10 October 1997
Tadzio walked into the hotel room and laid a newspaper on the table. The front page story was about a raid last night, where police had received an anonymous tip and investigated the abandoned hospital and found a bunch of injured people in ceremonial robes and evidence of human sacrifice. The investigation was ongoing, and the journalist seemed to expect this story would occupy much of their time in the coming weeks. He sat down in front of the mug of coffee I'd set out for him a couple minutes earlier, careful not to let the sling on his left arm rest against the table.
"At least everyone's okay," he said, sarcastically, bringing his mug to his lips.
"You've had worse," I said, skimming the article. He scoffed and looked out toward the window.
"So what now?"
"I have a couple issues to wrap up here. Then I need to go answer back to the Cardinal."
"Mhm. And then, what? Just keep doing what you did last night?" I leaned back and set the newspaper down.
"No. Look, I really am sorry about that, and I promise I'm going to have a better plan next time I face him. But, I need information. This cult is far larger than we realized, a many-headed beast, and I don't know if just taking down the Barzai will be enough. And I need to find a way to help these people, as much as I can. The next step is going to be a lot of research and planning."
"You know why I work with you?" I took a sip from my coffee and watched him, waiting for him to answer his own question. "There's a lot of your old man in you, and you're probably the best priest I've known. You care about your obligations, you learn from your mistakes, and you really, truly believe in the goodness of God." He turned and looked me in the eye. "The arm will get better. The Barzai has to regroup. But you? You've decided on the harder path, because you believe it isn't just better or more effective, but that it's right." He finished his coffee, then stood and tossed his room key onto the table.
"Thank you. What about you?"
"I need to lay low for a bit until I'm back to full strength. But don't hesitate to call if you need me."
"And how am I going to do that?"
"I hear they have these telephones now you can carry with you. Maybe I'll look into that." I chuckled and stood, extending a hand.
"Good to see you again, old friend." He shook my hand, smiled, and left.
Evidence compiled for use during the trial of Father Benedict de Monte.