On the eighth day, Dominic entered his booth warily, some part of him dreading the upcoming confession. Everyone so far had found a way to make him look the fool - even Bronwen, though he hadn't meant to; the Most Holy had, later that day, overheard two Michaelites refer to "the elephant and the casaba melon", which simply /couldn't/ be a coincidence.
Instead of a person occupying the confessional, however, he found a note on his stool - "Check the other booth" - which led to another note, this one imploring Dominic to descend to the corporeal plane for a confession. Neither note was signed, and the second implied a need to maintain some secrecy, so Dominic assembled several Malakim to lurk in the specified cathedral in case of trouble, chose one of his most sturdy Vessels, and descended through the cloud layer of Heaven into the corporeal plane.
He and the Virtues found themselves on the streets of Toledo, Spain, looking up at a grand example of what a cathedral should be. Obviously it paled in comparison to even Chartres or the cathedral at Mont-St.-Michel, but the Toledan cathedral was still impressive. After a moment of contemplation - no matter how many times he came to the corporeal plane, the lengths and heights to which humans would go in the name of God always impressed him - Dominic entered the cathedral through the guests' door, heading for the confessional specified. The Malakim, meanwhile, assumed I AM A TOURIST mode, and began gawking at the displays inside.
There was already someone in the other part of the booth when Dominic entered, and as he closed the door behind him, a beautiful voice wafted through the grate. "Am I correct in thinking that you prefer to know the name of the person to whom you are granting confession?"
Dominic paused. "I would actually rather not." The voice, he realized, was completely unhelpful in identifying its owner. "If you must, please tell me after I have named your penance, so that I am not biased by my knowledge."
Dominic could see the shift of light as the figure opposite him nodded. "Very well." The voice could have - /should/ have, in Dominic's opinion - cleared its throat at this point, but its owner decided to proceed without preamble. "Father, forgive me, for I have sinned. It has been two weeks since my last confession."
Dominic raised his eyebrows in surprise. "How have you sinned, my son?"
"I have committed the sin of Pride, Father. I have known that I am less than our Almighty Father, but I have thought that I was not, and my actions have followed my thoughts rather than my knowledge.
"I have committed the sin of Greed. When I desired something, I took it, without thought for its owner, though I knew in my heart that I should not.
"I have committed the sin of Sloth. While others worked toward their goals, I sat and relaxed and was decadent, confident that those who served me would take care of my every need, though I knew that that was not so.
"I have committed the sin of Lust. Last week I lay with a girl without her consent or her parents', and was not ashamed afterward.
"I have committed the sin of Wrath. When one of my servants disobeyed a command, I had him executed as an example to others, and thought little of it to lose something so precious as a life.
"I have committed the sin of Gluttony. I have deprived a family of nourishment for a week by consuming all of the food that they had, and completed the act by slaughtering their dog, and cooking and eating it.
"I have committed the sin of Envy. It has been my place for years upon years to watch as the angels flew above me, and though I knew I could not join them, every time I have seen an angel I have wanted to fly with them, and begrudged them their closeness to God."
The voice paused. "Father, these are the sins I have committed. Can you forgive me?"
Dominic was taken aback. Here was a man who had unrepentantly caused unknown and untold harm to humans and humankind, and he was asking forgiveness for /everything/?
The Most Holy shook his head. "I can forgive you, my son, and our Almighty Father can forgive you as well. Your penance is to walk the earth for one month, eating nothing but bread and cheese and drinking nothing but water, and becoming a model of charity, humility, and restraint to those around you. Do you accept this penance?"
The light shifted again as the figure nodded. "I do. Thank you, Father." He half-stood, ready to go and perform his penance, when Dominic spoke once more.
"You had wanted to tell me your name?"
There was a soft, short laugh. "Most Holy, I asked only if you wanted to know, but I will tell you.
"When I was young, Most Holy, you knew me as Laughter."
With a cough that could have been a sob, the figure exited the booth, and while Dominic could feel the Malakim outside coming to attention, he did not himself rouse them, allowing the man to walk unmolested to and out the door. Only once he was gone did Dominic rise and exit the confessional himself, calling the Malakim to him as he strode toward the exit. "I want you," he said quietly, "to find out exactly what kind of a prank Kobal is pulling here, and get to the bottom of it. The Prince of Dark Humor does not confess to the Archangel of Judgment unless there is grand trouble afoot." And with this he stepped into a sunbeam and was gone. The Malakim dispersed into the crowd of Toledo, never noticing the man in the shadows of the cathedral who had not been there a moment before.
The man shook his head. "Oh, Dominic," he said, "I only wanted to help." He pushed off from the wall against which he had been leaning, and started walking off toward the store around the corner to purchase a loaf of bread and a wedge of cheese. On his way he caught sight of one of the Malakim, stalking the crowd, and - as inobtrusively as he could - he ducked back into the shadows of the buildings, wiping the tear from his cheek.
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