Nicolai Levashov
About Spirit, Mind and many other things...
Svetlana de Rohan Levashov
Part 1. Childhood. Vol. 1. Awakening

36. Isidora-2. Rome

In just a week I contemplated the "holy" city of Rome in the whole of its gloomy "grandeur". Save the beauty of palaces, cathedrals and churches, the city was very sullen and to my surprise, dirty. For me it was the city of my death, because I knew that there I could not break free of Caraffa.

I was lodged in a very large palace without as much as a single word of explanation, nothing at all. A mute maid served me, which portended nothing good. But the fact that I was lodged in a castle and not in a prison cell gave me a tiny hope of the possibility to defend myself.

I was wrong...

Caraffa appeared the next morning. He was fresh and very pleased which, unfortunately, portended nothing good for me.

He sat in an arm-chair right in front of me without asking permission to do so, by which he clearly demonstrated that he was master of the situation here and I was just a prisoner in a beautiful cage...

– I do hope that your journey was pleasant, Madonna Isidora. – He said in a deliberately-polite tone. – How do you find your apartment? Is there something you need?

– Oh, yes! I would like to go home! – I answered, trying to fit in with his tone.

I knew that I had nothing to loose because my life was about to be over. Therefore, I decided to deprive Caraffa of the pleasure of breaking me down and tried to do my best not to show him how scared I was.

It was not death that I was afraid of. Most of all I was afraid of the thought that I would never again see those who I loved so strongly and selflessly – my family; that, most likely, I would never hug my little Anna again; I would not teach her what my mother had taught me and what I knew myself; that I would leave her totally defenceless against evil and pain and that I could not tell her what I had wanted to and must have told her.

I pitied my wonderful husband for who I knew it would be extremely painful to loose me. How cold and empty his heart would be! I would never be able even to say the last "farewell" to him...

Most of all I pitied my father for who I was the sense of his life, his guiding "star" lighting up his heavy and thorny path. After my mother had gone I became everything for him that still remained to teach and hope that one fine day I would be the person into which he tried so persistently to "mould" me.

Here was what I was afraid of. My soul wept thinking of who I loved so much and who I was about to leave now... But that was not all. I knew that Caraffa would never let me go for nothing. I knew that he certainly would make me suffer greatly... But I did not imagine how inhumanly cruel this suffering would be…

– It is the only thing that I cannot grant you, Madonna Isisdora. – The cardinal answered harshly, forgetting his dulcet high society tone.

– Well, then, let me see my little daughter. – I asked, growing cold inside from an impossible hope.

– And that we shall certainly organize for you! A little later, I think. – Caraffa pronounced with unexpected satisfaction, turning something over in his mind.

The news staggered me! It turned out that he had plans regarding my little Anna too!

I was ready to endure any terrible pain but in no way was I ready even to think that my family would suffer.

– I have a question for you, Madonna Isidora, and whether you will see your daughter soon or you will have to forget about how she looks will depend on the way you answer it. Therefore I advise you to think very hard before answering. – Caraffa’s gaze became sharp as a steel blade... – I want to know where your grandfather’s famous library is.

So that was what the mad inquisitor was looking for! As it appeared, he was not so mad in the end... Yes, he was quite right. My grand-dad’s old library had a wonderful collection of spiritual and mental wealth! It was one of the oldest and rarest in Europe, and even was an object of envy of the great Medicis who, as is generally known, were ready to sell their soul to get a rare book. But why did Caraffa need something like this?!

– My grand-dad’s library, as you know, was always kept in Florence, but I don’t know what became of it after his death, Your Eminence, because I have not seen it since.

It was a child's lie and I understood how naive it sounded... I was just unable to find another answer so quickly, but I could not allow the rarest works of philosophers, scientists and poets, the works of great Teachers to get into the dirty claws of the church or Caraffa. I had no right to let that happen! But having no time to think of anything better to protect it somehow, I fired the first thing that came to my strained mind in that moment. Caraffa’s requirement was so unexpected that I needed time to think how to act later. As if eavesdropping on my thoughts, Caraffa pronounced:

– Well then, Madonna, I give you time to think. I advise you to refrain from making a mistake.

He left… Night fell on my little world...

During this terrible time I mentally communicated with my dear extremely anxious father who, unfortunately, could not tell me anything that would comfort me, except for the only positive news – Anna was still in Florence, and there was nothing to fear, at least about her.

But my unhappy husband, my poor Girolamo came back to Venice wishing to help me, and only there discovered that it was too late – I had been transported to Rome... His despair was limitless! He wrote long letters to the Pope. He sent the notes of protest to the "mighty of this world" who I had helped once. Nothing worked. Caraffa was deaf to any requests and supplications.

– Could not you just disappear?! Or "fly away", as far as that goes? Why did not you use your abilities?!!! – The upset Stella exclaimed, unable to restrain herself. – One always has to fight to the end! My Gran taught me so.

I was very happy – Stella came back to life. Her spirit of a fighter perked up again, as soon as the urgent need appeared.

– I wish everything were so simple! – Isidora sadly shook her head. – The matter was not just about me. I had absolutely no idea about Caraffa’s plans regarding my family. Also I was strongly frightened by the fact that no matter how much I tried I could see nothing. It was the first time in my life when my "vision" or my "witch talents" could not help... I could look over any person or event for a thousand years forward! I could predict even future embodiments with absolute exactness, which not a single Vidun on Earth could do, but my Gift was silent when the matter concerned Caraffa and I could not understand it. Any attempt to look into him failed, stumbling across his very dense golden-red protection which constantly "curled" around his physical body, and I was unable to break through it. This was something new and incomprehensible, which I had never experienced before.

Of course every member of my family (even my little Anna!) could create their own perfect protective shield and each did it in in their own way making it uniquely personal. However, no matter how complicated it turned out to be, I perfectly knew that any time I could "get through" the protection of any Vedun I knew, if suddenly an urgent necessity arose, including the protection of my father who knew and could do much more than I. But I failed with Caraffa... He had some alien, very strong and very refined magic which I had never seen... I knew all Veduns of Europe. He was not one of them.

I, like anybody else, perfectly knew that he was a true "servant of God" and faithful "son of the Church", and due to general concepts in no way could he use what was called a "manifestation of the Devil" that we, Vedunias and Veduns, used! What was it then?! Could it really be that the faithful servant of the Church and the Great Inquisitor was in reality a black Sorcerer?! Despite the fact that it was absolutely unbelievable, it was the only explanation I could give. But in that case how did he combine his "holy" duties with "devilish" (as he called it) teachings?! Moreover, exactly that which he did on Earth was truly devilish and black...

I asked my father what he thought about it, when we had the next telepatic contact.

– It's not him, dear... He is simply helped. But I don’t know by whom. There is no such creature on Earth.

From bad to worse! The world really turned upside down. But I promised myself to try to find out what this strange "saint father" used at the same time as pursuing and burning people who had the same abilities?

Because, if it was true and he used the "Devil’s teachings" (as he called it), he, the Great Caraffa, must end his "righteous" life on the stake, like those Veduns and Vedunias who he had burnt!

But I was late...

The next morning I waited for Caraffa being decidedly determined to find out what this strange "holy father" used. But Caraffa did not come. He failed to appear the next day, and the next week... I could not understand whether it was just a break or he planned something very frightful as to my family. To my huge regret, it was neither of these two things, as I knew later. It was far more dangerous than any of his tricks... Very soon the constant ringing of bells and sad singing on streets prompted me – the Pope had died, which explained the protracted absence of my jailer. The next day, a mute maid, shining with happiness, brought me an elegant sheet of paper, which stated that Giovanni Pietro Caraffa – my most frightful and unforeseeable enemy – became the new Pope, Paul IV.

Now I had no choice but to wait...

In two days I was blindfolded and transported into a shockingly rich and defiantly beautiful palace. As I knew later, it was Caraffa’s personal residence. He appeared in a week, neat and dangerous as always, in the "lustre of his unlimited power" and stretched out his manicured hand with the enormous shining Papal ring for me to kiss... I bent before him lower than before as propriety required, and also because I had not decided yet how I should behave toward him.

– How are you, Madonna Isidora? I do hope you are pleased with your appartment.

Caraffa was extremely polite and satisfied, knowing that I was in his total power and now nobody could prevent him in anything.

– I congratulate you on your victory, Your Holiness! – I said calmly, intentionally stressing the word "holiness". – I am afraid from now on I am too insignificant a figure to trouble the Pope with my presence... Will you give my case to somebody else?

Caraffa froze. He hated my calmness. He wanted me to be afraid.

– You are right, Madonna Isidora. It is highly likely that I give you to my best helper... Everything will depend only on you. Have you thought about my question?

– Which books are you interested in, Your Holiness? Or you do want to find everything and destroy it?

He was sincerely surprised.

– Who told you such nonsense?

– But only in Venice you’ve burnt thousands of books! Let alone other cities... Why else would you need them?

– My dearest witch, – Caraffa smiled. – There are "books" and BOOKS. What I burned always fell into the first category. Come with me, I’ll show you something interesting.

Caraffa pushed the heavy gilded door and we found ourselves in a narrow, very long and dark corridor. He took a silver candlestick with just one thick candle burning on it.

– Follow me. – The newly made Pope stiffly ordered.

We walked for a long time, passing by many small doors from behind which no sound was heard. But Caraffa went along and I had no choice but to follow him. Finally we came to a strange "blind" door which had no handles. He pressed something and the heavy door easily moved, giving the way into an absolutely stunning hall... It was a library! The greatest library I’ve ever seen!!! The enormous space from floor to ceiling was filled with books! They were everywhere – on soft sofas, window-sills, shelves and even on the floor. There were thousands of them! I had a lump in my throat. The place was much greater than the Medici library.

– What is it?! – Stunned I exclaimed, forgetting who I was there with.

– They are BOOKS, Madonna Isidora. – Caraffa answered calmly. – And they will be yours, if you wish... Everything depends only on you.

His flagrant look nailed me to the spot, which immediately made me remember, where I was and with whom. Splendidly playing on my selfless and infinite love of books, Caraffa made me forget for some moments about the frightful reality which, as it appeared, was going to be yet more frightful soon...

Caraffa was seventy then, although he was surprisingly young-looking. In the beginning of our acquaintance I even wondered whether there was a Vedun who had helped him, opening our secret of longevity! But then he suddenly began to get older very quickly and I forgot about it. Now I could not believe that this powerful and insidious man, who had unlimited power over kings and princes in his hands, just made a very "veiled" and vague offer to me... in which one could suspect some unhumanly strange drop of very dangerous love.

Everything inside me froze in horror! Because, be it true, no earthly force could protect me from his wounded pride and his black soul, vindictive in its malice!

– Forgive me my lack of modesty, Your Holiness, but in order to avoid any mistake from my side, will you deign to explain more exactly to me what do you mean by that? – I asked very carefully.

Caraffa softly smiled and, taking my trembling hand with his elegant and thin fingers, very quietly said:

– You are the first woman on Earth, Madonna Isidora, who, to my mind, deserves real love... And you are a very interesting interlocutor. Does not it seem to you that your place is rather on a throne than in a prison of the Inquisition? Think about it, Isidora. I offer you my friendship, nothing more. But my friendship costs a lot, believe me... And I would like very much to prove it to you. But everything will depend on your decision, of course... – And to my greatest surprise he added. – You can stay here till evening. If you wish to read something, I think you’ll find here a lot of interesting things. Call a bell, when you finish, and your maid will show the way back.

Caraffa was calm and reserved which showed his complete confidence in the victory... He could not think even for a moment that I would turn down such an "interesting" offer, especially being in a gridlock, which was the most intimidating, because I was definitely going to say no to him. Only I had absolutely no idea how to do it yet...

I looked around. The room impressed me immensely! Beginning with the hand-made binding of the oldest books, the papyri and manuscripts on oxhide, to the latest printed books, this library was a fount of the world’s wisdom, a real triumph of human Thought!!! Probably it was the most valuable library which man has ever seen! I stood absolutely stunned, charmed by thousands of volumes wich "talked" to me and could not understand how those riches could go with the curses which the Inquisition so fervently and "sincerely" poured on everything like them? In fact the real inquisitors had to consider all these books the purest HERESY, exactly for which people were burned and which were flatly forbidden as the most frightful crime against the Church!

How then did all these invaluable books which were burned in the squares to the last page allegedly in the name of "expiation and purification of the soul" get into the Pope’s basements?! It means that everything that the "fathers-inquisitors" said and everything they did was just a terrible veiled LIE! And this pitiless lie was deeply and firmly embedded in simple and open, naive and believing human hearts! Who would have thought that there was time when I was absolutely sure that Church was sincere in its faith! Because I thought that any faith, no matter how strange it seemed to be, personified a sincere spirit and man’s faith in something pure and high, to which his soul aimed in the name of salvation. I never was a "believer" because I always believed exclusively in Knowledge. But I always respected other’s convictions, because I was firmly convinced that a person had a right to choose where he should direct his fate, and no stranger’s will should force him how to live his life. Now I clearly saw that I had been wrong... The church lied, killed and raped, ignoring such a "trifle" as wounded and distorted human souls...

However, no mater how carried away I was by what I had seen, it was time to go back into reality which, unfortunately, was very far from bringing me anything of a consolatory nature...

The Holy Father Giovanni Pietro Caraffa loved me! Oh, Gods, how strongly he had to hate me for that!!! And how much stronger his hatred will be when he hears my answer...

I could not understand this man, although previously I could read almost any human soul like an open book. He was absolutely unforeseeable and it was impossible to catch the superfine changes of his mood which could entail horrific consequences. I did not know how much I would be able to endure and how long he intended to stand me. My life fully depended on this fanatic and cruel Pope but I knew exactly only one thing – I was not going to lie, which meant that I did not have too much life to live…

I was mistaken again.

The next day I was taken downward, to a sullen and enormous stone hall which did not go with the general style of this magnificent palace. Caraffa sat on a high wooden arm-chair at the end of this strange hall and looked like a personification of the gloomy resolution which could turn into the most acute evil right here...

I stopped in the middle of the room not daring to come nearer, because I did not know yet what he had expected from me.ThePope got up and statelily-slowly moved toward me. Something was wrong! He was too solemn and remote. Suddenly I clearly felt that my body was frost- bound by animal fear. But I was not afraid of him; at leas nott to such a degree! It was like a presentiment of something very bad, something that could freeze my tired soul... And I was unable to define – what that could be.

– Well, have you enjoyed reading, Isidora? I hope you had a pleasant day.

He addressed me simply by my name, as if emphasising that we did not need to stick to formalities anymore...

– Thank you, Your Holiness. Indeed you have a really incomparable library. – I answered as calmly as possible. – I think even the great Medici would envy you! But I would like to ask you a question, if you let me?

Caraffa nodded.

– How could this pure HERESY get into Your Holy House? And how can it still be there?

– Don’t be so naive, Madonna! – Caraffa smiled indulgently. – One must understand an enemy in order to defeat it, and one can understand it only through knowing it. But in order to know an enemy, one has to study him very thoroughly. Otherwise it won’t be a real victory...

– Has Your Holiness read all these books?! But a whole lifetime is not enough to do that!

– Well, it depends on how long the life is, Isidora, and how to read, doesn’t it? In fact you do something of those tricks too, don’t you?

Caraffa’s eyes became sharp and piercing, as if he wished to look deep into my soul. And maybe he did?

He knew too much about me that only the nearest people to me could know. Therefore I decided to ask.

– You know about me such things which even my late mother did not. What does it mean, Your Holiness?

– Do you still want to face the truth, Isidora? I learned everything about you that I wanted to know. Does it frighten you? I had one of your teachers in my basement. He told me everything. Before that I did not know you as I do now.

Immediately I saw him. Indeed it was my teacher, the kindest and cleverest of all who taught me. He hung on a hook, in some terrible basement, totally covered with his own blood... And he was dying...

– How could you do such a thing?! It is monstrous!!! What was his guilt?!

My heart broke to pieces refusing to accept the horror of what I had seen. It happened that I calmed down for some time and lost! Not in vain Caraffa was elected Pope. He was a true master of tortures, a black genius which could finally "lull" my everyday fear!

From the first day of being in his hands I subconsciously wanted so much to believe that I had a chance, although a tiny one, to escape. And I was caught like a blind kitten which did not have an opportunity even to open his eyes... And Caraffa strengthened my faith that I could have a fragile and tiny "chance", drop after drop, day after a day, being so calm and behaving like a man of the world, using the beauty of the rooms in which he lodged me and showing his stunning library the day before. And he succeeded – I believed... and lost.

– Oh, my dear Isidora, you are so clever, aren’t you? Do you really think that I will believe that you are sincerely waiting for some "just" sentence... when it is I who pronounce it?

It was the real Caraffa – a fanatic-inquisitor which suddenly got unlimited power. And maybe he had aspired to exactly this kind of power for so many long years? But now it did not matter for me what he wished. Suddenly I understood very clearly that I could find myself in the place where my kind teacher was now, hanging on the same terrible hook, in any second... if Caraffa wished it.

– But what about God?! Aren’t you really afraid even of Him?

– Oh, come on, Isidora! – Caraffa smiled rapaciously. – God will forgive me everything I do in His glory!

It was madness, and my fragile hope, writhing, began to die...

– Have you thought about my offer, Madonna? I hope you had enough time to get a clear idea of your situation and I won’t have to inflict the next blow.

My heart grew cold with terror – what will be his "next blow"? But I had to answer and was not going to show how terribly afraid I was.

– If I am not mistaken, you have offered your friendship to me, Your Holiness. But friendship, got by instilling fear, is worthless. I don’t wish to have this kind of friendship, even if I have to suffer. I am not afraid of pain. It is more frightful when the soul hurts.

– What a child you are, dear Isidora! – Caraffa began to laugh. – It’s like books – there is "suffering" and SUFFERING. And I sincerely advise you not to try the second option!

– Anyway, you are a not friend, Giovanni. You don’t even know what this word means... I perfectly understand that I am fully in your cruel hands, but I don’t care what will happen to me now...

It was the first time I called him by his name and I did it on purpose, wishing to anger him. It was true – I was almost a child in everything that concerned evil and had no idea yet what this rapacious, but, unfortunately, very clever, man was truly capable of.

– Well, you have decided, Madonna. Blame yourself then.

His servant briskly took my arm and pushed me into the narrow corridor. I thought it was the end and now Caraffa would give me to the executioners...

We went deeply downward, passing a great number of small, heavy doors behind which I heard screams and moans; and I was sure that my time came at last. I did not know how long I would be able to endure the torture and how severe it could be. Nobody ever physically caused me pain and it was very difficult to judge how strong I could be. I lived all my short life surrounded by the love of my dear family and friends, and did not even imagine how wicked and cruel my fate would be... Like many of my friends – Vedunias and Veduns – I could not see my fate. Probably it was closed from us to prevent us from changing our life. Or maybe because, as all others, we must live what was fated for us, not trying to go away before time on seeing terrible things in our severe future.

So the day when I did not have any choice came, or rather I did have a choice and I chose it myself. Now the only thing had to do was to endure what was coming and somehow to withstand ‘til the end trying not to break...

Caraffa at last stopped near a door and we entered. The cold horror chilled me to the bone! This was a real Hell, if it could exist on Earth! It was a triumph of atrocity beyond human comprehention... My heart sank.

The whole room was inundated with human blood... People hung, sat, lay on horrific "instruments" of torture the purpose of which I was unable to imagine. Some absolutely calm, blood-stained men were unhurriedly engaged in the "work", obviously feeling no pity, remorse or the least human feelings... The room smelled of singed meat, blood and death. Half dead people moaned, cried and screamed and some did not have any forces left even to scream. They simply wheezed, unable to respond to torture like rag-dolls which fate mercifully deprived of any feelings...

Something blew up within me! For an instant I even forgot that very soon I would be one of them... The whole of my raging force suddenly splashed outside and... the torture room ceased to exist... The only thing left was bare bloodstained walls and the frightful "instruments" of torture... All people – both executioners and their victims – vanished without a trace…

Caraffa was pale as death and looked at me, fixing his piercing terrible black eyes on me, in which one could clearly read spite, rage, surprise and even some strange inexplicable delight... He kept deathly silence. His internal fight was reflected only in his face. He was immobile like a statue... He was making up his mind.

I sincerely pitied those people who had gone to "another life", so brutally tortured and certainly not guilty. But I was absolutely sure that my unexpected interference was an escape from those horrific inhuman torments. I saw their pure light souls going away to another life and sorrow cried in my frozen heart... It was the first time in the long years of my difficult "witch practice" that I took precious human life... I only hoped that they would find peace there, in that different, pure and tender world.

Caraffa scrutinized my face with a morbid concentration, as if longing to know what made me act like that, perfectly knowing that the faintest wave of his "holy" hand was enough to send me to the place of the "gone" people and make me pay for that very dearly. But I did not repent... I rejoiced that I helped at least a few to break loose from his dirty claws. It is highly likely that my face prompted him to something, because in the next instant Caraffa convulsively grasped my hand and took me to another door...

– Very well. I hope that will please you, Madonna! – And he harshly pushed me inside...

And there... suspended on the wall like on a crucifix, my darling Girolamo hung... My tender and kind husband... There was no pain and horror in the world which would miss slashing my tormented heart! I could not believe what I was seeing. My soul refused to accept it and I helplessly closed my eyes.

– Oh, come on, dear Isidora! You’ll have to watch our little performance! – Caraffa pronounced in a half-threatening, half-affectionate voice. – And I am afraid that you’ll have to watch it to the very end!

So that was this pitiless and unforeseeable "holy" beast contrived! He was afraid that I would not break and decided to break me by the suffering of my nearest and dearest! Anna!!! Oh, Gods, Anna! A bloody flash flashed in my tormented brain – my poor little daughter could be the next!

I tried to pull myself together in order to deprive Caraffa of feeling completely satisfied in his dirty victory, and also of thinking that he succeeded in breaking me and prevent him from using this "successful" method on the rest of my family members...

– Be reasonable, Your Holiness! What are you doing! – I exclaimed in horror. – You pefectly know that my husband has done nothing against the Church! How can you do such a thing?! How can you make innocent people pay for mistakes they have not made?!

I perfectly understood that this was just small talk which will result in nothing, and Caraffa perfectly knew it too...

– But Madonna, we are very interested in your husband! – The "great inquisitor" caustically smiled. – You cannot deny that your dear Girolamo was engaged in very dangerous practice which is called anatomy, can you? Isn’t it true that this sinful practice includes digging into dead human bodies?

– But this is science, Your Holiness!!! It is a new branch of medicine! It helps future doctors to understand better a human body and therefore to treat patients more efficiently. Does the Church forbid doctors nowadays?!

– Doctors that are from God do not need this kind of a "satanic action"! – Caraffa exclaimed angrily. – Man will die, if God’s decided so. It would have been better if your "doctors" had taken care of man’s sinful soul.

– Well, as far as I know, it is the Church that takes "care" of the human soul very strenuously! So I think very soon no job will remain for doctors... – I could not restrain myself.

I knew that my answers enraged him, but I could not help doing that. My wounded soul screamed... I understood that no matter how much I tried to "behave" myself, I was unable to save my poor Girolamo. Caraffa had drawn up some horrific plan regarding him and was not going to frustrate it, depriving himself of great pleasure...

– Do be seated, Isidora. You will see now that rumors about the Inquisition are not just tales... We are at war and our beloved church needs to be defended. And I, as you know, am its most faithful son...

I stared at him in surprise, thinking that Caraffa was gradually going mad...

– What war do you mean, Your Holiness?

– The war which is every day around us!!! – Pope suddenly shouted being infuriated for some reason. – Which purges the Earth of people like you! Heresy must not exist! I will exterminate any manifestation of it – be it books, pictures or living people – as long as I live!

– Well, as for books, I have a very certain opinion thanks to your "holy" help which somehow contradict your "sacred" duty about which you constantly speak, Your Holiness...

I did not know what to say, with what to make him busy or how to stop him to prevent him from beginning this frightful, as he called it, "performance"! But the "great Inquisitor" perfectly understood that I was just trying to mark time, being horrified by what could happen. He was a magnificent psychologist and did not let me continue my naive game.

– Begin! – Caraffa waved to one of the torturers and calmly sat in an arm-chair... I closed my eyes.

The smell of the singed flesh spread in the room, Girolamo began to scream wildly.

– I told you! Open your eyes, Isidora!!! – The tormentor furiously shouted. – You must enjoy the extermination of HERESY the way I enjoy it! It is a debt of every faithful christian. Oh, I am sorry, I forgot with whom I have to deal... You in fact are not a Christian, you are a WITCH!

– I suppose Your Holiness perfectly knows Latin... In that case you must know that the word "HÀERESIS" means CHOICE or ALTERNATIVE. How can you combine two so incompatible concepts? There is not the slightest evidence that you leave the right for free choice to somebody or at least the tiny alternative? – I exclaimed bitterly. – Man MUST have the right to believe in what his soul reaches out to. You cannot FORCE man to believe because faith comes from heart, not from the executioner!

Caraffa stared at me in surprise over a minute like at some bizarre animal... Then he shook off a stupor and calmly said:

– You are far more dangerous than I thought, Madonna. You are not only too beautiful, also you are too clever. You must not exist outside these walls... or you must not exist at all. – He turned to the torturer and ordered. – Continue!

Girolamo’s screams penetrated to the deepest corners of my dying soul and, on bursting there with horrific pain, tore it to pieces... I did not know how long Caraffa was going to torture him before killing. Time crept terribly slowly forcing me die thousands of times... But for some reason, I was still alive and still observed... Frightful tortures were changed by more frightful ones. There was no end of them... The toturers passed from fire cauterizations to bone crushing... and when they finished that, they began to disfigure the flesh. Girolamo was slowly dying. And nobody explained to him why; nobody considered it necessary even to say anything. He was just methodically and slowly killed before my eyes to force me to do what the newly elected head of the saintly Christian church wished me to do... I tried mentally to talk to Girolamo, knowing that I could not tell him anything in other way. I wanted to say goodbye... But he did not hear. He was far away, saving his soul from the inhuman pain, and no matter how hard I tried to help him, it did not work... I sent my love to him, trying to wrap his tormented body with it and lessen the superhuman suffering, even a little. But Girolamo only looked at me with his eyes dimmed with pain, as if trying to grasp the only thinnest filament which bound him to this cruel but so dear world which began to slip from him...

Caraffa went mad. He could not understand why I remained calm, because he perfectly knew that I loved my husband very much. The "sainted" Pope longed to destroy me, but not physically. He wanted to trample my soul, to fully subdue my heart and mind to his strange and inexplicable desires. On seeing that Girolamo and I did not take our eyes from each other, Caraffa exploded – he shouted to the torturer ordering to burn out my husband’s wonderful eyes...

Stella and I froze... It was too awful for our child's hearts to accept, no matter how experienced they were... Inhumanity and horror of what had happened nailed us to the ground preventing us from breathing. It could not happen on Earth!!! It just could not! But the endless sorrow in Isidora’s golden eyes cried – it could!!! Oh, it sure could! And we powerlessly watched what happened further, not daring to interfere or ask any foolish questions.

For an instant my soul fell on it’s knees asking for mercy... Caraffa felt it at once and fixed his burning eyes on me in surprise, not totally believing in his victory, but immediately understood that he rejoiced too early... I made an unbelievable effort and gathered all my hatred, and then I looked right into his eyes... Caraffa jumped back, on getting the strongest mental blow. For a second fright flashed in his black eyes, but it disappeared the same way as appeared... He was an uncommonly strong and resolute man who could be admired, if he were not so terrible...

My heart shrank from a bad presentiment... The torturer got an approving nod from Caraffa and like a butcher calmly inflicted an exact blow straight in the heart of the helpless victim... My beloved husband, my tender Girolamo ceased to exist... His kind soul flew away where there was no pain but peace and light... I knew that he would wait for me there too, whenever I came…

The sky fell, spewing forth streams of superhuman pain. Fierce hatred rose in my soul and destroyed all barriers, trying to break forth outside... Suddenly I threw my head back and howled the furious howl of an injured beast, raising my disobedient hands to the sky. And my luminous palms splashed out the "magic of death", which once my late mother had taught me, right at Caraffa. The magic streamed, shrouding his thin body with a blue halo of cloud. Candles went out and thick pitch-black darkness, seemed to absorb our life... And only Caraffa still shone with the ghostly white-blue light. For a fraction of a second I saw my death sentence in his eyes, wide with malice... But nothing happened to him! It was absolutely unbelievable! Should I strike any ordinary person with the "magic of death", he would not live for a second! Caraffa was alive and unharmed despite the blow that should have incinerated him. The only thing I saw was the blue flashing lightnings writhing around his usual golden-red protection. I could not believe my eyes.

– Well, well! Madonna Isidora rushed to the attack! – His mocking voice sounded in the darkness. – Anyway it is getting interesting. Don’t worry, dear Isidora. We’ll have a lot of unforgetable minutes to spend together! I can promise you.

The torturer came back bringing in the candle. Girolamo’s bloodstained body hung on the wall... My tormented soul howled, on seeing this sorrowful picture again. But I was not going to show my tears to Caraffa, not for the world! Never!!! He was a beast which adored the smell of blood... But this time it was blood very dear to me, and I was not going to give yet greater pleasure to this predator. I did not mourn my darling Girolamo before his eyes, hoping that I would have enough time for it, when he would go away...

– Take it away! – Caraffa sharply ordered to the torturer pointing at the dead body.

– Wait!!! Don’t I have any right even to say goodbye to him?! – I exclaimed indignantly. –Even church cannot refuse me that! Or rather exactly the church should render mercy to me! Does not it call upon us to render mercy? Although, as far as I see, we will never get mercy from the Holy Pope!

– The Church owes you nothing, Isidora. You are a witch and therefore its mercy does not apply to you! – Caraffa pronounced very calmly. – Your weeping won’t help your husband! You’d better go and think how to be more compliant, thus saving terrible sufferings both for you and others.

He withdrew as if nothing happened, as if he had not just interrupted somebody's precious life, as if his soul was in peace and quiet... If, certainly, he has one at all.

I was returned to my appartments without letting me pay the last tribute to my dead husband.

My heart froze in despair and sorrow, convulsively clinging to a tiny hope that, maybe, Girolamo was the first and last member of my unfortunate family, who this monster in a papal soutane forced to suffer and took life from so easily. I knew that most likely I will not be able to endure either my father’s death or Anna’s, especially hers. But I was even more frightened by the fact that I understood – Caraffa knew it too... And I racked my brain, making plans – each one more bizarre than the previous. Regrettably, the hope of surviving, even if for a short period of time, in order to try to help my family melted like smoke.

A week passed. Caraffa did not appear. Maybe he (like me!) needed time to think over the next step, or maybe he was to see to other duties, in which I hardly believed. Yes, he was a Pope... But at the same time he was an incredibly hazardous gambler unable to skip an interesting party. And I think that the "cat-and-mouse" game he was playing with me gave him immense pleasure.

Therefore I did my best to calm down and find in my exhausted head any "clever" idea which would help me to concentrate on our unequal "war" which I could not win... However, I was not going to give up, because I considered a "surrendered man" much worse than a dead one. As I still was alive, I could fight, even if my soul was slowly dying... I must last long enough to have time to destroy this mortally-dangerous viper – Caraffa... Now I had no doubts that I could kill him as soon as a tiny opportunity occured. The only problem was that I had not the slightest idea how to do that yet. Judging from my recent experience, I could not kill him with my "usual" way. So I would have to look for something different. Regrettably I had almost no time left for this.

Also I thought about Girolamo all the time... He always was my warm protective "wall" behind which I felt confident and protected... But it had disappeared and there was nothing to replace it. Girolamo was the most faithful and affectionate husband in the world and a very important part of my world grew dark, empty and cold without him. My life was gradually filling with sorrow, anguish and hatred, and the desire to take revenge on Caraffa, forgetting about myself and the thought of how small my force was compared to his ... Grief blinded me. It had immersed me in the abyss of despair and the only way to get out of it was to defeat Caraffa.

He came back into my life in two weeks. One early sunny morning he entered my room very self-confident, fresh and happy and pronounced with satisfaction:

– I have a surprise for you, Madonna Isidora! I think you will be immensely pleased.

At once I broke out in a cold sweat. I knew his "surprises". They never bring anything good...

As if reading my thoughts, Caraffa added:

– It’s a pleasant surprise, really. I promise you. You’ll see it yourselsf now!

The door opened. And a fragile tall girl entered it, watchfully looking around... Horror and joy seized me. I stiffened with astonishment... It was my daughter, my little Anna!!! Although it was rather difficult to call her little, because she had noticeably matured and shot up over these two years, becoming even lovelier...

My heart rushed to her, letting out a mute cry, almost jumping out of my chest! But I forbade myself to hurry. I did not know what the unforeseeable Caraffa planned this time. Therefore I had to behave very calmly which was almost beyond my forces. Only the fear of making an irreparable mistake restrained my raging emotions which were trying to break out like a hurricane. Happiness, horror, wild joy and fear of loss tore me to pieces at one and the same time! Caraffa smiled being absolutely satisfied with the produced effect... which at once made me inwardly shudder. I did not dare even to think what could follow further... I knew that, if something terrible was to happen, the desire to protect Anna would be too strong to stand up against Caraffa... and I panicked, being afraid that I would be unable to say no to him whatever he would ask for.

But to my greatest surprise, his "surprise" appeared to be a real one.

– Are you glad to see your daughter, Madonna Isidora? – Caraffa asked smiling broadly.

– Everything depends on what will follow, Your Holiness... – I answered carefully. – But, certainly, I am unspeakably glad!

– In that case enjoy the meeting. I will come for her in an hour. Nobody will disturb you. And then I will come to fetch her. She will live in a monastery. I think it is the best place for such gifted girl as your daughter.

– Monastery?!! But she never was a believer, Your Holiness. She is a hereditory Witch, and nothing in the world will make her different. This is who she is; and she will never be able to change. Even if you destroy her, she will remain a Witch! Just like my mother and me. You will be unable to make a believer out of her!

– What a child you are, Madonna Isidora! – Caraffa sincerely laughed. – Nobody was going to make a "believer" out of her. I think she can perfectly serve our saintly church, remaining exactly who she is, and maybe even more. I have very far reaching plans for your daughter...

– What do you mean, Your Holiness? And what a monastery has to do with it? – I whispered with hardening lips.

I was trembling. I could not understand nothing of all this, I only felt that Caraffa was telling the truth. The only thing that frightened me to death was what those "far-reaching" plans this frightful man could have for my poor girl were.

– Calm down, Isidora, and stop waiting for something terrible from me all the time! You are tempting fate, you know... The point is that the monastery which I am talking about is not an ordinary one... Not a single soul knows about it outside its walls. It is a monastery exceptionally for Veduns and Vedmas. It has existed for thousands of years. I was there several times. I studied there... But, unfortunately, I did not find there what I had been looking for. They rejected me... – Caraffa was engrossed in thoughts for a moment and, to my surprise, suddenly became very sad. – But I am sure that they will like Anna. And I am also sure that they will have something to teach your talented daughter, Isidora.

– Are you talking about Meteora*, Your Holiness? – I knew the answer beforehand, but nevertheless asked.

*Not to be confused (!!!) with Meteora monastery complex in Greece, Kalambaka. Meteora in Greek means "suspended in the air" which totally corresponds to the amazing view – the monasteries look like pink mushrooms which grow on the tallest apexes of unusual mountains. The first monastery was built approximately in 900 A.D. 24 monasteries were built between twelfth and sixteenth centuries. Only six of them "lived" till our days and still shock the imagination of the tourists, although the latter do not know one very interesting detail... There is one more monastery in Meteora where "curious" persons are not allowed... It was built (and initiated the buildings of others) by a gifted fanatic who once had studied in real Meteora and was banished from it. On getting extremely angry with the whole world, he decided to build his "Meteora" in order to gather other "offended" persons and to live their secluded life. Nobody knows how he succeded in doing that, but since then freemasons began to hold their secret meetings in his Meteora, which takes place once a year in our days too. Monasteries Great Meteoron, Rousanou, St. Nicholas, St. Stephanos, the Holy Trinity and Varlaam are situated very close to each other.*

Meteora Meteora Meteora
Meteora Meteora Meteora

Caraffa’s raised his eyebrow in surprise. He obviously did not expect that I had heard about it...

– Do you know them? Were you there?!

– I wasn’t, Your Holiness, but my father was, and he taught me a lot of things (later I bitterly regretted I said that to him...). What do you want to teach my daughter there and what for? In fact you have enough proofs to declare her a Witch now. All the same you will try to burn her later like all others, won’t you?!

Caraffa smiled again.

– Why did you grasp at this foolish idea, Madonna? I am not going to harm your dear daughter! She will be able to serve us perfectly! I have been looking for a Vidunia who is still a child for a very long time to teach her everything that Meteora "monks" know in order that later she would help me to search out sorcerers and witches, those like she once was. But she already will be a witch from God.

Caraffa did not seem mad, he WAS mad; otherwise it was impossible to accept what he was saying now! It was not normal, and therefore it scared me even more.

– I am sorry, if I misunderstood, Your Holiness... But can there really be Witches from God?!

– Well, of course, Isidora! – Caraffa began to laugh, being sincerely surprised at my "ignorance". – If she uses her knowledge and abilities in the name of church, it will come to her from God, because she will do everything in His name! Don’t you really understand it?

No, I did not understand it! The man who said this had a quite sick imagination. The scary thing was that he sincerely believed in what he said! He was incredibly dangerous in his madness and had unlimited power. His fanaticism exceeded all bounds and somebody had to stop him.

– If you know how to make us serve the church, why do you burn us then?! – I took chance to ask. – In fact what we possess is impossible to buy. Why don’t you appreciate it? Why do you continue to destroy us? If you want to learn something, why you don’t ask to teach you?

– Because it is useless to try to change that which already thinks, Madonna. I cannot change either you or those like you... I can only frighten or kill you. But it will not give me what I have dreamed about for so long. Anna is still young and she can be taught to love God, without taking her amazing Gift. It is useless with you, because even if you swear to have the faith in Him, I won’t believe you.

– And you will be perfectly right, Your Holiness. – I calmly said.

Caraffa rose to leave.

– There is only one more question and I ask you very earnestly to answer... if you can. Is your protection from the monastery?

– Like your youth, Isidora... – Caraffa smiled. – I shall come back in an hour.

So I was right. He got his strange "impenetrable" protection exactly there, in Meteora!!! But why then did my father not know about it?! Or was Caraffa there much later? Immediately another thought suddenly struck me! Youth!!! Here is what Caraffa longed for but did not get! Probably he heard a lot about how long the real Witches and Veduns live and how they leave the "physical" life. And he craved getting it for himself... to have time to burn the remaining "disobedient" half of Europe and then to rule the rest, representing a "saintly righteous man" which had kindly descended on our "sinful" earth to save our "hopeless" souls.

It was true. We could live long, even too long... And we "left" when we truly got too tired to live or considered that we could not help anybody anymore. The secret of longevity was passed from parents to children, then to grandchildren, etc., while in the family there was at least one exceptionally gifted child who could adopt it... But not every hereditory Vedun or Vedma could get immortality. It required special qualities which, unfortunately, not all gifted descendants got. It depended on the strength of mind, purity of heart, "mobility" of body and, which is most important, the level of their soul’s development which should be very high ... well, and a lot of other things. I think it was correct, because unfortunately, the ordinary human life, was not enough long for those who thirsted for learning everything that we – the real Veduns – could do. Well, those who did not want to know so much did not need such a long life. Therefore I think that the strict selection was absolutely correct. And Caraffa wanted the same. He considered himself worthy.

My hair began to stir, when I thought what this wicked man could do on Earth, if he lived that long!

But all these worries could wait, while Anna was here! Right now, nothing else mattered. I turned around. She stood wihtout taking her enormous radiant eyes from me! In that moment I forgot about Caraffa and the monastery, and everything else in the world! My poor little child threw herself in my open arms and froze, endlessly repeating: "Mummy, mummy, mummy…"

I stroked her long silky hair, inhaled the new, unknown to me, aroma and clasping her fragile thin little body to my bosom, being ready to die right now, if only this wonderful moment could last forever…

Anna pressed close to me, firmly clinging to me with her thin hands, as if wishing to dissolve and hide in me from this world, which suddenly become so monstrous and unknown... which once had been light and kind, and so homely for her!

Why should we experience this horror?! What have we done to deserve this pain? There were no answers to that... Probably, they did not exist.

I was terribly worried about my poor little child! Even at her early age, Anna has a very strong and bright personality. She never compromised or gave up, fighting to the end despite any circumstances. And she was afraid of nothing...

"To be afraid of something means to accept the possibility of defeat. Don’t let fear in your heart, dear". – Anna learnt very well her father’s lessons…

And now, probably seeing her for the last time, I had to teach her the contrary thing – "not to push her way through" when her life depended on it. It never was one of my "laws" of life. I learned it only now when I saw her light and proud father dying in Caraffa’s terrible basement... Anna was the last Vedunia in our family; and she had to survive by all means to be able to bear a son or daughter who would continue that which our family has kept so carefully for centuries. She had to survive… at any cost... except for treachery.

– Mummy, please, don’t leave me with him! He is very bad! I see him. He is terrible!

– You what?!! You can see him! – Anna nodded, scared. Probably I was so dumbfounded that my appearance frightened her. – Can you go through his protection?

Anna nodded again. I stood, quite punch-drunk, unable to understand – HOW she could do that??? But this was not important now. The most important thing was that at least one of us could "see" him, which meant that, maybe, we can defeat him.

– Can you see his future? Can you?! Tell me, my sun, will we destroy him?! Tell me, Annushka!

I was trembling with agitation. I longed to hear that Caraffa would die and dreamed to see him defeated!!! Oh, how I dreamed about it! How many days and nights I made fantastic plans, each one madder than the others, only to cleanse the Earth of this blood-thirsty viper! But I could not do anything – I was unable to "read" his black soul. And now it happened – my little child could see Caraffa! I had a tiny hope. We could destroy him together, uniting our "witch" forces!

But I rejoiced too early... Anna easily read my raging with joy emotions and sadly shook her head:

– We will not defeat him, mother... It is he who will destroy all of us. He will exterminate very many people like us. There will be no salvation from him. I am sorry, mother... – Salty hot tears rolled down Anna’s thin cheeks.

– There, there, my dear... It is not your guilt that you don’t see things how we want them to be! Calm down, my sun. We are not going to surrender, are we?

Anna shook her head.

– Listen to me, girl... – I slightly shook my daughter’s fragile shoulders and whispered as tenderly as possible. – You must be very strong, remember! We don’t have another choice. We shall fight anyway, only using other methods. You will go to this monastery. If I am not mistaken, wonderful people live there. They are like us, probably much stronger. You will be safe with them. And meanwhile I will think how we can escape from this man, from this Pope... I will think of something. You believe me, don’t you?

The little child nodded again. Her wonderful large eyes drowned in lakes of tears... But Anna cried silently... with salt, heavy and adult tears. She was very scared and very lonely, and I could not be next to her to comfort her...

The wind was taken out of my sails. I fell on my knees and embraced my dear girl, looking for peace in her. She was a mouthful of living water for which my soul, exhausted by loneliness and pain, craved! And now it was Anna who gently stroked my tired head with her little palm, whispering something quiet and calming. Probably, we looked like a very sad couple, trying to make our distorted life easy, if only for a brief moment...

– I saw my father... I saw him dying... It was so painful, mother. He will destroy us all, this frightful man... What did we do to him, mother? What does he want from us?

Anna was serious in a very unchildlike way, and here I wanted to calm her, to tell her that all of this is "not true" and "everything will be all right" and that I would save her! But it would be a lie, and we both knew it.

– I don’t know, my dear... I think we accidentally appeared in his way. And he is the kind of person who wipes out any obstacles, when they interfere with him... and one more thing... It seems to me that we know and have something for which the Pope is ready to give a lot, even including his immortal soul.

– What is that he wants so badly, mother?! – Anna lifted her tear-stained eyes.

– Immortality, dear... just immortality. But, regrettably, he does not understand that it is not given only because somebody wants it. It is given when a person is worthy of it, when he KNOWS things which are beyond of comprehension of others and uses it for their good. It is given to the deserving people... when Earth becomes better because this person lives on it.

– Why does he need it, mother? In fact immortality is when a person lives very long, right? And this is not very simple, right? A person makes a lot of mistakes, which he later tries to atone for or correct but often cannot, even during his short life that... Why does he think that he should be permitted to make much more of them?

Anna amazed me! When did my little daughter learn to think like an adult? Although, life was not too kind to her, nevertheless, Anna matured very quickly, which made me happy and worried at one and the same time... I was glad that she became stronger with every day and at the same time I was afraid that very soon she will be too independent. And I will find it very difficult, if I may need to persuade her in something. She always treated her "duties" of Vedunia very earnestly, loving life and people with all her heart and feeling very proud of being some day able to help them to be happier and make their souls purer and more beautiful.

And now Anna met real Evil for the first time... which pitilessly burst into her still very fragile life, killing her dearly beloved father, taking me away from her and threatening to be a nightmare for her... And I was not sure whether she could find forces to fight alone with everything in case of her whole family dying at Caraffa’s hands…

The hour flashed by unnoticed. Caraffa stood on the threshold, smiling...

I cuddled my dear girl to me, knowing that I would not see her for a very long time and maybe never... Anna went to the unknown and I could only hope that Caraffa truly wanted to teach her for his mad aims and in that case she was safe for the time being… while she was in Meteora.

– Did you enjoy the meeting, Madonna? – Caraffa asked, feigning sincerity.

– Thank you, Your Holiness. Yes, of course. Although I would prefer to raise my daughter myself, as it is accepted in the normal world and not to give her into the hands of strange people, only because you have a plan for her. Don’t you think it is enough pain for one family?

– Well, it depends on the family, Isidora! – Caraffa smiled. – Again, there is "family" and FAMILY... and yours, unfortunately, belongs to the second category... you are too strong and valuable to just live without paying for your abilities. Remember, my "great Witch", everything in this life has a price, and one has to pay for everything, independent of whether he likes it or not... And you will pay very dearly. But let’s not talk about bad things today! You had a wonderful time, didn’t you? Till we meet again, Madonna. I promise you, it will be very soon.

I froze... How familiar these words sounded to me! This bitter truth accompanied me in my short life so often that I could not believe that I heard them from somebody else! Probably, it was really true – everybody has to pay, only not all did it voluntarily... and sometimes the payment was too high...

Stella looked intently into my face in surprise, obviously noticing my strange confusion. But I showed her that "everything is all right" and, on falling silent for an instant, Isidora continued her story.

Caraffa withdrew, taking away my dear little daughter. The surrounding world grew dark, and my devastated heart was slowly filled with black and gloomy melancholy, drop by drop. The future seemed ominous. I did not see the faintest hope or felt the usual confidence that no matter how difficult it was now, everything will somehow settle and all will be well in the end.

I perfectly knew – it would not be well... We will never have a "fairy-tale with a happy ending"...

I did not notice that the night had already fallen and still sat at the window, watching the sparrows bustling about on the roof, and thought my sad thoughts. There was no way out. Caraffa conducted this "performance" and it was exacly HE who decided when somebody's life will be taken. I was unable to resist to his crafty designs, even if I could now foresee them with Anna’s help. The present frightened me and made me search even the least way out of the situation more vehemently in order to destroy this terrible "trap" which caught our tormented lives.

Unexpectedly the air began to sparkle with greenish light right before me. I became alert, expecting a new "surprise" from Caraffa... But it seemed that nothing bad was happening. The green energy thickened, gradually growing into a tall human figure. In a few seconds I saw a very handsome young unknown man... He wore a strange snow-white "tunic", girdled with a bright red wide belt. The stranger’s grey eyes shone with good and invited me to believe him, even without knowing him. And I believed... On feeling that, the man began to speak.

– Hello, Isidora. My name is Sever. I know, you don’t remember me.

– Who are you, Sever? And why must I remember you? Does it mean that I met you?

I had a strange feeling – as if trying to remember that which never happened… but you feel that you know that very well from somewhere.

– You were too small to remember me. Your father once brought you to us. I am from Meteora...

– But I never was there! Or do you want to say that he simply never told me about it?! – I exclaimed in surprise.

The stranger smiled, and for some reason his smile made me feel warm and calm, as if I suddenly found my old kind friend which I had lost a long time ago... I believed him… in everything, whatever he said.

– You must leave, Isidora! He will destroy you. You will not be able to resist him. He is stronger than you; or rather what he has got is stronger. It was a long time ago.

– You do not mean only his protection, do you? Who could give him such a thing?

The grey eyes grew very sad...

– We did not. Our Guest gave. He was not from here and, unfortunately, he appeared to be a "black" one...

– But you do see!!! How could you allow it?! How could you admit him into the "sacred circle"?

– He found us, just as Caraffa did. We don’t refuse those who can find us. But usually it never was the "dangerous" ones... We made a mistake.

– Do you realise what a terrible price people pay for your "mistake"?! Do you know how many lives went into the nonexistence being cruelly tortured and how many more will go? Answer, Sever!

I exploded – they called it just a mistake!!! An enigmatic "gift" to Caraffa was a "mistake" which made him almost invulnerable! And helpless people had to pay for it! My poor husband, and maybe, even to my dear little child, have to pay for it! And they considered it just a MISTAKE???

– I beg you, Isidora, don’t be angry. It won’t help now... This kind of thing happened sometimes. In fact we are not Gods, we are people... and we have a right to be wrong too. I understand your pain and your bitterness... My family also died from somebody's mistake, which was even simpler than that one. It’s just this time somebody's "gift" got into very dangerous hands. We will try to repair it somehow. But for the moment we cannot do that. You must go. You have no right to die.

– Oh, you are wrong Sever! I have every right, if it helps me to cleanse the Earth of this viper! – I cried indignantly.

– It won’t help. Unfortunately, nothing will help you, Isidora. Leave. I will help you to come back home... you have already lived your Fate here, you can go Home.

– Where is my Home? – I asked in surprise.

– It is far away... There is a star in the constellation of Orion with a wonderful name Asta. This is your Home, Isidora, just as mine.

I looked at him in shock, unable to believe or even understand such strange news. My fevered brain could not squeeze it into any real reality, and it seemed to me that like Caraffa I was gradually going mad... But Sever was real and it did not look as if he was joking. Therefore, I somehow pulled myself together and asked more calmly:

– How did it happen that Caraffa could find you? Does he have a Gift?

– No, he does not have a Gift. But he has his Mind which perfectly serves him. He used it to find us. He read about us in a very old chronicle which he got who knows how and from where. But he knows a lot, believe me. He has a mysterious source from which he gets knowledge, but I don’t know where I can find this source to secure it.

– Oh, don’t worry! I know very well about it! I know where this "source" is! It’s his staggering library where he keeps countless amounts of ancient manuscripts. I think it’s because of them Caraffa needs his long Life... – I felt saddened to death and wanted to cry like a child... – How can we destroy him, Sever?! He has no right to live on earth! He is a monster which will take millions of lives, if nobody stops him! What do we have to do?

– You don’t have to do anything, Isidora. You simply must go. We’ll find a way to get rid of him. We just need time.

– And meanwhile innocent people will die! No, Sever, I will go only when I don’t have a choice. Until then I will fight, even without having the faintest hope. My daughter will be brought to you, take care of her. I will not be able to do that...

His luminous figure became transparent and began to disappear.

– I shall come back, Isidora. – The affectionate voice rustled.

– Farewell, Sever... – I answered in a low voice too.

– But how could that be?! – Stella exclaimed suddenly. – You did not even ask about the planet you had come from?! Were you really not interested in that?! How could that be?

To tell the truth I also hardly could restrain myself to ask Isidora about the same thing! Her spirit came from the outside and she did not even ask about this! But to some degree I understood her, because it was too terrible a time for her, and she was mortally afraid for those who she loved so much and who she tried to save. Well, as for the Home… It can be found later, when there will be another choice save to leave...

– No, dear. I did not ask because I had no interest in it, but because it was much less important than the fact that wonderful people died. They died in excruciating torments which only one man organized and supported. And he had no right to exist on our earth. That was the most important; the rest could wait.

Stella turned red, being ashamed of her outburst, and whispered:

– Please, forgive me, Isidora...

And Isidora again "went" into her past and continued her amazing story...

As soon as Sever disappeared, I tried mentally call my father, but for some reason he did not answer. It seemed a little suspicious to me and expecting nothing bad, I tried again – no answer followed...

I decided not to give free rein to my fevered imagination yet, left my father alone for the time being and dived into sweet and sad recollections about Anna’s recent visit.

I still remembered the smell of her fragile body, the softness of her thick black hair and extraordinary boldness with which my wonderful twelve-year daughter challenged the wicked fate. I was unspeakably proud of her! Anna was a fighter, and I believed that she would fight to the end, to her last breath, no matter what.

I did not know whether I could save her, but I swore to myself that I would do everything in my power to snatch her from the cruel Pope’s tenacious claws.

Caraffa came back in a few days, being very disappointed by something and taciturn. He only showed me with his hand that I must follow him. I obeyed.

We passed several long corridors and found ourselves in a small study which (as I knew later) was his private office where he very rarely invited guests.

Caraffa silently pointed me to a chair and slowly took seat in front. His silence seemed ominous and, as I already knew from my own sad experience, never portended anything good. As for me – after the meeting with Anna and Sever’s unexpected arrival, I was inexcusably relaxed, lulling my usual vigilance to some extent and missed the next blow...

– I don’t have time for courtesy, Isidora. You will answer my questions; otherwise somebody else will terribly suffer. So I advise you to answer!

Caraffa was angry and it would be a real madness to contradict him.

– I’ll try, Your Holiness. What do you want to know?

– Your youth, Isidora, how did you get it? In fact you are thirty eight and you look twenty and do not change. Who gave your youth to you? Answer!

I could not understand what it was that enraged Caraffa so much? During our acquaintance, quite a long time now, he never yelled and very rarely lost control of himself. Now I was confrounted an infuriated man beside himself capable of doing anything.

– Answer, Madonna! Or you’ll see another, very unpleasant surprise.

This statement made my hair stir... I understood that there was no way to avoid the answer. Something had made Caraffa extremely angry, and he did not conceal it. He was not in the mood to play games and joke. I had to answer, blindly hoping that he would accept a half-truth.

– I am a hereditory Witch, Holiness, and for now – the strongest of them. Youth came to me by right of succession, I did not ask for it, just as my mother, my grandmother and the rest of Witches in my family. You must be one of us, Your Holiness, to get it. Besides, you must be worthy of it.

– Nonsense, Isidora! I knew people who obtained immortality on their own! And they were not born with it. So, there are ways. And you will open them for me. Believe me.

He was absolutely right... There were ways, but I was not going to open them to him. Never! No tortures could force me to do that.

– I am sorry, Your Holiness, but I can not give what I have not got myself. It is impossible – I don’t know how. But I think your God would give you "eternal life" on our sinful earth, if he considered you worthy of it, would he not?

Caraffa grew crimson and maliciously hissed, like a poisonous snake, ready to attack.

– I thought you were cleverer, Isidora. Well, it won’t take long for me to break you, when you see what I’ve prepared for you...

He sharply grasped my hand and rudely took me down to his horrific basement. I did not have time even to be scared, as we appeared before the same iron door behind which quite recently my poor husband, my tender and kind Girolamo was so brutally tortured to death... Suddenly a frightful, soul-freezing guess slashed my brain – father!!! That is why he did not answer to my repeated calls! Certainly it was that breathing with hatred monster which stood in front of me that caught and tortured him in the same basement, "purifying" his any aim with the blood and pain of innocent people!

"Oh, no! Please not that!!!" – My wounded soul uttered a frenzied scream. But I already knew that it was happening... "Somebody help me!!! Anybody!!" But nobody heard me for some reason... And nobody helped…

The heavy door opened... The grey eyes, full of inhuman pain, looked right at me...

I saw my beloved father in the middle of the familiar death-smelling room in a thorny iron arm-chair, bleeding to death...

The blow was terrible! I gave a wild shriek "No!!!" and lost consciousness...

Download the Book

1. The beginning
2. A friend
3. The first "swallows"
4. The loss
5. Reality
6. The first contact
7. A test
8. The farewell
9. The awakening
10. Everyday life
11. The neighbours
12. Cookies
13. The fire that did not warm up
14. Loneliness
15. Giving eating up
16. The second contact
17. The result
18. Anesthesia
19. The neighbour
20. Unusual salvation
21. Unexpected guests
22. The poltergeist
23. A car accident
24. An angel
25. Stella
26. Stella-2. Harold
27. Stella-3. Axel
28. Stella-4. The astral world
29. Stella-5. Svetilo. The hell. Izolda
30. Stella-6. The mental world
31. Vaya. Other worlds
32. My parents
33. The surprise
34. Sorrow
35. Isidora
36. Isidora-2. Rome
37. Isidora-3. Meteora
38. Isidora-4. The Loss
39. Isidora-5. The Darkness
40. Isidora-6. Svetodar
41. Isidora-7. The Cathars
42. Isidora-8. The Key of Gods
43. Isidora-9. The loss of Anna. The woman Warrior
44. Isidora-10. Vidomir. The sleeping Kings