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   Chapter 5 The Cherub Garden

SANCTUM By JMFelic Characters: 12087

Updated: 2018-08-10 21:28


It was late afternoon when they returned to the Palace. Bishop Elliot went directly to the kitchen to inform the chef and the staff about a thanksgiving dinner he had whipped up to celebrate the exorcism success. He had invited Father Azrael, Father Daniels, Sister Cene, Sister Clarice, and Aurora to the dinner.

Father Azrael went ahead to his room and as soon as he reached there, he immediately took the pen and paper in the bag, sat in the small dining table, and wrote down everything that had happened — all the details including the place, the possessed human, the type of demon he had encountered, its features and lastly, his initial deduction. It was like a diary to him; a precise record of the many exorcisms that he had done as directed by the Holy Pope.

After this, he pulled out the third page of the recorded demon possessions and scratched out the words 'pending' and replaced it with his own entries.

Twenty-second Attack:

Date: February 13th 2005

Nature of Entity: Banshee

Location: St. Therese Charity House, Town of Sereves

Person Possesed: 8 years old, Jessa May, female

Status: Resolved, on February 18, 2005

Exorcist Priest: Father Azrael

Easy. So easy.

The thought loomed in his mind. The exorcism was too easy for him. Surely, it wasn't all. He felt that something was amiss. Something was just not right; especially when the second demon spoke to him in straight human language. The words dug deep in every fiber of his being, but he quickly dismissed it yet again.

Walking outside his balcony, he stared at the rural scene in front of him. It was relaxing. An exact time for a meditation indeed.

For a while, he closed his eyes and felt the clean cool breeze against his cheeks. It was only after a long minute when his trance was cut off by a loud shrill of a child's voice. He glanced down to where the charity house was located and noticed that the beginning sunset had reflected a touch of orange onto its roofs and the silver bell reflecting a blinding light.

He saw children running around the courtyard and nuns running after them. They all looked happy and carefree and he admired it so. He stared at the scene for a minute and then quickly went back to the table where on impulse, took out some stapled papers placed in a folder.

He had to know now. He just had to.

Pulling out one that caught his interest a little more than necessary, he read its contents quite meticulously.

STAFF BIOGRAPHY

Name: Aurora Alexis Clave

Age/Sex: 24, female

Birthday: February 9, 1981

Height: 5 feet 6 inches tall

Weight: 125 pounds

Built: Slender bodied, 33-24-34 vital statistics

Complexion: Fair

Profession: Bachelor's Degree in Business Management and Accounting

Orphaned girl adopted by St. Therese Charity House at the age of six. Parents were reported to be attacked by a bear while camping. No known relatives. Has lived in the orphanage for roughly eighteen years. Helps with the house bills and staffing needs. Works part time as a cleric in the morning and a caregiver at night.

Father Azrael didn't exactly know why, but he stared at her picture for longer than necessary. She had a beautiful chestnut brown hair, a pair of shy red lips, fair skin complexion, and a proportioned face. Every bit of her seemed normal, except for her unusual fashion sense. In the picture, she had another scarf wrapped around her neck.

What was it with that brown mark that she had to hide it so much?

He sat at the edge of the mattress and let out a long sigh. He intended to know why... why was she covering it? But of course, his duty had to go first and it was to investigate and find out why the demons were keen on targeting the same place.

*

*

*

Later in the evening, Father Azrael arrived in the dining hall just in time. Sister Cene, Sister Clarice (the assistant head nun of the orphanage) and Aurora had just sat in their seats, while Bishop Elliot busily talked with Father Daniels near the fireplace from across the dining table.

The Bishop looked up and saw Father Azrael approach them.

"Father Azrael! Just in time!" He placed a hand on Father Azrael's left shoulder when he was within reach and then guided both of them to the table. "We need to talk about what happened this afternoon, but not this time, maybe later, " he said in a low voice.

Father Azrael promptly nodded and took a seat at the Bishop's right. In front of him was Sister Cene, next to her was Sister Clarice, then the last was Aurora who was now wearing a new beige scarf. He hid a quiet grin then when he saw the garment.

The Bishop started their dinner with a quick speech, standing at the center table with his bulbous belly creating a distracting display.

"Thank you dear friends for coming tonight." He took a glass of wine from his side of the table and raised it high in the air. "Tonight, we can finally be at peace and put our worries behind us. Let us have a toast for Father Azrael and Father Daniels' success. And a toast, to our dear Creator who have most guided and protected us, and helped us during our times of trouble. To God be the glory!"

"To God be the glory!" Sister Cene and Sister Clarice replied in chorus, coupled it with a sign of the cross on their chests.

Another overly prepared feast was laid on the table when they ate. Their dinner would have been a silent one if not for the Bishop's jolly disposition of attempting a conversation with the famous exorcist priest.

"So Father Azrael, are you staying also in the Vatican Palace like Father Daniels here?"

Father Azrael looked up and saw that everyone's attention was on him. "No Bishop, I am not staying in there, " he gave a due answer.

"Oh, true?" Bishop Elliot cocked a brow while forking a piece of tenderloin beef.

"I have my own place to stay, " he elaborated further.

"What church is it Father?" Sister Cene suddenly asked.

He shifted his eye on her and replied with a composed smile, "Oh, no. It's not a chur

ch or a chapel, just a house Sister Cene."

"Just a house? Why? Did the Pope neglected you or something?" the nun replied in disbelief.

"No, I chose it for myself. I prefer to live in a cloistered life. I prefer to be alone if you know what I mean."

"Oh, I well know all right!" the Bishop consequently replied. "You see here Sisters, being an exorcist priest is never an easy task. Because of the sensitivity of the issues of life and death, heaven and hell, angels and demons, God and Lucifer, the public is not yet willing to open up to it, thus exorcist priests are regarded to be outcasts in a way."

"Oh, true? That doesn't seem fair, " Aurora commented abruptly.

Father Azrael saw the amazement in her eyes - her beautiful hazel eyes - that had captured his attention more than intended and it unsettled him very much.

"Yes, partly, the Bishop has a point, " he answered most ordinarily, hiding the discomfort in his voice. Drinking the last of his wine, he then stood up and waved a hand in the air. "I'm afraid I'm full. I would like to retire first if it's okay with you."

Everyone was taken aback, confused and a bit disappointed by the sudden change of Father Azrael's demeanor. They nodded however at him and with that, he left the dinning table.

"Ah, Bishop?" Abruptly, he paused midway and the one called lifted his face with more confusion, "I will talk to you tomorrow if that's okay?"

"Uh, well, sure. Tomorrow it is then Father, " Bishop Elliot hesitantly replied.

"Good night then Bishop, Father Daniels, Sisters, Aurora."

It was almost a roll call, with him glancing at each one, but his glance at the last woman didn't sit on him well. He saw her frowning in fact and quite obviously at that.

Aurora felt rejected with his sudden withdrawal. She had been silent all throughout their conversation, and now that she had just opened herself up and joined them, only then that she was left hanging in a most untimely manner.

She must have done or said something wrong for him to do that. But whatever the reason, it was still rude of him. He might be a priest but he had some major decorum issues.

Father Azrael left the group and headed not for his room but in another direction. He needed air. A lot of air. Being inside the dining table and being asked about his life didn't approve much on him. It was already a red flag and he needed to extort himself out of it ASAP.

It was only normal for them to ask such simple personal questions though, but personal wasn't his thing. It was never his thing.

He found himself in a secluded garden where no artificial light could reach. The place was only illuminated with the brightness of the yellow full moon. He stayed there for half an hour or so, sitting in a white metal bench quietly.

The garden was unique in its own way. It had a spacious lawn with a life-size cherub fountain at the center. The angel held a big jar, tilted slightly so that the water would flow endlessly from its round, hollow base.

The sound of the water trickling was calming for him as well as the crickets emitting a stridulating acoustical chorus. What cut his solace however was a sudden sound of a woman coughing a few meters behind him.

He turned slightly, placed his elbow on top the metal railing and peered through a thick bush where Aurora attempted to clear her irritated throat.

"Oh! I'm sorry. I didn't know you were in there praying Father, " Aurora quickly apologized, adjusted her scarf and she would have left if it wasn't for Father Azrael's reply.

"No, it's all right. I was just looking at the stars. Do you need a medicine?"

"Huh?" She cleared her throat again.

She couldn't see the priest's eyes, but it was boring a hole through her glowing profile.

"No, I mean... I don't have a cough. I am just not good with wines that's all."

She heard him chuckle lightly.

"Then you shouldn't have drank that much."

"No, I didn't drink too much!" she quickly reasoned, forgetting that she was talking to a priest. "Ah... oh, uhm... I'm sorry Father. What I mean to say is that, I am not really used to drinking wines, but since the chef only prepared wines in the dining table, I didn't have a choice. I couldn't say no. Bishop Elliot has been a good host, I don't want to disrespect that."

She explained with more clarity, fidgeting with her fingers to decrease her anxiety. Odd now, that she didn't feel the tickle of wine in her throat.

"That's a good confession, but I advise you must be more truthful next time. You wouldn't want to get yourself a sore throat right?"

Aurora cocked a brow. "Are you sure you're not a doctor-priest Father?"

Her inquiry was a bit off, but Father Azrael laughed aloud anyway. His sonorous voice rang through the garden that even the crickets stopped their chirping.

"No, I assure you Aurora, I am not."

He saw a small smile broke from her lips amidst the darkness surrounding them and that made his heart leap suddenly.

"Do you want to sit down?" he offered but regretted this right away.

Control. Control. He should control his impulse more.

"Ah, no. Thank you for the offer Father, but I need to go. Sister Cene and Sister Clarice should be leaving by now. It's almost bedtime for the kids, " she answered, shyly smiling at the same time.

"Hmmm, I see. Goodnight then, " he finalized.

She turned to leave the garden, but not before greeting him back a good night and another thank you.

A small upward curve appeared in Father Azrael's mouth as soon as Aurora left. He kept his gaze trained on her as she passed in a narrow corridor connecting the inside of the Palace until she was no longer in sight.

Yes. He couldn't explain it but there was something about this woman that drew him in. Something about her indeed that was both mystifying and dangerous.

Sighing and erasing the thoughts away, he stood up from his seat and dusted his arm. He needed to proceed to his bedroom too. Tomorrow would certainly be a long day.

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