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by brom21
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Spiritual · #2263721
A husband and wife must find a holy object lost by a wise priest.
Johnathan sat on his fur covered chair staring at his grandfather clock tick away as the brass pendulum below caught the glint of firelight as it swung back and forth. He rested the side of his face on his fist as he used his other fingers to rap on the chair arm. John took a deep breath and sighed. Where could she be? he thought.

John waited with a knot in his stomach as he watched the minute hand inch and inch from a quarter to ten at night all the way until ten O’clock. The clock chimed and John jumped up. “That is it! I am going after her!”

The anxious knot in his stomach broke as the front door opened and a blond-haired woman in a fur coat came in is as gust of cold wind rushed through the small house.

“Thank goodness you are here Melony! I was so anxious and worried. I thought you might have forgotten.”

Melony chuckled and smiled. “How could I forget this is Christmas Eve. It is the most important night of the year!”

“Indeed. I am overjoyed the head priest has chosen us to find the special item to put on the town Christmas tree. Now, let us not keep him waiting any longer.”

John put on a fur cloak and he and his wife Melony dashed out into the cold, with snow topped stone buildings running on each side of the cobble stone street. They went past a frost covered glass window with Candy Store written on it.

John’s mouth watered as he remembered the last piece of chocolate he had. “Melony, remember when the Tozer couple gave us that box of chocolate two Christmases ago?”

“Of course. It was a once in lifetime gift.”

The two passed by a block of the town and came to a small frozen pond. It sparkled like silver dust and it struck John with nostalgia of all the past holidays.

They came to the front of the Firmament Cathedral and knocked on the large wooden door. It opened as small man in a sackcloth robe stepped out motioned them inside.

Inside, the priest sat on a pew and the couple sat next to him.

“I will be brief,” said the priest. “Before the end of the year one of my old pupils stole an object called the Rune of Bethesda, blessed by the angel who turned the waters of the pool of Bethesda spoken of in the Bible long ago. He took the rune from a secret vault requiring two people turn two keys simultaneously. I do not know how but he confiscated the keys and entered the vault by himself.”

“What happened to the keys?” asked Melony.

“The perpetrator was kind enough to leave them the locks. You two must retrieve the object. I will show you to the vault.” The priest rose and led John and Melony up to the altar and to the corner with a door. The priest opened it and within, two locks on two different walls had keys in them. “Waste no more time. At the same moment, remember?”

Melony put her hand on one key and John on the other one.

“On the count of three,” said John. “One, two, three!”

The keys were turned and a passage in the wall opened.

“You will need a torch,” said the priest as he got out a match and grabbed a torch off the wall and lit it. “Farewell, my friends,” he said as he gave them the torch.

As soon as they went inside, the passage closed.

“No going back,” said John.

John smelled moist stone and dust made them cough. They passed through a corridor and up some stairs. They came to a final door and pushed it open and before them was a man in a chair with his head down. Two braziers burned before him. His head jerked up and his eyes watered. “Someone is finally here!”

“Are you the one with the Firmament Rune?” said Melony.

“Yes, you may have it,” the man said as he pulled out a blue oval-shaped, pearl-like stone.

“How did you get in here?” said John.

“I was a magic user who turned the other key without touching it. When I entered I was unaware the rune was eclipsing my sorcery. The only way to get out of the vault is to push two stone blocks that are three-dozen feet apart like the two keys.

“How did you manage to live so long down here?” said Melony.

“The rune gives longevity to its wielder. I have been lonely to the point of insanity. Now please let us leave now.”

“We will leave punishment to the priest,” said John.

“I am prepared to pay whatever cost,” said the man.

“Let us go back,” said John.

The three made their way back in silence until they reached where they had entered.

“Do you see that protruding square stone there and the other stone on the other wall? Press them together,” said the man.

John and Melony did so and the passage reopened. The man smiled with tears.

They emerged from the vault and met the priest.

“Do you have it?”

“Yes, good priest,” said John as he gave the rune to the priest.

“How could you deceive me so. I trusted you in the name of God,” said the priest to his former pupil.

“I accept your punishment.”

“The word speaks of mercy. Just as Christ was merciful to us sinners, so must I be towards you. Yet you shall not be my pupil or a priest.”

“I thank you,” said the guilty man.

“Tomorrow is Christmas Saturday. It is only fitting,” said the priest.

“What will you do with the rune? We know of its power,” said John.

The priest cast the stone onto the ground, and it shattered. “Such an object could tempt others as well.”

John nodded. “I understand. Let us all get rest for tomorrow’s festivities.”

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