In Book of Angels, readers find out more about who the Night Angels really are…and their terrible histories.
Here Marek tells his story to Sera, after a lesson in sword-fighting. It isn’t a pretty tale, be prepared…. The images it brings to mind are horrific. But the stories need to be told…the truth must be revealed.
Marek drew close to me, so that I saw the fine sheen of sweat on his brow, still fresh from our practice. As usual, his expression was neutral but his eyes were cold and hard, the look I had seen in Peter’s eyes so many times when he remembered his past and the humans who had inhabited it.
“One night I overheard my master’s drunken conversation with his wife. The next morning he was going to send me to the Coptic priests at Abu Gerbe to be castrated.”
I shook my head and took a step back. This was something I had not seen in my Turning. What I had seen was bad enough. I didn’t want to find out more.
But Marek stepped forward, almost daring me to try and escape. I was against the wall and he was in front of me. I didn’t try to get away. What would be the point?
“His plan was to sell me to the Ottomans. It was against the Ottoman’s faith to make eunuchs. But the Christians had no such qualms. Do you know how they would do it?”
I shook my head.
“The priests chained the boy to a table and sliced off his penis and testicles. Then, for the healing process, they stuck bamboo catheters into the genital area, dug a hole in the sand, and buried the child up to his neck. The survival rate was ten percent. Naturally those who survived fetched a large price.”
I was revolted. I had heard of female genital mutilation. But this was something I did not know. And why should I? It wasn’t necessary to know every horrible detail of what had happened down through history!
“So…the Ottomans wouldn’t make eunuchs but they had no problem buying them?” I asked.
Marek still didn’t look angry. Only amused, and always in complete control. I wondered what it took to make Marek truly angry. I never wanted to find out.
“Humans are nothing if not hypocritical. They can justify the most horrific and obscene behavior by telling themselves lies over and over until they believe them.”
I had to admit that this was true. I’d discovered it the hard way, after my dad’s death, when the carefully preserved façade of lies hiding the true nature of Oak Haven was torn away.
“I slit the throat of my master while he slept in a drunken stupor. It was my first killing. I ran away. I was quickly captured by a group of traders and brought to the Sultan’s court anyway. But at least I had escape castration. The Sultan was far crueler than my first master but he was of a superior intelligence. He took a liking to me and made sure I was taught history, art, poetry and philosophy. For that I am grateful.”
Marek now took a step back and I breathed easier, feeling my muscles relax slightly. When would I ever really relax, every again, I wondered?
I was too stunned by his story to say anything. We picked up our swords and walked toward the small door in the courtyard. Marek grinned sideways at me. “I see how kids in your culture pierce and tattoo themselves. Some put rings through their noses–willingly! It’s very funny to me.”
I felt grateful he didn’t expect some response from me about his terrible story. What response could I possibly give? It was all so horrible.