The grand inquisitor, bony hands clasped, did not look up at him.
“Did she confess?” he asked wearily, looking at the fire.
“Yes my lord” answered the young man proudly.
“Of course she did” laughed the inquisitor. “Let her go.”
“But she confessed.”
“Wouldn’t you? Set her free Alverez. Tomorrow we leave for Irun.”
“But sir, if I may be so bold, if we are setting another one free, what is it we are seeking? Are we not bringing God’s justice to bear on those who practice witchcraft?”
The cold green eyes climbed the face of the young novice. They brought more fear than any of the accused wretches he had seen in the chamber below the monastery.
“Close the door Alverez.”
The young man hastily swung the heavy door shut. He was about to learn something special, secret. Something that Carlo and the others would not. He stood expectantly before the Grand Inquisitor.
“Do you believe in witches Alverez?”
What a strange question.
“Of course my lord. The Pope himself leads the fight against them.”
The inquisitor rose, picking up the book from the corner of his desk. The Malleus Maleficarum The hand book of the witch hunter. He held it thoughtfully, a strange smile on his thin lips. Alverez envied him touching it. What pearl of wisdom would the inquisitor extract from its hallowed pages to share with him?
Casually, the pale man tossed the book into the fire. Alverez moved instinctively to retrieve it, but the cold eyes prevented him from doing so.
Unbelievably, he watched the hungry flames devour it with his master.
“There are no witches.”
The young man’s eyes widened at the statement.
“There are good. There are bad. But there are no witches. The church seeks to re-establish its authority by fear. Nothing more than that.”
Alverez summoned enough courage to question his master
“If you believe that my lord, why are you an inquisitor?”
“I seek someone well beyond a witch.” The crackling flames reflected against the dull pallor of his face. “I seek the devil herself.”
Alverez crossed himself hurriedly.
“Her? You’re saying the devil is a woman?”
“And why do you presume the unholy one is a man?”
“Because the devil is Lucifer, the fallen archangel. The scriptures tell us this.” He held his bible before him in shaky hands to emphasize his point.
The inquisitor snatched it from his trembling hands and threw it into the flames as well.
Again they watched the fire do its work.
“How could you know this?”
“Because long ago, I met her. I tried to take her but she eluded me.”
Again the novice crossed himself. His legs struggled to hold him up. Now he realised the meaning in the eyes of his master. He had seen the devil. It had taken the fire from his eyes but not from his mission. The ultimate mission.
“Knowing this, do I still have your loyalty Alverez?” asked the pale man quietly.
The novice dropped to his knees, kissing the hem of the inquisitors robe.
“More than ever my lord” he grovelled.
“Bless you” said the pale man, rolling his eyes above the supplicant at his feet.
Alverez looked up with reverence. “How will we know when we find her my lord?”
“None of our methods will mark her. None will harm her.”
“Demon queen!” shouted Alverez excitedly.
He lifted the young man to his feet.
“Tell none other of this my boy. We do not want fear amongst them.”
“I understand my lord.” He felt the stirring of an erection beneath his cassock. This revelation was for only him to know!
“I wish to have you at my side for this quest. But if that is to be, I need more than word of your devotion. I need proof.”
“Anything my lord. Ask anything of me.”
The pale man walked to the window. He looked down at the ten year old girl sweeping the monastery courtyard with a wicker broom. She caught the movement at the window and waved daintily at the Grand Inquisitor.
“Only one blue eyed girl in the village has not been interrogated. It will be thorough. And you will do it personally.”
“Yes my lord” whispered Alverez.
The pale man returned the girl’s wave, beckoning her into the building.
Lucia Alverez leant the broom against the wall and took the steps excitedly up to them.
(from the novel “Last Goddess”)