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“ This is the worst story I know about hocuses. And it’s true.
Four Great Septads ago, back in the reign of Claudius Cordelius, there was a hocus named Porphyria Levant. The hocuses back then had this thing they could do, called the binding-by-forms, the obligation d‘âme. It happened between a hocus and an annemer, an ordinary person, and it was like an oath of loyalty, only a septad times more. The hocus promised to protect the annemer from everything, including kings and other hocuses and basically anybody else who had an interest. The annemer promised to be the hocus’s servant and do what they said and no backchat, neither. And they renounced their family and all their other connections, so it was like the only thing in the world that mattered to them was the hocus. And then there was a spell to stick it in place and make sure, you know, that nobody tried to back out after it was too late.
You can see the problem, right? Most half-bright folks can. But some hocuses were so powerful and so nasty that I guess it seemed like it was better to go ahead and do the obligation d‘âme with a hocus you sort of trusted than to go wandering around waiting for a different hocus to get the drop on you.
So there was Porphyria Levant. And there was Silas Altamont. Silas Altamont was annemer, a guy who’d been the favorite of Lord Creon Malvinius, and then when Lord Creon got married, Silas Altamont was out on his ear, and scared shitless of Lord Creon’s wife, who was way better connected than him, and was rumored to have three or four hocuses on her string to boot. And she was poison-green with jealousy, because she loved Lord Creon like a mad thing, and everybody knew he didn’t give a rat’s ass about her. So Silas Altamont goes to Porphyria Levant—who was powerful enough to protect him from Lisette Malvinia, no matter who she had running her errands—and begs Porphyria Levant to do the obligation d‘âme. And Porphyria Levant smiles and says okay.
Now, the thing about the binding-by-forms, the way my friend Zephyr explained it to me, is that it lets the hocus make you do what they want. Except for kill yourself. They can’t make you do that. But what Porphyria Levant tells Silas Altamont to do is fuck her. I’ve heard it different ways. Some people say Silas Altamont was beautiful as daylight, and Porphyria Levant had been hot for him for indictions. Some say Porphyria Levant didn’t know he was molly, thought he was janus and wouldn’t mind. And some say—and I got to admit, this is what I think—that she knew he was molly and that was why she did it. There are other stories about Porphyria Levant, and it’s the kind of thing she would do.
Anyway, there’s Silas Altamont. He’s molly, and he’s still in love with Creon Malvinius, but he has to do what the obligation d‘âme says, and it says, You got to fuck Porphyria Levant and make her happy. And after a while he goes to her and says, “I can’t stand this no more, please, let me stop or I’m going to go out and slit my wrists.”
And Porphyria Levant says, “Silas,” and smiles her little smile, “I forbid you to kill yourself.” That’s what hocuses are like, and that’s why, if you live in the Lower City of Mélusine, you keep one eye on the Mirador all the time, same way you would with a swamp adder.
It’s just common sense.”