The Fiction of Philip Kaveny
If you missed Part II visit here
If you missed the first installment visit here
“S’excuse me but, begging your pardon, but Yurich and I was
Wondering, why does your Alphonse care what happens to her? How could he care he only shagged her once. I mean, begging your pardon no disrespect but I mean I would just leave town after I shagged her and forget it.”
No one answered Otto’s question for the longest time. No one could answer them. Faces turned back to Philip who had no answer either. But waited just a little longer
Yurich cleared his throat and about half the crowd came back from the piss trough. Thomas was not hurt; and the dark man was nowhere to be found. But the gold coin was not yet spent. Since it was worth enough to pay the wages of a master craftsman for year it would last the night, and still leave the innkeeper a handsome profit.
Thomas the giant red blacksmith haired no longer felt like boasting that he was the offspring of Thor. Thomas was nearly as tall sitting down as most men standing up. He asked more quizzically than anything and out loud but to himself.
“How did the dark man do that to me?
Thomas the blacksmith had actually been following Philip’s story and asking himself questions in spite of himself
“No other man ever decked me that way ever, or my father or his before him? But the man who decked would be nothing against the beast. He could not kill what cannot be killed, The beast who Philip spoke of.
Thomas asked himself another set question,
“Why is Alphonse so good at death?”
“Why did the Monks give Alphonse thirty years sanctuary?”
“Who nearly beat him to death?”
Then Thomas sighed
“Good Christ, Philip has me talking to myself.”
As he continued out loud but still to himself,
“I had people to do that kind of work for me in the old days but, they were scum and never lasted long, because there were always others to kill them.”
Philip started out again and he noticed the dark man was in the house after all still in the back of the room. He had just signaled to John the owner of the tavern to bring a barrel up from the basement. It seemed to be getting much colder outside the icy wind was working it’s way through the cracks in the stone wall, and breath turned icy inside The Guildhall Tavern. Three helpers heaved a great long log to the fire. It must have been full of pitch dried almost to explosive tinder. The flames wrapped around it looking like popping dancing figures, female voluptuous seeming almost to beckon all whom watched to join in the revel. One who looked almost likes fangs and teeth and claws come to life. And the Wolfhounds wailed and went back to sleep.
About half of the crowd had gone off to sleep in their rooms or loft. Some were asleep on the disgusting floor with their arms around their favorite hounds wishing that some princess might come and save their soul, but still many listened, that time of the year in that part of the world the nights were very long.
Outside the trough froze and horses and farms animals
shuddered and then huddled for warmth. Far north across the icy
sea a blast of air was gaining force ice had not melted completely ice last summer and the glaciers moved 33,300 meters south since August. One good thing about this was that it was too cold for the lions of Judea to come any further north unless they were going to grow overcoats and fur hats.
Philip of Trier took a smaller drink and started his story again.
Now, Philip took them inside Alphonse’s mind and gave them his inner thoughts and what his thoughts as he walked down the early morning streets in the world of words Philip was creating of shadow and substance, both for them and himself. In doing this he was taking them into a better world than the world they lived in
It was Philip using his words to make them hear what was inside Allophone’s mind as he walked down unfamiliar streets in an imaginary world, and then they started to see the street as Alphonse might see them.
Philip spoke but in Alphonse’s inner voice varied in cadence and diction sometimes using words the guildsmen had never heard before but wrapping them in words that they knew, sometimes as simple as the words of a soldier.
‘I must go find Carlo and my weapons; I must find Carlo and try to remember how I did my work. I know I killed for money but just now I can’t remember how. Is he still alive it has been so long, now half my life ago has spent half my life with words and now words memory fails me? I must I must remember with my hands. Would I even recognize Carlo, he is an old man now. But, where would I find him after thirty years? Would he be where here I last saw him on that terrible day, before the day I nearly died? The day they nearly beat the life out of me.
But can I find the road back, is it best to die just now and close it leave it and save myself from a death that is worse than death. I am not ever sure where I might find him since I had so seldom been outside in all those years. When we went out it was only for errands to the market, the market that was close by’.
“The streets had changed so much in a third of a century. What had been vacant lots now contained prosperous shops, with glass windows and fine goods displayed, fashion had changed and changed again in thirty three years, fine ladies were going in and out of shops on cobblestone streets that used to be mud filled ruts, that none dared walk when last I passed. They do not seem to notice me; it was almost as if I wish me to take up less space now than I did then, them almost seeing through me.”
Philip’s narration was at letting them see something that Alphonse remembered from his past. Not that Alphonse was invisible, but he could make people look through almost look through him since he was as tall as Thomas was the blacksmith. Thomas still in the room started paying much closer attention to Philip’ words.
Philip continued in and out of Alphonse’s mind knowing the limits of his audiences, and trying to make connections for them and him. He also gave them what Alphonse’s senses received from the outside world.
“Alphonse found Carlo at the same place they met last time. It was the same place but nothing was the same. Carlo’s was place was on the edge of a walled city a third of a century ago, but the city grown and rushed past him. It grew and prospered under Duke Alver’s reign. Alver had grown to be called “The just” even by his enemies. His small holding had grown to city statehood as it moved miles past what had been the old wall.
The wall was torn down and used for cobblestones to pave new roads. Cities did not need walls any more. When Alphonse last saw Carlo he was the owner of a dive that was a den for thieves; now he was the owner of a prosperous well kept inn that mostly supplied lodging for retired officers who had decent pensions but no property.
Alphonse was struck by what he saw. Carlo had not changed much since last they spoke. But now he now wore fine silk rather than a leather jerkin. 33 years had changed him little His hair was white and his shoulders still wide and powerful and only a little stooped and from the look of his hands he was still capable of business, if he wished, but he did wish it. He did not wish it because he had made the only secret bargain he could to stay alive the day Alphonse was delivered to the Monastery.
He ran a very proper lodging house and always required three months rent in his advance for his small neat rooms and the large breakfast he provided.
‘Brother Alphonse, are you lost?’
His laughter froze time and held the tides in check, then he continued.
‘Alphonse, but now they say Brother Alphonse and scholar.
You were the best we ever saw, best from the start, so good you
could pick your work. My god a killer’s killer, who only killed
royalty. Best of all you always paid cash in advance. No dead
Man’s tab for you. My you were God’s righteous angel of death.’
“Tall as you were you made yourself into haggard bent over
old woman or a beautiful long limbed dancer. You were almost a
‘I didn’t change as much as it seemed. It was more as if I changed in their minds; well I would sometimes I changed least a little. Sometimes enough to make a guard what to kiss me, because he thought I was a beautiful courtesan and it was easier to fool him than kill him.’ because he thought I was a beautiful courtesan, and it was easier to fool him than kill him.”
Carlo the weapons maker’s laugh was like the ripe wine of late manhood
‘Did you like it when he kissed you?’
Carlo loved Alphonse because what he had paid for his services that bought him his retirement. He paid by buying the last thing the Scorpion crossbow
“You were my last, my best customer; I thought for sure the Duke Alver’s men would come to me when they got you after you missed that day. Answer one question was it the weapon that failed you? Tell what went wrong with it. I never made another”
“Alphonse’s mind flashed back to the gala in the Dukes great ball thirty three years before when he was twenty three. To Alphonse it was just another job, maybe his last job because he was paid so well. He would just grease the wheels of history a bit. He had done so much harder work than the job he was about to do. It only involved getting within a couple paces of Duke Alvers. Alphonse I didn’t even have to conceal the weapon on his person. It all had all been taken care of. The patron had paid the half in advance so that if Alphonse did not do he job he would hire another killer to hunt him down. If he failed than another until one of them got him it was that kind of work.
The money was such that Alphonse would never have to work again. He had an entire Dynasty behind him, how could he lose. Then
Alphonse slipped back in time, as Carlo handed him a small glass
of yellow spirits. He smiled and handed it back.
‘ t has been to long only a little vinegar mixed with water. No the weapon did not fail me. Something made me fail, something that was both so subtle, I could barely feel it and yet so much more than me.”
“Some things you cannot go back to.’
‘Fair enough I built a nice business on what you paid me, But,
when you botched it that last time, I though for certain I would
Die for making you that crossbow. I was sure Alvers men would
decorate the Four Corners of the city with my body parts’
That brought Alphonse back to his Scorpion, the hand crossbow that Carlo made to do the job. It made him think of a scorpion with it tail drawn back to strike. It was barely larger than his hand but its dart was so dense and heavy, mercury encased in iron that it was able to kill by shattering and splintering armor into a hundred tiny daggers, or even killing by shock impact if the armor did not shatter.
‘God I loved that weapon.’
Said Alphonse almost worshipfully,
Alphonse continued more to himself than anyone.
‘Carlo you put yourself into making it beautiful, even the
Crow’s foot opened to a stock. And yet when I got close enough to
feel Alver’s breath the bolt slipped out of the track and
Fell harmless to the floor and rolled across for an eternity. But it was not the weapons fault I should have been able to hold in my sleep.’
‘I hoped to run in the confusion. They say anyone can kill the king if he wishes to die himself, but I could kill a king and then get away. But the guards caught me and held me before Alver’s who held me in his gaze for sixty heartbeats. He was weighing every decision in his life. I was more to him that I could understand. They did not kill me they only roughed me up very badly. But, they left me able to function. I only heard from Alver’s once a dozen years later after Alver’s mistress had a baby daughter and died. Clara his daughter was light in his life from the start, and his note one the finest parchment said only with his personal royal seal said only’
‘You assassin are cursed live to and redeem my sin’
“Alver’s reign was stable and prosperous and he died a few weeks
ago, peacefully in bed.”
“Funny how they never killed you instead they publicly
executed someone that they said was you and you went into
sanctuary. Although it was reported that some saw one that looked
like you in the market.”
“I thought my time would never end in the monastery, my
hands were quick and strong, but, I could read things easily as I
had to in my work. I had to puzzle meaning from scraps and shards
of paper it was a puzzle to many but to me the meaning always seemed to stand out. Then I would explain and dispute to others and they would agree.”
“I know why you are here. I know what you are going to ask me
Alphonse looked at him woefully
“I have lost that which I was, help me to remember what I was, Carlo. Do you remember what I was then. Though what good would it be against a soul eating monster.”
In a way Carlo carried the memories Alphonse ran from when he was a monk and scholar. He had a part of Alphonse in a sort of secret satchel.(Perhaps we construct ourselves from our friends memories when we forget who we are?)
“You were what you are now the best at what you do. The best is the best, it knows the best way. You translated the same way, right to the heart of the meaning whatever the cost. It was kept quiet but your translations are causing the Church to pick sides and convene conferences since their power is based on what you are by your work questioning. These questions will linger after you are gone