St. Matthew’s Day, in the eighth year of King Richard II
I do fear God’s retribution, for I live my penance each day. And I pay my church tithes…whenever possible. Of miracles, I have heard. And devotions are rewarded with answered prayers. By others, of course. Not by me. My prayers have long since gone unheeded. It is no matter. God understands His kingdom well and will suffer no rebels. Did not Satan find himself flung from the heights when he dared rebel?
Jack, on the other hand, is a faithful lad. Fearful of angry saints, his devotions are fervent and urgent even if he does not count his thieving as contrary to his faith.
I have traveled the world in Lancaster’s retinue and I have been a pilgrim to many holy places. I have seen shrines and my share of relics, those objects left behind by saints or by Christ Himself. Many and many are sprinkled upon the roads webbed together by strands of pilgrims seeking the unattainable. Redemption is a hard-won trophy.
But can the tooth of a saint or a veil pressed to Christ’s face yield a man anything but an ragged tooth and an old discolored cloth?
When I began this, my vocation, I tracked down the lost. Jewelry. Plate. Simple things from greedy people, hoping to stave off the ugliness of the world with shiny trappings. All for naught. For these things do not last beyond the grave. We are not adorned so in Heaven. Or in Hell, for that matter. But then, these relics turned up as part of my investigations. I did not ask for it. I did not seek them out, but they were laid in my lap nonetheless. Abbot Nicholas de Litylington of Westminster Abbey thinks there is a reason I am plagued so–my words, not his. That God is speaking to me through these holy objects. But I cannot reconcile it. I do not believe in the magic that others attribute to them. I do not believe that God works in this way. Despite the strange things that occur. These can all be explained away. Easily explained.
Even as I write this, Jack is looking at me from across the room. The hearthflames flicker over his face and his expression clearly shows me his disapproval. Jack can be the keeper of my soul, then, if I am bound to lose it. It is in better keeping in the hands of a thief, perhaps, than in the hands of a traitor. Let him believe in these things. I shall continue to do what needs the doing. Let others bow down to old teeth and worn pieces of cloth.