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Title: The Tale of the Countess of Death
Author: kira
Word Count: 663
World: Repubblica Fiorentina
Main Characters: Tenaldi, Contessa di Morte,Donna Chiara
Borrow: No
Summary: Tenaldi as part of his apprenticeship visits the “Countess of Death”…
Author’s Note: Tendaldi and the Green Physicians belong to COM; the rest are mine. Please also note that “Donna” is not a name here; it’s a title. Thanks also to my beta Kat for pinking this for me.

A crisp autumn wind blew cold and Tenaldi drew his dark green cloak tighter around himself. He was on his way to see the Contessa di Morte, the old abbess who lived in what was called “the City of the Dead,” or the cemetery on the outskirts of town. The old woman’s arthritis was bothering her and he carried in a basket on his arm a few remedies his Masters had sent to ease her pain.

Upon reaching the cemetery, Tenaldi opened the iron gate and stepped inside. He hurried down the path to the chapel, where the Contessa had a couple of rooms behind it. Entering it, Tendali was greeted by the novice who would be the next Contessa when the current one passed on. “Donna,” he said, “I’ve brought the Contessa’s medicines.”

“Aaah yes! Grazie! The poor thing has been feeling the cold.” She sighed as she led Tenaldi to their rooms. “Contessa, the doctor is here.” She stood off to the side, after letting him in.

Contessa, how are you feeling?” Tenaldi asked as he stepped closer.

The old abbess’ face, like that of the novice that served her, was painted to resemble a skull and when she smiled it was a mass of wrinkles that continued downwards into her décolletage of the satin gown that was her habit. “I’ve been better.” She basked in the warmth of the fire in the fireplace.


The Contessa beckoned him closer with a gnarled hand. “They hurt.”

“I bet they do.” Tenaldi set his basket down away from the fire and gently examined her hands. Reaching into the basket, he pulled out a pot of ointment. He opened the pot and took a bit of the cool ointment with his fingertips. It quickly started to feel warm and he carefully rubbed it on the old abbess’ hands. “If you are hurting elsewhere, like your knees, have the Donna rub it on there as well.” Tenaldi reached for the bit of linen that lay in the basket and wiped his hands on it, before stuffing it into the pocket of his tunic. He stood up, holding the basket. “Donna?”

“Chiara, my name’s Chiara,” she smiled.

Donna Chiara,” Tenaldi said. “I have some medicines for the Contessa.” He showed the novice the contents of the basket, explaining what each item was for and what to do with it. Tenaldi also had a sleeping draught for the Contessa and he gave the novice strict instructions on how much to give her. He watched as Chiara took the basket away to the room they slept in, before turning his attention back to the old abbess.

The Contessa regaled him with tales of the lavish funerals she had attended as part of her duties as the ruler of the City of the Dead as they shared a cup of tea. When Chiara came back, she told a few stories of her own. Tenaldi was amazed at how both women were so at ease living in a cemetery, but then again their Order was an old one that had always dealt with the dead. They knew how to preserve bodies and how to properly bury them. They were rumored to even possess knowledge from the Ancients that could tell them how a person died. But as fascinating as Tenaldi found their stories, he had to get back to his other duties. Part of becoming a Green Physician was going out to various villages and caring for the sick and injured for a year, before returning to the palace and either teaching a new apprentice, or looking after the Queen.

Tenaldi stood and bid them both good-bye. Donna Chiara showed him out. It had grown darker and colder and Tenaldi shivered as he set off down the path from the chapel to the iron gate. Pulling his hood over his head, he drew his cloak closer around him as he left the City of the Dead and headed for home…


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 22nd, 2015 02:37 am (UTC)
I absolutely love it. Thank you!
Oct. 22nd, 2015 03:12 am (UTC)
YAY! I'm sooo glad that you do! :D

You're welcoem! :D
Oct. 22nd, 2015 03:27 am (UTC)
very much so. So thank you. Still trying to think of what original character to give you
Oct. 22nd, 2015 06:36 pm (UTC)
YAY! You're welcome. You'll think of something. :D
Oct. 22nd, 2015 08:28 pm (UTC)
I like your faith in my sad old brain
Oct. 22nd, 2015 08:56 pm (UTC)
*blushes* You brain isn't old or sad. Just let the ideas percolate & the characters talk to you, & it'll just write itself. :D
Oct. 23rd, 2015 02:39 am (UTC)
hahaha yes, actually it rather is some days.

I will. It might be a chapter of something as opposed to a story if that's okay
Oct. 23rd, 2015 03:29 am (UTC)
I refuse to believe it.

That's fine. :D And it can even be a lil snippet of a drabble if that's easier for you. :D
Oct. 23rd, 2015 03:56 am (UTC)
truly some days I am the absent minded professor

okay cool. I'm sure i'll come up with something.
Oct. 23rd, 2015 08:40 pm (UTC)
Yeah? XD

I know you will & if you don't; it's okay too. :D
Oct. 23rd, 2015 09:25 pm (UTC)
so very much so

I have something

and happy birthday
Oct. 23rd, 2015 11:56 pm (UTC)

Yeah? :D

Thanks! :D
Oct. 23rd, 2015 01:04 am (UTC)
This is a really great look at a different world. Excellent snippet!
Oct. 23rd, 2015 01:14 am (UTC)
*blushes* Thanks! I'm glad you like it too! :D I had fun with this one! :D
Oct. 23rd, 2015 01:16 am (UTC)
You're very welcome!
Oct. 23rd, 2015 01:26 am (UTC)
Nov. 11th, 2015 05:13 pm (UTC)
A holy order of embalmers has happened in some cultures but I really like the twist that they're also medical examiners/forensics experts.
Nov. 11th, 2015 05:59 pm (UTC)
Yeah? I didn't know that. XD Thanks! I want to do more with this order. :D Hopefully, I can think of something. XD
Nov. 12th, 2015 04:09 am (UTC)
Well, the first thing that springs to mind are the Egyptian priests who were in charge of embalming. Their position was often hereditary and they had a hierarchy that included a lead priest who was in charge.

The Zoroastrians also have a special class who handle bodies for burial including the burial rituals. Although burial isn't the right word here because ideally the body is placed on a rock ledge exposed to the air to decompose. I'm not sure if they're considered priests but they seem closer to that than our undertakers.
Nov. 12th, 2015 07:47 pm (UTC)
Aaah... you're right! But I didn't know that it was a hereditary position. And you'd think I would with all the history channel stuff on Egypt I watch too. XD

How interesting! That sounds similiar to a sky burial in Tibet. When someone dies, there is a non Buddhist who lives in the village that basically, & pardon my crudeness, chops up the body & kinda feeds it to the vultures & eagles. Which as horrific as it sounds, is also nice, in that in death one is giving life to another being.
Nov. 12th, 2015 11:39 pm (UTC)
It's very similar to the Tibetan custom I think but I don't think that the Zoroastrians chop up the bodies. I could be wrong.

When I was a teenager the concept of being left out to decompose really appealed to me because there was no danger of being burned or buried alive. If they called it wrong and you were in a deep coma you'd either gently die for real due to exposure or you could wake up and wander back into town. A lot better than the whole thing the Victorians came up with of having a bell pull in the coffin.
Nov. 13th, 2015 12:01 am (UTC)

I'm afraid of being buried alive, so yeah, that idea of being laid to rest outside & gently dying of exposure appeals to me. I think I'd die from a panic attack before they could dig me up, fractically ringing that bell. XD
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )


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