The Baron's Attendant

His bald head is an imperfection that congeals into ugliness. Lumpy doesn't quite describe the form his hairless pate takes, for there are an equal number of indentations to balance the protrusions. It is as though a bored child pounded a pink piece of modeling clay and then abandoned it, an explanation-less object of abstract art.

His eyes stare out from that misshapen skull in two limpid pools of runny egg white, with tiny black yolks that float within their centers. It is never clear where he is looking, but those eyes catch all details. They do not merely look, or take in a scene. They survey, and the brain behind them analyzes with the critical efficiency of a machine.

His lips are as red and fleshy as uncooked liver, and they conceal a perfect set of tiny teeth. When, on rare occasions, he should smile wide enough to open his mouth, those rows of wet pearls hang in absolute order, crowded but not crooked, and looking too many and too small, but fitting for the man who owns them. Between them darts a sharp, pointed tongue that is as purple as his lips and always ready with a witticism or incisive insight.

He shrouds his bodily corpulence in white silks with golden hems and silver embroidery that catch the light of his chambers in dazzling flashes. Whether he's chosen that fashion to distract from his physical deformities or to draw more attention to them is unclear, but the sparkling display makes it very difficult for anyone in attendance to look away.

I have been his servant for nearly a decade now, first as a simple errand boy who then climbed the ladder of trust and experience to the present position of personal nurse. I bathe him with warm sponges and anoint his doughy skin with oils. I massage him when he requests it, though that has become rarer as of late. I have been privy to all manner of audiences, from the lowest of petitioner to the heads of state of this and foreign lands. I owe him my life, and he has placed the ultimate of confidence in me.

Tonight, I will murder him.


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