by Den Patrick
Read by John Meagher (of The Tales of the Left Hand podiobook)
A PodCastle Original!
‘Oh, it’s you,’ slurred Duke Prospero, holding the lantern higher. The corridor was a barely remembered passage in the winding sprawl of Demesne, a route for those who wished to pass unseen, or persons in no particular hurry. Infrequent candles lit wax spattered sconces, the flagstones were furred with compacted dust; rat droppings added to the miasma.
‘You nearly scared me half to death, hiding in the shadows like that.’ Stephanio Prospero peered into the darkness, unsteady on his feet, breath heavy with the scent of wine. His flushed complexion and red-rimmed eyes conspired to make him porcine in the candle light. Cheeks glistened, difficult to tell if it were tears or sweat that that lent their sheen to his ruddy features.
‘I’m afraid I have sampled one vintage too many tonight.’ The Duke grinned, his confession overloud in the corridor, words chasing each other, tumbling down the stone stairs at his feet, spiralling into blackness.
‘You’ve never really been one for La Festa, have you?’ Stephanio hiccuped. ‘I can’t say I blame you. La Festa is a time for lovers, for courting, for flirting.’ The Duke stared off into darkness, mouth set to a pained curve above the weak chin. ‘Those days are long past for one such I.’ A frown settled over the black beads of his eyes. ‘If I ever saw them at all.’
Rated R. Contains violence, including some gore.