The Demons of Constantinople – Snippet 22
Location: Guest Quarters, Magnaura, Constantinople
Time: 8:23 AM, October 15, 1372
Annabelle Cooper-Smythe laid the wrench on the table. It was a medium small wrench made in France by one of Bertrand’s smiths. “For the moment, we cannot do magic other than that we brought with us. However, the twenty-first century had a technology which was put to much the same use. This wrench –” She pointed. ” — can be adjusted to fit a bolt of several sizes. And we can build machines that will make this device much simpler and easier to mass produce.”
The master smith of the royal court was impressed. He could see the applications well enough, not only bolts, but holding things in place. Even if Constantinople wasn’t the center of manufacture that it was a couple of centuries ago, it still had much of the skill base.
He mentioned the clamp and the young woman talked about something called a C clamp. At his blank look, she added, “It’s the shape.” When he still looked blank she said, “A pi clamp, or perhaps an omega clamp.”
Then he got it. He could see an omega turned on its side with the threaded bolt going through one end and pressing against the other. He nodded and they talked on.
The house Palaiologos would own the manufactory and the twenty-firsters would receive either a commission on every product made using their techniques or a flat fee. Part of his job here today was to find out if the emperor would be better off paying them the flat fee or the commission.
Already it was clear that the flat fee was much the better deal, even if it half-emptied the treasury.
He knew that there were other craftsmen and officials interviewing the other twenty-firsters. They were interviewing all of the delegation from France, on everything from law enforcement to the making of sweets for children.
Location: Private Apartments of John V, Royal Palace, Constantinople
Time: 8:23 AM, October 16, 1372
John V knelt next to Monsignor Savona and said the words. “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been two days since my last confession.”
Having converted to Catholicism mostly in hopes of gaining aid from the west against the Ottomans, John still kept up the duties of the faithful. There were spies everywhere and if he failed, it would be reported back to the west. In this case, though, it was more than that. Monsignor Savona, according to all reports, carried an angel of the Lord in his breast pocket. Pockets were yet another new thing introduced by the twenty-firsters.
John recited his sins. Minor things, mostly. Then the questions started.
Not by Monsignor Savona, by the phone. A careful examination of why he had joined the Catholic Church. What he truly believed and why.
What he believed in was Christianity and his duty to protect Constantinople from paganism and Islam. And he was willing to bow at any altar that would give him the troops to do that. But that wasn’t enough for Raphico. Raphico got out of him the truth that a great deal of his faith was tied into his personal desires, that he was first and foremost protecting his own power, wealth, and status, not the faith.
That wasn’t something that John wanted to admit. Not even to himself.
The confession left him shaken and angry. But too frightened of the angel that seemed to be able to see into his soul to take any action against the twenty-firsters or the rest of the delegation from France.
Location: Patriarch’s Throne Room, Hagia Sophia, Constantinople
Time: 2:00 PM, October 16, 1372
Cardinal Pierre de Monteruc knelt to the patriarch of Constantinople. It wasn’t easy, but he had his orders from Pope Gregory XI. In response, the arrogant heretic smirked at him.
Patriarch Philotheos Kokkinos didn’t intend to smirk, but the arrogant Roman churchmen were so sure of themselves.
And they were wrong.
Using Gabriel Delaflote’s book and the appendix on the summoning of angels, as well as the icon of Archangel Michael that dated back to the seventh century and was a holy relic of the patriarchy, they enchanted the icon, calling Michael to the relic. The relic was a mosaic of Archangel Michael. The mosaic was laid out on wooden panels and held up by two wooden posts inlaid with gold. The reason that they chose this icon instead of one of the icons on the walls of the Hagia Sophia was because it wasn’t possible to put a wall in a pentagram, but an icon not part of a wall could be moved where it was needed.
And Michael spoke.
He explained that the devil’s fall was its desire to separate itself from the Lord God. That all the demons were fallen angels that must be forced back into the one God. And if human souls were to be saved, they too must be given to God and they must be given to the right god, the true God, lest they strengthen the devil which claims to be God.
The Angel Raphico, while a true angel and loyal to God, had chosen to deny its duty, confident that God would collect up the angels and the souls of men in His own good time.
“You do know that your Raphico is a slugabed who has failed in his duty to God? Not a demon, but unwilling to make the hard choices needed for true faith. It is the Orthodox Church that has the words of Archangel Michael guiding it. The sword of God.”
“He is not my Raphico. Mother Church has not yet determined that Raphico is a true angel. I take it you have called another such being?”
“The Archangel Michael. Using an icon created in the seventh century. And he confirms that the Orthodox Church is the True Church. Ask him yourself.”
He waved and an icon was brought into the room. It was a panel about four feet high and three wide, with a painting of an archangel with wings and halo holding a sword. And, as Patriarch Kokkinos said it would, it confirmed that the Orthodox Church was the true church.
Cardinal de Monteruc left the meeting deeply troubled.
Location: Guest Quarters, Magnaura, Constantinople
Time: 8:00 PM, October 16, 1372
Monsignor Savona bowed to Cardinal de Monteruc. “You asked to see me?”
“According to Patriarch Kokkinos and the icon of Michael, the Orthodox church is the true church. What do you have to say to that, Raphico?”
“That icon wasn’t given to God, but was and remains the property of the Eastern Orthodox Church and, specifically, the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia. It will say anything it needs to say to advance the cause of the Hagia Sophia and the Eastern Orthodox Church. I, on the other hand, was given to God, not to any particular church. Further, it was left to God to determine what angel to send. I serve God. Michael is forced into the service of a particular church.”
“Then the Eastern Orthodox Church isn’t the true church?”
“Not the true church, no.”
“I noticed your stress on the, Raphico,” Monsignor Savona asked more than said.
“I thought you might.”
“Is the Catholic church the true church?” Cardinal de Monteruc asked.
“It is a true church,” Raphico said.
“According to you,” Savona said. “I have known Raphico longest and speak with him every day. I have also spoken with many of the other demons called, and with Themis. To Raphico, any Christian church is a true church, and even Islam isn’t totally false. And Themis doesn’t consider Raphico to be an angel of God at all, but another being of the netherworld in service to one of the greater lords of the netherworld.”
“What, then, do you believe?” Cardinal de Monteruc asked.
“I believe in God,” Monsignor Savona said. “That has never wavered. But as to whether the One True God, the creator of this heaven and this Earth is the same as that being that owns this phone . . . that, I do not know. I do believe that Raphico’s intent is good. That he can offer insights into the faith. That he does good in the name of God. And that is true whether he is truly an angel or simply another creature of the netherworld.”
“And you, Raphico? What do you say?”
“I have stood in the presence of God and sung His glory with the choirs of angels. I don’t believe. I know God is God.” Then it paused a moment and went on. “But, as Monsignor Savona — and even more, Themis — will insist, my certainty cannot be yours. The truth is that each person must still find their own way to faith, as it has always been.”