E X   C O R P O R I B U S :   P R O L O G U E

Completed January 26, 2020 (♒)

Author's notes at the end.

“Is this the full and manifest glory of the faith then?” Wiegraf hissed. “Are you quite proud of yourself, Izlude? Will you boast to you father about your great triumph over Father Penn-Lashich?”

Izlude looked at the ground, knuckles whitening as he clasped the haft of his lance. He did not want to have to concoct an answer. He did not want to think of Father Penn-Lashich at all.

“We had our orders,” he said haltingly after what seemed a very long silence. “There are higher concerns at--”

He was cut off as his companion cuffed him, and his weapon clattered to the ground as he reached up reflexively to touch his face. Izlude froze, trying to swallow back down the lump in his throat. He would not let the stinging in his eyes progress to the humiliation of tears. Even if it was only Wiegraf who struck him, he did not want to betray that sort of weakness. He did not want to make things worse.

“Did you think that he might send up an alarm and call up all the other seventy-year-old monks?” Wiegraf continued. “We’d fucking be in for it then, Izlude!”

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled. “I’m sorry… If he still lives…”

There was a shout from the corridor, and both men looked to one another. Whatever Izlude had thought might be done about the old man in the library drifted from the scope of their concern as a knight in Glabados colors bounded over the dry stone floor of the vault towards them.

“Someone’s coming!” she cried. “Riders at the gates!”

Izlude picked up his lance and looked to Wiegraf. As he waited for him to say something regarding what they should do, he took note as Wiegraf traced the contours of the gold icon he now wore over his tabard. It was a gesture he had seen him perform many times before: a sort of nervous action he undertook often and without seeming thought. When asked about it directly, back when he wore an icon of simple iron, he had said something about memories. Izlude had let the matter drop.

“I’m heading towards the vaults,” Wiegraf said tersely after a moment. “Try not to rush out and slaughter a bunch of pilgrims unless it’s strictly necessary.”

He turned suddenly, striding off intently towards one of the winding staircases that led downward into the abbey’s sub-basements. Izlude, face still smarting from where he had been struck, began to realize that he would have to command the bulk of their entourage himself.

He stumbled through how best to compose himself and his men, thinking back to the endless charts and schema that had passed before his eyes back at Murond. He closed his eyes a moment as a man asked where they ought wait. The cringing contortions of the old man’s withered features, the sudden shock of blood on his surplice--they could plague him another time. He would confess later. He would weep later. He would let whatever penitence or penalty was his fall upon him later.

Unlike Wiegraf, he knew the extent to which he was haunted, and he would make allowances for it.

Author's Notes: The title is taken from a Latin term meaning "from the body," which refers in Catholicism to relics made from the physical bodies of saints.