|Layla (layla) wrote,|
@ 2013-02-01 07:40 pm UTC
|Entry tags:||bloghopping/guestblogging, karamanda, worldbuilding, writing|
The final post in the Worldbuilding Blogfest – full list of participants here – is an excerpt from the work in progress. This obviously poses a bit of a problem for me because I went and changed everything. I tried writing some snippets from the new version, but I don’t really have a good enough handle on it to write it yet; I’m not sure who the characters are, or how closely it’s going to resemble the previous plot. So here’s an excerpt from the original story, “Angelcutters”, in which Franza, the protagonist, is investigating a murder that she’s really not supposed to be looking into.
Since this was not work-related, only a favor for a friend, it was after dark before I had the opportunity to fly up the fog-draped cliffs of the city’s towers to Angeltown. As a mezzano, I couldn’t own property here, but I had been up a few times on business, enough to know my way around. I flew over gorgeous and bizarre mansions, some designed in the shape of flowers or dragons, some like elaborate fairytale wonderlands, others resembling many-layered holiday ornaments. In the sun they dazzled the eye. And the view on a clear day was glorious; one could see out of the city, down the stair-steps of the terraced fields descending into the valley–all the way to the sharp-edged mountain peaks raking the sky, draped with the graceful lines of cargo trams.
Tonight, however, rain and gloom blotted out the mansions’ exquisite artistry and concealed the view in fog. Rehial and Lamiah’s house was surrounded by level upon level of hanging gardens, their complex topiary no doubt tended and trimmed by an army of mezzano gardeners.
A short mezzano housekeeper opened the door for me, her status in the household evident from the large ring of keys clattering at her belt. She was blonde, a color so rare in mezzano that I suspected she’d bleached it, particularly since it was piled on her head and tumbled over her shoulders in a pretentious heap of curls that mimicked the Angels’ elaborate, impractical hairstyles. Most of us mezzano wear our hair short so that it doesn’t foul our wings or tangle in the wind.
“I’m here to see Lady Lamiah,” I said.
The housekeeper scowled at me. “The lady is not in.”
“Then may I see her husband?” I never actually said it was official business, but tried to put the implication out there.
Sullenly she escorted me through hallways with arched ceilings and huge windows looking out on the dark, rainy gardens. There were plants everywhere, exotic types in ceramic pots with rich floral displays. The housekeeper glared at me when I reached curiously to touch one glossy leaf. She refused all my efforts to make friendly conversation, regarded me with suspicious distaste and left me in a well-lit audience chamber, where moments later, a maid brought me a plate of sliced fruit–”From the gardens,” she murmured, bowing herself out on whisper-soft bare feet.
It was astonishingly quiet here. Other than the splashing of rainwater outside the windows, the only sound was my own heartbeat. When I reached for a slice of fruit, the creak of my wet jacket broke the silence like a burst of raucous laughter.
I wondered what it would be like to grow up in such a place. No loud neighbors quarreling with each other and netting pigeons from their balconies; no delinquent teenagers darting between illicit laundry lines. No need to tie a piece of string across the door to tell if someone had broken in and stolen your meager possessions.
But crimes still happened here, hushed up quickly and quietly by the Silver Guard. Something had caused a woman from one of these quiet, beautiful houses–perhaps this one–to end up in the Big Midden with every bone in her body broken by the fall.
I dropped the fruit, uneaten, and rose quickly to bow as the speaker glided into the room. His face was too angular to be called handsome, even if one allowed for the black-to-the-edge eyes that gave his gaze a vacant quality. Wheat-blond hair fell down his back in a glossy cascade.
“You don’t have an appointment,” he said, and I knew his voice then. I had last heard it issuing from a Silver Guard mask. I tried to make my face blank. I had no idea if he recognized me, but how could he not?
“I have a package for the Lady Lamiah,” I said, stiff-lipped.
“My wife is out of town. I will see that she gets it.”
I bowed again. “My instructions are to deliver it into her hands. When will she return?”
It was hard to read his expressionless face, his empty black eyes, but he drew his shoulders back and his hands flexed. “I am her husband.”
“It’s nothing to do with you, m’lord,” I said. “But I have my instructions. May I write her a note?”
I scrawled: “Honored Lady: I have a package for you. Please contact Detective Franza in care of Station House. Your servant, Det. Franza.”
Rehial took it with one gloved hand and turned his back, dismissing me rudely. The housekeeper, who had been hovering nearby, saw me out. My back was clammy with sweat.
Once we were out of Rehial’s earshot, I tried asking the housekeeper, “So what is it like, working in Angeltown? My mother was a cook and I grew up underfoot in kitchens, but we never worked anywhere so fancy.”
No response. Her face was like stone. I’d never met servants who weren’t eager to gossip as soon as their masters and mistresses were gone. But these were–cowed, I thought. Or maybe scared stiff. I glimpsed a maid dusting something down a hallway; she glanced at me and just as quickly looked away.
“My name is Franza,” I tried one last time. “You can find me at Station House, or send a message and I can meet you –”
She closed the door on me. I flew away thoughtfully, glancing back at the house over my shoulder, apprehension crawling in my veins.
Crossposted to Wordpress, Livejournal and Dreamwidth. Comment wherever you like.