Photo © Ork de Rooij
Henriëttte Deresa is one of Seven inquisitors of the Domus to be sent to the New World. Each order has sent one representative to go and wipe out Nigromantia in the New World. Ever since their arrival in Speranza, the seven have been working hard indeed to rid the small town of demonic activity.
Top row, from left to right: James, Caleb-Johann, David, Odelia, Tijl;
Bottom row, from left to right: Olav and Henriëtte.
Photo © Ork de Rooij
Guiding her horse with her knees more than with the reins, Henriëtte moved through the streets of her hometown. She was born here, but she had forgotten she thought of it as a city. Her studies to become and inquisitor had led her through cities much larger than this. But the scent of her hometown - not a city, no more than a town, really - were undeniably familiar.
She strained her neck looking into the street where her parents had their home. Godfearing people, who had given their three children a good upbringing. Henriëtte had been chosen to go study away from home and she had jumped at the opportunity. As a middle child she was always caught between the ambitions of her older sister and her younger brother. Frida would take over the shop of their parents once she'd find a husband, and Marcas got his heart's desire from their parents who denied him nothing. Henriëtte had always been forced to negotiate a truce between the two.
Henriëtte knocked. Her horse nuzzled her sleeve, but the mare was a sweet animal. She couldn't wait to show the animal off to Edward. She had been planning to marry Edward, but he had never looked twice at her. Now she was educated and had grown into an attractive young woman. She remembered the time when she coloured bright red every time she saw him.
To her surprise Edward opened the door. He smiled a radiant smile and took the reins from her, babbling over how long it had been and how happy he was she was back. "Frida is expecting, you know." Frida, expecting a child? How was that possible, she hadn't even spoken her vows at the altar.
Then the truth hit her. Edward was the father. Her Edward, stolen in an ambitious scheme of her sister. The world seemed to spin, and she followed Edward inside, shaking her head.
A few days later they spoke their vows. Edward and Frida were radiant, and everyone seemed happy enough. Henriëtte watched silently from her seat in the chapel. Her stomach churned, nauseated by the thought that her Edward was marrying Frida.
The town - large village - was large enough to not know everyone everywhere. Henriëtte stared into her cup. The grey pottery cup was fragile, and bits of the rim had already broken off. She had confessed with her priest, who advised her to find peace, to embrace her sister's happiness. He told her the church benches could use a good waxing as well, and had told her the activity would be good to help her order her thoughts. But neither the wax or the physical activity could make her forget that her Edward was now Frida's.
Her stomach churned again, agitated by the sour wine in the run-down inn she had stepped into. Her eyes searched the guests, trying to find a familiar face. Nobody was.
A rumour started easily. Tales of black cats, a dancing copper tub, new linens that were filled with holes by the time she took them down from the washing line. Of course, all thanks to the neighbours. New people. Bad influences. Not good folk. About the weird insects crawling under the new neighbour's front door. Holding up two fingers, Henriëtte sowre that she spoke truthfully. The men and women around her talked louder and louder. One of them stepped outside to speak to the people in the street. They joined in the discussion, which grew louder still. It was out of her hands now, nothing she would say would stop this tide. The mob grew larger still, and the innkeeper heaved a relieved sigh when the mob left his establishment without thrashing it first.
Shouting loudly the mob tore down the streets, finding the address of Frida and Edward easily. They drummed their fists on the door and pulled the shutters from the windows. Frida, her hands white from kneading dough, was pulled from her kitchen and pushed forward by the mob. With Edward and Frida at their mercy, the mob moved towards the square, and as the procession progressed, people started beating and shoving. Henriëtte saw how Frida tripped, how her head hit the cobbles. Edward tried helping her up, but he was pushed down. Henriëtte looked on from the side of the street, but she made no move to help them. Blood flowed from the wounds, the mob was unstoppable. Henriëtte dove into an alley. Nobody would remember her, in her commoner's clothes, and the name she had provided was false. Nothing would tie her to this incident, nothing but her own conscience.
A cold shiver ran down her spine. She did not suffer from a guilty conscience, but it seemed like the wind carried a chill. It could not be this much colder in the shadowed alley, right? She looked at the street, making sure she was alone. Slowly but surely her ears picked up the sound of a whisper. It seemed to emanate from the shadows, falling from the skies, laughing on the wind. Echete o théo sas...
A fist seemed to hit her jaw. She turned around wildly. Arínthike, aporrimmenos
She was alone in the alleyway, but a blow to her head made her stumble. A fist in her stomach. A rough shove smacked her into the brick wall. Zilofdonos!
Blows fell on her back, her arms, her legs. A whispering voice echoed in her ears, and still the abuse continued. Chamenos apo tín alithiní poría...
It was much later when she came to. The wind had passed, the invisible attacker - if that was it -- had left her alone. Carefully Henriëtte scrambled to her feet and stumbled home. Marcus helped her inside, to her parents who were in tears.
Frida and Edward had not survived the lynchmob to stand before the inquisitors of the Domus. Henriëtte's mother took care of her wounds with a tender touch, believing in her heart how Henriëtte had done everything she could to save her sister.
The High Inquisitor looked at her, his face concerned. A large scrape on her forehead was an indication of the rest of her injuries that were hidden under her clothes. They still bothered Henriëtte.
"I humbly request a new commission." Henriëtte said softly. "Something far from home, so that I may forget the last few days..."