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Stockholm, Sweden
January 22, 2017
2 hours after midnight

‘’Did you get it?’’ the thief’s nervous voice mumbled, slightly echoing around the cold, empty streets of Stockholm.

‘’I got it. It wasn’t easy. But first… It’s twenty five thousand euros, as we agreed. Do you have the money?’’ the pale, blond man answered with a British accent.

The thief smirked and then took out his smartphone – he killed the dim blue light after a few gentle taps of the screen.

‘’Here. All transferred to your account. Check your email.’’ he anxiously replied.

‘’It’s nice doing business with you, mister… Mister… Umm?’’ the British man asked, almost taunting him.

‘’I’d rather avoid getting to know each other. Now, can I have it?’’

‘’Sure. Here. Good luck.’’

 

The thief looked at the little piece of paper, took a deep breath and slowly walked away.

The capital of Sweden was mostly empty in this time of night, save for random groups of drunk teenagers. The night was starless – thick, eerie fog descended on Northern Europe accompanied by an infinity of ardent snowflakes. Harsh winters were a known guest here.

 

His client was as mysterious as he was rich. Three months of searching for the right contact finally led him to this seemingly priceless piece of information.

The password.

Red numbers flew in front of his face as he deactivated the alarm that safeguarded the National Library of Sweden.

 

After months of hard work, he was finally in the building, alone and so close to his goal. Five million dollars awaited – all in exchange for a dusty, old book.

 

He did not understand why does his puzzling client want’s the medieval manuscript – it was not his job to ask questions. He was in his early 30s, young, intelligent – some would even say brilliant. It was not greed that brought him back to the life of crime, but despair.

 

His love needed a new heart.

 

Complicated surgeries cost small fortunes, and the only way for him to get one was to get back to his old vice. He used to be a world-class professional thief – a man who you’d call when you wanted the unattainable. He retired a week before he got married – and all the money he earned melted and withered, starting with the day he learned of his wife’s almost incurable sickness.

 

He reminisced her soft lips and wild hair as he silently glided through the elegant halls of the library. It took him twenty minutes to find it.

 

The thief shattered the glass that enclosed Codex Gigas, the medieval manuscript…

 

 

Also known as the Devil’s Bible.

The thief knew the legend from the Middle Ages – it told about a monk who broke his monastic vows and was sentenced to be walled up alive. In order to forbear this harsh penalty he promised to create a book to glorify the monastery forever, including all human knowledge – in only one year. Near midnight on the last night, he became sure that he could not complete this task alone, so he made a special prayer, not addressed to God but to the fallen angel Lucifer, asking him to help him finish the book in exchange for his soul. The devil completed the manuscript and the monk added the devil’s picture out of gratitude for his aid.

The thief thought it was an interesting origin story, but guessed that the book was written across many years, even decades. It looked enormous. Even the name – Codex Gigas, meant ‘’Big Book’’ in ancient Latin. He understood that it was a priceless piece of medieval literature and art.

He opened the dusty pages of the ancient Codex – the book was decorated with magnificently colorful illustrations of saints and angels.

One page caught his eye – it was also an illustration of an angel.

A fallen one.

The thief’s eyes focused onto the red horns and the green face of Lucifer – the illustration looked almost funny, comical in a way.

‘’Your soul?’’ a chilling voice whispered into his right ear.

‘’Yes?’’ the thief answered with a question, as he descended into a dreadful, almost enchanted state of confused oblivion.  

‘’It’s mine.’’ the Devil replied.