Episode Fifteen: No One So Little Loved. Part Three.
Richard stared passively at had once been Middleham’s chapel. It was reconstructed, like the rest of the castle but it lacked all of its previous luster. The altar was dusty and the wood hadn’t been polished in a while. All of the candles were unburnt and the pews had been roped off.
Richard walked straight up to the altar, and knelt, ignoring the dimness of the room. He breathed deeply, trying to focus on prayer. There’s no smell of incense, only stale air. There’s no priest or sacraments but for the first time since coming back to Middleham Richard felt a little better.
Somehow, Leonardo has neatly slotted himself into the new rhythm of the castle, like all of this is normal. As if speaking of raising the dead is anything other than evil and irregular. Leonardo acted as if he was born to this century. Richard remembered that Rain told them that he and the Italian were born the same year, Richard can’t see how.
The castle’s inhabitants are just as strange to him. Aspen, the black skinned solider women, which raised uncomfortable memories of the Maid of Orleans, however she at least has been treating Richard with confidence so far. Harmony- a Moorish looking magician, or at least in regards to the magical map they used to find Richard and Leonardo originally. He’d seemed nervous around Richard, often tripping over his words around him. He doesn’t have any idea where Kami could be from, her skin is as pale as his but her eyes are dark and her face was pleasingly open and smooth. She’d been friendly with him, but distant, seeming to favor Leonardo, as everyone else had.
Magpie alone had seemed to taken an interest in Richard, but Richard had kept his distance. Magpie reminded him of either a woman with very heavy features, or an extremely graceful gentleman, he couldn’t make up his mind. Leonardo had called Magpie a ‘knife’. Richard thought he understood, mostly, he’d met eunuchs in the service of his Edward’s wife. But he had the peculiar feeling that he didn’t have the whole picture.
Richard let his hands drop from his penitent pose and stares up at the stain glass window. Like everything else in the chapel it was slightly dusty.
“What I am I doing?” He asked softly. There was no reply from the portrait of Mary and the Christ child on her lap. Richard rubbed his temple and with a sigh got to his feet, staggering slightly from his knees going numb.
“Richard? Are you in here?”
As if in answer to his thoughts, Magpie was standing at the door to the chapel, hands clasped.
“Magpie,” Richard acknowledged shortly. They stood there for a moment, Richard staring shamelessly and Magpie examining him in turn.
“What are you doing in here, in the dark?” Magpie finally asked.
Richard gestured. “Praying.”
Eyes widening slightly, Magpie started towards him. “Really? Why?”
Richard sputtered, but they appeared sincerely to question him. “I-I haven’t since Rain preformed her witchcraft. She had no chapel in her house, and I couldn’t find any cross to-”
“No, no I mean, why do you feel like you need to pray?”
Richard gaped at Magpie. “To show devotion, to God.”
Magpie’s eyes turned from intently studying his face to the altar and glass window. They hummed under their breath.
“You owned the first bible that was written in English, in Britain,” Magpie said. Richard nodded. “You considered yourself especially devoted to God, huh?”
Richard shrugged. “I’ve always felt it was important, yes.”
Magpie suddenly smiled, dark eyes shining. “I’ve always admired that about you, that you valued knowledge.”
He didn’t know what to say to that so he averted his eyes to the door, and made a quick side step.
Magpie held up a hand. “Wait Richard, I’m sorry I didn’t meant to interrupt you, but I did have something I needed to speak to you about.”
They stepped over the rope, and sat down on the first pew and looked at him expectantly. Richard hesitantly sat down as well. Magpie brushed a hand through their odd silver hair.
“We might be bringing another person here, a doctor. Her name is Russo, and Aspen is going to speak to her tonight. She studies the human skeleton.”
Richard didn’t say anything, wondering where Magpie was trying to take him with this.
“She could, well, she could fix your scoliosis,” Magpie gestured to his back. Richard stiffened, frowning.
“Your spine, how it curves. It’s usually done when you’re younger but she’s extremely experienced and-”
Richard abruptly stood up, heart racing.
“My back is none of your concern. It’s of no matter,” he snapped. Magpie looked taken aback.
“Surely you’d be more comfortable with it fi- healed.”
Richard shook his head empathetically. “I do not want any of this centuries witchcraft applied to my body, because the last time I woke up from death.”
Magpie frowned deeply. “Well, she’s coming here one way or another. I hope you’ll let her give you a physical at least.”
“Give me a what?!” Richard demanded.
Before they could discuss it any more Aspen called out to Magpie.
“Boss! Boss, Harm has an update on Bonaparte!” Aspen skidded into the room. She took a second glance at Richard but continued on to Magpie. “He says we have firm confirmation, an old security camera on St. Helena picked it up.”
Magpie shot to their feet. “Let’s go!”
Leonardo watched in amazement as Harmony’s fingers flew over the glass, while the man stared up at the screen, muttering to himself.
He had a sudden realization that this might be what others saw when they observed him. Leonardo grinned.
Aspen, with Magpie and Richard hard on her heels. “You have a lock on him, where is he? Can we go-”
Harm held up a hand. “I have a general idea of his location, but only one camera caught him.”
He flicked his fingers over the glass and an image flew up onto the screen. Leonardo saw Richard jump slightly, in the corner of the room.
“That’s him, according to the facial recognition from Bonparte on the Bridge of the Arcole.” The image was of a svelte man, who was frowning stonily, his brown hair tied back in a que. His features bespoke of some sort of inner nobility, but his clothes were simple cotton and he walked bare foot. He was being led with a stern hand on his arm. His eyes showed confusion, but not fear.
“Oh my god, he looks like a baby Napoleon!” Magpie cooed. Aspen rolled her eyes.
“Is that really what we should focus on right now? Harm, can you tell who, uhh, resurrected him?”
Harm shook his head. “It’s not clear. There’s only a couple hundred people who live on the island now, but they’re mostly independent agents. There’s some small web businesses, a church, some farms. The security footage is from just outside of the church,” he added, glancing over his shoulder, lights reflecting off his glasses.
“Is he in any immediate danger? Can you tell if the Federation has tracked him down yet?” Magpie asked.
Harm shrugged. “There’s no activity in the area, so I’d guess we’re in the clear.”
Magpie bit their lip and put their hands on their hips. “Keep an eye on him. Aspen has to go and talk to a doctor about a horse…”
Aspen frowned at Magpie. “Boss, I don’t think that means what you think it means.”
Leonardo looked at Richard, still hovering in the corner. The man shook his head, and muttered, “Don’t ask.”