The Pellegrine

Soul Lark

Book VI
Magi at Work

Chapter 2
The Sting

© The author reserves all rights to this work.


This story is of an adult nature. It is not intended for minors nor for those whose law in their land forbids them to read this material.
This story is entirely fictional. Any resemblance to actual people is purely coincidental and unintentional.

NB: Words found between asterisks (*) refer to words exchanged in psychic or telepathic communication.

Date: 13 January 2674, Tuesday

“You want me to do what?!!!” asked Erik Letkens in surprise. “Do you know that what you’re using the movie for is illegal?”

“Look, Erik,” said Jorg. “We’ve got a magus accused of molesting a boy. He refuses to reveal anything because of his belief in the seal of confession. He won’t budge even if it means that his reputation is smeared. His new identity is twenty years away. He’ll have to undergo intensive treatment as part of the rehabilitation process. Of course, he would not be affected because he is a magi. However, you must think of all the trouble the magi identity department would have to do all because of a human lie. The fourteen year old boy who accused him will himself be affected. He’ll carry this lie for the rest of his life.”

“Don’t we magi carry lies?” asked Erik.

“The difference is that we’re doing so for the sake of protecting ourselves and others. This boy has done so out of anger and vengeance. He doesn’t regret it now but he could either live in regret when he gets older or he goes the other way and I don’t want to think of the possible outcomes!”

“But what do you want to do with this movie?” asked Erik, still suspicious of his grand uncle’s motive.

“Simple,” replied Jorg. “We want to give the boy a scare. If he thinks we have a record of what really happened, he’ll tell the truth, or at least retract his statement.”

“That’s all you want to do with it?”asked Erik, not very convinced.

Jorg threw up his arms in exasperation. “I’ll get one of the councillors to confirm it, okay?”

“Do it,” said Erik. “Until the Council okays it, I won’t hand over the movie.”

“Good,” said Jorg. “This means that you’ll start working on the movie right now?”

“Yes Grand Unc,” said Erik with a groan.

‡ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ‡

Date: 15 January 2674, Thursday

“Gould! You have a visitor.” A guard had come to Timothy Addems’ cell. He was known as Father Tarsius Gould to all non-magi.

“Thank you. Who is it?” Timothy asked as he moved towards the door that the guard had opened.

“Your boss, the Archbishop,” came the reply.

Father Tarsius was brought to an interrogation room where he met his sixty-five year old Archbishop.

“Good morning, your Grace,” the priest greeted his superior with a bow.

The Archbishop motioned his priest towards a chair. “Good morning, Father Tarsius. How are you doing?”

“As well as can be expected,” was the quiet reply.

“You’re looking more haggard,” observed the Archbishop.

The priest nodded, “I guess. I haven’t been sleeping well.”

“You do know why I’m here?” asked the elderly cleric.

“You’re going to give me my papers for dismissal from the clerical state?” suggested the priest.

The Archbishop shook his head. “No. I came here to know the truth. I didn’t have the time to interview you before you were arrested.”

The priest looked up at his superior with sorrowful eyes. “Sorry, your Grace. I can’t. I’m bound by the seal of confession. I can only say that I never touched the boy’s private parts. The only places I touched him were his shoulders, and his head when I gave him absolution. Other than that, I’m bound by the seal.”

“The boy has stated very clearly and conclusively that you molested him,” the elder cleric appealed.

“I know. I don’t know why God has sent this trial to me. I know that I made a promise when I was ordained. Included in this promise was that under no circumstance, even death, could I reveal what was said during a confession. I also understand that you’d have no choice but to sack me from the priesthood should I be judged guilty. I’ll bear you no grudge, your Grace. I also bear no bitterness towards the boy for falsely accusing me. I know my name and reputation will be smeared and that this would become a scandal for the church. I can only maintain my innocence and leave everything in the hands of the Almighty. I said that during an interview with the prosecutor yesterday afternoon. She told me that by not giving the details, there was no way a jury would acquit me. I only replied that I couldn’t give the details due to the seal of confession and that I knew what consequences it brought.”

“You’re remarkably calm in your situation,” commented the Archbishop.

“Your grace, there’s nothing I can do. I’ve cried when I was alone yesterday. I know I’m totally helpless and there’s no point in getting anxious and hysterical. In my prayers, I’ve found some peace. I’m beginning to understand the tranquility of the saints in times of crisis. I also know that God has a plan. He’s going to take action but I don’t know what. I only ask that after my sentence, you wouldn’t kick me out should I visit you.”

The Archbishop wiped his tears. He admired this priest. Tarsius Gould was a very good priest and his people loved him. However, this scandal had destroyed him. The old man was glad to see that he was still brave and kept his faith. “You’d be welcome everytime, Tarsius. I only wish I could help. The only thing I could do when Mr. Omistan told me was to advise him to go to the police. The 600 year-old ecclesiatical law hasn’t changed.”

“I understand, Your Grace,” replied the priest quietly. “I know this has burdened the archdiocese. The law prohibits you to help me directly except that you bear the legal and medical costs of the victim. Just keep the Omistan family safe. I just hope they don’t stray from God because of this.”

The last statement saddened the old cleric even more. He had the greatest trust for Tarsius and he was very angry towards the Omistan family for causing the downfall of this holy man. He was considering ways of getting back at the family. However, the accused had forgiven them and has even asked for greater love to be given to the family. Archbishop James Redding was ashamed. He knew he had to learn to be more forgiving.

“I’ll see you again, Father Tarsius,” the elderly Archbishop said, bringing his visit to an end.

His subordinate bowed. “Thank you, your Grace. Thank you for being Jesus to me.”

¤ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ¤

Date: 17 January 2674, Saturday

“Wow!” said Tsui, “this looks pretty realistic. How do you do it, Erik?”

“Actually, this is realistic because I had thought images to work with. I use the images given me and I used my mind to burn the images into the various significant frames in the sequence. Then I let the computer do the rest by filling up the missing frames. Then I adjust the composite image a little if it does match the images I have in my mind exactly.”

“Actually,” said Jorg, “he’s better than that. He managed to deviate slightly from the teenager’s thought image to give it more realism. The teenager had probably exaggerated certain gestures that Tim made and took them to mean that Tim was leading him on. Erik had actually gone to the Tim’s office to see if there was anything out of place in the movie.”

“Surely, someone could’ve moved books, files and things like that,” objected Tsui.

“This is one movie which I actually used my magi powers to help me,” said Erik. “I even checked the dust on the tables to make the scenes more accurate. This is the best estimation. I just hope that the teenager wouldn’t remember all the details. From what I hear, he’s pretty intelligent. I just hope that he isn’t very observant. It is fortunate that we weren’t using sound. The inflections of sounds are more complicated than images. An audio programme would be able to distinguish between synthesized sound and actual recording.”

“Do you think that this would work, especially without sound?” asked Tsui.

“Judging from the emotional state that he was in, we have a fair chance. He’s very sure of himself and he’s careful not to give anything away. However, he also fears being found out. We’re going to send him a highly compressed form of the movie. There’ll be very little detail. Only enough to show for certain that Tim and he were in the movie,” replied Master Martin.

“So, you think that the small ancient camera ploy is going to work?” asked Tsui.

“I hope so. I haven’t said anything to Tim. Knowing him, he wouldn’t approve of such a plan,” said Master Martin with a sigh.

“The Council has decided that we’ll have to give Tim an illness and then die prematurely. Helen is already working on an alternative identity for him. She’s going to start a big shuffle if this doesn’t work,” informed Tsui.

“I know that he’ll appreciate that,” said Master Martin. “Fortunately, he still follows some of the magi practices. He once told me that the adopting of different identities would ensure that he continues to serve his god for as long as possible.”

“Let’s not waste time,” Jorg reminded the group. “We’ll need to move quickly. We have less than forty-eight hours to convince Lenny Omistan to withdraw his statements.”

¤ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ¤

Lenny Omistan was very anxious. He had a received a message and played the movie sent to him. He sat in front of the terminal in disbelief. He quickly locked the door of his room and ran back to his terminal. The message was a text message and pointed to a anonymous text-chat part of the net. He logged on to the site and found his contact.

> how did u get dis?

> do u find dis interesting?

> u didnt answer my question

> y shud i? u r de 1 hu lied

> wat do u want?

> dont testify

> wat if i do?

> de clearer movie will go to de police

> u have a clearer movie?

> dont testify n u will b de only 1 2 c it

> u havent told me how u got it

> father didnt noe dat de old camera worked

> wat camera?

> ha ha de 1 dat took de movie

> i didnt c any camera

> i will keep my threat

> i dont belive u

> up 2 u bye

> w8

> come back

> dont go

> w8

Lenny started to cry softly. He was too ashamed. Someone knew his secret and he did not know what to do. He thought of what he had done to Father Tarsius. He started crying again. When he finally dried his tears, he realised what he had to do.

‡ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ‡

Date: 19 January 2674, Monday

“How do you plead, Tarsius Gould?” asked the judge.

“Not guilty, my Lord,” replied the barrister representing Tim.

“I’ve read the case, Mr. Sands. I hope you have a good defence,” remarked the judge.

The barriser smiled nervously.

There was silence in the courtroom as the charge was read. The courtroom was empty even though the case had made headlines in the news. The reason was that the victim was still underaged and protected by the law. However, the Omistans were allowed to be present. The hearing in camera did not prevent Tim’s family from being present. Kean and Jorg were also there, to help to maintain the groups’ invisibility.

The jury selection was difficult. The court had to ensure that there were no members who had a special sympathy for pedophile victims nor a prejudice against pedophiles. Those who were prejudiced against the Roman Catholic Church were also excluded from the jury.

“Are you ready with the opening statements?” asked the judge.

“Yes, my Lord,” answered the prosecutor.

“Yes, my Lord,” answered Tim’s barrister.

The judged turned to Ms. Betram, the prosecutor. “Prosecution, you may proceed.”

The prosecuting barrister stood up. She was dressed sharply and her face was as hard as steel. “Members of the jury. This man, a priest of the Roman Catholic Church, stands accused of outraging the modesty of a fourteen year old boy. This is a heinous crime. Paedophilia is the exploitation of the innocence of a young person for one’s own personal sexual needs. Nothing can justify such an act. The prosecution will prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that this man is guilty.” The barrister then sat down.

“Mr. Sands, your opening statement?” requested the judge.

Mr. Sands, the barrister for the defense was an appointed lawyer. Tim’s refusal to reveal the details of the Friday night had caused many lawyers to refuse to represent him. Thus, the city had to provide a lawyer from him. Mr Sands was relatively new to the court system. He was a new law graduate and this was his first case. He was tall and lanky, and was clearly very nervous.

“Dear members of the jury. The details of this case is all over the news. The perculiarity of the case is the fact that Father Tarsius Gould had chosen not to reveal his side of the story because of the seal of confession, which binds him to absolute secrecy, even in the face of death. The defence will attempt to show that this man, who is holding on to his principles, could not have possibly committed this crime.”

The judge shook his head at the weak opening of the defence. He knew that the barrister was new and that the prosecutor would literally breeze through.

The first witness was Detective Inspector William Farnsworth. He essentially read out what was said during the interview. The next witness was Mr. Omistan. He glared at Tim, who looked at him steadily without any emotion written on his face. Mr. Omistan testified that his son had told him what happened during dinner. He explained that he had called up the Archbishop, only to be told that the Archbishop could only see him the following afternoon when he returned from a pastoral visit. Mr. Omistan had refused to talk to the Vicar General and had wanted to talk only to the Archbishop. Once the Archbishop heard the accusation, he had advised him to make a police report. Mr. Omistan then brought his son to the police station. When asked, Mr. Omiston said he felt betrayed by the priest and that he feared that his son would be scarred for life. The defence did not have any questions for both of them.

“The prosecution calls Reginald Hollison!” announced the prosecutor.

A teenager about the age of Lenny was escorted into the court room. He takes the stand and is sworn in.

“Please state your name and age,” asked the prosecutor.

“I’m Reginald Hollison. I’m fourteen years old.” The boy looked at Tim and then turned away. Tim bowed his head feeling very downcast.

“Reginald, could you tell us, in your own words, what happened on Friday, February 3rd, at about half past five?” asked Ms. Betram.

Reginald took his time to answer, “We had choir practice and then we spent some time in Father Tarsius’ office. He usually had lemonade or juice for those who wanted to hang around for a little bit.”

Ms. Betram nodded and smiled at Reginald. “Who were with you?”

“There were only three of us this time, Max, Lenny and myself,” replied Reginald.

The judge asked, “Please tell us the full names of the others.”

Reginald was a little nervous. He had to pause for a moment before he said, “Maximillian Granger and Leonard Omistan.”

“Was Father Tarsius with you?” asked the prosecutor.

Reginald nodded and answered, “Yes.”

Ms. Betram asked, “What did you do in the room?”

“We talked a little and joked a little,” replied the boy.

“That’s all?” enquired Ms. Betram.


“So, what did you talked about?” asked Ms. Betram.

“We talked about the drinks and Father said that he might want to stop giving us drink because we stained his rug the last time,” said Reginald seriously.

The prosecutor looked at her notes and then said, “All right. Then what happened?”

Reginald looked at the prosecutor and said, “Max and I wanted to get home. We got up from our seats and then Father called Lenny.”

“What did Father Tarsius say when he called Lenny?” asked Ms. Betram.

Reginald paused for a second before answering, “Father just called his name.”

“Can you remember what Lenny replied?” asked the prosecuting counsel.

Reginald said, “Lenny looked a little sad and then said good bye to us.”

“You mean that Lenny didn’t acknowledge the call?”

Reginald said, “I don’t remember him saying anything else. I remembered thinking that Lenny was in trouble and Father wanted to punish him.”

“Lenny looked sad?” asked Ms. Betram with the tone of disbelief.

“Yes,” answered Reginald.

“Would you say that he looked frightened?” asked Ms. Betram.

Mr. Sands the defending counsel jumped up. “Objection! My Lord, the prosecution is leading the witness!”

“But My Lord,” protested Ms. Betram. “I am merely trying to establish the accuracy of his evaluation. He’s barely into his teens.”

“Overruled,” decided the judge.

“But My Lord …” uttered Mr. Sands.

The judge glared at the defending barrister, “Mr. Sands. I have spoken,” he said with a tone that implied that there would be no further discussion on the topic.

Mr. Sands looked terribly disappointed when he sat down.

The judge turned to Ms. Betram and gave a nod. She spoke more gently, “Reginald, please tell us whether Lenny looked sad or frightened.”

“I don’t know. I guess he could have looked frightened.” said Reginald. He was pale after witnessing the exchange between the judge and Mr. Sands.

“Did he look sad or frightened?” Ms. Betram pressed on.

“Somewhere in between, I guess. I don’t know!” said Reginald in desperation.

The prosecutor looked unhappy but she said, “Thank you.”

The judge looked at the Mr. Sands and said, “The defence may now question the witness.”

Mr. Sands stood up and asked, “Reginald, you said that Lenny looked somewhere in between being frightened and sad, right?”

Reginald answered, “Yes sir.”

“How did you know that that was what he was feeling? I mean, did you see fear and sorrow in his face?”

Reginald paused, trying to think of how to explain it. “Well, he had that same look when his dog had an accident and died,” he said.

“I see,” replied Mr. Sands. “Did Lenny tell you how he felt at that time?”

“Yes, Lenny said he missed the dog and he felt miserable and lonely,” replied Reginald.

Suddenly, Mr. Sands realised that this line of questioning could be more detrimental to his client. Being miserable would also imply that Lenny was not willing to be alone with the priest but was forced to. He could not allow that to happen for his first case. So he looked at the judge and said, “No more questions, My Lord.”

The judge turned to Reginald and said gently, “Master Hollison, you may leave.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Reginald with an obvious tone of relief.

Reginald stood up and left the stand. He was escorted out of the courtroom through a side door.

“The prosecution calls Leonard Omistan!” announced Ms. Betram.

Lenny walked in with an escort and took the stand. Tim had his head still bowed and Lenny looked nervous. When he saw Tim’s head bowed, his eyes filled with tears.

“Lenny, what’s wrong? If you’d like Father Tarsius to leave the room, I can ask that he leave,” said the judge.

“No,” Lenny said firmly.

A court official asked Lenny to raise his right hand and placed an old leather bound paper bible under his left. “Do you swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth?”

“Yes,” replied Lenny. When he said that, Tim looked up immediately.

*He’s going to tell the truth!* exclaimed Kean psychically.

*From what I can see, Tim doesn’t like that one bit,* said Master Martin.

*Why?* asked Kean.

*It must be something to do with the confession part of the story,* replied Master Martin.

Tim turned slightly and stared at the invisible magi for a brief moment before turning back. Both Kean and Master Martin stopped their psychic chat when Lenny had stated his name and age.

“Could you tell us what happened on the evening of Friday, January 9th.”

Lenny looked at his parents in the gallery and then at Father Tarsius. Tim bowed his head and started to pray. Lenny took a deep breath and began to talk, “Just before our normal choir practice, I met Father Tarsius coming out after Mass. I asked him if he could hear my confession after choir practice. He smiled and said that he would.”

“Lenny, I’d like you to tell me what happened after choir practice.”

Lenny seemed to have a courage about him and said calmly, “Ma’am, could you not interrupt me? What I said is important. I ask that you don’t interrupt me when I tell you what happened.”

“Yes,” the prosecutor said. Her face was pale with anger. She had never been spoken to in this way. However, Lenny was the key to the case and she could not risk causing Lenny to clam up.

As Lenny started his account, both Tim and him were brought back to that fateful evening …

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