A short story: The king, his court, the explorer & the gift
Written by me for Swiss Typefaces.
Days, weeks, and countless hours, I don’t know how many … and I don’t know how long I’ve been held captive in this darkness. The sickness has not left me since I boarded this strange vessel. The sun is now a stranger to me, I haven’t felt its warmth all this torturous time. The Sun God is leaving me slowly, feeling I would not survive this. Fearing what was lurking in these dark waters, my ancestors spoke to me of giants in the deep; monsters from ancient times that could eat you alive and carry your soul into other realms of evil existence.
My body is very weak. The fever is taking over every inch of my brain. I could see my ancestors floating above me, dancing and chanting to give me strength. They were transmitting all of our history. I could see things from other times, and visions I could still not understand.
I see a face, a stunning man, so bright he shines like crystals in the sun, it was the most handsomely haunting face I’d ever seen. I’m certain it’s Huitzilopochtli, my sun god here to comfort me. He is showing me his palace and a great hall of gold with walls of water that reflect us. Gardens so vast with stone animals and men that live in them. I knew I would meet this face and place soon.
Knowing at that moment I would die. I was longing to be rid of this suffering and enter the peacefulness of the afterlife. I felt something strange enter by body, I could feel a trance and it was getting stronger and stronger. I was between two worlds, I could see myself looking back at myself. Everything was out of my control. This vessel rocked me back and forth as the spirits were taking over reality. My body was no longer mine. I was now theirs and I could no longer control the words that came out of my mouth.
Because I can travel in the immense
Because I can see in all forms
Because I am the woman born alone
Because I am the woman that fell alone
Because I am the woman that waits.
I am the woman that looks inside.
I am the woman that is beneath the water
I am the sacred swimmer because I can swim in other realms
I am the woman of the sacred city
I am the shepherdess who is beneath the water
I am the woman who guards the immense
I am a warrior and I come with my battalion
Because everything has its origin
And I can go from place to place, with the power of the sun
I am from the Children of the Sun
I am the woman that flies
I am the woman constellation
I am a woman of the wind
I am a woman from the earth
I am woman torn
Because I can heal and kill all
I am Mixtec
I was consumed by the sadness, my tears, they fell like rain onto the floor where I lay. The spirits began to howl once more.
The sun will find you
A new sun is rising
A sun so powerful
It will keep you warm
It will help you grow
Don’t get close
It will burn you
You must go back, follow the forests, mountains and constellations. Run towards the light.
Upon awakening, there was a new uneasiness about me, nervous, yes! Very dreadfully overwhelmed with everything. You’ll think me mad. In some new way, I was completely and utterly insane. The disease had sharpened my senses, not destroyed or dulled them. Above all was the sense of seeing. I could see things no others could. I could now hear the relentless cries of evil creatures in the dark and the poetic, celestial beings of the light.
So much uncertainty. I have been sold to a man they call La Salle and we were on our way to a land called Versailles. It haunted me day and night. I knew nothing of this place. What kept me alive was the hatred I had for that horrendous man. He took me away from everything I've ever known. If I would have known that by saving his life I would have found myself in this situation, I would have let him die. As of now, all I want is to kill him. He is hideous, I think it's his eye! Yes, it was this! One of his eyes resembled that of a snake - pale green and lifeless, with a cloudy film over it. Whenever I had the misfortune of it to look upon me, my blood ran cold with vengeance, and so, as time passed in this vessel, I've made up my mind to kill La Salle, and therefore getting rid of his eye forever.
At this point you might ask yourself: How? You should have seen me. How wisely I’ve proceeded, with meticulous caution, with tact. I was certain this masquerade would liberate me from this inferno. I would gain his trust only to kill him dead, and eat his evil heart.
Most Sacred Majesty: On the 22nd day of the month of May of the year 1678, I dispatched from an unknown location, off the coast of Mexico, to the Madeline de Brest , a vessel, and in her a servant of mine, with orders to pass on my letter and its contents to your Majesty.
I’ve encountered the people of these distant parts. It seems to me important that your Highness should become acquainted with my doings. I will therefore narrate some events plainly and to the best of my ability. I will describe only the principle and most remarkable incidents of said journey .
Great discoveries have been made in your Majesty’s name. Mexico holds unfathomable quantities of gold, and silver, much beauty can be found in this savage place. As your Majesty is aware, this new world is also being explored by the Spanish. Our expedition avoids the Spaniards at all costs. This is to fend off any battles that may occurred if our two parties met.
Most of the lands have not been touched by the hand of man. Roads and passages can hardly be found here. The mountains are so high and the forests so thick and impenetrable, that we could only see the spot where we placed our feet. Looking upwards, blue skies disappeared over our heads, the trees so tall and so close to each other, that those who climbed up them to discover land could not see beyond a stone’s throw . We found a village with several maize plantations in the finest of possible conditions. We also found other provisions, fowls, honey, beans and other produce of the land. The natives, if there were any at this place, not having shown themselves or made any oppositions, my men carried with us as much as we could back to the ship. Our provisions were running scare at this time. It was indeed a most welcome discovery and compensation for all our past troubles, for had we not found it at that moment, we should all have perished through hunger.
The Mexica Empire, tribes, and peoples hold so many dark and mysterious secrets. They are ruthless heathens, with many gods that hunger for human sacrifice and blood. It happened that one of my men saw one of the Indians who had come with me from the Tenuxtitlan eating a piece of flesh taken from the body of another Indian, whom he had killed on entering Iztapan. When the case was reported to me, I had the Indian arrested, and there, in the presence of all, had him burnt alive, for having slain and afterwards eaten of the fellow creature. An abomination, which your Majesty, and myself in your royal name, have repeatedly condemned, ordering the people of these parts to abstain from doing.
I've committed unthinkable acts of violence to obtain these objects of great value. I pray that your Highness and our Heavenly Father will forgive me, for I have done these acts in your names and for the glory of France and the Catholic Church. May Our Lord and Saviour hear my prayers. May your Royal Highness be happy with the gifts and new discoveries I have made in your name.
I, therefore, humbly beseech your Majesty to accept the offering of everything I posses and have found in this new continent. Along with the gold, produce, plants and animals I am sending, Your Highness will equally find among these items a slave named Meztli. I have traded blankets and blue beads with the Indians to buy this slave from the Mexica tribe, this slave is unlike any other. She holds many healing powers, and gifts that have served us well. She has saved my life and the lives of many of my men. Without Meztli we could not have survived and understood the language of this land and Mexico. She revealed the locations of rival tribes with vast mountains of gold, to which I am now preparing our next voyage to claim these treasures for the Kingdom of France. She has served us well and I hope she will reveal herself to be useful to your Royal Highness.
Henceforth, humbly, I request an audience. I wish to come to your Majesty’s presence, in this that I may then be able to give details and information regarding the state of these new lands. As my only will is to be in the service of God our Lord, and of your Catholic Majesty. I write under the influence of passion, and am moved by my own personal interest to be in your Majesty’s service as a true and faithful vassal. Such is my desire to kiss your Majesty’s royal feet, and to serve at the Imperial court, that I could not well describe it if I attempted. Therefore, my God and your Majesty guide me in a manner that may be serviceable to Him and your Royal Highness. I am well contented with doing my duty, and knowing that all the world is aware of the fidelity with which I served. This conviction is enough for me, and I wish no other inheritance for my children.
Most invincible sovereign, may God our Lord preserve for many years the life and increase the power, of your sacred Majesty. From Mexico, 7th day of August of 1678.
Sieur René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle
Athénaïs Marquise de Montespan was furious and quite disturbed when she discovered that her beloved Monsieur le Roi had taken a new lover . She still held the official title of The King’s Mistress, but she refused to share the affections of The King. She set out to destroy her rival, and if possible be rid of her permanently. The Marquise made up her mind: she would stop at nothing to be the only mistress in The King’s life. She sent Madame Sacrron to spy on his Majesty, she being the governess to The King and Madame’s children. Madame Sacrron was in such a privileged position that she could accomplish this task, surely able to find all the information she needed to know.
The King spoke to Madame whenever necessary, and with an almost familiar tone. He saw with what great affection and tenderness Madame Sacrron treated his children, and in return took a liking to her. He appreciated her services greatly. The King confided in her like he had done many times before, but this time was different. Madame Sacrron could see the new woman in his life was changing him. It was like the sun turned into the moon. The look In His Majesty’s eye’s seemed possessed, his gaze grew wilder when he spoke Metzli's name. The slave was taking over the Kings mind.
Later that day Madame Sacrron rushed over to Madame de Montespan's apartments to tell her everything she had seen and heard.
Madame, Monsieur le Roi’s new mistress is haunted, some call her a witch. Haunted!, Haunted, how, you ask ? Well, let me tell you, she’s haunted by ghosts, wild dreams and visions. What kind of dreams, ghosts, and visions, you say?
Let me tell Madame what I’ve heard. She’s been haunted by a dream of a face, and nights before she arrived to Versailles, she saw a face in a dream, always the same.
“A ghostly face ?”
No, the face of a stunning man, so bright he shined like diamonds in the sun, it was the most handsomely haunting face she ever saw, she thought it was her god himself. It was so strange for her to see his face and then a strange land so beautiful it could not be of this world. Clearly convinced she was gifted with a glimpse of Paradise. She tells this story to all who will listen. She describes it with such detail, it’s as if she was there. She knew things about Versailles only the King himself knows. Her visions were revealed to be premonitions of things to come. His Majesty is completely infatuated with the savage. I strongly believe that she put a spell on his Majesty The King.
De Montespan was desperate, she set out to find the city’s most notorious sorceress, La Voisin. Madame was a client of La Voisin. She regularly purchased a variety of love potions and aphrodisiacs from the witch. Madame would regularly sprinkle the elixirs onto his Majesty’s food and beverages to enhance their love making, but most importantly to keep him enamoured of her. Even more scandalously, she commissioned a series of sacrilegious magical ceremonies that were intended to ensure King Louis’s affections for her. This time she was here to purchase a spell to insure she would be the only one to receive The King’s love. La Voisin agreed to help Madame de Montespan on one condition. She needed to provide the ingredients and a large sum of gold and jewels
The list of ingredients read as follows: 1 mantis, 4 black widow spider, 3 drops of menstrual blood, 2 sets of bat wings, 10 drops of sperm, 8 cat claws, 6 widow’s tears, 7 strands of the concubine’s hair and 5 red candles.
The Sorceress said to Madame de Montespan: You will return with all the ingredients upon the eve of next new moon. This is the ideal time to perform the ritual.
Rather quickly, and as if her life depended on it, De Montespan set her plan into motion. She sent her most trusted servant to gather the strange ingredients for the sacrilegious ceremony.
The streets of Versailles were filled with a dead silence that night the new moon appeared. De Montespan quickly placed all the ingredients in a bag, disguised herself as a peasant and set off to meet La Voisin. Once Madame arrived, the old sorceress began to prepare the black mass. She drew a pentagram star on the dirt floor and placed a red candle at each tip of the star, she then drew a large circle that surrounding the pentagram and candles. She wrote the number 666 in the center and placed the strands of hair on top, proceeding with the mantis, black widows, bat wings, cat claws and menstrual blood. The sorceress was now summoning her dark lord with ancient chants.
Let him hear me
As I sat on the shores of the sea
I saw the dragon rise from the sea with seven heads and two wings.
I worship the dragon which gave the power to the beast
And the beast to which he gave birth to was that of a leopard, with the feet of a bear and the head of a lion.
Hear me now beast, I am your faithful follower.
Use your great power and authority over us mortals.
I summon thee….
The room became oppressive and all life seemed to leave. The air was heavy and cloudy. Without warning, the candles were lit by grim forces. La Voisin’s body began to shake, all you could see was the white of her eyes, she was possessed, her body was at that moment a vessel for a malevolent monster. The miserable creature was now in the presence of Madame de Montespan. Terrified and desperate, she pleaded with the creature to destroy her rival. She desired to be the only mistress in The Kings life.
To which the beast responded, I will grant you this wish on one condition, you must provide me with a new born soul every year on this date, but be warned, if you do not provide, your soul will be mine for all eternity. If you agree to this deal, I promise you that upon the next new moon your rival will burn! Consumed with the madness of love, Madame de Montespan sealed the pact and her fate, a snake rose from the flames, she grabbed a knife cut her hand and with her blood fed the snake. She then shook the hand of the devil. Quickly, she tossed the widows tears, and vial of sperm into the center of the flames. Her soul was now forever damned to the evil bowels of hell.
The King’s journal:
The Palace of Versailles, February 25th, 1682
Life was finally settling into a somewhat mundane normality. From morning to evening my day ran like clockwork, to a schedule that would surely satisfy the courtiers, for before they complained that they never saw the King. Which I must admit is true. But in my defense, I declare, this was entirely out of my control, for you see, I have not been myself for the pasts months or maybe years. It’s hard to say, I was under the crippling effects of a woman .
These memories must be cherished dearly. It is for this reason that I must write, I don't want to forget a single event I shared with her. I will start at the beginning and finish at how things ended with Meztli and the court. Strange, I realise as I'm writing that this is the fist time I’ve ever written her name.
It was all so innocently generous on the part of Sieur René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle. Little did he know that his gift would set off a series of macabre events. He sent many items from the new world in hopes of being granted an audience with me. Sadly this meeting would never take place, for La Salle died at sea shortly after I received his letter. Among the many items was a gift I was not expecting, a slave. But as he simply put it, she was unlike all the others. Indeed, there was something exotically mystical about her. Meztli was savagely intoxicating and was a surprise, truly. But Versailles and myself would later prove we were not ready for such a gift.
Like all other mornings, a procession formed in La galleries de Glaces. At this point, all the courtiers would gather in the golden hall of mirrors in hopes they would be granted an audience with me. That particular morning, the procession was cut short, Alexandre Bontemps, my premier valet de la chamber de Roi, slipped me a note. That read:
Your Majesty’s gift’s from the new world have arrived along with Sieur René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle’s letter, Where would His Majesty like the items to be placed?
To which I responded, the royal apartments. Naturally and unbeknownst to me, my unexpected guest would be waiting in my chambers. Looking back, I see that I was at destiny’s mercy; everything was out of my hands. As I walked into my room I saw Metzli standing the middle surrounded by all the exotic items La Salle sent. As soon as our eyes met, I confess, I was powerless against her.
At this point, I asked all of my valets to leave us. I could feel we were in each other’s minds. We were psychic twins floating free and aimless somewhere over the deep turbulent seas of our own cosmos. She bewitched me, of that I’m sure. But I didn’t care. I let myself into her ancient and magical universe. It was a marvelous escape. She knew things I had never revealed to anyone. Versailles was no mystery, either. She knew every room and every hidden door. I believed at that time she was an oracle sent to me by God. After the events that occurred, I know she was not a gift, but a curse.
Upon her arrival, she overran my world, filling it with lust, obsession, sex, desire, passion, hunger, frustration, blasts of bewilderment, eating me alive with her venomous love. I must confess I feel no shame, nor have I any reason to feel it, in admitting, that I was then on familiar terms with this woman . She was different, and the sunrise was much sweeter when she was here. As our relationship grew, I began to learn more about her mystical powers, she revealed her Mixtec rituals to me, and told me things about the past, present, and future that one should never know, it frightened and excited me to know that I was the keeper of such a mystical force.
I was powerless against her seductive game. I recall that I sat and watched in grateful admiration as she made herself mine. Taking off her clothes slowly, she stood there admiring herself in the mirror with undisguised narcissistic fascination. She was discovering herself for the first time. And I was blessed to have witnessed that event in time. Standing there naked, perfect and unashamed as a wild animal, she walked across the room to occupy the bed as if she owned this place. She was so bold and uninhibited. I’d never seen women like this before. Metzli’s skin was golden brown and when the sun shined on her, her body lit up as if gold dust was sprinkled on her. She had long, black, beautiful hair, as dark as a moonless night. She had many strange blue markings that adorned her Venus-like body. Oh, and how I loved to explore every nook. But my one true infatuation was her eyes, oh, and how I loved for them to look upon me, she had honey amber eyes like that of a jaguar, wild and unpredictable. They had a strong hold on me. I was completely and utterly powerless against her seductive game. She gained my trust and abused this privilege with an attempt on my life and that of my son the Dauphine. For you see, Metzli could never love any man, she was blinded by the intoxicating effects of revenge. She poisoned my body and mind with Aztec elixirs concealed in the sweet chocolate drinks she prepared for me. As the intoxication effects intensified, it looked as if "the streets were melting and churning," and people looked like moving Jean le Pautre engravings. The gardens looked like a Goya painting, "everything in my field of vision looked devilish, like one of his paintings. "Had it not been for the faithful service of Madame de Sacrron my son and I would have perished.
I will not bore you with court details, but it saddens me to say that the King’s investigators revealed an underground black magic trade, a deadly epidemic that was taking over the Kingdom. Many were tired, and many lost their lives for the dreadful sacrilegious acts against God and the Crown. On the closing of the trials, I issued a royal edict that stated:
This is not a republic, this is France and its Sovereign King is appointed by God. I declare that both institutes must state regulation of sales of poisons and declare all magic to be fraudulent. Any one who claimed to be able to perform it would be banished from the Kingdom.
The sunrise was once sweeter, now the days pass by with tireless predictably. As time goes by, I have come to fully understand that Meztli had been a deadly, sweet smelling poison that blessed and cursed me each day we'd spent together.
And now she's gone like a wandering phantom. A dream. Just like that. Gone, like a ghost, in one sudden, violent flash, gone, consumed by the flames . There was nothing I could do to save her. It had to be done. Her last words will haunt me till my last dying breath.
Death is only the beginning.