By Charlie J Vella email@example.com May 2006
This short story is based on a novel currently in progress - The Book of Secrets © 2006
John, whose faith towards Jacque and the order was second to none, held a special place within the society. He adored Jacques and loved him dearly but was afraid to confront him with these feelings. They were taboo and the thought of sharing such thoughts scared him to think what consequences they may bring. Little did he know that there were others with the same communal behavior? A handsome man who stood six foot one, eyes the colour of the ocean and a teacher of the wonders of history. He spoke clearly and full of meaning and made certain that his words became a permanent fixture in one's mind. He wanted his pupils to understand the world's history and make them appreciate how the changes in life through the teachings of the worlds past would assist in learning and helping to live a better and brighter life.
All admired John; not just for his wisdom but the energy that he emitted was one of love and peace. He cared and made the attempt to show this emotion but some of the men in the order had warned that it would get him in a dilemma one day and should take better care in which he confronted and trusted.
It so happened that one did take advantage of these characteristics and little did the Knight know that this was going to get him in a dilemma. The rule was to never get involved with any outsiders; physically or mentally but John couldn't help the sentiment that overcame him when he met Julius, a blacksmith after visiting the wounded at the local hospital in Valetta. The stranger's appearance outside the hospital front doors had told him that the man had been involved in some battle and the signs of pain that showed in his eyes told John that the incident was current. The limp also proved that the injury was not taken care of, as there were fresh traces of blood seeping through the garment.
The Blacksmith's face was pale though the smile he courageously conjured to John was one of politeness and only then did the Blacksmith lose all strength in his legs and collapsed on the cold ground. Immediately John ran to the hospital foyer and acquired help, led the medics to where the Blacksmith lay and assisted with support as the hospital staff applied their expertise in eliminating the infection that was slowly eating away at him.
It was that evening that the Blacksmith thanked him and asked for his name,
"You don't have a surname?"
"Surnames are not mandatory. They are only used as titles and to differentiate individuals."
There was a warm smile from the Blacksmith as he held out an opened hand to John. "My name is Julius. It is a great pleasure."
John took hold of the hand, finding it a little difficult to let go. But he also sensed that Julius too kept a firm grip and intended to keep it there.
Throughout the next couple of days, John found out a great deal about Julius and the more he learned, the more he felt closer to the man. The Blacksmith was outcasted because of his sexual preference and the Catholics in Sicily; especially the Order of Genesis didn't want homosexuality as part of their daily life. A gay man was a bringer of evil! The Order of Genesis was a religious sect that was governed by a priest, followed the bible and lived its beliefs. They had caught one of their own in explicit sexual acts. Though Julius was also part of this act, the order never got to see who else was responsible for such devilish activity.
Julius was working as a Blacksmith for the Order and in the last eight months was having an affair with one of the monks. The risk involved was great for if a member of the order was found guilty of homosexuality; the punishment was to be trialed as a witch and burnt at the stake.
The Eve of the burning, Julius was caught sneaking into the rectory making his way to the room where the destined monk awaited the fateful morning.
"It was you all along, am I right?" It was one of the senior ministers that had sighted him though his tone didn't hold any accusation and was just audible for Julius to hear. "No matter how many times we questioned him, he would never utter your name."
"I understand you have laws but can I see him?"
There was an unsettling silence before the minister fished for his keys and without a word led Julius to his lover. "You have not seen me and you enter this room at your accord." He unlocked the door, placed the key back into his pocket and watched as Julius stepped into the room and waited until the door closed before quietly disappearing down the corridor.
They didn't have much time together but the little time they did have was spent adoring one another, touching each others face, their lips tenderly kissing. No words wore uttered for their eyes said everything. Julius took his lover tenderly from behind, his arms wrapped around his chest, holding him and not wanting to let him go. He held his enflamed shaft inside him though the urge to erupt was more than he can control, he exploded his juices inside him and it was then the tears came.
They were coming for him!
It was that final tender kiss, the final stroke of a finger across the cheek and the last Julius saw of his lover. He swiftly ran out the door only to be confronted by four men, henchmen as he thought of them, not monastery monks. One suddenly brought a fist to his face, knocking him back to the wall while another grabbed hold of his arms and spun him around to push his face to the wall. Julius wasn't going to give up without a fight.
He gathered his strength, freed one arm and with a fist struck with all his might. Little did the monks know that Julius had a knife secretly hidden and quickly he pulled it out and attacked without any thought. The one that first struck him felt the blade enter the side of his stomach and bewildered stepped back and looked at the bleeding that seeped from the wound. The others stopped in awe. Nothing like this had ever happened within the congregation!
Julius took this moment to flee.
"The devil is amongst us!" one shouted.
"The devil," another repeated.
He was running now, out the main doors and towards the gates. Unfortunately the exit was nine feet high and another two feet of barbed wire. He would also be burned at the stake if caught. He found ways to climb the timbered gates and fumbled through the rustic barbed wire, which caught his skin and tore it like paper. Another pierced his thigh not realising how deep the metal bore into his skin.
Julius jumped, possibly fracturing his ankle as he landed on the rough earth but the moment of worry to any body injuries was not the time to concern oneself about. He needed to flee as far as could, away from this civilization and somewhere where he was not known and start afresh. He knew though he was now out of danger once over the gates. The Genesis Order never stepped foot outside their own surroundings for the ground he now walked on was not blessed and birthed much evil.
He took once last look at this rural community, still able to hear the warning tones that were being hollered and Julius couldn't help but smile at their stupidity. How quickly it came that the smile was replaced by an excessive surge of hurt, a sadness that suddenly filled his whole body. He could see the fires of hell eating away at an innocent body, a man who only wanted the truth, to believe he was a man, to accept that he was no different than the next human being.
He fought the tears, an emotion he could not remember having since he was a child but they were far too strong for him to hold back. He cried, limped further away and cried more. It was hours later he reached the shores of Sicily and not far from the shore was a trading boat, which he would stow away.
It was days later he arrived in Malta.
John had already over welcomed his stay but he couldn't leave Julius and if he did stay, there could be a possible magical catastrophe.
"I must leave," he said.
Julius looked at him, nodded, understanding what one must do. "The cross you bare is unlike any other I have seen. It is a Knights' cross, one that the King despises."
"You know of us?" John was taken by surprised.
"Working in a Monastery, you learn a lot of things. Where will you go?"
"I have a calling."
John turned to leave then paused, "In life one gets a chance to meet a holy being." He said this, staring straight ahead of him but never looking around to face Julius. "My calling is to save another soul," and left.
Julius never saw him again.
© Charlie J Vella 2006
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