Letters (Fiction)

Dear god, yet more gaming inspired fiction on the web…

Letters

By Michael Schumann

The salep steam rose from a cup and condensed into small beads on the cold windowpane. Klaus raised the chipped cup and blew softly over its hot contents before taking a tentative sip. Cuts, punctures, and bruises he can cope with, but scalds and burns made him irritable. Although the cup looked older than Morrow himself, the sweet drink therein was very good. Klaus smiled and continued to watch the street below through the window’s imperfections and the rivulets left by condensation as they raced down to the sill.

The street was bathed in the blue gaslight of Corvis. Faces, clothes, buildings, and the street itself were awash in a cool light that Klaus found calming. He smiled again as he noted a young boy ably unburdening a dandy of his pocket watch. That should keep his family well for a while thought Klaus as he ran his fingers subconsciously along his moustache.

A young girl came down the street skipping a rope with her hair flying wildly. Klaus noted the alley she eased into and waved over the serving boy while he scooped two silver coins from his wallet. He quickly finished his cup and with a smile passed the coins into the hand of…

…the young girl quickly and almost imperceptibly moved Klaus’ coins into her woolen coat. “Oi, that’s a fine weight now isn’t it” she quipped with a grin, her stained teeth glowing blue and mottled in the alley’s dim light. “If’in you ever be needin’ sumtin’ udder than this…” Her voice trailed off as she passed a torn piece of paper into Klaus’s gloved hand. Her hand lingered, resting in his palm, and she smiled jadedly. Klaus sighed inwardly, but replied with a soft smile and a simple acknowledgment of her skill in acquiring news, and the beauty of her smile. Klaus’s cape swirled as he spun towards the alley’s entrance and he stepped into…

… the dark, rich interior of the cab enveloped him as he settled in for the ride. He enjoyed the sounds of the coach as it worked its way through the shifting streets of Corvis. He once again studied the torn paper in his hand and the name and address it contained. If the cab would have been shared at that time, Klaus’ riding companion may well have noticed the smile that eased onto his face, and undoubtedly would have found it disturbing. He moved the windows’s velvet curtain to the side with the silvered head of his walking stick so he could watch the sights of the street. He enjoyed seeing the shop windows with their wares on proud display: the men and women of the street going about both business and pleasure, all bathed in blue and thick with shadows. They brought back to him some memories of his homeland, but without the corruption that taints the people, land, and very air of that place. But the streets there were also alive, more so in fact than in Corvis. Perhaps it is the heightened danger in his homeland’s streets that adds the sharpness and piquancy that his long-ago memories recalled. The coach pulled to a gentle stop and Klaus eased himself gracefully into the street, and paid the driver with a smile and a coin. He turned to the building and noted the foul stench and a stream of something indescribable that ran down the street. He gingerly stepped over…

…the body that lay before him. The man would, no doubt, recover. However, he would most certainly be uncomfortable for several days. Klaus moved through the low room slowly, working carefully. Floorboards were pulled up, drawers opened, emptied, removed and then inspected, clothing rifled through, and furniture investigated. Finally, the room’s secrets were given up as Klaus removed a package from behind the remains of a recently plastered hole in the wall. Klaus mentally gave the unconscious man a few extra points for creativity. He cut the hemp ties that encircled the little package and unfolded the butcher paper. The slight scent of perfume eased into the air and nine letters lay in his hands, each delicately scribed with his name. With a smile of satisfaction he placed them on a metal plate and struck a thick match on the rough wood of a ceiling beam. Once all was consumed and nothing but powdered ash remained, he opened the shutter and with a deep breath blew the ashes to the wind. The reputation of one overly romantic, if somewhat misguided, lady was safe once again. Klaus paused at the door to look back at the man that lay on the cheap rag carpet. The short conversation that they had engaged in was sufficient to ensure more wisdom in the man’s future. If not, Klaus would return one last time. He stepped through the doorway into…

…the warm, dark sitting room. Klaus meticulously brushed his hat before placing it gently in its box. Then, with equal care, he brushed his cape and coat and hung them in the wardrobe. He eased himself into his robe and then sat in his high-backed chair. A cigar in one hand and a brandy in the other, he stared into the fire and smiled.

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