Lady of the Blood

Below is a short piece of fiction I wrote five years ago. It is essentially a character test scene to see if I liked the character I had designed and if could write her. Unfortunately I was never happy with the world/plot I wanted to insert her into, so she exists in this scene, and a handful of notes including an astrological chart I worked out for her…because magick geek. As this is a test scene I was a bit heavy in some of the image/descriptions, just trying to see if they could fit the character and scene. The only setting context needed is that is is London at the end of the 1800s or early 1900s. I thought I would share what I have of her though.

Lady of the Blood

The crystal silence shatters with a gentle knock on the mahogany door. “Mrs. Aima?” comes an even gentler voice from outside the study. Turning slightly in the oxblood leather chair before the fireplace to face the door, a voice just as strong as the call was weak answers “You may enter Esther.”

Dim light from the hall’s gas lamps flows into the study as if to battle with the ruddy glow of the fire. A scent of coffee and gravy follow Esther through the door, whatever her reason this visit is interrupting the dinner preparations. Her thin form is accented by her uniform; the white apron tied about her waist clearly demarks her narrow form against the black dress of her station. Though young and thin Esther is not what many men would consider beautiful, she is pretty but much in the way of a wilting lily. This is one of the reasons that Miriam keeps her as a servant, she is pretty enough to serve as a symbol of wealth but not beautiful enough to rival her mistress.

Miriam places a long slender finger in her book to mark her passage, her nail on the line “Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained.” Her dark green eyes flow up and lock on Esther, the flickering fire casting dark shadows across her face making her look starved. “Mrs. Aima, sorry to interrupt, but Mr. Weston has arrived, and was asking if he might be able to come speak with you.”

A deep thoughtful breath pushes Miriam’s chest up against the pleating of her black dress. “I was not expecting him to call again so soon.” She places the Marriage of Heaven and Hell beside her, the page forgotten as her hands tug the top of her dress back into order and smoothing down the wrinkles on top of her thighs. “Very well, I shall receive him here in my study if you would please bring him in.” Esther mutters an affirmative and leaves. Miriam barely hears this, her eyes fixing themselves on the flames. The room had grown chill and she had not even noticed. Her delicate arms stretch toward the fireplace, the ruby ring on her left hand catches the light and flames seem to begin to smoulder in the gem. Miriam takes another deep breath, focusing on warming her hands, as a gentle gust down the flue causes the fire to spark and flare up. Her eyes watch the imprisoned flames within her ring, a captive salamander upon her finger.

Another knock breaks her reverie, with just a moment’s pause Esther’s pale hand is seen pushing the large door open. “Mrs. Aima, Mr. Weston for you.” A serpent uncoiling Miriam stands up with an obscene grace, any effort of her body hidden beneath flowing black, her back to the fireplace casting a faint shadow against maid and guest. Mr. Weston looks much as he did before, a suit the grey of a factory wall, a nose too big for a face too thin on a man too short. An awkward sparrow, Miriam thought to herself. Despite his appearance though Mr. Weston was a man to be desired, his role at the bank made him a successful man and more importantly his relative youth compared to his superiors only meant his role would become more important in time.

“Mrs. Aima, a pleasure as always,” Mr. Weston crosses the room with an uncharacteristic boldness. Miriam lifts her hand to her oncoming guest, who places a gentle kiss beside her ring.

“Mr. Weston how good to see you, I wasn’t expecting you so soon.” Her arm reaches toward the leather chairs. “Please take a seat. Would you like some tea? My husband sends me but the finest.”

“Thank you no Ma’am, I do not wish to take too much of your time.” He settles down across from the fireplace as Miriam waves Esther from the room. She notes his lack of decorum and returns to rest in her chair. “I do not know if it is proper to come and see you, you must understand I’m not used to such a –relationship.” As if his mind stumbled upon a great terror the boldness drains from him as does his colour, wringing his hands he looks up with a smile. “Regardless Mrs. Aima I felt I should come and thank you for your services.”

A smile spreads across her garnet lips. “Dear Mr. Weston, it warms my heart to hear it, but you’ve no need to thank me. I have been compensated already, and thanked once before.” Understanding his visit better Miriam sinks into the back of her chair, relaxed and through her knowledge back in control, not that she ever felt without control. Two weeks had passed since their last meeting at that time Mr. Weston had been full of thanks and compliments and paid in full, such a return visit was not unheard of but served little purpose for her business.

Mr. Weston lets his attention be consumed in the fires, speaking from a happy nervous dream space. “I know, I wasn’t sure if it was proper or not, but I was –just so completely happy with how events turned out. I never thought Elisabeth would notice me, let alone love me.” His pale grey eyes break from the fire again filled with nerves “Not to say that I doubted your talents, I’m just so thankful.”

Neither new information nor work would come from this love-struck man today. Miriam stands in a single movement, silent and fluid, and bends to rest a hand atop her guest’s. “No, I understand. I am glad to know you are doing so well, and that my gifts have been appreciated.” Her green eyes lock on his, flowing into him like a gentle stream. “Now though, you said you were in a hurry, and I do thank you for visiting me but I do not wish to hold you up. Please come see me again when you have need of my services.”

Mr. Weston chills as he looks into her eyes. The green of a twilight forest reflecting flames as though on fire themselves, set perfectly on Mrs. Aima round face framed by hair of straight deep red. Lost in her gaze he sees not the birthmark on her forehead, just off to the side, the only imperfection of her beauty. “I am in a rush,” he nods and stands. “Thank you Mrs. Aima, I shall see myself out.” He turns and leaves the study.

Miriam faces the fireplace, her eyes upon the mantel. A single ornament rests on the mahogany shelf, a golden chalice, simple and unadorned yet elegant and beautiful. She runs her fingers against the sloping curve of the golden form, a cacophony of echoing whispers fill her mind. Mistress what do you bid? Mistress may we help? Mistress are you in need? Mistress how shall we serve? Drifting back into her seat she picks up The Marriage of Heaven and Hell once more, having lost her place she opens to her favourite section and begins to reread The Parables of Hell.

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