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Sergio Palumbo's The Tome of Torment
Sergio Palumbo’s - The Final Chapter of the
Tome of Torments
Chimo Higini had long been a serious academician who had labored for many years before completing his accurate, all-inclusive manuscript about all the up-to-date torments men had inflicted on other men over the course of countless centuries. It was his ultimate goal to give it to the Great Ruler of their Unending Realm, the 70-year-old king who had reigned for most of his life with an iron fist.
After he felt his manuscript was finally finished and ready to be presented to the world, the blond-haired slender middle-aged man was ready to make the long journey to the Royal Castle, which was on the northern coast of the Realm. He was enthusiastic about displaying his manuscript before the eyes of the courtiers and the Ruler himself; as he was sure the old king would greatly appreciate his gift and would pay him back for the sacrifices he had made during his long years of study, clearly. Beyond that, it was his loftiest goal to get his tome published and accepted into the esteemed Library of the Realm itself, where only the most famous books about sorcery and war had been placed since ancient times.
In fact, when a person’s book was placed into the Library of the Realm, copies were sent to all the other territories throughout the entire country and that a person was allowed to enter into the ancient library itself. It goes without saying that access was usually denied to common people, being strictly reserved for only the most influential of authors and the aristocracy. But if an author’s manuscript was accepted for inclusion in the Library of the Realm, they could go inside every day if they wanted to, at any time!
Access to that library was very important if Chimo wanted to complete his further studies on the subject, undoubtedly. Gaining access to those sacred rooms was the only thing that he had been able to think about for many long months.
However, when a tired Chimo finally arrived at the Royal Castle, after weeks of travel across wide deserts, small dusty paths and high mountain ranges, what he found simply made him stand there astonished with his mouth open, unable to say anything. Unfortunately, the merciless Great Ruler had died during his last war of destruction against a very old temple in the south, where he had been planning to destroy the old religion of the monks once and for all, before torturing the few holy men who might have survived his fury.
Chimo sighed, knowing that he was at a loss about what to do next. It seemed that all was apparently lost, or so the elderly scholar thought. What was the use of having done all this research if the heartless tyrant was dead? And what was left of his dreams of having a glorious reputation within the Unending Realm itself?
So he began to wander the alleyways and crooked streets, lost in thought. He wandered this way for hours until eventually his eyes fell upon a young man helping his aged father through the crowds of a marketplace. So the thought occurred to him: the only son of the king was still alive and he was the new Great Ruler today, so why not show him the manuscript. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, the old man considered, so his son would probably be just as ruthless.
Now that Chimo had a goal, what he had to do was very simple: he decided to ask for admission to the court in order to present the results of his serious studies before the new king himself and get his special favor, along with finally receiving the exalted recognition that his work deserved.
It took weeks of asking the clerks at the castle every day before his name was even placed on the list to see the young king. A few more weeks passed before his name was finally called and a great door was opened into the Royal Castle for him to enter. When he was allowed to bring his manuscript into the throne room and saw the elaborate throne at the far end of the wide hall, with the new king sitting on it, Chimo almost fainted from nervousness. However, he took a deep breath and drew upon his courage, bowing accordingly before starting his presentation.
“So, you came before my court in order to show me your tome about torments…” the imposing dark-haired man of power asked him. “I have heard that it a collection of the cruelest tortures ever inflicted on someone by men over the course of the centuries?”
“Yes, it is, Great Ruler, and it took me years to complete it.”
“So, tell me more about it…” the young king encouraged him, leaning forward a little, his elbows resting on his knees.
“As you like, Great Ruler. First of all, there are some chapters about the most ancient torments in history, like the Tub, The Pear, the Saw, and the Rope. After that there are long chapters composed of long expositions about the most recent uses of torture like the modern Chest Ripper, the Heretics Fork and the Coffin. Oh, and there are also some excellent suggestions about the way to make some of them even more efficacious and gruesome than originally planned, certainly…”
“I see,” said the king, taking a moment to think over what the old scholar had said. “So this is a very accurate work about all those cruel practices.”
“And I also collected a complete description of the oldest ones, as most of them are almost forgotten nowadays, unfortunately, so that your revered father could reinstate them, if he wished to do so.”
“And you believed I would be interested because of my similarity to my father?” asked the monarch.
“Yes, exactly,” replied the old author. “As they say: ‘Like father like son’.”
“Actually, you see, my dear researcher…” the young ruler explained, “our kingdom is just now recovering after a long period of deep suffering, great devastation and unfortunate bloodshed. After all the killings my dead father ordered, and all the people who had been subjected to torture in the special prisons they were sent to under the most varied pretexts of betrayal, conspiracy and so on – well, the country was clearly upset and many of the peasants and citizens were ready to openly revolt against my rule. I was almost going to lose my precious throne! So I had to promise them something: from that point on, no torture of any kind would be inflicted on prisoners, and all methods of painfully carrying out executions of convicted prisoners had to be removed from our judicial system forever.”
“I see, Great Ruler, and I don’t know what to say…” Chimo replied, unable to express his disappointment adequately. His demanding research had obviously been a waste of time.
“But your work is still of great interest to me,” the king continued. “It’s just that I think it lacks a final chapter”
“A final chapter, my king?” the other man asked.
“It will only be completed when there is a section on the great torment an academician can suffer when he is sent to the stake and the flames are stoked using stacks of pages taken from his own book…Don’t you agree Chimo Higini? - deep down in your heart?”
That was a thing that the old scholar found hard to swallow, as the guards grabbed him, dragging him away. But, as a true expert of pain, his only regret was the fact that he would never be allowed to write that new peculiar torment down on paper in order to add a new chapter to his book, so as to make his tome truly comprehensive.
Edited by Michele Dutcher
micheledutcher - This story was written by Sergio Palumbo, from Italy. I liked it so much that I submitted it for him - because his first language is Italian, not English. Sergio wrote this.
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