Justice, to be done, should be seen to be done. But not this time.
I cleaned myself up over the following days and weeks, as I regained most of my sanity. With what little of value that I had taken with me from my home, I changed my appearance as much as I could, though I would never be able to hide that scar across my forehead and face that Robert Chambertin had given me that day.
I comforted myself, that there were few alive, who knew of that recent scar, so I was not marked in any recognizable way that could be tied back to my family.
Robert’s axe had glanced off my skull. I had seen enough coming at me, to parry that blow and turn under it even as it had fallen. It had not broken any bones in my head or face, merely skating down the front of my face as he’d dropped it, causing me much loss of blood at first, but no real damage.
It looked so much worse than it really was, but he hadn’t known that.
His mistake had been assuming I had been dead.
He had also panicked. He didn’t have the stomach for this.
Others had been coming along the road.
He had to get rid of my body, so he and his two helpers—equally useless—rolled me, and all of my belongings into that ravine.
That, was what had saved me.
They should have checked their handiwork after that, but they didn’t.
For my own protection after that grisly day following that, I let my beard grow to hide as much of that scar as I could, and I changed my name.
I became a brother of the Church; Brother Makki. I wore a Monk's habit, with its cowl that further hid my face, and I became one of those itinerant, devout wanderers seeking enlightenment, spending my nights in monasteries and waystations, but working always to one end: to get close to the head of the diocese in which my family had lived for generations.
He was Bishop Antonio di Borgia, and he lived near St. Denis.
Like many of those who rose through the ranks of the church as he had gained in stature, rank and consequence, he became ever more ambitious, as well as forgetful of the rules that should have constrained him.
‘Thou shalt not kill’. He'd forgotten that one.
I knew why he had been the one who had sought to have me killed. He was an ambitious man, not only for himself, but for other members of his broader family. He had nephews and younger brothers to ease into positions of authority in the church and to live the good life. He was generous with the church’s wealth and influence when it came to his own family.
I had been a minor impediment in his way, and easily removed. It did not matter that two families and all who lived in that general area would die, to achieve that. It was all being done for the greater good. His, greater good. The end justified the means. Common refrains at that time.
Hearing his name spoken by Robert Chambertin as he’d stood over me, I knew then, that that one Bishop had earmarked me for death, and why.
What I had been slowly gaining by scholarship and dutiful application during my studies in the church, becoming noticed where it counted...though not knowing it... his own clan could not do.
They were the product of privilege, where everything had come easy for them without the need to study or hard work. They had become lazy, and they expected everything to come to them with little outlay of effort.
It was easier to see me removed, than to see me advance, as I was sure to do, and to possibly rise to where I could thwart his ambitions for them, though that elevation had been many years off, for me.
I saw it all so clearly now, and I knew what I must do to finish this.
His vulnerability lay in his excesses in almost everything, but especially of his lecherous interests, and excesses of the flesh.
He was married. A married high priest? No one cared. It was not unheard of. Indulgences and special dispensations and rulings were easy to come by with enough wealth and influence to ease the way.
He had married the daughter of a wealthy man, but his interest lay only in the influence that that wealth could buy. She had never borne him any children, and it was said that she’d lost her beauty too easily, to hold him with her.
It was not just ‘rumored’, it was well known that he had children by other women...many other women. Again, no one cared. Rank, granted immunity.
He still had mistresses. Why not? It was expected of all powerful men, even those within the church.
He was too easy to forgive.
Consider the good he did to offset those... minor failings.
Mistresses, were one of the perquisites of having such power whether inside or outside of the church, but the church did have at least one more advantage. A path to salvation.
Women seemed to want to be with him; to be close to him... to get closer to God.
He expected that one day he would become a Cardinal, and from there...? Who knew? The Papacy was not out of reach for such a man. Of course, beautiful women would seek his counsel and company.
As for those women who sought his counsel... and even more... in a private audience—and they were many—who was he to refuse them their needs if they fell at his feet and asked for his 'special' blessing.
They, those women knew what they had been doing.
Was ’he’, not so much closer to heaven and god than they could ever aspire to?
“Please bless me, Father. I am a mere sinner. Sanctify my aching body with your blessing, your touch. This minor impediment of raiment between us can soon be removed so that I may receive ALL of your blessing and your gifts onto... and into my eager body.
They had made him feel like god himself as he’d granted their wishes, descending upon them as they’d laid prone for him, nakedly unadorned, spread like angels, legs and arms apart as they'd received him; glorifying them, sanctifying them as they’d clicked their rosaries in one outstretched hand, and muttered their prayers and thanks as he had sanctified their bodies and penetrated them.
‘Our father, which art in heaven....’
He’d settled softly, with a sigh, upon their soft breasts, and by the time they’d got to the end of the first decade along their beads, he’d ejaculated, infusing them with his holy blessing... and even more, if they had timed things right in their personal cycles. And if not now, then the next time, or the time after that, when he granted them another private audience to do more of the same.
They had kissed him after that, kissing him everywhere; on his ring, and upon the softening tool of their blessing, holding him there, thanking him again. He liked to be touched there.
He usually felt hungry after that exertion, being called upon so many times during his day. Doing god’s work had been satisfyingly exhausting, and others still awaited him.
My eyes had been opened as I'd learned of this. The rot and the corruption ran deep within him.
That, was what made him vulnerable.
I knew of him now, I knew where he lived and I would soon learn of more of his questionable habits.
My preferred weapon on any hunt had always been the crossbow. I had hidden one where I could access it easily, for just this purpose.
This time, as with my hunting down those Chambertins, I would use the long arrows without their blades, but with a padded leather cover ... to injure, to stun, but not to kill outright. I did not want there to be any blood or an obvious wound to raise the possibility of murder.
On this night he was visiting his most recent mistress in her bedroom at the top of the house she occupied with her older husband. By then, her husband was lying in a drunken stupor by his kitchen fire, as his wife was being tupped, far above his head, throughout the night.
His guards were left kicking their heels in the street below, tucked under the edge of the building to avoid the usual refuse that cascaded from above, as chamber pots were emptied, cursing the discomfort.
I watched their antics in that ill-lit room, with its single candle on the table, and bided my time. They had also eaten and imbibed well. Nature would soon take its course.
My seat was not comfortable; my back against a chimney on a nearby roof, but I could be patient. I had endured worse, waiting for the pigs to come for the apples I’d laid out beneath my tree.
Soon, she got up again, as she had earlier, twice now, to use her chamber pot beside the bed and to get rid of him, and of his sensation from her body. She was an attractive young woman, but I felt sorry for her. She’d been given no choice in this. Her husband had agreed to this, and had been rewarded with food and good wine as usual.
This time, he arose from that bed too while she tried to find comfort for her long abused body. He was as naked, as she was.
He stretched, yawned, and came to the window, unhooking it, and pushing it wider open, leaning out over the roof beneath him, and holding the window open, to stop it closing on him.
His eyes were, no doubt, closed, happy to relieve himself onto the roof. It took him a few moments to get started, still with memory of her upon him there, still hard, and still very moist from her. He wanted to get back into her again but he needed to pee first. However, to do that, he needed to become limp.
This was the moment I had waited several nights to see.
He peed at last. I heard it hitting the clay tiles as he sighed in relief. I heard everything from barely forty feet away.
My cushioned arrow hit him on his lower belly with horrendous force, hitting him as though he had been butted by a charging goat. He let go of the window that had been partially supporting him as he leaned out. He doubled over in pain and fell out onto the roof, clutching at his belly with a cry, and rolled out of my view as he went over the edge.
I clearly heard him hit the cobbles sixty feet below.
He would be dead from that fall. Not one man in a hundred could live after that.
The woman had gone back to bed by then, hearing nothing. Wanting to hear nothing, needing to sleep before he came back to her again, never leaving her alone.
The hammering at the door below, and the breaking of it as the Bishop’s guards broke in, might awaken her. If not, them barging into her room at the top of the house, might.
By then I’d recovered my arrow from that roof, where it had landed, and was retreating across the roofs with my crossbow. Had he not rolled off the roof, I would have helped him while he was in so much pain, and injured internally.
How it went for her, I neither knew nor cared. She would have questions to answer as that body was cleared away below.
‘He was peeing out of the window as I used the chamber pot. He must have fallen. How tragic? What can I do?’
It would be believable. They had heard the piddle dribbling off the edge of the roof directly above them from that one room, and had envied him up there with her in that warm and comfortable bed as they'd imagined all that he was doing to her, wishing they were in his place.
So, he had grown careless and had fallen, as he'd leaned out to pee so as not to dribble on himself. They had seen him fall; had heard him call out as he'd lost his balance.
She may have been able to reach an accommodation with that chief of the guards to avoid a more rigorous questioning, as she’d sat up in bed, letting him admire her breasts, or she had gone to the window, naked, with him, heedless of her lack of clothes, aware that he would be admiring her, and was becoming fired up himself to have her. One man was much like another that way, and if it would help her...?
He would dismiss his men to take the body away, while he ‘questioned’ her for the remainder of the night in the comfort of her room. Preferably, and soon, naked with her under her covers. He would not give her any choice in that. This would be sure to continue for him, now that he had a hold on her.
I, for my part, could now get on with my own life again, thinking that that would be the end of it.