(The Devoted Attendants)
rotocol on behalf of my Wedding Entourage is left to Etienne the young Captain of Our Guard. Etienne is officially chagrined because I, Giselle, a daughter of the King do not properly represent the King. And yet I carry Etienne’s yearning eye as I ride away. Chanson my beloved horse needs no urging to pursue poor Magge into the Monastery courtyard. The four acolytes who had been signified by the commanding finger of the Thirteenth Monk lead poor Magge away. Together we arrive at the Infirmary which is a separate house.
The acolytes gently dismount Magge from her horse. A tear is forged by me for each of poor Magge’s sharp inhalations. As they lead her inside they remove from her the hooded cloak that is heavy with dampness. Revealed on the back of her garments is a dark cloud of stain. The wounds from her whipping are exhaling her very life.
With shocking boldness the four acolytes do conspire and then do remove all of Magge’s attire. She is being held naked and barely conscious next to a stone pool of gently steaming liquid. There must be a furnace below or within the stone. The acolytes remove their own clothing while balancing Magge in a skillful ballet. They step into the pool, lowering Magge in a cruciform pose. Magge starts with a gasp as the warm unctuous water slowly submerges her body up to her neck. Her eyes are rolling now and do not seem to focus. Her eyelids descend slowly as my own eyes yet widen in anguish for her.
The acolyte who steadies Magge’s head against his shoulder and cheek speaks to me soothingly, saying ~ These waters are a medicinal concoction. They extinguish putrefaction and bind the skin. ~
Another, younger, acolyte is steadying Magge’s legs and he speaks enthusiastically, saying to me ~ These waters also preserve the dead for burial. ~
The first acolyte glances at me and then he glares at the younger acolyte and he hisses, saying, ~ You mean for Resurrection, Quattuor! I am sorry Your Highness. Quattuor is young and yet unenlightened. Your Highness, I am Tredecim, and we are all servants to The Incorruptibles, servants to Your Highness, and servants to God. ~
Quattuor, whose pride is now injured, speaks, saying, ~ But servants to Tredecim first of all! ~
They laugh gently at Tredecim’s predicament. I speak to them, saying, ~ Are all of you named as Latin numbers? ~
They all nod and mumble affirmatively, saying, ~ It is a Rite of Humility, Your Highness. ~
The acolyte at Magge’s left hand speaks, saying, ~ I am Duae. ~
The acolyte at Magge’s right hand speaks, saying, ~ I am Sedecim. ~
I now watch Magge’s face slowly transforming from death mask to sleeping maiden as her body imbibes the warm medicinal bath. For the first time since her excoriation I have a whisper of hope for Magge.
<for previous chapters, search “whisper” on my blog>
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