What Worth – a Juliette d’Aubigniy tale

“D’AUBIGNIY!”

Juliette d’Aubigniy sighed. She had been enjoying a good wine and the attention of a young lady that promised to lead to a very lively evening (especially since the gentleman with the lady was coming around to the idea that he might enjoy giving and receiving the attentions of the two ladies) and then this.

Some days it was not worth the time to rise from the chair, but she did so, loosening her rapier and taking a deep breath, before turning. She found herself without a word for a moment, and just an eyebrow raised.

Her long-time self-declared archenemy, Stefan Etanchek, had entered, and had been the one to yell her name. Yet he was different now: his skin was ruddier than she remembered, and he seemed more muscular. A moment later, it struck her.

“Etanchek, what have you done?” She said, horrified, knowing just what he’d done.

“I’m your equal now, d’Aubigniy,” he said, drawing a greatsword and advancing. “You won’t humiliate me again!” The livid scar across his face almost throbbed. “I’ve the word of Hell on that!”

She drew her rapier. “Ah, ma foi, do you not realize?” She put herself into a dueling stance. “Hell tells you what you want to hear, and they keep their word just enough to pull you down to their pits.”

He charged in, and she took two steps to the side, letting him run past, just stopping before he ran into a table.”

“Ah, you have improved!” She said. “The last time, you would have run into the table.” He snarled, and moved to strike at her, but she deflected the blade with her own – not a block, but a slide – and then riposted, poking him in the shoulder with her rapier. He howled in pain, and the wound smoked.

“Now, as Calistria says, I know how important revenge is, but there comes a time to give up! Selling your soul, that was not wise.” He swung the sword again, clumsily, and broke a table.

“How long ago was your sale? A few months? You might have been my equal then… but I keep learning.” She put her blade into his other arm, and blood began to flow. Her face was no longer smiling. “I do not want to kill you, Etanchek, but if you keep giving me cause….”

He howled, his teeth now sharply pointed, and raised the sword again, over his head. “In the name of the Hells, I will kill you and drink your blood and your soul will be mine in Hell!” The blade over his head, eyes smoldering red, he charged her.

If he brought the blade down, with the strength he’d shown, it would kill her. His heart was completely open. With barely a thought, the way she’d learned, she took a half-step to the side, and as he came in close, her rapier found his heart. He stopped his charge, coughed once, twice, and then the third time brought up blood.

“You could have stopped any time, Stefan. And now Hell has you.” She withdrew the silver blade, and shook her head sadly. “I did not want to kill you. All you had to do was stop.”

Around the blood coming from his mouth, he said, “Damn you… to Hell…” Then his eyes rolled up and he collapsed to the floor. There was a barely audible, horrified scream, as he died, the sound of a soul being pulled down to Hell.

She shook her head, then took off her hat and sang a brief dirge, and threw a small pouch to the innkeep. “For the mess,” she said, then turned to her original table.

“My dears, I am not certain as to my mood this evening, and for that I apologize.”

Both of them rose. Then to her surprise, the gentleman of the two said, “Let us at least escort you to your inn, madame.”

“But of course,” she said. They gathered their cloaks and went out into the street. Behind her, the corpse lay inert until the priests of Pharasma came to give it its due.

Posted by mephron

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