A Fugue in Three Parts

Part Eight of the Sonata in Red series.
Part One: A Song of Glory
Part Two: A Choir of Intrigue
Part Three: Etude in the Sun
Part Four: A Requiem in the Dark
Part Five: Hymns of Terror
Part Six: Refrain from the Past
Part Seven: Refrain from the Past (pt. 2)

My meal is satisfying, but not spectacular. But that was no surprise, I’d eaten there enough times to know what was in store for me. I nurser a hot mug of tea while I reminisced. Perhaps this is what old age feels like, sitting alone in a public place thinking about the past. I chuckle at the thought, in many ways I felt far older than I was. My life had been well lived thus far, I can’t imagine many people have the breadth of experience that I’ve had in as many years. Compared to my peers I was getting on in years, closer to twenty now than thirty I supposed. I’d have taken a student by now if things had been different.
If things had been different, a small voice in my head tries to remind me that I had chosen this path, to tell me that I had the power to choose to abandon it at any point. I could have had a respectable job, I could married and had children, I could have drunk myself to death in an alley. I ignore the voice, for as true as what it says was. An even more fundamental part of me knew, somehow, that I was special. That I was destined for something more than life as an ordinary human.
I smiled to myself. That thought always made me feel better.

Harper bid me adieu as I exit onto the street. Feeling refreshed I review where I was. I’d been caught off guard by the angel this morning, I suppose I must have gotten a little sloppy in my time as a flash. I’d forgotten Ben’s lesson, Never underestimate a job. I had no excuse for my mistake, by rights I should already be dead. But I’ve always been lucky. Destiny had my back, and I was given a second chance.
It was time to start looking at this job again from the beginning. Olivia hadn’t finished looking into my employer yet, or I would have heard from her. But there were other avenues I could explore. The message requesting our meeting had come through the grapevine as with most flash work. For those who aren’t been initiated into the shadow, but are powerful enough to know of us, this process of delivering a message blindly into the darkness is quite common. The crow’s contacts had reached out to me via the intermediary used by a previous employer, an initiated Knight. I had accepted the task based on my relationship with the Knight. A move worthy of an amateur.
There is a complex system of checks and balances that goes into arranging a proper meeting in my line of work. It’s what separates true shadows from flashes. When a message is delivered on another’s behalf, there is a gap. Common in flash work, I’d dismissed it. Now I know more, it points me in the direction of a gentleman who may know something useful to me.

Sebastian, Seb when he was off work, is a member of Sir Alexander Taylor’s household staff and an exceptionally cunning and cruel man. Starting as Sir Taylor’s personal servant when his father had been alive, he had steadily increased his influence over the years until he was now a much the master of the house as Alexander. Leveraging this influence he was able to extort favours from the citizens of Night Town for a favourable word in his masters ear. Sir Taylor was a paranoid old fool, mostly suspicious of his own children whom he believed were plotting to murder him and steal his estate. More than likely his children truly were plotting against him which only reinforced Sir Taylor’s reliance on Sebastian.
I’d been introduced to Sir Taylor when he retained a sliver of his own identity independent of Sebastian and had seen him deteriorate into a terrified husk of a man until finally not even the illusion remained that anyone other than Sebastian was in charge. Distasteful, though he was, Sebastian was a far more capable master than many aristocratic estates could boast, and the Taylor estate had grown prosperous under his guidance. One of his great strengths was the willingness to utilise shadows.

Tonight I plan on visiting Sebastian. His room within the estate is on the third story but otherwise largely unprotected. In The Day the most effective deterrent is the threat of retribution levied to all trespassers. As a shadow initiate this threat was twofold, as vengeance could come from above and below at once. In Caelestis the difference between citizens and the aristocracy was as night and day.
When I entered the bottom floor window, the weight of that threat was not lost on me. The possibility that I was chasing a dead lead, or worse a trap, occurred to me. The familiar thrill that always came with a reckless decision soared in my veins.
I danced as a maiden in the moonlight, with the night as my veil. Silent as a mist I glide through the halls that felt as familiar as my home. A pair of guards stood vigil by the masters bedroom, another by Sebastian’s, but none guarded the external window.

As I stood over the aged servant asleep in his bed, I wondered briefly what he was dreaming of. He seemed peaceful, perhaps it was of a treasured memory from his youth. I adjusted my mask one last time before placing my hand firmly over his mouth. Startled awake he struggled to scream as his senses revealed the situation to him. A moment later his intellect caught up to his instinct and he silenced himself. Satisfied, I removed my hand and addressed him in a courteous whisper.

“Good evening, Sebastian. You may know me as Nightingale, I have worked for your master before and but some nights hence you delivered a message to me on behalf of another. I wish to know who?”

“You’re late shadow, ” he sneered with sinister smugness, “They’ve been expecting you.”

Author: Zairron

I'm writing to build a habit, practice, and be creative.

12 thoughts on “A Fugue in Three Parts”

  1. Pingback: Writing Regularly
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