So sometimes a character will demand more screen time. Theiner (Moc Mien) from Amra #3 and #4 has been making it known to my subconscious that he has some things he wants to do in front of you folks. They are bad things.
This is a little exploratory writing I did for him, just a snippet. It might end up as a short story, or as a complete novel. (I'm still hard at work on Amra #5, don't worry!)
Early morning. Spring. Bellarius, the City on the Mount. Theiner - Moc Mien, - walked up dew-slick Standard Street alone, and without even a belt knife. He was in the second third of the Girdle, rarified environs just below Gentry territory. He was deep in enemy territory. Biter’s territory.
He’d sent a request for parley first, but hadn’t bothered to wait for a reply. With Biter, it was even odds that a reply would never come. The old man had been at the top of the shitheap for a long time, and had gotten arrogant with it.
Theiner felt eyes on him as he approached the barber’s. The wooden sign, with its spray of white hearts, swung gently in the morning breeze; the leaded glass windows reflected the brightening sky. The door was closed, but unlocked. No need to lock a door that was guarded day and night.
Theiner stepped inside.
“Fucking closed,” said the fat bastard stationed inside. He was wearing a barber’s apron. He was playing solitaire. He didn’t bother looking up. “Piss off.”
“I’m not here for a shave,” Theiner replied.
The ‘barber’ looked up, and his heavy face settled into a scowl. He was middle-aged; too old to have been a street rat. Biter was still prejudiced that way, even years after the Purge.
“If you don’t piss off right now, you’re gonna feel a razor regardless.” Two other men sauntered in from a back room. They weren’t kitted out as barbers; one had a short sword, and another had a crossbow. Neither was holding his weapon with respect.
“I’m here to see Biter,” Theiner informed them. “I know the old fart gets up before dawn, so don’t bother telling me he’s snoring.”
The fat barber stood up, letting the cards in his ham-hands scatter to the floor. He was a head taller than Theiner. He pulled out a straight razor and a nasty smile.
“Last chance to fuck off, shit-brain.”
“You’re the one called Keen, then. I heard you like cut bits off and save them.”
“You heard fucking right.”
“Here’s what’s gonna happen, Keen: I’m gonna take your razor away from you, and if your two dumbfuck friends there try to do anything about it, I’m gonna start taking bits off of you.”
Keen snorted and pointed the razor at Theiner’s face. “If-”
Theiner exploded into motion. He grabbed Keen’s forearm at wrist and elbow, then brought it down with brutal force on his ascending knee. The man was just too big to try for a wrist blow alone, so he got a broken arm instead. There was the sick, green-branch snapping sound, and Keen let out a short bark of pain. The straight razor fell from his hand.
Theiner scooped it from the floor and sent a kick to the side of Keen’s knee - another broken branch, a louder scream. It brought the big man down to his knees. He would have gone further, but Theiner spun behind him and grabbed him by the hair with one hand. The other, now holding the straight razor, he put against the man’s double chin. He gave a cold stare to the two toughs who were only then starting to react.
“Drop that fucking crossbow and tell Biter that Moc Mien’s here to see him.”
~ ~ ~
Five minutes later, Theiner had climbed the stairs and been admitted to Biter’s receiving room. It was filled with the sort of tacky shit that someone with more money than taste put on display – a life-size marble statue of Isin with improbably large breasts, a gilded Borian standing clock that nobody had bothered to wind, or dust, in ages. Other pricey rubbish. The floor was covered by a vast Elamner carpet that had probably taken a dozen women a dozen years to complete. It was stained beyond repair. The room smelled like old people and ignorance.
Eventually Biter was wheeled in by a woman wearing a smock and a face that said she was dead inside. Biter’s age-spotted face said he should already be dead. The woman parked Biter’s wheeled chair before the fireplace and made herself scarce.
“Biter. Don’t get up.”
“You still don’t look like a Chagan to me.”
“And you’re looking fairly toothless, old man, despite your name. But I didn’t come up here to trade insults.”
“What did you come here for, then? To lick my shithole? I’ll get myself turned around for that. It’ll take me a minute, though.”
Theiner smiled. It didn’t come anywhere near his eyes.
“I’m taking the Scepter, starting today. When the doors open, your muscle will not be inside.”
The old man hawked up phlegm and spat it onto the Elamner carpet, right at Theiner’s feet. The distance and accuracy were impressive, and explained the state of the carpet. “You can take that over, you little turd.”
Theiner scratched idly at the back of his head. “I came to tell you face-to-face, as a courtesy. And to make sure there was no misunderstanding.”
The old man leaned forward in his chair. “If one of your crew so much as sets foot on Bag Street, it’s war, you overgrown street rat. And at the end of it, I’ll sink the pieces of you into the marsh my damned self.”
“Yeah,” Theiner replied. “About the marsh.”
The silence started to stretch. Biter was the first to fill it.
“Being as I’m the fucking Biter, I guess I’ll bite. What about the fucking marsh?”
Theiner smiled again, and this time it reached his pale blue eyes, if barely. “I’ll let you find out on your own, Gummer. But you’d best do it before the Scepter’s doors open. That way you can make an informed decision.”