Saint Asodé

Dearest Alice,

I know it has been months since I’ve last written. I do apologize for the delay. Life has thrown many odd events my way lately and I have been trying to decide how to address them appropriately. I hope you can understand. I will be brief going through what has happened because I have great news to share with you, my love.

You may remember me excitedly writing to you about Lord Hoare inviting me to his estate shortly before I left. Well, on the last leg of my journey I decided it would be a good idea to take him up on his offer and visit. We were already traveling down from Scotland, so it was on the return journey. 

I expected this to be a short diversion, hardly adding any time onto my journey. I’m so sorry for how late I am to return to you. But it is all worth it, I hope you will see that.

Lord Hoare told me, in his letter, that he heard of my collection of antiquities through a chain of mutual acquaintances. It embarrassed me a little to inform him that I largely inherited this collection from Father, but he is of the mind that it just means our family is a line of stewards of history. “And what is a bloodline but a preservation of history?” I feel a little differently, but it is only a minor disagreement between colleagues. After all, we have the same goal, “to speak from facts, not theory.”

At first, I thought this invitation was simply a friendly visit to peruse his collection and perhaps exchange ideas. I had a thought about the ancient Picts up north, but I won’t bore you with the details.

However, traveling through the village near the Lord’s estate put me on edge. Have you ever heard of Saint Asodé? I hadn’t, but the village seemed to have a small chapel devoted to her, separate from the church at the center of town. While waiting for Lord Hoare’s steward to come and escort me to his estate, I investigated the little structure. It was small, just four walls and a roof, no more than 10 feet deep and 5 feet wide. The structure was made of unadorned wood except the back wall, which was decorated with a mural of her, Saint Asodé, with her back to the worshippers, covered in a feathered cape.

I tried to ask about her but the people seemed to avoid her name. In retrospect, no one seemed to even want to get close to the chapel either. I later asked Lord Hoare about it but he did not have much to say. He said it was simply the superstitions of the common folk. They don’t travel at night on the first of each month. They refuse to eat with an open window. Apparently there is a long list of beliefs unique to this little town. Saint Asodé is just one more according to him.

The first night he asked me to stay in my room after dinner, so he could prepare his collection for visitors. He said he didn’t want them to be caught off guard by a new visitor, said it was a superstition he actually stuck to, at least in jest. But I complied with his words and stayed in my room the whole night. I’m dreadfully sorry, I thought of writing to you then, but the excitement of seeing his collection made me too jittery to sit down and write. 

The next morning, after breakfast, he took me to his collection. He is much more well-traveled than I, that much is certain. He had a piece from Egypt, a canopic jar used in the mummification process. He also had another piece from China, a bronze mirror with an intricate pattern carved in the back. It made my stomach turn a bit to think about how they were obtained. You’ve known me for so long, always softer of conviction than my father and his associates.

However, I was mostly interested in his British collection. He had a series of artifacts from the local area, including ancient stones carved with Nordic runes and elaborate scenes. And while all of that was interesting, exciting, I want to write about what he showed me last.

He told me to sit down, drink deeply from my cup, and wait. He went behind the corner, and I could hear him open a small chest. 

Alice, he said it was the wing of an angel. When I saw it I fell from my seat and grasped at my chest. I want to describe it Alice. I want you to understand how it sat in his hands, how the feathers writhed in between his fingers, as if it was still alive, as if it was still aware of where it was. The wing wrapped itself around his arms, trying to grip him, and pull him? Take him somewhere? Bond with him? I do not know. 

All I know is I was at peace. For the first time since my father’s funeral, I felt a calmness as I lay on that rug. I felt whole as I knelt before this vision. It felt like a glimpse at unfiltered truth, Alice. It felt like a layer sheltering me from existence had been peeled away and I could finally begin to explore it.

Everyone should see this, Alice. Everyone needs to see this. 

So I’m coming back, Alice.

I will take you to see Lord Hoare.

All for Her Glory,

Thomas Kelley

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