Nocturne: a novel

Sometimes, you just know something is going to turn out a certain way, but even when it does, the fact that it turns out that way doesn’t prevent it from being every bit as deliciously and delightfully funny as you imagined.  As some of you are aware, an anklebiting troll by the name of Will aka Dan aka Dimwit Dan aka Luscinia Hâfez aka Yama the Spacefish has made a habit of denigrating my fiction at every opportunity for years, marks every positive review of my books on Amazon as “unhelpful”, and now claims “give me one minute and I can write a sentence better than anything in The War In Heaven.” 

Fortunately, we can put this hypothesis to the test thanks to the astonishing act of literatury greatness he has committed and graciously made available to the public.  And so, with not inconsiderable pleasure, I am deeply honored to present to you a selection of text from the next great American novel, Nocturne, by Will aka Dan aka Yama etc.

A young woman with close-cropped hair, dark at the roots and bleached
almost white at their tips, held with a band and a gold disk pendant
amongst silver chains, dressed in black clothes under a white wool
cardigan and midnight blue coat came out of the building. “Spies?” she
said, momentarily puzzled and starry-eyed, pushing the door shut. Snow
fell in flurries, the flakes were melting on our hair. “No matter,” she
said, unsheathing a blade. She sighed, and ran after me, stopping and
slashing. I blocked it with my pipe. “You don’t have your patron
Cleisourarch to help you. He’s dead by Red hands, impaled with a stake
and paraded naked and flayed open through the streets of Mediolanum and
dumped in the river. You face me alone. Me, the greatest swordswoman in
all of Carantania.”
“Marciana, can you support me?” Adrenaline warmed my body.
“I don’t know. I’ll try.”
“Stop! I know them,“ another woman cried.
“Anysia?” I asked.
“Uh, I’m terribly sorry,” the woman who attacked us said, her voice
languid and melodic. The gold disk on her neck was inset with a large
red stone with a carving of an eye at the center of a star and six
cabochons of varying tones of green at the points, actually
light-emitting diodes. A bead of amber with a fly, like Ava’s, hung from
the side of the headband, wrapped in fine gold chains. A sardonyx
brooch with a cameo was pinned to her coat. “I heard you walking around
up there, and I couldn’t really see you. Thought you were Selinian, or
worse, Pannonian agents. I’m Cantianilla, by the way. Cantianilla
Vasilescu, if you were wondering. Veridiana told me to wear it with
pride because it’s part of who we are, for better and worse. I’m not
sure but for what it’s worth, there’s a lot of people with that kind of
family name, Vasilescu and Gavrilescu and Stefanescu and a bunch of
other people with -escu at the end. Mine reminds me of basilisks. Do you
know what a basilisk is? There’s a folktale about a feathered lizard
that can turn a man to stone with its gaze. But maybe I’m mixing them up
with dinosaurs. Those were real, but they didn’t have a petrifying
glare or anything. I see you know Anysia. So, what are your names,
“I’m Marciana. And only Marciana.”
“I’m Nicasius
Patrescu. Ava calls me Nica. It’s nice, but a little feminine.
Marciana’s been my friend ever since we were small children. Are any of
the others here?” I asked.
“Yes, I heard you say that. It was a bit
comforting, since Pannonians think we’re idolators and don’t have names
like yours and keep their women in the home as a mandate, but who knows?
Nobody really knows who the Synod is. Rumors abound that the Synod
members wander the streets of Vindobona as vagrants, that the
Magisterium funding the Pannonian Revolutionary Front as a lure for
potential traitors to the Church and Nation. Should I believe it? It
seems more like an old story than reality, but you know what they say
about stories and half-truths. I understand that there are Saugumas, I
mean, agents of the Synod in the Pannonian Revolutionary Front, and thus
they decentralized it, and everyone can name only the members of their
cell. You must forgive me for not trusting you. Eight others are all
with us,” Cantianilla said. “Veridiana’s heartbroken. She’s with Ava
now. They’re in the basement.”
“What happened?” Marciana asked.
“Theopemptus happened,” Anysia said.
“Curse the house Daubresse until the sun goes bloated and rotten and
the stars are shaken from the heavens. Mansuetus died in an attack on
the Cleiousarch’s soldiers a day after you left. They had some kind of
warmech with them, and I don’t know where they got it, maybe a blue-gray
alliance of sorts. A mortar tore him apart. I witnessed it, oh, oh,”
Cantianilla said. She seemed less brash once she knew we were friendly.
“I’m sorry,” Marciana said. “I know all too well the pain of loss.”
“There’s nothing you could do. I mean, we won in the conflict against
the Blues, but victory has a price and many of us wondered if it was
worth it. There’s a stela on the demesne with fifty names on it. If you
could ever go back, you’d notice the number of Pannonian names on it.
They fought valiantly, and their sacrifice for a free Carantania was not
in vain.”

Great stuff.  FREEDOM!  I particularly enjoyed this line: “Me, the greatest swordswoman in
all of Carantania.” That’s QUALITY literature.  Look out, Doestoevsky!  Now, what do you think the odds are that Cantianillawafer
Vasilfawltytowerescu’s starry eyes are purple?  Five-to-one?  Ten-to-one?