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“You. What’s wrong?”
After waking up from a nightmare, Arien saw that Marco had also gotten up at the same time. The telegram did not only make Merha tremble. He had also shown it to Marco.
Marco, who committed the murder with his father, also shuddered.
“No, it’s nothing.”
Arien had her suspicions. The past few days, the father and son pair had been strange. They stayed up all night with their eyes wide open and were silent at mealtime. Sometimes, the two of them gathered together and talked in hushed and anxious tones.
‘Did you even embezzle money from a new temple that I didn’t know about? Or are they in debt?’
Although it was outlandish, they looked like debtors. They looked very nervous, as if they owed something they could not pay off.
‘Or is this little bastard still blaming me? Is it my fault that the land was taken away? What did you want me to do when that a crazy bitch is my opponent?’
Arien was at a loss.
“You, hurry up and get some sleep. Tomorrow is important, it’s a big event.”
“Right. There is an event for the High Temple tomorrow. It’s a very important day for father to worship.”
Marco rubbed his chest and said softly.
“That’s right, even if there are ghosts, there’s no way they can appear before God.”
As she heard his murmur, her doubts grew deeper and deeper.
“Today, too… … .”
It was the New Year’s Day of worship. It was the high priest Merha’s role to preside over this magnificent service. It was a day to show off that he was the next great pope nominee.
However, for some reason, Merha’s face was ashen and bony as if he hadn’t eaten in several days and his blood was sucked dry.
“So— Did the man in the blue suit deliver another telegram? I told you to let me know when he comes!”
“I was trying to do that. It comes and goes at a different time every day and disappears like a ghost. … . Besides, last time I tried to catch him by force, but the man ran away and all of a sudden I had a telegram in my hand.”
The priest in charge trembled at Merha, who talked with his hands as much as his mouth these days. While trying to raise his hand, he found the priest’s already swollen cheek, and reluctantly lowered it.
He opened the telegram with trembling hands. Besides, today there was also something attached inside the telegram envelope.
‘Risralpho’s fountain pen.’
Merha remembered the item. A fountain pen with sapphire on the tip. It was a gift that he had given to him a long time ago. Before it had been missing among his belongings.
Merha read the telegram.
[Today. I’ll be waiting for you in the most visible place with the best view. -R-]
Merha was irate. Unable to stand it, he threw the fountain pen away.
The events of that day came to mind.
Risralpho had wanted to build a house in Yurif. He threatened to not obey his orders unless he bought the land, so Merha used the slush funds of the temple to buy it.
Whenever he went to Yurif, he would stop by the land and lay out his long-winded plans.
‘Merha, look at this. We are going to put up a fancy mansion on this land and hold a party all year round. It’s going to be an extraordinary party. I will have fun until the end of my life. And I will make all my relatives live here.’
Risralpho was not very healthy in the first place. He believed he would not live long. Prophets were born with powerful divine powers, so they usually had short lives.
‘If you sign the corpse donation pledge, I will build you a villa or a mansion as you wish.’
So Merha requested Risralpho to pledge his corpse early. But he made an absurdly brazen demand.
‘When I die, please make my family an aristocratic family. And please divide the money from selling my body in half so half of it remains my family’s money.’
Merha, who had endured and indulged all of the prophet’s arrogance, could not stand it. The fight escalated, and he accidentally stabbed him. Marco heard the commotion and ran in.
‘Aren’t you afraid of God? Don’t you have any affection—you’ve taken care of me until now, please save me—High Priest,’
Risralpho pleaded. He was bleeding from his chest.
‘Father, let’s just kill him. It is better when a prophet dies and they are still young and intact. Then we’ll get a lot of money,’
Marco said with twinkling eyes. Seeing that expression, Risralpho stepped back in horror.
‘If I die today, I’ll haunt you even as a ghost. I’ll never forgive you. I will follow you and curse you for the rest of your life! I am a prophet chosen by God!’
Those were his last words. Marco thrusted the knife into his stomach again. And he did not move any more.
At that moment. There was a rustling sound from somewhere. A brother who looked exactly like Risralpho, the prophet’s secretary, had seen the murder scene.
Merha and Marco ran to catch the witness. They had only been away for a short time, but the body of Risralpho, which had been hidden in a clearing in the woods, had long since disappeared. Merha suddenly came to his senses.
‘There’s no way the real Risralpho could have returned… … .’
Still, his whole body trembled. He never forgot his curse. Risralpho was a prophet with real divine powers. Wouldn’t the curse of such a person exist?
‘Let’s calm down. I have to do a good job at today’s event—it will go well. I am the high priest of this country!’
And when he returned to the room, the fountain pen and the telegrams were all gone.
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