Malleus Maleficarum, and other bedtime stories

Oh Alice

Waiting, being something never enjoyable, yet the most necessary of evils was regularly the biggest part of any job, yet, it was most often the most important part of the job.
Laying within talking distance of each other, Bast answered Maude’s question.

“My apartment, which by definition of the word, is not actually an apartment at all. Calling my home a set of apartments would be slightly less incorrect as a definition. What my home actually is, and coincidentally, would be better defined as a Bastide, or possibly a Chateaux. An English chap, more an acquaintance than friend, once told me “Bast my dear, what a beautiful stately home you have.” The bastard, Arthur Wellesley, later copied the decor of my apartment entirely when he decked out his tawdry Piccadilly cottage, a dingy little place known as ‘Apsley House’. So much so that in enacting his blatant plagiary, he hired an artist of minor talent to reproduce a picture my old friend Leonardo did for me in in about 1510. Leonardo, originally from Vinci, Italy, had been passing through, and stayed for a couple of days enroute Amboise, when he put my little oil painting together. In William Salters version, which to be fair is mediocre at best, Arthur is pictured standing in the exact position I am pictured in the original. That being me standing behind my kitchen table in a central position. Salter even managed to get the number of people seated on either side on me correct. Plus, the alignment of the pictures adorned on the walls behind me, the colour of the carpet, and the light coming in from the upper right, are very nearly an exact mirror of my own. Even the silver centre piece is portrayed positioned identically with my cauldron. That said, those pictured in Wellesley’s are far better attired, actually that they are ‘attired’ is one of the more significant differences between Salters and da Vinci’s. Mine was hurriedly sketched whilst I was holding the quarterly Witches, Paris Coven, meeting, which in the finest traditions of witches covens, is held with all attending in the nude, although the shedding of clothing doesn’t generally occur until much later in the evening. Insert ‘absinthe’ into that sentence, and you should gain a greater understanding of the nuances of those long gone formal get togethers. About the only thing that is markedly different between Salters version and Leonardo’s, other than the birthday suit edition, is the depiction of a crucifix he added toward the middle left.”

 

“However, unlike Apsley House, and in specific response to a truly ridiculous book that came out in Germany in 1484, which became somewhat popular amongst the Church, and was called ‘Malleus Maleficarum’. By the early to mid 1500’s every man, and in some cases, his dog, had the wonderful notion that everything written within the Godless tome was not only correct, but warranted following. What could a lass do in this situation? Hide in plain sight of course! So I went corporate, listed my home as an office, and ‘Bast. Inc.’ was founded. And what else did I do? I built affordable housing butting up against my own home in place of the gardens, and had the street re-routed and cobbled to pass at my front door step. With that, I was able to provide better accommodation for my staff, I started a school for their we bairns, and converted the grounds behind my house, and theirs, into a working farm. Five years later, we opened a butchers shop, bakery, dairy complete with creamery and cheese making, giving the kids experience in those area’s and a little pocket money. 15 years later, those same children now educated, and needing somewhere to work, we opened a series of shops, catering for everything from farming implements to hosiery and opium. We even opened a tavern called the ‘Witches Fancy’, and the funniest thing in that was it became the regular accommodation for Witch Finders and their subordinates.”

 

“For centuries, my apartments provided another function, that as a place of temporary sanctuary for those not quite human. Those that who lived on the fringes of humanity. Beings who had differing dietary needs, a healthy respect for the sun, and the terminal sunburn they would receive should they be exposed to it. Many quite like myself, born of a long life, with other anomalies, much like Cat being a Sidhe, witches, and wizards, and warlocks. Werewolves, and the fae, Gods and beasts (the minotaur still has an outstanding bar tab), even Death and her three sisters were not unknown to my staff. And then there were the humans, so very, very few, amongst so many ignorant to the fact, and moreso, the acceptance of our existance. Albeit, those like my friend Leonardo, Knights from obscure orders, more than one royal family from either side of the channel, right through to the steppes far to the east. We even had a man named ‘Stoker’ who had gained prominence through his biography that had been taken as a work of fancy, as opposing to a snippet of his life he had committed to parchment.  He had been a regular for centuries, I believe he went on to create the first blood bank, and started the ‘Red Cross’ under an assumed name.”

 

“But I digress.”

 

“To view my apartment from the street around the time of my birth into The Now, you would no longer see it for what it was, and why would think any differently about it for anything other than what the eye tells you in the moment?” Finished Bast.

 

“Wish I had a bloody house.” Said Maude morosely.

 

“Yes, I’ve been thinking about that.” Cat drawled.

 

And Black Annis arrived with a ‘pop’.

 

“Merde!” whispered Bast to herself, extending her hand, holding the stick Grandma Hazel taught her to use so very long ago.

 

 

Click that funky picture white boy. He’s “just an excitable boy.” they all said.

 

N.

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