Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

Written this 10th day of August in the year of Our Lord 1708.

My king, I fear for the custody of the charge you bequeathed me, so many years agone. My health is failing, and while that which is our burden seems to be weakening, I am sure that my end will arrive sooner.

I have made as much preparation as possible, but as you urged me to be diligent in all things regarding my charge, I have to let you know that the good Lord may take me into his care before he sees fit to lift your penance.

As you requested, this is the current disposition of my charge –

He awakes at dawn and undertakes votive prayers to the false-idol star that he refuses to recant, despite the diligent efforts of the chaplain you assigned. He breakfasts upon water and mealy bread, and it is noticeable that he quaffs far more than he devours these days.
He spends his morning performing arcane rituals as always. I think that La Riviere’s contention was correct: “computay shonal” operations are related to the discipline of mathematics in some manner that we do not yet grasp.
The afternoon is spent sitting motionless in whatever daylight he can attain. His preference for strong sunlight has increased, but he is never forceful, merely insistent that he get the best seat within his limited demesne.
He remains cheerful, polite, noncommittal and entirely lacking in the remotest understanding of the concept of death. His requests to talk to “Leonardo” really do refer to the Sage of Vinci!
After sunset he gratefully accepts assistance in removing the mildew that accumulates upon his mercury skin each day. I note that the mossy tarnish spreads faster and is increasingly difficult to remove. My manservant has to scour it away with potato spirits and coarse vinegar.
Post-cleansing, he settles to rest without evening rituals or further converse.

This routine remains, of course, without deviation.

In regards to his ongoing care, I attach an authority for your signature, as black velvet of requisite weight and size for his veil has increased to a price beyond the stipend allowed for his upkeep.

This is the whole of it. I expect that this may well be the last missive you receive from me. I beg that you make ready for the continuance of his care in the event of my death.

I trust that you are in robust health, as France depends upon her Sun King.

I pray that Our Lord bestows mercy upon you and takes the changeling soon. Should I find myself blessedly chosen to be worthy of heaven, I shall entreat the angels upon you behalf.

I remain, as ever and until the Lord gainsays me, your humble servant –

Bénigne Dauvergne de Saint-Mars.

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