An Altellan Fragment...

I need to practice my prose, so here's a fiction fragment from Altellus...

Rembrandt, self-portrait

Lucan assumed a guarding stance, planting his hooves far (but not too far) apart for balance, tucking his left arm behind his back, and turning his torso to present as little target as possible to his opponent. He held his blade low, point high, in order to interpose as much steel between his vital organs and his foe’s point as possible. His movements were graceful, even poetic, as he studied himself in the mirror.

He smiled fondly at himself and laughed at his own absurdity.

Lucan Aetherious never chuckled. He did not chuckle or snicker or titter. He laughed, he guffawed, and he even brayed but he never laughed quietly, not even at his own thoughts, not even when he was all alone. Cerberos, his sooty-furred cat, had grown used to the sudden outbursts long ago and merely yawned at the satyrid.

Lucan slid his rapier into its sheath, primped his hair, adjusted his codpiece, and opened his door. His room was on the third floor of the Insula Rosa, a relatively new apartment block in the heart of Berenna, built in the quadrangle style popular amongst the nymphidae aristocrats and burghers. The apartments formed a square around a garden plot – in this case filled with the insula’s famed rose bushes – usually allowing all the inhabitants a refreshingly beautiful view of something approaching nature as they headed out their doors. This evening, though, the quadrangle was filled with people and flames. The scent of roasting meat and spices, of fresh-baked bread and grilled vegetables, of wine – always wine! – set Lucan’s mouth to watering.

The St. Ariadne’s Eve celebrations were already underway. Children of all gentes – satyridae, nymphidae, centauridae, and more – made human labyrinths, holding hands and standing in shifting rows as the child playing Theseus tried to escape. The adults ate, drank, talked about their woes (as responsible folk always do), or flirted (as Lucan would much prefer). A sleek-furred, many-times-over descendant of Oedipus and the Sphinx looked up at his balcony, smiling coyly, and the satyrid swordsman wished he had less expensive tastes. He’d much rather join his neighbors and make merry, but the Insula Rosa was an expensive place to live.

Lucan laughed again, his voice drowned out by the laughter and shouting of honest folk, and descended the stairs. He blew a kiss to the sphingid and walked out into the streets of Berenna. Perhaps, if he got back from his assignation in a timely manner, he could share his bed with a better companion than Cerberos this evening.

In the meantime, he had a man to kill.


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