Photo by Jacob Bentzinger on Unsplash

The lamps of Duali had already been lighted when Sulleiman, priest of Sullam, heard a knock at the side door. He stretched and rose from where he knelt in front of the altar. He went bare-chested to the door and opened it.

There were two men standing outside on the stoop in the alley. The older man was bald and heavyset. He had clever eyes and a golden ring swinging from his nose. This was Mahmoud, who Sulleiman knew to be a devout…