Fiction Luther Blissett Q

ISBN 13 : 9780156031967

Q

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9780156031967: Q

Book by Blissett Luther

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Extrait :

PART ONE

The Coiner

Frankenhausen
(1525)


Chapter 1

Frankenhausen, Thuringia, 15 May 1525, afternoon

Almost blindly.

What I have to do.

Screams in my ears already bursting with cannon fire, bodies crashing into me. My throat choked with bloody, sweaty dust, my coughs tearing me apart.

Terror on the faces of the fleeing people. Bandaged heads, crushed limbs . . . I'm constantly turning round: Elias is behind me. Huge, pushing his way through the crowd. He has Magister Thomas over his shoulders, lifeless.

Where is the omnipresent Lord? His flock is being slaughtered.

What I have to do. Clutching the bags tight. Mustn't stop. My dagger bumping against my side.

Elias still behind me.

A blurred outline runs towards me. Face half covered with bandages, tormented flesh. A woman. She recognises us. What I have to do: the Magister mustn't be discovered. I put my finger to my lips: not a word. Shouting behind me: 'Soldiers! Soldiers!'

I move her aside, to get to safety. An alleyway on the right. Running, Elias behind us, running headlong. What I have to do: try all the doors. The first, the second, the third, it opens. We're in.
We close the door behind us. The noise drops. Light filters faintly through a window. The old woman is sitting in a corner at the end of the room, on a dilapidated wicker chair. A few pathetic objects: a shabby bench, a table, coals from a recent fire in a soot-black chimney.

I walk towards her. 'Sister, we have a wounded man. He needs a bed and some water, in the name of God . . .'

Elias is standing in the doorway, filling it. Still with the Magister on his shoulders.

'Just for a few hours, sister.'

Her eyes are watery, seeing nothing. Her head rocks back and forth. My ears are still ringing. Elias's voice: 'What's she saying?'

I walk closer to her. In the midst of the roaring world, a barely murmured dirge. I can't make out the words. The old woman doesn't even know we're there.

What I have to do. No time to lose. A staircase leads upstairs, a nod to Elias, up we go, finally there's a bed where we can lay Magister Thomas. Elias wipes the sweat from his eyes.

He looks at me. 'We've got to find Jacob and Mathias.'

I put my hand on my dagger and make as though to leave.

'No, I'll go, you stay with the Magister.'

I have no time to answer, he's already on his way downstairs. Magister Thomas, motionless, staring at the ceiling. Vacant eyes, eyelids barely beating, he looks as though he isn't breathing.
I look outside: a glimpse of houses through the window. It looks out on to the street, too high to jump. We're on the first floor, at least there's an attic. I peer at the ceiling and can only just see the cracks of a trapdoor. There's a ladder on the floor. Riddled with woodworm, but it'll hold me all the same. I slip in on all fours, the roof of the loft is very low, the floor covered with straw. The beams creak with each movement. There isn't a window, just a few rays of light slanting in between the chinks: the roof space.

More boards, straw. I'm practically lying down. There's an opening out on to the roofs: sloping. Magister Thomas will never make it.

I go back down to him. His lips are dry, his forehead is on fire. I try to find some water. On the floor below there are some walnuts and a jug on a table. The sing-song chant drones endlessly on. When I put the water to the Magister's lips I see the bags: better hide them.

I sit down on the stool. My legs hurt. I hold my head in my hands, just for a moment, then the hum becomes a deafening roar of screams, horses and iron. Those bastards in the pay of the princes are entering the city. Run to the window. To the right, in the main street: horsemen, pikes levelled, are raking the road. They are furiously attacking anything that moves.

On the other side: Elias pops out into the alleyway. He sees the horses, stops. Foot soldiers appear behind him. There's no escape. He looks around: where is the omnipresent Lord?
They point their spears at him.

He looks up. He sees me.

What he has to do. He unsheathes his sword, hurls himself at the foot soldiers. He's ripped one open, butted another to the ground. Three soldiers are on him. Their blows bounce off him, he clutches the hilt of his sword with both hands like a scythe, still slicing away.

They leap aside.

Behind him: a slow, heavy gallop, the horseman charging behind him. The blow knocks Elias flying. It's over.

No, he's getting up: a mask of blood and fury. Sword still in his hand. No one goes near him. I can hear him panting. A tug on the reins, the horse turns round. The axe is raised. Back at a gallop. Elias spreads his legs, two tree roots. His head and arms turned to the sky, he drops his sword.
The final blow: 'Omnia sunt communia, sons of whores!'

His head flies into the dust.

The houses are being ransacked. Doors smashed in with kicks and axe blows. We'll be next. No time to lose. I lean over him. 'Magister, listen to me, we've got to go, they're coming . . . For the love of God, Magister . . .' I grasp his shoulders. He whispers a reply. He can't move. Trapped, we're trapped.

Like Elias.

My hand clutches my sword. Like Elias. I wish I had his courage.

'What do you think you're doing? We've had enough of martyrdom. Go on, get out while you can!'
The voice. As though from the bowels of the earth. I can't believe he's spoken. He's moving even less than before. A knocking and crashing from below. My head is spinning.

'Go!'

That voice again. I turn towards him. Motionless.

Crash. Down goes the door.

Right, the bags, they mustn't be found, come on, over my shoulders, up the ladder, the soldiers are insulting the old woman, I slip, nothing to hold on to, too heavy, come on, I drop a bag, damn! They're coming up the stairs, I'm in, pulling up the ladder, shutting the trapdoor, the door's opening.
There are two of them. Landsknechts.

I'm able to spy on them from a crack between the floorboards. I mustn't move, the slightest creak and I've had it.

'Let's just take a quick look and we'll be off, we're not going to find anything here . . . Hang on, though, who's this?'

They walk over to the bed, shake Magister Thomas. 'Who are you? Is this your house?' No reply.
'Right, then. Günther, look what we've got here!'

They've seen the bag. One of them opens it.

'Shit, there's just paper, no money. What's this stuff? Can you read?

'Me? No!'

'Neither can I. It might be important stuff. Go downstairs and get the captain.'

'What's this, are you giving me orders? Why don't you go?'

'Because I was the one who found the bag!'

In the end they make their minds up, the one whose name isn't Günther goes down to the ground floor. I hope the captain can't read either, or we're fucked.

Heavy steps, the one who must be the captain climbs the stairs. I can't move. My mouth is burning, my throat choking with the attic dust. To stop myself from coughing I bite the inside of a cheek and swallow the blood.

The captain starts reading. I can only hope he doesn't understand it. In the end he lifts his eyes from the paper: 'It's Thomas Müntzer, the Coiner . . . You might say the penny's dropped.'

My heart leaps into my throat. Delighted expressions: double pay. They drag away the man who declared war on the princes.

I stay there in silence, unable to move a muscle.

The omnipresent Lord is neither here nor anywhere else.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Présentation de l'éditeur :

In 1517, Martin Luther nails his ninety-five theses to the door of Wittenburg Cathedral, and a dance of death begins between a radical Anabaptist with many names and a loyal papal spy known mysteriously as "Q." In this brilliantly conceived literary thriller set in the chaos of the Reformation-an age devastated by wars of religion-a young theology student adopts the cause of heretics and the disinherited and finds himself pursued by a relentless papal informer and heretic hunter. What begins as a personal struggle to reveal each other's identity becomes a mission that can only end in death.

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Blissett, Luther
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ISBN 10 : 0156031965 ISBN 13 : 9780156031967
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Description du livre HARVEST BOOKS, United States, 2005. Paperback. État : New. Reprint. 198 x 135 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. In 1517, Martin Luther nails his ninety-five theses to the door of Wittenburg Cathedral, and a dance of death begins between a radical Anabaptist with many names and a loyal papal spy known mysteriously as Q. In this brilliantly conceived literary thriller set in the chaos of the Reformation-an age devastated by wars of religion-a young theology student adopts the cause of heretics and the disinherited and finds himself pursued by a relentless papal informer and heretic hunter. What begins as a personal struggle to reveal each other s identity becomes a mission that can only end in death. N° de réf. du libraire APC9780156031967

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Description du livre HARVEST BOOKS, United States, 2005. Paperback. État : New. Reprint. 198 x 135 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.In 1517, Martin Luther nails his ninety-five theses to the door of Wittenburg Cathedral, and a dance of death begins between a radical Anabaptist with many names and a loyal papal spy known mysteriously as Q. In this brilliantly conceived literary thriller set in the chaos of the Reformation-an age devastated by wars of religion-a young theology student adopts the cause of heretics and the disinherited and finds himself pursued by a relentless papal informer and heretic hunter. What begins as a personal struggle to reveal each other s identity becomes a mission that can only end in death. N° de réf. du libraire APC9780156031967

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