The sickly sweet smell of half-rotten flesh, the jingle of bells and the curving, beaked mask are the shop signs of the Phylomancer.
He stands at the street corner, bowed under the weight of the cages on his back in which his menagerie yips and yowls, barks and squeaks. Beneath the sweet stench of corruption is the sweeter tang of honey and the urinal miasma of damp leather.
His sleeves are rolled back from his gloved, claw-like hands and the greenish, flaky skin, pocked with hexagonal wounds crawls with the grubs and insects of his trade.
It is never silent with the Phylomancer, his familiars’ cacophonic chorus and the high hum of his insect courtiers create an unmistakable and unending sound. A song individual to each and every practioner of his gruesome trade.
He lifts his mask a moment, scarred and scabbed flesh, cracked lips on show and crooked and pointed teeth behind them. His tongue uncoils like some bloated canal eel and – with great delicacy, a mosquito alights upon that swollen muscle and shares a gift of blood, a droplet of life from the patient before him.
The mask descends and gives his voice a strange and booming quality above the sounds of his zoological burden.
“The wound is infected. My grubs can eat away the diseased flesh, but it will scar and it will cost you fifty centimes.”
The hobbling man nods, sweating, fumbling for his coins as a magpie swirls out of the smoky sky and alights on the Phylomancer’s shoulder, whispering secrets in his ear, just for him.