Amun and Ptah make a startling discovery at 12th century Paris
“Take weapons,” Ptah whispered.
Amun reached down to fasten his boots. “
“They’re hybrids,” Ptah kept on.
Amun looked at him. “It’s the 12th century, I doubt they have blasters.”
“They are part Potacas,” Ptah said again.
“And Tayamni, and Human,” Amun responded. “We will find another way.”
Ptah stuffed a weapons disk into his small vest pocket anyway.
Amun shook his head, “I am your superior officer,” he offered.
“Do you order me not to carry weapons?” Ptah asked.
Amun motioned for him to follow.
They walked down a flight of stairs to a tiled floor. “There you are,” the hybrid priest said, rubbing his hands together. “You are in luck; the King will be in attendance.”
“The King? But, why?” Amun asked.
“He enjoys music. Pérotin’s new compositions are breathtaking,” the priest continued. “Our Seigneur has removed himself to the Left Bank. His royal apartments are flooded. He resides nearby.”
“What shall we call you, friend?” Amun asked. “You have been so helpful to us.”
The hybrid priest responded, “Père Corbus. I teach at the Cloisters with Pérotin.” The wealthy priest wore a fur hat and black robes trimmed with brown fur. “I will introduce you to the professor tonight,” he sneered. “You will undoubtedly see the Abbesse, Sedile. But, I warn you, cast no unchaste glances towards her. The King is determined to add her to his growing list of conquests.” Upon making this last remark, he laughed with such a nasal snicker, Amun looked at Ptah with alarm.
“Is she beautiful?” Amun asked.
“I would not dare to describe her beauty with words. You must see to believe,” Père Corbus answered.
Reaching to touch Amun’s wrist, daintily, the priest looked into his eyes, “Is gold stored within your trunk, here at the Priory?”
Amun nodded, “Some, yes. More will arrive at my instructions.”
Ptah looked at Amun sharply, surprised at his ability to lie on the spot.
Servants unbolted double doors opening onto the street. Turning back to Amun, the priest continued, “Your gold will be safe within our walls.”
Small snowflakes fell in thick waves.
“If I were not commanded to attend, I would be happy to stay home on such a night,” the priest laughed again with a nasal sneer as disturbing at the previous one.
They climbed into the wagon, open to the air and the priest shouted to the driver, “We will dine with Sisters of Sainte Hypatia this evening.”
Amun looked at Ptah with surprise.
“But you are exhausted, my love,” Erish whispered to Pérotin.
“If Louis were not planning to attend, I would cancel. You know, he would take my absence as a personal insult.”
Erish sighed, knowing he was right. She placed her hand on his cheek, “You have a fever. You should rest.”
Pérotin looked at her and shook his head.
“Have your students perform their own works. Minimize the length of time you play,” she implored.
“They will be here soon. Let’s go down,” he said. Taking her hand, he gently brought it to his lips. “You go first, my dearest. I will follow. Louis must not suspect.”
She went to the door where Sister Aubine waited to escort her down. The air grew cooler as they descended the stairway.
“First, we will have a short concert, my Lady,” Sister Aubine explained. “Then, you will dine while others play.”
Erish nodded. Continuing down the stairs, she entered the cavernous main hall, wishing she brought a wrap. Fires blazed in four fireplaces. Still it was so cold, she could see her breath. Looking around the room, she saw new faces, two men she thought must be Spanish because of their dark skin. She began to walk close to the fire when she felt a gentle touch on her hand and turned around. There he stood, Louis VII, the King of France, although his power did not extend beyond Paris. He was more accurately, King of the city. Standing a foot taller than her with flaming red hair, he was aged beyond his years. A deep scar on his cheek from a Saracen blade, his face bore signs of battle.
Suddenly aware of her position, she curtseyed, averting her eyes.
“Abbesse, how good it is to see you again,” he said, taking her hand in his. “Please come stand near me tonight, as we listen to the Great Pérotin.” He looked aside to make sure no one could hear, and whispered, “I will be able to gaze at the beautiful handiwork of our creator.” He paused, looking her up and down, making it clear he was referring to her. Then, with a leering expression, he continued, “…while listening to Pérotin’s unmatched gifts.” He squeezed her hand too hard, and continued, “Delights for the eyes and the ears.”
He guided her back to a chair placed near the fire. “Here, stand in front of me, so I may gaze upon you.”
She avoided his eyes, not wanting him to know her true opinion of him. He looked completely human, except for the eyes. The irises were too large and completely black, like his Potacas forebear.
But, she was an Abbesse, married to the Church. Her false modesty would be believed.
Gaunt and pale, Pérotin entered from a separate stairway. Guests, sitting at tables banged fists against wooden surfaces in soft welcome. The musician nodded and walked to a brocade chair. Turning towards Louis, he held out the lute, a gift he received from the King on his return from the Crusades. He sat slowly, to minimize the pain of his aching body. Already having tuned the instrument, he gently plucked a chord.
All eyes were on him, as he sang a gentle baritone passage. All eyes, that is, except Erish. Standing near Louis, she stared at the two Spaniards. Clearly, a nobleman and his man servant, but something was familiar. They too, stared back at her.
Curious as to what drew her attention, but careful not to cause gossip, the King slowly turned his gaze to see what captivated her. Seeing the two dark men, he assumed she wondered whether they were Saracens. He made a mental note to ask Père Corbus, with whom they sat. In case they were assassins, he nodded towards guards standing nearby.
Louis turned to look back at Pérotin, singing a new composition honoring the Virgin Mary. He referred to her as Goddess, Queen of Heaven. But, Louis found himself looking at Erish instead. The words of the song described her face, her pink lips, her blushing cheeks. Louis’ eyes went further, examining her slender waist, her bosom, tightly bound by black damask, the fabric reflecting yellow firelight and hugged the shape of her hips, as she turned to look back at him. Desire surged through him, burning him, confusing his thoughts. The smoothness of her skin mocked him. He would have her, even if he must force her. He would not wait much longer.
Erish turned to look at the Spaniards when the man servant reached both palms out towards her, turning them upwards in the traditional Tayamni greeting.
She gasped, stepping back. Both Pérotin and Louis saw her reaction and looked towards the Spaniards.
She whispered with recognition, “Ptah.”