With the release of the Plight of Steel drawing nearer, I thought I might share a short story I recently wrote. It is small, more of a scene, really, but I think it gives a good example of my writing. So here it is.
A Chilled Moonlight
Short Story by Tony Del Degan
The streets were dark, the cobbles damp. The footsteps of the Duke rang out like drumbeats as he strode, his long coat fluttering behind like a flag in the mist. A man passed to the left, only a blur of darkness, a shadow in grey, ornamented with golden chains that rattled and clicked quietly. He vanished, past a building and into an alleyway, his footsteps fleeting with the wind.
The Duke continued, fixing his crimson sleeves, their surfaces patterned with scrolls and filigree that shone dull gold in the moonlight. He almost tripped upon something, and gazed down to see a metal can, its contents now spilled over the cobblestone. Coins spun about as if living, dancing there, then clattering to rest. The beggar glared, then reached down to collect his earnings as the Duke fled, paying no heed.
He reached up to straighten his top hat, ensuring the brim was lowered. He watched the dark silk filling his vision, and fixed his gaze upon the street, watching the passing boots and trails of dresses. They were like spirits, there, then gone, points of paleness in the dark of the night. A doorway passed by, ajar, music pouring like water from the crack along with shimmering candlelight. It grew loud as he drew near, then faded. Oil lamps flitted by like stars, casting orange and golden light upon the cobblestones, catching in the Duke’s golden buttons and chains.
The good Sir Wentworth likes his bars lit. Pity.
At the second door, he stopped, turning to it and reaching out to pull it open. A lady smiled at him, and he let her pass through, following behind and shutting the door with a crack and a rattle. The conversing of the patrons was louder than the music, and it felt thick when it reached the Duke’s ears, filling them like a chill.
He began to drift around the tables, taking the tail of his coat in a gloved hand to ensure it touched none of the rowdy men or trailed through a spilt ale. Against the wooden floorboards, his boots struck loudly, sending creaks through the planking. Something brushed against him, and he fixed his hair where it fell around his shoulders, as if the touch had left a sickness on him.
Damn pigs, all of them. Drunkards and vagrants.
A door loomed ahead, and he watched the bottom of it as it grew closer, keeping his gaze locked upon the iron bolts that flickered with the light of the oil lamps, the glow caught in the hammered dents in the metal. Someone spoke a challenge, and he lifted his gaze, examining the great fool that stood there, garbed in a long coat of dark wool, torn and withered. The duke took the small blade from his belt, reaching out to slide it deftly between the folds of the man’s coat and into his flesh. It bit, and he removed it, wiping it swiftly upon the dark wool and sheathing it again. The man fell, and he reached out to lay him gently against the wall where he remained silent, his eyes shut.
Drunk… yes, and tired. Poor fool.
He did not check to see if his act had been witnessed, choosing instead to grasp firmly the door handle that lay before him. It twisted, and the grating of the hinges rang through the bar, though beneath the conversation, it went unheard.
“Who are you?”
Sir Wentworth sat at his desk in the center of the room, his back straightened as he gazed in confusion at the shadow that had slipped into his office. He never saw the knife as it split the air, burying itself into his neck. With a choke, he lay back in his seat, his pale neck scarf darkening, staining crimson. As he grew silent, the Duke slipped out, shutting the door and drifting like a shadow across the bar, straightening his top hat once more. The night air was cold against his skin as he stepped out, and the moonlight seemed chilled.