The craftsmen arrived on the third day. His skin was pinched and fastened over drums. His veins and sinews strung guitars and violins. The bones of his hands and feet went into shakers and onto tambourines. His humeri and femurs became drumsticks, his tibia flutes, and his radii bows. The tips of his fingers and toes were filed into plectra. His ulnae were made into batons and presented to the conductor and the head of the choir. The rest of his bones save for the skull and vertebrae went to the innkeeper's wife.
They placed the skull at the end of a long pole and raised it in the middle of the glade. The vertebrae were set in a ring around the pole. Together the pole, the vertebrae, and the skull became an obscene flower reaching toward the sickly light.
The waiting began.
On the seventh night the town returned to the glade. A new moon, a brilliant silver scythe, hung low in the sky.
The innkeeper's wife served bloodied liqueur and heart pie. There were sweetmeat tarts for the children and soup and fried liver for the elderly.
A hush went through the crowd as the musicians began to assemble. The crowd listened to every plink, twang and thump as the band warmed up and tuned their instruments. The crowd watched as the choir, led by the strange young nun, sipped water and ran through muted scales. The conductor stepped forward and faced the town, and it was the entire town, save for the priest who at that very moment was lapping chartreuse and whiskey from between the breasts of two of the highest prostitutes in the Capitol.
The conductor and the nun exchanged glances, raised their batons - which had both been honed to a fine point - and plunged them into each other's neck. As their blood spurted and sprayed, the choir and band strunk their first note. It was an ugly, wretched, painful note. A note that seemed to hang for an eternity before fading into the heavy night air. The violinists fell into the opening strains of a popular dirge, one of the great man's favourite pieces. As his bones and sinews sang, many in the crowd were moved to tears. But only for a moment.
At a signal from the doctor, the musicians broke into a frantic tarantalla and the town broke into a frenzied dance. They whirled and writhed and threshed and thrashed and groped and fondled and whopped and hollered. As the moon reached its zenith, the doctor caught the butcher's eye. The butcher bowed his head, then nodded to his assistant who ran to the innkeeper's wife and whispered one word into her ear.
The innkeeper's wife made her way to the centre of the glade, ignoring the daners who bumped and buffeted her, and looked up at the great man's skull. Its perfect teeth, locked in a hideous grin glistened and gleamed in the firelight. It seemed to her that the skull, with the flames dancing across those perfect teeth, and cradled by the sickle moon was mocking them all. She let out a scream and charged the pole, knocking it into the musicians, sending them sprawling. The skull rolled across the mossy floor of the glade, and with that the knives came out.
No one, not one man, woman or child who had the look of the great man was spared. The choir kept singing as the knives jumped and slashed, even as they lost voices. The screams, muted by the trees, and drowned uot by the choi's elegy didn't carry far. When the bloody purge was over, the doctor, the butcher, the innkeeper's wife, and teh rest dragged themselves from the glade into the cold dawn and stumbled towards their homes and the promise of a warm bed.
That morning the priest returned to town with a number of his order. They headed straight for the glade and gathered the bodies, or what was left of them, into a great pile and set them ablaze, much to the displeasure of the crows which had been feasting on the remains. The townspeople, roused by the scent of burning flesh, made their way back to the clearing. They seethed and fumed and threatened the priest and his companions, but could do nothing. They would not interfere with the priest or his order as they were famous for their prowess with the pistol and sword.
The priest and his men waited until every last body was reduced to ash, then spread smoldering mass around the glade. When their task was complete, the priest turned towards the town and muttered something that sounded like a prayer to most of the townspeople. To those who listened closely, and especially to his horrified noviates, his words had the cadence and intonation of a terrible curse.