Hours later, I was exhausted. I had been wandering forever, it seemed. None of the doors or hallways seemed to actually lead anywhere, or even have a purpose. It just existed as a confusing mess of unused building, sprinkled with priceless treasures, jewels, and gold.
Finally, I realized I had to sit and rest. A wonderfully ornate trunk was just down the hall in a niche. It had what must have been a twelfth-century tapestry laid over it.
I plopped down on it, resting my tired feet. I smacked my lips together with thirst. I could really use some whisky, I decided. I must have also been hungry, because I heard a strange sound coming from my stomach. After feeling the trunk move beneath me, though, I discovered that it hadn't been my stomach at all.
Back on my feet, I stared down, puzzled, as the thing began to thump, and the tapestry to vibrate. I looked both ways down the hallway, though I hadn't seen anybody for at least an hour. Then I tentatively leaned forward and knocked back on the trunk lid. There was a pause in the noises, but then a rapid, insistent knocking proceeded from inside. I jumped back. Then, I slowly leaned forward, lifted the tapestry, and found a lock holding the trunk closed.
“Um,” I said, feeling foolish for talking to a trunk, “the top appears to be locked.” I heard muffled yelling. “What's that?” I asked, and put my ear closer. Again, the mumbling. “I really can't understand you.” I paused. “I'm afraid I'm just going to have to break this lock open so you can tell me.” I took the mumbled yell to be an agreement, so I looked up and down the hall to find a possible tool. Ah, perfect. Conveniently, there was a full suit of armor standing there, with a sword.
I grabbed the sword, raised it above the lock, and slammed it down. When I opened my eyes, I saw that it had missed the lock completely, but had made a nice, long slice along the tapestry.
“Oops,” I said, and sat down to think about the best way to go about opening it. Finally, I had it! I angled the sword hilt toward the lock, so that the rest of it was sitting on the ground, and, with one swift bonk, the lock cracked open!
I scrambled to open the lid and was surprised to find who was inside.
“It's you!” we both exclaimed at once.
“Hey, you're the Pope's—um—friend,” I said awkwardly, averting my gaze from the man who had been in the chair and had a remarkable resemblance to the Pope.
“Well, you're close,” he grunted, as be began to try to lift himself out of the trunk. I noticed then that he really was quite an old man. I took pity on him, and reached out to help him up.
Once he was standing, puffing for breath and red in the face, he tried to speak again. It took a couple of tries before it worked.
“You fool,” he spluttered, and I drew back, offended.
“I AM the Pope!” he blustered.
I stood staring at him in shock. Finally, I could speak.
“You poor, sick man, you. Now, tell me where you live, and we can find some nice people to help you there,” I said, as I patted him on the shoulder.
I thought he had already caught his breath at this point, but he started puffing out his cheeks and breathing erratically. His face went from a rosy pink to red, almost taking on shades of purple. Oh, God, I thought. This poor lunatic was going to burst! I stood and watched in fascination.
“THIS IS WHERE I LIVE!” he shouted out finally. “I'm the bloody Pope! Are all of you people so stupid?” He had started flapping his arms about.
“There's no need to be insulting, sir,” I said haughtily. “I saw you with the Pope. Therefore, you can't be the Pope. You understand?” I tried explaining to him.
“He's an impostor! That—THING—came in and tried to get rid of me, so he could take over,” the man blustered, still standing in the trunk.
I looked him in the eyes, and narrowed mine. It was time to pull out the big guns, I decided.
“He had the hat,” I said. “And you didn't,” I finished. There. I had done it.
“He threw mine in the stove when he captured me!” His voice shook as he said it. “That was my favorite one, too.” Tears were forming in his eyes, and his lip quivered. I watched as he tried to compose himself, and I started to have an inkling. He really did look remarkably like the Pope. The other Pope had just kind of roared at me when I commented on his hat. But this man...well, he was in tears about it. Maybe...
“All right,” I said suspiciously. “What's your favorite song?” He narrowed his eyes at me.
“Ave Maria, of course,” he answered disdainfully.
“Hmm...well, everyone knows that,” I said. I thought for a minute. “Okay. What are your favorite pajamas?”
He blustered again, offended. “How dare you! That is not an appropriate question!”
“So you don't know the answer?”
“How absurd! They're MY pajamas!”
“So then you know that you prefer your penguins?” I asked, leaning forward.
“Penguins! Bah! My duckies are far superior to any penguins,” he said quickly.
I stood and stared at him in awe. He hadn't fallen for my trick. And since I had bribed guards before to tell me all about the Pope's personal preferences, I knew the right answers. And he had gotten it right. That could mean only one thing.
“Your Highness!” I shouted, and bowed down. I heard grumbling, so I stood back up.
“It's about time,” he muttered. I stood there, staring at him and grinning. “Well, are you going to help me out of this thing or what?” he asked.
“Oh! Yes! Of course!” I said, and took the Holy Hand as I led his Holy Aching Body out of the trunk.