The Wiles Of Decay Chapter One

A brief introduction – I started writing the story a long while ago, and revisited it on writon.amazon which is now sadly deceased. I’ve currently got eleven ready-to-go chapters, a couple more almost there, and some bits for the rest. However there’s no guarantee that I’ll get round to finishing  it, so fare warning given 🙂 And now….

 

Chapter One

Torn hangings dangling from the roof, twisted around tall marble columns that rose up to support the huge vaulted ceiling. Tables scattered around walls damp with condensation; dusty velvet clothes thrown across them and tarnished silver set down upon them. The first of the guests arrive; a stately woman in the party of Helios, flame-coloured dress embellished with limp rays of material as if the sun could catch a cold; clutched in her hand a small child as Mercury, feathers bedraggled and forlorn. They are greeted by a musty footman, all damp and saggy-clad. It is the Emuschion-Ball, and all must come to pay it tribute.

Cats are generally not desired, but one is loping around the ballroom with a languid interest in the scattered chairs that cluster in strange groups around its edges, and also steps in a man dressed as the king of the felines, with shaggy beard and complimenting synthetic mane. The costume itself is shabby-threadbare, the forlornness of the tail’s tassel only emphasised by the shine nearby. His friend, single-horn craftily strapped to head and white-velvet costume only mildly stained is the next to enter, greats the musty footman before that official can do the same by him, and generally goes around attempting to be agreeable. This was most disagreeable to the others, and it only stopped when the man dressed as the haunted drunkard entered the room.

His eyes bulged, red-shot and swollen, his drink-besmirched attire ruffled as it had been in the more practical scuffle, not the  genteel ‘incident’ so beloved of the  pretentious lower upper-class. The sight of him quite depressed the unicorn, who responded to this downturn of the spirit by visiting one of the velvet-draped tables in order to explore the ancient, mostly empty bottles that had been brought there. The three graces arrived after that with their mother, and it seemed that all would be good for the first dance.

A small orchestra, more  a collection of quart- and quintets that had been gathered together than any semblance of a unit- began to play, the seeping melancholy of the tune only somewhat disturbed by the fact one violin and a tuba were very much behind the tempo. The tuba itself could have been one of the guests; a large man of resounding proportions with a face that had fallen in, he wore a jester’s hat embellished with tarnished bells that gave the ghost of a jingle with every note he played. The dancers paired up and the dance began; so terrifying a prospect that sent some of the smaller children into tears of terror. More guests arrive the whole time; sad guests, haughty guests, depressed guests, cheerful guests; all dressed as something they are not, in costume imperfect.  For this is the Emuschion ball, and all must come .

It is a little past the hour, and comes the first disaster. The haunted drunk will be haunted no longer, not if his contorted face and recumbent pose is a teller of things true. It is poison of course, that age-old tradition of doing away with the one you dislike in full view of the crowd by means ingested; and the musty footman and another must carry him next door, to the ruined dining-room for the house. Here, on great stone slabs that make up the bare floor the victim can lie at peace, his identity as undisturbed as his corpse. The death having dampened the already lowered mood, a pause is declared; and all take to the tables to talk and remember not to eat. The Lion engages in fierce debate with the Unicorn, the splendid Sun is magnificent in its cruelty to Mercury who blushes under the withering heat, and the three graces are divided among the varying groups leaving their mother with none to converse. The cat, long banished by the humans’ dance, reappears to once more assert his rule over this, his fiefdom, and the most melancholy of men debates whether life is worth even the effort of chasing it away.

And now a late guest arrives, clad in the black robes of death.

The outcry is near-universal, and they run at him verbally, hurling polite abuse. The figure inclines its head as if in acceptance and withdraws, and the night’s incidents come to an eventful end.

 

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