Part of it is Toiletgate - and, without going into more details right now, that is even more of a can of worms than I had known. There was Toiletgate Part Deux, and there may have been Toiletgate the Prequel, and it is - well. like the guy says in the film, 'If this ain't a mess, it'll do until the mess gets here.'
I went to see For the Bible Tells Me So a documentary about the Christian parents of gay men and lesbians, that moved me to my core. In particular, there was the woman who never forgave her living lesbian daughter and has had to seek atonement after her daughter's suicide - and blames herself, but also the false teachers who made her reject her child. I cried for her, and for all the parents who die fearing that they will never see their child again, and knowing that that will make a hell of heaven. My father, perhaps, among them.
Just when I was prepared to curse Christianity root and branch, I have to cope, as part of the same event, with that great and good man Bishop Gene Robinson. From whom, I have to say, there wafted that atmosphere we call holiness, mingled with a camp sense of humour and an attractive humility.
I stood up and asked him about the institutional transphobia of parts of the lesbian and gay community - of community leaders who cannot bring themselves to pronounce the T and the carelessness with respect that leads to incidents like Toiletgate. He said pretty much what I expected him to say - that the community does not live up to its own best standards and what is needed is what is always needed, for bisexuals and transfolk to stand up and bear witness and make the issues plain. And from him, I realized, I would take that - because I know he is one for the long haul, and I can respect being told things are for the long haul from people of whom the same is true.
There were other questions - Robinson said at one point that he did not expect that he would ever be reconciled with Peter Akinola , but that maybe one day a bridge of communication and respect might open through friends of friends. A woman who had said something smart I cannot remember at the Bulgakove event asked a very smart question about living a Christian life that went back to the early days before the canonical texts - Robinson said he doubted that was possible, but that we should rely on the workings of the Holy Spirit to unfold teaching rather than think that the Bible is an unchanging artifact. He quoted John on this, to some very powerful effect.
I don't think such great and good men could ever bring me back to Christianity - I reject as intolerable the doctrines of Original Sin and Eternal Torment because I would forever rebel against a god that was such a monster, or relied on the fact of being my creator to justify those crimes to me. My agnosticism is tending towards something more theist than was once the case - not a personal god, or a god who is a person, but a sense of the universe as being its own purpose, and human sentience and creativity as one of its more interesting aspects. Yet I miss the comfort food Catholicism of my childhood and regret never having properly known the Anglican tradition of my mother and sister. Fandom and transdom are my communities, but sometimes I feel hunger for something other.
We got the 'shut off your mobile phones' message in the voice of Gandalf - Sir Ian McKellen also
did a speech from Sir Thomas More that I am never going to hear him do in a theatre, I would imagine.
And I wrote 760 words today - for some reason, to do with being blocked on Emma and Caro's adventures with the posh git elves and vampires - I seem to be doing Mara, my immortal vigilante, on St Bartholomew's eve.
I allow myself few luxuries, but, every few months, sleep is one.
The fitful sleep of a dog at the hearth, because dreaming would be not a luxury but a weakness, a path for enemies into my heart.
What would I dream of? Gods and monsters are the work that comes to my hands, and fair women, the sisters and loves of my heart, are what waits for me at journey's end, when work is done.
I have memory, and no need of dreaming.
So, dreamless, I awoke to the first light of dawn and the clanging of the tocsin and the clash of arms and a screaming chant of 'God Wills It', not in the street outside alone, but on the stairs beyond my room.
The children of the man in whose house I slept were screaming.
I take no care for the casual violence of men and women, but the terror of children? I retain a distaste for it.
I have seen too many dead or tortured children not to sorrow for each one as if it were one I had borne in anguish.
Mother to none, I protect the weak against the strong.
Rousing, and seizing my weapons, I passed through shadow to the room below mine, where my landlord and his family slept. And found two men in ill-scoured armour pinioning him, while another tore his wife's linen shift and a fourth held a knife to his young son's throat.
The two smaller girls held each other, where they lay in a far corner of the room, and a doll cradled between them, and shrieked still.
A priest - or at least a man in a black robe - was tearing pages from a small leather-bound book.
I came out of shadow, and, with a quick grasp and twist of the hand that was not holding my lance, broke the arm that was holding the knife, then, leaving that man where he lay gasping, struck down the one so desirous of rape that he did not turn when I arrived.
I held the point of my lance to the priest's throat.
'Who disturbs my sleep?' I said.
'Loyal servants of the King, and of God's Church,' said the priest.
'As are we all, I am sure,' I said. 'Yet you disturb my sleep, and the king's peace.'
'There is no peace,' he said. 'We come to kill those who would disturb it.'
'A fat old man?' I said. 'And his wife and small children? I see no rebels here.'
'Protestants,' he said, holding up the ravaged book, which had a plain cross embossed in its leather.
' Your point?' I said, jabbing his throat a little harder.
'The wedding,' he gasped. 'It is a plot. They come to Paris under the guise of peace, so we kill them before they rip away the mask.'
'Ah,' I said, and turned the lance in my hand to clout him unconscious with its haft.
I turned to the two men who still held my landlord, and whose hands were still on him, and not on their swords.
'If I were you,' I said quietly, 'I would leave. I have no particular relish for the shedding of blood.'
One of them reached for his sword and I pierced the muscle of his upper arm, where he had left the straps of his rerebrace loose.
'Nor any reluctance to shed it,' I continued, as he squealed with pain.
The other loosened his grip and my landlord broke free and rushed to comfort his wife where she lay sobbing on the old feather-bed on which the family slept.
The would-be rapist came, squinting, back to himself and groaned; the man with the broken arm helped him to his feet.
I looked at them sternly as I returned my lance to its sling on my back.
'Take your priest,' I said. 'And leave. Leave in peace, God's and the king's.'
The unwounded man spat at my feet.
'We'll be back, Calvinist whore,' he said, ' and burn this house about your ears. As God and the King decree.'
Then he pulled a knife from his belt and hurled it at the two young girls.
I seized it from the air by its hilt as it passed me, walked over and rammed it through his open mouth into the wood of the bedroom door.
'As you wish,' I said as he choked on blood, then slumped in death.
Men of violence have such obvious tells.
I turned to the others.
'Now go,' I said. 'And leave your weapons.'
The priest was still half-conscious so I forced him to his feet, then from the room behind the others as they left, and threw him after them down the stairs. Which left a corpse to dispose of, but everything to its time and place.
I turned to my landlord and his family.
'They, or those like them, will return,' I said. 'We should not be here.'
'Are you an Angel of the Lord?' the son said.
I have no particular time for angels, an ill-disciplined rabble Jehovah values too highly, but the child meant well.
There were shouts in the lower room, and a clash of swordplay, followed by a thud, a cry and the slamming of the outer door. There followed a clatter of heavy boots on the stairs and a young man's voice shouted 'Uncle Jacques.'
My landlord smiled.
'In here, Gaston,' he said.
Three young men, dressed in once elegant black clothes that had the dust and stains of combat on them , burst into the room, their drawn swords bloody
Their leader, who had a thin line of hair above his lip, looked with interest at the corpse that hung from the door as it swung behind them.
'My lodger,' said my landlord, in a gesture that explained both me and the corpse.
'My thanks,' said the young man, with an over-decorative bow and flourish of his hat. 'Jacques is my favourite and richest uncle.'
He looked me up and down, appraisingly, and I glowered at him.
'So you are the mysterious lodger,' he said. 'I never quite believed Uncle Jacques when he said that someone lived in the attic room.'
'She saved us all,' said the boy. 'She is a warrior of the Lord.'
'No,' I said. 'Merely a good neighbour.'
Gaston had left one of his friends downstairs to lug the bodies of the priest and his bullies out of the way; I still held my hand over the eyes of one of the young girls as we passed by, and her mother held the other's face against her breast.
The young boy looked at the bodies in delighted wonder. Too much delight, but it was not to be helped.
'Do you plan to leave Paris?' , I asked Gaston.
A solid plan is only a partial shield for mortal flesh, yet most who find themselves in cities caught up in blood and riot have none, and perish for that need.
Myself, I never plan, but can see how some might consider this a fault, the pride of the strong.
'I have a wagon piled with wood,' he said. ' See, ouside. Wood that can serve both as hiding place for those who need it, and as a moving rampart for those of us who will defend it.'
He pulled out, and flourished, a horse pistol, black with brass fittings dulled with lamp-black, and I noticed that his companions had almost as many of the new guns in their belts as they did knives and swords.
'Will you ride with us, mademoiselle?', he said, with a gallantry that was not impersonal.
'I have other errands this night,' I said. 'I have conversations to have with the men of power who awoke this fury.'
'The boy said you were an angel..' Gaston said.
'And I am not,' I said. 'I am one of the powers of this world, for good and ill. Bloodshed in the name of God and gods - it is my business to make enquiries. You need know no more.'
'What is your name?' Gaston said.
I smiled, because he knew it already.
'I am the Huntress,' I said.
Protestant or not, he crossed himself.
'In the name of God,' he started, ' and of Jesus Christ, his son...'
'Your god,' I said, 'is no concern of mine. What men have made of young Josh concerns me somewhat. Yet my task is otherwise.'
And, as his men helped the children and their parents in among the artfully piled wood on the wagon, I left their sight. They had as good a chance as any that night, and more than most.
I passed as quickly as I could through streets that ran with gore so deep that even in the darkness of shadow they stained my sandaled feet and bare calves a black that was darker than shadow.. Even hidden in shadow, I saw more than I wanted of knives against throats, and slit bellies, and of pistols held so as to shatter the frail skulls of pretty women like a rose of brain and bloody bone. I saw plump burghers made to run a gauntlet of staves with nails in them and crawl to the finish because their child's life was the prize, a prize snatched from them at the last with a curse and a cracking of bone. I saw old women held against an inn door by bravos, ravaged by a score, and yet manage to tear with their broken teeth at the face of the last man in line.
I saw a hundred times things that I might have stopped or avenged, and each of those hundred times, I had no time.
I cannot count or tell such nightmares - I have seen too many and I am not hardened - but I cannot save them all.
I would if I could, but I need to be where the one who draws endless life and power from each severed artery or smashed bone is coming into new life, because, if I do not, there will be a hundred more dead for each I stop to save.
Which is why, at such times, I run through torchlit streets raging and weeping and slashing with my lance and sword at those men of blood who stand in my way, and yet cannot pause to see if they fall.
And came at last to the home of the House of Valois, across the Seine and down to the foot of the towers of the Louvre, to the new palace that stood in the shadow of those towers, the place of luxury that stood where the lime kilns had been, to Catherine's palace of the Tuileries, the place of lace and silver plate at the heart of the blooddream that was St. Bartholomew's Eve.