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Author Topic: PC256 / 711: The Red Priest's Vigil  (Read 7333 times)


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on: April 17, 2013, 12:48:22 PM
PodCastle 256: The Red Priest’s Vigil

by Dirk Flinthart.

Read by Graeme Dunlop of Cast of Wonders and Pseudopod fame.

Originally appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine issue #25, 2006.

Your Grace:
I believe you are correct. Tomaso Dellaforte is the most dangerous man I have ever met.
I followed your instructions to the letter. Your information as to the whereabouts of the condottiere de Mortibus was accurate. It was with very little difficulty that I purchased the inn, and as a matter of goodwill, I was careful to retain all of the long-term tenants. De Mortibus lived in a room on the upper floor, and made a poor living as a teacher of weapons. I had expected more from the man who led the sack of Mallorze.
I allowed the passage of a month, in order to allay suspicion, before I began to administer the draft. Once again, I congratulate you on the accuracy of your information. Administered in wine, in precisely the proportions ordered, the poison produced in the man every symptom of a most terrible, wasting illness.
Though he had little money, to my alarm de Mortibus was afforded a chirurge by a patron: an old friend, I believe. I did not manage to ascertain who it may have been. In any case the chirurge professed himself puzzled, and bled the man profusely, to no avail. Indeed, I suspect his ministrations were responsible for a sharp decline in de Mortibus’ condition, and I was forced to reduce the proportion of the draft in the wine for a time. De Mortibus continued to fail.
Perhaps two months after I began this work upon him, de Mortibus confronted me in the kitchens. By this time he was much weakened, and could get about only with great effort. He had not been able to pursue his livelihood for some time, and had come to depend upon my charity, as I had planned. Therefore, something of trust and familiarity had grown between us, and I was not surprised when he sought me out alone.
“Take this, good Marotti,” he said to me, and pressed a sealed packet into my hand. “I beg you see it delivered to the hand of Konrad Heisenck, whose Free Company you will find in the city square this month. There is no other I may entrust with it, and I swear to you that it means more than my very life.” He forced the packet upon me, and even produced a gold coin which I made much
play of refusing. I promised his letter would be delivered, and sent him to his bed with a stoup of hot wine.

This episode was not rated by PodCastle staff.

Special thanks to Marguerite Kenner and Graeme Dunlop – our Guest Editors and Hosts this week! Their own podcast is the YA oriented Cast of Wonders.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: December 14, 2021, 08:25:08 PM by Ocicat »


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Reply #1 on: April 17, 2013, 06:42:59 PM
Mr. Dunlop, you possess a voice that demands attention.  Couple that with a fantastic story is pure win.  I want to know more about this Red Priest.


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Reply #2 on: April 18, 2013, 10:25:24 AM
This story managed to fill me with rich details without using specific words.  It lent itself to building, in my mind, a rich world, based on a clash between our reality of the Dark Ages with a typical world of fantasy.  It was very pleasing to my ear, and made me want to look forward to more stories of the Red Priest, and just what happened to him in his past.  Who indeed will stand vigil over him?  More, more, more!

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Reply #3 on: April 18, 2013, 01:27:50 PM
The writing had a pre-WWII feel to it (or maybe that was the reading), which is usually a bad sign but sometimes fantastic. Anyway, I enjoyed this one.


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Reply #4 on: April 18, 2013, 04:47:30 PM
Kind of a slow burn of a build up, but once the story reached the actual vigil of the title, I really enjoyed it.  The re-animated flesh was a nice balance of scary and disgusting.

Rather than the 2001 film "Brotherhood of the Wolf," which I saw and thought was well shot though not particularly compelling, this story reminded me strongly of the anime, "Full Metal Alchemist."  I was a complete devotee of the original animated series in high school but was hesitant to see the new version more closely based on the comic.  Also, it's not a medium I'm really that into anymore.  This story makes me want to give it a try anyway.

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Reply #5 on: April 23, 2013, 03:07:27 PM
Very nice. I loved the reading, and the story itself had me completely submerged.
What's more, at the beginning of the story my allegiance lay with the story-teller, his is the only viewpoint we've seen, and therefore I agree with him. This dude he is tracking is very dangerous and needs to be brought in.
But at some point in the story my allegiance started to shift. I started thinking how maybe he's not so dangerous. And how do I know that the Inquisition is even right to want him dead? And maybe he's only dangerous to people who want him dead? And maybe...?
That was about the time when our story teller also started to view Dellaforte in a new light.
I like stories like that, where nothing is cut and dry, nothing is black and white.

Was it just me or was there a half-second sound-bite at about 49:19?

Cogito ergo surf - I think therefore I network

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Reply #6 on: April 24, 2013, 10:37:50 PM
Loved this one. It has me hungering to know much more about Dellaforte and the world he inhabits. And tonnes of questions I would love answered in more stories. Like how does reincarnation fit into Dellaforte's Christian beliefs? Is that the nail that hammered Christ to the cross, if so where did he get it and who fashioned it into a dagger? How was he cursed? I've been wondering about these for hours now...

Dear Mr Flinthart, please write more about Dellamorte. And of you have, tell me where to find it! :)


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Reply #7 on: April 25, 2013, 04:37:02 AM
How did I overlook commenting on this? I loved it! I too was thinking of "Brotherhood of the Wolf", but also "Lies of Locke Lamora". The character of the Red Priest is quite memorable; I too would welcome more stories of him.

Is that the nail that hammered Christ to the cross

That was my take on it.


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Reply #8 on: April 25, 2013, 02:58:52 PM
Wow, what a great story! Add me to the list of people who would love to read more stories in this universe, either specifically about the narrator or Dellaforte, or just generally in this world. Also, thanks to Marguerite for the commentary at the end, I actually listened a second time looking for places where perhaps the narrator had "edited" his account due to hindsight and reflection on the events. And Graeme's reading was excellent, as always.

It's interesting to watch a character who has been highly trained and educated by those he trusts come into contact with equally trained and educated foes. Will his ideological framework stand in the face of opposition? Do his intellectual ideas about the world accommodate the circumstances that are reflected around him? I find that it's easy to hold dissonant ideas on a theoretical basis, right up until real life experience starts putting pressure on the cracks in between conflicting ideas. It speaks well of the narrator that he was willing to take in new information and re-assess, rather than stubbornly digging in his heels.

Is that the nail that hammered Christ to the cross

That was my take on it.

Mine as well, but I'm glad that it wasn't totally spelled out for us.


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Reply #9 on: April 26, 2013, 01:45:35 PM
I liked this a lot.  My mind wandered around at the beginning until it got to the vigil itself.  I'd read more stories about the Red Priest.  The story gave a fitting introduction to him too, through the shifting view of the protagonist and this all being told in retrospect.  The manner of the telling didn't give away at the beginning the protagonist's shifting allegiance, but in retrospect it was very appropriately told for someone making his kind of statement.

Well done!  Also, more please!


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Reply #10 on: April 28, 2013, 10:15:39 PM
Just to add another's voice, really, really liked this story.  I've been having trouble with some of Podcastle's entries as of late, due to a tendency towards slower delivery leaving me a little frustrated and bored, but here I thought the tempo was just right.  The delivery was slow, but the situation and especially the perspective of the speaker so interesting that my mind didn't wander a bit.  I especially love the use of a reliable, but ultimately unsympathetic narrator (until his turn at the end).  I caught on immediately that he was intended to be rather unsympathetic and skeezy due to the incessant use of titles and overly formal language in addressing the letter's recipient, making me feel he was a rather obsequious cog in a ponderous oppressive mechanism.  Oddly, I found him much more interesting than the Red Priest himself, as the priest went through all these events essentially unchanged, something of an omniscient action hero in his own world.  The speaker, by contrast, reverses completely in the course of the story, and I would much more like to hear more stories of that character, exploring his world with new eyes.  I am, however, completely unfamiliar with the Red Priest character or his world, so I may be missing some aspects of his character.  The particular events which brought him his outlaw status could be very interesting.

My only problem with the story also arose from my unfamiliarity with the setting:  I was convinced initially that we were living in a high-fantasy world with it's own unique religions and unique church structure.  The reveal that this was supposed to be a particular historical era in our world (i.e., the religion was Catholicism and the recipient of the letter the Pope) took me a few minutes to adjust to.


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Reply #11 on: April 29, 2013, 04:51:41 PM
Loved this one. It has me hungering to know much more about Dellaforte and the world he inhabits. And tonnes of questions I would love answered in more stories. Like how does reincarnation fit into Dellaforte's Christian beliefs? Is that the nail that hammered Christ to the cross, if so where did he get it and who fashioned it into a dagger? How was he cursed? I've been wondering about these for hours now...

Dear Mr Flinthart, please write more about Dellamorte. And of you have, tell me where to find it! :)

I second this.


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Reply #12 on: May 01, 2013, 03:40:07 AM
Hello one and all. My apologies for my late arrival; I have been off at the National SF Convention in Canberra, and if truth be told, drinking at a buck's night as well. It was complicated.

I'm pleased and a little embarrassed by the response to The Red Priest's Vigil. I am notoriously bad at taking compliments, and therefore many of the comments here seem purpose-built to make me blush and retreat.

Nevertheless, for those who asked, here's the state of play with The Red Priest himself:

There are two more stories in publication -- The Garden of the Djinn, and The Red Priest's Homecoming. The latter is nigh-enough a novella, near twenty thousand words. Both came out through Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, and both have been reprinted in various 'best of' collections: both Year's Best Australian (etc), and ASIM itself. If you're really curious, I think ASIM has some electronic copies of their best-of collections, and their editors are already helpful.

There are also at least three more Red Priest stories unfinished, and a couple of intriguing requests from various publishers for more. I'm currently eyebrows-deep in a Masters degree, and a fistful of other projects, but for what it's worth, The Red Priest will definitely return.

Best to all,



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Reply #13 on: May 01, 2013, 03:43:39 AM
...and without giving too much away:

Yes. "Nail" is one of the iron nails that held Christ on the cross. There were three. One has been lost in battle against a terrible foe. One has been reworked and beaten into a sword carried by a young king of Britain in the darkest years that followed the retreat of the Roman Empire, and might perhaps be found again if needed. The third was kept as a great treasure by an organisation dedicated to killing the supernatural foes of humankind, and was given to Dellaforte as a youth, when he did that organisation great service.

That's another story to be told.


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Reply #14 on: May 01, 2013, 01:15:26 PM
The aspect of this story that I enjoyed most was that both sides of the conflict worked with skill and intelligence; I was slightly disappointed by the announcement that the Red Priest had known the narrator was a Dominican from the beginning, since it was quite reasonable that he'd be fooled, at least at first, but still.  It's good when the antagonists' plan doesn't rely on the protagonist holding the Stupid Ball.

The monster was nicely creepy.  "Now I have flesh" indeed.


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Reply #15 on: May 13, 2013, 04:50:01 PM
As always, Mr. Dunlop, you made this story riveting and engaging. When the demon appeared, your portrayal of him gave me chills. Chills.

What I liked most about this story was the character development of the innkeeper/spy priest. At first, I found him to be a two-faced, murderous coward, but as the tale went on, I realized he was simply acting under orders from the pope, or high priest, or what have you of this world. I liked how he begins to question. The ending was perfect: he still was extremely wary and convinced that Dellamorte was dangerous, but he was truly a good man, and that it changed his opinion enough to leave the church and seek out truth as a wandering hermit.

And oh, looooved the religious icons used for battle, especially the nails. Reminded me a lot of the Throne of the Crescent Moon. Though I must confess, The red priest's title got me thinking about the red priest in Slayers who was just as dangerous, but how dangerous? "Ah, that is a secret!" ::happy smile::

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Reply #16 on: May 13, 2013, 07:14:45 PM
I think you're conflating Xellos and Rezo, LaShawn.  :-D

oh shit he opened his eyes run

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Reply #17 on: May 15, 2013, 04:45:09 PM
I thought this was going to be about Antonio Vivaldi, the Red Priest of Venice (and famous composer).

It wasn't but it was a delightful yarn nonetheless.


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Reply #18 on: December 14, 2021, 08:24:45 PM
This story has been re-run as PodCastle 711: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – The Red Priest’s Vigil