The end of the world: one more scenario
Jerusalem, year 1238
The black velvet veil of the night exscinded the St. John Hospital off the day fuss, full of pilgrims' babbling, silverware clanking and moaning of the wounded. The flickering flame of an oil lamp cast dim light onto the faces of two companions, still keeping stone vaultings and walls of the wide chamber in utter darkness. Their raiments – red woolen robes, featuring very tight sleeves which symbolize social engagement abdication, and white linen octagonal crosses on the chest — sings of chastity, indicated that their wearers belonged to the Knights Hospitallers of the St.John Order of Jerusalem.
Thracian swords on their sashes served another quite eloquent testimony of that. The Order had a good fame for its victories over infidels, caring of pilgrims and healing of the wounded. However, apart from that, the Order had another mission, a secret one, and the two companions were nearly related to it.
"I had to summon you so urgently, Brother Controller, interrupting your alchemical experiments in the Castle of Alamut, but this matter brooks no delay. A runner came from Rome, bringing the Pope’s bull to monsieur Bertrand de Comps. His Holiness Gregory IX threatens us with an excommunication. He accuses the Order in concluding an agreement with Hasan-i Sabbah; however, his accusations are not confined to that only... The Pope writes about using ungodly secrets of Chaldean healers, breaking the vows of godliness and the vows of not striving for fame. Our Grandmaster is gathering a convention to talk resolving this situation.”
“By virtue of the eight years of our friendship with the assassins, brother Keeper, their healers and alchemists had granted the Order the knowledge, which no one in Europe possesses. That were the Chaldeans, it were them who gave us the Holy Blood, gathered by Joseph of Arimathea. The papacy, as well as the monarchies, has sunk into the mire of luxuriance, putrefaction, and depravity. Is pontifix indeed the one to tell us about breaking the vows of godliness and poverty? “Healer, heal yourself!” as Hippocrates used to say... What is this Pope’s bull for us? Today, in this Holy Land, the Order is stronger than anyone. It is not too long till the moment when people want us to give them the pontifices, and we shall become the masters of the Christian world.”
“Brother Controller, I fear you’ve spent too much time in the Alamut. The poisoned daggers of Hasan-I Sabbah’s assassins are fine for strengthening our positions here, in Jerusalem Kingdom, but they will be of little help for us beyond its borders. Positions of the crusaders grow inevitably weaker, and it is not far till the day when we are to leave Palestine for good. Sagacious men say that there’s no more than five years till then. As for our success in medical treatment, I fear it did no good for the Order at all...
The Pope heard the rumors about the Cross with the Holy Blood, that miraculously stops bleeding, and about the magic mould, that heals purulent wounds in no time — all this smells just like warlocks’ sorcery for simpletons. And there’s some truth to this as well; indeed, you cannot just tell Pope that you’ve perfectly mastered the art of Kabbalah… without risk of being dragged straight to the death-fire. If Pope happens to accuse the Order of heresy, our days will be numbered. Those brothers, who are fraught with improper optimism, waiting for papacy’s soon downfall, seem to know nothing about Saint Malachy’s manuscript.
It was a hundred years ago when he foretold that there would be 112 popes sitting enthroned in Rome, starting with Celestine II. So, there would be many centuries to end the papacy, and the Apocalypse as John the Evangelist foretold would begin. In the manuscript that was written under heavenly spirit’s guidance in the papal library Saint Malachy gave each of the future pontifices a short aphoristic datum. He mentioned no names, just outlined some qualities of each Pope and put us wise about what should bring the Christian world his reign. Popes hide this manuscript in their library, but our spy in Rome succeeded in bribing the librarian and rewriting the document.”
“So, what are we to do with our knowledge, Brother Keeper? Chaldean sages made us know about the way the Prince of Darkness will come to the world. Saint Malachy unfolded the time people have till the Day of the Judgment. But whom can we discover ourselves to?”
“No one on earth. We must keep our knowledge under wraps from everyone. Neither mortals are able to prevent the coming of Antichrist, nor can they intervene into his succinct reign on the Earth. But we must do all that lies in our powers to hinder the birth of Antichrist in his terrestrial body. All the Order’s possessions — wealth, power, fame — all this is needed just for our secret mission to be fulfilled. So, now we shall overcome our arrogance and bow before the Pope,” answered the Keeper wanly.
“What does Saint Malachy's prophesy says of the last Pope, Brother Keeper?”
Saint Malachy's prophesy says: “He will be a servant to the Prince of Darkness, and bear the name of the first Pope, Saint Peter the Apostle. Hold on brother, I will bring the manuscript’s copy and read you his name...”
The Keeper disappeared in the darkness to return after a while, carrying a vellum roll. He moved the lamp closer to himself and read solemnly: "Peter the Roman."