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The Angels of Martyrdom

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The Angels of Martyrdom

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Treize Khushrenada on Tue Aug 15, 2006 11:12 pm

So I wrote a story (I call it a novella even though it's only about 40 pages) which I finished a few months ago, so I thought I'd post it here. I'll put it in pieces, since there aren't real chapters. Your thoughts on this are greatly appreciated, as I'll be putting up about a part a day.


[align=center]The Angels of Martyrdom[/align]

Night had fallen upon the metropolis quite subtly. The first signs of its approach were a distant orange smeared across the horizon, followed by a livening pink as the sun sank below it. Before long the city had been drenched in darkness, even the starlight blotted out by the lights of the many buildings that called for attention through their windows, and, on the lower levels, the occasional neon sign and streetlamp. A thin fog hugged the ground, shrouding those that walked the streets in a vague mystique. Danger and sin were abundant.

From somewhere within the labyrinth of skyscrapers a siren wailed. A scream pierced the evening from the opposite direction. The homeless huddled together in groups, unwilling to brave the night alone. The accounts of what happened to those who did were too well known. The rich and affluent remained in their penthouses that graced the skyline, quite familiar with the luxuries such a lifestyle permitted. The world outside of their social luncheons and wood-paneled offices did not interest them.

One building in particular rose above the others. Noble Tower was a spectacle to behold, the black onyx exterior a beacon against the gray concrete of its surroundings. The meticulous gothic architecture clung to the past with all its might, refusing to let go and be carried away by the changing times. The man who watched the city from a top-floor balcony was no different.

He could not have been older than twenty-four, and yet he carried a certain agelessness, a worldliness, with him. He had an air of things that had come before; as though he were some bookmark into history. But he spoke not a word as he looked down, those violet eyes attentive to all that occurred below him. Neither smile nor frown rested upon his rounded, young features as his fingers gently rapped the railing.

After a few moments he turned, with a shake of his head, and retreated back into the building, the doors closing behind him. The confines of his office were lit dimly from a few antique lamps that sat in the corners of the room. The bold dark maple desk was carved with the visages of a myriad of creatures from the common housecat to monstrosities that had not been seen by human eye for decades.

As he seated himself behind it, the door from the hall opened slowly and a woman entered. There was an undeniable beauty about her, and yet her manner was strict; militaristic. She froze a few feet into the room, her arm raised, hand to head, in a rigid salute. “Sir,” she began, waiting for his acknowledgement.

The man slowly turned his gaze to her, smiling slightly as he did so. “Ms. Vernassis,” the name rolled from his tongue as at last he spoke. His voice was deep and melodic; knowing and yet not arrogant.

“I’m retiring for the night,” she finished, hand lowering to her side as she stood just as rigidly.

“My dear, you don’t have to inform me of such trivial matters,” he continued to smile. “And yet that does not stop you from doing so every night.”

“Sir, would you rather I didn’t?” she inquired, not an ounce of reproach in her sincere tone. “Whatever pleases you.”

“No, no, it’s actually rather enjoyable to get visitors up here on the occasion. Things can get rather boring, as you can imagine.” The woman seemed on the verge of smiling herself, but repressed the urge.

“Yes, sir.”

“You’re dismissed, of course.” He watched her as he said the words. She hesitated for a moment, as though about to say something, but then saluted, turned on heel, and left the room, closing the door. The man inclined his head back slightly, closing his eyes, a pale hand running through his wild black hair. In a time when things were so utterly hectic in his life, it was comforting to know he had someone like that woman by his side.

If things went the way he had arranged, he would be even more grateful for a presence like that in the coming months. Hundreds of feet above the city, the man in the black tower smiled.

The match emitted a sharp hiss, the tip erupting in a bright orange blaze as detective Sky Fraemont dragged it along the rough brick of the wall. He had been waiting outside of Club Odyssey for what seemed like hours, soft brown eyes focused on the entrance, watching patron after patron enter through the velvet ropes. Of course, they weren’t really velvet. A lower-rung club like Odyssey couldn’t afford it.

Putting the match to the end of his cigarette, he waited for the tip to glow a hue similar to the flame’s before discarding it. Taking the cigarette from his lips, he exhaled, a cloud of smoke pouring out only to mix with the fog and disappear. He flicked the tip, a small cluster of ashes falling to the ground. Then he saw them.

Four men were making their way toward the building from the opposite side of the street. Chuckling together, they were decked all in leather, sunglasses completing the slick criminal look they were going for. Sky couldn’t help but smirk at their stupidity. Any smart criminal wouldn’t do anything as ridiculous as to dress the part on the streets. It was as good as wearing a neon sign that alerted the police with the merest of glances in their direction. These guys were amateurs, of that he was sure.

When they were almost at the door, Sky moved slowly away from the wall and into view through a gap in the fog, tossing the cigarette aside. Hands in his pockets, he cleared his throat. Three of the four stopped at once and spun around. The remaining one, a short, oriental man, continued to enter the building. “Hey, buddy,” Sky said, his tone friendly. “That means you too.” The man froze, hand on the doorknob, his head slowly turning to take in the young detective. Sky’s silver cross shone brilliantly as a moonbeam found its way through the maze of surrounding buildings to strike his chest.

“Kazui Tashima?” Sky asked the man, who was squinting slightly as the light reflected from metal entered his eyes.

“Yeah,” the man affirmed that it was, in fact, his name. “What of it?”

“Just making sure I don’t kill the wrong guy.” Sky winked at him, hand finding the holster beneath his blue suit jacket, pulling the gun from it and taking aim of Kazui’s head. The other three fumbled for their own guns, though with Sky’s magnum set on his target, they could not open fire. “I recommend you tell your friends to put down their weapons. You’re the only one I want, though I’d be happy to oblige them, as well.”

Kazui nodded nervously to the three men, and their guns were dropped immediately and kicked to the other side of the street. “Are you Kazui Tashima of the Black Dragon organization?” Sky continued. The man nodded. “Why are you here? I thought the Black Dragon was based in Japan. Kyoto, if I’m not mistaken.” Kazui opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. In response, Sky flicked the safety off of his weapon. “I’d answer, if I was you.”

“Well,” said the man, gritting his teeth. “You’re not me.”

Sky’s smile widened, a dangerous look settling over his eyes. “And thank God for that,” he said, the explosion of the bullet being propelled through the barrel of his gun ripping through the night, the small piece of metal burying itself into Kazui’s forehead. The Japanese crime lord sank to the ground, landing with a dull thud. Sky’s smile faltered, a grimace setting over his features as he looked down at the man. “And so ends the Black Dragon.” Without hesitation, his target was switched to one of the three remaining, a kid, tall in stature but probably no older than nineteen. The other two were still frozen, apparently too afraid to move. “I’m guessing one of you knows why the organization is in the city. And if you want to live, you’re going to tell me.”

The kid opened his mouth, but it was a few moments before he could speak. “T-The Gentleman,” he muttered softly.

“Huh?” inquired Sky, an eyebrow raised at his strange response.

“Tashima-san was here to deal with someone called the Gentleman. It was about explosives or s-something.”


“Yeah, we were going to ship a ton of explosives into the city at the order of this guy. We were supposed to meet him tomorrow.” The kid gulped, taking a step back. “Please, sir,” he stuttered, obviously frightened. “We were only following orders.”

“Whatever,” Sky said, eyes now hardened, locked onto the boy’s. “Where were you supposed to meet him?”

“Callahan,” the kid yelled over his shoulder to one of the others. “Get the address out.” Callahan fumbled for an electronic date book in his pocket and within moments seemed to have located the desired information.

“Friday, noon, at the Paradise Café.” Sky nodded. It was Thursday, which gave him plenty of time.

“Your help was appreciated.” Without warning, his finger pressured the trigger just enough and a second shot erupted through the fog. It passed over the kid’s shoulder and struck the date book, knocking it from the other’s hands, sending it crashing to the ground, shattering to pieces. “Now get out of here.”

They did not need to be told twice, scattering into the night. Sky holstered his weapon, casting a last glance toward the dead body lying near the door. He quickly made the sign of the cross on his body and muttered a prayer, as was his ritual with such things, before approaching the body and dragging it from the scene and burying it beneath a pile of trash in one of the many alleys. It was vital if his still-forming plan was to succeed that the world did not learn that Kazui Tashima was dead for some time.

The Gentleman. He’d heard that name referenced a few times around the city and cited in the occasional report, but if what the kid had told him was correct, he was finally going to get to meet the man who had been terrorizing the streets for the past year or so. It made sense that he was somehow part of the grander picture, since he had been the entire reason Sky had taken the case in the first place.

The explosives were a dead giveaway that the Gentleman was involved. The crimes that had been attributed to his name were, for the most part, regarding arson and minor terrorism. Twelve buildings had been destroyed by explosives purchased by the Gentleman, and the police had apparently searched for the man behind the name, though no connection had yet been found. Sky smirked to himself, reveling in the irony of his situation. He had been denied entrance to the police’s official detective program on the grounds of being too young and inexperienced, and yet here he was, a freelance detective with a strong lead on one of the most wanted men in the city.

The sound of distant sirens pulled him from his thoughts. The police had no doubt heard the gunshots, or someone nearby had reported them, and were coming to investigate. If luck was on his side, they wouldn’t find the body for days.

A few blocks away, Sky entered a large, rather un-kept, apartment building. There was no doorman, as usual, the dimly lit lobby reflecting what light there was against the dented gold paint of metal elevator doors. He approached them, pressing the “Up” button mounted on the wall beside them. Once inside, he waited until the doors closed before selecting his desired floor: 137.

He lived at almost the mid-way point of the building. A few floors higher there was a second entrance, this one with a well-paid doorman, and the security increased drastically. Security wasn’t necessary below. Anyone who lived there was considered better off dead by the landlord.

The elevator started with a low rumble, the boxy frame shaking as it ascended the many floors. Needless to say, this was not the same elevator used by the tenants above floor 200. Sky expected that when this one fell into disrepair he would have to use the stairs. The landlord would never waste his money on hiring someone to fix it. He sighed as he imagined the one hundred and thirty-seven flights of stairs he would need to climb if such a thing were to happen.

There was the softest “ping” to alert the passenger that the elevator had arrived at its destination before the doors were jerked open. Sky stepped into the hallway, dragging his fingers along the wall as he took the short walk to his own apartment door. Pulling the keys from his pocket, he slipped the right one into the doorknob, turned it, and entered.

The apartment was surprisingly well kept. The furniture, though obviously second-hand, was well maintained, and the decorating seemed to have a white, Zen-like quality to it. Slipping off his jacket, Sky placed it over the back of his couch before unclipping the holster from his side, tossing it and the gun onto a nearby end-table. Sore after the hours of standing around and waiting for the crime lord, he collapsed into a chair, not even bothering to take off his shoes. He’d had a long night, and besides, he had a meeting in less than two days with the Gentleman, of all people. He’d need his rest.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby MeiaGisborn on Mon Aug 21, 2006 6:23 pm

Noble Tower was a spectacle to behold, the black onyx exterior a beacon against the gray concrete of its surroundings.

That Noble Tower part is a sentence on its own, either a period there or a semi-colon might be more appropriate, considering that the second part is a continuation of the first; a kind of further description.

Putting the match to the end of his cigarette, he waited for the tip to glow a hue similar to the flame’s before discarding it.

No need for the apostrophe on “flames.”

When they were almost at the door, Sky moved slowly away from the wall and into view through a gap in the fog, tossing the cigarette aside.

“moved away slowly” should be the word order.

That’s it really for me. You do well with descriptions, sentence structure and I love the style of writing. I also think I like the story already and where it may be going. Very nice, hope to see more. ^_^

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Zhelir Darkfall on Tue Aug 22, 2006 11:26 pm

If you'll allow me...

MeiaGisborn wrote:
Putting the match to the end of his cigarette, he waited for the tip to glow a hue similar to the flame’s before discarding it.

No need for the apostrophe on “flames.”

While there is no need, I believe (and correct me if I'm wrong, here, Treize, but I don't think I am) he was referring to the properties of a single flame, in which case an appostrophe is needed, as opposed to referring to the properties of multiple flames.
STAVE: Commala-come-ki,
There's a time to live and one to die.
With your back against the final wall
Ya gotta let the bullets fly.

RESPONSE: Commala-come-ki!
Let the bullets fly!
Don't 'ee mourn for me, my lads
When it comes my day to die.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby MeiaGisborn on Tue Aug 22, 2006 11:48 pm

Well if its a single flame, why not use "flame?" XD

Not quite sure I understand what you mean. I actually didn't catch that correction, WORD did. Which means in no circumstance should it be with an apostrophe or that in the context used, it shouldn't be "flame's." o.o; That's what I get from the correction anyway.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Treize Khushrenada on Tue Aug 29, 2006 5:52 pm

The next day began with very little event. He woke at roughly six o’clock, as he did every day, took a shower and dressed for work. Why he bothered to do so Sky didn’t really know. He had no real job, and thus no real schedule to follow. He supposed it gave him a sense of comfort to have some objective in front of him, even if that objective was ironing a shirt or jogging around the block.

Taking the stairs two at a time he descended onto ground level, spilling out into the chill morning air of an October Friday. His breath blew before him in small clouds of fog. The colder part of the season was fast approaching, he could tell. There was no one else on the street so early, though it did not look half as forbidding as it did at night. The word ‘abandoned’ could now be exchanged with ‘peaceful’ to describe it. Sticking his hands into the pockets of his tan trench coat, he took off down the sidewalk, heading toward the park.

Caulfield Park was one of the last remaining beauties on the lower levels of the city. For some reason, the rich had not cut funding to the care taking of this one location, and as a result it held the same splendor it had years ago when the aristocrats themselves picnicked or simply sat among the lush foliage and neatly mowed lawns.

Autumn had applied splashes of paint to the trees, a flaming red bursting through the crinkled brown of the leaves here, some orange-smeared yellow emerging from the woods there. Stiff, delicate examples of the dyed, dead foliage were strewn along the ground, kicking up into small clouds as Sky walked through them on his way down the path that cut through the park.

The benches were empty. Even the homeless respected this as a place of quiet beauty, and so refused to take up residence for the night on one of the hard, wood surfaces so as not to offend it. And then he saw it.

The cathedral rose from the midst of the trees, ancient and beckoning in its majesty. As Sky approached, his eyes were drawn to the stained glass rose window set high on the building’s façade. He had been here many times, and still he could not help but stand in awe at the sight of such a place existing in such a time.

Arriving at the large wooden door, he pushed slightly on its polished surface. There was a soft creak that seemed to echo throughout the hallowed expanse as it opened. Sky stepped inside and the door creaked closed behind him of its own volition.

It took only a few moments for his eyes to become accustomed to the dimly lit interior, but he knew his way well enough to make it to his destination blind. Candles stood on almost all surfaces and even from the walls did their holders protrude. To his right a set of stairs wound their way up into the choir’s balcony, which looked out both onto the entire church one way and through the large window the other. The pews, many in number, faced the front, an aisle allowing his passage through the very middle toward the altar.

Upon reaching it, pausing to make the sign of the cross at the sight of the crucifix, he took a left, heading to a large, wooden booth, the entrance covered by a heavy, velvet cloth. Pushing it aside, he entered. The inside was darker even than the church itself, with only a small bench along the back to sit on. He sat. There was a dull sliding sound of wood on wood as a panel was opened from the booth next to his.

“Forgive me, father, for I have sinned.” Sky closed his eyes as the words left his tongue.

“What is the nature of these sins, my son?” asked the tired voice of the priest from somewhere beside him.

“I’ve killed someone.” Saying it made the gravity of his deed the other night all the more apparent to him. There were a few moments of silence before the priest spoke again.

“Were you in danger yourself?”

“You could hardly call what I was in ‘danger’.” The words rang throughout their confinement, echoing back a few times. The priest sighed.

“What was in another time and place unacceptable can now be viewed as otherwise, my son. The city has built a new set of rules for mankind. We can only live by them or die, both of which are only in regard to God’s plan. I’m sure He would understand the conditions you are forced to live under.”

“And if he doesn’t?”

“He will. God understands all things.”

“How can you be so sure? Would a benevolent God have allowed a city like this to exist in the first place? How do you know?”

“With a great deal of faith and acceptance. God does not manipulate us like puppets on strings. We are allowed to make choices. Every day you and I and the city’s entire population make choices that affect the lives of everyone around us. Some make choices we know to be good. Some make choices purposefully that they know are the wrong ones. And some of us make choices we think to be good, but are, in fact, not. Of the first and third, are either more sinful? No, God respects our right to choose, and it is in this that we may find our beliefs in Him, and through this that we can ask for forgiveness.”

“I’m more worried about the third kind than anything else. A man acting out of spite can be appealed to because he knows there is a right way to go about things. But a man who thinks he is doing the right thing in the first place is less likely to be dissuaded from thinking so by someone he believes to be the enemy.”

“There are some people like that whom you can not change, my son. The sooner you realize this, the sooner your life can attain some sort of peace.”

Standing from his seat quickly, Sky pushed the curtain aside, preparing his exit. “I may not be able to change them all, father, but I can still sleep at night knowing there are a few I can.” Stepping from the booth, he made his way toward the door once again. There was that familiar creak as it opened and closed, and then Sky was gone.

Remaining as he was, the priest closed his eyes and smiled.

“And we’re on the air in five, four, three, two,” shouted the cameraman above the din of the last-minute scramble at the Channel 9 news station. “One!” The usual entrance montage and music would be playing across millions of TV’s around the city while the beautiful woman seated behind the news anchor’s desk straightened her papers, beaming at the camera. About ten seconds passed before she spoke, and when she did, it was with all the optimism of a highly skilled liar.

“Good morning, I’m Robyn McPhee,” she began, “And thank you for joining us this Friday morning on October 30th.” She paused, tossing her golden hair over her shoulder. “Tomorrow’s Halloween, and you know what that means. Parties are springing up all over the city, but a word of caution on what would normally be a carefree day. The terrorist activities in the past few months, though showing signs of relenting, have not been stopped entirely. The perpetrators have yet to be apprehended, and there is still the chance of a similar incident occurring, so keep your eyes out for anything suspicious, and don’t hesitate to report anything out of the ordinary.

“On another note, the renowned romance novelist, Reichen Falls, is releasing his fifth book, ‘The Rose Dance’, tomorrow. In a surprising move for the rather secretive author, he agreed to an exclusive interview with Channel 9 news, which will be found only here tomorrow evening at 6:30.”

Twenty-seven minutes later, Robyn was just rounding out the broadcast. “So have a safe and happy Halloween, and remember to tune into Channel 9 tomorrow for our exclusive interview with Reichen Falls. This is Robyn McPhee, wishing you a good afternoon.” She froze in that perpetual smile for an additional ten seconds as the cameras did a final sweep of the newsroom before standing, flicking her hair over her shoulder once more. She stretched before walking from behind the desk.

“John,” she called to a bookish, intern-looking man seated behind a row of monitors. “Have any idea what time my interview with Falls is at? And where?”

“Um… I can check,” he said, fingers flying across the keyboard in front of him as he searched for the desired information. “Okay, you’re scheduled to meet him around 10:30-11 at the Paradise Café.” Robyn sighed, taking a few steps to seat herself in one of the swivel chairs by a computer.

“So I have less than half an hour after my broadcast to get across the city just because some writer wants to live it up in the most expensive café in the city?” Rolling her eyes, she stood, making her way to wardrobe.

The train shot haphazardly across tracks suspended hundreds of feet above the city floor. The skyway had been created only twenty or so years before and already it had replaced the subway as the main way to travel. Only those who didn’t put much stock in their lives went below ground anymore.

Robyn sat in one of the hard plastic seats, one leg crossed over the other, her foot kicking impatiently within the stylish heels. Every so often she’d cast a glance down the length of the train car, taking note of the passengers. About five seats ahead there was a couple making what she believed to be obscene public shows of affection. The long time without anyone special in her life, she realized, was making her bitter. Still, she wondered how they could kiss so vigorously when the guy had four lip rings.

Averting her gaze from the unpleasant scene, she caught the eye of a man sitting in the seat across the aisle from her. He was very attractive, if she said so herself, his blue suit tight on his already lean form. His eyes and hair were of a similar soft brown hue, and there was a bulge on the left side of his suit jacket by his waist. It had to be a gun, which meant that the man had to be a cop of some sort.

He smiled at her and, suddenly, embarrassed that she had been caught, Robyn turned her gaze to the window and the passing blur of gray concrete. There was a whining screech as the train came abruptly to a halt. Caught off guard, she turned in the direction of the platform out the window on the man’s side and could make out the Paradise Café. Checking her watch, she saw that it was 10:45. She was just about on time.

Climbing from her seat, Robyn made her way down the aisle, making sure to keep her eyes away from the obscenely kissing couple. They remained in their seats, as she’d expected them to. The Paradise Café was expensive, after all. To her surprise, the handsome cop followed her out, though once on the platform went in an entirely different direction. She supposed this meant the police paid better than she’d originally thought.

Those heels of hers clicked along the polished marble of the outside reception area as she cut through a small crowd to the door. Entering, she was greeted by a small, balding man in a tuxedo that looked too big for him. “Hello, Madame,” he smiled. “Table for one?”

“No,” she said, taking a look around the beautiful interior of the building. Every inch of it was covered in polished wood, except for the walls which were painted a darker crème color. “Actually, I’m here to meet someone. A Mr. Reichen Falls?” The man smiled even more broadly.

“Ah, yes, Mr. Falls,” he breathed, stepping out from behind the front desk. “If you’d follow me please, I shall bring you to him. He is taking his lunch out on the private balcony.”

“Fancy,” she muttered under her breath, taking quick steps to follow the man, who was surprisingly agile. Quickly glancing at the people she passed, Robyn decided that she could never afford to come here on her own volition. These were the top of the socially elite the city had to offer. Covered in their furs and expensive designer clothing, they had the spare change to throw around and eat at places like this. Robyn wore designer labels as well, but only what the station bought for her. From what these people spent on their clothing alone she could pay off her apartment’s rent for an eternity.

She hoped Reichen Falls wouldn’t be one of the same stuffy old men she saw sitting around the inside. Come to think of it, she had never seen an actual picture of the man. The About the Author sections of all his books included only a vague description of him and a list of previous works, but no picture. Whether he was old or young, however, his books had caught on with the myriads of housewives and even elitists she saw sitting there now who wanted to live their lives’ fantasies through his cleverly constructed pages. There was something undeniably magnetic about the way he wrote.

Robyn had read one of his books while preparing the interview, and she had to admit that she could quite literally not put it down. It was compelling in the way no romance novel she had ever read had been.

The café’s greeter interrupted her thoughts as he stopped by a door near the rear of the restaurant, turning to her as he held the doorknob. “He is out here, Madame,” he said, opening it and letting in a burst of sunlight. Robyn had to close her eyes as she walked out, unprepared by the dim lights inside. She heard the door close behind her.

“Too bright?” she heard the deep voice of a man sounding slightly amused from somewhere before her. “Please, come closer. I’m sitting under an umbrella, so it’s considerably darker over here.” She obliged, tracking him by the sound of his voice as her eyes slowly adjusted to the light. Feeling for a chair, she sat. “Robyn McPhee?” he inquired politely. As she became more accustomed to the sun, she could vaguely make out the form of a man sitting across the small table.

“Yes, that’s me,” she said, smiling. “And I guess that would make you Reichen Falls.”

“Very right,” he smiled as well. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.“ Now Robyn could see the whole figure quite clearly. The first thing that drew her attention was the man’s face. He had a very youthful, clean-shaven appearance, probably somewhere in his mid-twenties, though his features were quite pale and his face long. While he was not poster-boy attractive in the way the cop on the train had been, Reichen did seem to have a strange handsomeness to him. His hair was jet-black and wavy, almost curly. It was kept as neatly as could be, which still inspired a sense of wildness from it.

But what struck her as the most strange were those eyes of his. They were slightly set back, sitting deeper than his brows and cheekbones, which caused a shadow to fall over them. The color was of a vivid violet and they seemed to look not into her but through her, as though nothing Robyn knew or thought could not be intercepted by them. There was a knowingness there, a knowingness that did not fall into presumptuousness. Robyn shivered slightly, though she did not know why.

He was dressed in a gray suit, well tailored to fit his thin build. The deep purple dress shirt highlighted his eyes. He wore no tie, the top two buttons of the shirt left undone. Reichen Falls sat there smiling serenely as Robyn took in his image.

“Satisfied?” he said at last after what must have been a full minute of silence.

“Oh, yes, sorry,” Robyn stuttered, embarrassed for the second time in one day. “The interview. Umm… hold on a moment…” She searched through her purse for her phone. The camera crew should have arrived at the same time she did, though they couldn’t have taken the skyway with all their equipment. They were to drive the cameras from the station on the streets below and bring them up by elevator, but their tardiness troubled her. As if in response to her concern, the door onto the balcony opened and out came two men, each carrying a crate of equipment. She waited impatiently as they set up, though Reichen seemed to be quite pleasantly watching the process, genuinely interested. Around them, the city buzzed about, trains rocketing across their tracks, the bridges that connected the buildings crowded with people. Neither the sun nor the chilled air seemed to bother them in the slightest as they went about their normal days, though Robyn couldn’t say the same for herself as she hugged her light suit jacket tighter around her. In a few minutes, the crew was ready.

Once the camera was rolling, she turned her eyes to Reichen once more, though it was not necessary to do so with her attention, since it had been on him since they met. She smiled boldly and began to speak. “I’m Robyn McPhee here with the famed novelist, Reichen Falls. To start, I’d like to ask how old you are, Mr. Falls.”

“Twenty-four,” he said, matter-of-factly, melodic tone ringing through the air like music. His hands rested neatly in his lap. For someone who had no available pictures, he seemed well-trained for the camera. “And please, call me Reichen.”

“Alright, Reichen,” she continued to smile. “So you’re only twenty-four years old and already you’ve written, what is it, five novels? And four of the five were on the Times’ Best Seller list, your new one included. Do you have any explanation for your success?”

“Does any writer, really?” he chuckled. “There’s a certain degree of talent and practice that goes into it, of that you can be sure. But much more of it comes straight from natural ability. You either have it or you don’t. I suppose I was just one of the lucky ones.”

“So modest, Reichen,” she laughed slightly with him. “But there must be something in your style, something you’re doing that none of your contemporaries are.”

“You bring up an excellent point, Ms. McPhee. There is something that separates me from my contemporaries. It’s the sole fact that I draw on those that have come before me. I use the wisdom of the greats: Dickens, Fitzgerald, Mishima, to help craft my writing.”

“That’s an odd group of ‘greats’, Reichen. Are you sure that you would class the likes of Dickens with a writer from only the latter part of the last century like Yukio Mishima?”

“Absolutely. Mishima writes with such utterly complex simplicity. I know it’s an oxymoron but that’s the only way to describe it. I have yet to see someone else with that attribute, and the readers of today have all but cast his writing aside on some small, out-of-date bookshelf. You people are all too eager to forget the past.”

There was something Robyn didn’t quite like about the way he said those words: ‘You people’. It chilled her to the bone. Hastily, she decided to change the subject.

“So, Reichen, are these stories in any way based on actual events in your life?” she asked. “You write about them with such vividness that we readers can’t help but believe you were there to witness them.”

“Ms. McPhee, every writer draws on personal experience to some extent in order to write. As for the specific events, I will neither affirm nor deny their actuality. I’m sure you understand why.”

“Of course. To protect the privacy of those involved, right?”

“Well, that’s part of it. But if I was to say that they actually happened to me, it would defeat the entire purpose of the book. Why do you think people read romance novels in the first place? They want to live their innermost desires through my words. To imagine someone else having already lived them would destroy the illusion.”

“Interesting point. So if you won’t answer that question, how about this one? Is there any lucky lady in the life of the city’s revered novelist?”

“I’m afraid to say there isn’t, at the moment,” he sighed. “Which is to say that I’m open for propositions.” Winking at her, Reichen pushed some of the dark curls from his forehead.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Robyn blushed. What was wrong with her? She never acted like this, and yet gazing into those violet eyes, she forgot where she was for a moment. Breaking from her trance, she shook off the feeling and resumed the interview. “Umm… Do you draw any inspiration from the city? Your stories have a wealth of landscapes, but some of them take place in urban areas.”

“Ah, the city,” he sighed deeply. “You can find anything, and I really do mean anything, somewhere in this city. Over the many miles that span it you’ll find a thousand tragic, comedic and even romantic scenes being acted out by the denizens, and in unison. The answer to your question, Ms. McPhee, should be obvious.”

“Well in that case-” Her words were cut short as a beeping played softly from the folds of Reichen’s jacket. Reaching inside, he drew from it a small, digital timepiece. Checking the hour, he looked back at her, those deep eyes apologetic.

“I’m terribly sorry, Ms. McPhee. It seems this interview has come to an end. I would, of course, love to stay and drag this on for hours, as it has been rather enjoyable, but I have another appointment in less than ten minutes, and I have to… prepare for it. I hope you got all you needed.”

“Yes, of course,” Robyn said, slightly startled at the abruptness with which the interview had concluded. “Thank you for your time, Mr. Falls- I mean Reichen.”

“Much obliged,” he said, pushing out his chair and standing suddenly. At this moment a woman walked from the far corner of the balcony. Whether she had been there the whole time or if she had just arrived Robyn could not tell, though she was quite sure she had at least glanced in that direction during the interview and seen no one. The woman was beautiful, but it was a more severe type of beauty, natural and not vain. She moved in a brisk fashion, never making a motion that did not need to be made, and yet flowing gracefully to Reichen’s side nonetheless.

He nodded to her and she went to the door, opening it for him. Turning to leave, Reichen looked back over his shoulder one last time, offering a smile to Robyn. “I certainly hope we’ll meet again. My people have a way to contact you?”

“Yes, and if you have trouble you can just call the station.”

“Wonderful. Until we meet again, in that case.” He entered the café, the woman following closely as she closed the door behind them. So that was Reichen Falls, Robyn thought. He had certainly confounded her expectations. There was something different about that man that she could not quite put her finger on; a coldness that penetrated the noon sun’s warmth and managed to make her feel at once uncomfortable and enthralled. It was a magnetism she could neither explain nor deny, and she was looking forward to feeling it again.

Shaking off the mood of stunned complacence he had put her in, she turned to her crew, the dominance within her resurfacing. “Where were you with that camera? When I ask for you to be here at 10:30, I don’t expect you to show up at 11:15.”

“Sorry, Ms. McPhee,” the cameraman muttered sheepishly. That was how she liked it: in control again.

“Don’t let it happen in the future. You made me miss out on fifteen minutes of prime interview time, and another slip up like that might just wind you up on the streets. Or worse, it could be the end of my career.” He nodded. “Now pack up the equipment. We’ve got to get back to put this thing together.”

Turning to look over the railing, she shuddered, the last few layers of atmospheric ice thrown from her shoulders. Peering into the colossal array of mile high concrete, Robyn could not help but wonder what Reichen’s other engagement had been.

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Treize Khushrenada
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