Sister Foscari paused at the sideboard to remove her sword and dagger. She took a breath and squared her shoulders and turned to the guard, indicating that he should open the door for her.
“Sister Foscari,” the High Inquisitor called as she entered, “how good of you to visit me.”
Sister Foscari curtsied low, “My Lord High Inquisitor.”
“Now now, sister, don’t stand on formalities, come and sit. I understand you have been unwell?”
She straightened and crossed the room to sit on the edge of a chair facing the Inquisitor’s desk. “I have, Your Grace, suffered the touch of an unnatural. The witch was burned a fortnight ago. The Abbess believes the troubles will pass.”
“Nightmares, I understand?”
She nodded. “Yes, Your Grace. Discipline and study will heal the damage, it is the Builder’s will that it should be so.”
Both made the sign of the hammer as she spoke.
“I am glad to hear it. Your abbess thought you might recover better were you removed further from the site of the incident.”
“The Church in New Babbage is in need of a physician. She said that you would be well suited to the position.”
Sister Foscari tilted her head slightly, not wanting to show dismay at the idea of spending time in the north. “If it is the will of the Builder.”
The Inquisitor smiled at this. “She also said you handled the situation in Italy admirably.”
She bowed her head in acknowledgement of the compliment.
“I need a hand in New Babbage.”
At this she looked surprised, “Your Grace?”
“I am hearing whispers from there that disturb me, but I don’t wish to raise alarm. I fear that were I to send one of my Fathers to investigate, he would be confounded. But a member of the Silent Sisterhood should have been sent there ages ago, I understand that Father Pizzaro’s ring has been broken. One of your order should be tending to him to ensure that if his mind goes, certain secrets remain secret. There is also a rumor that Father Moonwall is in decline, but has all too afraid to declare him incompetent.”
“It would be my honor to aid you in this and all things, Lord High Inquisitor.”
“I knew that it would. You’ll find everything you need to know is in this package.” He pushed a wrapped parcel across the desk toward her. She stood and picked it up. “I hardly need tell you to destroy the contents once you have reviewed them?”
“Of course not, Your Grace.”
“Communication will be through the usual channel.”
She tucked the parcel beneath her arm. “Is there anything else, Lord Inquisitor?”
“No. You will do well, I’m sure. You are dismissed.”
She curtsied low and walked to the door.
“Oh, and Penelope?”
She paused and turned back, “Yes, Your Grace?”
“Try to avoid being cursed by another witch. I do hate to see you looking so pale.”
“I will try, father.” She tapped on the door and it was swung open by the guards.
New Babbage, she thought in annoyance as she retrieved her sword and dagger, I’m going to need warmer clothes.