Rula sits in the back of the cart holding on tight, she is buffeted from side to side as the wheels clatter over the uneven cobbled road leading back into town from the sawmill. In front of her was the carefully wrapped but now fully blood stained bodies of Banny Harker (saw mill worker) and Katrine Vinder (a known local girl). The constant movement of the bodies was causing the cart to fill with blood and gore. This did not bother Rula in the slightest, she had become accustomed to mutilation, blood and gore not just during the recent Goblin attacks but she was also brought up and trained by her father as a surgeon.
As a child she was encouraged to dissect cadavers, remove their organs reattach missing limbs etc.. She would practice making the bodies good and then treated them as her friends as any other child would a rag doll…
Up ahead the spire of the Church could be seen, Rula had told Tia that she would be bringing the bodies back to the Church to make them presentable for their family’s to say goodbye and for one of the many Priests to perform last rights.
The cart pulls up slowly outside the Church, as she steps down a scrawny dog darts under the cart and proceeds to lap up the sticky mess starting to pool underneath. Two members of the church appear at the door to meet her.
“Good Afternoon, I was hoping that I might speak with Father Zandus, these poor souls deserve a proper burial and blessing from the Church, I wondered if I may use one of the rooms within the infirmary down in the catacombs in order to prepare them for their return to the soil.”
Rula had spent many days after the Goblin attacks working in the catacombs, sanctioned by Father Zandus who had allocated her space to work. She had proved herself a good asset to the Church by saving a number of lives by applying her surgical skills. And also taken advantage of the privacy this provided to perform some of her own personal experiments on the dead bodies of the more influential members of the town…
The two acolytes bob their heads and move to unload the corpses from the wagon. Respectfully they carry the bodies through the side entrance and down towards the crypts beneath the cold ground.
Rhula shivered, the wind was picking up and had a keen edge. The autumn was drawing to an end and winter’s first touch was a sharp premonition of the cold months ahead. She drew her shawl around her shoulders and headed into the dark interior of the church. Inside, a few locals were sitting in quiet contemplation whilst the choir group glorified Desna through song and chants, under the stern eye of the choirmaster.
Rhula spied Father Zandus and headed over to where he was sitting and waited, quietly, until he noticed her presence by his side.
“Rhula,” he smiled warmly and turned to face her. “So good to see you.”
“And you Father. Sad tidings bring me here I’m afraid.”
“Ah yes, I am aware of the events of last night. Sad tidings indeed. What is it you wish?”
“I have the bodies of the victims, they need to be examined and prepared for their passing. Tia is following with a further corpse and a seriously injured man.”
“A throat wound, serious…he may not live. Tia will tell you more I’m sure…I’m sorry Father, I feel it pressing to attend to the fallen. With your permission?”
Zandus nods and closes his eyes sadly. After a moment he opens them, looks closely at Rhula, and then nods again.
Rhula bobs a courtesy of sorts and turns on her heel. As she heads towards the stairs down to the cooler crypt below her steps quicken. Time is pressing, she reminds herself. Corpses can possess great stores of information as to their last moments, but once the body’s lifeblood stops and starts to congeal, the information begins to fade away until there is nothing left but dust…