Hello beautiful people! I almost forgot, most of you must never have heard my name. I am someone who was fairly active in the forum sometime ago, well, quite a while ago, and now I am back not sure for how long. And we have at last reached November, the time when writers such as myself become isolated from the world in order to complete a seemingly impossible task of writing a 50k novel in a single month. Yes, I have accepted the task and here I am in this desperate attempt to finish my daily quota of words.
While I keep myself in this struggle to complete this queer plot set in 17th century England, why not let some of you guys read and critique my works (as well as do some grammar corrections for which I have had no time lately)?
Now I shall stop bothering you, my wonderful readers, with this idle chat. Critique and correct me to your hearts content (if any of you have knowledge of history and this special time, please check whether I am writing properly, I've had no more than two weeks for research and no books availiable, which made me turn to google in desperation).
By the way, rated 18+ for violence and sexual content, please do not read and come complain later for you have been warned. If moderators find it not right that this story be posted here they are free to close this thread according to their judgement.
Prologue - Supposed to be dead
The madman spun on his heels as those grey eyes surrounded by dark rings gazed for brief seconds at each face in the crowd that had already gathered all around, the commoners felt those irises as a thousand needles piercing their frail and weary hearts, the shadow of fear growing on that beggar’s bent back and ragged clothes. Many now watched his awkward speech triggered by a vendor’s simple and innocent question.
Approaching a fair looking lady dressed in a simples chestnut colored gown he grazed her skin with overgrown nails and wrinkled stick thin fingers, which caused her to retreat in fear and disgust . “How can thou fear death as this, having never tasted of its bittersweet taste? How can thy soul tremble at its mention before ever feeling its cool comforting touch?” He continued to spout madness in that queer monologue attracting more people each second, some started to eye the poorly dressed man with suspicion, which became obvious as two men walked away from the crowd undoubtedly annoyed by that presence firm believers that this was simply a man who, when seeking to drown sorrows in the beer, had lost his sanity and now wished to drag all of them along with it.
Eyes moved quickly looking from one impressed face to another, arms hang numbly besides the thin worn out body for a second before jolting up and pointing at the grey sky. “Will none ask where I have acquired this knowledge?” He moved those long skinny arms once again keeping the crowd’s interest in this spectacle presented by a strange figure. “None? I shall answer all the same! Believe it or not, thy minds will be mesmerized with this old man’s tale. Old Hally, yes, yes, this poor beggar here…” Fingers pointing at himself the ragged man climbed a chair in front of the stall of which he made his stage with some hardship , spying with the corner of his eye he saw the a beggar’s hat, in this case his, being filled with coins by those who seemed to be enjoying that never ending speech.
“I have already been honored by a visit of lady death, and was she a beauty! It was a night in which I had come to rest the shabby mattress which served me as bed after a tiring day no more different than any other. Not aware was I the next morning would find corpse from where any traces of life had been extinguished. Although none despaired or wept upon my departure from this world of flesh physicians still marked this man as dead, deceased from our holy English soil.” A short pause allowed those listening to let the words, though simple still striking, sink into their souls. “More surprising even was when in the following day these eyes weakened by time opened once again and this heart of mine came back to beating.”
He spoke as would a man of much experience in life and with a voice that would echo in the listener’s ears for days, a voice of pain and suffering impregnated in a never before seem madness, not the melodious hum of the singers.
“And now thou must be questioning what happened during this time in which I was dead. Do not fear for thy curiosity will be cloyed in a second! In the void we saw eye to eye, lady death and I. In that single moment I could feel the freedom and happiness all men desire. With a mind as light as feather I finally came to realize that it was in death’s naked body that any could find sublime salvation.”
The beggar was interrupted suddenly in his queer speech by a pair of hands holding firmly both his arms to bring the individual down from the improvised pulpit, gasps of amazement escaped the peasant’s mouths as vendors and bargainers alike opened way for the authorities to pass. A pair of men threw him roughly to the ground, the old man shrieked as both knees landed on the hard ground covering his already dusty clothes in chilly mud. Those were men of the guard, not so tall, broad shouldered with stern faces and impassible expressions as well as sabers hanging from their hips.
“This man is hereby put under arrest.” A third one started to mutter as the beggar’s trembling hands were bound to his back and he Hally was put onto his unsteady feet once again. “For disturbing the peace.”
Having lost their interest people started to move back to their original duties, the murmur growing low and distant drowned by the soft hum of the wind. Hally grinned to show his yellow smiled where gaps were left in the place of missing teeth, he had been expecting for this to happen, oh yes he had, and he would repeat to himself as those well dressed men with swords and titles pushed him around the crowded winding streets, unaware of the stench of sweat and excrements and rotting stagnant water, the perfume of a withering city. Welcome to London.
Chapter 1 - Treason and Fall
The last winter had been colder and harsher than expected. Many lost their crops to the snow that had piled on the fields as uneven alb mantle, soon livestock became a rarity that was traded in the price of gold in the closest village’s market and several people had lived in famine for months with no apparent end. Linton felt relieved at the shy touch of the sun still hiding behind dark clouds, those pale rays melting ice and worries alike, though the nightmare of winter had not yet passed the end was soon to come.
Lady luck had been on their side this once, the Tuckets were able to survive with no losses this winter thanks to the good harvest of the previous season and some dried meat, what had become of their before healthy pigs and chickens, resources that, by now, were almost finished, unable to take the family through another period. Reluctant the last resource was chosen.
“Hurry up Lint! We might go half the way before dusk departing now.” A female voice called as those green eyes turned to face a slim woman of earth colored hair falling in curls down her back to be tied in a ribbon, in her hands she hid carefully the babe born weeks earlier, a small pink piece of flesh that knew only how to cry and suck his mother’s milk.
“I’m coming.” He muttered as answer collecting a sack of provisions that should be sufficient for the whole trip and throwing it on the back of the ox-cart, a vehicle made of crude pine, not so strong yet quite light so that the animal would not be excessively burdened. Their only valuable possession had been tied to the front of the vehicle, a chestnut ox, a big and proud beast that now stared at them with annoyed yellow eyes. Climbing up besides his father, in whose wrinkled hands rested the reins, Linton smiled faintly.
“We’re ready to go my father.” A whistle from those cracked lips were followed by the waving of reins and a sound of complaint from the animal as the cart started rolling on the uneven road.
Bouncing happily Linton’s and Meres’ firstborn came to rest on his father’s lap, the lad of five years and plump build was excited as only a child can get with “adventures”, as he said whenever the trip was mentioned. Such a picture of innocence brought a smile almost instantly to Linton’s lips, he patted the child’s brown hair tenderly listening to his shy laugh.
“Are we going to the city dad?” The infant questioned with his tiny heart pounding heavily in excitement. This naïve joy was a beautiful thing. “Yes, we are little one.” Linton himself had never been to any great town with large crowds and market places where products from far away regions could be found, whenever in need he would travel to the nearest village, a three hour ride in their old horse that starved to death during winter, to trade some of their production for fabric and, when the money of selling was enough, some spices.
He heard the child celebrating throwing up one of his chubby arms before jumping to the back of the cart playfully. This would be an easy journey he could not help but imagine, by the time the sun descended to make of the earth its resting place they would be less than a day from their destination, fortunately it was not far. With thoughts of fortunate travelling he leaned back letting his blond head rest on Meres’ warm shoulder covered by a light linen gown. Soon enough he had dozed off to pleasant dreams of days filled with sun and prosperity and the glorious singing of summer birds.
Now everything seemed easy and calm, it had not, however, been an easy choice to make to sell the farm in exchange for money and food as well as the cart on which the family rode now. Meres had been specially saddened for this loss, maybe even more than she had been in the weeks before their marriage. Linton was enraged years ago when stumbling upon the knowledge of her unhappiness, and aware that the motive for this lack of joy in living was him he would become even more possessed by wrath. For long they were married in no more than words, no feeling to strengthen this bond. Though they would meet in the dark hours and follow their duties as man and woman it was not in merriment they did. Meres never directed kind words at her noble husband and in no time he was made aware that in other man she found the pleasures of passion and love. Though knowing his nuptial bed had been sullied in dishonor Linton did not react or punish his sinner wife or the one whom she loved for by this time he had grown overly found of the woman to ever see himself rid of her, unlike her he had found love where there had only been ashes.
Somehow earlier, watching the small and simple house shrink in the distance was almost like lifting a heavy load left on his shoulders for so long, the purse tied firmly to his belt jiggling with hope accompanying the rhythm of the cart, a forgotten past he left behind with heart now merry and light.
Midday had already come by the time the farmer opened his eyes, the sun blushed as a shy maid from behind grey clouds atop their heads and lent them almost no warmth. The group had stopped by the road where a recently melted stream ran with its singing clear waters where the chestnut ox rested its mouth seeping the cool liquid. Hector shook his arm vigorously in the attempt to wake him up. “Dad! Dad!” His small child’s voice rang in the parent’s ears as the farmer turned smiling at the infant’s chubby face. “Mom wants us to fetch wood for the fire. Let’s go dad!” Listening to the boys insistent call he lifted his weight from the wooden plank that served them as seat.
The elderly man Linton dearly called father and Meres had already occupied themselves in the making of the meal. On the ground lay over a piece of cloth were some turnips carefully washed and peeled by the wife, some slices of bread and cheese and raw salted meat that, together with the turnips would make some good porridge when cooked with the freezing water from the spring. Glad his family would at least have a meal such as this, Linton walked to the forest that flanked the road followed by the child’s clumsy steps.
When the cold weather came and animals started to die and fields wither Linton Tucket swore upon his honor to never let the family starve, even if he needed to work as would a slave from dusk till dawn or sell all of his belongings would he let them die of hunger. The arrival at the city would be both a moment of glory and worry, what they had been able to bargain of food and supplies would already be at its limit and as the family’s financial support Linton would soon need to find a job. The simple thought of rushing through a crowded unknown town in search of a reasonable employer who’d be kind enough as to hire someone with no experience in other places than fields had been terrifying for the young man, now, however, everything seemed to be going so well, full of confidence he was sure nothing could put to waste all their efforts and that soon enough they would be rewarded for the hard work. Putting aside all shadows of fear the former farmer allowed himself to believe in a bright future with a loving wife and himself living in a cozy house full of their children.
“Go take your share to mom so that she may start the fire.” He commanded patting little Hector’s head. “I’ll be right after you.” The infant answered with a nod before turning to head back the way they came, Lint grinned once again before setting down the fallen branches he’d collected on the ground to reorganize the pieces of wet wood, quite the problematic thing when you need to put them on fire, and adding some more of those that lay around on the forest floor while merrily humming a song he’s learned in times of his childhood.
He was barely able to notice the shadow that approached from behind wielding an old axe. The piercing pain of metal crushing skin and bones threw the farmer to the wet ground covered in leaves and some rest of snow, blood escaped through the wound to color the surroundings with the hues of death. Long branches like arms waving in goodbye watched him silently as air seemed to disappear from his lungs and his mouth opened desperately in its search, a second thrust to his ribs rendered the farmer unable to think washed away by that sea of blinding pain. Before everything faded to black the silhouette of the attacker came into view and then… There was nothing else.
Chapter 2 - In the heat of the winter (yes, this is the title, don't complain about it for now, it might be changed later)
“What has become of him?” Meres questioned as a tall muscular man came from the woods wiping a rusted axe in a dark piece of cloth. Her eyes met those enticing grey pitches and those parted lips that seemed to call for hers.
“An accident on the road, he shall not bother you again.” The man smiled wickedly letting the weapon rest leaning on a tree, throwing his arms around the woman, with a pale hand she caressed his bearded face.
“What about his father?” She questioned worried, feeling her heart dancing on her chest with this proximity to the man she loved.
“Hang himself taken over by grief. We are free now my dear, don’t you worry.” He leaned to touch her lips lightly, the woman grip on his back tightened as her body craved for his. Breathing desire they searched for one another, their mouths collided passionately, tongues entwined speaking the language of love where no words are necessary, the soft grass would serve as the bed where lovers turn feelings into acts.
“Please… Hector might see…” She whispered in a voice not too different from her hard breathing, body yearning and calling for his, marble legs slightly parted revealing her every fiber trembling in excitement.
“Don’t fear. I have sent your boy to fetch some fruit growing in a field quite far away. We have time.” Already rid of his garments Bulmer threw his weight on top of the woman’s, feeling her enticing scent and the smooth texture of her skin, his lips touched her pale chin to taste that which he could only find in her, not yet content they moved to her neck, Meres gasped as his tongue made its way to her collarbone, coarse fingers caressing those tender shoulders almost unconscious of the nails digging the flesh of his back. Bulmer whispered something yet the woman failed to understand the words as her panting became louder and louder, his warm breath drawing all sanity from her and his mouth drawing closer to her apple shaped bosom. With licks and tender kisses her rounded her shapely breasts, she saw nothing when he smiled before biting at each of the olive colored nipples, she tensed at his touch heat climbing all the way from her lower body to arrive at Meres’ face as a burning red, she let escape cries of pleasure as hips moved against his body subtly waiting, wanting.
“Be gentle…” She breathed to the lover who slowly entered, Meres moved as to ease his way in. Bulmer sighted repeatedly, if either by the physical effort done of pleasure she could not know, while thrusting in, slowly at first allowing his partner to pick up rhythm. Their hips danced to a soundless song made only by the feelings that moved those bodies, panting and whispering mad words of love found in the heat of the moment. Muffled sounds of pleasure filled this side of the road, anything seemed unimportant when the two merged in this moment of ecstasy.
The couple pulled apart laying side by side, chests heaving and feeling as though all energy had been drained from those still young bodies yet as merry as they could be, smiling foolishly while gazing at each other’s face washed in sweat and happiness.
Later she would feel regret for the crimes which stained those hands of her loved one. Possessed by that feeling of guilt which would only deepen as soon as her eyes fell upon little Hector, a younger version of his now deceased father crying and mourning the accidental deaths of his parent and grandfather. When spending each coin in his purse, which she knew were hardily earned, she would listen to his voice counting slowly those pieces of metal one by one with that expression of nervousness he did so often. And whenever eating the food of which he was once the owner was like tasting his kisses in those nights when forcibly she’d been united to him as man and wife should.
Violently she turned around grasping the coarse hand of an aggressor between her own while the other treated to balance a tray, over which were cups of ale and beer and some slices of dark bread, from falling to the uneven stone floor. Bran could not help but be angered whenever one of those drunk old fools directed impolite words at her or, in the worse cases, dare touch her young body. This must be the reason she had seldom found serving girls in the town’s taverns. She was told countless times by her boss that men such as these rascals would without a second thought take her by a whore who sought work in the tavern for she was a woman who walked among men to serve them their drinks and food, something the lass never truly understood.
The nineteen year old girl still had no suitors who wished to take her hand in marriage though the time for this was already come, this assured her she needed to earn her own living, working here was just part of it. It was not one of Bran’s dreams to be taken away by some random man she never saw before in her life at the consent of Mr. Fawnt and become his personal child factory, not at all, being seemingly unable to attract any other kind of men than drunkards or old perverts with not family might actually have been for her advantage, or so Bran believed. The thought of remaining with no husband or children was not even frightening to the serving lass.
Carefully she positioned the wooden jugs in front of each costumer, swirling around the tables with such agility none would think possible when wearing a dress such as hers, a beautiful piece of work made of light blue linen and small yellow flowers embroidered on the chest never forgetting white laces around her skirts. Every day the same routine repeated, listen to orders, report them to the kitchen where three more workers, Mrs. Fawnt and a couple of lads a bit older than Bran, would provide the drink or food requested and hand it to her, who would deliver the goods to each of their customers.
“Hey girl!” A hoarse male voice called the serving girl as she arrived at the kitchen ready to fetch some orders and deliver them, instantly recognizing that voice Bran turned to face a fat grey bearded man with big brown eyes already subtly clouded by alcohol, the one she often referred to as Mr. Fawnt, the tavern owner who took her in at the age of four. “Why won’t you learn how to behave properly? The costumers are complaining of your rude treatment.” He spoke seeping some ale from a wooden cup, in no time he would be in worse state than those drinking outside and she would better obey his orders or else… The lass frowned at the memory of the last punishment she’d received, oh the pain was unforgettable as well as the humiliation of being almost unable to walk at the next day.
“Mr. Fawnt, a costumer had slid his hand under my skirt as I passed!” She protested in her own defense, why was it this occurrence had become so common? “He had no right and…” The girl was interrupted as the overweight older man pressed her shoulder tightly with his free hand.
“You are a woman!” Mr. Fawnt slowly slid his hand down to her neck, collarbone and… Bran blushed as he pressed the tender flesh. “Unmarried to make things worse! Women have no right to complain when men exert their carnal desires on your sinful body for that is all you, women, exist.” He pressed harder as Bran let escape a sight which she hoped had not been too loud or else other workers and costumers would have their attention drawn, she pressed her thighs against one another anxious, remembering the punishment. “Let them do as they wish unless you want to go serve those customers without any garments at all!” He finished harshly, letting go of her breast covered by the delicate fabric, she knew though that the worse had not passed, and was reassured of this when he leaned closer to lick her chin and lips in a disgusting perverted way. “And for such petulant words girl, wait in your chambers after you are done here for punishment.”
The day had barely started and her luck had once again proved inexistent, Mr. Fawnt turned his back leaving the blushed girl behind with hands crossed over her chest in a defensive position still smelling his stench upon her own skin.
Although young Bran was more often than not attacked by queer people she was undeniably someone whose appearance was as normal as most women’s, not an astonishing beauty as was to be expected of a maid pursued by people of the opposite sex. With curly hair of chestnut always tied in a braid upon her back, eyes of a weird purple color that under the proper light would look as a breathtaking blue and thin lips she counted with no other appealing traits than her bosom, which she sought to hide under well tailored dresses and gowns, with no apparent success.
Sorrowfully Bran returned to her tasks, nude feet moving with speed atop the coarse floor. Soon the scent of roasting meat filled the hall packed with foul looking clients ringing to the song of a dozen voices in a not harmonic tone calling their complaints. Supper was about to be served and orders were being taken for a pot of porridge thickened with carrots and salted meat completed with a slice of greasy pork. It was always a wonder to receive some coins as payment for the lass often doubted these men had any left after spending most of their gains in game or drink, were they even able to feed their families this way?
Among the murmur the serving girl recognized the sound of steps entering the establishment, boots scrapping the dusty floor and the soft rustling of metal on clothes, Bran’s was not the only head that turned to watch three well dressed officials of the law walk in accompanied by that shadow of what was once a man, a beggar with hands bound to his back, stumbling as though drunk or seriously hurt, the second with a greater probability of being true when noticing the dry blood on those ragged clothes. Strangely enough he reminded the servant of a stray dog who came into a house’s yard with a pitiful look on those dark eyes begging for pity and shelter, some food if people were kind enough. Mr. Fawnt left his usual place by the fire from where he was able to watch the overall movement in the tavern to exchange words with those seemingly important people while his foster daughter spied from her corner taken over by curiosity.
With no care the beggar was made to sit at a quiet place far from the movement of the evening, his trembling unsteady feet were also surrounded by a thick piece of rope and tied firmly so that he would not move. Not a dangerous prisoner, no way he could be that or else these guards wouldn’t have taken their time and stop by a tavern while still in duty, or even left idly in some random place.
Close to lose interest the serving girl made up her mind to resume her usual duties and quit this loss of time that was watching the newcomers when the voice of Mr. Fawnt called her name. Reluctant she walked towards him faced with what she believed to be anger.
“Girl, make sure to watch that… Thing, for now.” He thundered waving a plump hand at the prisoner. Could that be considered a… Important task? Bran was astonished; Mr. Fawnt would never rely on her for anything other than serving these drunks and cleaning, according to that old man she was nothing but a useless bitch who could only bring trouble if left to deal with matters of any significance. “What are you doing standing there?” All surprise was taken from her as a heavy hand fell upon that frail face and the slap echoed through those grey dirty walls though none paid any attention. “Get to work!”
“R-Right away sir.” Bran muttered before taking her leave with a slight bow. Mr. Fawnt resumed his chatter with the knights, she now was aware of their social position; on each of their robes a crest had been sewn. Of course her foster father would wish to gain their favor.
“Hm… Hello.” She greeted hiding hands behind her back, this was a queer situation indeed, a simple minded youth who only knew how to work with the routine of a tavern in the outskirts of London and a beggar imprisoned for some random reason she was not aware. And what did he mean by “watch”? Was she only supposed to sit here exchanging looks with this hideous creature? The man did not return her greeting nor did his eyes turn from the boring floor to face her. What was his problem now?
Nothing she could do about it, her duty was, the girl supposed, was to be here with this prisoner and simply that should be enough. Out of the blue an idea came to mind, this poor man, he must be in pain, hungry and thirsty, she sighed wondering what a simple lass such as her could do to help… Briefly she turned to watch Mr. Fawnt, still entertained in conversation with those tree knights, enough time.
In minutes she returned harboring a jug of weak beer with all care between her small hands, he had not flinched during this short time, nor had her foster father; it was impressive for how long men could talk to each other. Bran fell to her knees so that their eyes would meet, those sorrowful brown eyes seemed scared for a moment, she smiled kindly offering the drink, obviously he would not touch it, she just needed his approval so that the girl might help him.
“You…” He whispered in an almost inaudible voice, a murmur that could easily be drowned by the sputtering of the fire not too far, she leaned closer to listen now able to smell the stench of his breath and see those rotten teeth. “You have… The eyes of death.”
Chapter 3 - In paint come back to life
His gaze fell upon the sight of rain drops travelling at the speed of light across a black sky, lightened at irregular intervals to the breathtaking spectacle of lights given by the lightning, those nobles that seldom graced humanity with their presence. With a delicate hand spotted by paint he pushed back a lock of the dark hair drenched in sweet smelling oil back before returning those pressed eyes to the cream colored canvas where harmonic forms seemed to wait for to be finished, as an artist he could listen to the whispers of the painting as though ordering his brush to move here or there with this or that color. It was a thrilling sensation that filled his heart, a magic that took over his limbs and made his mind into a stage for unnamed characters that soon would gain life in those lines and colors. Aston bit his lower lip drawing bittersweet blood, attempting his best not to make a single mistake, beauty was all he sought.
“Will I need to stay here much longer?” The model asked shifting slightly the position of her feet. Why would she not stay still as the artist had commanded? Now her smile was completely changed and no different was the angle between her legs, he remarked bitterly dipping the brush into a pot of paint carefully. How annoying could women be sometimes. Clinging to the concentration, that now seemed to be struggling to fly away through an open window after her useless remark as would a bird suddenly noticing its cage door open; the artist stared firmly at the painting with disappointment. Another coat of paint and he’d be finished with this work, he was sure of that as he moved a hand over the canvas to create forms and faces, recording for eternity each curve of her body with vivid hues.
Hours passed in a flash as the painting came to life under the flickering lights of yellow candles spread all over the small chamber. A woman sanding in all her glory, the curved body covered in the mists of night while standing on a crimson mantle, the waves of red colored fabric winding among her marble feet, those golden locks sliding over her shoulders to hide her nude left breast, a subtle smile to lighten that harmonious face garnish by a pair of jewels that were those blue eyes.
Even to the artist’s eyes she was undoubtedly a wonderful creation, he could barely believe these same hands that now rested on his lap stained by a dozen different colors while still grasping firmly his dear friend, the round brush which had been by his side for all this time.
“It is done.” Aston whispered signaling his model with a hand, sighing she approached to gaze at the painting still not dry, even a mind owner of no knowledge such as hers was able to see this was a masterpiece, something this same painter would not be able to surpass for years.
“It is… Beautiful.” She muttered in that annoying way too high pitched voice of hers wrapping the body mirrored in the picture in a blanket, Aston could barely believe they were the same person, this slow witted whore his assistant had contracted for the job from whose mouth only nonsense came and this Greek goddess of beauty. “May I do my job now, sir?” She questioned leaning over his body to kiss his neck, Aston pushed her away with a look of disgust on that young face.
“Your job is already done, wench.” His voice sounded coarse as the artist got on his feet, looking one last time at the painting before going for the closed oaken door. She looked startled for some time before finally grasping the message as he held the door open, watching the woman who fetched her clothes left on the floor. The whore looked around at the many paintings hanging from the walls sure she would never return to this place, the fact that queer artist had refused her services meant her body had not been to his liking. Or so she believed.
“Out, now!” He commanded motioning his head towards the exit, nodding she hurried covering her nakedness, it was weird how she seemed embarrassed to thread through the empty corridor while holding the dress firmly against her chest and lower parts, was she not used to show these off to other men? Aston would never understand her.
His work was done and it was a relief to see himself free of that woman, a nuisance though she may have been it was thanks to her astonishing looks that painting became so perfect. Carefully he locked the studio, for the artist this was a sacred place, greater than a church or temple, in which he could relax and be himself for once, away from this society of hypocrites and fools that annoyed him so. The evening chilly air greeted him, searching through his clothes as the hands of a careful lover, the rain had died out already thus depriving the artist of its music, bliss for the years.
“Has she arrived yet?” The question was thrown at the old assistant waiting by the door to the hall. A nod from the ancient’s feeble head as he turned to walk into the waiting room, she was there, the woman old McKenny had found to be Aston’s new model. It was always like this, the artist would finish one of his pieces and dismiss the current model, during the development of the work his assistant would search for a new one. And always, with no exceptions, they were whores, women with a life devoted to pleasure whom the artist normally despised but came to love through his paintings. They were all beautiful, the prettier McKenny could find in London’s crowded streets, the most expensive as well though they never got to fulfill their usual duties when employed by Aston.
This was his way of finding beauty, making it from the filthier places possible so that it could grow and shine brighter than ever within his canvas, as the sun from behind the winter mists.
“Let me take a look at this one and, McKenny, I do hope she is good quality or else I might lose a day of work.” He babbled while entering the room where his new model and the assistant waited, he had not expected for this, truly he had not. Aston never found beauty in those women before he was ready, holding a brush and paint before the white canvas while they positioned in his front to be painted, yet this time he was astonished.
With smooth skin pale as the moonlight and big emerald eyes searching his soul that woman could not be something to be found in this gutter, being a whore it was even worse. To come to the realization this perfect being actually existing was a pleasant shock, though the artist was made aware of his own uselessness in true nature of the earth he still saw her as the possibility of improvement. Drawing this beautiful being and turning her into one of his characters, his children, there was a chance she would turn into something even greater.
“What do you wish to know is good quality? My noble sir.” She spoke in a clear loud voice so that his attention would be fully drawn to her and that voluptuous body enveloped in a green gown that left the shoulders for all to see, partially hiding her marble bosom, not a specially decent look he had no way of disagreeing.
“I-I wished to know the new looks of the contracted model.” He whispered staring at the ground feeling extremely uncomfortable under her piercing gaze. Her breathtaking beauty seemed to turn to ashes everything in the room, not even the paintings, much simpler ones than those stored in the studio, could resist those crimson locks falling down her back and imposing posture of that body. “May I know your name, my lady?” The last words were somehow ironic; this woman was someone whose purity had become something to be sold at one’s will.
“Just call me Clarice, my real name or surname is of no importance to you as an employer who soon shall never see my face again. And how shall I direct word to you, sir?” Petulant woman! How dare she show such lack of respect to him, a man that although may not be of nobility was of a higher class and social status than most peasants.
“Sir, should I make arrangements for a chamber where this young lady shall spend the night until tomorrow morning?” The old man’s voice interrupted their dialogue as he bowed slightly to show respect; certainly he had noticed irritation in his master’s honest brown eyes.
“Certainly, we shall start tomorrow at daybreak.” He answered turning once again at the woman who still looked at him with suspicion. “Aston, my first name and I give you the right to call it while working under me.” The woman smiled politely, her lips were cool and eyes flashed with some kind of curiosity the artist had never before seen.
“Alright, I shall, Mr. Aston.” McKenny signaled them to the corridor, the old man went first carrying a lantern to brighten their way. Silence surrounded them as the predator ambushing its prey, only broken for brief almost inexistent seconds by the sound of feet scrapping on stone.
“McKenny forget about the room.” Master Aston suddenly made his voice loud so that all could hear stopping by the door to the studio, the woman looked at him probably annoyed stopping right beside her employer, humbly his old assistant stood aside handing the lantern to Aston. “I shall start the work tonight.”
A crow screeched before being forced to move away from its meal as a heavy gloved hand moved its way over the corpse found by the stream. The crimson colored water called the traveler’s attention at first glance; fearfully he’d walked contrary to the current to find, not many feet ahead, a man’s body left to feed the ravens and wild animals with an incredible wound on his ribcage, from where the blood escaped to dye the remaining snow scarlet.
Pitiful truly, this must have been someone robbed on their way to the city or villages far behind, it was even scary to imagine such thing could happen to any of them travelers. Slowly he moved his hand across the man’s face marked by tears, blood and mud. With no previous warning the body stirred, the traveler moved backwards startled, how could this stranger be alive? Moments later the wounded man was lay to rest on the traveler’s wagon among sacks of wheat, his savior desperately hoping he could survive until the next town.
The doctor produced a key from his jacket’s inner pocket that fit perfectly the copper keyhole. Collins saw himself welcome by the vague forms all dyed in tedious tones of grey under the sparse light of the dusk, shifting the weight of his bag from one tired shoulder to the other he entered the simple house bought after going to great efforts for many years. Inside everything was covered by the scent of herbs, perfume and rare spices. The room was sparsely furnished with some simple shelves piled with books and research logs as well as a rudely made wooden table surrounded by a pair of chairs seldom used, atop the table were left empty pots of potions the doctors usually used to cure his patients and books marked by his own rushed handwriting. Positioning the newly acquired material on a random empty space of the disorganized living room he searched for a candle that he would soon lit to illuminate his way. It was already past dusk hours and there were few traces of light on the sky, some shades of crimson dying in the horizon of black and grey, it was quite uncommon for him to arrive in such hours, in London’s downtown it was already a rarity to be safe during the day and the night, well, anyone can imagine after the sun went to hide those narrow streets became crowded with robbers, pickpockets and murderers of all kinds. Collins considered himself just lucky to never have fallen victim to any of these ruffians.
“Evening.” He greeted though no one came into view while making his way into an adjacent room with barred windows and no light but that of the flickering candle held by the physician’s gloved hand. The air here was thick and heavy with an unpleasant scent of rotten blood and medicinal herbs as well as a lingering stench of sweat. Something flinched on the bed with a gasp of pain, not more of an answer than he’d expected.
That was a man delivered to his front door by some traveler who’d found him on the road to London. According to the traveler’s report this man was thought to be dead though, luckily, he was able to notice his faint breathing. After three long days of trip on a cart he’d arrived to the town. With an incredible fever and wounds that started to fester, later Collins found out about four ribs had been broken and one barely escaped piercing a lung. Was it luck or fate that kept this man alive, he wondered.
With light steps he approached as to see the patient’s pained expression under the dim yellow light. He was a young man probably in his twenties with black wavy hair and eyes the color of a rainy sky, those parted thin cracked lips seemed to whisper prayers to the Almighty God so that his miseries should end.
“How are you today?” Conllins questioned softly, sitting on the side of the bed pulling away the raw wool blanket, watching the man’s exposed chest wrapped in bandages that had been changed early that same morning. Voice left the patient’s throat as a queer growl , like the sound of a wounded animal, though unable to understand the words, if that could be called words, the physician was sure those meant a thanks to the one who’d saved that man from death’s hands.