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Database: Cartouche Memoir 2

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(A second section. The story seems to pick up mid-tale.)
"In the event, I was searching for one face only. Surely, she would wish me safe journey to death, even if it meant leaving the bed of another a few minutes early. Alas, I saw neither her raven ringlets nor her flashing eyes. I was roughly hauled onto the scaffold: the great wheel, the instrument built to inflict unimagined pain as a prelude to bloody death, stood before me. It appeared somehow too small for such a mortal purpose. The executioner pushed me against the rough-hewn logs and lashed leather straps, worn ragged by scores of damned souls before me, about my wrists and feet. At this moment he took an extraordinary action: he blocked the crowd's view with his stout body and, in a thrice, shoved a wet, bulbous bag between my back and the wheel. "What?" I managed. He glanced at me and spat through his teeth: "Pig's bladder. Filled with blood." He then looked to the crowd. I followed his gaze, not daring to hope, but there! It was she! He was looking toward Mireille! Oh what a tide of emotion crashed upon my beaten soul in that moment. My beloved Mireille had come to rescue me, but at the price - this I could not doubt - of having yielded to the lusts of the brutish executioner. The man who looked me in the eyes and shoved a much smaller bladder in my mouth. "Bite when it's time." He raised his massive weight onto the lever. The wheel gave an ancient groan as if awakening. My arms, legs and spine pulled taut even while the straps cut into my flesh. The crowd erupted in delight and horror. The length of my body, a skein of pain. Ah! Such rapture flowed through the assembled masses! They shouted for more. More! In crazed desperation, I tried to physically pull back, as if I could by force of muscle and sinew prevent the wheel's dread revolution. The giant pulled with greater force, pulling me into an excruciating stretch. Sweat now beaded my brow and, with yet another pull of the level, began to stream down my chest. The small bladder in my mouth prevented me from screaming. In fact, it was difficult to breath. Another pull of the lever and I felt the very joints of my shoulders begin to pull apart. If this was rescue, it was of a dire sort. I gave into the wheel, no longer attempting to slow its progress, and progress it did. I felt a tendon in my leg spring loose, as if I were a cooked pigeon; then my upper arm separated from my shoulder with a sickly pop. The effect was, perversely, to lessen the pain, as now my body had slack in it. But this was short-lived. Again the lever creaked; again the crowd roared; again my muscles stretched near breaking. Surely the bladder much break! I attempted weakly to press back upon it to speed the deception, but another pull by the oafish torturer ended all thought of making an effort. He pulled and pulled and, yes! There! My other shoulder gave way. Oh, what a painful jolt I felt, my two arms freed of all anchor to myself! But this last was enough, the bladder beneath me broke, sending a spurt of red blood down my back and my legs, as if my entrails had exploded. The crowd went mad with joy, capped by the delirium they experienced when I chomped into the bladder between my teeth, filling my mouth with thick pig's blood, which I spat out in disgust and fell back in a swoon. I lost all consc..."
(The next pages seem to have been soaked in water sometime in the past. Nothing is legible until the very end.)
"So it was that my apprenticeship began wherein I stole and sweated and committed crimes, no longer for myself and my recognition, but rather for an odd pack of scabrous folk: the Assassins. Of whom, Mireille was the leader. And, reader, my labors there must live and die forever in silence."

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