They decided to avoid the escadas monumentais this time. The sun was setting when they reached a large plateau on the way to the library, the winding and branchy path giving way to a series of buildings neatly arranged in a row and lit by antique lamps meticulously decorated. Atop a small staircase, like and ancient and solemn queen, sat an imponent white church.
AROA - Hey, wanna check it out since we're here? It's called Sé Nova, and it's the main church of the university! These buildings were constructed on the XVI century as colleges for the minister of jesuits. They came from all over europe to learn languages, culture, philosophy and theology in these buildings you see before setting off to their missionary expeditions.
MATINA - WOW! Were you keeping your talents as a guide hidden all this time? How come you know all these things?
AROA - I took a history of portugal class last semester, nothing to be so impressed about! I found it very interesting, I learned all matter of things. For example, Sé Nova was built as one of the first jesuit churches, and became a model for the colonial architecture in the eastern portuguese domains. You can find similar buildings in Goa and Macao, you can really feel the portuguese influence there. But anyway, let's go in! The inside is as magnificent as the facade!
They went up the couple of stairs separating them from the imposing door, adorned in renaissance style. On transposing it, the sight of an old man sitting at the reception desk with a welcoming smile.
RECEPTIONIST - Welcome young ladies! Feel free to come in and take a look at the chapel and the wonderful interior decorations!
AROA - Good evening! My friend, Matina, just came all the way from greece to study in Coimbra for this semester, and I'm giving her a little tour of the city. Can you tell us a bit more about this church?
REEPTIONIST - It will be my pleasure! The construction of this cathedral was started late in the XVI century, with the purpose of creating and educational platform for the second generation of the jesuit ministers by the will of saint Francis Xavier.
AROA - Xavier was here?
RECEPTIONIST - Yes and no... Xavier had already died, near China, when the construction started, but he had taught in this site before all the buildings you see now were founded. His life is a most fascinating one, you see...
The voice slowly become a murmur on the background, as Matina looked up towards the chapel to see what seemed to be a minister, with his back turned to her and facing the cross from the left transept. Suddenly he turned around, as if he felt her eyes on his figure, and Matina flinched, able to see him clearly now, except for the face, slightly tilted forwards and covered in a rough hood. Wearing an old style black robe, he looked pulled from a couple centuries in the past, stuck in a time he didn't belong to. And then he raised his head and matina couldn't help but gasp:
MATINA - Asian?!?
The strange figure bowed his head, and Matina couldn't resist the urge to walk towards him. She glanced at her friend. Aroa and the receptionist kept talking, ever more entusiastically, and were completely unaware of what was happening right next to them. And then she turned her eyes back and... gone. The chapel stood empty under the feeble rays of the early moon that, filtered through the tinted windows, translated into the nave she now stood in. Absolute empty space, as she walked forward, until she saw it, to her left: not the man, but something else. Near the wooden divider between the main column and the transept, a book lying on the flor, atop a white stone about one by two meters, marked with nothing but a square. In the middle of it, shimmering under suspended white dust, it was a unnerving sight. Just like the man before, it just didn't seem to belong. She approached it and, when kneeling to grab it, she felt it: the book was warm and emanated what she could only describe as a faint glow. Also, and perhaps most surprisingly, although clearly physical in her hands, the book felt like having no weight. She was stunned, and stood there, just holding it in her hands and being blessed by the shower of moonlight.
AROA - Matina! What are you doing? You cannot be here, didn't you see the divider?
She snapped out of it, pulled to reality again by her voice, and quickly put the book in her backpack and turned to meet her in the nave.
MATINA - AROA! Come, please, I need to ask some questions to that receptionist!
AROA - What? But you just looked so uninterested...
Matina ignored the remark, and grabbing her arm dragged her rather forcefully to the reception desk where the man still stood greeting them with the same smile on his face.
MATINA - Do you happen to know if there's any interesting story about that part of the church I was standing in just now?
RECEPTIONIST - The part where the moonlight shines down on? Ah, that is Bernardo Kagoshima. There is a tomb underneath of it, and the first japanese minister of the jesuit order still rests in peace there...
Japanese echoed in her mind, intermingling with her fathers words just before she left
FATHER - Do not forget your roots!