Alchemist Gift – As the men spoke the contessa sat aloof, not out of apathy for the poor souls at her feet but more to create an emotional distance. She bided her time and thought of when it would be right for her to leave. She held the goblet of water and took a sip now and then. She cast a sad look on the three women. Two were standing with their heads lowered, the third, the weakest one; the one who needed help from the dungeon had already sunk to her knees and was slumped forward in the prayer position of a good Mohammedan.
The crowd started to chat and move about, some of the young people crept closer to get a better look at the three women who were already tied to the stake. Some of the boys went through a number of machinations to spy the nakedness of Monica Longo. The guards chased them back. The disappointed boys returned to their families without even a glance.
The mayor and the bishop noticed the crowd’s impatience and finished up their wine. Refreshed, the bishop stood and held up his arms. The crowd calmed itself and gave him their complete attention. “Bianca Molino, you are guilty of casting spells and performing Pagan rites. Admit your guilt and ask for forgiveness.”
After Bianca was imprisoned in the dank dungeon she developed very painful, red, running sores up and down her body. She raised her head and looked at the bishop with dull eyes. Her spirit was gone and the way she flinched when the coarse garment rubbed against her body was telling she suffered greatly. “I am guilty of casting spells and performing Pagan rites, just as you say. I am sorry for my sins and await my punishment.”
The bishop turned his palms up and made a lifting motion and nodded to Bianca’s guard. Carmen pulled Bianca’s shift away from her body and exposed the raw red lesions that pocked her legs and torso.
“These are the marks of Satan your lover and master. Each sore is where he has kissed or caressed you. Everyone, look upon her!” The bishop pointed at the tearful woman. The crowd whispered in eager agreement with the Bishop.
“Do you renounce the devil? Are you truly sorry for your sins? Do you recognize our lord Jesus Christ as your savior?” The bishop spoke with ease already knowing the answers.
“Yes your holiness, all of those things you said. I renounce the devil, I am truly sorry and I have always recognized the lord Jesus Christ.”
The bishop corrected her. “You mean you will recognize Jesus Christ as you savior. Only the hand of God can make you clean and worthy of his kingdom.”
“Yes, I will recognize our lord, Jesus Christ.”
The bishop made a small and careless sign of the cross. “You are forgiven my child, but of course you must be punished for those earthly sins you committed.”
Bianca nodded, and without being told turned away from the dais and took a step toward the guard standing closest to her. The guard, Carmen Testo, stopped short of taking her arm. He was repulsed by the running sores. They walked slowly; Bianca needed to stop and catch her breathe even though the stake was less than twenty paces away. Being very careful not to touch Bianca the guard put his hands as close as he dared in a guiding gesture. When they stood before the stake Bianca noticed the guard’s reluctance to touch her; smiled at him as best she could and climbed unaided and clumsily over the stacked wood, losing her balance she had to crawl the last little bit then pulled her up grabbing onto the stake for support. She turned around and faced the crowd as the guard tied her fast but rather loosely.
“God bless you.” She whispered to the soldier.
“And may He welcome you.” He whispered back.
When the bishop saw that Bianca was secured he read the next name. “Angelina Retell, you are guilty of worshipping Satan and sorcery. Stand up and admit your guilt” The old white haired woman who was prostrate in front of the dais did not move. The sergeant approached and gave Angelina Retell a kick. The accused fell to her side and remained there motionless. “Stand the witch up.” barked the bishop.
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The Alchemist Gift is a book about the lives of people in the Renaissance and the alchemy that brought them together with its repercussions on our modern-day hero, Roland.
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copyright 2013 Mark D. Giglio, www.theartofgiglio.com
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