So now for your macabre pleasure the tale of St. Marco of Carnivale, the first martyr to the Jester.
He came in the morning. Like the breeze from the coast but thick and heavy, his cloak swinging from his back. He came.
“Carnivale! Carnivale!” The children cried. In their arms were urns and ropes and masks decorated in blasphemous colors. He crossed himself and avoided their hazy eyes, dazed from cups of watered down wine. Marco De’Servo they called him in his home. Some village far removed from Ravenna. Where the water was declared holy and sacrosanct due to the death of some martyr somewhere downstream. Because of this the entire town was filled with the faithful and devout and, from a young age, he had been one of their number. Even in his youth he was fiery with the passion of Christ and the Lord their God and eager to spread the word in the name of saving souls.
He first stopped by the town square and from there, followed a whore to speak to her of the errors of her ways. She laughed from behind stained lips and blew him kisses fetid with meat and plague. From there he stopped for a chat with a friar from some order he could not name but that he was sure was heretical.
“We all come for Carnivale.” The man explained, “Some things, even the church itself cannot contain. These stones, these walls, this god is older than Rome itself.”
The older man shrugged and tipped his hat as well as his cup, for all his piety still a pagan at heart. For all his tattered robes and tonsure still a sinful man absorbed in song, and fuck, and flesh for just one week.
“Thank you for your words brother, but I must be gone.” The city awaited. The city needed him, despite the candles glowing brightly in the windows during the day light. Despite the mimes and story tellers carving words into eloquent heresies on God’s green earth. Despite the safety of the city guard and the drunkenness of the pick-pockets he was needed.
And the city square was once again filled to the brim in the past noon sun. He would take his rest by the old fountain and wait until an old woman came along hungry for the word of the Lord. But as his hand traced the cool, murky water, he was joined yes, not by some sorrowful widow, but a man of age he could not determine, his face painted white with poisonous lead.
“Welcome to our city.” He said. His smile was one of wasps and vino or was it that foul sweet liquor they drank in the north?
“Greetings Jester. I trust God finds you well.”
He laughs or chuckles or chokes or spits or gnashes his teeth like a hound in hell. His face turns wry. “Of course he does, as much as he can considering the weather.”
And Marco doesn’t understand and doesn’t wish to. He’s here on God’s behest and no one else. He doesn’t trust these men in their masks or their painted faces or their words as dark and twisted as a Moslem’s soul. No. He hasn’t time for this. There is too much to do.
“I have no money to give.” He assumed. That is always the motive with these faithless heathens and their costumes from the antiquity of Roma. They suck the milk from the she-wolf’s teet and bathe themselves in Nero’s essence.
“And why would I need that from you?” The jester asks. “Perhaps I seek your fine company on this day. The day when, in the old times, the Lupercal would have young boys in their throes and throngs running about the streets.”
“Treacherous wretch! Have you no heed?”
“Of what?” The clown continues. His eyes flash with noxious warmth, a pedigree of mischief. “It is you who are a visitor here during this time. The heed should be yours.”
And Marco still did not understand nor did he wish to. He is here to serve God and no one else. Not the city and its lanterns. Not the streets and its country cobblestones. He comes from the Church herself on holy business with cross and chalice and water and smoke. He comes on the back of angels.
“Be gone! I have come from God and I will do as he asks. I will take no heed of these sickening perversions. Of these whores and this music and song for which this city prostitutes itself. I come with cleansing fire.”
But the Jester told him to respect the rules of the Carnivale, the rituals and traditions.
“Fine, if you wish not to partake than do not. But do not impede its revelers. Lock yourself up in the inn and be still until the third day.”
But in the name of Christ Marcos did not listen and lit their vanities like holy fires and spilled their wine in the street and shut up the women and the children.
And for this he became Carnivale’s first martyr.
His blood their wine. His words their hymns and turgid song. They tore his flesh in a night-blessed mass with tong and treason and terror as chorus to mishappen moonlight through olive trees in the courtyards.
His dirge became the rising psalm of Carnivale the Jester, the fiend, the wolf, the Maestro.
All for naught.
All for naught.
And only Carnivale will have him now.