After Vendrick

I feel as if I’ve been branded.

Yes, intellectually I know he wanted to die — was doing everything but begging for it.

But… it is the first time I’ve intentionally… slaughtered anyone. And it was a slaughter.

I know that bridge. I knew the axe was there, it’s always been there, the Raggedies are very careful about that. After Vendrick disarmed me, I ran for that bridge, that axe. I grabbed it and swung with all my strength. His head parted from his body in a spray of blood that was too vividly, nightmarishly red, even in the moonish light.

And now I am a Bringer of Death.

It is not an “accomplishment” that rests easily on my soul. It seems, in fact, like yet one more thing to manage, here — like the wounds, the nightmares, the scandal —

–like the incremental, day-to-day loss of one’s soul…



  1. August 31, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Sometimes death is a kindness to those who have lost all reason for living.

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      August 31, 2010 at 3:39 pm

      You know… I do believe that. I even experienced it once before, when my son died… I must learn to think of it that way. And, as Henrik said — if I hadn’t… he certainly would have killed me without a qualm…

      It’s just the shock of it… but it’s already passing, I think.

      • August 31, 2010 at 4:07 pm

        It isn’t an easy thing, and there’s always a shock.

        Mr Inch has commissioned me to help him with his menagerie, so there are things to do beyond the society that Feducci seems disinterested in. With the way the others (including Mr Inch) strangely avoid their deaths, I truly hope this is the only one you will have to deal out.

        • Merri said,

          August 31, 2010 at 4:15 pm

          I am contemplating just quitting. Our dear Commodore raises a concern I can’t simply brush aside, but I am not sure I can continue to do this and live with myself.

  2. Henrik Paulsen said,

    August 31, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    If you can, you must leave the Society at once. No good can come of continuing with them.

  3. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 31, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    I confess I am thinking much the same, my darling. Even if Feducci’s people can bring back my son… what would be the ultimate price?

  4. Henrik Paulsen said,

    August 31, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    You’d mentioned that look of … hunger? … when he gave you your purse. We were speculating idly on why Feducci maintained the society, and someone had mentioned that the deaths sustained him — if he were to bring back your son, by such ghastly means —

  5. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 31, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    If the deaths sustain him, why did he look hungry rather than sated?

    I’ve certainly just bloodily slaughtered Vendrick, haven’t I? If he’s sustained by death, I just gave him one.

  6. Scarlet O said,

    August 31, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Scarlet is already at the townhome, awaiting Merri in her private room. A tray of instruments sits quietly near the divan, along with cloth, bandages, laudanum, brandy, needle and thread. Scarlet is admiring the flowers, her face buried in them.

  7. August 31, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Don’t confuse your soul with your humanity or your ability to go on living with yourself. The three are distinctly separate and not mutually exclusive.

    We knew old cap’n Vendrick from way back in our zailor days, not well mind you, but well enough to know there wasn’t much left for you to kill. He died may years ago when his love of the zee and his passion for violence turned to ash in his mouth. Hollow shell of a man like that was a sad sight.

    If you can best Fedduci himself in combat and he may let you quit more gracefully than the last lady who attempted to leave his dueling society. Watch your back, dear friend.

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      August 31, 2010 at 2:36 pm

      I… shall try. Don’t go, dear Commodore. Your words… help. I hear the wisdom in them… I can’t fight back the horror on my own.

      • August 31, 2010 at 4:25 pm

        The folk down in the neath do better when they fight that horror together. Trust and loyalty can often transcend the confines of good and evil in a desperate place like this. Only the lone-wolf types like Vendrik go truly jaded and numb.

        Rest and recover while your friends take up the fight for a bit -You’ll be back hammering at your destiny in no time, we’re certain.

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          August 31, 2010 at 7:41 pm

          *takes his hand in gratitude* If anyone ever wondered what I see in you, they should wonder no more if they could hear you now. Thank you, my dear, dear friend.

  8. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 31, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Merri scans the tray as she enters, but shakes her head. Her face is as white as a sheet from shock, the grey of her eyes much too glassy to look entirely human.

    She tries to smile, for Scarlet. Tries, and fails.

    “It’s just a scratch, dearest. If you would clean and wrap it for me, a dose of Madame Gebrandt’s tincture will suffice.”

  9. Scarlet O said,

    August 31, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    “Oh. I had thought he had stabbed you more seriously. That is a relief.” And it is visible that the tension around Scarlet’s eyes lessens, though her voice is calm and straightforward. She gestures to Merri to have a seat, and pours a finger of brandy for her, nevertheless.

    “Are the others coming up?” She puts away the laudanum, seeing that Merri is shocked but not such that she is living the nightmare of her experience. Instead she replaces it with the tincture.

  10. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 31, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    “I don’t know… no, I don’t think so. That wouldn’t be… proper, would it…”

    The words are whispered. There is no force behind them. “They’re in the parlour, dearest. We must go down to them.”

  11. Scarlet O said,

    August 31, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    “The lets.” She balances the tray in hand, and places a warm arm around Merri – leading her towards the door, to the parlour downstairs. “Their perspective may soothe your mind while I clean you up.”

    They arrive in the parlour with the others, and gesture to Merri to be seated.

    • Scarlet O said,

      August 31, 2010 at 2:50 pm

      [Then lets.]

  12. Scarlet O said,

    August 31, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Scarlet washes off Merri’s hand, following it with a healthy rubbing of the tincture. Her eyes cast upwards at Merri as she does so, watching her pale expression quietly, concerned.

    “If you wish to speak of it, please do. But I can understand if you do not, if the memory is too fresh.”

    She listens to what the others have to say before turning to Merri, wrapping her hand with bandages. “Do you intend to continue in the society?”

    • Merri said,

      August 31, 2010 at 4:20 pm

      I. .. don’t know, Scarlet. There are consequences if I quit, and if I do not. I must consider carefully, and with a cooler head than I currently possess.

      • Scarlet O said,

        August 31, 2010 at 4:29 pm

        Finishing the bandage, she moves to sit next to Merri, smoothing back the wisps of hair that have escaped. Her arm snakes around the woman’s shoulders, inviting her to lay her head in Scarlet’s lap if she should wish.

        • cl0ckw0rks said,

          August 31, 2010 at 7:45 pm

          Merri smiles and takes her hand with her uninjured one, squeezing it gently and kissing it once in gratitude. She is in shock still, but not in any danger of breaking down completely.

  13. September 10, 2010 at 10:34 am

    […] of this did not occur to me until, after the semi-disastrous end of my other relationship (and after the fatal duel with Vendrick, when I felt as if I wore a brand upon my forehead, declaiming what I’d done) I returned to […]

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