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A Squeaky Clean Renaissance, Chapter 2: A Mind Diseased

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Of the arrival of the most wise Robert the physician, and of the spread of Morality and Good Manners.

Of the arrival of the most wise Robert the physician, and of the spread of Morality and Good Manners.


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  • 1. A Squeaky Clean Renaissance Chapter the Second: A Mind Diseased
  • 2. To my lord, the Archdeacon Malachi, Supreme Arbiter-in-Chiefof the Most Holy Jacoban Faith:
  • 3. We understand one another precisely.
  • 4. We accept and do not challenge the Proxy’s Authority on matters spiritualconcerning the Jacoban Faith. Matters purely temporal, material, and militaryyou may safely leave to Us.This would go better with sage, onion, and parsley.
  • 5. As to His Lordship’s declaration that the Watcher looks with favoron his claim to the Chair of Jacobus, We defer to his Lordship’s presumablybetter knowledge of the matter.Cecil of PuritaniaHis own handA.C. 2*____*Anno Cecil.
  • 6. It is unwise for a prince continually to leave his state in order to prosecute foreign wars, so itwas necessary to send a knight whose feudal allegiance was unwavering. And so it was thatthe King called on Sir Redcrosse.“The Archdeacon Malachi has asked Us to assist with the election of a new Jacoban Proxy.Yacothia’s commitment to high Morality will be invaluable in spreading PuritanianRectitude, and of course, Good Manners.”“But my lord, how can military might be of assistance in an election?”“Enter their capital with a small militia; stand by, looking persuasive; and do not leave untilyou see interestingly colored smoke.”
  • 7. Redcrosse began his preparations, thinking of the ways in which he mightserve the Watcher in his mission.
  • 8. “I am not important,” said Una. “I come to bring the Watcher’s Peace. And Love.”“Love?”“Yes, Love.”
  • 9. “Clearly, I must serve the Watcher, and therefore I must serve anyonewho serves the Watcher. The Watcher must be present in such a well-decoratedbuilding.”
  • 10. The Shepherdess Duessa was exhorting her small but zealous flock.“We are electing a new Proxy. We require your utmost obedience.To fail would be disastrous. Serve the Watcher. You may begin withthe collection. You may say ‘thank you, Shepherdess Duessa’ as youcheerfully make your donations.”
  • 11. “Any lady who serves the Watcher is to be honored.They are all the same, are they not?”The Shepherdess carefully assessed the knight before her.
  • 12. “Madam—Shepherdess—whatever I may call you—”“You, Sir Redcrosse, may call me Duessa.”“Duessa. That does not seem adequately respectful, Shepherdess.His Majesty King Cecil has asked me to assist you in the electionof a new Proxy.”
  • 13. Ah. “And you have misgivings. I understand. It is a lonely mission, serving here. I amaccustomed to being misunderstood. Whatever the King may say, you must notstrive against your conscience. The Watcher does not desire the aid of the unwilling,and I am too proud to accept help otherwise.”“Of course not, lady! You may command me in whatever you desire.”
  • 14. “A small militia,” the King had said. This meant training a militia,and this meant recruiting a militia. Redcrosse worried about theimplications, and doubly so as he watched his squire, Christopher,becoming very taken with one of the new lady recruits.“I did not know ladies could serve in the military,” breathed Christopher.“No one is going to tell me I can’t, Chris.”“What is your name?”“Friotheswede.”
  • 15. “For Friotheswede! Is she looking this way? Does she find mymanly chivalry impressive?”Worried by the pressure of the mission, Redcrosse soughtpeace with the only person who seemed to provide it.
  • 16. “The Watcher’s Peace is for everyone,” said Sister Una. “It doesnot matter who you are. You are loved.”
  • 17. “She is so good,” thought Redcrosse, “and I do feel peace in herpresence. Peace and Love.And this must be because she serves the Watcher. Duessa—that is, the Shepherdess-serves the Watcher. I must not sit here, however peaceful and happy I feel. I mustreturn to my mission.”
  • 18. “This ought to be effective. A sword of fire, that burns whatever it cuts.We WILL have the Proxy I –that is, King Cecil—supports. Sir Redcrosse must help,whether he wishes to or not.”“And he will wish to, by the time I am finished with him. Oh, yes.”
  • 19. “May your mission be blessed, Sir Knight. I am doubly thankfulfor your serving the Church and serving me, a poor damsel, dependenton the kindness of others.”“The sword will show you the way. Use it wisely.”
  • 20. “I hear that the Archdeacon Malachi is now Proxy of theJacoban Church.”“The election was not peaceful, High Priestess Terra, but it wasover quickly. We did our duty to King Cecil, and we trust that ourservice was pleasing to the Watcher.”
  • 21. “And I do so hope our service was pleasing to the Watcher, as my poor squire’slady Friotheswede is dead. How could I live with myself if that was not the case?”“I was doing my duty to the King.”“Every man’s duty is the King’s, but every man’s soul is his own. There must bepeace, if I could only find it.”
  • 22. “Peace and Love be upon you, Sir Redcrosse! Surely you feel it?”“Yes. Yes, I do.”“May I humbly suggest that the Peteran Church will help you findyour way?”“Of course! That must be the source of my happiness. Yes.”
  • 23. “May the Watcher bless you, Sir Redcrosse. I must be on my way.Puritania has a terrible Dire Chinchilla problem, and I am surethe matter can be settled peacefully.”
  • 24. “Peace and love be upon you, good people! Peace be upon the DireChinchillas!”
  • 25. “Surely we need not slay the Dire Chinchillas for their fiendishdispositions, ravenous appetites and rows of tiny serrated teeth? Surely wecan domesticate the Dire Chinchilla? We can raise them for their wool!”
  • 26. “Such a nonviolent solution will surely be pleasing to the Watcher.”I am a Watchmaker Watcher and do not intend to intervene.Nevertheless, I quite approve of the sentiment.
  • 27. “Raise the Dire Chinchillas.”“For their wool.”“Do Dire Chinchillas have wool?”“For lo, Sister Una is simple as a duck.”“In a nice way, though.”
  • 28. Few believed it was possible, or wise, to domesticate the DireChinchilla, and so Sister Una sought expert advice.“If you want to know about Dire Chinchillas, Elder HunterMorde knows as much as anyone alive. But he will tell youthey are vicious beasts. Worse than dragons, even.”
  • 29. Indeed, Elder Hunter Morde was not encouraging.“You cannot domesticate Dire Chinchillas. You cannot even tamethem. They will eat your face right off your head.”
  • 30. Sister Una insisted that yea, even the Dire Chinchilla must be givena chance. Elder Hunter Morde attempted again to dissuade her.
  • 31. “Watcher bless you, I think you are a fool. You are a kind hearted,sweet fool, however. Here, drink this. It will hurt less when they chewyour face off.”
  • 32. But lo, Sister Una’s face was not devoured by the Dire Chinchillas, and shelived to witness this to her congregation.“Peace and kindness are always best, brothers and sisters. Love oneanother. Love our furry friends.”
  • 33. “I must write to Brother Bonaventure. He will be so happythat our mission here is doing so well! I have made one wholeconvert, and I have saved the lives of countless adorable if easilyannoyed rodents.”“I ought to become friendly with the local Jacoban church as well, sinceour intentions are the same.”
  • 34. “Shepherdess? Shepherdess?—”“She walked right past me. Oh, well. She cannot have heard.”
  • 35. “Peace and Love. . .I am afraid I do not know your name.”“Ambrose. Subdeacon Ambrose. Peace and Love aren’t exactlyour specialty around here. We think Worry and Self-Loathing doa better job.”“But we want the same thing—for people to Be Good?”“Oh, sure. We’re just really unhappy with them until they are.”
  • 36. Sister Una was determined to find common ground, however.“Still , you are my brother of the cloth, Subdeacon Ambrose. Thereis no reason why we cannot be friends.”The Jacoban attendant looked almost eager at the thought.“Why not? I like the idea. Only—don’t mention it to the Shepherdessjust yet. Please.”
  • 37. Fortis, the blacksmith, had wandered in to admire the Cathedraland to see if there were any ways in which her crafts could improve it.“What are you doing here, Sister Una?”“Admiring the gifts of the Watcher, Fortis—although you can admire themjust as much in the Peteran monastery, and that seems more suited to yourcharacter. You ought to give us a try, as well.”
  • 38. Sister Una went to King Cecil to ask for his protection for thePeteran Church.“In whatever manner we can serve you best, your Majesty. BrotherBonaventure made me promise to ask. We Shall Be Good.”The King was not especially encouraging.
  • 39. “Our policy at this time is to encourage competition between theChurches. It benefits Our intent to spread Morality, Rectitude, andGood Manners—Squeaky Cleanliness, in fact—and to bring forth theRenaissance to as many lands as possible.”“Freedom to compete? As in a marketplace? Would this be—”“The marketplace of ideas? No, Sister Una. This is the marketplace ofthe market. One, or both, or the most successful may win.”
  • 40. “We do try. I will try. I am friends with Subdeacon Ambrose.But Brother Bonaventure says that the Jacoban Church is a bit—frightening.They are obsessed with the rules. He says we will need your help to survive.”“Hmm. Obsessed with the rules? You don’t say so. We shall think further onthe matter. We do have other concerns at the moment. We would like tobring in modern medicine.”
  • 41. “Or the next best thing.”The word that the Puritanian monarch approved of Knowledgeand Culture had spread, and had attracted the learned from otherlands.
  • 42. The reasonably learned, anyway. Considering.“Decoction and distillation of lunar plants and herbs, collectedunder a full moon, a sovereign remedy for an excess of the cholerichumors.”Robert Galenus had received his medical education in Simaris, andthough relatively new to his art, was deemed to be very promisingby his professors.
  • 43. “Democritus, it does not matter what the previous leechcrafterdid. I want you to cleanse all wounds with vinegar before youwrap them. And be careful not to touch them with your hands.”
  • 44. “Cleansing with vinegar? But that’s a lunatic idea! We’ve never donethat before.”“And how many of your patients died before?”“Pretty much all of them.”“Exactly.”“Can I still treat fevers by splitting a pigeon and sticking it on thepatient’s head?”“Duh, of course. Isn’t that the way everybody does it?”
  • 45. He sought the best possible ingredients for his potions.“Herbs from Simrabia. Can you get them?”“Perhaps. But they will cost you. What do you need?”“Don’t even think about overcharging me. I need mandragora,cinnamon, and pepper.”“I didn’t know cinnamon and pepper were medicinal herbs.”“They’re not. I use them for cooking. Onions will only take you sofar.”
  • 46. Medications are only as good as diagnosis, and at this, Robert wasexcellent.“Hmmmm. Is being a Beastslayer a demanding job?”“Oh yus. It’s the beasts, see. Don’t like bein’ slayed. They getscranky.”
  • 47. “I think the sanguine humor is a bit excessive. You’ll needleeches.”“I don’t like leeches.”“Don’t be foolish, man. They can’t be worse than beasts. Andthey are considerably better than your other options. Trust me onthis.”
  • 48. “Master Robert! The leeches worked! I feel fightin’ fit, an’ thebeasts knows it. So does the wife, hur hur.”
  • 49. The Beastslayer’s good report of Robert spread, and soon everykind of person sought his assistance, trusting in his skill.
  • 50. They even trusted him when a few remedies did not work asexpected.“Try this. It is new, but it ought to serve.”
  • 51. “You are in luck. I have a very new potion, absolutely perfect formild cases of the Black Death.”“Does it work, Master Robert? No problems with it?”
  • 52. “Don’t be silly. Of course it does.”
  • 53. “I’d like to put in an order for more mandragora.”“More mandragora. Got it. Anything else?“Some powdered mummy. I can find belladonna here.”
  • 54. “ARGH.”“Do not be a child. Do you know where we usually stick syringes ofthis size?”
  • 55. “ARGH.”“Do you know. . .“I heard! I heard!”
  • 56. Now turn we from the most wise Robert the Physician to Duessathe Shepherdess. While she had influenced the election of theProxy Malachi, whom she had favored, she still wished to rule akingdom of her own.“I need not do so directly. Far easier to rule from behind thethrone, and I can use my natural gifts to do so.”
  • 57. “Ambrose, I have an audience with the King. I expect you tocomplete the religious documents we spoke of before I return.”“Yes, Shepherdess. When may I expect you?”“If all goes well? Perhaps not for some time. Perhaps not untiltomorrow. Finish the documents quickly. I will be extremelybusy.”
  • 58. “Your Majesty. Sire. I thought that in your great wisdom, youmight consider exclusively supporting me—er—the JacobanChurch.”
  • 59. “As We informed your sister of the cloth, Our policy at this time isto encourage competition between the Churches. We believe it willfoster the more rapid development of Squeaky Clean Morality andGood Manners.”
  • 60. “Forgive me for presuming, your Majesty, but surely you havealready seen that your aims would be better served by the JacobanChurch? We encourage Morality, and we insist on a strictadherence to the rules. We are already Squeaky Clean, and if Imay say so, we are experts at ensuring that everyone else is, too.”
  • 61. “Have you considered the benefits of a theocracy?”“A theocracy? Really. You make it sound quite appealing.”“Oh, it is. You might even go so far as to say you would quiteenjoy it. The first step would be to convert you.”
  • 62. “ I am not quite positive that—”“Stand back. I understand that many people find it pleasant,although I must warn you that I am very, very, very strict.”
  • 63. “I admit that I prefer strictness myself.”“Pleasant?”“Not altogether repellent, no.”“And perhaps you would prefer me to stay and and assist in yourreligious development.”“No. . .no, on the whole not, I think. In fact, your audience is atan end. I am certain you have spiritual duties to which you mustattend.”
  • 64. “Remind me never to permit that again.”
  • 65. “That did not go as I had hoped. Perhaps it never will. I shallconsult the King’s Advisor—discreetly, of course.”
  • 66. Without knowing it, the Royal Advisor confirmed Duessa’s fears.“His Majesty was very impressed by you. He appreciates the Jacoban Church’s and youremphasis on avoiding the ways of the flesh.”“He has no. . .inclinations that way himself? No lapses in morality? No secretvices? . . .because the Jacoban church is very strict about those. That is what I meant.”“Oh, no. The ruder castle servants murmur that his Majesty pisses ice. It’s true.Metaphorically.”
  • 67. That particular form of influence was not going to work, thoughtShepherdess Duessa, which was a pity. She was quite prepared tomake sacrifices. Scarcely a sacrifice at all. There were other avenuesto power, however, and an opportunity to build commitment to theJacoban church and herself, not necessarily in that order.
  • 68. “Let me be clear about this. The King is a Jacoban now. Do Ireally have to underline what you need to do here?”
  • 69. It was a good idea to be helpful on occasion, as well. She offered her services toRobert the Physician.“Master Robert, I understand that you have a patient who is almostimpervious to medical assistance.”“That is true, Shepherdess, and I cannot understand it. I cannot evendiagnose it properly, and I have tried everything. Scrutinizing his urine, eventasting it—nothing works.”“Sometimes healing a disease may require a spiritual element. Allow me.”
  • 70. “STOP BEING SICK, do you hear me? You wouldn’t even BE sick if youhadn’t angered the Watcher.”“Why? What did I do? I didn’t stand in front of the messenger post so noone else could get to it. I didn’t pick fights. I didn’t even block the well allday and spit in it—oh, wait. Maybe I did.”“YOU ARE TOO STUPID TO LIVE.”
  • 71. “Stand back, Master Robert. I must blast the well clean.”“And then I will be able to cure that unfortunate man. Hmm—mandragora, large syringe—I am certain I will think ofsomething.”
  • 72. “To my lord Malachi, Proxy of the most holy Jacoban Church and mostSupreme Turnpike to the Watcher:While King Cecil the First is indeed a Jacoban now, I cannot determinehis absolute loyalty. Intellectually he is in sympathy with our views, butthe King’s corporal being remains difficult to access.”--which is so, so frustrating, but I do not think I will include that,and it will not do to inform the Proxy of everything.”
  • 73. “Good morning, Bubbles.”“Ta, your Shepherdessship. Where you off to so early beforethe sermon?”“The forest, Bubbles. I find meditation there relaxing.”
  • 74. “Good morning, Shepherdess.”“Oh, good morning, Harald. I am in such distress, but I don’t suppose I willbe able to find assistance.”“I thought the King was Jacoban now. Town crier told it all over yesterday.I’d thought he would help you.”“Princes cannot be relied on for everything, alas, and my need is very great.”“Well, I’d help you, Shepherdess. I’ll serve you in whatever way I can.”“Really.”
  • 75. “I don’t think I want medical attention after all, Master Robert.I’m too sick to stand it.”“You must have the foul and noxious humors purged from yourbody, and this is the least unpleasant way. Trust me on this.”
  • 76. “Sir Redcrosse. What brings you to my clinic?”“I do not know. I am ill, and yet I am quite well, and I do notunderstand it.”“Hmm. Yes, I think I have seen this illness before. It is verycommon. Occasionally it cures itself with time. But the system canbecome weakened, and prone to malefic influence, so I would advisecaution.”
  • 77. The Shepherdess Duessa, however, was very good at diagnosing this sort of illness.“You do not look quite well, Sir Redcrosse. May my prayers and service be ofhelp?”“I do not think so. Master Robert says he cannot cure me. If he cannot cure me,what will?”“Perhaps the Watcher will enlighten me.”“In any event, I have come to see if you need my service and my sword.”ARGH. “Not today, no. But I am sure I will in the future.”
  • 78. Inside, a soldier from Yacothia awaited Duessa’s orders.“The Supreme Turnpike wishes to know how much influence wehave in Puritania.”Tell my Lord Proxy to keep his attractively slippered foot out of mybusiness.“Tell my Lord Proxy that matters are proceeding well, but that Ihumbly ask a free hand.”
  • 79. “And do NOT tell my Lord Proxy I said so, but Yacothian soldiersshould not dress as though they come from Mordor. You drawattention to yourselves.”
  • 80. “May I request an audience with his Majesty?”“Later, perhaps. I am quite sure he is dedicated to the same viewsas the Jacoban Church, or many of them. As I mentioned, he wasquite impressed by you. But he will not be disturbed whenworking.”“In that case, I shall speak my business to you. The YacothianProxy has sent some rich gifts for him. If you will, please presentthem to his Majesty with the Proxy’s compliments.”
  • 81. “Harald, my dear. I have trusted you with my honor, which is to sayeverything. I will need your help in the days ahead. May I rely on youabsolutely?”“Of course! I would do anything for you.”“And your first allegiance is to me. Not to the King.”“Not to the King? But—but that is something else again.”“You disappoint me, Harald, after everything. I see I cannot rely on you afterall.”“Yes, you can, Duessa! Anything at all. Anything you need.”
  • 82. “Ah, Harald. So many, many things.”
  • 83. Early the next morning, Sister Una entered the church to find SirRedcrosse already there.“I do feel peace here, and yet—not so much as I did.”“Sir Redcrosse? Are you ill?”“No. Not much.”“In grief?”“Many times.”
  • 84. “I understand. You mourn for your lost family. It is because of your kindlynature.”
  • 85. “But I hope you will not grieve forever. You are greatly loved.”“Am I?”“By the Watcher.”“The Watcher. Yes. I am.”
  • 86. And from this time forth, Sir Redcrosse attempted to put aside thatgrief he did not comprehend, and to attend to his knightlyresponsibilities.
  • 87. Including feeding the Pit Monster.
  • 88. “Ermintrude! What is possessing you this morning?”
  • 89. He also supervised the chivalric training of his squire, Christopher.
  • 90. “Be careful, Christopher! Guard yourself. Do not neglect yourown defense.”
  • 91. Redcrosse’s squire said defiantly, “Why? Friotheswede is dead.I don’t care what becomes of me.”“That is not true chivalry. You go on although your heart is deadinside you. You go on because you have made an oath and your oathis sacred. Do you understand me?”“—yes.”
  • 92. Redcrosse turned next to the page who stood behind Christopher. “And youwill not mock him, Lionel, or I will not take you as my squire whenChristopher receives his spurs. You may rely on that.”“Aw.”
  • 93. “Hmm. You do not look particularly well either, young Sister.A disease that enters through the eye and runs throughout tothe heart. It becomes systemic, and can be fatal. Do you understand?”“Doh.”“You will. I am sure of it.”
  • 94. In the castle, King Cecil reviewed all that had been accomplished.“Much has been done, and yet much remains to be done. OurRectitude and Good Manners are becoming well established, and ourKnowledge increases daily. We are well on the way to our ownRenaissance, but this is of no use unless we spread it to other lands, andif I do not, I have left—I have relied on Redcrosse twice. The next mission I shall trust to noone else.”
  • 95. “Matters are not proceeding quickly enough. I need to have anunopposed influence over the King.I shall attempt again to persuade him directly, perhaps with someassistance. And if not—there are other ways to have influence.”
  • 96. Explicit Liber Secundus. To be continued.
  • 97. Wherein ye shall read of most marvelous things-Of the tournament fought by King Cecil and the spread of Puritanian idealsto the benighted land of Advorton—Of the flowering of theatre, the rise of Tarleton Somerset, the Bard of Granta,and his artistic innovations—Of crusades and inquisitions—Of the suffering of the pangs of love—Of plots and poisonings----and many another such wonderful events, if ye will but please to read.
  • 98. Quests completed:Death of the ProxyFurEastern PromisesI Don’t Feel So Good
  • 99. Territories Annexed:AarbyvilleYacothia
  • 100. Renaissance Fun FactMedicine practiced in the Middle Ages, well into the Renaissance, was based on theidea that there were four humors in the body: yellow bile, black bile, blood, andphlegm (aka snot.) Healthy people had all four in balance: if they becameunbalanced, it was the job of the physician to balance them by bleeding, inducingvomiting, or enemas. Diagnosis could be done by astrology, or that old reliable,pee: looking at it, smelling it, or (unfortunately) tasting it. This is a handy pee chartfor doctors.
  • 101. CreditsOpening picture: “The Four Humours,” adapted from QuinctaEssentia, Leonhart Thurneisser zun Thurn.Uroscopy wheel from Epiphanie Medicorum.Passages quoted from Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, WilliamShakespeare, Henry V and from Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie QueenePigeons supplied by Cesare Borgia & Co.Printer’s mark, Sacrobosco