“That just about wraps up our business, doesn’t it?” said Cannon. “Except for one thing. What are you, really? I’ve had about enough of the monk act.”
The abbot glanced sharply at Masaracchia, who shook his head. “It was not my secret to tell.”
Lasalvatore mulled that over before he made his answer. “We are humble men of God, ministering here to the poor and the lost. We are also more. There are those who would see us destroyed—not persecuted or driven away, but stamped out forever. We, among others, are Rome’s answer.”
“Warrior monks?” Cannon said, eyebrows raised. “Never thought I’d see the day.” The abbot smiled tightly, saying no more, and Cannon shrugged. “No further questions.”
The abbot nodded, and seemed about to speak, but Masaracchia interrupted. “There is one more thing.” He took a small, paper-stuffed, leather-bound notebook, yellowed with age, from his pocket, then passed it to Cannon. “I found it in the tomb, after the lights went out. Only after I read through some of it did I realize its significance.”
“Van der Hoek’s journal,” Cannon breathed, turning the first few pages. Reverently, he folded the notebook closed and tucked it carefully into a pocket, hand hovering nearby as though to reassure himself it was still there.
“That does conclude our business,” said Lasalvatore. “It is possible, at some later time, that we may have need of a man of your resources again. May we contact you by the same means if we do?”
“You pay what you promise,” said the captain. “Make me an offer, I’ll listen. It’s been a pleasure dealing with you.”
di Giacomo and Lecocq lifted the last chest into the Albatross and climbed the ladder. Cannon followed them a moment later, and all three of them hauled the ladder inside and slammed the loading door closed.
Masaracchia joined the abbot, watching the Albatross claw into the sky from the ramparts. As the buzz of its engines faded, Lasalvatore spoke in Latin. “We would have preferred you kept the journal.”
The set of Masaracchia’s shoulders changed, and he drew his feet together. “I took notes, sir. The captain is a formidable personality, and I judged the goodwill worth the price.”
“A formidable personality indeed.” The abbot watched the Albatross for a moment more, as it faded to a speck nearly indistinguishable from the surrounding sky, then turned to face Masaracchia. “As you have shown yourself to be. For that reason—the ceremony will come later, of course—it is my honor to be the first to call you Brother-Knight.”