The cardinal clutched his chest and fell backward into an indefinable abyss. When he opened his eyes, he was sitting upright on an ornate chair in a long, empty chamber of bone-white walls. A pale, almost golden light passed through the ornate windows and gleamed on the hardwood floors. Exquisitely crafted in a late renaissance or early baroque style, a wooden desk stood at the far end of the room. Standing up, the cardinal approached the only door, but it was locked and all he could hear through the keyhole was the infinite wind and the sound of breakers. He walked over to the writing desk, upon which sat a book of empty pages and a brass cage with a wren inside. The wren looked through his eyes. The cardinal wept into the sleeve of his robe. And then the cage was empty. The bone-white walls transfigured.