The flames lick the bottom of the cage, hung by a chain above a giant brazier, iron pokers resting inside it, heating their pointed tips for administration to unrepentant flesh. None of this bothers the caged ascetic, who only weeps as he watches the inquisitors feed his books into the pyre. Tombs on astrology, pagan rites of Germanic tribes, the histories of Herodotus, all go into the fire, causing it to grow brighter and heat the cage.
“Stop,” he begs. “Please. You don’t know what you’re doing,” he says, thinking of all the lost knowledge that disappears from humanity with every scorched page.
“We must, brother,” the grand inquisitor intones. “As these books are burned, the flames that consume them will purify your soul.”
Feeling the floor of his jail heat, the monk grips the bars to hold himself away from the heat. He begs, “Christ would not want this brothers.”
With a hiss and spit the inquisitor hurls a book at the cage. “How dare you claim to know the mind of our Lord!”
Without consideration for the soles of his feet, the monk drops himself to catch the book. He is pleased to see it is Homer’s Iliad. Gazing upon the cracked leather of its cover, he strokes it. “If Christ is the representation of God and God is all-knowing, then with every book you burn you take us further from him.”