Trials: Part Seven

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Paul followed Anastasia’s lead, as she stepped out of the airport and onto the sidewalk. People were milling about, and cars and taxis came and went along what was presumably a road in front of him. The smell of exhaust filled the air.

It had been a long flight, but he had managed to sleep through most of it, thankfully. Anastasia had said she got enough sleep, but she sounded tired and had been yawning a lot, so Paul figured they had differing definitions of the word ‘enough’. Nevertheless, she seemed to be navigating fine; hopefully she would get more sleep once they got to the hotel.

“Alright, Paul. Let’s take a cab to the hotel, drop our stuff off, and head to the monastery.” She grabbed his hand, and led him into a taxi.

The cab smelled of cigarettes masked by new car smell. The man in the taxi proceeded to ask him several questions in a language he didn’t understand, to which he responded with confused silence. Anastasia entered the cab soon after, and simply handed the man a piece of paper with the name of the hotel on it. After a moment, they were on their way.

Anastasia fell backwards onto her bed, and sighed with relief. After such a long day, it was good to be able to just lay down for a second. She looked over at the other bed, and saw Paul sitting on the edge. He was looking off into space, as though he was having some deep thought. As she looked at him, a thought occurred to her.

“Hey, Paul? Where exactly is this monastery? How far away is it?”

“Oh, well the thing is, I couldn’t really find an exact location on the internet, but I figured we could work it out once we got here.”

Anastasia stared forward for a second, in mild shock. She figured he must have just not looked very hard, and pulled out her phone. She searched every variant of Hodegon monastery she could think of, and only found a couple of ancient stories of blind people going there to be healed. “Wow, you weren’t kidding, I can’t find anything useful, other than it being in Istanbul.”

“Well, I know its near the coast, and there aren’t a lot of tall buildings in the area. Maybe its a historic district or something?”

“Alright…” She turned her search to historic districts in Istanbul that were near the coast, and that narrowed it down to about 50. “Can you remember anything else about it?”

Paul thought for a moment. “Not really anything that would be helpful. Maybe we can go ask some locals?”

“Guess we don’t have much of a choice.” She put her phone away, and got to her feet. She took Paul’s hand again and led him out of the room. While she knew this was really just to guide him, it still felt nice.

They made their way to the elevator, and went to the lobby. A smiling woman stood at the desk, “Can I help you with anything?”

“Yeah, actually.” Anastasia made her way to the desk. “I’m interested in visiting one of the historic districts, I have one in particular in mind, but we’re not quite sure which one it is. It would be by the coast and have a lot of ruins. Do you know any like that?”

The woman thought for a moment, and reached under the desk for a pamphlet. She flipped through it and found a picture of a ruin. “Is this what you’re looking for?”

Anastasia looked over the pamphlet. It was ruins, and it was by the sea, but it was hard to be certain. “I’m not sure… Does ‘Hodegon Monastery’ mean anything to you?”

The woman looked confused, but thought for a moment. “I’m sorry, no it doesn’t.”

“Oh well. I guess we can check this one out. Thanks.” Anastasia turned back to Paul, and was about to say something, but she was interrupted by a woman with a nose ring.

She spoke a language they didn’t understand, but Anastasia was pretty sure she said the word ‘Hodegon’.

“Can you understand her?” She turned back to the woman at the desk who nodded.

“She is offering to take you to this ‘Hodegon monastery’. I don’t know this lady though, so up to you if you want to take her at her word.” She shrugged.

“Does she have long black hair and a nose ring?” Paul asked.

Anastasia was a little caught off guard, but then again, this was standard business when it came to Paul. “Yeah, did you have a vision?”

“Yeah, I think we can trust her.”

“Can you tell her we’d like her to take us there?” Anastasia turned back to the woman at the desk.

“Sure.” The woman spoke something in what was presumably Turkish, and the woman with the nose ring beckoned them to follow.

Anastasia took Paul’s hand again, and went after the woman. She led them mostly along big streets, eventually onto a bus. The bus was brimming with people, and the rumbling was nauseating, but after what seemed like an eternity, the woman got off. At that point she led them through some alleys and eventually stopped in front of a set of sandstone ruins, blocked off with caution tape. A clock tower sounded in the distance, and the sound of waves crashing against the shore permeated the air like the smell of sea salt.

“This is it.” Paul said.

Anastasia looked out over the ruins. There was nothing that appeared to be overly whole, and certainly nothing for a bunch of monks to live in. The view was certainly still beautiful. The color of the stone meshed wonderfully with the blue sea behind them.

“If you’re sure.” She turned to thank the woman, but saw she had gone under the tape and was beckoning them forwards. The ground was littered with rubble, so Anastasia was worried about leading Paul into it. She looked hesitantly at the woman, but she suddenly vanished.

Anastasia’s jaw dropped, as she stared at where the woman stood. This was definitely weird, even for her. On the other hand, they’d come all the way here, and Paul did have a vision. She didn’t have much of a choice. Anastasia took Paul’s hand, lifted the tape, and cautiously led him into the rubble.

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