Chapter XXIII.

21 Jun

The Magistral of all the Anurans in Salientia province arrived in Feretrum with his entourage of officiants, ministrants, and jurants. Their train of mule-drawn carroccios moved at a slow, stately speed on the special reception ground set off with orange-red ribbons. Greetings of welcome were to be presented by Intendant Iwis Nudum, since the Mandator remained too weak and ill to attend.

Iwis wore formal religious garb, a silk casubula with a gold-colored border. A white broadbrim covered his head, a red epitrachelion his shoulders.

Embolus, the Magistral, descended from his coach, surrounded on all sides by guards and staff. He wore purple and white regalia. The assembled Feretrum brothers and the holiday guests let out a thundering cheer for the great prelate. On his head was a tall golden shako. A choir of male and female singers began a traditional cantus to the frog as Iwis approached the visiting dignitary and bowed low to him. A soft atabal drummed away, accompanied by a soft, sweet thearbo. The scene was magnificent and inspiring in its solemnity.

The gleaming white sticharion hanging from the Magistral’s neck had a hypnotic brilliance. A yellow green amophorim covered his shoulders like a stole. Blood red was the encheirion attached to his left arm. His face glowed with sublime holiness and spirituality..

As the two officials embraced, the crowd fell into silence.

Embolus, his coffee eyes searching the face of the larger, taller Intendant, anxiously asked him a question. “How is the Abbad? I understand that Keigo Tragus is too weak to leave the cube where he rests. I am profoundly anxious about his well-being.”

Iwis looked down at him with a pretended expression of pain and hopelessness.

“He is deteriorating rapidly. It is impossible for him to attend the celebration of this memorable holiday. His absence will be sharply felt by all of us in Feretrum.”

The face of the Magistral reflected his enormous inner grief.

“I hope he is well enough to see me. There are important questions for us to discuss at this time.”

“You can certainly visit him, sir. But it is doubtful that he can make any meaningful response in conversation. A cloud of impenetrable obscurity has descended on his mind and memory. He is no longer in our world, I must inform you.”

The important visitor bit his lower lip. “I have an obligation to try to communicate with the unfortunate soul. There are certain questions that must be asked of him. I have been informed of the terrible state of your medicinal trade, due to a severe affliction striking down the frogs in your Sump. That is not a secret of any sort.”

Nudum thought fast and made a reply. “We can go and see him as soon as a benedictory is bestowed upon all those present here, sir. That is what everyone is waiting for.”

“Yes,” nodded Embolus, “that should come first.”

He motioned to a ministrant in his party to bring him his dikanikon of office. The black ebony staff was almost the same height as himself. Once he held it, the prelate raised it up over his head, first to the east, then once in each of the other three directions.

When this was finished, the Magistral turned to Ewis.

“Now, we can go and see Tragus,” he proposed impatiently.

As soon as Ranid and Ereth brought the outsmarted Atpl to the apartment of the Mandator, Ereth had the servitors find a pair of bilboes and manacled the nepotal with them before the Gnomen realized what was being done to him.

At the very same time, Ranid took the opportunity to reveal the details of the Gnomen conspiracy to take over Feretrum to Glia.

“Omphal the hygeist will be coming soon,” she warned her softum pupil.

“I must persuade him to become a witness. That should not be too difficult to do.”

This proved to be true, for the frightened medico confessed his part in poisoning his patient with ceratophrys, once confronted with the threat of prosecution and punishment.

“What is needed for his restoration and recovery?” demanded Ranid with vehemence and emotion.

“I will help him all I can, if mercy is shown me for what I have done,” said Omphal, trembling with fear.

“You promise to testify to the existence of this conspiracy?”

“Of course,” conceded the hygeist. “I will do whatever will save my hide. The Mandator will have a chance to recover, believe me. And I am the one who can bring that about. I promise that I can cause him to heal and recover.”

Omphal was placed under the watch of several trusted brothers, in a locked cube, ready for testimony when needed.

“It is past noon,” remarked Glia, gazing at a wall chronometer. “There will soon be an appearance here by the Magistral himself. And Iwis will be accompanying him.”

The small group in the apartment of the Mandator positioned themselves for a decisive showdown with their foe.

When the two officials entered the cubiculum where Tragus lay, only the latter’s daughter was with the unconscious Mandator.

“He is asleep, sir,” she said to Magistral Embolus. “But his hygeist is in the adjacent cube and would be happy to describe his physical condition for you.”

“I would like to hear what he has to say,” declared the visiting dignitary.

Iwis Nudum stood beside him, silent and passive for the moment.

Glia moved silently and unnoticed over to a side door and opened it.

Three figures swiftly walked in: Ranid, Ereth, and the fettered Omphal between them. The latter avoided the eyes of his fellow Gnomen, the Intendant named Iwis Nudum.

“Relate the full story of the plotters,” commanded the softum in a loud, authoritative voice that drew the attention of everyone in the room.

As the hygeist confessed to what he knew, Ranid and Ereth moved forward, took hold of Nudum, and escorted him out of the cubiculum of the Mandator.

No resistance arose, perhaps because of the impressive presence of the great Magistral.

When Ranid and Ereth re-entered in a short while, after locking up the Intendant, Omphal the hygeist was finishing his narration before the highest official of the Anuran faith.

“Place this evil man under restraint,” ordered the Magistral. “This has been terrible to listen to. I myself promise to help clean out this nest of rats in Feretrum. Nothing of it must remain in the future, or else our Anuran system will surely die. I will not permit such heretical corruption to fester here.”

“My father will now come back to consciousness,” prophisized Glia. “We will remake this coenobium to a higher image, a purer ideal.”

“I shall try to assist in that project,” promised the former Salamandrite called Ranid.

Awakening came to Keigo Tragus only two weeks after the Gnomens were transported from Feretrum to trial and then imprisonment in Salientia City. His convalescence and recuperation occurred at phenomenal speed. Glia and Ranid explained the defeated conspiracy to him. In a month, the two announced to him their intention to wed. The Mandator was overjoyed at such positive, happy news. Such a match was gratifying to him.

In private, the tutulary told her intended of an ambitious dream that had occurred to her during the dangerous nightmare they had recently gone through. They conversed together late one night in Ranid’s librarium cubby.

“Why can’t the different strains of amphibian spirituality be united and melded together?” she challenged him. “We, the two of us, can at least try to achieve some conjunction of our two systems. To me, that is the most worthy aim and purpose to which you and I can devote our time and efforts.”

“But how is that to happen? A new way of thought will be necessary to advance that far, I would imagine.”

Glia gave him a soft, tender look. “Do you recall what I wrote about the hypostasis of the odyle in every medium worshiped? What does that make out of both the frog and the salamander? They can be considered as hypostatic cognates or equivalents. That is what the separate faiths are to each other, as well. They are kindreds, derived from the same infinite, eternal source. They are alike in essence. They differ in labels, a very minor matter. If the Anurans look into a mirror, they will see Salamandrites. And vice versa.”

“Let me think this matter over tonight, my dear,” he told her gently. “You are proposing that we attempt something that most people would tag as impossible and unrealistic. Your idea would change the structure of our spiritual life completely. I will have to think deeply in order to judge what will be possible in the future. It is by no means an easy task you would set for us.”

He gave Glia a steady, understanding smile.

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