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The camerlegno lay curled in a ball on the dirt floor in front of St. Peter’s tomb. The Necropolis was cold, but it helped clot the blood flowing from the wounds he had torn at his own flesh. His Holiness would not find him here. Nobody would find him here . . .

“It is complicated,” the Pope’s voice echoed in his mind. “I will need time to make you understand . . .”

But the camerlegno knew no amount of time could make him understand.

Liar! I believed in you! GOD believed in you!

With a single sentence, the Pope had brought the camerlegno’s world crashing down around him. Everything the camerlegno had ever believed about his mentor was shattered before his eyes. The truth drilled into the camerlegno’s heart with such force that he staggered backward out of the Pope’s office and vomited in the hallway.

“Wait!” the Pope had cried, chasing after him. “Please let me explain!”

But the camerlegno ran off. How could His Holiness expect him to endure any more? Oh, the wretched depravity of it! What if someone else found out? Imagine the desecration to the church! Did the Pope’s holy vows mean nothing?

The madness came quickly, screaming in his ears, until he awoke before St. Peter’s tomb. It was then that God came to him with an awesome fierceness.

Yours is a Vengeful God!

Together, they made their plans. Together they would protect the church. Together they would restore faith to this faithless world. Evil was everywhere. And yet the world had become immune! Together they would unveil the darkness for the world to see . . . and God would overcome! Horror and Hope. Then the world would believe!

God’s first test had been less horrible than the camerlegno imagined. Sneaking into the Papal bed chambers . . . filling his syringe . . . covering the deceiver’s mouth as his body spasmed into death. In the moonlight, the camerlegno could see in the Pope’s wild eyes there was something he wanted to say.

But it was too late.

The Pope had said enough.