by Michael Díaz Feito
Table of Contents|
Chapters: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,
7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14
Chapter 7: Epistle
To her beloved friend in Christ, Manfred of Cologne, her most pious confessor and sacred advisor; from Maria, by the grace of God humble queen of the Latins of Jerusalem; Greetings in the Lord.
We know you know what the whole world knows, that Jerusalem weeps while we strain to keep a fickle, increasingly foreign people embraced, and that Latin here becomes lazy in apostate mouths, so they flap better with that barbaric bellowing of Asia and Africa, instead.
But you, Manfred, so strong, have toted the cross for the Holy Land and so, with your counsel, help us erect a wall against agents of heterodoxy that throng Jerusalem like so many ants on rotting citrus.
Return to Acre with the Templars sent to escort you, Prophet, and you will kneel at our right side.
Be well, Pater.
“You see, Fèlix? She respects me,” Manfred said.
They were seated in a cool chamber at the Templar House. Manfred had read the letter to Fèlix twice, often interrupting the second time to comment on a “very, very true” sentence, and to confirm that another sentence was also true or good. He praised the virgin queen’s humility. He praised her physical beauty, and the quality of her Latin.
Mostly, he praised her praise of himself. He smiled as he reread the more personal addendum. He said, “She knows only Manfred can fix Outremer!”
Schattenmänner? Devils swarm these leaders, Fèlix thought, and lay larval clutches in their tongues, so they can chew this world’s putrid air and launch charges against innocents, lancing flesh to forget the spirit.
But maybe Queen Maria would like to purchase Saint George’s ribcage, which still jangled in Fèlix’s satchel and was more likely Saint Kentigern’s. Stolen in the bishopric of Glasgow — before that bad time in Toulouse, the registry and the lashes — when Fèlix was traveling as Cosme the Relic-Monger and he met a local priest, Máel Coluim.
“A witch has hexed me, I’m convinced,” Máel Coluim said. “While I slept, she must have pissed in my ear, because the nightmares won’t stop. Please, I need to rest.”
And of course, a ribcage in the cathedral could fix him. Relics always can. Just one more bone, and then maybe another. God, forgive the fools.
“So, Dompnus Manfred,” Fèlix said. He sighed. “Can we sail with you?”
Copyright © 2017 by Michael Díaz Feito