23. The Castaway

After days of blank mourning, a purpose comes to Inglorion in the night. He will visit a nearby shrine, El Tiradito. The name means “The Castaway,” and the memorial is dedicated to sinners and outcasts, souls too degraded and impure to be buried in hallowed ground. Tereus was a non-believer, criminal and occasional drunk; Inglorion […]

22. The Oldest Scars

Inglorion sits there, watching his son’s face. He feels weak from hunger, but choked with nausea. He’s sticky with sweat and dirt, but too tired to walk back and take a shower. His eyes burn with tears, but he cannot cry. Lucius’s face is sweet in repose. If they were gray elves, no one would […]

16. A Bit Well to Live

They both take a sip. Inglorion doesn’t know what to expect, so he’s surprised at the subtle layering of flavor: Salted lemon, tart mango, the wild honey and its comb, piercingly sweet. Then there’s the wine itself, which is dark, smoky, redolent of licorice and cherries. “That’s very good,” he says cautiously. They sit there […]

14. Delighted with His Useless Gift

Lucius trots off, probably figuring its not the stupidest thing he’s been asked to do that evening. Inglorion perches on a nearby retaining wall. It’s a pleasant evening, and in a very few minutes he hears Lucius’s happy chatter, and Brutus’s soft replies. They come into view. Brutus is pulling a small, hand-drawn wagon. Inglorion […]

12. Thirty Feet of Drop

Inglorion frowns, peers around the side of the building at his projected route. Now that he’s looking at the particulars, he realizes it won’t be a walk in the park. The fall from the first-floor ledge, which he’ll free-climb, is 10 feet. If he should happen to slip while rigging the drainpipe, he could fall […]

11. Inglorion’s Hare-Brained Scheme

As soon as he gets home, Inglorion calls out to his son, “Lucius, I need your help with something.” “Oui, mon pére?” Lucius looks up. He’s fiddling with a handful of feathers, fashioning them into some kind of head ornament. “I’m going to steal the iron owl off the façade of the Owl’s Club building. […]

9. Another Chapter in Rake’s Progress

Brutus seems unmoved by the adventure. As they reach his front gate, Brutus eyes Inglorion and says, “You’re still full of frisk, aren’t you?” “Yeah. The walk home will do me good. I doubt I’ll eat or sleep tonight.” “Come in for awhile. I’ll tend to that cut.” Inglorion opens his mouth to argue, and […]

7. The Knowledge Grows Slowly Within

It’s full night when Inglorion walks back. It’s a sweet, cloudless evening. Brick and stone have begun to cool; the moon is waning. Inglorion can see again: The hesitant, frozen forms of rabbits crouching in the weeds; a handful of bats, flying irregular trajectories. A stray cat drops and rolls in the dirt, and eyes […]

6. What You Fear Is True

“How long have you been in this land?” Brutus asks casually, as if he’s making conversation. He’s studying Inglorion’s face intently. “Not long. A few weeks.” “How did you come here?” Inglorion’s gaze flickers over to the older man’s face. It’s impassive. Now that the dark is falling, Inglorion’s eyes are shifting to dark vision, […]

5. “To the Pure, All Things Are Pure”

The following morning, a package appears on the front porch. It’s wrapped in brown paper, secured with twine, and addressed to Inglorion in a bold, slanted hand. He opens it with trembling hands to find the first volume of Sir Richard Burton’s Thousand Nights and One Night. The paper and binding are stiff and fragile with age. […]