Book III: Chapter 20
Now, I think it’s important to point out that all along during Dr. Ma’bus’ speech I had dutifully been rising at the appropriate times with the rest of my brethren and rattling out the necessary chants and replies…
But on the whole, my mind was wandering around the room as around me sat powerful, high-ranking world leaders. Some of the the plutocrats were regulars in the public eye, others chose to do their work behind the scenes, yet regardless of their fame or lack of it, none were known to the world for their associations here – for membership within these ranks was only for the select and privileged few.
Lifting high my bejeweled stein in response to a toast, I gladly took a long pull on my beer — smiling inside as I glanced at a pair of conspirators who sat to my right.
Mortal enemies, eh? Looks to me as if they’re tittering schoolgirls! I snickered as I watched two well-known world adversaries eating with one another like long-time friends. Ah, but The Brotherhood knows no political bounds.
Yet I wasn’t here just to hobnob with handful dignitaries. Instead, I took the trouble of disguising myself as The Baron for three very important reasons:
- I knew that Chairman Ma’bus would be here and I wanted to know what he was up to.
- As I rightly guessed, Pope Benedict was also in attendance – in fact he was presently seated at the head table, just behind the dais upon which Ma’bus was still orating.
- And most importantly of all, there was another hope that had brought me calling – to learn the fate of my friends. As yet, this was a hope unfulfilled, and worse yet, it was not one that I could safely inquire about.
And so, with naught else to do, I prepared to relax into the Baron’s persona and let the events of the evening unfold. Yet, I didn’t get a chance to relax for long, because just then Pope Benedict arose and stepped forward next to Ma’bus.
“An incredible speech, as always, Brother Ma’bus.” The Pope patted his friend on the back. After a nod of thanks from the dictator, Benedict addressed the crowd, “And now, Oh My Brothers, let’s get down to business. As you know, big things are afoot tonight — EA Himself will be joining us in the flesh!”
The crowd erupted at that news – for this was momentous indeed!
Before I could process what was happening, The Pope spoke again, “My friends, I wish we could proceed forward with our Main Event, but unfortunately we have a minor housekeeping matter to attend to.”
I look another sip of my beer (not too much mind you, just enough to be sociable), as I thought, Well, this is interesting. What’s Joe driving at?
Just then a servant came and cloaked Benedict with a red velvet robe.
Now that really made me sit up and take notice!
Since you’re not in The Brotherhood, I’m guessing you don’t know what the clothing change signifies, right? Well let me fill you in – that red velvet cape is known to the Brethren as The Cloak of Red Death!
Someone’s in big trouble, I thought.
At last the Pope continued, this time in more ominous tones. “My friends, I realize this may come as news to more than a few of you, and while it pains me to say it, I must hold true to our values and ever speak the truth. Therefore it is with a heavy heart that I advise you…we have a traitor in our midst.”
And he pointed in my direction!