooded when they reached the town of Sereves where the Archbishop Palace was located.

Usually, the town at this time would have been asleep still, but it was already bustling with activities. Many crops and plant vendors had just set up their tents along the roads. Wagons and booths of different sizes occupied the lawns to provide much needed refreshments and entertainment, and over a clear field, a mini amusement park began to take form.

This was the first of the three-day feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, the patron of the town and this was exactly the reason why their car got stranded in an intersection due to traffic.

'Hmm, the perks of the human world, ' Father Azrael thought out aloud.

Looking at the activity beyond the car's window, his eyes rested on a certain area untouched by all the frenzy. It was a small lawn with little to no vegetation surrounded by a picket fence. A woman inside bent over to pick up a stem of freesia flowers from its soil and as she did, her long locks of chestnut brown hair immediately fell down. She looked ethereal, at peace, exactly an opposite to the clamor outside the fence.

She wore a white body-hugging office blouse and a violet pencil skirt much to the admiration of his eyes.

Right after she uprooted the plant, she straightened and adjusted her mint green scarf to position - the action of which Father Azrael found distracting as he stared at a peeking brownish mark in her neck. It looked like a tattoo or more like a birthmark.

"We are almost there Father Azrael. We just need to pass this traffic."

Father Zefron's voice caught his attention and his eyes quickly shifted from the woman to the priest's reflection in the front-view mirror.

"Ah, yes, that's good, " he answered and then cleared his throat.

When he went to look back at the woman, she was nowhere in sight. What remained was the empty lawn that looked duller than he had thought at first.

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The driver turned the ignition off when they reached a reserved parking lot of the Palace - an area just a few meters away from the iron-wrought entrance door.

The Palace looked ancient when Father Azrael regarded it. It was made of large white stone boulders, like the ones seen in the Taj Mahal, but it was covered with thick moss and creeping vines ultimately hiding its brilliant white color.

It was indeed palace-looking with a wide-area garden in the front where a huge grotto of the Virgin Mary was located and a man-made pond next to it. Next to the Palace was a free-standing bell tower that housed a huge golden bell on the third tier.

The architectural design of the Palace could be called a boast. It had a mix of old Roman and Greek techniques. When the two priests entered the building, it branded an even admirable sight. It had a foyer as wide as half a basketball court and it was floored with red Venetian marbles. The center had an ancient sun design. Right on top it, a century-old chandelier. Every piece of furniture was in order, especially the ivory-made saints lined up in the walls and the life-size statue of the Archangel Michael on the base of the grand staircase.

Father Azrael stood right below it and grinned when he stared at the statue.

"Father Azrael, please make yourself comfortable. Sir Theodore here will escort you to your room and come lunchtime, the Bishop would like to dine with you, " Father Zefron said while he stood behind him.

"Yes, thank you for the information Father Zefron, " the exorcist priest acknowledged.

A man about the age of fifty approached him. He wore a butler outfit — a starched black suit, crisp pants and well-polished black boots.

"Good morning, Father. I am Theodore McMann at your service, " he said whilst performing a short bow. "May I take your luggage?"

Father Azrael raised a brow briefly and then nodded.

"Thank you Father. Uh, this way please." The butler gestured his hand up towards the main staircase and proceeded to drag the luggage.

As they went their way into his room, Father Azrael noticed paintings that were hung on the walls of the long corridors. Each of the painting was an interpretation of the different kinds of angels in Heaven.

The first painting he passed was a profile of Archangel Gabriel with his eyes a glowing blue. Next was the painting of the angel, Hofniel, who was holding a sword with wings outstretched in the air. There were also paintings of the Angel of Truth, the Angel of Prayer and the Angel of Silence.

He was amused with all of the masterpieces, but what caught his attention more was the one painting before they made a hard turn into a corner.

The painting was an interpretation of the Archangel of Death with black raven long hair, wearing a silver battle armor, and with outstretched black wings, holding a scythe in his right hand and a golden sword in the other. The angel was standing in a cliff, ready for whatever was ahead of him. In the bottom of the masterpiece, the painter's name was carved: Hieronymus Bosch — a very famous painter in Netherlands during t

he Renaissance period.

Father Azrael stared at it for a full minute that he failed to catch the butler's voice call for him.

"Father? This is your room, " Sir Theodore informed in a louder voice. He stood two meters away from the priest in front of a carved mahogany door.

"Ah, yes of course." Father Azrael cleared his throat and walked closer to him with an apologetic face. "I was admiring the paintings in the hallway that it got my focus away."

"That's fine Father, you don't need to explain, " Sir Theodore replied with prompt understanding. He pushed the door open and in they went.

The room was presentable-looking. It had a modern interior with modern furniture placed in it. It looked like a studio complete with a bedroom, a living room and a dining area. The carpet was dark green. The walls and ceilings were ivory white. The queen-size bed and pillows had the same two-tone color motif.

The butler left him there to settle and for over two hours, Father Azrael acquainted himself with the room. He placed all his belongings in the closet and his personal needs in the bathroom.

While sitting in one of the cushioned chairs, he took out the brown envelope from his personal bag, the one that the Pope had given him, and laid it on the table.

During the flight to Soren, he had already read half of the papers that was mainly about the history of the charity house, its current caretaker who was Bishop Elliot, and some of the backgrounds of the orphaned children and teens housed in it.

He pulled out the compiled papers again, but before reading, he stood up and strode out of the bedroom to a small terrace. Once there, he leafed the pages and intentionally skipped the staff information going straight to the demon possessions that had happened thus far.

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Page 1

Recent Demon Attacks

First Attack:

Date: July 5th 2004

Nature of Entity: Spectral

Location: St. Therese Charity House, Town of Sereves

Person Possessed: Tracy Frédéric, male, 12 years old

Status: Resolved

Exorcist Priest: Father Eshamael

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Second Attack:

Date: July 23rd 2004

Nature of Entity: Ghost spirit of a young girl turned into an incubus

Location: St. Claire High School, Town of Harvine

Person Possessed: 17 year old, Laila Erra, female

Status: Resolved

Exorcist Priest: Father Eshamael and Father Daniels

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Third Attack:

Date: August 2nd 2004

Nature of Entity: Basilisk

Location: St. Therese Charity House, Town of Sereves

Person Possessed: Hasmine Lowe, 8 years old, female

Status: Resolved

Exorcist Priest: Father Daniels

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Fourth Attack:

Date: August 17th 2004

Nature of Entity: Doppelganger and Limbo

Location: St. Therese Charity House, Town of Sereves

Person Possessed: Cheska Santos, 22 years old, female, staff

Status: Resolved

Exorcist Priest: Father Daniels

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Fifth Attack:

Date: August 25th 2004

Nature of Entity: Gallu

Location: Market-Market! East Main Street, Town of Beate

Person Possessed: Riley Hart, 33 years old, male

Status: Resolved

Exorcist Priest: Father Winslard

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Sixth Attack:

Date: November 15th 2004

Nature of Entity: Ghoul and Edimmu

Location: St. Therese Charity House, Town of Sereves

Person Possessed: Andy Frestfon and Elaine Welling, 14 and 15 years old, male and female

Status: Resolved

Exorcist Priest: Father Daniels and Father Eshamael

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Seventh Attack:

Date: December 19th 2004

Nature of Entity: Krampus

Location: Gert Mall and Cinema, Town of Sereves

Person Possessed: Adalbert Seigfried, 29 year old, male

Status: Resolved

Exorcist Priest: Father Winslard

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Eighth Attack:

Date: December 28th 2004

Nature of Entity: Letuchy

Location: St. Therese Charity House, Town of Sereves

Person Possessed: Freju Marij, 12 years old, male

Status: Resolved

Exorcist Priest: Father Daniels

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The list went on until page three where he noticed the last entry that made his brows arch. It was a recent one, just four days ago.

*

Twenty-second Attack:

Date: February 13th 2005

Nature of Entity: Unknown

Location: St. Therese Charity House, Town of Sereves

Person Possessed: 8 years old, Jessa May, female

Status: Pending

Exorcist Priest: Pending

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His eyes bore a dark wrinkle of disgust as he finished reading. He had not seen this much demon attacks in just one area alone and with that, he realized that something was amiss, something that tasted stale in his mouth.

He stared at the landscape for awhile and thought of the many encounters that these children — these orphaned children — had gone through. By the looks of the attacks, it wouldn't be ending anytime soon unless he comes in and intervene. Maybe Pope Benedict was right that a high-class demon was behind it. It was only a matter of time that he will find out anyway.

The Palace was situated in an entire hill. Father Azrael's terrace offered an opportunity to gaze at a mountainside and a few houses below. The weather was gloomy still, but a ray of sunlight peeked through the clouds and touched down a green roof of a big, rather old-looking house below the Palace. The scene almost looked like a sign, but he dismissed it instantly, watching the house for minutes until a knock on the door grabbed his attention.

"Father, lunch is ready, " Sir Theodore informed after opening the door.

"Yes, I'll be there, " Father Azrael answered. After releasing a long sigh, he strode back to the table and placed the papers there.

"Please follow me, Father, " the butler stated as he swept his hand sideways.

They passed another hallway towards the dining area. This hallway had paintings too, but with picturesque landscapes this time. They descended a flight of stairs until they reached a room lit with bright fluorescent lights.

A rectangular wooden table was at the center wherein in the farthest edge sat the Bishop of Soren, Bishop Elliot Todd Abraham.

"Ah! Father Azrael!" he exclaimed with glee.

He was an ebullient man, jolly and easy to approach, exactly what Father Azrael had expected. He was sixty-seven years old; short and stubby, with a short, gray beard on the chin and round protruding abdomen. He wore a yellow vestment with a red zucchetto on top his bald head.

He met the younger priest halfway of the table and shook his hand with much acceptance.

"Ah! Finally! Dios Mio! I almost thought that the Pope had forgotten us!" he stated without hesitation.

"I beg your pardon Bishop?" Father Azrael replied when he finally released his hand.

"Oh, you know, the Pope sometimes is too busy that there are instances he forgets some important things like what we have here. I have been requesting you since last year but the Pope sends other exorcists for the job."

They both strode into their seats as they conversed.

"Well, it's not like Father Daniels, Father Eshamael, and Father Winslard weren't able to help, but I had great confidence that if the Pope had assigned you here earlier, these demon attacks would have stopped already."

A chuckle escaped from Father Azrael when he heard it. He sat down in a cushioned chair next to the Bishop's own and eyed the table's overly-prepared feast.

"Bishop, you think too highly of me, " he commented as he turned to face him.

"Well, news travels fast. I have heard enough stories to believe your abilities and speaking of that, say—" the Bishop leaned closer to him and asked in a low voice, "you really do have electric currents appearing in your body right? Like what they said in the conclave rumors?"

Taken aback by the Bishop's question, Father Azrael grinned lightly and gave him the most proper and concise reply.

"Bishop, it is my way of exorcising demons. It is both a gift and a curse."

"And why would you think that Father?" was the Bishop's quick inquiry.

Father Azrael released a heavy sigh and gazed at the intricately-designed utensils in front of him. Always this was the question most people ask whenever he became the topic. It set him off withdrawing, but nevertheless, had a ready answer to give. "Well, no matter how it helped keep the demons away, there are times I couldn't control the strong current running through my hands and in effect creates consequences that are unfavorable. I'm sure you heard the rumors of what happened in Maryland right?"

The Bishop's eyes widened in surprise. "Ah, yes of course, the great blackout for four days..." he murmured almost unintelligibly. "The rumors said you caused it while exorcising a high-class demon."

"Exactly."

The Bishop cleared his throat suddenly feeling nervous. "Well then, shall we eat before we head our way to the charity house?" he invited out-of-the-blue.

Father Azrael observed two large beads of sweat form in the old man's temple. For a religious man like him, he sure became anxious quickly.

"Yes, that would be great. I am certainly famished, " was his most composed reply.

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