Strauss walked into his office after lunch, and came to a sudden halt as he saw the Holy Father standing in front of the window, staring down into the square with a worried line furrowing his forehead.
"Holy Father, forgive me, I didn't know…I didn't recall…that I had a meeting with you this afternoon," he apologized, flustered.
"Relax, Camerlengo, you weren't scheduled to meet with me this afternoon, I just…" he sighed deeply, shook his head, and closed his eyes tiredly, leaning against the window frame.
"Are…are you all right, Holiness?" he asked uncertainly.
"I have no idea," he snorted wearily.
"Has something else happened?"
"You could say that."
"Did the nightmares return?" he pressed hesitantly, he had half expected it after they had received the prophesy.
"I'm not sure the nightmares wouldn't have been preferable; at least I know where I stand there, they want to kill me, it would have been less unnerving," Patrick told him with a stressed sounding chuckle.
Turning away from the window with a low sound of frustration, Patrick turned to face Strauss for the first time since the older man had entered the room.
"Sit down will you," he said impatiently, waving the older man in the general direction of the desk before dragging his unrestrained hand back through his hair.
Strauss opted to sit in one of the two visitor's chairs in front of the desk, unwilling to take the position of authority behind it, even in his own office, in the Pontiff's presence, and then sat quietly, watching the slighter man pace the width of the office for a couple of minutes with his eyes closed, the line between his brows even deeper, and Strauss found himself wondering idly just how much time the younger man had spent pacing as Camerlengo, to be able to do that with his eyes shut, without walking into the wall. Finally Patrick slowed to a halt, and sank gracefully into the other chair, beside Strauss.
"We need to start thinking about what we're going to do when…if…the worst happens," he said quietly.
"You don't think Professor Langdon will find anything to help stop it?"
"I don't think we're going to have time to stop it, I think the best we can hope for is that he will find something to give us a clue what we are dealing with," he said unhappily.
"Tell me what happened, please?" Strauss pressed softly.
"I had a visitor yesterday afternoon, after you left my informal office, well, he was there at the same time you were, he just didn't make himself known until after, when I called him out."
"A demon," Patrick said with a wry, bitter quirk of humour.
Strauss recoiled in shock, looking at him dazedly for several long moments.
"An actual, physical, not in a nightmare, demon, yes. Fortunately for me, this particular demon apparently wished me no harm, he just wanted to warn me that those seeking to release whatever is out there were close to achieving their goal, so, as I said, we need to start making preparations."
"But…how did a demon manage to appear inside these walls?" Strauss asked, horrified.
"I don't know, I really don't, perhaps the fact that he was once an Archangel was enough to secure him entry, or perhaps it was that he meant no harm, I'm sure you will agree that we are not too anxious to have him come back so that we can ask him."
For an indeterminable moment, Patrick thought that his Camerlengo was going to pass out, and he grabbed his arm to steady him, but the older man pulled himself together gamely and nodded.
"Forgive me Holiness," he said, embarrassed.
"There is nothing to forgive, Camerlengo, believe me, I was shaking for several hours, after he departed," he said wryly.
"Thank you," he nodded, settling himself back in his chair properly, before continuing.
"If they can come inside, how are we to keep anyone safe?" he asked.
"We don't know that they can get inside, only that Sataniel can, I haven't seen the demons in my dreams anywhere other than in the outer precincts, and in the last one, inside seemed to represent safety, protection," he said thoughtfully, that was certainly what his father's presence in the dream represented to him, anyway.
"Security really need to be involved, Holiness, if there is to be any kind of plan put into place. They will be the ones ultimately responsible for making sure people go where they are meant to go, and do what they are meant to do."
Patrick sighed again, tapping his fingers lightly on his knee for a moment, before giving Strauss a sour look.
"You can deal with telling Richter what little we know then, and what we suspect, tell him all of it, including my nightmares, if you must, but I can almost guarantee he will simply question my sanity, and quite possibly yours too. Never mind, I will have my secretary deliver the prophesy to you shortly, and then you can figure out how you want to approach the Commandant. It may be most efficient to make sure, should the worst happen, that everyone is routed to the Sistine Chapel, or to St Peter's Basilica, rather than trying to get anyone out."
"Yes, Holiness," Strauss replied, rising automatically as Patrick stood and making a swift reverence before the white clad figure swept from the room.
Strauss returned to his own seat behind the desk, his mind already turning over how he was going to approach securing the head of security's co-operation without first having to convince the man that neither he, nor the Pontiff, were mad.
Richter leaned back in his seat across the desk from the Camerlengo, folding his arms, and looking past him, out of the window into the darkening sky as he tried to take in everything the older man had laid out to him.
"You're serious? Do you have any idea how insane this is?" he demanded.
"I know how insane it seems, yes, but I have no doubt what so ever that it is real, it is happening."
"Demons wandering the Apostolic Palace, and threatening the Holy Father in his sleep? Trying to unearth something even more evil from under the square? How can you expect me to take this seriously?"
"You must take it seriously, he fears how many will be killed or injured if this prophesy is realized, and we are unprepared."
"This is madness," Richter insisted.
"Well, if nothing else, draw up a plan to get people to safety in the Basilica and the Sistine chapel if there is any kind of attack on the square, label it as a terrorist threat plan if you must, just don't dismiss it completely."
"You really want me to take this seriously? Nightmares? Hallucinations?"
"It was serious enough to put him in a sling," Strauss said in irritation.
"You know what happened?" Richter demanded, still irked by the Pontiff's refusal to tell him how he had been hurt.
"I know only what he knows, that he fell asleep in one room, had a nightmare where he was out in the square, where he was injured by the demons, where he fell, and when he woke, he was in the wrong room, with injuries he can't adequately explain getting. You must have seen the bruise he received that night, you were there, and the doctor did state that the imprint was unmistakably of a hand, that wasn't done by an hallucination."
"I saw it," he admitted grudgingly, before shaking his head, "but that still doesn't rule out a physical assailant."
"I thought you had ruled out an intruder?" he asked pointedly.
Richter sighed explosively, folding his arms over his chest and glaring down at the floor, thinking. It was true, there was no trace of an intruder, the one secret entrance they knew of had been unsealed, most probably by Simeon a year ago, and judging by the dust, undisturbed since, so either the attacker could fly, or there was something more going on.
"Fine, we will start working out an evacuation plan. I assume this is also going to include somehow getting any people who may be in the square if something happens into the church?"
"I'll have someone check out how we can alter the barriers to allow fast access should we need it without weakening security any further."
"Very well, I will leave it in your capable hands for now then."
Richter left, still half convinced that their Pontiff was starting to come a little unglued from too much pressure, too little sleep, and the anniversary of the events of last year, of his father's murder, creeping up on him, and that the Camerlengo was simply humouring him, but he would undertake the task he had been given, and hope that everything returned to normal after the upcoming masses to mark the anniversaries of both the death of the previous Pope in a few days, and the coronation of the current one a couple of weeks further on.
Robert headed back to his room after an unproductive day in the archives; with the exception of Father Bianchi's little snippet from Bernini's journal, they hadn't come up with anything else at all mentioning a seal, or suggesting there was anything unusual in the designing of the square. He looked at the window, seeing the darkness outside broken by the lighting of the square, and decided that he was going to grab his wallet, and head out to get something to eat in one of the restaurants in the streets outside, and then maybe take a walk around the square, which would hopefully be fairly quiet this late in the evening, and see if anything jumped out at him with a closer look at the Obelisk and the fountain, he certainly hadn't had chance to take a close look at the square last time he had been here, with it being crammed to the gunnels with people waiting for Conclave to end.
"Do I need to get something official in writing to get back in if I go out?" he asked the Swiss Guard trailing behind him over his shoulder before going into his room.
"The Holy Father ordered that your name be placed on the approved list at the gate personally, you will not need anything besides ID to get back in," the guard shrugged.
"Good, thanks," he nodded, going inside to change.
Two hours later, with a good meal under his belt, he stood under the lights in the square, blessedly free of all but the most dedicated faithful and diehard tourists in the cold air, looking up at the towering Obelisk. He stood still, hands in his pockets and let his eyes scan minutely up the length of the monument, taking in everything before stepping around to do the same with the other three sides, he would have to check again in daylight, but he was fairly sure there was nothing here, nothing on the Obelisk to indicate a seal.
He glanced at the fountains, and bit the inside of his bottom lip thoughtfully, he could make a cursory examination, but really he needed them both off and drained to get a good look at them, he knew Bernini was supposed to have copied Maderno's fountain exactly to finally achieve the symmetry he wanted, and differences between the two might provide the clues they were looking for. He would have to ask to see Camerlengo Strauss sometime tomorrow, and hope that it wouldn't cause too much trouble to ask to get the fountains turned off and emptied.
Robert headed back inside, he needed to get a good night's sleep if he was going to have a chance to have breakfast before meeting with Father Bianchi in front of the archives at 7am again.
Richter stretched as he pushed back from his desk, he had been working on the evacuation plans the Camerlengo had asked for since late afternoon, and his eyes were gritty and his back aching from being hunched over his desk non-stop. He looked at the clock, and locked the file away, he would get back to it in the morning, when Chartrand came back on duty, the younger man's input would be useful, and he should have the reports of the men he had sent out to look at the barriers then. He was just about to rise from his desk when he cursed softly, realizing he hadn't had chance to check the feeds from the cameras he had installed in the Papal apartments yet, to make sure they were functioning correctly, he had gotten distracted by the summons from the Camerlengo after he had finished fitting them.
He weighed the pros and cons of checking now up, there was a good chance that at this time of night, the Holy Father was still in one of his offices, he very rarely bothered retiring before midnight, and technically he wasn't in breach of his promise not to use it to check up on his Holiness without prior cause, the younger man would know that the system would need to be checked after being installed, it was just the timing that was unfortunate. There was also the fact that right now, the rest of the place was deserted, he was the only one here, in the morning there would be people in and out, making it almost impossible to stop them seeing the hidden setup.
Settling back in his chair, he pulled out the key to the security system, and pressed down on the section of the desk that would raise the screens. He clicked through to find the new cameras, checking the hallway first and seeing nothing moving, so he flicked over to the sitting room.
The Holy Father was there, probably had been for a while, given he was barefoot and dressed in a white t-shirt and black casual trousers. He was also asleep on the sofa, half curled on his side, his arms wrapped around a book on his chest. Richter reached to cut the feed, regretting the unintended invasion of privacy, but stilled before his hand could touch the switch when he saw the Holy Father's arm move.
The movement was clearly not one made by someone shifting in their sleep, or even waking up, it was the movement of someone manipulating the limbs of someone who was unconscious or sleeping, but there was no-one there to be manipulating his limbs. Both arms were moved out of the way, and the book floated itself to the low table in front of the sofa before the sleeping Pope was shifted into a more comfortable position. Richter stared at the screen, his heart pounding; this didn't appear to be a threat, a danger to the Pontiff, in fact it looked tender, caring, but it was a clear indication that there was something supernatural occurring around his Holiness, and if there was a benign, protective presence, then it was likely protecting him against something.
He finally hit the cut-off, his hands shaking slightly as he waited for his heart-rate to settle back to somewhere near normal. He was going to have to take his conversation with Strauss, and his evacuation plans, a lot more seriously.
Martinelli sighed as he settled himself to watch over his son's sleep, he probably shouldn't have been so obvious, moving Patrick and the book while knowing Richter was watching, but he needed his old friend to take this more seriously, to undermine his belief that Patrick was allowing grief and stress to unbalance him, he would do as he had always done; everything he could, to protect his son.