The magician was sleeping as Fr. Ambrose entered the cramped room, but he awoke at the noise of the door latch and watched the priest approach, holding a small box. “Where am I?” he asked.
“You are in my room, brother. You have been sleeping for a day and a half. I hope the fire has kept you warm; I have fed it prodigiously.”
The magician sat up. “Very warm. I cannot take your bed, Ambrose. I should leave.”
“True, you cannot take my bed, but I can give it to you. I have straw and blankets in the kitchen, so I am quite cozy.”
The magician sat for a long time, staring at the feet of the seated priest. Finally he spoke.
“What is this talk of demons, Ambrose. You know I do not believe in demons.” There was no conviction in his voice.
“So you think magic just fell from the sky and entered into you?” The priest paused for a moment and then laughed. “Actually, that is exactly what did happen.”
“Nonsense, why would a demon care about me? I am nobody.”
The priest looked serious once more. “Every soul is a great prize to any demon, my brother. How can you pretend not to know this?” The magician stared at the floor.
“And then there is the boy,” the priest continued. “I do not know why, but Satan desires the boy, and he has attacked you to get to the boy.” The magician squirmed on the bed. “Did I say attacked? No, Satan knocked softly and your vanity flung open the door. Now one of his demons, or perhaps many, makes a home in your heart.”
The magician’s expression changed, his eyes became unfocused. “Burn in hell with me, priest! I know you dream of being between your mother’s legs!”
The priest sighed and made the sign of the cross. “Yes, the demon speaks. He speaks because he fears what is about to happen to him. He fears the power of God, but most of all he fears the love of God, because he has made himself unclean, a festering pustule. And now he will be cast out once more.” At this the priest opened the box, and removed a crucifix, which he kissed gently, and a vial of water. The magician pressed against the wall and cursed in long-dead languages as the priest began to recite the ancient litany, his breath frosty in the icy air.