The voice of the prayers vibrated Adrian’s flesh. He shivered and closed his eyes. Light still came to him, in different colors, from the sunlight shining through the tinted windows around the entrance hall. When he opened his eyes after a moment. The world was brighter. Sparkling dust floated quietly about him.
“Father Adrian?” a man said. It was Ferro. He seemed out of place in Hagia Sophia. Cossack coat dragging the floor, ruffled hair, holding hands together like a street merchant.
“Welcome, brother. Here for the Communion? Prayers are in-”
“My name is Ferro, Father. Nice to meet you.”
“Yes, I’ve heard of you,” Adrian replied, then hesitated at the smile that broke across the man’s face. He was a historian clerk for the Church of St. Irene.
“Congratulations on your ordination. A deacon already!” Ferro said.
“You will address me as Father when you speak.”
“Yes, sorry, Father. Your chiton robe is wonderful. Red and shining gold. Very bright.”
Adrian rolled his shoulder to adjust the robe, and flourished his hand to drive the cuff upward. It was a little loose.
“Through the doors, please. The litany is in process by Father Justin.”
“I like to admire this hall before I join the crowd,” Ferro said. He smiled again, and looked up at Virgin Mary’s mosaic. In the illustration, Justinian and Constantine were offering her the city.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Ferro said.
“Indeed. It reminds us that this temple is a blessing from the Virgin. We, who are both worthy and unworthy.”
“I thought it was ten thousand men who built this building.”
“Yes, but through the Virgin’s sustenance.”
“If by sustenance you mean General Belisarius’ war booty,” Ferro said.
“Your tone is disrespectful, brother,” Adrian said. He rolled his shoulder, pulling the robe upward.
“Not at all, Father. I am just a man of details.”
“I must leave you now.”
“For example, you are Adrian Balsamon. Descendant of Patriarch Balsamon. I have some questions about him, if you have time.”