by Den Patrick
‘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.’
About the Author
Den is the author of the wonderful Dwarf, Elf and Orc War Fighting Manuals, in-universe anthropology texts about the culture, weapons and history of the three cultures. Imagine Art of War written by Douglas Adams and you’re close. He’s also the author of the fantastic novel The Boy With The Porcelain Blade and, along with the magnificent Jen Williams, has pioneered Super Relaxed Fantasy Club, a new, rapidly growing author/publisher/fan/editor/agent meeting that’s started to spread across the UK.
About the Narrator
John Meagher is the writer and narrator of Tales of the Left Hand, an ongoing fantasy series offering “swashbuckling, intrigue, and a dash of magic.” In his secret identity, he’s a graphic designer living outside Washington DC with his wife, daughter and two cats.