Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Economous Musgrove Chapter 6 Part 2

Hmm, will testicles be grown at last?

By way of apology for the delay in posting I give you a bumper issue.



© D.M.Cornish

Chapter 6 PART 2
Bless-ed Anonymity

“Return that purloined item to me this instant,” the saviour of the city purred, “and all shall be forgot. I shall see that the property finds its… rightful home, and you shall go on your worthless way knowing that you owe your continued breath to the mercy of your highers and betters.” He finally looked Economous in the eye to see that the import of his false claim had made it home.

False in fact, but true by station, went the term – the loftier classes were right by right, regardless of truth or actual wrong. The higher a soul stood in society, the “righter” they were.

“Come, Mister …………, Madamielle Cantaline, Mister ……………,” the fat fellow purred to his spurns. “Learn this ill-read brute a just and fitting lesson that he might not re-offend and  a small jink of justice be done in this most unjust place.”

All too willing to obey, the three bravoes stepped around their master and made to encircle Economous, the two men brandishing their heavy cudgels suggestively while the lady skold took a caste of dangerous chemistry from  one of several digital containers at her belt.

Economous backed away clumsily, colliding thigh and buttock with a stone-post, arresting his retreat just long enough for the trio of sturdy roughs to gain and surround him. How did I get here! his eternal inward observer wailed, slow to believe and therefore truly comprehend his danger. Habits formed through training served him now as the imagineer was thoughtlessly leant back into the eighth primary stance – held best when facing sundry foes. Miserichord buzzed like a hive of wasps in his twitching grasp.

“You do not have to do this,” he said in druken fright, he mouth speaking without reference to his working mind.

“’Tis a mite late for mewling, lad,” the largest of the spurns – Mister ………… appeared to be his name – returned with fixed determination.

“You wouldn’t attack a concometrist would you, not in such open view,” Economous tried again.

“I would!” barked the youngest spurn – so named Mister ………… by his master. Clearly thinking he had easy prey plumping in his clutches and all too eager in his inexperience, the brazen youth closed directly with Economous.

Even through his drunken daze, Economous recognised the lads mistake but found himself unwilling in that instant to exploit it for fear of making a bad situation worse. His limbs however, did not apparently share such quibbles and without knowing what his own arms were at, Economous suddenly struck out with Miserichord, lashing the youngest spurn across the unwary fellow’s cheek. It was a mighty blow: a perfect sinidextrous ortus capat – upper-cutting left-to-right strike to the head –that instantly drew gore spluttering from the foe’s nose, sending the spurn reeling back clutching his stricken face, to collapse scarce sensible upon the flags. With only the slightest sense of risk behind, the calibrator whipped back faster than Economous knew was within his own ability, foiling a wicked turbus capat aimed purposefully at his head by Mister ………… seeking to exploit the younger spurn’s error.

“Oh-ho, it seems this one knows what he is about,” the lady skold – one Madamielle Cantaline – chortled grimly as the older spurn span away from so skilful a defence to think again upon his next assault.

Wide-eyed and amazed at himself, Economous stared now at the skold, fathoming full well that her fumes were his greatest threat. In the very motion of that thought, the woman flicked her arm with that peculiar twisting flourish of a skolds-throw and Economous knew he was in strife. Even as he futilely swung his priceless black calibrator to prevent at least being directly struck by the bursting of the caste, he knew his only real hope was that the potive flung was nothing more than a choking fume and not some deadly mordant or blasting fulminant. Eyes shut against the inevitable engulfing chemistry, he was amazed to feel a small yet satisfying chock! as Miserichord deftly connected with the tiny fragile caste. However, rather than shattering the tiny delicate vessel with its foul concoction, the intervening strike sent it directly back at the skold to burst with a flash of orange and purple upon its very originator. With several startled yelps, people passing near scampered clear of the fume, pulling unwary neighbours with them. Flailing her arms as she sought to douse the dire fizzing  so abruptly and  unexpectedly turned against her, Madamielle Cantaline promptly dropped to her knees and flopped forward on face and stomach, overcome by her own makings.

Her employer – several feet to Economous’ left – flapped his own limbs in impotent rage at this mishandling of his staff.  “HOW DARE YOU, SIR! HOW DARE YOU! THEY COST ME SIXTY SOU PER ANNUM EACH! SCOUNDREL! HELP! HELP! I AM ATTACKED!” – a cry to  which no one paid the smallest attention.

“Full of tricks, aren’t we,” Mister ………, the last spurn growled, drawing now a short, heavy straight-bladed jacksword from the folds of the pleated frocks of his proofed coat. “I have ploys of my own…”

As amazed as his thwarted attackers at the sublime and unlikely skill of his self defence, Economous blinked a little stupidly at this final opponent.

As much as any calibrator might be re-enforced against the whittling cuts of any sword, Economous well knew that in the end, blades beat cudgels in all but the best hands. As handy at harundo as he might have been – steady enough to place on the tables of Athingdon Athy’s best cudgel-players – it had been a double run of profound fortune that had saved him tonight; he did not want to chance the Lots a third – and anecdotally fatal – time.

Jacksword in one hand, wickedly knobbled cudgel in the other, the third spurn did not give him a choice, springing left then right in a zagging rush, striking first with sword then swift as a swallow with stick.

Thwack! Thwack! Economous stopped them both in a single astonishing motion, Miserichord was alive in his grasp, sending an impulse of unalloyed glee surged up the illuminator’s arm that set his wind leaping until it was all he could do to not laugh aloud for the joy of the fight.

Mister ………… leapt back with a frustrated growl, doubt shewing in his mein for the first time.

“WELL, GET HIM, MAN!” Monsiere Blanquett bawled without any care for the two ailing spurns at his feet. “I DO NOT LODGE YOU AND PAY YOUR INFLATED FEE TO HAVE YOU STAND BESIDE AND GAWP!”

At this, Economous let his queer, fizzing delight out in a coughing guffaw, a bizzare gurgling sound that gained more attention from those so studiously giving the fracas a wide berth.

“WHY DOES HE LAUGH, MISTER …………?” the false adventurer demanded. “Make him stop, this instant!”

“Aye! Aye!” Mister ………… barked angrily. Glowering pure malice at Economous, the spurn now stepped side to side now to circle leftwards about the illuminator. “You want something to laugh upon, do ye?” he snarled. “I can think of a thing or two to do it!”

Suddenly the fellow was upon him, sweeping sword and wood alike, over and over, a fury of blows that were no less shrewd and true for all their violence.

Feeling like a dumb puppet trailing at the end of Miserichord, Economous foiled every hit; he needed merely to have the slightest sense of an incoming strike before the wentry tool was whipping left, right, up or down, stopping the assault cold, the gorgeous elderwood unmarked even  by the tempered steel of the blade.

With a rough, cursing cry of frustration, Mister ………… finally over-stepped with a vehement yet fatigued flail, leaving – however briefly – himself exposed to a counter offend.

Miserichord now almost felt to pull Economous to step aside and like being lead in a dance, pivot about smartly to smack the astonished spurn hard upon the exposed gap between his tri-corned head and the proofing of his gaulded frockcoat collar. With a disconcerting Crack! the fellow was sent sprawling hand and knee to the cold hard flags. A dollymop with her nose in a long written list and more pressing concerns spinning about her thoughts, paused for only a blink to look first at the fallen soul then frown up at Economous before stepping over the prone spurn even as he arrived at her feet. More, Economous rushed to stand over the spurn, black calibrator raised and ready to smite his foe again should the fellow be lack-witted enough to try and rise.

The older spurn stayed down.

All battle-delight left Economous in a heave of weariness.

Now that the violence was done, people finally began gathering in a loose and cautious ring and Monsiere Blanquett immediately responded.

“DO NOT HURT ME! DO NOT HURT ME!” the high-blown fellow shrieked, all bravado voided like an emptying bladder in the face of such precipitous defeat. “I am dear friend to the Marchess of the Pike! I dine regularly with the Lord Prune, 2nd Estimator-General to the Arch-Duke himself!”

Empty – almost bereft – Miserichord a dead weight in his hand, Economous stepped to stand over the cowering soul and looked down on his would-be accuser with dark, uncontainably frank contempt. And I have drawn the great and true lord of this city, he seethed inwardly to counter the monsiere’s reaching claims. Not knowing what to do – never before had he been in a such a position of supremacy, and the skold, Madamielle Cantaline was rousing  – Economous left his rotund tormentor where he grovelled and hastened into the milling souls. Pausing only to buy – as he had always intended – more claratine and poor bread, he hurried far down the Prandial, seeking distance and bless-ed anonymity.

He might have saved his own hide but what of the consequence of such a victory. No aristocratic sort would sit for long in such humiliation. Economous would be sought out, witnesses questioned, harried, made to tell. He could only hope that he had looked so uncommonly dishevelled that few of his streetside neighbours would have recognised him A battle won but the war lost, went the line.

Full of fear and mistrust, he did not return directly home, rather running in the opposite direction deeper into the Alcoves, desperate to not be recognised and pinned fatally to the fight. For a bad end was certain should he be named as Monsiere Blanquett’s attacker: in defence of self or not, conviction at the Duke’s Bench of assault by a common soul upon  a personage of elevated station was a short trip to the gallows in Coldbeam Square. Yet what else could he have done? His end was a standing before a magistrate had he submitted to Monsiere Blanquett’s false accusation.

If only I had not run out so rashly! he berated himself. What was I at! What must Asthetica make of such a childish display?

Despite such self-imprecation, he marvelled at the ease of his victory and the skill of his fighting arm – or perhaps more truly, the unheard of yet mirablic efficacy of his wentry tool, his payment for drawing a creature who itself ought not exist as it did.

Mirabilic, indeed!

The hopeless illuminator sighed heavily. Hunched and hidden in this dank nook in the fishing district of The Pot, he drank, chewed over-cooked bread, his humours still refusing to calm as he re-fought the incomprehensibly one-sided fight in his soul over and over again. How Miserichord – now still and cold like any other span of lumber – had buzzed and leapt in his grasp. Reluctant to keep hold of it, yet loath to cast it so simply away, Economous regarded the black rule like it might at any moment spring off, dragging him haplessly with it.

Could any witness tell it was the stick that fought and not its wielder? Who could credit such a thing?

Wedged between crawdod pots and shaken down butts, jumping at every rattle or bump or hint of human voice, Economous waited. As night drew on he was amazed to find an almost continuous traffic of rabbits moving about in the secluded quiet of his hiding place, constantly nuzzling the air for threats many stopping to stare at him, wretched fellow that he was.

“Tell your master he can have his stick back,” the thwarted fabulist hissed at them.

They simply winked and twitched at him.

He had read once that the blessings of monsters were a blight on all everymen, and he was now beginning to see why. He tried to shoo the creatures away and leave him free of this constant token of the Lapinduce’s presence. Failing to shift them, he took to glaring at the sneaky little beasts, until the first gleam of morning glory glowed in the eastern arc of roof cluttered sky and the rabbits scattered to deeper shadowed alleys.

Rising, Economous shook himself and returned by an uncommon route of byways, avoiding the eye of the several lamp-dousing limn-men he passed until at last he made it to his garret. With infinite care, he crept up the unsteady flights to lay a-bed at last, thought-consumed and twisted by fright, watching sun rays piercing the gaps in the slats of his garret shutters grow more acute in angle, the winking of his weary eyes growing long and heavy, until senseless sleep finally overtook him.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Economous Musgrove Chapter 6 Part 1

I would suggest the following is NOT a good way to get out of a hole.

I am finding folks theorums and ponderings about who is what very entertaining and helpful. Please, keep the thoughts coming.



© D.M.Cornish

Chapter 6 PART 1
Bless-ed Anonymity

casque ~ a hinged slat of wood with holes for neck and wrists and a heavy lock to secure it shut; used as the most basic form of civil punishment by many cities of the Soutlands, seen as more humane than lashes with a cane that was for many generations the usual mode.  MORE…………

Half-blind in drunken dismay and utterly shocked with himself, Economous part jogged, part staggered down the To-Market, determined to put as many strides between him and the disarray behind him as he could in an evening.  So rough was his exit that he fully expected to be chase down and accosted, hauled back to Lord Fold to apologise with great show: but no pursuit followed him in his rapid, unsteady retreat. With a confused notion of replenishing his vanished stock of cheap claratine, Economous bumped through his fellow downside citizens agitated with anticipations of the year’s turning. About him folks made ready all manner of cauldron-bells, clutter-bottles, ratchet weasels, pots, griddle pans, cutlery, tom drums, tin horns and speaking trumpets: a great collection by which to make a great din of noise to see out one annum and bring in the new.

Once, long ago in less urbane times, such clamour was universally held to frighten off monsters prowling at the foot of village walls. And though the custom was thoughtlessly continued in most cities of the Soutland city-states, such simple-headed ideas were largely forgotten or scoffed over. Yet any rustic parish neighbour, especially those under very present threat from nicker and bogle out on the sokelands at the fringe of human habitation – such as Economous’ native town of Lo – knew better. As much as he relished city life, Economous had always thought the name of “naïvine” for an urbanite who had never encountered a monster acutely apt. City folk loved to put on knowing manners and pretend to themselves that they were supreme over all the threats of nature, but he had only met a few who fathomed fully the dread and danger that country souls called normal. And the higher the rank, the deeper this ignorance commonly went: such as Lord Fold. Economous sorely doubted  if the Reive of Lot-in-the-hole – despite his country purview – had ever been dial-to-dial with even a mildly mischievous bogle, let alone a ravening nicker and survived.

Resolved on finding some small species of satisfaction in this dyphr-wreckage of a day, the frustrated illuminator hurried onto wider way of the Prandial Street, a dual carting way fancy enough to possess stone-posts and  its own row of street lamps at the regulation twenty-five yards, paid for by subscription of the local shopkeepers. Such glorious enlightenment – normally only found in middling or high-station suburbs – made this thoroughfare popular in the darkling hours and its merchants and markets and walk-in bazaars remained open well after all other sellers had retired for hearth and bed.

As the sun westered, the day-light traffic of cart and drey and the rare private lentum was replaced by handsome, open-top dyphrs, park-drags with teams of six and fare-charging takenys coming from all wards of the city. Under the frowning wood embellishments leaning from the salt-stained façade of every structure to crowd the vacancy above the Prandial, the usual throng continued without pause: water-caddies, crossing-sweeps and wandering tray or barrow sellers, moll potnys, sharps with their cheap tricks and grab-cleats lurking, looking for easy prey. But now these were joined by early revellers, a great many of whom – by evidence of their fine clothes – were not native to the Grand Liberty of the Alcoves. With all these hurried a unique sight in this modern age: dollymops by the dozen in their high white bonnets and aproned stomacher dresses. Like lowly pantry maids they went with clear purpose from grocer’s stall to shambleman, from tallow-puff to dispensurist and all domestic shops between, forced by their work-a-day hours to buy their food and necessaries at such an unseemly time.

Among it all Economous wove a worming way until he spied the shuffling figure he sought: Chancer Pigfeet – a convicted pinch-dough baker only recently returned from prison, back to scratch his scant living from the admirably forgiving or those of his neighbours too poor to afford grudges. Employing a tallow barrow as his stall, crying: “Loafs for the loathely! Bread for starving souls!”, Chancer Pigfeet also sold the cheapest claratine this side of the Spokes.

Sight fixed on the pinch-doughman, Economous bustled through a small collection of fine-looking folk out of place in their well-cut cloth and gathered so carelessly and obstructively in the very midst of the Prandial’s walk.

“Oi!” came a rough retort.

Ignoring exclamations and goodly manners – such as his own parents had taken pains to inculcate in him during his awkward, lonely boyhood – the aimless imagineer pressed on to his goal of small, stony loaves and thin wine. Yet when he approached [BAKER NAME] the fellow looked past Economous, paled, turned and hurried his meagre goods to some other vantage on the bustling street.

Economous blinked stupidly and frowned.

“My, that’s a fine piece o’ wood you have in your hands, m’boy,” came an oily observation from close behind.

Economous turned to find a portly high-station fellow in a fine coat of cloth-of-silver brocaded with cloth-of-gold, and a high silver wig standing before him: primped, powdered, flabby cheeks rouged prettily, entire person drenched in pungent sweet-waters.

Lord Dust of Drystick, little doubt, Economous concluded and chuckled to himself.

Here was another bored and indolent person of circumstance out on “adventure” in the rough districts.

What is it about the Alcoves that attracts these overblown dastards? 

At the brave “adventurer’s” back were three unfriendly looking figures, the man’s spurns, there to make the slumming adventure actually possible, all clad in heavy proofing and sour looks that served well to keep most trouble bayed. One – a woman – was marked with a twin of dark vertical stripes upon their face going from hairline, over either eye and down each cheek. A skold! – a brewer and thrower of dangerous potives designed first to harm monsters but proving ill against everymen too.

“I am myself a connoisseur – as they say it in the Patricine – of such curiosities,” the powdered fellow said smoothly, looking intently to Economous’ hand. “From whom did you steal it?”

Puzzle-headed, Economous lifted his hand and saw what grip alone confirmed, that in the heat of the instant he had fled Madamine Grouse’ Bunkhouse with the black-elder calibrator still in grasp.  “It is not stolen!” he slurred angrily. “H-how dare you, sir! It was a –” … then realised with a souse-addled blink he had no fitting tale as to how he possessed it, close his mouth with an audible plop!

 “Oh I think we will find it is stolen, m’boy,” the preened and  powdered adventurer pressed, his regard only leaving the priceless tool to make certain he was making a fine spectacle.

By now other folk were realising something dark and portentially unpleasant was a-foot and began reflexively to skirt widely about Economous and his well-served tormentor.

“Do you see, [………NAME………],” the fat fellow continued over-loudly, talking now to a young spurn on his right: a swaggering yet rather common-looking fellow a year or two Economous’ junior and cradling a gabelung in his arms as if it were the historied Mast of Ruin itself. “This is why we do the necessary civic service of descending into this reeking place and patrolling its diseased streets. At every turn is some half-clothed blackguard such as this fellow here,” he flicked a dismissive gesture at Economous, “strolling about brazenly without neckerchief or hat or cingulum, boasting their crimes and thinking these warrens of unhealthy streets will hide them. Not while Monsiere Blanquett is on his watch! Oh no! Not while I care and dare enough to bring right and fruitful living to those most in need of the instruction.”

“Dare you seek to impeach the noble and tested character of a concometrist, sir!” Economous retorted boldly, his humours simmering with all the courage three bottles of bitter-strong vin can bring.

For a blink his rotund accuser took pause: it was indeed a grave thing to assault any of an athy’s agents by word or deed. Had Economous been wearing his baldric, sable edged in leuc – black edged in white, the unique sign of a concometrist – it would have been unlikely they would have accosted him in the first, fancy calibrator or nil.

But all too quickly the man’s expression turned shrewd.

“Ho now!” Monsiere Blanquett declared victoriously, looking the dishevelled illuminator boot to crown with open disgust. “Where is your cingulum? Your number-book? Your fitting mode of attire?” He raised a victorious finger. “For if you are a concometrist, sir,” he continued waspishly, “then you are a disgrace to that institution’s glorious dignity!”

Though Economous was about himself enough to not let it show, this judgement hit true, for it was – surely – true. “Well,” he returned with a contrived and showing lightness of tone, “allow me to hasten home and fetch it then, to prove my claim and save you embarrassment.” Realising that he was just playing into this silken bully’s game in remaining tamely to receive his lecture, Economous now turned and went on his way, already thinking how tasty even an ill-baked pinch loaf would taste at that moment.

“Don’t you walk away from me, you lousy malnourished brute!” the self-proclaimed monsiere bellowed with all the authority four spurns gained him. “Stop! STOP ! I say, or for this insult alone I shall make certain you suffer an afternoon in a casque on the public step of the Leak!"

This was no idle threat: a person of high station could indeed – upon their word alone – have any low-born soul incarcerated briefly on the charge of insolence and wilful impertinence.

Despite himself, Economous halted and turned. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Economous Musgrove Chapter 5 Part 3

Depths still deeper for Economous I am afraid?



© D.M.Cornish

Chapter 5 PART 3
Wretched Obscurity

Had this been before – before the portrait and the failed search for the Duke of Rabbits – he might have retreated to the Moldwood to draw, to dream, to forget: but a fellow cause of his confusion, the Lapinduce’s haunt was lost to him now. Instead he bought three bottles of Missus Apostle’s Best Buttressed Claratine from the first goose-a-grab grocer he clapped eyes upon and lost in angry thoughts, somehow he stumbled homeward. Tripping and thumping up the narrow staircase to his garret and ignoring the shouts of his landlady for “Quiet und care, please!” he finally sank himself in to the forgetfulness of a triple helping of cheap fortified wine.

Slouched upon on his sole soiled tandem seat, Economous pondered joining those few acquaintances he had managed to form in this great anonymous city bent on ceaseless endeavour for the unspoken promise of a fortune as reward. The notion, however, of an evening of revelry amongst happier souls he was still yet to fully trust whilst he was so sunk of wind seemed a sour prospect indeed.

He stared now in uncertain awe at the black calibrator of pricesless black elder lain with his numrelogue on the cushion beside him. The spicy scent of the wood seemed to saturate the close air of his cramped dwelling. He took up the wentry rod in his grasp and was amazed once more at the lively tingling he had originally remarked the first time he held the wood, a tingle that grew with every swig of claratine until he was convinced this inanimate tool was animate after all. Yet for all this, it was in some fashion a useless thing: how could he carry such a priceless device about freely without gaining the unpleasant attention of some unpleasant soul with an eye for such things? He certainly could never show it to his fellow concometrists or the masters at Pike Athenaeum or Athingdon Athy. It was just some secret memento of his secret meeting with a secret monster and would remain that way for ever more.

“I name you Miserichord!” he declared with a wry blurt of laughter, plucking the appellation from some half-recalled morsel of history, the tale of an ancient blade of black wood and glass made by forgotten arts.

The tingle of the wood in his hand sharpened abruptly, cutting Economous’ mirth short and causing him the drop the bizarre item to the floor. Glaring at it, his glower turning to a puzzled frown as his mind was already disbelieving what had just happened: that the calibrator had pulsed energetically, like the beat of humours or the wriggle of a live fish he had plucked with hookpoles from the [CREEK NAME HERE] as a child. More perplexing yet was the profound sense that it had done this almost as if in response to its naming.

“Pffff!” the aimless illuminator puffed. “Nonsense! Drunken, wine-bibbled nonsense!”

The image of the panderer on South Arm the fortnight gone – back when the Moldwood was an innocent place of calm and comfort – glaring at him in dignified shock flashed in his mind’s eye, set him to grinning, and her words repeating “How unseemly, sir!” set him to guffaws that had him rocking until his gaze fixed with disconcerting clarity upon his numrelogue, so unwittingly yet blasphemously defaced.

With grim reluctance, he took it up and beheld the gilt-framed, coal brown leather of its cover. Finally opening the hallowed tome to the tear the Lapinduce had made in it, Economous peered at the sundered wasp-paper in waxing dread that even his fall-back future as concometrist was now likely in doubt.

One of the attributes he long admired in the concometrists – in the entire Brotherly Order of Metricians – was their comparatively broader way of reckoning upon the nature of monsters and the nature of everymen. Indeed, as a sworn measurer, he knew just how open such open thinking was. Yet even the most generous-minded metrician he knew at Athingdon Athy would baulk at a tale of a page removed by a mighty monster-lord, let alone the harder-headed brother-measurers of Pike Athenaeum here in Brandenbrass. All he had for excuses then was some false admission of negligence. Flexible as they might have been about a great many notions, the concometrists’ entire devotion to measuring the length, breadth and depth of all the world – and with this the wholeness of the documents that made this possible – was not a place where they bent.

Vision swimming, he began to dab at the incriminating frays, pulling little lose bits and pulling yet more with a clouded yet growing conviction that he might be able to remove the remainder and disguise the damage. Alas! At the wrong moment wine-clumsy fingers tugged a touch too hard, beginning an entire new tear on the following leaf necessitating its complete removal. This proved harder than the Duke of Rabbits had made it seem and only with a great determined wrenching was Economous performed with a histrionic flourish and a leap of conscience like he was a naught, taffie-stealing child. Alak! Such force in turn loosened the sew of the binding of the whole gathering to with the leaf had belonged so that it stuck out noticeably from fore edge.

Suddenly he was ripping and pulling and tearing in a venting fit of furry, of whelming frustration at all the forces that seemed to work against him, of panic for a future without a goal. Sobbing – almost growling – Economous beheld the ruin he had made of his precious numrelogue and refusing to own the blame for its destruction, took up the black elder calibrator and flourished it, intent on smashing it too as its touch seemed to fizz in his hand. CRACK! he brought the wentry tool down upon the iron-bound crown of his trunk chest, fracturing the wood and bending the metal fittings. This only served to raise his wrath. CRACK! he swung the swart wood at a beam that held roof from floor, fully expecting the calibrator to fly apart in splinters only to find the beam itself split and splinter near half-way through. Still this did not stop him and eyes fixed upon his tandem seat, he swung the rod high…

… The lightest rattle and smallest thump of front door and deliberate noiselessness in the vestibule three floors below – the telltale quiet of Asthetica’s return – stopped him still.

His dudgeon was vanished in an instant.

Panting, blinking at the disarray and feeling utterly and abjectly foolish, he escaped the wreckage of his violence. Eager to forget so unseemly an outburst, he hastened three steps a stride down the cramped flights to small shuddering vestibule, where his sozzled hopes told him Asthetica was even now reading his reply. He almost fell the final flight when found that though indeed the beautiful lady was there, so was the Reive of Lot-in-the-hole, arriving just in time to witness Lord Fold pluck Economous’ heartfelt note from the Asthetica’s unwary grasp.

To her eternal credit, Asthetica betrayed wide-eyed and red-cheeked shame at the audicity and discourtesy of her guest and made a flapping attempt to take the letter back but was simply thwarted by a raised hand from the reive.

Eyes angry and wide, cognisant of the dire consequence for any lowly soul who dared raise threat against a peer, Economous took a single step down.

The Reive looked up at him with an arch smile the hopeless you fellow slowly descended the last steps. “Such a handsome invitation, man,” he purred with supreme self-confidence. “What a fine and steady hand you have. ’Tis almost pity to break such a noble soul with the information that she chooses to grace this honoured body –” flourishing his hand with a twirl of purple-gloved fingers and flick of wide mauve hems of his sleek frockcoat, he gave a mocking bow to indicate himself “– with her excellent and steady company…

With a wine-sodden rush in his humours and a flash of red passion so recently revealed in his garret, Economous staggered a second step towards the upstart.

“Alas for you, dear fellow, and you inadequate charms,” Lord Fold continued. “This excellent and steady maid will be with me for the Year Sending at none other than Sashette’s.” Dropping the name of that finest and most fashionable of fine eateries as if it were a trifling thing, the high-blown fellow blinked at Economous, knowing, owl-like. Infinitely secure in his elevated status, a foul gleam in his eyes dared the poorer, lower born man to do more, to go further, to take up his little, low-station anger and act!

“He’s married already, y’know,” Economous slurred in defiance, addressing Asthetica now as if the Reive of Lot-in-the-hole was not there.

Gasping, clutching at her pale, quivering throat, Asthetica looked at him wide-eyed, maybe even ashamed. “I know,” she said in a small voice.

“Why you coarse and stupid fellow!” Lord Fold declaimed with a sneering guffaw. “She already has knowledge of this! Surely if you cannot be so patently stupid and louse-headed to fail to apprehend that a man of broad power and high circumstance such as I could not be so without such slight details being common knowledge. If this is all that vexes you, boy, then know that this steady maid beside me has contented herself as my mistress…” He took Asthetica’s arm in his and patted it possessively.

Flummoxed and desperate to avoid the violence he was sure he would perpetrate if he remained even a breath longer, Economous shoved clumsily between Asthetica and the reive, causing the maiden to cry in alarm. Stumbling from the vestibule and out into the last evening of the old year without hat or neckerchief like some life-lost wastrel, he pushed roughly past the reive’s spurns and hurried down the To-Market lane before him, ignoring the cries of consternation from behind. 

Monday, October 07, 2013

Economous Musgrove Chapter 5 Part 2

Daylight saving has just started and I have lost a hour - a WHOLE hour - from the day. Whatever will I do? Where did it go? To the place where time is killed? 

Anyway, Economous presses on once more; but what is a soul to do when the aftermath of an extraordinary event is just more of the same old boring blah?



© D.M.Cornish

Chapter 5 PART 2
Wretched Obscurity

For a long time all Economous could do was blink in awed dismay at the blue sigil rabbits tossing and flicking so prettily on the silken banners while the goodly citizens they represented bustled about beneath them in complete ignorance to their true import. What if they did? What if it suddenly became wide and accepted revelation that a monster-lord dwelt in the very heart of their safety? Would the entire city suddenly rise up in revolt, invade the Moldwood, drive the Lapinduce from his warren and burn the feral park to its stumps? Would they seek to keep such terrible information from the ken of their neighbours already jealous and ever so keen to find just such a powerfully justifiable excuse to band together and wipe their chief rival from the map?

Already perplexed by his secret knowledge, his intelligence of the Lapinduce suddenly felt a ponderous weight indeed. Seeking to escape this increasing heaviness, Economous finally turned his attention to his note and shaking his head to clear it, began:

Most dear Asthetica…

He hesitated for a fretful beat… Is that too emphatic for such a note? Too intimate? His stylus hovered in uncertain hand a moment longer than scrawled on: the greeting would remain, it was how he felt and it needed to be said whatever the outcome.

How can I make amends for my carelessness! I have a profound thing to tell you and can only hope it suffices for my unaccountable absence and my cruel want of basic civility.

Please allow me to meet with you to make my excuses.

May I extend my invitation for you to join me for Lestwichnight tomorrow, that I might spend the ending of one year and the heralding of the new in your…

… While he searched mind and wind for the right word to sum his view of Asthetica’s character, Economous became aware of the twitching regard of beady rabbit eyes glimpsed in the obscurity of a footway that ran between his bunkhouse and its neighbour. Why didn’t you let me find you! he complained inwardly as he glowered at the blighted animals, as if the Lapinduce might fathom such thoughts through what were surely his furtive agents.

In a windy flapping of black wings, a pied daw dropped and landed without warning upon the left balustrade of the tenement steps to peer at Economous with its disconcertingly shrewd yellow eye. Here in the city these birds were despised as cousins of the crow: the barer of ill-news and unhappy dreams. Yet out in the parishlands about Lo such creatures were also held as signals of shifting circumstance for both ill and good.

Economous regarded the handsome bird closely and reflexively began to draw its heavy bill and beady frown upon the top left corner of the letter leaf.

With a peculiar almost word-like croak, the pied daw took wing again and rose up swiftly to disappear over ridgecaps.

Perhaps the time had come for the aimless drawer to shift his circumstance and be more forthright with Miss Grouse about his own, far truer intent; to stride out boldly upon this last path left to him…

 … your excellent and steady company.
Ever in respect and admiration,


He marked this with a cartoon of a pair of cooing doves, beak to beak, there heads enclosed with a circle. About to knock upon the Grouse’ hallowed ground floor door, he thought better of it and simply left the brief missive slotted between floor and jamb as the one for him had been, to be found by the damasel on her return from the day’s duties.

To stop himself from being consumed by expectation for a reply the would-be fabulist returned to his apartment for his hat, his coat and his usual bland calibrator and stepped out. He did briefly consider bringing his prize with him instead, but it would surely not do to wander about with an entire yard of black elder in hand… and he was uncertain he wanted to feel its alien restlessness in his hand as he attempted to restore what passed for his mundane routine.

Taking the hour walk from the more salubrious northen-western corner of the Alcoves – where not everyone was an unrepentant scoundrel yet rents were low enough for some one of such inconstant means – he made his way along steadily improving streets to the grand and hectic circuit known as the Spokes. Here it was his intent to employ the afternoon within the green domed colonnades of the grand knavery of Letter and Coursing House, seeking and applying for fabulist work with whichever teratologist would have him.

From his very first day fresh-arrived in Brandenbrass, the Coursing House had served as the focus of Economous’ aspiration, a compass to which he always turned to remind him of his path when low winds threatened to cast him adrift. The Mouldwood now failing him, the knavery would have to do as a refuge.

Up the marble steps and through heavy wooden doors, Economous strode into the cool Removing his tricorn he took his place in the shortest of the three lines before the clerking stalls and he basked for a breath in the soft blue glow of the gretchen globes that hung in rows of carbuncles from the high domed ceiling. Costly luminescent pearls each the size of a pumpkin, these gretchens were said to be formed in the gizzards of the sea-dwelling kraulschwimmen and spat up to be found by unnaturally brave meerlunkers or fortune-favoured beachcombers. In this lofty space – this house of goals achieved – it was his hope to avoid the heights of his anxiety through the shuffling of papers and arguing with the ubiquitously disdainful and obstructive knaving clerks.

A loud clearing of the throat brought Economous to abrupt awareness.

A teratologist was standing on his right, clearly insisting upon pushing ahead of Economous in the line.

It was an unchallenged custom of any knavery that the monster-hunters themselves had implicit seniority. And though no decent teratologist would ever be so rude as to push in directly, it was a given that they should be allowed ahead of any lesser soul in any queue – especially the longer sort. The best sort of monster-slayer did not stand in any manner of line, of course, but had staff – a factotum or valet or hand-maiden – to do such petty things for them.

Economous stepped back reflexively with scarce a glance at the upstart knave.

For a dark, gizzard-tumbling beat he thought it was the very teratologist he had last served with such ill result these sixteen months gone, the one whose kill he had foiled with his fascination for the small bogle they were certificated to kill.

It was not.

The fellow – a lightning-grasping fulgar with a great red diamond in the middle of his forehead – fixed him with a withering smirk before taking his enforced place at the line’s head.

Let him scowl and glower¸ Economous counselled himself. I fathom he could not stand a moment in the court of a lord of monsters. Well aware of where he was – a veritable bastion committed entirely to monster-slaughter – the would-be fabulist stifled this route of thinking lest it somehow show on his dial and sink him in to deeper strife.

With the fulgar came a servant hefting a clearly weighty bag that was most surely holding the severed trophy of a successful hunt: the necessary proof for gaining a glorious pot of prize money.

Had the creature deserved such a bitter ending?

The dangerous question flashed across Economous’ thoughts and was gone again before he could arrest it. Keeping his face from showing guilt and knowing full well how absurd he was being, he looked to left and right to see if anyone in the queues at either hand had noticed him having such a treacherous idea. No one was paying him even the slightest regard.

 “One might reckon that with your soiled reputation, Master Musgrove,” came the sardonic voice of the knaving clerk in the now vacated lattice before him, “you would cease wasting our time with your continued applications.”

Too shocked at himself, Economous had not realised the teratologist had concluded their business and moved on. Seeking to shove all sedonary notions as far from his inner turnings as he could, he stepped to the stall and got on with the usual trade of finding employment. Yet, as he sparred words with the quill-licking clerks and carefully filled and filed several Certificates of Intention and Offer of Compact a notion occurred that stopped his labour short. Stylus hovering over the seventh Intent he had filled that day, he blinked sightlessly at the latticed booth screen before him.

How can I join the hunt for monsters now that I have met one of their lords?

With a defeated sigh, he put his elbows heavily on the scribing shelf of the booth and covered his face with his hands.

Surely of all souls I have to own that not all monsters ought be slain outright?

What of his ambitions now?

For the last two years he had been telling himself that teratologists only pursued the worst monsters, those who by their violence had brought such deadly attention upon themselves. In his deepest thoughts he had always known that this was a thin rationale; that in the thrill of the chase and with it wealth and glory, no teratologist made such nice distinctions. The rationale was thin, yes, but it had let him live within a society were the common opinion – the only opinion – was that all monsters were worthy only of destruction. Ever since his shaggy childhood saviour had been mercilessly and mindlessly hunted by the stoutest souls of Lo and a teratologist from the city sent for to find and properly “do the wicked creature in!” he had been schooled in this all too well. More than this, such thin thinking had let him somewhat untroubled of soul to seek an alliance with monster-hunters as their fabulist.

But now he had not simply glimpsed but spent a day in the very company of a monster – a king of monsters no less. His thin rationale was blasted; with a shock he could see that driven by selfish ambition he too had lapsed into his own kind of mindlessness, operating upon the thoughtless presumption of doing right.

A great groan of frustration roiled in his milt.

One small sour consolation was that he had participated in only three such hunts, and for the first time felt some good that he had helped that childlike bogle of the last of these to escape destruction, however unintentional it might have been. He must have unwittingly given actual voice to this inward cry, for looking up at last he found the factoti, the teratology agents, the lesser teratologists filling their own papers and other desperate souls in the booths on on either hand looked up to frown or sneer or snicker at him.

Bereft and aimless, would-be fabuilist no longer, Economous fled the Knaving House.