Excerpt From The Secret Legation

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He was a little man, dressed in black. A devotee of Evil. One could tell from his pointed fingernails and forked beard. His hair was inexpertly dyed red. Also, if there was any doubt, he had the Unspeakable Glyph tattooed on his brow- though it seemed to float an inch above his skin.

He walked the carved esplanade above the river Seine and tried to think wicked thoughts. It was there that Murzinuxx found him.

"A good place for bad thoughts at midnight," the demon said and laid a paw upon his arm. "My carnifex poppet, my bloodlovely."

"I would raise monuments of pain to slake your appetites," the little man replied "were that not a generous act. How did you escape your circle?"

"I only stayed within it so as to disappoint you now. As well as hurt you, kill you, eat you, my meat-luscious. "

"You must know that I am Mordel the Orphan Boy, and the ward of the Baron DeGuis."

"The infamous magician and libertine. If this should interest me, please don‘t hesitate to bring it to my attention."

"I see that it should not."

"Good, I’ll eat you then."

"You must also be aware—I so excelled in my studies of the Blasphemous Arts that I am on my way to study under Dead Pierre- a yet more infamous creature."

Murzinuxx licked its paw and shrugged.

"Think of what that means. Peel off my flesh, rip me down to my bones, and past them, to my soul…" Murzinuxx nodded eagerly. "and have a whiff of it" Mordel continued. "You won't find my soul a very savory dish, I fear."

"Hrrnnn," it said, contemplative.

"You are off to see the Mortis? He who speaks for the dead?"

"The Lord of Paris Unseen, yes."

"Then come with me," it said, "I’ll take you to him."

And the demon walked hand in hand with Mordel, it’s sweat raising blisters on his skin. They descended a flight of stairs to the lower bank, where drunks and madmen snored beside the Seine and tried to dream no dreams at all. A number of them cried out in fear as Mordel and Murzinuxx walked by.

The river stank. Turds and something worse bobbed past, unseen in the darkness. A very long time they walked there, stepping over desperate men and clouding their dreams with horror.

And then they came to a door. Murzinuxx gestured with a claw and the door swung inward. The smell from the other side was so foul as to drown out the Seine.

"Here my scrumptious crunchable is the gate to Dead Pierre’s domain. If you have told me the truth, you will not be afraid to enter."

And Mordel was afraid, but he strode through the door. Beyond lay a charnel house.

It was an overflow sluice, from the sewers underneath the cemetery of Les Halles. A tall, round room with a sort of grating across the top and a hole in the floor for the water to drain out. Ribs and arms and skulls and other parts were strewn around at random in the sludge. Across from the door was a blot upon the wall. A circle of perfect blackness that might have been the sewer pipe.

Symbols and handprints were scattered around the wall. Who had made them? Who had been here?

"I forgot to mention," said Murzinuxx. "Your soul already belongs to Hell. It was your flesh I wanted," it paused, "are you disappointed?"

Mordel kept his voice from shaking, "Yes," he said, "I am. That was a very mean prank."

"Good, good. Now bring your trembling flesh over here and we'll all go snappity crackley rip-rip-rip—or at least you will. What fun!"

Murzinuxx opened its maw much wider than Mordel had seen a mouth open before. As wide as his head it opened, and wider. Hooked, crooked and uneven teeth lined the jaws, with other rows of teeth behind them. It had gums, all red and bloody and inflamed.

And Mordel thought back on his life, and how it had brought him here.

 

* * * * *

The first words that Mordel remembers are "Pretty boy, come here."

He stood, cold and filthy, in the Baron DeGuis' salon. Pictures of grown-ups doing things he did not understand were all around the walls. He shook himself like a cat, and stepped toward the master of the house.

The Baron DeGuis leaned forward from his overstuffed chair. He was a fat man, with a great froggy mouth that looked like it could fit Mordel's head inside. His chins wobbled as he peered into Mordel's eyes. His own eyes were tiny, and red with sin. They lurked in deep pits beside his predatory beak of a nose.

"There are in my opinion only two sorts of boys," he rumbled "beefy boys and measly boys. Which are you, I wonder?" He snatched the flesh of Mordel's upper arm between his thumb and forefinger.

"Humph!" He snorted. "Measly." And then he paid the boy no further heed.

He continued to discuss the Satyricon with his guests, and went on to shock them with observations on the Church and on the King and on the Order of the Universe. Whenever his gaze accidentally passed over Mordel he snorted with contempt and looked away. But one of his masked servants brought the boy a bowl of soup. And later, as the little fellow sat and fretted on the floor, DeGuis reached up to a shelf of medical abnormalities and gave the boy a deformed skull to play with.

It was a fascinating skull, so misshapen that it seemed to belong to neither man nor beast. Mordel liked to open and shut its malformed jaws. Some times in later years he thought that he had learned his lifelong love of dead things there on the rug, amid the smell of absinthe and excrement and sin.

He was almost sure that this was where he first heard the name of Dead Pierre-although even at this gathering the name was spoken with nervous giggles.

At the end of the evening DeGuis purchased Mordel from the Marquis who had brought him to the party. The Marquis shook his chinless head. "You are the wickedest man in Paris, Sir," he lisped. "And you, pretty boy. Pray he eats you quickly. "

"Sir, you flatter me," said the Baron DeGuis, "I do not know how I could ever be wicked enough to live up to the expectations of Society. It is a burden. Still," he looked at Mordel, "One must do what one's public demands…"

The Marquis laughed, and took his leave with the others. Later he wrote a great many books in which he stole DeGuis’ philosophy of evil for his own masturbatory ends.

DeGuis took Mordel up to a room above the kitchen. The boy trembled as they climbed the stairs.

"Will you eat me now, or later?" he asked, tremulous.

"Later, I think," the Baron said, quiet now. "Until then, this is to be your room. We shall have to wash you, I'm afraid."

The boy scrunched up his nose.

"Why?" He whimpered.

"Because it's horrid, and I love all horrid things. I am a very wicked fellow, you know."

"But it's horrid to be filthy, too," said Mordel.

And for some reason this made the Baron laugh.

"You are a devotee of evil yourself then? A Blasphemist? A Libertine? You like bad things?"

"I don't know."

"Well, that's all one. Plenty of time to decide."

The servants filled a great copper tub that had feet with cloven hooves, and DeGuis taught Mordel a bathtub song about pirates and cannibals and why the Devil is great...

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