The Emperor’s Shepherd

Tartini’s Dream (1824) by Louis-Léopold Boilly

Three knocks echoed across the chiseled walls of the emperor’s sleeping chambers. When there came no reply, Albus pushed the mighty door open and peered inside. 

“Your Highness,” he said in a voice as small and timid as he; a quaestor did not survive six emperors by having a loud mouth.

Lucius stirred in his bed. “What brings you here at this late hour? It must be midnight. Speak!”

“My apologies for this untimely disturbance, Emperor Lucius, but it is the Christians.”

“What of them?” Lucius barked.

“It seems they have stolen away the body of that man you drowned yesterday.”

He rolled over in bed. “A habit of theirs as nasty as it is old.”

“What are your orders, good Lucius?”

“Find ten of the roaches and set them to the torch. Let them chase the wind if they want to collect the ashes.”

“Of course, Lord, but do you remember when last we burned them?”

“Remind me if it will hasten your leave,” he sighed.

“It’s just that they began holding candle-lit vigils and singing songs of praise. Since then, their numbers have grown.”

“Fine. Feed them to the lions.”

“In secret?”

“No, I want all to see.”


“But what!”

“Well, after the last games, the Christians harkened to that Jew tale of Daniel in the Lion’s den. And now the story abounds in the street such that the people desire to see a miracle instead of a mauling.”

“Must we cut off their heads to shut up these rumors?”

“John the Baptist, your Highness, was met with the same fate. It may put you out of favor if the people remember.”

By now, the emperor had sat up and lit his bedside candle and was donning his imperial coat. “Then kill all their children. I don’t care how you do it, just have it done.”

“It is said that King Herod—”

“Leave now, Albus, or I will crucify you myself! How do you think that will go over with the people?”

Albus scurried out of the room, leaving Emperor Lucius in the stillness of his chambers with only the night air flowing in from the blackened streets below to keep him company. He paced the stoney floor, searching for a solution that refused to show itself. Since taking the throne one month ago, he had not enjoyed a full night’s sleep. Collecting taxes was like milking a rock. The Greeks were an ever-present threat to Rome’s eastern border. Plague was spreading quickly down through Milan. And, worst of all, the Christians were sapping what little authority he still held. 

His eyes were heavy, and he could not think clearly with the call of sleep so crowding his head. Leaving his troubles to one side, he fell on his feathered bed and took to slumber.

But he was not long asleep before the sound of bare feet creeping across his room stole him from his rest. Thinking the intruder an assassin, Lucius grasped the hilt of the sword he kept against his bed, swung round, and pointed it at the man’s heart. But man it was not. A creature with black eyes sunken into a gaunt face stared back at him, moving from his closet to his bed. Its webbed feet never stopped their creeping, and it drew close enough for Lucius to smell its foul odor. A naked torso like that of a woman welded the reptilian legs and avicular face. The thing, little bigger than a man, stopped just shy of the blade’s end. 

“Who or what are you? Make your purpose plain or I shall call the guards outside my door to slit your demon throat,” spoke Lucius.

No reply came save for a cocking of its head as if to more closely examine the pitiful thing that lay before it.

“Guards!” shouted Lucius.

“There will be no need for that, my child. No need at all,” it croaked.

Lucius’ sword jumped to the thing’s pale throat. “Tell me why have you come.” 

The beast softened its expression into one of motherly nurture. “I have come for no other reason than to offer my aid. I see how you toss and turn in the light of the moon, how a heavy burden follows you like the rising and setting of the sun.”

The emperor let his sword rest against his sheets as he spoke. “But who are you, and from where do you come?”

“I am your shepherd, just as I was shepherd to all those who came before you. Who do you think counseled Pilate? Who led Brutus the Great in his many battles? Who snatched Emperor Felix from the snare of death? It was me, O’ Little One. I come from my eternal Kingdom where all these and more are reigning still.”

The emperor, for a moment, felt a prick of conviction in his chest that he should call out to his guards, have them seize the monster, and let him hang from the gallows. But a twinkle in the creature’s eyes quickly swept these fancies away. It was the twinkle not like that of a newborn’s eye but of untold power, as if the stars themselves made their home there.

“And what aid can you give me, Shepherd? Are you to steal the purse of the populus, to shatter the Greek sword, to quell the Christian tide?”

“All these and more. But, I make no false promises. You shall surely face defeat one day, as all rulers do. Yet, should you follow me, like a phoenix you shall rise again. The people will lift their voice in praise at your funeral, and thereafter eternal life in my Kingdom shall be yours.”

“How do I know you speak the truth? You speak of resurrection as do the Christian fools.”

“On the contrary, Little One. They have no power to resurrect, but my way is sure. Indeed, there is no other way. If you scorn my heed, you will rot in the ground beside the Christian dogs you have placed there. I will leave here never to be seen again. You need only say the word.”

Lucius paused for a long while. At last, he replied, “Stay. I will do as you command so long as it reaps good fortune. But, be warned, I will not tolerate you for one second thereafter.”

“Very well. So shall it be. But, I have conditions of my own.

First, you shall swear yourself to silence regarding me, as your predecessors did, saying, ‘My tongue is stone to thy name.’ Ignorant of me as you were before tonight, so shall your successors be. 

Next, you will vow your life and soul to me with the words, ‘Thy will be done.’ 

Finally, you will bow, for one must stoop low to enter my Kingdom.”

With great effort, the emperor pulled the words from his throat, “My tongue is stone to thy name. Thy will be done.” He left his bed to stand, took a long look at the villain, and doubled himself over. When he rose, he was back in his bed. Light was flooding through his windows, and the song of birds was in the air. A knock was again heard at the door.

Confused, he answered, “Yes. Come in.” As the words were out, Lucius felt his tongue slip farther than it ought in his mouth. A molar was missing on his right side.

As he explored the absence, in walked Albus, a slight smile discernable on his wrinkled face. “Good morning, Lucius. It pleases your servant to report that the Christian upswell has been temporarily resolved.”

“How so?”

“The Frumentarii brought report this day that plague has hit Greece. Those swine are dying by the hundreds. Many of the Christian dogs have taken to sea for their aid—let them perish there too, I say—and the rest have sheltered in their homes to fast and pray for intercession on behalf of the ill.”

“This is honey to my ears, Albus.”

“It is better than you yet know.” Albus was positively giddy. “Greece’s forces to the East have retreated to their motherland to lend hand to the sick also.”

“Lovely, this is just what I desired to hear.” Lucius was only half paying attention, for he was searching his bed for the missing tooth and running his tongue over the spot for the taste of blood, of which he found none.

“And, your Majesty,” continued Albus, “I took the liberty to send our nuntii to every providence of our—sorry, your—empire with the message that this plague was sent by your hand and that they should all expect the same fate as the Greeks if they do not pay their tax.”

“And what came of it?” he said, now wondering if he swallowed the tooth in his sleep.

“We have already received enough gold, silver, and bronze to erect a statue of you in every city and town if we please!” he said, stomping his feet back and forth as he spoke.

Lucius suddenly ceased his glossal exploration. His agape mouth lifted into a smile as he remembered the creature of his dreams. The Devil had done his deed as sure as sparks fly upward. “My troubles are over, dear Albus! Send for a double breakfast; my appetite has returned to me.”

“Yes, your Highness, of course. Right away.” Albus scurried out of the room, still stomping his little feet.

The rest of the day was as splendid as any Lucius had enjoyed in his youth. After finishing his breakfast, he had a boy in the bath house. From there, he took his steed about town with a company of two dozen centurions. At lunch, he became drunk and shattered three of his clay statues, demanding that they be replaced at twice the size, one of bronze, one of silver, and one of gold, for he shouted, “I have ascended from the depths of poverty to the heights of wealth.” As the sun set on his chambers, he sent for dinner, more wine, and his newest virgin concubine.

Expecting to meet his shepherd in his dreams again, he went to sleep, not with a sword, but with an imperial chalice, embedded with rubies and emerald and sapphire, to offer as a gift of thanksgiving. But he did not meet with the Devil that night. He had no dreams at all.

When he woke, he dismissed the concubine but did so with a slight lisp for two more of his teeth were missing, one at the front and one at the back. Lucius looked all about his bed for them but found none. At last, his rage became so great that he accused the woman of stealing the teeth and beat her. 

“Where have you hid them!?” he shouted with each blow. 

“On my life, I do not know,” she cried, over and over, until she moved no more. 

At the sound of the screams, Albus and two guards burst into the room to find him panting over her bloodied and lifeless body.

“Take her away,” he demanded.

“Yes, your Highness,” replied Albus, motioning for the guards to do so.

After the guards had dragged her out, Albus lingered there. Looking concerned, he asked, “My Lord, I see that you are troubled. Say the word, and I will send for legion armies to move Mount Livata for you.”

“I fear that you and every other man are impotent to solve this trouble of mine.”

“What is it then?”

With reluctance, he confessed, “I have lost three teeth in the last two nights.” He spread his mouth to show him. “They are nowhere to be found. I think I may be swallowing them.” A shudder escaped him at the thought.

“I will send for twelve physicians to examine you and twelve maidservants to comb your bed and your every movement of bowel. We will have an answer by sundown.”

Pleased with this plan, Emperor Lucius accepted. Yet, he did not stray from his castle that day. He was fixated on his teeth and wanted to be near should they be found. As the hours passed by, Lucius’ hope faded to anger. He ended the day as dejected and bewildered as when he started it.

The next morning was worse than the two before it. Albus found him writhing in his bed, screaming at the top of his lungs into a pillow.

“What is the matter, your Excellence?”

Lucius slowly took his head from under the cover to expose a mouth void of all teeth.

“My Lord!”

“They are all gone! ALL GONE!”

“We will send for the physicians again. They can repla—”

“Shut up, you idiot! The teeth are gone forever. Gone where no man can find them.”

“No, Lord. We will… We will have the whole city scoured if we have to,” pleaded Albus, wringing his hands. He had never experienced anything like this in all his years of imperial service.

“You don’t understand. He has taken them! He has given me a crown but taken my teeth.”

“Who? Who has done this to you? I will have them skinned alive, my Lucius. As sure as the sun rises, I will have his bare body impaled for all to see.”

Just then Lucius remembered his vow of secrecy. If this is what the Devil could do while on his side, he did not dare to earn his wrath.

“It matters not.”

“Please just say his name—”

“I will not! Leave me now! You are to tell no one of my condition. Do you hear?!”

That day, Lucius spent entirely in bed. The food they sent was too tough for him to chew without teeth, and he kept silent lest anyone hear the muffled voice of a toothless man. 

Twice, Albus came in to comfort him. The first time, Lucius threw the grail at his head, but the second time, he permitted him to stay a short while. 

“You must cheer up, my Lord. Many an emperor has been afflicted with disease and disorder. Your kingdom is stronger than ever. Come, rise from bed and dress yourself for supper,” he said, walking into the King’s closet. There, lying on the floor behind the emperor’s shoes, was a pile of teeth.

“Good Lucius! I have found them!”

Lucius shot up in bed, hopeful. “Found what?”

But Albus caught his tongue. For the last three days, Albus had been managing Lucius’ affairs for him. More power had come to him than ever before in his life. He was no longer a mere quaestor but a co-emperor. “Found your favorite shoes!” he said. “They will look splendid on you.”

Lucius fell back into his sheets. “No, Albus. I will not wear them. Go from here and see that my Kingdom is in order. Disturb me further only for matters of grave importance.”

“Yes, your Highness,” whispered Albus as he scooped the teeth from the floor and placed them in his pocket.

Before bed, Lucius prayed to his shepherd that he might return his teeth to him or to at least visit him in his dreams. But no dreams came, and he woke more despondent than ever before. Yet, he knew that he had to get out of bed today. His people and his court would become suspicious if he did not show his face. So, he rolled out of bed and reached for the day’s garb laid out for him in advance. His hand reached but could not grasp. Looking down, Lucius saw that his hand was totally flaccid.

A wave of fear crashed over him. For several minutes, he stood alone in his chambers staring at it. At last, he touched his lifeless right hand with the other. It was mere skin and muscle. He bent his thumb back with no pain at all. He even rolled his middle finger backwards into a ball to prove to himself that it was so. Thinking himself in a dream or hallucination, he sent for Albus who came at once. Albus was just as astounded as he and, try as he might, failed in offering any encouragement to his emperor. 

“Fashion me a brace then, you imbecile! I will not go out looking like an invalid!”

“Yes, your majesty. Right away.”

“Where are you going?”

Albus stopped at the foot of Lucius’ closet door.

“To find your glove, Master,” he lied. “It might aid us in fashioning the brace.”

“Very well. Make haste!”

Just as Albus suspected, he found the skeleton of a hand in the center of the closet floor. He shoved it in the emperor’s leather glove and made off with it.

“Wait a minute, you scoundrel!” 

Albus froze in the doorway. He held his breath.

“Come back here,” he demanded.

Albus crept back to the bed like a dog with its tail between its legs.

“Show me that glove.”

“Why, Lord?” He pleaded. “We must hurry if the brace is to be—”

“Show it to me!”

Albus held out the glove, just out of reach.

“Just as I suspected. You fool!”

“I’m sorry, my Lord. Please, have mercy. I didn’t know.”

“Swallow your apologies, you groveling mut. Just find the right glove and replace the left where you found it.”

Albus gasped with relief. “Yes, your Highness. Of course.” He ran back to the closet, picked the correct glove, transferred the bones to it, and departed in an elderly sprint.

This was the first day that Albus spoke falsely for the shutup emperor. He ordered that statues matching those of Lucius be made of him, from bronze, silver, and gold. He also took several Christians captive to work as his personal slaves. They saw to his every desire as he bathed in the imperial pools and ate of the imperial kitchen.

Over the next three days, Emperor Lucius lost the bones in his left hand and both feet. Each time, Albus managed to stow these away in a corner of the cellar where several loose bricks opened into a forgotten crawlspace. 

Lucius knew that he must keep up appearances to remain strong in the public eye and ward off any looking to depose him. Thus motivated, he beckoned Albus and requested to be carried through the castle onto his horse whereon he was strapped and paraded down several streets. There he sought opportunities to show his might. Once he passed a playing child who did not yet know to bow when His Greatness passed, and another time a blind woman on her way to prayer accidentally crossed in front of his caravan, stymieing his centurion’s horse. On both occasions, lest he expose his gums, Lucius merely pointed his braced and gauntleted hand at the suspect, and they were flogged without mercy.

It was only after the disappearance of his arm and leg bones that Lucius, in desperation, opened his cloak to others. He asked Albus to call in the sorcerers, magicians, necromancers, and astronomers.

“But why do you need these, my Lord? What does a condition of the body have to do with the spirit?”

“This is no condition of the body, Albus. This is the work of the Devil.”

“The Devil?”

“Yes. I have made him my shepherd, and he has led me unto the waters of death.”

So, Albus called all these that the emperor requested. None of them could make the slightest improvement upon his condition, and all were privately executed.

Meanwhile, Albus had every monument to Lucius torn down on the pretense that the emperor had become Christian and now favored modesty. In their place, Albus erected tributes to himself. He also claimed that the emperor’s new convictions led him to take a vow of silence and that all decrees were to henceforth come from Albus himself. All this passed with little suspicion as Lucius had cloistered himself and spoken not a word to anyone but Albus in weeks. In turn, Albus delivered glowing reports to Lucius, assuring him that his Kingdom and his throne were stronger than ever.

This, however, was not entirely true, not even for Albus. The lies about Lucius becoming a Christian had led to a great resurgence in Christian belief. Even many members of the imperial court converted to gain favor with their reformed emperor. Albus had no choice but to embrace the changes as they were for him the keys to the Kingdom. Consequently, the Church calendar became that of the Roman empire. Churches moved from homes to cathedrals erected almost overnight. The people paid a tithe that left the purses of tax collectors that much lighter. Images of Christ’s face hung in homes and streets across the empire, images that haunted Albus in his sleep. Nevertheless, Albus’ joy overflowed each time he walked into the imperial chambers to find his former master an ever-expanding puddle of flesh on his bed.

One could only imagine Albus’ delight on the morning that Lucuis’ final bone, his skull, had relocated to the closet. Albus scurried to the closet with his bone-collecting bag, singing a happy tune. The song caught in his throat when he saw what was lying there. Beside the skull was a tongue, pink and wet as any living mans. 

Slightly shaken, Albus stowed them both away and made for the cellar. When he was sure nobody was watching, he removed the bricks and placed the skull atop the complete skeleton he had been constructing. Not knowing what to do with the tongue, he placed it inside the skull where it once belonged.  He closed it up and went about his business, trying not to think what surprise the closet had for him tomorrow.

That night, Albus went back to the imperial chambers. He had taken to sleeping there, both for comfort and to guard Lucius’ body from close scrutiny by any but himself. On waking, he examined the body beside him. The first thing he noticed was that the right hand was missing, as if Lucius had been born without it. But this startled him even less than his next discovery: a pulse in the amputated wrist. He put his one hand on the wrist and his other on his own neck to make certain he was not feeling his own heart. Alas, he could discern two pulses, his excited pulse and Lucius’ slow pulse. Unbelieving, he put his ear to Lucuis’ chest. A hollow lub-dub, lub-dub put a pit in his stomach.

Whatever black magic this was, Albus wanted no part of it. He began bedding in Lucius’ bathroom, far enough to buffer himself from evil but close enough to gatekeep. He even stopped collecting the body parts that accumulated on the closet floor. This, however, was his mistake.

One evening when Albus was away signing a peace treaty with the Turks, a well-meaning house maiden came into the imperial chambers to clean. She was a Christian swept off the streets for service just that week and had not yet been told of Albus’ orders to stay far away from Lucius’ room. She saw there the figure of a man under the covers and understood Lucius to be still asleep, so she cleaned the room as quietly as she could. When she got to the closet, she saw a pile of hands and feet and even an arm laying like lard on the ground. She shrieked and flew from the room, terrified as much at what she saw as at the thought that she had disturbed the emperor’s rest. 

On returning from his duties, Albus was approached by this very same woman. She kissed his hand repeatedly as she confessed her offense. Even as her tears wet his hand, he knew what he had to do. 

“Have you told anyone of what you saw?” he asked.

“No, of course not, my Lord.”

“Good. This is all a mistake. Come follow me, and I will show you.”

He led her down to the dark cellar. As they walked to the crawlspace, he explained in a hushed voice, “What you saw were the body parts of a man Lucius had executed last night. The criminal had entered the imperial chambers uninvited, much the same as you, and for his sin, had all his bones removed.”

She was trembling for fear, but he paid her no mind. Instead, he removed stone after stone until his work was plainly seen. Stepping back, he allowed her a look. She knelt in front of him and gasped at the skeleton with its hideous tongue.

Taking one of the stones in his hands, he held it high over her head. “Look long and hard at what comes of those with prying eyes, my dear.” With that, he sent the stone crashing on her head where it stuck like a wedge. He hid the body beside Lucius’ skeleton, quickly replaced the stones, and left to gather the body parts that she had seen, lest any other do the same.

From then on, Albus was very careful. He meticulously collected each body part and placed it precisely in its place on the skeleton like a puzzle, thus ensuring that no piece was missing. It unsettled him greatly to see Lucius looking more and more alive as the woman decayed beside him. But, it was all worth it. Lucius’ former body was shrinking. He was only days away from becoming the emperor.

It was just around midnight, after an orgy in the temple of Venus, that Albus stumbled into the Royal chambers drunk off wine and lust. He pulled back the covers to go to sleep. There, he found a solitary heart, beating away like a ticking clock.

“My God! It is done at last!” he slurred in a whisper. “Lucius, you old fool, I have you at last.” A coarse chortle broke from within and echoed down the empty castle halls. “Let’s have away with you, shall we? Why wait till morning to lay my Lord to rest?”

He grasped the heart firmly in his hand that it might not jump away and snuck through the stoney corridors to the stairs leading down into the darkness of the cellar. By luck, he stumbled safely to his hiding spot. With great care, he laid the bricks to one side. There was Lucius. Albus parted the seam where neck met chest and stuck his hand inside. The woman’s black, rotting eyes watched him as he placed the beating heart in the empty spot and sealed him back up.

“There,” he sighed. But before leaving, he waited, staring sharply at the half-alive corpse. When no movement came, he chuckled at his old nerves and sealed the stones in place.

Albus rose later that day with a drinking pain in his head. This did not discourage him, though, for today was to be his first day as emperor. He already had everything planned out. First, he would announce that the emperor was dying and that he had named him, Albus the Mighty, as his successor. Later that day, he would declare Lucius dead. Then, he would have the sarcophagus constructed and sent to the imperial chambers where he alone, according to Lucius’ wishes, would place the body—or, rather, the slaughtered goat he would steal from the kitchen—inside. Finally, a funeral would be held, after which he could be crowned emperor.

When he made the first announcement, however, the nuntii returned with unexpected news.

“The Christians say that he must be baptized while he is yet alive.”

Albus couldn’t believe his ears. “What?”

“It is their custom. They say that every Christian must be baptized to have eternal life. It says so in their Scriptures. A priest is on his way as we speak to sprinkle his head with water.”

Albus began to feel hot. His mind and heart were racing. If he were to refuse the priest, it would arouse suspicion. But he could not accept the priest for there was no body for him to baptize. But there is a body, he thought. Only, I must steal it from the cellar.

“Very well,” he replied at last. “I want everyone out of the castle. Only the priest is to be allowed entry when he arrives. Do it now!”

Once everyone had evacuated the castle, Albus ran to the cellar with a large rug. Frantically, he threw the stones aside to get to the body. So busy was he in wrapping the nude body in the rug (so as to keep it together) that he did not notice that the Christian maidservant was missing. Instead, he threw it over his shoulder and hurried back to the imperial chambers. There, he dressed the body in undergarments which he secured with twine and covered with a large imperial dress to hide the packaging. The finished product was a body so warm and tightly tied together that no physician could ask for a better dressing.

He finished just as the priest knocked on the door. Sweating, he welcomed him in. The priest entered, solemnly walked to the body, and began the rite. Albus watched on, biting his nails.

“I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Three sprinklings of holy water fell on Lucius’ forehead. They both paused at the sound and sight of the droplets sizzling on Lucius’ skin, instantly evaporating. The priest turned to Albus with a look of terror, but before any questions could be raised, he was shooed out the door.

Exactly as planned, Albus announced later that day that Lucius had perished. The Christians again came back with a reply. This time, it was a request that he be given a proper burial, complete with a midnight vigil. Albus again acquiesced. To avoid conjecture, he did not attempt to carry a goat to his room. Instead, Albus simply dusted Lucius’ face with flour to impress the pallor of death before allowing several elders of the Church to place him in the sarcophagus. Albus watched as the men carried it out of the imperial chambers to the midnight vigil. Finally alone and with his plan complete, a great weariness fell over him. He turned to go to bed, but something he saw in the dim-lit corner of his room gave him a start. It was a woman cleaning the windowsill and a man watching her do it, both with their backs turned to him. 

“Hey! You there! What are you still doing here? Man, I command you to follow your brothers. And, woman, that work can wait until morning. Go now.”

But they continued on as before, as though they had not heard him.

Albus strode briskly over to where they stood. He placed a hand on the man’s shoulder and swung him around. “I said—”

The illumined face was that of Christ, the God-man whose likeness he had seen in the streets and in his dreams. As in the paintings, his countenance now was calm but severe, unmoved by the events unfolding.

Albus saw the woman turn also, and his own face went pale. It was the Christian maidservant whom he had killed. She was alive!

She began to speak, not to Albus but to Christ. “Forgive him for he knows not what he does.”

But dread had deafened Albus’ ears. He took the shortest way out of their overwhelming presence, through the window and down six stories to his death. The crack of his bones filled the night air.

“The wicked flee when no man pursueth,” said Christ.

Back at the midnight vigil, darkness was come to light for Lucius. Slowly, he woke to the world around him. Looking here and there, he saw a warm glow pouring through the crack of the sarcophagus lid. Perplexed, he made to push or kick against the walls of his mysterious cell. But the cords of twine cut into his healed flesh, forbidding any movement at all. The sound of voices raised in unison outside arrested his efforts. He held his breath to listen.

Our Father who art in Heaven

Instantly, he recognized the words. To hear those Christian dogs pray bit deeper than the twine that held him. He wondered what sort of Hell he had awoken in.

Hallowed be my name” spoke a voice in his ear, a voice closer and more familiar than the Christians’ that it joined. Lucius jolted his head to the left where two black eyes peered back at him. Lucius was paralyzed with fear.

My Kingdom come,” hissed the ghastly face.

My will be done

On earth as it is in Hell.

The Devil widened its grin to breathe the words in Lucius’ face.

“Give us this night

Our daily worm

And indulge us our tresspasses

As we kill those who trespass against us.

Lucius tried to push himself away from the creature, but his back hit the wall. It drew nearer.

Lead us unto temptation

And deliver us to the evil one.” 

Lucius finally found his voice. He opened his mouth to scream, but nothing came out. Then he realized it. His tongue was turned to stone.

For mine is the Kingdom

And the Power

And the Glory

Forever and ever


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