What Moonlight Sees
Moonlight slipped off the waves of the Rhone River and through the town of Lyon like a snake wending its way across a shallow stream. The moon wasn’t full, but it gave off enough light to cause ripples of silver around the darkened homes and shops. The light ran hurriedly through the ruins near the abbey that were older than anything remembered by the town. It slid though the blacksmith’s overhang, spinning around the anvil and dark iron tools, avoiding the soft glow of the still molten forge. The white of the weaver’s storefront glowed palely. The windows were shut tight, inky rectangles that mimicked the sky. Above, the weaver and her husband slept soundly. Light played across the face of the strange store with herbs and skins hanging outside to dry. It did not linger there for very long.
The shimmer of moonlight avoided the windows of the inns and taverns. It was not needed there. A yellow glow, inviting and intoxicating, spilled forth bringing with it sounds of laughing and brawling, song and argument. The silver rays streaked around the corner fleeing the firelight that followed a bard’s voice over the sill. For an instant, it illuminated a figure that ducked around the corner after it.
She was short and light of frame. One might have taken her for a child, an urchin, if not for the mature proportions of her body. She moved quickly away from the sounds of the inn, making no noise of her own. The silhouette, for that’s all that she seemed to be, crept from one dark spot to another. She paused at a quiet growl from alley across the lane. Monstrosities walked the earth that not even the moonlight might touch, though they were rarely seen in a populated towns. The shadowy form tensed, waiting to see. Dark monstrosity or not, this could be trouble. A dog, thinner than a moonbeam, loped into the street from the alley. The mongrel’s claws clicked on the hardened ground. The dark figure tensed minutely, as if trying to withhold her very scent from the mangy canine. After the dog was well past, the silhouette dashed across the lane and into the alley. Her footsteps barely made a sound.
From the muffling darkness of the alley, the scrapping noise could have been the wind, a dog, the very moonlight itself. After a moment or two of diligent work, her right arm stretched out against the filthy wall, reaching as high as it could. Thin, gloved fingers searched the grime-caked cracks, searching. With more scraping, the tool in her hand dislodged a sliver of brick. She put the tool away in pouch at her waist and boosted herself off the ground. Her left hand caught the inch-wide ledge near a window and the toe of one boot caught easily in the hastily hewn foothold.
The figure paused again, poised on the side of the building. The moonlight shifted by and found the face of the burglar for an instant. All that might have been revealed to anyone watching closely in the dark alley was the smooth face of youth. Pale and clean; a very odd thing for a thief in Lyon.
In a smooth movement, the thief gathered a tool tucked securely at her waist. The flat hook of metal was blackened, and light avoided it. With a quick flick, the metal was between the shutters and out again. The clank of the latch was monstrously loud in the thief’s ears. But she did not hesitate. Now was not the time to be caught. The hook slid in again and with a quick twist, it caught on the inside of the shutter and swung it open with blissful silence. Summoning strength, the dark figure swung over the window ledge. Before any moonlight could catch the thief, she was gone from the half open window.
After writing Lucinda at the Window, Eric and I took a crack at adapting the exploits of a couple C&S characters. That became the two sprawling fantasy novels. Some characters survived to become part of Weordan in Divine Fire. This is the prologue-ish introduction of one of those characters from the original work. I wrote it sometime in early 2001. Earlier this week someone on Twitter asked about reading old works; whether it’s delightful or painful. For me, it’s both and maybe leaning to the latter. Sometimes things surprise me and I smile because I forgot I wrote something that good. Other times I wince and say, "What the fuck was I thinking?" and hope there aren’t sentences that bad in my more current work in progress. (Sadly, there probably are.) But it’s kind of fun to go back and touch up something old, make it a little shinier.
I considered not posting anything for #FridayFlash. This week has been kind of screwy. I’ve been tired and inanimate and haven’t had an original thought. Maybe I’m suffering from some low-grade crud, maybe it’s the doldrums of summer. Maybe I just suck. Doesn’t matter. I am happy that today will have less sunshine than yesterday.