Today I am packing. Tomorrow, plane. Therefore, pre set-up WiP Wednesday fun–since I am positive I will be working on editing this baby down on the plane…
I promised a war and politics excerpt from my weird epic fantasy/clockpunky Plaguebringer, I know. Thing is, most of that stuff won’t excerpt properly, so I went for a sort of subsidiary issue: Nieva Zarathas (why yes, yes she is the hero of “The Silver Quarter”, along with swordboy from last week’s excerpt–that story is their shared history) and her quest for ET.
No, this is not sci-fi. Emergent Technology, of course. A mercenary outfit like the Company of St. Rage needs to keep ahead of the weapons curve, after all, and who better than their very own mechanical genius to manage things? And so she returns to her home country of Navaquin with a powerful contact (Ciprian) and a fellow mercenary (Ruarigh) in search of something new. But women can’t just go wandering around these places…
The Hornet Club, hub of leisure for the sons of these rich Navaquin lords, was several steps above everything else. Apart from the real estate itself, in the coveted center of Corteva Gates, very near the Palacio Corteva itself, and the sheer incomprehensible size of it, the interiors were overblown. Never had she seen such a profusion of rich textiles, both Navaquin and Senecan, of plush carpets and hand painted tile-work, of arched doorways made from ancient mahogany and soaring ceilings. A small ensemble of guitarist and singer here, dancers there, and all of it drowning in Senecan cane liquor — the latest fashion, so Ciprian had told them — and illicit Valdonian l’anisea.
That, Ciprian seemed to think, was how they would recognize the room in which they ought to look for his contacts. Where l’anisea went, one could generally expect a tattoo-sporting Valdonian blackwood runner. In this case, one also running weapons.
They wandered through crowds of sweet-smelling men, no one over thirty-five years of age, no one with less of a fortune than a duke’s heir, whether he was or not. Here and there was a blond head or white face of a Minaddon or Fearghan boy sent for educational purposes to Corteva Gates, the heart of continental politicking. Ruarigh, who had cleaned up very prettily in Navaquin leathers, drew very few stares apart from appreciative or respectful ones. Nevertheless he hung back, allowing Ciprian and Nieva to make way for him.
Ciprian shot her an irritated glance as he snatched two glasses of cane liquor off a passing servant. He handed one to her. “That disguise is idiotic.”
“It’s not a disguise.” She accepted the liquor and breathed deeply. Smelled good, but then, alcohol made from sugar. What was not to love?
“You look ridiculous.”
“I look exactly how I always look, but with no boobs.”
“That’s what I said, Nevian, you look ridiculous.”
She hardly had any boobs, so she wasn’t sure how biding them made much of a difference. And she always dressed like a boy, anyhow. “You can’t come in here with boobs, Ciprian.”
“You could if you said you were with me. We’re surrounded by sheepfucking sons-of-whores, perhaps, but they won’t fuck with a DaCorteva’s girl.”
“Thanks for the offer, Ciprian, but I’d rather die in a fire.”
He finally shut his mouth there and led them toward the back of the club.
So I chose that little excerpt because it proves that Nieva is fairly unchanged from the adolescent depicted in “The Silver Quarter”, and realized it also refers to the other story I have out there from this world. “The Runner” is about a “tattoo-sporting Valdonian blackwood runner”. But I’ll come back to Cami later.