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The Relic-Mongers

by Michael Díaz Feito

Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Chapters: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,
7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Chapter 6: Redness

A cleric preached to the market crowd. The market, a noisy pavilion of poplar and purple canvas, abutted the sea wall, and crashing waves foamed behind the cleric. His hair was a yellow web, which spun around his tonsured scalp in the wind, and his face was blotched by rosacea. He spoke French with a Rhenish accent. He said:

“Things are very, very bad. I hate to tell you, people, but it’s a total disaster. Look, that pious lady over there, she knows. Beautiful woman, by the way. For Christians, it’s a total disaster, okay? Each age suffers its own Apocalypse, and this is ours, believe me. Heretics cripple Toulouse. They’re criminals, they’re sodomites... And they call themselves Cathars. Why? Because they fornicate with cats! Isn’t that disgusting? Too disgusting. It’s true.”

His audience booed.

“So the Saracens, they laugh at us, people. At our weak leaders, they’re laughing! And while they defile the Holy Land and plot the destruction of the Church, we let these Saracens live in Barcelona, protected by Christian laws. I mean, how stupid is that? They pay off the Count, that’s why. Sad.”

His audience booed.

“John the Evangelist warned us, though. Didn’t he? We love John the Evangelist. He saw a red dragon, big with seven heads, very scary... Well, I’m not supposed to tell you what that means. The schools say I shouldn’t, it’s not appropriate, no, no, Apocalypse isn’t history. But it is, people. Believe me. Want the truth? Let them censure me, I don’t care. I don’t care.”

His audience cheered.

“Who is this?” Liuve said. The crowd excited her. Her shoulders had broadened during the speech, because she felt powerful in contact with the crowd. So many faces together, coordinated by hot spirit, like they belonged to one sweaty body. She was a flexing muscle. She had also booed and cheered.

Fèlix frowned at her. He said, “Manfred of Cologne, a previous client. He’s sailing to Acre at the end of the month.”


Manfred raised stubby hands to silence the crowd. He explained that the red dragon was a map of the eschaton, and that its seven heads stood for seven persecutors of the Church. He unrolled a large leaf of parchment to illustrate:

The seventh head, the unknown, would be the Antichrist. “He’s coming,” Manfred said. “And I have to tell you, he’s coming soon. We must be ready.”

Liuve said, “He’s smart, this guy. More vulgar than Abbatissa Antía, of course. Maybe that’s not a fair comparison. But he is inspired.”

“How absurd,” Fèlix said. “His family is far richer than hers, Dompnus Luís. And I detest him. He’s got very bad manners. Nonetheless, we should join his traveling party.”

Proceed to Chapter 7...

Copyright © 2017 by Michael Díaz Feito

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