We’re in the second week of Rule of Three! Thanks go out to all the participants who posted such intriguing first episodes for their stories. I’m impressed with the entries I’ve been visiting…I love the sheer variety and talent out there. Off to read all your posts for the second episode of the Rule of Three!
Huge thanks to co-hosts Storyteller and author, Stuart Nager, Flash Fiction Author Lisa Vooght, and Fighter writer, J.C. Martin.
If you’re a participant looking for guidelines, here they are again, along with the list of participants.
Before you read below, make sure you’ve read Episode 1 where the story began, so it all makes sense.
Fear is like a punch in the gut, it knocks the breath out of you. The girl had begun to ask questions. That was never a good sign.
Aubrey rushed out, devoid of breath, and headed toward the only tavern in Renaissance, The Eden. Eden would see its share of singing and dancing that night, because the Schiavona would celebrate the arrival of their new Lord, the first to be sent them from across the desert since the day they entered Renaissance twenty years ago.
Drink would flow through Eden. It would wet lips, sharpen appetites and most importantly, loosen tongues, which would then shed more secrets than Aubrey could pry out of them with her charm that made men forget she was an androgyne. It opened doors that would be closed to most men, and not a few women. She hoped it would give her the face she sought.
Night had wrapped itself around Eden by the time Aubrey pushed open the heavy tavern doors. The clamour of cymbals, drums, flutes and clapping knocked her back, as did the fumes of wine, weed, and the pungent after-note of something stronger. She worked her way towards the back. The shadows let her remain unnoticed, and her height allowed her to keep watch.
On the makeshift stage made of tables, a Schiavona woman danced, the angles of her body taking nothing away from the grace of her movement. If only she had some flesh on her. But no one could be like her Eve, the cherished one protected by the cherubs.
Aubrey felt a chill crawl up her spine. What if he knew where Eve was? But he would have to pass through ten thousand cherubs at the shop before he could reach their home upstairs, and by then Aubrey would know. She would find him first.
I’m here and you may not prevail, she would say. Without me you’re nothing, he would reply. And so on and so forth in the ancient song of life and death. Aubrey felt her blood slow down as her thoughts threatened to bear her away. Sweet sleep. How she longed to sleep.
The dance before her became more sinuous each passing moment, and finally the Schiavona Lord appeared, draped in black veils, his ponytail flashing with strings of jewels, a corpulent man who began clapping in time with the woman’s movements, and then began to move with a pace that belied his girth. His belt flashed with the fire of diamonds, his veils and his cloak whipped around him like a furious dust-cloud. His boots tapped the wooden tables, the heels rattling their music above all else.
Aubrey released her breath. Not him. Much too fat. She could begin to drink. She waved to a waiter in the crowd.
“A glass of your best braggot..”
“We only have Schiavona wines today, paid for by the Lord.”
“Ah. Some wine then. And what do you call this Lord?”
“The Lord Heriot,” said the waiter, passing her a cup from the tray.
Heriot? That made no sense. No one had manned the Heriot’s Pass these fifty years. Most had forgotten its legend. Aubrey drained the cup, choking at the last gulp.
The loud keen of drawn steel made her look up. The fat man now had two swords in his hand. He flashed them within a breath of the woman’s throat, swirled them about his head, and brought them to clash in front of him.
Aubrey grabbed the waiter, “His name. What is his full name?”
“Charon Heriot,” smiled the waiter, and as she fell in a faint, she knew.
Prompt used: One of the characters is revealed to be not who he or she is.