17:06 p.m. on June 1st in the second Year of the Bearer’s Reign
Rosa is busy overseeing preparations for dinner when the doorbell chimes: discrete tones echoing through the high hall and the kitchen. ‘What? Did the master expect visitors?’ He rarely entertained; and if he did he never forgot to notify her. ‘And I haven’t heard the gate bell going off or anything. Strange… Must’ve been some recollection that I’m hearing...’
Rosa shrugs and says: “Oh yes, Cook, just remember to stay low on the salt! The master does not need any more problems with his blood pressure than he already has!”
Rosa turns to check on the girl polishing the silver when the doorbell chimes again. ‘What? Oh well, I’d better check,’ so she calls the guard on his securiPhone: “Hank? Hank, it’s me, Rosa. Just checking… did you show anybody in this afternoon?“
“No!? I thought there was something strange! Listen, the doorbell is ringing!
Yes, yes, the house bell, not the gate bell, I can tell the difference, dear!”
“You know we cannot be too vigilant, Hank! I will see who is there but I’d appreciate it if you would make your way over here just in case!”
“Yes, yes. I’ll be careful! I know it won’t do to open the door to just anybody!
OK, come around the back”
“Yes. Mind be careful! And keep it out of sight, you never know… Maybe we oversee something…”
For the third time the doorbell chimes, a bit more persistent. Rosa approaches the door, wiping her hands nervously on her apron. Her master is little known as a public figure but he is very rich, with all the rich’ vulnerabilities; many stories circulate about what happened to neighbors, to friends of friends of neighbors: fraudulent servants, intruders, kidnappings, carjackings… ‘You never know how innocently such gruesome events started… And the Mrs. is famous in her own way, you never know how dangerous political reporting might turn out – oh, Hail STATE’ Looking through the spy hole, she sees a small woman standing on the dais. ‘Hmn… Doesn’t look too threatening, now does she? But neither does she look like she belongs here. Her clothes, as far as Rosa could tell through the deforming glass, are simple and her posture sure is not of a member of the family or of the master’s close friends. ‘How had she come through the gate, then? Hmn... Force?’
> Again, the Seed has shown her true Face: the Face of Murder. We will end it.
[As is the Word of Jason A. the One]
As Rosa is trying to assess the danger, Hank comes around the back of the huge house. He is still quite far away but he sees the woman is no habitual guest. Suddenly, the sun disappears behind a cloud. The weather had been fickle all day, rapid showers and sunny patches, but with the sun already setting the sudden dark is somehow gloomy. The outside lamps switch on automatically.
From the other side of the house comes violent barking. ‘Steven!’ Steven is just returning from his walk with Trevor and Quint, the two bouviers. Smelling a stranger on their grounds, they are wild with protective anger. ‘Good!’ Steven is also approaching the woman.
Rosa eyes her through the hole and sees she is not reacting at all. Hank has approached near enough to talk and he is asking some pointed questions. Curtly, the woman replies. The door’s realOak is so thick Rosa cannot hear them, but it seems the woman is not explaining herself satisfactorily in his opinion.
A clear and curt voice in her mind: ‘Call your master.’ Rosa rubs her head. She sometimes has this, whole dialogues suddenly being played in her head, and the ‘hearing voices’ clichï¿½ made her a bit wary of these even if she was clever enough to see she was very much in control of herself mentally. ‘This is not the moment for fantasizing!’ She looks through the hole when the voice is there again: ‘Call your master now!’
The dogs are frantic and Steven has difficulty holding them. With a small gesture, Hank motions Steven to let them go. The dogs leap towards the small woman who is not even moving. Their sensitive snouts come closer, a bit wary because though this being has a human shape, she has no human smell, neither sweat nor food nor sex nor fear... When their noses come too close, the air stings and they cower away, yelping with fear.
‘Rosa, do not make me order you thrice!’
‘Not again this voice!’ Rosa is so distracted it takes some time for her to realize her mobiPhone is ringing. Hank is calling her: “Rosa, she repeats she has come to see the master. Listen, there is some power to her… I quickly skipped back on the memoryDisk of the gate’s camGuard and it shows her walking up to it and the gate opening automatically, like some bleedin’ sliding doors! No violence or anything… And, well, seeing the dogs and I can’t seem to point my gun at her and so I was thinking, she is maybe, you know, maybe she is the Bearer? Maybe this is stupid, I don’t know, but call the master just in case…”
Rosa hurries off and finds her master in his study. He says: “What is the matter, Rosa? All this noise, who the hell is at the front door!?”
“Eh… this woman… She asks you come to the door yourself,”
“What! What for God’s sake can I afford servants for? No way! Who is she?”
“I had a look, but we do not know”
“We do not open the door for strangers! I am not expecting anybody and I am bloody busy tonight, I don’t need any kind of colportage as you well know, Rosie. Tonight of all nights! Tell her be off.”
“But… Hank is there and Steven with the dogs and they cannot seem to force her away… and the gates just opened for her… So, Hank thinks maybe… well theoretically she could be… she has some of the powers people say belong to”
“Come on Rosie, spit it out! Dear girl! The Bearer, is that what you are trying to tell me? The Bearer on my doorstep?! Well that would be the day! First kill the Countess for all to see and then light up Parliament. And then to visit me, of all people?” Blake Feyman rises and walks towards the door with big steps. He is not a tall man, but his body is full of an incredible will-power. Whatever he decides on as his course, he will do without doubt and now he is surging down the stairs and going for the door. Without looking he pulls it open.
Exactly in the middle of the porch light stands a small woman. Her dark hair is spiky, she remains very still. The summer rain, glittering in the lamplight and wetting the pavement, the two men, the dogs, does not penetrate a semi-sphere around her. While Hank looks at him for a decision, Blake is briefly distracted by an analogy he want to shrug away as soon as possible, but which taints the scene nevertheless. Somehow, the whole scene recalls a story, a story he had read long ago, in the Book. His parent’s had bought the Childs’ Book for him, and the bold outlined drawings spring to life in his mind: the hunched stranger waiting outside the tent of the rich man… whatever his name was… and how again did it end? Did the rich man refuse the poor stranger or, no, no, no, the man did recognize the stranger for who he was: God himself, come to earth to visit him in person… ‘But this certainly is not God! This slight female, this usurper of power, this idol!’
“Sir,” Hank says clumsily but his master interrupts with a short wave. “Steven, get those dogs in through the back door as soon as possible! They’ll smell like hell if you get them wet, you fool!” He turns and looks briefly at the Bearer, then bows half-heartedly: “Your Grace. What an unexpected honor. Do come in.”
After a short call to Mrs. Grezner to have her take care of some rescheduling, Irene enters the chambers of the Captain. He is on his couch, reading some excerpts from recent articles on the Countess’ murder with a concerned frown. When he hears her, he looks up, his face softening though his worries remain. “Irene! What a day... This is bad, real bad, you know! The Countess was such a great person - and then to have her murdered, here in the Palace! And then those rumors about Her Grace... And what exactly happened there in Parliament, you know I was upstairs when it happened, was she radiating like when the market was attacked; STATE suffering for the loss of the Countess? Or was she more in, say, the dangerous mode..? And what this talk about the end of Matil, do you think he really..? Please, let’s just have a drink, shall we? I need to get all of this out of my system for a bit...”
At that moment, a Guard approaches, saying that Doctor Jan is asking permission to enter.
“Yes, yes, show him in!” the Captain says, while his man servant puts three glasses on the serving table, ready to pour. They have a drink together. Subtly, Jan tries to explain why he thinks Martin is not such a fool as he seems, with the Bearer becoming a greater liability by the day. Though he does not voice it aloud, it is clear that he thinks Her Grace has murdered the Countess, enraging Irene though she does understand that Her Grace’s behavior is not the most benevolent today.
The Captain is clearly confused about the day’s events and prefers to opt for the unlikely scenario that the fired Guard had committed the crime for some unknown reason, maybe a crime passionel? As the Bearer had warned her, the Captain’s mind does not allow for any chink of insight that the Countess may have been Matil. Irene sighs and drinks her drink a bit too fast, allowing the man servant to refill it even though she knows she should not, not really. “Well, we do have some time to speak more openly, I guess,” she says when both men finally lapse into a silence. They stare at her. “Why? What do you mean?” the Captain asks, and Jan frowns with irritation.
“Er, Her Grace asked me to inform you of her absence for a few days,” Irene says carefully, feeling she maybe should have communicated this later, tomorrow for instance.
“WHAT!?” Jan says, “See that she IS behaving in a strange manner, Captain! Ever since her getting sick in that alley, which I as her Doctor have never had the chance to investigate – I might add - and then her sudden interest for the Countess, and then appearing all light-giving in Parliament like that; I mean, what is she up to? I mean, for a whole state to be dependent on one such person...” He refrains from saying his conclusion aloud and sips his drink.
The words remain in the space, and Irene is happy that the Captain does not jump up and order Jan to be taken away as a traitor. ‘He really is shocked,’ she thinks, then tries to smile to soften their moods. “Please Jan, there are reasons for STATE which we as humans cannot and should not understand. And if this Matil is really ended, that is good news, don’t you agree? All will become more clear in a few days, I am sure...” She only just stops herself from adding ‘Hail STATE’, thinking that he sees her as a religious fanatic for her trust already. From the securiPolice, the Captain and she did hear of his attendance to some of Martin’s little circles, but at that time she had convinced the Captain that it is safer to keep some snakes close. ‘Better not make Jan suspect we know...’
> Hail the most Holy, the Bringer of Light
> Hail this day, bringing the Light to the Parliament and making them see Her Glory
> Hail STATE, who kills the unworthy
> What? Her Grace did not and would never kill, she is the pure Bringer of Light
> The Light will kill the dark, and so She should!
> Her Grace will bring the eternal Peace of STATE and the Light will guide us all
> Hail STATE! Hail the Bearer of STATE, the Bringer of Light!
> The Essence of Light, you mena
> you MEAN