CampNaNo: Silk and Steel
Ahoi! I hope this finds you still safe and well and enjoying life as best you can! I have made some big edits over the easter weekend and taken a scene from later on and pasted it into an earlier bit… so I thought I’d update the earlier bit with the new scene included as it’s quite an integral one! Hope it makes sense! XD XD
This is a Mythpunk, dystopian, LGBTQIA+, monster-friendship novella based around a combination of Hungarian, Rromani, Hindu and Polish Mythology so I will try and get organised and post some more about the background myths on Mondays.
“The world ended, the angels and the devils took who they wanted, but some of us were left behind… so we opened an antiques shop…”
Soundtrack / Playlist:
Passing through the black curtain, they wound their way through the familiar maze of corridors crammed floor to ceiling with books, paintings, statues, clothing and other curiosities. Silk and Steel would buy and sell most things, no questions asked. ‘Though not Demonsong, apparently,’ Xander frowned, and he subconsciously balled his fists in vexation.
He had never intended they should be strutting around with bottles of the foul, lethal stuff in the first place. Had never expected to find such a dangerous treasure trove in a run of the mill up market town house. And although he had not had time to prevent Vraxi stuffing them into his shirt, as they ran for their lives with the unexpected security system showering them with hexes and corrosive acid, he was damned if he was going to hold onto them any longer than he absolutely had to.
The momentary flare of shock and anger on the Yag’s face had told him much. Vraxi had most likely known the bottles were there, and most likely had a buyer lined up for them somewhere in advance. But if the Yag wasn’t going to be candid about his plans, Xander told himself, then he couldn’t expect them to play out the way he intended. He allowed himself a small smile; doubting the Yag was under the illusion that his plans meant much to Xander at the best of times.
He nodded briefly to a child with short, dark curly hair who was dressed in velvet breeches and a matching frock coat and stood hovering in the doorway of one of the side rooms.
The Jai’Yantra smiled and nodded enthusiastically and Vraxi reached behind her ear and pulled out a red and white striped candy.
She gave an excited little skip as he dropped it into her hand.
“Eating with us?” he asked.
But Ziga shook her head, cupped her little hand to his ear and whispered, “I am looking out for the crow man.”
“The crow man?” Vraxi’s eyes grew wide; caught-up instantly in the child’s excitement. “What is a… crow man?”
“It is a secret. When the moon rises full, the crows flock together and make a man – a real one – that walks The Cinders, and The Spires too. Nikko has seen him twice and Ferdi as well.”
“Really? And have you seen him?”
Ziga shook her head, “I keep looking, but not yet. Will you come and peep? Just for a moment?”
The yag looked back at Xander’s hooded cape disappearing around the corner of a pile of books and tarnished frames; he really ought not to keep Spyro and Ros waiting… but one look back at those large, hopeful eyes and he knew he had to agree. “How could I resist the chance to see the crow man?” he grinned, and let Ziga lead him by the hand to the tall casement window which looked out onto the darkening cobbled street.
The scarlet licks of light were shrinking into shards as the sun slipped down below the city skyline. The crows were everywhere, as usual, hungry for the dead flesh that they could sense all around them. Their tormaline eyes caught the slinking last-lights and the yag couldn’t help but supress a shudder as several cocked their heads towards the window. He laid a protective hand on Ziga’s shoulder, wondering if he wasn’t being a little irresponsible playing along with this, but the little Jai’Yantra grinned excitedly up at him and turned her gaze back to the darkening street.
Lampblacks were moving along steadily; the agile climbers shinning nimbly up each lamp post and pouring in the vial of demonsong which would will the twisted metal coil inside to heat up and so fill the glass chamber with light.
On the ground, others of their crew kept the crows at bay with long metal poles; they were always bolder near to sundown when the streets were quieter.
“The sun has not yet set,” he said gently. “I think you will be waiting some time for the moon rise – will you not come and have something to eat and we can look again after dinner?”
Ziga shook her head. “You go. I will come get you if I see him. I know you want to see him as much as I do.”
The yag grinned, “I certainly do!”
“Do not tell anyone else though, pinky-swear it,” Ziga warned, and she looked so solemn that the yag mirrored her serious experession carefully. “Pinky-swear it.” he said gravely, linking his little finger with her own to seal the deal.
The cosy kitchen at the back of the shop could not have been more discrepant with the company it held, Vraxi thought with a grin as he accepted the chair Spyro offered him and wriggled gleefully with anticipation, crinkling his nose at the delicious sights and smells around him.
“I defy even the Duke himself to revel in better company or cuisine than does Vraxanthrin Bane tonight,” he declared, suddenly jumping out of his seat and rearranging the platters of cooked meats and stewed vine fruits to make way for a large pot of richly flavoured stew.
Rosamund Noir, second half of the Silk and Steel partnership, smiled indulgently at the Yag as she set down the terrine and Xander frowned as he saw their hands linger just a little as they brushed past eachother. The petite, dark haired woman was in many ways more dangerous than her partner, Xander reflected, being careful to smile gratefully at her as he seated himself beside the Yag.
Silk and Steel had risen from obscurity in ten short years to become a pivitol hub in the city’s underground activities. If something or someone needed to disappear, Silk and Steel could make that happen and Xander was well aware that at any given moment that contingency could apply to himself and his ostentatious companion.
‘Whether it is in our interests to disappear, or in someone else’s interest that we do – that will be the rub.’ He thought grimly. Certainly they had made enough of a nuisance of themselves over the past few years for either eventuality to be possible.
“Stone the crows!” All eyes turned in Spyro’s direction as the plate he’d been holding clattered to the floor and smashed and every hand in the room went instinctively to a concealed weapon.
Vraxi suppressed a chuckle, and made a mental note to use a similar trick next time he was in a room full of cutthroats – it was always good to know from whence the daggers may be about to fly.
The enormous individual, who had caused the commotion by simply entering the room silently and standing quietly behind Spyro with his arms folded, showed no amusement however. “I thought those plates were your mother’s.” he said gruffly, “I should take better care handling them if I were you.” The alchemist – for that is what he was; a Ghani of imposing stature and even more imposing reputation – crossed to the sink and washed his hands, turning the water and the white porcelain red with blood in the process.
Spyro clenched his jaw and ground his teeth.
Interesting, thought Vraxi, for these two seemed in a constant state of imbalance and the Yag was ever anxious to know who currently held the upper hand. He had no doubts at all that his life, if it could be called such, could one day hang upon that tiny but vital piece of knowledge.