Part 12 of 12
A few months later I received the following letter:
I hope this letter finds you in good health. First of all, I'd like to express my sincerest regret for never properly having said goodbye to either of you. Certain matters required my immediate attention and I was forced to return to France.
You are astute enough to have figured out by now that I'm not called Justine and neither Juliette. My real name is Vanessa Flanel (don't bother to look for me, you won't find anything). A certain international organization, of which I am a high ranking member (and of which I can not disclose any more information than I already have), sent me to New York to investigate... you.
It did not escape the attention of some very powerful people that you had begun to publish stories that, thinly disguised by (preposterous) erotic plots, were overflowing with information concerning matters that we believed were unknown to anyone but us. We would very much like that information to stay hidden and were unpleasantly surprised by your rigorous exposé.
Although I did investigate your life very thoroughly, you do remain somewhat of an enigma to me. How did you amass all that arcane, occult knowledge? Who are you Basilio? Are you just the young, frivolous writer you seem to be? A man who's interests seems to go no further than alcohol and sex?
A man who seems uninterested in acquiring true wisdom, let alone vast wealth. You were like a small mouse in the claws of a cat when I began to play with you. And you allowed it! And yet, I now realize I never managed to get through to you completely, to look into your soul. Ah well, at least I have retained copies of all your files, all your research, all your correspondence...and I did enjoy playing with you – both of you.
You should by now be aware that your book is not going to be published. We have prevented that. The punishment you have received by me is the mildest and most playful form of punishment that my organization metes out. It's my expertise and I have to say that you were lucky that it was I who was sent. It is obvious that you have to stop disclosing our secrets from now on and if you do so we promise not to bother you again.
Surely you are wondering why I wrote this letter, the threat I have just committed to paper could have been expressed more effectively and less personal. The thing is, dear Basilio – and dear, dear Tess! – I did not want to leave you so suddenly.
I already miss the times we spent together and while I tricked both of you, applying refined means of seduction, you have both seduced me as well, equally; for Basilio, you have seduced my mind, while Tess has seduced my senses. And thus I believe I owe you at least one more thing: I want you to know how the story ended with which I have teased you as much as I initiated you into mysteries that go even beyond the scope of the organization that sent me to you.
And, although you should certainly stop publishing stories that are aimed at exposing my organization, I entreat you to keep writing. Don't let this one setback thwart you. Perhaps our encounter will inspire you and I do hope that the last installment of my relationship with Madame Héloïse will.
Madame Heloise let Léonore and myself live in her part of the convent, a place that could rival the most sumptuous palace in France. In one of its rooms, Héloïse displayed her great treasures. On a pedestal in the exact center of the room, she kept the greatest of them all: a medieval brass head that had the power of speech. Not even the most powerful monarch in the world can boast to possess such a thing!
Most of our evenings we spent next to the fireplace in the grand hall, which, as we soon learned, was called the Hall of Selene. There we had vivid discussions in which we shared the progress we had made in our research of esoteric knowledge. The discussions were often proceeded by sexual intercourse. We had orgies of an intensity that perhaps rivaled the Big Bang itself.
In those days we learned about the events that had led to Madame Héloïse's transformation into the almost supernatural being that she had become. She told us that as a young woman she had been one of the most promising scholars in France.
Her remarkable prowess for learning had caught the attention of Abbot Pierre, a famous (and notorious) philosopher. Pierre had offered to become her personal mentor. An unbelievably generous offer to a young woman of such humble origins as Héloïse.
Soon she discovered that his generosity was prompted a great deal more by the extraordinary properties of her body, than by those of her mind. Yet he wooed her so convincingly that it didn't take long before she reciprocated his love – or lust.
Léonore and I had expressed great interest in her elaborate recitals of her exciting love-affair and most intrigued as she spoke:
“Pierre was an angelic beast: he made me explore my body, my sexuality, my deepest self, that what always been hidden, even to me. He taught me that lust was one of the highest states of being. He wanted me to completely reevaluate my values.
He said that the Church existed to contain the unbridled passions of the masses, yet that it also existed to amplify these passions among a select group of exalted individuals. He told me to search for freedom of mind and spirit in the flesh. He told me that by defying the laws of God we would define them.
And so we defined the laws by pushing them to their extremities. We broke the rules of proper conduct, we broke our vows of chastity; we made love in the church refectory and in my uncle's study; we made love on the pulpit of an empty cathedral; I hid behind the pulpit and performed fellatio on him while he gave a sermon to a large crowd; I performed the same sexual act in the confession booth, where he had carved a hole in the paneling just for this purpose.”
Their attempts to attain total freedom and happiness were destined to fail. One day Pierre and Héloïse were caught red-handed by her uncle – in the study of the house that this uncle so generously shared with his niece and Pierre. The uncle was furious and wanted to exact revenge on Pierre.
Eventually, they managed to come to an agreement: Pierre would marry Héloïse and he would pursue a secular career as a scholar. It was a terrible decision because neither of the two lovers were at all interested in marriage and the marriage had to be kept a secret, in order not to damage Pierre's reputation. To make a bad situation worse, Pierre seemed to have lost interest, not just in the sacramental vow, but in his wife. They were not often seen together.
When negative rumors about the couple began to spread and enemies began to pop up everywhere like bubbles in a swamp lake, the situation became hopeless. It was during this time that Pierre had his wife placed in a convent, under the pretense that it was for her own safety and that it would be temporary. Yet instead of helping her further, he completely abandoned her from that moment.
Héloïse's uncle was now beyond furious and he plotted an act of terrible revenge: he hired a group of thugs to ambush Pierre and take from him those very parts that had caused so much offense. Pierre barely survived the horrendous assault, but he did. When he was able to walk again he retired to a Monastery.
Many years later Héloïse had made it to abbess of the convent in which she had been trapped ever since everyone she ever cared for had betrayed her. Héloïse was not one who could be tamed or held back by adversity though.
She had managed to become powerful and respectful in the most difficult of circumstances. Then one day she received a letter from Pierre. It was a cold and impersonal account of Pierre's sorrows. But Héloïse wrote back and out of these uninspired beginnings, a lively and eloquent correspondence ensued.
While Pierre was trying to hide his bitter resentment in fancy phrases and abstract concepts, Héloïse was brutally honest. She'd known long periods of desperation and intense loneliness, mostly because she had never stopped loving Pierre.
“God has looked into my soul and what he sees he does not like,” she wrote him. And: "If Augustus, emperor of the whole world, saw fit to honor me with marriage and conferred all the earth on me to possess forever, it would be dearer and more honorable to me to not be called his empress, but your whore."
Much to the astonishment of Héloïse, Pierre decided to publish a number of the letters they had written to each other. He published some of their most intimate letters, though not the one in which Héloïse explained how embracing sexuality had freed her mind from the shackles of morality and allowed her soul to soar to a great height. The publication of the letters was a strange and desperate act that was most likely caused by one last attempt by Pierre to satisfy his own vanity.
Héloïse began to notice that her fame rose quickly. She had become a controversial figure and to her surprise, it became apparent that she had more admirers and advocates than enemies. Many came to her for advice. They often came from far, though none as far as the mystic Imad al-Din, who had traveled all the way from Persia to see her.
He told her that in her letters he had recognized the presence of a superior spiritual being. He told her that her mind was like a precious metal; that sexual energy had released the metal from the stone in which it was trapped and hidden; that incredible hardship and adversity had forged it; that her will was now like a diamond-encrusted silver sword.
He initiated her into the deep mysteries of transmutation. He even told her the secrets of the Elixir of Life.
And eventually, the time came in which Héloïse taught me all these secrets, when she recognized in me, not just her apprentice, but her successor.
This is all I have to say to you for now. I do think that one day our paths will cross again. Until that day –
PS: If you ever happen to stumble on a film titled La Déesse de l'Amour Érotique, don't let it unnecessarily disturb you. Yes, it is me who plays the main part, but the whole production is a hoax. Historically such a film has never existed; all of it was shot last year. Modern image-manipulation is quite something, isn't it?
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