Her Veiled, Inevitable Skin

Excerpt.

Catalogue of the contents of the ger inhabited by the witchdoctor of the Obsidian Desert, named Fas Invidia, known as a nomadic healer, an executioner, and a whore, of the Aberro bloodline and the Furia tribe.

Deceased discovered this eleventh night of the Crow’s month, thirty-ninth year of the slaughtered. Cause of death unknown. Found in her bedchamber; well-preserved.

Item 1 – Eight large jars, thirty-six inches high, lining the floor against the wall of the dwelling, containing:
a. desert serpents, red fluid
b. rats, clear fluid
c. miscellaneous human fingers, clear fluid
d. organs of unknown type/origin, clear fluid
e. head of human male, nomad, clear fluid
f. unknown/unidentified roots, brown fluid
g. feet of various birds, brown fluid
h. powdered blood, dry

Item 2 – Fabrics, scarves, and strands of beads from the Ianua tribe, used to designate the bedchamber

Item 3 – Hexagonal box carved from common stone, kept beside the bed. Arabesque ornamentation, etched. Containing twenty-two keys, all strung on a braid of black hair, believed to be human

Item 4 – Various unidentified oils, ranging from clear to opaque black, stored on a metal shelf near the bedchamber. Ninety-one small bottles

Item 5 – Pile of bowls, platters, and utensils, all of stone or bone, mostly stained. Kept on a wooden table holding also ropes and fabrics woven from boar’s hair and human hair

Item 6 – Large metal box, black, silver lettering of Infra language, holding magnifying glasses of assorted shapes and sizes, multiple tribes represented in designs. Also in box are six glass spheres, various colors and sizes

Item 7 – Wooden box atop large metal box (item 6), carrying surgical instruments:
a. bone forceps
b. bone saw
c. cupping vessels, for bloodletting
d. glass jar holding hooks of various sizes
e. scalpels
f. scissors
g. hypodermic syringe set with five needles
h. vaginal speculum
i. rectal speculum
j. bullet forceps

Item 8 – Wooden chest with black painted floral designs, containing scrolls, feathers, multiple locks of human hair, and books, as follows:
a. Untitled volume – pages list names and spells/services/ailments/prescriptions given, handwritten by Fas Invidia; binding: serpent, believed handmade by Invidia
b. Sacred Texts from the Lost Languages of Obsidia; binding: boar
c. The Stichomancer’s Bibliography; binding: boar
d. Bookbinding Rituals of the Ancients; binding: poss. human – written by Invidia
e. A Record of the Emblems of the Aetherial Tribes; binding: serpent
f. Roots and Powders; binding: boar
g. Elixirs of Death; binding: poss. human
h. A History of the Aberro Bloodline; binding: serpent
i. Poisonous Pleasures; binding: poss. human – written by Invidia
j. Twelve further untitled volumes, all upon the theme of the flora and fauna of the Obsidian Desert; binding: miscellaneous
k. Eight further untitled volumes, these dealing with the realms of sorcery; binding: miscellaneous
l. Nineteen notebooks bound in serpent’s skin; personal use; all handwritten in Invidia’s various scripts; subjects as yet unknown

Item 9 – Jars and bottles, all glass and metal and of various sizes, containing unlabeled herbs and animal remains. Estimated 300 vessels, kept on long wooden table near ger’s entrance

Item 10 – Three ceremonial swords of the Furia tribe, as well as two ritual daggers and four axes, all marked with the sigils of the Furia

Item 11 – Various skins hanging from the ceiling: rat, serpent, boar, human, crocodile

Item 12 – Two piles consisting of alternating sheets of metal and dried, black tongues (believed to have been pressed, the fluid collected in a glass vessel placed near the piles)

Item 13 – Five jars of fat – marked: boar, human, banshee, djinn, tiger

Item 14 – Scroll pinned to the wall of the ger, containing the following text, handwritten by Invidia in the script of the Aberro (translated version here):

With thread unwoven from the tapestries of ancient realms, gold for arabesques of flame,
black for night and devotion, red for blood and pleasure, take these aged colors and
sew life back into these mingled breaths and bones.

I am promised to decay, masterful and fearless in the black blooming beauty of my mouth. By these chains orbiting my belly and the ruin of my infinite hands, I carry dead prayers and death’s heads and emaciated tongues. Into night you will follow my witch song, my god hate, and all the divine ones will heed my broken word.

I, daughter of snakes; my breath is the bringer of death. Kiss the water upon my tongue, the nectar of darkness and annihilation. Lie with me, and only the end shall manifest. I have pulled the meat off the bones of your ancestors. I have eaten your flesh with bread soaked in venom, and the black desert holds me, sister in night and wind.

I am a wing at the bottom of the sea, the mother of long-dead beasts that never were, a sea of blood swallowing the desert; I am the coiled flame at the base of every man’s spine. This space is a temple; these mysteries keep to themselves. There will be no trespassers here.

Nine keys behind your eyes, between your thighs;
satiate the pen hunger, the scar of ink;
find my scissors at your throat
and a storm of void to lull
us to sleep. Breathe
the night nearly
over, the pen
not so dry.
Breathe
the
ink.