Title: The Garden
Author: by Camile Sinensis (Teapot) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Characters: Astarth and the Kanenes of Fallsend
Spoilers: Cal’s profession before he got to be Tigron (oh noes!)
Disclaimers: Disclaim! Disclaim! Fanfic for external use only. Do not boil or overheat. Dispose of carefully.
Summary: What, I’ve been typing my little fingers off all day trying to get it finished on time, and you want a summary too? Er… Fallsend… kanenes… Astarth… stuff happens… rocks fall, everybody dies. (I lied about the last bit)
One day Jafit simply disappeared and was never seen or heard of again. Astarth assumed he was dead, and none of the other residents of Piristil saw fit to disagree with him, for there were many ways a har could perish in Fallsend — a knife between the ribs in a crowded tavern, a wire pulled tight around the throat in a dark alleyway, a deadly substance slipped into a drink, an unexpected nudge from behind in a high place, a length of lead pipe to the head, a pillow over the face, a twist of the neck, a gunshot, a spell, a curse — and for each of these methods and more there was undoubtedly a har in Fallsend who would have been more than pleased to employ it on Jafit. Or perhaps the Gelaming finally caught up with him.
Even those hara who did not consider themselves to be his enemy did not count themselves his friend. Astarth lit no candles and performed no mourning rituals for Jafit, he simply moved into his former employer’s office and reflected upon his own good luck in inheriting the position as overseer of Piristil.
For a certain interpretation of luck. Nohar in Fallsend could consider himself to have been smiled upon by the Dehara of Fortune, or he would not have been in Fallsend in the first place, and yet Astarth knew that unpleasant as his existence was, it was still a step up from the wretchedness of the kanenes who earned their living within Piristil’s walls. If they resented his sudden and unexpected promotion, they said nothing. For them, it was simply business as usual.
After he had sold Jafit’s personal possessions and used most of the money to placate various disgruntled creditors, Astarth found that he had a small surplus, and he decided to use this windfall to buy something to decorate his own room at Piristil. The house was furnished in what was supposed to be a style evocative of luxury and hedonism, although due to the general standard of living prevalent in Fallsend, and the less-than-lucrative nature of the business run from within, this attempt at opulence left something to be desired. The carpets were worn, the curtains faded, and the silken tassels adorning cushions and pelmets had long since lost their lustrous sheen and vibrant colours.
Astarth himself eschewed these gaudy touches; his own room was a haven of austerity and simplicity, with a simple linen bedspread, once white but now yellowed from age, a straight-backed chair and a dressing-table with the few grooming implements he owned arranged neatly on one side. It was not attractive, welcoming or seductive. It did not need to be. Astarth was not required to bring anyhar here for intimacies, either paid or otherwise, and he did not.
Nevertheless, as befitted his new position of owner of Piristil, he decided to add something in the way of a personal touch to his space. There was a shop in Fallsend which sold second-hand bric-a-brac; ornaments and objects d’art, tall candlesticks and silver-framed mirrors; coloured glass perfume bottles with faceted stoppers reflecting the light, and banded crystals with healing properties. At the very back of the shop there was a painting. Not a crude work, as was commonly found in these parts, but something which spoke of an artist with some skill and affinity for his subject. It depicted a white palace on a hill, whose soft, water-colour spires seemed to merge with the hazy, cloudless sky. Up close, it was an abstract smudge of pigments — whites and greys and ochres and blues. It was only when viewed from a distance that the outline of the palace appeared and took shape.