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The Cauldron and The Keys: A Pope's end.



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  #1  
Old August 23rd, 2008, 4:13 pm
HPFanNZ  Female.gif HPFanNZ is offline
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The Cauldron and The Keys: A Pope's end.

This is my first non HP related story in a long time, so please be kind and leave feedback here.
I look forward to your comments.



Prologue:

Darkness folded about a single ray of light as it bobbed up the nave of St. Peter’s Basilica towards the giant papal altar. The woman, dressed in the ghostly white cassock of a Pope, wielding the compact torch in a shaking hand paused before a grate in the floor and knelt down to dislodge it. The squeaking sound emitting from its movement made her swear in Sicilian under her breath.
Eventually, after much grunting and grousing, the grate was pushed clear and she pointed her torch into the blackness underneath,

“Lord God Almighty, protect me.”

She muttered as she clamped the torch in her teeth and lowered herself into the hole.
A sudden drop later, the Pope rose unsteadily and looked around. The golden lamps surrounding the Niche of the Palliums were a welcome sight, but that was not what she was looking for.
She turned in a full circle, trying to work out where her destination was until she espied something that many in centuries past had not, a pair of golden gates, set in rock, now glistened in the torch light opposite the Niche.
Her Holiness plunged her free hand into a pocket in her cassock and removed a pair of ancient looking keys, one gold, and the other silver.
The pontiff looked at the gates with a jaundiced eye and carefully walked up to them, keys jangling in her shaking hand.
She took one key and rammed it into the lock but, with a scream of horror that echoed throughout the catacombs, she soon realised that it was the wrong one.


Chapter 1. The Papal trumpet calls:

"Father Frank, Her Holiness wants you."

A young novice shook her superior in an effort to wake him. Her efforts weren't in vain as he slowly straightened up from his desk, where he had lain with his head on his crossed arms, and blinked at the young woman blearily.
Only those who had known him before his election to the role of superior general would call him as such, along with another name he barely heard now and that seemed so far in the past, he grinned inwardly at the exciting times they enjoyed long ago, but the novice's voice cut in,

"She wants to see you, now!"

Frank slowly stood up and stretched. He was tall yet well built, a black moustache and goatee seemed to accentuate his large cheeks and double chin. A pair of square spectacles normally rested on the bridge of his nose, now he reached out and rummaged about on his desk, to find them amongst a pile of papers from the recent meeting with the board of the Province of Cailfornia and put them on.

"Go and get my cassock, will you? And fetch me some coffee while you're out, you know how I like it."

He grunted as the novice nervously bobbed and then fled the room. Frank yawned widely and smacked his lips, cursing himself for falling asleep at his desk again, as he was wont to do these days. Taking a conference call with the board of the Australian province was a mistake, but who didn't make mistakes these days?
God only knew what the Pope herself wanted now, she seemed to be getting more paranoid and fanatic by the day. The faithful were leaving in droves and it was going to take more than the combined evanglisation efforts of the Jesuits to stem the tide. But Frank would always find time for her, she was an old friend after all.
Yet the draconian decrees and laws passed in recent years, as well as the self enforced isolation of Vatican City left him feeling cold. Only senior cardinals and members of the Vatican hierarchy were allowed to come and go as they wished, the rest of the priestly and lay population were forbidden to leave. There were even whispers of hightened security, even a massive wall to be built around the city state was talked about in hushed tones, a plan believed to be cooked up by the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.
This didn't suprise Frank, the Cardinal wasn't exactly popular with his peers in the College since many of his views made them feel uncomfortable, a postion shared by two of his closest friends and allies in the cardinalate.
Eventually the novice returned with the centuries old type of cassock worn by all Jesuits at the Vatican and the black fascia embroidered with the Society's badge and, only used by Frank, a raven's head above the fascia's tassels.
He dressed swiftly, fumbling with the buttons of his cassock as he drank his coffee. A quick adjustment of his fascia and a wash left him presentable, if only a little tired. Turning on his heel, he left with the novice.



"The Reverend Father Francis Ignatius Franco, Your Holiness."

A papal chamberlain ushered Frank into the Pope's presence. The Holy Mother looked up from the book she was reading and fixed him with a cold look, dwarfed by the massive throne in which she sat.
Frank was alarmed to see lights here and there that suggested massive wings which sprouted from her shoulders. Feathers seemed to rustle in an ethereal breeze and what could only be eyes looked in all directions, a few looking straight at him.

"How is progress on the Jesuit Corps, Father General?"

She asked, almost seeming to stare right through him.

"Holiness, what you ask of me is impossible. Even my fellow superiors agree with me!"

Frank blurted out, but the supreme pontiff glared at him stonily,

"The Archbishops of Los Angeles and Detroit are in full agreement with me, Father Franco, along with the rest of the College."

She answered icily, averting her eyes from the wretched priest.

Frank stepped forward and quickly knelt down, his mind working furiously with worry and fear,

"Holy Mother, give me more time! The Swiss Guard's training is taking far longer than I had expected, forgive me."

The Pope stood up and laid an almost kindly hand on one of the folorn Jesuit's shoulders,

"All is forgiven, my son."

She whispered sadly, which made Frank look up to see the determined, intelligent and strong woman that she had been over 20 years ago stare out from faded hazel eyes. That same drive, which led her to be a household name, had left the pontiff 10 years after her elevation to the Throne of Peter.
But that look was soon replaced with one of cold steel,

"Keep me informed of the Corps at all times. If we can't return glory to the Church by peacful means, we shall by war. Good day to you, Father Franco."

The Pope sat back down and opened her book again, leaving Frank to be hustled out by the same chamberlain, the only sound in the echoing chamber was that of rustling wings.


__________________
My first non-HP fic:
The Cauldron and The Keys.

Feedback

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Last edited by HPFanNZ; August 1st, 2009 at 6:22 am. Reason: Added the prologue, cause I forgot to.
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  #2  
Old September 13th, 2008, 2:22 am
HPFanNZ  Female.gif HPFanNZ is offline
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Posts: 191
Re: The Cauldron and The Keys: A Pope's end.

Here is chapter 2 for y'all.

I hope you like it and please give me feedback:

Chapter 2: Upton at the fountain.

The sun shone down upon St. Peters Square as Frank walked out of the Papal palace, accompanied by his novice. He had just been handed his breviary by her in order to say his daily prayers.
The Jesuits made their way across the Square and seated themselves beside one of the two fountains that played jets of water day and night.
Frank was halfway through when a shadow fell across his book and squeaked,

“Hi!”

He looked up and grimaced. A woman in her eighties, dressed as a cardinal, hovered over him with a massive smile plastered across her features. Known to have fits of ecstasy during important feast days, the frequently excitable Metropolitan of Michigan was a breath of fresh air in the College, though some couldn’t stand the permanent shrill exclamation inherent in her tone of voice.

“Eminence. A lovely day, isn’t it?”

Frank bowed his head in grave acknowledgement, but the cardinal sat down and pushed him playfully,

“Come off it, Frank. What’s with the long face?”

She asked in her all too familiar Southern drawl, still grinning her face off.

“You and John lent your support to the new army; I thought you both wouldn’t do so. It’s an impossible task to train all these clergy, none of whom have ever touched a weapon before! What forced your decision, Sue?”

Cardinal Upton looked sheepish and her face fell,

“My titles would be taken from me; Detroit would lose its best archbishop if I didn’t set my seal to the contract. If I did, in return, I would become the head of communications for the twenty seven regiments that make up this new force combined with the Grand Mastership of Malta.”

She mumbled, her long dark brown hair, yet streaked with white, obscuring her downcast eyes.

“You sold your soul simply to get the Knights of Malta?”

Frank glared over the top of his spectacles at the now miserable looking cardinal, who shook her head slowly,

“Cardinal Drogos would’ve gotten the job if I hadn’t accepted it. What else could I do?”

The old Jesuit stood up and thrust his breviary into a cassock pocket,

“You should’ve fought against the formation of this new military order from the beginning, Your Eminence. Alexandra has no right; absolute power is no longer in the Church’s domain. We seek peace, spirituality, hope and faith in Christ and His Father, not power over man and beast as we once had a long time ago. Mark my words, the world will not turn a blind eye to what is happening here for much longer, the bishops will revolt and Peter’s Throne will fall with Alexandra seated on it!”

Frank growled harshly, his eyes narrowed in anger at the old Archbishop, who also stood up,

“That almost amounts to treason, Father Franco! If we weren’t friends, I would have you thrown into the dungeons under the Castelo di’ Angelo for such blatant remarks against the Holy Mother!”

Cardinal Upton yelled, shaking with fright and fury, her face contorted in rage as she clenched and unclenched her fists. Frank quickly changed tack, realizing that he had to keep this now very powerful princess of the Church very close, his plans demanded it.

“Su... Eminence, calm down! It was said in jest, can we just forget it now?”

Frank stammered hurriedly, his hands rose in submission to placate the furious woman before him. It was several minutes before the cardinal had composed herself enough in order to speak,

“Watch your tongue, my friend. Agents of the CDF are becoming more vigilant, spies are everywhere. Choose your words more carefully when speaking to me, for I may not be so forgiving next time.”

The Jesuit sagged with relief and his face lit up with a cheeky smile,

“Thank you. I hadn’t made plans to be interrogated by the Inquisition this week, maybe I should’ve penciled them in.”

Her Eminence’s face split into her familiar grin and she cracked up laughing,

“Frankie! Oh my God! You’re lucky that no one else was around to hear that! Shame on you!”

The three priests, Frank, his novice and Cardinal Upton, giggled for quite a while before they dried their teary eyes and straightened their cassocks.

“Isn’t there a papal confirmation happening in a few hours?”

Frank enquired of the old cardinal, who rolled up one of her sleeves to check her watch,

“Yes! I’m expected to be one of the clergy present during the ceremony; John’s granddaughter is among the recipients of the sacrament. Why don’t you come with me so we can meet up with the both of them? There’s an audience before that, I think some of the family are visiting.”

The Archbishop answered happily, all her anger gone.

Frank shook his head with embarrassment, it was usual for one or more of the gaggle of women, who came to Rome once a year to see their sister and cousin, to either spoil him rotten or annoy him out of his mind. Droves of relatives from New York would ride in, trash everything and move on after seeing Alexandra in all her papal glory.

“Well, we better be getting over there. I wonder who is going to pounce on me this time.”

He sighed and began to walk back to the papal palace, Cardinal Upton and the novice pushing through the crowds behind him. Frank leapt nimbly up the stairs and was met by a red haired woman in a long black cassock; the fascia around her waist was the purple of monsignors and bishops,

“Father Franco. It’s good to see you again.”

She smiled at him, her eyes also wreathed in smiles through her glasses.

“Monsignor Keiper, how is the audience proceeding?”

The monsignor s******ed,

“Her cousins and sister kicked up a bit of a stink when they found out they weren’t to be first in the audience chamber, serves them right too. They got thrown out eventually, taking up too much of Her Holiness’ time you see.”

Frank laughed,

“Ouch! I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes about now.”

The words died on his lips as a group of old women and a few little kids swept by in high dudgeon, an old man dragged along with them, his face pale with fear. One of the women shot the monsignor a frosty look as they passed.

“What’s up with him?”

The young novice asked, pointing at their retreating backs as they rushed down the stairs.

“What? Oh, Elliot, you mean? She granted him a vision of the future, it wasn’t good at all. I would think that Stephanie isn’t too happy about it.”

Monsignor Keiper answered, a grim look on her face,

“They will blame me for this, but I’m not the conduit for God’s graces, the Holy Mother is. I’m just her private secretary.”

She sighed loudly and removed her fogged up glasses. After vigorously rubbing the lenses, the monsignor put them back on,

“And no, I don’t grudge everyone else becoming cardinals, I have an important part to play in the household and that is enough for me.”

The monsignor turned and headed inside without another word, her cassock dragged along on the gold carpet as she moved silently. Numerous members of the papal household hurried by on numerous tasks, harassed looks on their faces as they did their mistresses’ bidding. Two manhandled a portable wardrobe filled with hundreds of albs, chasubles and other eucharistic vestments, another dodged through the small group of priests with the gold and jewel encrusted papal cross in her shaking hands, trying to make sure that the sharp spike on the end of the tall gilded wooden staff didn’t go through the carpet. Preparations for the first confirmation ceremony of the year had begun in earnest, Frank could’ve sworn that even the heavily bejeweled triple tiara had sped by, borne by a young servant on roller skates. It seemed as if Alexandra wanted to make an impression upon those whom she would fully welcome into the Church.
Wending their way through the labyrinth of corridors, the four priests found themselves in the antechamber outside the Sistine Chapel, where over twenty children mingled with parents, godparents and other relatives. Several bishops and two cardinals watched over the large group with a kindly eye, one of the cardinals Frank recognized as his friend John. Tall and tanned, a curly beard and moustache obscured much of his face except his laughing eyes and huge smile, Cardinal Noe was a sight not to be missed in all of the Vatican. Always jovial and with a wicked sense of humour, the Archbishop of Los Angeles and Miami leaned upon a nearby wall. A little girl, her long hair white blonde and dressed in the white alb worn by all the other kids round her, stood with the old cardinal.

“John, how have you been, you old reprobate?”

Frank laughed as he bounded over to hug his old friend, who enveloped him in a massive bear hug.

“Never better, me old canticle thumper. Isn’t that right, my little noodle Adelaide?”

The girl nodded with a smile, looking up at her grandfather with pride yet mixed with embarrassment,

“Granddad, we have to go in soon.”

She mumbled and hid her rapidly reddening face in the folds of his cassock. The Archbishop let go of Frank and placed a gentle hand upon his granddaughter’s head,

“Can you believe this girl is seven years old now? I remember holding her after she was born, the most adorable baby you could ever see. Addy was even baptized here, that is a day I’ll always remember.”

“Granddad!!!”

Addy moaned as she reappeared, redder than she was before.

“There you are, darling. Go and sit down with Grandma Bre.”

Cardinal Noe said gently to Addy.
The little girl giggled and ran off, launching herself into the arms of a white haired woman in a long blue dress.

“Oh, sugar! I have to go and get changed. See you later.”

Cardinal Upton picked up the edge of her cassock and vanished into the crowd. Monsignor Keiper followed her soon after. It was half an hour before she reappeared, dressed in a white alb and golden chasuble, in the now opened door leading into the chapel. At her signal, the children and their relatives rushed forward and were admitted into the magnificent Sistine chapel.
Arrayed in front of the altar were twenty six cardinals, wearing their finest vestments yet upon their heads were simple white miters, a symbol of humility in the presence of the Vicar of Christ. The pontiff sat on a portable throne, arrayed in gold and white, the pallium around her neck and holding the papal cross in her left hand. Her long red hair, streaked with grey, was adorned by a miter studded with precious stones, the tiara upon a cushion held by a young altar server to her right. Alexandra smiled with joy at seeing so many children and lifted her eyes to Heaven, mentally thanking God for this wonderful day.
Several of the cardinals waved at Cardinal Noe as he strode forward with Addy, who recoiled at seeing the Pope.

“It’s alright, there’s nothing to be frightened of here.”

He whispered softly and placed a hand on his quivering granddaughter’s shoulder, nodding at the young Jesuit who was to be her sponsor.

Soon it was Addy’s turn to receive the sacrament and she was chivvied forward to kneel before Her Holiness. A quick word passed between the pontiff and Monsignor Keiper, who stood close by, and Alexandra laid her hands upon the girl’s head, intoning the baptismal promise and listening to Addy’s response.
Moments passed before she raised her hands and accepted the tiny chrism pot, smearing the oil on the thumb of her right hand and again grasping the papal cross with her left, Alexandra lifted Addy’s head and gently made the sign of the cross upon her forehead as she whispered the time honored words,

“Accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I confirm thee, Joan.”

The very moment the chrism touched her skin, Addy screamed with pain and clutched her forehead in her hands. She leapt up and backed off, eyes wild with fear at the bewildered pontiff. The surrounding cardinals shook their heads and muttered to themselves, except Cardinal Upton, who reached out and clutched Addy to her in an attempt to calm the girl down. She waved her famous badger’s head crosier in a threatening way to ward off anything harmful, real or imagined, and whispered,

“Addy, what’s wrong? You can tell your friend Sue.”

The youngster shook her head and buried her face in the cardinal’s chasuble, her entire body quivering in fright. Eventually she muttered,

“Papa Alexandra, she’s a devil, a wicked devil.”

Upton looked up to see the Pope frown with sadness,

“My child, I’m not who you say I am. Believe me, I wish neither you nor anyone else any harm. You must’ve been seeing things.”

She tried to explain amongst the silence, her words accented by that of her hometown of New York accompanied by a soft Italian burr, having lived in Rome for many years. At her words Addy gave an unearthly scream, wrenched herself from the cardinal’s arms and took to her heels. Her Holiness slowly stood from her throne but Monsignor Keiper stopped her from following Addy,

“Holy Mother, there is no need for you to go after her. Father Franco and I will, right?”

The monsignor winked at Frank as the pontiff sat back down and waved a free hand at the two priests,

“Find the little one, discover why she ran and then report back. I want answers soon, now go.”

Both Keiper and Frank disappeared in seconds while the rest of the cardinals surrounded Alexandria in a circle, squeezing Cardinals Upton and Noe out. Detroit’s archbishop removed her mitre and looked over at her colleague with a creased brow as she handed her crosier over to a servant hovering nearby,

“What in mercy’s name is going on? She is your granddaughter, can’t you do something?”

Noe shook his head,

“Her parents and I have always known that there is something special about Addy. I had to plead with my son Matthew to let her come to Rome again. Even Alexandra senses something as you saw earlier. I’m sure Frank and Elizabeth can get to the bottom of this.”

He folded his hands into his cassock sleeves and waited in silence. Eventually the other cardinals moved away and the Holy Mother beckoned them to her side,

“Don’t let my secretary or Father Franco out of your sight, my friends. I hope the surveillance system is online, Lady Upton, or it may go badly for you. God will provide.”

The two cardinals looked at each other, fear and worry etched on their faces, and knelt to kiss the Fisherman’s ring upon the pontiff’s right hand. She nodded at them both before the others folded around her again.
Upton almost sprinted to the sacristy in order to remove her vestments and change back into her cassock. The servant with her crosier trailed behind her in order to gather the discarded robes up and store them in a bag for easy transport.
“Hurry up, John. The surveillance room is this way!”
Cardinal Upton yelled as she began to run and fumbled in a cassock pocket, a jingling noise accompanying her every step. Through corridors and rooms they sprinted, pushing through crowds of visitors, dodging past Swiss Guards on their rounds and running down stairs to a large door.
The cardinal soon brandished with relief a set of keys and now began to sort through them. Finding the right key, she rammed it into the lock and turned. A click sounded and she placed her hand upon the ornate knob and twisted it. The door swung open to reveal a massive room, its walls lined with television screens and computer monitors, a huge console and a holographic projector sat in the centre of the room. Twenty monks and nuns turned as the two cardinals swept inside and then went back to their work.

“Welcome to the nerve centre of the Vatican.”

An old Benedictine monk quavered as he limped forward and bowed low,

“Milord, milady, Her Holiness sent you to me?”

“Yes, we both need to keep a close eye on Father Franco and Monsignor Keiper.”

Cardinal Upton answered,

“Can you bring up a security feed for the whole palace complex, Brother…?”

“Bernard, milady. I can certainly do that for you.”

The monk smiled and bowed once again before he shuffled off to the centre console and touched several buttons upon a keyboard. The projector flickered on and off for a few seconds as he trolled through hundreds of cameras until he found the right one,

“Eminence, there they are.”

The projector screen revealed Frank talking to Addy in a dark corner somewhere in the palace.

“Can’t we get sound on this thing, Brother Bernard?”

Noe barked in frustration, his hands clenched, but the Benedictine shook his gray head,

“No, the system isn’t up and running fully yet. This is the best we can do for the time being, milord cardinal.”


__________________
My first non-HP fic:
The Cauldron and The Keys.

Feedback

Vote here for who you think should be the next UK Minister for Magic.

Hermione/Neville for MOM '08!!!
Commitment, Competence, Compassion! (our spotlight thread)

Last edited by HPFanNZ; January 13th, 2010 at 7:46 am.
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  #3  
Old October 20th, 2008, 11:41 am
HPFanNZ  Female.gif HPFanNZ is offline
Second Year
 
Joined: 4855 days
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Age: 33
Posts: 191
Re: The Cauldron and The Keys: A Pope's end.

Chapter 3 is now up, please enjoy and I'd like some feedback soon:

Chapter 3: Devil on the throne.

Frank and Elizabeth hunted almost everywhere for Addy yet she kept on eluding them until,

“Liz, look. I’ve found her!”

The Jesuit called out upon spying the girl in a corner of the pontiff’s private library. She was crouched low; her blonde hair disguising her frantic eyes, in an alcove created by two huge bookcases, and was sobbing in fright.

“Addy, its ok, it’s just me, your uncle Frank.”

He said in a low voice, not wanting to scare her even more. Addy looked up, eyes red from too much crying, and crawled over to him.

“Is she coming to eat me?”

Addy whispered, fear in her eyes but Frank hugged her, after discovering that Elizabeth had disappeared,

“No, you’re safe with me, child. Let’s go and find your aunt Liz.”

They both stood up and left the library in silence, soon reaching Elizabeth’s own office down the hall. Frank knocked and the door swung open, revealing the monsignor at her desk, a flat screen computer monitor folding itself into the desk in front of her. Elizabeth stood up with alarm but relaxed when she saw who it was,

“Oh, you brought her then. Come, let us hear of what you saw, Adelaide.”

She gestured to a nearby leather chair and Addy sat down heavily upon it, almost sinking into the cushions. The youngster fumbled with the gold cincture around her waist and looked mournfully at Frank, who seated himself next to her and held her hand,

“Addy, you have to tell us. We won’t tell on you or anything, especially not to her.”

He promised, with one hand over the badge of his Order in almost a solemn oath upon the Holy Name. Addy closed her eyes and sighed,

“Alright, what I had seen freaked me out. It wasn’t normal, she wasn’t normal anymore. It was almost as if she had revealed her true self to me, by accident of course. Huh, you should’ve seen the look on her face when she realized that for herself.”

She snorted derisively, keeping the two priests on the edge of their seats as she continued,

“Batwings spread wide; she touched my forehead with a clawed thumb. Her eyes were filled with hellfire, huge fangs peeked out from the corners of her slavering mouth and even her head was surrounded with a halo of fire. The cross she held seemed as if it was melting in the heat, her robes were aflame and the wounds on her wrists were filled with disgusting maggots. God had abandoned her so she turned to someone else and I know who.”

Addy finished her story by hiding her eyes and shuddering. Frank and Elizabeth looked at each other and whispered in low tones,

“I knew about the angel wings, but what is this about wounds?”

“Not many know that Alexandra was graced with the stigmata a few years ago. She covers them up but I’m sure people would have noticed that she bleeds from her wrists and ankles on a daily basis. I think it was Archbishop Spartz who first brought it to my attention when he had an audience with her at the time. Now it seems there is something more to this than meets the eye.”

Elizabeth turned to Addy again with a look of concern,

“Was there anything else you saw, like writing or something like that?”

The young girl thought for a moment and then turned white as a ghost,

“Yes! There was writing along with some strange symbols upon her forehead. I couldn’t read them though.”

Frank asked sadly,

“Are you sure?”

Addy nodded vigorously,

“I know what I saw and I think I can remember what they looked like, could I have some paper and a pen?”

The monsignor rummaged around her desk until she found both items and gave them to Addy, who then started to draw. A tense five minutes passed before she had finished and passed the paper over to Elizabeth, who adjusted her glasses and looked at it critically,

“It’s a mixture of Latin and Aramaic along with several symbols I can’t make heads or tails of. I’ll have to send it to the Vatican Library in order to get it translated, should be several days before I get the English translation back.”

She waved a hand at Addy,

“You better go and find your granddad, my dear. Frank will accompany you.”

The Jesuit and Addy stood up to take their leave, leaving Elizabeth looking at the piece of paper in her hands. Once the door had closed behind them, she pressed a button on the underside of the desk and a computer flat screen slowly rose. The priest touched a finger to it and the screen came to life, the arms of the Central Intelligence Agency slowly revolving upon it.
She carefully manipulated her hands across it until a password screen came up, Elizabeth typed in her password using a touch pad and the Agency’s mainframe within the Vatican came online.
The monsignor quickly sent an email and then began to wait for a reply, something horrible was weighing on her mind and she couldn’t keep it from the agency forever.


Frank and Addy walked through the palace at a brisk pace, reaching the antechamber outside the Sistine Chapel in only half an hour. The Pope was standing outside, surrounded by her many attendants and two of her old friends, chatting animatedly to them both. She turned and flashed a quick smile at Frank, who returned the gesture with a grin and a wave. Addy shuddered as they passed by; Alexandra glared after her and then restarted the conversation with her friends, a couple from Washington DC. The husband was a Papal gentleman, the wife worked at the Congregation for Catholic Education, in the Office for Catholic Schools.

“I don’t think she’s terribly happy with me at the moment.”

Addy mumbled with a grimace of distaste as she looked over her shoulder at the pontiff, still happily chatting away yet leaning heavily upon her papal cross for support.

“The Georgetown delegation is arriving soon. They should keep the Holy Mother busy while we try to find your granddad.”

Frank said to his young friend, who brightened up, giggled and stood on tip toe to whisper in his ear.

“Oh, you still call him that! We encouraged your dad and Aunty Jen to do that too, they couldn’t pronounce it that well when they were three years old, but they managed.”

Addy giggled again and began to hop skip down the hall, almost having forgotten the ordeal she had just been through. The Father General of the whole Jesuit order loved to see such youthful vigour; it had been a long time since he had shown that much exuberance himself.
The young novices that were undergoing military training tended to age as the process wore on, everything they had sworn to protect and promulgate now seemed alien to them due to the events that had overshadowed Alexandra’s most recent papal retreat and her pontificate since.
His mind drifted to what had happened in the hills of Sicily, where an angel of God had appeared to the Pope and gave her God’s mandate to relieve the world’s sufferings, discomfort the heretic and return the Church to its roots. But millions of lives had been lost so far, much blood had been spilled to protect the true faith from evil doctrines and false prophets. Frank still couldn’t believe that a friend would go that far and that he had been a part of it all for many years.

“Darkness has entered My Son’s Church. Drive it out, my child.”

Frank gave a start and looked around for the strange voice, the only other person around was Addy, still skipping with joy as they soon reached the outer doors into St. Peters Square.


Several days later, the pontiff stood upon the balcony overlooking the Square. What the two cardinals had reported troubled her deeply. Why would someone so loyal be so secretive? But there were other matters to attend to than just the strange behaviour of the Jesuit Superior General.
A lone monsignor walked up timidly and tapped Her Holiness on the shoulder,

“Cardinal Rhein and Archbishop Herrmann are here to see you, Holiness.”

Alexandra turned and nodded to dismiss the young priest, who scurried away gratefully.
The cardinal prefect and the secretary of the CDF strode out onto the balcony and made their obeisance to the Pope, kneeling one by one to kiss the ring on her outstretched right hand. Both prelates occupied archdioceses back in the United States as well as their positions in the Curia.
Rhein was a relatively tall man, born and raised in Cincinnati, entering the seminary about the same time as the pontiff and Archbishop Herrmann, a fellow priestess and the Metropolitan Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Texas.

“Nicholas, what brings you to my side this time?”

The Holy Mother asked with a candid grin, turning again to look out at the view.

Cardinal Rhein looked out over the Square also as he gave an answer to her question,

“Our enquiries into Adelaide Noe came up empty, Your Holiness. She has led a blameless life so far, we have nothing to go after her for.”

“Do you have anything to say to me, my friend Doris?”

Archbishop Herrmann seemed to quake for a moment before she replied,

“Nothing at all, Holy Mother. Though I agree with His Eminence, Miss Noe is an extremely spiritual and faithful child, she believes wholeheartedly in what the Church teaches.”

The pontiff turned and glared at the unfortunate priestess,

“Nothing?! The most able members of the Congregation and its leaders came up with nought?! What are you, afraid of getting your hands dirty? It happens to be something you do all the bloody time and you couldn’t find anything on a little girl! Get out of my sight!”

She bellowed in rage, eyes glowing red in the shadow thrown by the great dome of the basilica and a deep voice seemed to echo her words. At that, the two prelates backed off in horror and fled the balcony, their footsteps fading into nothing in a few moments.

Alexandra frowned; she still didn’t know why she had that effect on people. Her family never seemed to notice such rages, even in her youth, but they barely visited the Vatican anyway.
The pontiff stared across the square in absolute silence, mind working furiously as her dark red hair seemed to curl about her shoulders and down her white clothed back, the grey streaks throughout her bangs becoming more prominent than before.
Old age had not struck Alexandra down as badly as the clerics under her; something had kept her features from deteriorating with age so rapidly for she looked as if she was still fifty nine years old, her age upon her election as Pope.
But the dramatic change that came over her on that evening at the Apostolic Palace would have sent any lone watcher running.
The Holy Mother raised her eyes to the moon overhead and snarled a few words, yellowed fangs, sharp as knives but always hidden from those around her, revealed themselves as she threw her head back and let forth an unholy screech.
Flames sprang from her outstretched hands; she whirled around and sent a fireball at a window close by. The glass shattered into a thousand fragments and fell onto the concrete below.
The Pope looked around, thrust her still burning hands into her cassock sleeves and began to breathe slowly. When she was sufficiently calm, Alexandra headed back into the Palace.


The Gesu was filled to the brim with a congregation of Jesuits and visitors as Frank celebrated the morning Mass.
As he rose from his kneeling position behind the altar during the blessing of the Eucharist, a gleam caught his eye. The gold chalice, filled with dark red wine, glowed dimly and winked out. Frank picked it up in wonder and looked inside, his two assistant celebrants paused in mid prayer and stared sideways at him,

“Father, what is wrong?”

Their superior turned to them, the chalice in his hands, his eyes glazed over,

“The wine, it has been changed.”

What it had been changed into made the other two priests kneel down in awe, the wine had turned to blood.

“A miracle! A miracle!’

One of the assisting priests yelled out, the congregation all standing up and peering over at them.
Frank knelt also and looked up at the altar. A light fell upon the large host upon the paten and instantly turned it to flesh,

“Almighty God, is this a sign?”

One of the Gesu’s bells sounded just once and he fell upon his face, arms outstretched, in a faint.


“Father Superior, are you alright?”

A woman’s voice cut through the darkness.
The Jesuit blinked once, and then awakened fully to find himself in his own bed, his novice seated on a chair nearby.

“Joan, Sister Joan. What happened to me?’

He croaked, his head whirling at the events of earlier that day and swiftly sat up. At that very moment someone knocked at the door and Joan stood up to answer it. She opened it a crack and listened to who was on the other side, but the door was forced wide open and a woman monsignor strode inside,

“Father Franco, you took quite a turn during Mass this morning. I am…”

Frank smiled weakly,

“Monsignor Allison Taylor, I know who you are. I would’ve thought that someone from Causes of Saints would meet me first, but the Promoter of Justice for the Doctrine of the Faith graces me with her presence.”

He coughed and lay back onto his pillows. The Monsignor nodded at Joan in order to dismiss her. The novice left without a word, looking back at Frank before she stepped through the open door, a shimmer of light around her head that only her superior noticed.

“Someone from Saints will meet with you later, Father Franco. But you have to first speak with me in regards to the possible Eucharistic miracle performed by the grace of God earlier this morning. Did you have any doubts about the Real Presence before today, Father General?”

“None at all, Monsignor. Why do you ask such nonsense?”

Frank asked, wondering what she was getting at.

“Miracles like this usually occur when the officiating priest has doubts about or no longer believes in the Real Presence or transubstantiation. Yet you seem to have none, but what of those who assisted you at Mass, would they have had doubts?”

Monsignor Taylor questioned him again, but Frank shook his head,

“No, those two are amongst the most loyal and blessed of my Order, I am glad they assisted me this morning. I couldn’t celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass without them.”

The monsignor sighed and folded her hands inside her cassock sleeves,

“Then they are off the hook, so to speak. But Doctrine of the Faith will be keeping an eye on you and your Order until the investigation by Saints is complete. Is that clear, Father Franco?”

“As clear as the eyes of Saint Lucy, Monsignor Taylor. Good afternoon to you.”

Frank answered with a weary grin as the woman turned to leave the room,

“The Holy Mother will be pleased to know that you are alright. Good afternoon to you also, Father General.”

Taylor repeated the same greeting as she walked out the door. Frank fell back onto his pillows and slipped into a deep sleep.


The archiepiscopal palace in Detroit was ablaze with light upon Cardinal Upton’s return to the United States. Her palatial staff lined the driveway as the limousine pulled up, the cardinal smiled as she levered herself out of the gleaming white car and leaned upon her chief of staff.
Sent to make contact with the Order of Malta in the US, mainly for intelligence gathering purposes, and also in her capacity as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, Upton hadn’t been able to come back for 9 months.
Forced to watch over her diocese and make executive decisions from her apartments at the Vatican, there was a backlog of special ceremonies and confirmations she hadn’t been able to take part in until now.

“Your Eminence, it has been such a long time since we last saw your bright smiling face. Welcome back.”

The chief of staff, Monsignor Georgouras, an Australian priest, grinned down at the archbishop, who returned the grin with a massive one of her own,

“It’s wonderful to be back. But I have a meeting with the head of Malta in a few minutes and so much more to be doing afterwards. Help me up the stairs, will you?”

The Australian monsignor nodded in assent and carefully aided Cardinal Upton up the long flight of stairs up to the palace’s grand doors.
She had to marvel at the boundless energy of the cardinal at her best, but not now, it seemed as if she looked very tired. Age was creeping up on her, yet she looked like she hadn’t aged very much at all.
Cardinal Upton paused for a moment to stare above the trees in the dwindling light, the stars twinkling in the slowly darkening sky. Several lights moved slowly through the atmosphere, satellites orbiting the sphere of Earth upon a trajectory of her own creation and under her control.
Information streamed down into and out of the Vatican via these streamlined machines, sent up upon a European Space Agency rocket five years earlier as part of the pontiff’s plans.
Numerous secrets and classified information had been divulged to the head of Intelligence for the Military Order of Alexandra through many channels, diplomatic, religious and political. Heads of State, ambassadors and envoys had shared them unwittingly to the smiling face and innocent looks of the Archbishop of Detroit, behind which a calculating mind lurked.


A continuous ringing noise that emitted from a nearby laptop woke Monsignor Elizabeth Keiper from her deep slumber and caused her to roll over with a grumble.
She reached out for her glasses on her bedside table, and having found them, slammed them onto the bridge of her nose and sat up. The rest of the Vatican still lay in darkness as the monsignor tumbled from her bed and tried to do something with her tousled hair.
Not bothering to change from her voluminous white nightgown to the familiar black cassock she wore while not on ceremonial duties, Elizabeth grabbed the laptop from the desk in her room and plopped back down upon her bed again. Flipping the screen up, she peered into the blue eyes and tanned face of her handler at the CIA, Agent Susan Norsson,

“I just got your message, monsignor. What is so urgent that you contact us not at our agreed location?”

“This!”

The monsignor held up the piece of paper, which Addy had written on earlier that week, to the webcam for Norsson’s inspection,

“There has been major supernatural activity going on here at the Vatican, most of it circling around the pontiff herself, as it always has done, but there is something different to it that I have noticed in the last week or so.”

Norsson nodded critically,

“Go on, Red Rose.”

Elizabeth winced, she had never liked the call sign they had assigned to her, and continued,

“It is something very dark, evil almost. I can’t describe it further than that but I know someone who has.”

“Who is this visionary you speak of?”

The agent asked, wide eyed and trembling slightly.

“Adelaide Noe, I know her grandfather, the Lord Cardinal Noe of Los Angeles and Miami. The girl is seven years old and saw something very disturbing during her confirmation four days ago.”

“The Pope was the confirming bishop that day, correct?”

Elizabeth opened her mouth to ask how her handler knew but Norsson waved her into silence,

“The director of our paranormal division was afraid something like this would happen, this would mean that we forced Her Holiness’ hand into possible open conflict with divine powers. New edicts and bulls will be written to give more power to the CDF and to bring her military order into the open, supplanting the Swiss Guard itself from protection of the Vatican City. If you aren’t able to bring an end to her dictatorial ways, you have my permission to terminate with extreme prejudice, Monsignor Keiper.”


Matthew and Agatha Noe, Adelaide’s parents, sat in silence beside their daughter outside in the Papal gardens. Matt was almost the spitting image of his father the Cardinal and had the same smile as well.
He held his daughter close as she sobbed and tried to comfort her,

“Addy, we really have to leave. It’s not safe for you here; Granddad John won’t be able to protect you all the time.”

The young girl looked up at her father through tear soaked lashes,

“I have to stay; she needs to be brought to justice. I’ve seen terrible things that are about to happen and I’m needed to prevent them. Please, Dad, let me stay!”

Matt and Agatha looked at each other hopelessly, wrestling with their consciences and worries to give their daughter an answer. They both stood up in respect as their father and father-in-law walked past a rose bed and towards them,

“Mattie, I’m very glad to see that you have chosen to visit, though why you weren’t present at your own daughter’s confirmation is beyond me.”

The cardinal chided his son, who lowered his eyes and bowed stiffly,

“I’m sorry to have disappointed you, Father. I am yet to fully understand why you choose to remain here at the Vatican when your own family needs you so much more.”

Cardinal Noe glowered at the young man for a moment and then turned to his daughter in law, who stood from her seat and gave a deep curtsey. He gently raised her up and hugged her warmly, kissing her on both cheeks after the European fashion,

“Agatha, my dear Agatha, it has been a long time since we last saw each other. Has my son keeping you busy of nights?”

He winked saucily at the prim lady, who giggled and went a deep red,

“Your Eminence, get away with you!”

Addy still sat on the bench, listening to what was going on around her, when at last her grandfather took notice of the little girl,

“Child, what is wrong? Why do you wish to stay here with me? I don’t want anything bad happening to you.”

She remained seated, her head hung in shame as she struggled to find words to explain. When she could, it came out in stops and starts,

“Granddad, I have to because there are going to be some terrible things happening to the Church and the Vatican, earth shaking things that many won’t survive and I have to remain to prevent them. The Pope is connected to these events somehow and she needs to be stopped.”

The cardinal knelt down and wrapped his arms around her gently,

“Adelaide, there is nothing I wouldn’t do for you, but to repudiate my friend and pontiff would be disastrous and possibly treason….”

He trailed off as the Pope herself walked past. She nodded wordlessly at him, a vision of holiness bathed in white light, but Addy saw something different and buried her face in her hands with fright.
Her Holiness turned and smiled with sadness at the youngster. She walked gently forward and knelt before Addy,

“You have my permission to stay, Miss Noe. If your parents have any objections, they can take it up with me. Good day to you, Your Eminence.”

Matt and Agatha remained open mouthed as Her Holiness stood up and swept away, a scent of roses following her every movement and lingered seductively in the soft breeze. To Addy, the strong smell of sulphur was mingled with the rose.
It was a few moments before they could regain their thoughts and Matt looked wistfully back at the pontiff,

“God’s wounds! She never married, did she? I’ve heard she was one of the first to not take the vow of celibacy, I’d love to hit that!”

This earned the unfortunate man a clout from his wife and a stony glare from his father,

“Matthew John Noe, watch your tongue! A, you’re already married and B, you’re half her age. Do that again and I’ll put you in confession, young man.”

His son mumbled an apology and was steered away by Agatha before she reached out and hugged her daughter,

“Be mindful of everything your grandparents tell you, obey the laws of the Holy See, don’t get into mischief and be careful. We’ll be back to get you before the year is out. Goodbye, my angel.”


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  #4  
Old November 4th, 2008, 7:06 am
HPFanNZ  Female.gif HPFanNZ is offline
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Re: The Cauldron and The Keys: A Pope's end.

Here is the beginning of Chapter 4, enjoy.


Chapter 4: The Translation revealed.

“Bong! Bong! Bong!”

The bells of St. Peters rang out across the whole of Rome and Monsignor Keiper woke up a second time. Cursing loudly about sleeping in again, the phone on her desk began to ring and the priestess forced herself out of bed to answer it,

“God be with you. Elizabeth Keiper, Pontifical Household, speaking...”

She paused to listen to who was on the other end and her face drained of colour,

“Vatican Library has the translation ready? I’ll be right over!’

Keiper slammed the phone down hard and overturned her room in order to find her cassock. Divesting herself of her nightgown, she struggled into the cassock, found her fascia and tied it around her waist in an obvious hurry, not bothering to check if the knot was tight enough.
Running a stiff brush through her long hair with great speed, she grabbed her glasses, judged her appearance was sufficient in a large mirror on the back of her door and rushed outside and down the corridor.
She only slowed her pace upon reaching the papal apartments and, noticing the door into the Pope’s bedroom was open and that the room was empty, peered into the private chapel across the hall.
The pontiff herself, still dressed in her gold embroidered nightgown and bedroom slippers, knelt before the altar, her lips moving silently in prayer, shoulders quivering with repressed sobs. Wisps of white smoke shimmered and moved, forming what looked like the New York skyline, the ruins of the World Trade Centre still smouldering in the distance.
Her Holiness had come very close to losing loved ones upon that day forty eight years earlier; a scar still remained in her now blackened heart.
She turned at the sound of Elizabeth’s laboured breathing and smiled briefly, tears glistening in her eyes,

“Monsignor, you are awake rather late. Please forgive my crying, it is still a hard day for me.”

Elizabeth’s face softened at the sight of her pontiff and began to tear up herself.
Yet she couldn’t help feeling uneasy, the Pope’s mood swings were legendary even outside the Vatican, she would go from love and compassion to either coldness or uncontrollable rage in an instant. But this was a day that didn’t require such extreme changes in temper from the Holy Mother, she was more vulnerable.

“Holiness, I cannot stay for very long. My duties can’t be put off so easily, but I will pray with you, for a little while.”

Her Holiness smiled again and gestured Elizabeth to her side. The Monsignor knelt gratefully down beside the pontiff and clasped her hands in prayer.
The two women remained silent as the vision of New York continued to shimmer and sparkle above the altar in front of them, Elizabeth soon became aware of the subtle scent of roses exuding from the Pope, yet there was something more bitter in the air.

Elizabeth let out a sigh of relief when the pontiff at last dismissed her with a genial grin. The New York skyline soon vanished with a burst of gold light as the priestess left Her Holiness to make her way to the Vatican Library where the translation of the symbols, seen by Addy upon Alexandria’s forehead, waited.
Walking through the Palace to reach an open side door which led to behind St. Peters and a tunnel through into the Library, Elizabeth paused for a moment as a gust of wind blew past her and slammed the door shut. The uneasy feeling grew, did the Holy Mother know of her secretary’s errand?
The monsignor hoped very much that she didn’t.
Reaching the open air and sunlight that streamed through the windows of the Library after walking through the dank tunnel, Elizabeth took a deep breath and rang a bell that sat upon the desk of the Librarian, an elderly yet cheerful Englishman, who popped out of a nearby doorway at the sound,

“Monsignor Keiper, what a pleasant surprise. Here to see the translation then?”

Elizabeth nodded with a smile of her own,

“Cardinal Poulden, I see you haven’t lost that wit of yours.”

“Being cooped up here upon Her Holiness’ orders hasn’t helped it a lot though; I haven’t even been out to London in months. Oh well, God works in mysterious ways, eh.”

The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster cackled with a measure of glee and began to walk along the massive bookshelves which lined the Library walls and headed into his office.
He gingerly picked up a piece of paper from his overflowing desk and handed it to Elizabeth,

“Is this what you wanted to know?”

She read the words scrawled upon the paper and turned white as a ghost,

“No, it can’t be. She can’t be!!! Oh saints in Heaven, protect us!”

At Poulden’s deft signal, several monks crept forward and dropped a bag over Elizabeth’s head. She struggled for a moment, and then stopped, aware that her life may be in danger.

“Hush! You’re not the first to see what we’ve been seeing these past few years; the Holy Mother is more a monster upon Peter’s Throne than anything else. The others have ignored this for far too long, a light has gone out in the Church and she was the one who extinguished it.”

The cardinal said with such disgust and frustration in his voice that Elizabeth was taken aback by his words,

“So you want to fight back, is that it?”

She asked, her voice muffled by the cloth bag.
Poulden leaned forward and pulled it off, a look of righteous anger upon his face,

“Of course I want to, Monsignor Keiper. Who wouldn’t want to fight against such evil as that woman who occupies the Holy See at this very moment? So I have taken it upon myself to rebel and encourage others to rebel, the Crusaders of Cassino are the group I personally founded. You may join us if you wish.”

Elizabeth looked up at him as she considered his offer,

“If you are willing to have a CIA agent amongst your members, then I will join you.”

Cardinal Poulden pulled back, surprise stamped upon his features,

“A CIA mole within the Vatican?! That is the most absurd yet plausible thing I have ever heard! Prove it to me.”

“Well, order your staff to let go of me and I’ll show you my identification.”

She answered stiffly, thus Poulden quickly ordered two of his monks to remove their hands from Elizabeth’s shoulders. The monsignor plunged a hand into a pocket and soon produced a black leather wallet; she carefully flipped it back to reveal her ID card and badge,

“I don’t normally carry it around with me, in case I get searched, but here is your proof.”

The cardinal took the wallet from Elizabeth and looked at it for a few moments. Checking to make sure that it wasn’t a fake, he returned it to her, apparently satisfied,

“Good, good. A trained assassin within our midst, you may prove to be a valuable asset to our organisation, monsignor.”


Frank sat at his desk, resting from his duties for a few days had certainly cleared his head. But a new papal decree had just been sent to him, leaving the Father General speechless. The Jesuit Corps were now part of the Military Order of Alexandra, thus no longer under his command. Frank had no choice but to obey this command from the Pope herself and unable to appeal it, bound strongly to his vows as he was.
Now he discovered, via one of his councillors and to his cost, that Elizabeth was missing. Frank was sorely tempted to help search for her, but he was sure that the monsignor would turn up again.
He flung the decree down onto the desk in fury, scattering piles of paper throughout the room. The Jesuit heaved himself out of his chair and went about his office, gathering request forms, files and other mundane bits of paper dealing with the day to day running of the Society of Jesus. Frank soon came across a large cardboard folder, tucked away behind his chair, the arms of the Third Vatican Council upon its front,

“The council which would bring about the Second Great Schism by ordaining its architect, a woman whose consecration as bishop was nearly blocked by a President, a woman who fought against tyranny in the world but then became a tyrant herself in the end.”

Frank mumbled to himself, leafing through the folder as he spoke.


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  #5  
Old November 8th, 2008, 6:50 am
HPFanNZ  Female.gif HPFanNZ is offline
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Re: The Cauldron and The Keys: A Pope's end.

More of Chapter 4 for ya'll, enjoy.

He leant against his desk as he continued to read, unaware of an incessant knocking at his office door. Eventually Frank heard it, put the Vatican III folder down and went to find out who it was. He wrenched the door open to stare into the face of a young, blonde haired Jesuit that the Superior General recognised as a new administrative assistant,

“Father Franco, you have a letter.”

She squeaked as she handed him an envelope,

“Cardinal Caliendo just had this pass across her desk and thought you should see it.”

“Oh, err, thank you.”

He mumbled and reached out to close the door but he wasn’t fast enough. The pretty assistant produced a clipboard and pen from behind her back and proffered both to him,

“I’ve also got something for you to sign, Father General.”

Frank took the pen and board from her, read for a few moments and then signed with a flourish,

“Is that all, Mother…?”

“Sandra Wright. Yes, Father Franco.”

The young priest answered as she took back the pen and clipboard. She looked cross-eyed at the signature for a moment, which made Frank roll his eyes, but no questions were asked about it and so Mother Wright at last took her leave.
Frank carefully closed the door and turned his back to it. He quickly slit the envelope open, fished out the thin piece of paper inside, unfolded it and read,

“To Father Francis Ignatius Franco S.J. Superior General of the Society of Jesus,

I’m ok, just at the Vatican Library with Nick and a few of his assistants. I should be back soon and you don’t have to worry about the problem any more, Nick has a solution.

God Bless,

Msgr. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Keiper, P.H. Private Secretary to Her Holiness Alexandra I.”


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  #6  
Old November 16th, 2008, 2:57 am
HPFanNZ  Female.gif HPFanNZ is offline
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Re: The Cauldron and The Keys: A Pope's end.

Another part of Chapter 4 for everyone to feast on, enjoy and please leave feedback here.


Frank jammed the letter back into its envelope with a grunt and tucked it into a pocket of his cassock. Carefully rummaging around in his other pockets, the Jesuit fished out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, he put one to his lips but a sudden gust of wind ripped it from his unresisting gums,

“You really have to quit one of these days, Frankie.”

The Superior General jumped at the sound of a familiar voice and quickly spun around, the strong scent of roses hanging heavily in the air, to see the Pope step out from a dark corner of his office. She was clad in a dazzling white nightgown, almost see-through.
Frank’s mouth fell open; the pontiff was more curvaceous than he remembered. Alexandra silently stole up and placed her arms around his neck, forcing the priest right up against the door,

“I’ve been watching you all these years, working diligently away and I’m willing to repay you for your services.”

She whispered huskily in his ear, Frank doing all he could to resist her advances, but something made him pull her closer to himself. The Pope smiled slyly and leant in, her lips hovering over his. It was then that Frank, for a short moment, saw a flash of red light shimmer in the pontiff’s eyes.
Alexandra paused, seemingly unsure of her actions as an internal struggle played itself out in her mind. The light soon shrunk back and winked out as she pulled away and mumbled an apology.
But Frank, unable to contain himself for much longer, kissed his pontiff with great gentleness, she kissed him back with equal ardour but, only after a few minutes, pulled away again and turned her back on him,

“I’m sorry. I can’t do this, not now.”

“What do you want from me? I cannot break either of my vows, loyalty to you nor chastity. You have the power to absolve me from one or both.”

Frank protested, his heart pounding at a hundred miles a second. Alexandri\a turned back to him, a sad smile playing about her lips,

“No, it’s not possible. I will leave. Again I’m sorry.”

She moved past him and opened the door, yet the pontiff gave him a sultry wink as she walked out. Frank stared at her retreating back, his face red, and fled to behind his desk, where he sat to calm himself down.


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  #7  
Old November 24th, 2008, 3:05 am
HPFanNZ  Female.gif HPFanNZ is offline
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Re: The Cauldron and The Keys: A Pope's end.

More for all to read and enjoy:


The Jesuit had come so close to losing his innocence to Alexandra and swore to himself that he would not give in to her again, even if it meant breaking his vow of perpetual loyalty. But his thoughts would continue to return to that white clothed body pressed against his own for many days to come.


“Adelaide Agatha Noe! Come down this instant!”

Lady Noe shouted up the stairs to her erstwhile granddaughter, whose tousled head peered around her bedroom door,

“Yes, Grandma Bre!”

She yelled back and bounded down the stairs in her set of pink pyjamas, hair flying and ran headlong into her grandmother’s arms.

“Oh my, you’re very energetic today. Why don’t we go and visit Granddad John?”

Addy cheered loudly and rushed back up the stairs to get dressed. It was only a few minutes until she ran back down, her hair still dishevelled.
Bre sighed, walked into the master bedroom of the living quarters she and her husband occupied within the Lateran Palace and began to rummage about her duchess drawers for a hairbrush. Having found one, she seated herself upon a corner of the huge king-size bed and called Addy to her,

“You will have to be on your best behaviour again, Addy. Playing tricks on passing guardsmen and your granddad’s friends is not very nice.”

The youngster rolled her eyes at this and winced as her grandmother brushed her hair very roughly,

“Grandma! Ow! Stoppit!”

Bre soon finished and put the brush down beside her. She hadn’t noticed that she had been shaking with anger; news of the attempted seduction of Father Franco by the Supreme Pontiff had travelled fast. Bre had been told by Frank himself upon his last visit,

“I’m sorry, dear. Something bad has just happened. That’s all.”

Addy sat upright at this,

“What’s wrong? What happened, Grandma?”

Bre looked at her granddaughter sadly,

“You may already know.”

The young girl was about to ask what her grandmother meant by that statement just as she remembered a dream she had the night before and screwed up her face in disgust,

“The Pope will try twice more and succeed the third; it is inevitable and cannot be fought against for her powers are far stronger than many know or realise.”

She answered in a flat sounding voice, her eyes alternating from their usual brown hue to a white sheen and back.


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The Cauldron and The Keys.

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  #8  
Old December 28th, 2008, 10:00 am
HPFanNZ  Female.gif HPFanNZ is offline
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Re: The Cauldron and The Keys: A Pope's end.

I have the ending of Chapter 4 for everyone, enjoy and please give me feedback.


The bedroom door banged shut and Bre jumped at the sound,

“Whoever is there, come out so that we can see you!”

She called out in annoyance at the interruption. A shadow detached itself from the wall and walked forward into the light. An elderly female cardinal stood before both grandmother and granddaughter, her long hair once the same shade as the pontiff’s but now greying to almost white.
The cardinal inclined her head with respect,

“Forgive this intrusion, Lady Noe. You are wanted by Her Holiness.”

Bre stood up quickly,

“Cardinal Walsh, you have my full attention. What does the pontiff need from me?”

She asked, picking her words with care.

“The Holy Mother simply requests your presence at an audience for the editorial staff of The Hoya, nothing more, nothing less.”

Walsh answered, watching Addy out of the corner of her eye and then bowed low.
The other woman grinned,

“Oh great and powerful cardinal patron of Georgetown and Archbishop of Washington, lead on!”

Addy then stormed up and hung grimly onto her grandmother’s dress,

“Grandma! Don’t leave me here!”

She cried out with a shudder.

“You can come along with us on our way to the audience. I’m sure your granddad will come to find you.”

Cardinal Walsh said soothingly to the young girl, who shook her head with fear, thankfully Bre soon intervened,

“I think she is able enough to find her way to John’s office from where we are going. Now please, lead on!”

She took Addy’s hand and they walked out of the bedroom together. Walsh now waited impatiently outside in the cloisters adjoining her fellow cardinal’s apartments and the rest of the Palace complex, a shimmering figure standing before her,

“Lady Noe will be at your side shortly, mistress. The child will be under her grandfather’s watch and will be tested by him for mystic tendencies as proscribed by your command.”

The cardinal mumbled as she knelt down. The indistinct figure raised a hand in blessing, and then faded before Walsh’s eyes. By the time Bre and Addy strode through the ornate double doors, she had raised herself up from the floor and leant against a pillar, her face pale and a tortured look in her eyes.
Soon Her Eminence’s face returned to its normal sun kissed brown and she perked up,

“I apologise for my sudden turn, ladies. This way, please.”

Bre and her granddaughter looked mystified at each other as Walsh led them through the cloisters, numerous corridors and out into a large courtyard.
A magnificent fountain played musically in its centre and the pontiff herself sat in front of it. Over thirty people were seated, cross legged, on the paving in a semi circle around her gilded wooden chair.
Her Holiness looked up with a smile and slowly levered herself out of her throne. Several of her visitors leapt up to try and assist the Pope, but she shook them off with a wave of her right hand,

“Shoo, my children. I can get up on my own.”

She grunted and they quickly sat back down again.
Alexandra slowly hobbled over and accepted Cardinal Walsh’s obeisance gracefully, then the pontiff turned to greet both Bre and Addy, who involuntary blanched at her touch.

“Now, what is it you want from me, Holiness?”

Bre asked with trepidation, staring at the group of young people lounging about at the base of the fountain.
The Pope laughed,

“A group portrait, of course. Cardinal Walsh, do you have the camera?”

“Yes, Holy Mother. I should have it somewhere.”

The cardinal replied as she fumbled in her cassock pockets, eventually finding a lightweight silver digital camera and handed it to Bre, who then turned to Addy,

“Don’t worry, my dear. I should be fine. Now, off to your granddad.”

Addy disappeared in a flash, running to the edge of the courtyard and into the Palace before the camera went off and a bloodcurdling scream echoed off the walls.
The young girl spun around to find her grandmother limping towards her, blood streaming down from a huge bite wound on her neck,

“She…she tried to kill me.”

Bre managed to gasp out before she collapsed onto the marble floor. Addy just stood there, paralysed with shock at the old woman’s injury until she shook herself and went off to find help.
She ran wildly throughout the Palace, seeking assistance from anyone and everyone. Having found a few members of the Swiss Guard on duty and a doctor from the papal medical centre, Addy rushed back to her grandma with the guardsmen and doctor hard on her heels.
The small group reached Bre’s fallen body within moments and the young doctor swiftly inspected her neck wound,

“Mother Mary! Your grandma is lucky that what or whoever bit her didn’t remove her jugular vein. She has lost a lot of blood though. We’ll need to call an ambulance right away; she needs to get to hospital immediately.”

He exclaimed and wrenched open the medical bag he had taken with him and removed a few things from inside in order to staunch the continuing flow of blood and prevent infection as one of the guardsmen barked into his radio, the others comforting Addy as best they could.
Just minutes later, Cardinal Noe himself pounded down the corridor, his face white with shock, to watch as an ambulance crew gently placed his wife on a stretcher, put her in their ambulance and ferry her to the nearest hospital.
He reached out for Addy and held her close, tears trickling down the cardinal’s face and through his thick, bushy beard,

“Who would do such a thing? Bre was no harm to anyone.”

Noe sobbed uncontrollably, but Addy remained quiet. Her grandma had known too much to be left alive.


Alexandra daintily wiped her mouth and cheeks clean with an embossed silk handkerchief and pressed it into the hands of a bishop seated next to her at lunch that afternoon,

“That was exquisite! Send my compliments to the chef.”

She smiled beatifically and several other members of the clergy present agreed with her in unison, but one voice was soon raised in dissent,

“Holiness, you seem very blasé about the Noe situation, but why take such drastic action against Lady Noe? You have come close to driving away one of your most loyal cardinals.”

“Cardinal Dornhelm, you misunderstand the gravity of the situation. I had no need to act until now, if it serves no other purpose other than to set one of my faithful cardinals against me, I shall rethink my actions.”

The pontiff dismissed Dormhelm’s words with a wave of a hand and a grimace of distaste, but another member of her curia stood up from her chair to speak,

“The world will be watching the Vatican closely if news of this gets out, Your Holiness. Can I suggest some form of damage control if it does?”

Alexandra sighed and closed her eyes in exasperation,

“Do what you wish, Cardinal Brown. As my Secretary of State, you have my support and blessing for what ever plans you may have.”

The Archbishop of Baltimore sat back down and leaned back looking very pleased with herself, for she had held on to the hope that the plot would grant her favour from the pontiff and a possible chance to gain the Throne of Peter itself.
Brown preened in her seat as the Holy Mother stood to address the clergy present,

“Now, to business…”


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  #9  
Old February 15th, 2009, 1:10 am
HPFanNZ  Female.gif HPFanNZ is offline
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Re: The Cauldron and The Keys: A Pope's end.

I'm sorry that it took so long for me to update, but here is the beginning of Chapter 5, enjoy and please leave me feedback:

Chapter 5: Distorted visions.


“Blast! I’m going to be late!”

Cardinal Upton shrieked as she rushed through the archiepiscopal palace at Detroit and out into the sunshine, several members of her staff scuttling behind the archbishop with numerous pieces of luggage.
She leapt into the waiting limousine as it was loaded up and was sped away with a small escort.
The cardinal leant back in the back seat and watched out of the window as decrepit auto manufacturing plants and car yards flashed by, almost falling asleep when the satellite phone rang,

“Eminence, the Secretary of State for Vatican City is on the line.”

The driver mouthed through the glass partition separating his cab and the rest of the limousine as they rolled to a stop at a traffic light.
Upton nodded and picked up the hand set that rose from between the seats,

“Susan, Cardinal Upton, speaking.”

“The Holy Mother is growing impatient. She wants news of our spy activities upon your return or, as she puts it, blood will be spilled.”

Cardinal Brown’s voice crackled through the earpiece, and then the phone went dead.


Addy sat morosely beside her grandmother’s bed in the ICU of Antonio Gemelli Hospital and held onto to her out flung hand.
Bre had remained unconscious for hours, even during the emergency blood transfusion she didn’t flinch. Cardinal Noe and Father Franco had joined the youngster at the bedside, Frank looking white with shock,

“Impossible! What is she trying to do?”

“What do you mean by she?”

Noe demanded of his fellow priest.

“Have you not heard the rumours flying about? Her Holiness tried to seduce me!”

Frank growled with frustration, startling Bre into wakefulness, an unbidden scream ripping throughout the whole room as she sat up,

“Heaven preserve us!”

The old woman threw her bed clothes aside and tried to get out of bed, but her husband gently restrained her.
Bre eventually calmed down and settled back onto the pillows, clawing at the bandage around her neck with nervousness as the cardinal pulled up her sheets,

“The keys, the keys are hers to wield. She has used one, the earth will tremble. Do something!”

She mumbled incoherently before she slipped back into unconsciousness. At that very moment, Monsignor Keiper burst into the room,

“By the Cross! I heard what happened. Will she be ok?”

The others turned to look at her in silence for a few moments, and then Cardinal Noe spoke,

“Father Franco, please take the monsignor outside and talk with her about what has occurred. My granddaughter and I need to be alone.”

Frank rose from his chair and, taking Elizabeth by an arm, led her outside the room and quietly shut the door,

“Lizzie! Where in the world have you been?”

His question made Elizabeth wince for a brief moment before she answered in a strained tone,

“I was with Cardinal Poulden, that’s all.”

“But what was it with that problem you mentioned in your message to me?”

Frank asked, annoyed at his friend’s reticence. Elizabeth looked furtively about the corridor, then turned back to the Jesuit,

“Look, we can’t talk out here. Meet me in my office in an hour. I have to attend Her Holiness for Mass. God be with you.”

Within a moment the monsignor was gone, leaving a dumbfounded Frank staring after her retreating back. He shook his head in disbelief and turned to knock at the door,

“Enter.”

Cardinal Noe’s gruff voice called out and Frank entered the room without a word. Bre lay upon the bed, her mouth wide open as if in shock but breathing normally, her husband watching her with much tenderness in his eyes.
Addy looked up and put a finger to her lips, her eyes now a disconcerting shade of white, her other hand grasping Bre’s own.

“Welcome back Frankie. Please be seated.”

The cardinal said quietly, keeping his gaze upon the still form of his wife. Frank sat down upon the end of the bed and stared at the young girl, her lips moving silently, with much wonder yet with a shiver down his spine.
It was only moments before Addy gave a scream of horror and rapidly came out of her trance,

“My child! What did you see?”

Her grandfather asked with an equal measure of both eagerness and worry in his voice. But an incessant beeping noise emitting from the transceiver sewn into the cardinal’s collar prevented Addy from answering his question. Noe sighed and replaced the earpiece, which had dangled by a wire from that unique device, back into his left ear,

“Yes?”

He grunted into the built in microphone and listened for a brief moment before removing the earpiece and quickly stood up,

“I have to go. Some sort of emergency at one of our embassies. Frank, can you keep a close eye upon both Bre and Addy for me?”

The Jesuit looked up and nodded but once.

“Good, I'll be back soon. If anything happens while I am away, you know what to do.”

Cardinal Noe grinned and tapped the transceiver on his collar as he spoke, before he wrenched open the door and left without another word. Frank fingered his own transceiver and sighed, Addy had gone back into her trance state, the old priest once had not any reason to use the device a few years ago, but it was necessary now.
He shrugged and plugged in his earpiece, a holoscreen implanted in the left lens of his glasses sprang into life,

“Franco, FI. Societa Jesu. FF3 9926b.”

He muttered into the mike, ten seconds later the transceiver beeped,

“Voice recognition confirmed and code accepted. Welcome back Father Franco.”

A cheerful, if slightly robotic sounding, female voice droned from the earpiece as a profile and picture of the Father General came up on the screen,

“Bring up the last known whereabouts of Monsignor Keiper.”

The transceiver beeped again as his profile faded only to be replaced with Elizabeth's. Under last known whereabouts flashed the words, ‘Sacristy, St. Peter's Basilica”,

“Would you like to view a satellite map of the area?”

“Err... yes.”

Frank blinked and quickly answered the voice's query, who complied with great speed. Keiper's profile soon vanished and was replaced with the map, already numerous flashing dots appeared, each with their own username. Several blinked on and off within the sacristy, one purple, 3 others red and the last a startlingly bright white,

“Pontifex Maxima! Elizabeth, be careful.”


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My first non-HP fic:
The Cauldron and The Keys.

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  #10  
Old July 2nd, 2009, 6:11 pm
HPFanNZ  Female.gif HPFanNZ is offline
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Re: The Cauldron and The Keys: A Pope's end.

I finally have finished the rest of Chapter 5, please enjoy and give me feedback:


Elizabeth divested herself of her cassock and struggled into a white alb, a grinning cardinal helping the monsignor into her richly embroidered chasuble before getting into her own vestments,

“Thank you, Your Eminence.”

She said gratefully as the pontiff and two other cardinals, Klein and Weiskopf, waited by the sacristy door.

“Cardinal Friedman, the mitres if you please.”

Alexandra said almost lazily as she leaned on her papal cross, a smile playing about her lips as she spoke.
Friedman trotted over to a nearby cabinet and looked inside to find four mitres, elaborately worked with gold and jewels. Elizabeth’s mouth fell open in surprise, she had brought her own mitre from home but these were magnificent. She leant her crosier against a cabinet and accepted the headgear with a smile,

“You have my profuse thanks, Holiness.”

Elizabeth gently placed it upon her head, retrieved her crosier and headed to the sacristy door, where the Holy Mother and the three cardinals stood, and began to wait until it was time to head out into the basilica.
The monsignor twisted her episcopal ring, given to her upon her consecration as auxiliary Bishop of Nashville, around her right ring finger until several out of breath deacons and priests arrived to begin the procession.
One deacon hefted aloft a huge processional cross as they began their steady walk to the nave of St. Peters and down to the altar, the choir singing with gusto and the massive organ rumbling out its tune.
Wafts of incense drifted throughout the basilica as a censer was swung down the nave during the procession, blessing the occupants of each pew until they reached the foot of the altar. The priests bowed before it before splitting up and seating themselves in their seats, the pontiff upon her throne.
One of the cardinals now stood to offer the beginning prayers as the deacons removed her cope and mitre and also whisked away her crosier to a safe place as she rose to speak. Keiper sat to one side of the altar, listening to the words drifting out into the enraptured crowd and crossed herself as they did so.
Ten minutes passed before the first reading was read out by one of the other priests, the psalm was sung by another of the cardinals and the second reading was read by the monsignor.
At last the Pope stood to deliver the Gospel, her voice projected to even the massive dome of the basilica. It thundered and rolled over the congregation who reacted in more rapture and excitement than before until she subsided and sat down.
Cardinal Friedman now stood to give the homily; a stony silence accompanied her words until she finished speaking and returned to her seat. The monsignor watched as the pontiff rose to offer more prayers, creeds, affirmations of faith and chants were sung by all and then one of the priests gave voice to the prayers of the faithful.
Eventually the offertory procession swayed up the nave and stopped before the altar, the Pope and her cardinals rose from their seats and accepted the gifts with a bow. They quickly dispersed and readied themselves to offer the Eucharist as the deacons and other priests prepared the altar for the impending sacrifice. Incense billowed out from the accompanying censer as it was swung to bless the Holy Mother and the cardinals.
But as the Pope approached the altar in reverence, a rumbling noise from beneath the floor started and many began to look for the source of the sound. Suddenly all the lights went out and candle flames blazed with such ferocity that quite a few people fled the building.
Elizabeth, from her place at the side of Cardinal Friedman, shrank back in fear as the pontiff turned to face her, hand outstretched to receive the paten. Alexandra’s cheeks seemingly drenched in blood, her mouth set in a leer.
A long, forked tongue flicked out from between her fangs and licked one cheek, cavernous laughter now shaking her ample bosom and flickering upon Her Holiness’ forehead were runes too unholy to be spoken aloud.
Elizabeth took one step backwards and nearly toppled over, only grasping Friedman’s long sleeve in time to steady herself, the force almost pulling the cardinal to the ground, not that she noticed as she was now in a trance.

“Pitiful priest! Not even your beloved pope could resist me! She is no Vicar of Christ, just an old woman playing around!”

The Holy Mother bellowed and, as soon it had started, the candles died down and the lights came back on as she fainted to the floor. The assembled clergy and people just as quickly snapped out of their collective trance and Cardinal Klein, the highly respected and well spoken Archbishop of New York, rushed to her pontiff’s side.
Her Eminence rolled back the Pope’s sleeves to reveal wounds on her wrists, both streaming with dark red blood. Elizabeth surged forward and tried to pull Klein away from the fallen pontiff but the cardinal shook her off,

“Can’t you see what is wrong with her? It is Friday!”

Cardinal Klein’s eyes blazed as she stood up with the Pope leaning on her shoulder, blood dripping from wounds upon her forehead made as if from a crown of thorns.

“But she… Didn’t you notice…? What’s going on?”

The monsignor stammered as she followed the burdened archbishop along with Friedman and Weiskopf following behind.

The crowd in St. Peters erupted into cries and babbling as the priests accompanying the Pope left with all speed. One of the deacons handed Klein her transceiver, she clipped it to the front of her chasuble and placed the earpiece in her ear.
The cardinal, having had the Holy Mother laid on the floor of the sacristy and stripped of her vestments, gave her name and password, the familiar holographic interface materialised and she quickly ordered an ambulance from Antonio Gemelli.
The pontiff moaned painfully as her white, bloodstained shirt was unbuttoned and thrown open, her chest heaving in ragged breaths as blood seeped from a wound in her side.
Chatter filtered into the room via Klein’s earpiece as people across the Vatican reacted to the miracle bestowed upon their sovereign. Eventually sirens could be heard in the distance and someone laid a kindly hand on Elizabeth’s shoulder as she watched the assembled cardinals try to help the Pope, startling the monsignor,

“A hard sight to stomach, isn’t it, Your Excellency?”

A soft voice, barely heard above the static laden screams issuing from the transceivers everyone was now wearing, the shouts of Aramaic bursting from the pontiff and the sirens coming ever closer, spoke from beneath Elizabeth’s shoulder.
She turned to find an old, wizened monsignor; she had just arrived on the scene, dressed in the familiar black cassock and the bishop’s purple fascia,

“I’ve come from the office of the Cardinal Prefect of the Pontifical Household,”

The frail woman’s eyes darted to the Holy Mother’s now silent, still form and returned to her fellow bishop’s face,

“Her Eminence has issued a warning against anyone revealing what has occurred here today to the press and the international community without being vetted either by her personally or the Holy See’s press office. Those closest to Her Holiness are, of course, forbidden to either answer enquiries or make ones of their own. Those are the express orders of the Prefect.”

The monsignor gave a quick nod of her head as ambulance men rushed in with a gurney, they carefully picked up the pontiff, placed her on it and were gone within moments, by then the old priest had vanished as well.
Elizabeth was left stunned by this pronouncement as she gave the news to all around her. Cardinal Friedman, the Redemptorist Archbishop of Philadelphia, burst out,

“This is an outrage! My congregation and archdiocese will be rife with rumours for months as will the rest of the orders, the clergy and the entire Catholic world. How are we supposed to gloss this over?”

The other priests nodded in agreement and began to babble until Elizabeth interrupted,

“I will make a case to the Prefect as soon as I can. She can’t gag us like this.”

But Cardinal Klein raised a hand to silence her colleague,

“She has far more power than all of us combined. We could go over her head to the Secretary of State, but I fear she may agree with Her Eminence. We have to be patient and see who will have the upper hand later on.”

With these words, the assembled clergy dispersed, Elizabeth taking herself off to the hospital to be at Alexandria’s side.


A slim white plane, its jets slowing to a whine, taxied down the runway and came to a halt outside the international terminal at Leonardo Da Vinci Airport. A stairway was rushed up to the planes passenger door by airport staff and Cardinal Upton appeared at the top.
Wrapping her voluminous scarlet silk cloak about herself, she stepped down the stairs and onto the tarmac. A small reception committee awaited her just inside the terminal and greeted Upton most enthusiastically, especially the two cardinals in the group.
Cardinal Johnson, said to be the first woman ordained a Marist priest, and Cardinal Templeton, a Benedictine sister priest of prodigious theological and historical talent, encircled their fellow archbishop and walked alongside her as she went to collect her bags,

“What has transpired while I have been away?”

Johnson’s eyes widened at this question,

“Have you not heard? The Holy Mother was taken ill yesterday.”

Cardinal Upton looked up and over at her fellow cardinal and noted she was quivering with both worry and fear. She frowned,

“No wonder I felt a sharp pain in my head then. I just chalked it up to a migraine. The usual story, is it? The head of the Household and the press office forbid any discussion with the media and amongst us?”

Cardinal Johnson nodded miserably as Templeton butted in,

“We’d get into much strife if they knew we told you. You were meant to be briefed on the situation upon your return anyway, as were we. Hopefully a little foresight won’t hurt. But how did you know she was sick?”

Upton shrugged as they stopped at the luggage carousel and hefted her bags aloft,

“I have a sixth sense about these things and I was here the last few times it’s happened,”

Here she paused, her eyes rolled back in her head for a swift moment and then she rapidly blinked to erase the images revealed to her,

“As I was saying, I’ve seen the blessed affliction of stigmata imprinted on her a few times, so I know the procedures and precautions they take very well by now.”

The cardinal remarked casually, barely noticing the looks of shock passed between the other two cardinals.
However they soon parted ways with little other comment, as they were sped away to Vatican City in a cortège of black Fords.


Addy Noe was gently shaken awake by a duty nurse, who crooned to her in her native Italian,

“Child, it is good that you stay at your grandmother’s side. But your eminent grandfather wants to see you.”

The young girl translated this back into English in her head and then answered in the same tongue,

“Thank you for telling me this. I shall go to him now.”

She relaxed her hold on her grandma’s hand and sat up, but Bre moaned softly and tightened her grip,

“Signora Noe. I promise we shall take good care of your grandmother. Just leave her to us.”

The nurse reassured Addy with a warm smile and helped to extract her hand from Bre’s grasp.
Addy walked out of the room in a daze, wondering what her granddad wanted with her. She was picked up from outside the hospital entrance by several of Cardinal Noe’s security detail in a white Buick.
One of the bodyguards turned in his seat as she clambered inside and grinned widely,

“Young Adelaide, the cardinal has been waiting. He’ll be pleased to see you.”

“I’m sure he will be.”

Addy grumbled as she put on her seatbelt and leant back in her seat.
The car purred, seeming in response, and headed in the direction of the slim silhouette of the Lateran Obelisk.
It was only minutes until the smooth form of the Buick slid into the Piazza San Giovanni and ground to a halt outside the open front doors of the Lateran Palace. The youngster leapt out and raced inside, before any of the bodyguards could stop her, up the stairs to her grandfather’s study.
Cardinal Noe looked up from the newspaper he was reading at his desk and lit up at his granddaughter’s exuberance. Clad not in the scarlet and black of his station, but in the simple brown robes of the Capuchin Order, he gestured Addy to a nearby chair and held his tongue until she was seated,

“Child, it is good to see you again.”

“How long was I with Grandma?”

Addy asked with a light smile on her face, which faded in to a look of consternation as her grandfather stood up and headed towards the small private altar set against one wall of his study.
He bowed briefly to the statue of St. Francis showing his stigmata and quietly answered the question, his back still turned on his granddaughter,

“You were at her bedside for three days. I’ve been a little concerned though; your gifts should not be squandered.”

Addy glared at him angrily,

“Granddad, you wanted to know what happened.”

She muttered in a low yet accusatory tone, but the cardinal’s keen ears picked up on it, so he turned around to face her,

“Forgive me, my child. I never meant to put my desire to learn the past by supernatural means before your welfare nor cloud my judgement.”

He fell to his knees and crept forward to Addy’s chair,

“I still worry about what happened, so I need to know. Now, show me what you saw. Don’t be afraid, Blessed Francis will protect you.”

The young girl nodded and pressed her hands to the old monk’s head, burying her fingers in his thick grey curls; she threw her head back and watched the events of the past few weeks unfold before her waking eyes.
A faint glow surrounded her hands as the memories and visions left her mind and entered his. But, with a massive bang, Cardinal Noe was forced backwards into the altar, the statue almost toppling onto his head, yet caught by a shimmer of red and gold light.
The archbishop looked up, his pointed hood over one eye, from his undignified position to see his granddaughter standing upright, the glow from her outstretched hands preventing the statue from falling.
A voice in mid air chuckled throatily,

“Thank you, Adelaide, for saving me, I shall pay you back in kind again one day. Truly you are a child of God.”

The statue was placed back on the altar to reveal Francis’ face no longer serene yet suffering, but smiling. Noe scrambled upright, pulling off his hood as he did so, he caught Addy in his arms just as she fainted.
Addy opened her eyes a few minutes later and raised her head, at which Cardinal Noe sighed with relief.

“I remember giving you those memories, but someone was trying to stop me. A strong yet malevolent force from elsewhere inside of Rome.”

She croaked and fell back,

“St. Francis came to my aid, just as you said he would. He helped me fight that evil from within myself until it released me and I also helped him.”

Addy whispered as her grandfather gathered her up, walked through to his bedroom with her in his arms and laid the young girl upon his bed,

“Yes, I saw that. Now rest, my girl, you’ve had a trying day.”

The cardinal gently patted his granddaughter’s head until she fell fast asleep.


“Your Eminence, what you have witnessed must not be made known to the Holy Mother. The CDF will keep it close to their chest.”

Cardinal Rhein smiled secretively during a visit to the offices of the Vicariate of Rome and its Vicar a week later.

“I’m not too sure. She already has spies everywhere she can think of. What makes you think she hasn’t yet infiltrated the Holy Office?”

Noe asked with a note of distaste mixed with a little fear in his voice, but his colleague shook his head,

“Only the Secretary and I know of your granddaughter’s… abilities. We’ll just omit them in our weekly report,”

Rhein tried to allay his fellow cardinal’s fears, but Noe still looked at him dubiously,

“I wish it was that simple to keep things of this importance from her. I’m certain that she’ll discover what has gone on by years end, if not sooner.”

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sighed inwardly and reached inside a cassock pocket. He pulled out a small silver medal on a chain and laid it on the desk separating the two cardinals,

“Take this, John. The Crusaders of Cassino have as many eyes throughout the Vatican as she does. If anything goes wrong between now and December, wear this and one or more of us will be sure to offer you assistance.”

Cardinal Noe took the medal gratefully and looked at the designs engraved upon both sides, two Cs flanking an equal armed cross with letters of the alphabet upon and surrounding it on one side of the medal, a representation of Saint Benedict, surrounded by words in Latin, on the other.

“Thank you. I’m sure this will come in handy, if something bad happens that is.”

With that, Cardinal Rhein left the office, satisfied in finding that his friend had been justly warned of the dangers and now had been given something that may send them fleeing back into the darkness.


__________________
My first non-HP fic:
The Cauldron and The Keys.

Feedback

Vote here for who you think should be the next UK Minister for Magic.

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Last edited by HPFanNZ; November 1st, 2010 at 12:11 pm.
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  #11  
Old January 6th, 2010, 9:59 pm
HPFanNZ  Female.gif HPFanNZ is offline
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Re: The Cauldron and The Keys: A Pope's end.

I finally got round to finishing chapter 6, so enjoy:

Chapter 6: The past and future.

Carole stared across the kitchen table at her daughter.
Smoke rose lazily from a cigarette in her left hand as her eyes fell to the polished wood,

"Bishop, huh? Your father will be over the moon when I tell him, Melis..."

"Ma! It's Catherine now."

The other woman, in her early 40s and dressed in the black cope and white habit of a Dominican friar, shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

"Sorry, Catherine."

Carole sighed and took a drag of her cigarette,

"Did they tell you why you are to be honoured with the mitre?"

She asked as she blew out the smoke, her daughter lit up with pride and a little embarrassment,

"Bishop Richards had passed away, as you might already know, and they asked me to replace him because of my pastoral work at St. Rosalia. I'm flattered, of course, but I don't think that is the real reason. I was their guinea pig and will always be."

The friar answered as she fingered a set of gold and crystal rosary beads, given to her by her nonna upon being granted the habit ten years earlier.
Carole gazed at her younger daughter, dark red hair already greying at the temples and flowing down her back, and saw a furious twenty one year old standing there in the exact same spot in green paisley pyjamas and a dressing gown with a dripping dinner plate in her hand, red in the face.
They had fought over her getting a job.
But now Bishop of Brooklyn, it was something out of a dream.


"Your Eminence. You are wanted in Rome."

The fifty eight year old Archbishop of New York looked up startled from her morning coffee and set her face in a quick grin,

"Why does the Supreme Pontiff want me back so soon? I only returned yesterday."

Her secretary shook his weary head,

"No, Mother Catherine. The Holy Father just... just passed into glory."

The cardinal gulped down the last of her coffee and scrabbled around her desk to find a television remote. She pressed the on button and a nearby high definition television screen flickered to life.
Catherine flicked through all the news channels but they all said and showed the same thing, His Holiness Pope Leo XIV had died a few hours earlier, the Vatican City flag at half-mast and thousands of people in St. Peters Square, all mourning the loss of a good pope, a pontiff who overturned centuries of tradition and doctrine so that women priests could be ordained amongst other things.
He was far more progressive than all of his predecessors combined.
Catherine winced as several of the stations based in New York mentioned her as one of the Papabili, a candidate for the Throne of Peter in the upcoming conclave.
She stared at her archiepiscopal ring on her right hand; the ruby set in it glinted in the light thrown off by the TV.
The chances of it being replaced by the fat, gold Fisherman’s ring were slim indeed. Weren’t they?


The huge audience hall of the Apostolic Palace was packed with cardinals, archbishops and bishops from the entire Curia.
A holy silence hung over the masses of clergy as they waited for the pontiff to speak. Alexandra stared out over a sea of heads, adorned with purple, light red and scarlet zucchettos, from her throne, her mind drifting to the treasures that may be found in the Papal vault.
She shook her head to clear it of such thoughts and rose from her seat,

“We, in the fifth year of our reign and a Holy Year, have decided to convene another Church Council. To prune back unnecessary doctrine and dogma, make any changes to the liturgy, calendar and Church if they are needed and see what we can do to help the world.”

“Does that mean…?”

A lone voice piped up haltingly, afraid to say what he was thinking about.

“Yes. There may be a few ex cathedra statements made. Also we have not exercised out right to wear the tiara enough. So it shall be worn at secular events and when we open and close this Council.”

The Holy Mother answered.
Cameras mounted on helicopter drones flew about as they recorded the proceedings.

“We will allow for a month to ensure all of our cardinals come to this Council. We wish for fairness and impartiality to work alongside common sense. Let the preparations begin!”

She bowed to the priestly crowd and took her leave.



“Holiness, are you alright?”

Alexandra stirred at those words and slowly opened her eyes.
Golden sunlight streamed from the window to the left of her bed and bathed the room in a shining glow.
Elizabeth sat in a nearby chair, looking at her pontiff with tender concern.

“I… I should be fine.”

She answered her secretary, touching the snow white bandages on her wrists as she did so.
Elizabeth raised a hand to her earpiece, stood up and reached over the bed to open the window. A Vatican Sentinel Mark V peered into the room, one of a series of robots created to supplement the already stretched Swiss Guard in both their protection and defence duties by scientists at the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences.
Controlled from the base under the Castel San Angelo and only activated by certain high ranking cardinals in direst need, their white and gold armour as well as the numerous weapons they bore would scare anyone to death.
Rumours of MOA attempts to wrest control of these behemoths from the highly specialised brothers and sisters of Citeaux stationed at Angelo had reached Elizabeth’s ears, all so far had failed because papal approval had not been obtained as of yet.
The Cistercian superior wouldn’t hand over the Sentinels to the MOA without it. Elizabeth secretly hoped he would continue to hold out.
A flat, metallic voice boomed from the passive face outside the window,

“Your Grace, Monsignor Keiper, Aloysius Bartholomew reporting for duty.”

“Who authorised your assignment? I’m invoking memory core three, password Sanguine Christe.”

The monsignor stared into the Sentinel’s impassive blue eyes,

“Her Eminence Cardinal Brown, upon the insistence of Cardinal Klein.”

It rumbled.
Elizabeth nodded at this and made to close the window, the Sentinel saluted and turned outward.



Klein sat at the window of her office overlooking the Vatican gardens, her own secretary hovering nearby.
It was several days since the incident at St. Peters and the Holy Mother was now resting comfortably at her summer resident of Castel Gandalfo.
She leafed through a proof of a book of saints to be printing by Vatican Publishing, making annotations and changes to be made by its author before it could gain the imprimatur.
The cardinal looked up from the pages detailing the life of Saint Gabriel Possenti, the young Passionist novice who succumbed to tuberculosis and her patron as a priest of the Congregation of the Passion, and watched as the sun sank below the horizon.

“Father Franco, please don’t dawdle by the door. Do come in.”

She said to the air, her secretary rushed to the door and opened it fully, revealing Frank loitering in the doorway.

“Archbishop Cook, please leave us. I think we have some important things to discuss.”

Cook, the emeritus Archbishop of Toronto, curtsied briefly,

“Of course, Eminence. But you have several appointments lined up for this evening, beginning with the Archbishop of Krakow.”

Cardinal Klein waved a hand in dismissal,

“Yes, yes. I won’t keep him waiting.”

The archbishop left without another word, shutting the door quietly behind her as Frank moved inside and sat down in the chair that Klein nodded at beside her own.
The Jesuit looked worn out to her, almost as if he thirsted for something,

“You love her, don’t you?”

Klein asked with care, one eyebrow raised.

Frank looked up sharply at this question,

“What is that supposed to mean?”

He fired back with a question of his own.

Cardinal Klein stared at his ashen face with narrowed eyes for a few seconds before she answered him,

“The Holy Mother and I have been friends for a long time, so I know that her tastes have changed. She has been interested in you for years, but has never been able to let those feelings be known until now, after what…”

Klein lapsed into an uncomfortable silence and stared at her lap. Frank leaned forward and patted his fellow religious’ knee; she sighed and lifted her head to look out of the window again, the gardens fading into twilight,

“Your love for our mistress may blind you, it has been foretold that this will take place. The Crusaders are very much aware of what she may accomplish next, so be careful.”

“I didn’t come here to listen to that, Eminence. My feelings are my own, not for some Church approved visionary to go poking into.”

The Jesuit hissed, but the cardinal shook her head with a chuckle,

“Our source is not on the files of the CDF; her identity has been classified by the seal of the Prefect himself. You may know who she is.”

Frank frowned for a moment,

“You mean Addy?”

Klein sat back in her chair with a smile,

“Exactly. Do look out for her; she is our greatest asset right now, since most of the other seers are under papal control.”

She stood up as she said this and walked over to the door,

“Elizabeth has also been a very good friend to the Crusaders, even though she doesn’t know it. With them on your side, you can’t go wrong.”

The Father General levered himself out of his seat and head out of the room, but not before saying,

“Thank you, Your Eminence. I’ll be sure to keep that in mind.”



Emilio was wreathed in steam as he operated the coffee machine situated in an alcove just outside the door to the Papal apartments. Four new bishops, fresh from their first meeting with the recently recovered Pope, waited for their drinks.
One of them, a curly haired and bearded man, knocked on the bench top with a fist,

“Hurry up. We haven’t got all day.”

He grumbled in Italian laced with a mixture of Michigan and Californian accents.

“Yes, Monsignor Criss. I’m going as quickly as I can.”

Emilio answered as he tilted a steel jug and poured latte into four white china cups, decorated with the tiara and keys of the Vatican City.
He garnished each cup with chocolate flakes and slid all the cups across the bench with a smile.
Just as the four bishops picked up their drinks, the door into the apartments slammed shut and several Swiss Guards came to attention as two women priests swept by.
A long haired cardinal, long nosed and grimacing, turned and glared at the following monsignor,

“Monsignor Keiper! You will stop these inane questions and attend to the Holy Mother! I have seen nor heard anything untoward in the Household and neither should have you. Now let there be an end to this nonsense!”

She spat.

A sudden squawk echoed throughout the hall as a small raven tumbled into the air from her perch on a gilded picture frame.

“Katara! Rictu!”

Frank hurtled down the hall as he bellowed at the bird, which halted in her dive at her master’s approach and flapped huffily onto his shoulder.

“Cardinal Caliendo, Monsignor Keiper. Forgive my rather impulsive pet. She hates to see injustice and wrongdoing.”

Her Eminence eyed the raven with a mixture of disgust and distaste,

“Don’t you ever cage that thing? It’s unsanitary for it to be flying around like this.”

“Her Holiness doesn’t mind.”

The Jesuit shrugged.
A scream interrupted their silent thoughts as a young woman priest was dragged through into the Papal apartments by three guards, Cardinal Upton following behind and protesting vigorously.
The others, including Emilio and the four bishops, watched and then decided to follow. All soon ended up in the pontiff’s private audience chamber, where she now sat upon her throne, eyes narrowed at the young priest as she was forced to her knees,

“Holiness, this is most unseemly. Can’t the Rota handle this?”

Upton exclaimed as she laid a hand upon the sobbing priest’s shoulder.

Alexandra pointed her left hand at her prisoner, ignoring the cardinal’s outburst,

“You know our laws; Frances of the Five Wounds, one of them is to obey me. Yet you refuse to help with a secret project of my devising. What say you?”

“It’s fiendish. I cannot be party to such… such…”

At this Frances broke down again into tears, shaking in horror with what she knew.

The Pope smiled with evil glee, a pointed canine showed for a brief second, before she stood to deliver judgement,

“Since you remain obstinate, I could have you put to death,”

A gasp arose from the surrounding crowd and Cardinal Upton opened her mouth to protest further, but the Holy Mother stared her down,

“Yet I have decided to be merciful. Your virginity, yes I know you are still a maiden, will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. I’m sure someone will be willing to pay to deflower a pretty thing like you.”

Frances began to scream and struggle with her captors once more,

“I believed in you as Vicar of Christ! But you are nothing more than a sex crazed *****!”

One of the guards slapped her across the face with a look of disgust upon his features,

“Be thankful you still have your life, Mother Frances.”

He hissed.

“Your Holiness, you can’t do this to one of your brightest minds. It is cruel and unusual punishment!”

Upton argued, glaring at her mistress with rage.
Alexandra turned her head and smiled again,

“Would you like to join her, Susan? Or we could add your son to the deal.”

“You vile woman! I threw my life into the Church and this is how She repays me!”

The cardinal removed her scarlet zucchetto and bishop’s ring and threw them onto the floor,

“I hereby resign my archdiocese, all my posts in the Curia, the MOA and the Grandmastership of Malta!”

Upton yelled as she turned and stormed out of the chamber.
The pontiff sat back down wearily and raised a hand to stop several guards from following the cardinal,

“Leave her. I’ll deal with this myself.”


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  #12  
Old November 4th, 2010, 6:37 am
HPFanNZ  Female.gif HPFanNZ is offline
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Re: The Cauldron and The Keys: A Pope's end.

Sorry it's taken me so long, but here is the beginning of Chapter 7, enjoy.

Chapter 7: Death on the wind.


A maid knocked on a door several times.
Having received no answer from within, she grabbed the doorknob and, finding it ajar, turned it and went in laden with new bed sheets.
She ran out screaming moments later and went for a phone. It was twenty minutes before the Vatican Gendarmerie arrived and assessed the scene, an overturned bedroom belonging to the now disgraced Cardinal Upton. Several priests were called for, Monsignor Keiper among them.
She stepped into the bedroom and almost gagged at the smell of sulphur and old blood, treading carefully over discarded pieces of clothing and suitcases, Elizabeth came across a roped off area surrounding the ever familiar four poster bed used in most bedrooms at the Vatican.
There, lying between the bed and a nearby dresser was the mangled corpse of Susan Paula Cardinal Upton, still in her white and scarlet nightgown and with her throat torn out.
Upton’s dead eyes stared straight ahead into nothing, a look of horror imprinted upon them. Elizabeth knelt down and closed them, muttering a prayer for the dead as she did so.
She remained on her knees and looked up at the Gendarmerie officer hovering over her,

“Do you have a time of death yet?”

“Not as yet, Your Grace. The coroner should only be a few minutes away; he’ll be able to provide that answer.”

The officer replied, shying away from the body as he did so.
Elizabeth then tapped the transceiver on her collar,

“SSC, can you read me?”

“Yes, we read you loud and clear, Monsignora.”

A male voice dripped pit fawningly from the mike. Elizabeth rolled her eyes; she had been received by the biggest arse kisser at Sancta Sede Control.
“Get a hold of Archbishops Halse and Upton. Both will need to be notified before the day is out and don’t give me any more of your ****.”

The voice on the other end sounded startled as he answered,

“Her Eminence... dead? No, that can’t be true!”

Elizabeth opened a vid window in her glasses and glared at the hapless operator, revealed as a young Jesuit priest,

“Oh, I had no idea. I’m sorry.”

The priest nodded mournfully and closed the window.
By then the coroner had arrived and inspected the body with a cursory eye. Shifting the head from side to side, he grimaced at the massive chunk of flesh that was missing,

“I’d say time of death was at 2 am and what or whoever caused this just literally gouged the right side of her throat out. Our victim died almost instantly, but with some bleeding out here.”

He pointed to the remains of the carotid artery with a gloved finger,

“It’s all but gone. She really didn’t stand a chance.”

Elizabeth looked about herself at the mess surrounding her,

“Looks like the Cardinal was packing up to leave.”

She observed, wondering who would commit such a cruel act.


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