Category Archives: Louchébem

Materiality: Precious

The third issue of Materiality: PRECIOUS is available now from the Pinknantucket Press!

Along with many other good things, it includes my story “The Faithful Alchemist”, set in the fabled and impeccably pretentious city of Louchébem.

In honour of the occasion, I’ve added an index to those fragments of the Louchébem corpus which have already appeared in these pages.

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Louchébem by Twilight

And so came his last visit to the storied city. Weary from a hundred battles, he traded his sword for an instructor’s baton, or used his contacts in the eastern provinces to set up as an importer in the Trade Quarter. Perhaps he found religion and tended in the orphans’ garden as a penitent: he employed his skill at fortifications in repair crews for the turrets of the New Wall, or turned his keen eyes to the stars. He became a tavern braggart, trading stories for pitchers of ale, or, perhaps, merely a beggar, without even a veteran’s freedom to pitch camp by Soldier’s Gate, since he had always been a mercenary.

Were he lucky, he might have risen to a sufficient rank to be able to court and marry she of the chrysoprase eyes, and they would have been happy enough. She would even have excused his habit, in later years, of talking to an empty room, as one might talk to a pet or a recalcitrant child.

He drank mulled wine by the hearth, ate coddled eggs with roe, and warmed himself, looking up at his sword on the mantel. Like so many other old warriors, he dreamt in readiness for his final farewell to Louchébem.

FIN

Louchébem Dawns

The dawn of the penitent, who rose at the Hour of the Cat, three hours earlier, and who will greet the sunrise as a farmhand welcomes sundown.

The dawn of the bravo, staggering, half sober, uncertain, wondering where the wounds on his left hand were made, touching the hilt of his weapon for reassurance.

The dawn of the hawker, turning his wares to hide the bruises, practicing his ritual call like a musician warming up.

The dawn of the itinerant warrior, cold, flea-bitten in a hayloft, his thoughts turning to who might give him food or lodging for a simple job done, a light quest, a threatening visit to a debtor, an assassination.

The dawn of a lady, which starts at the Hour of the Lamb, when the outer pavilion of the chateau is rolled up and the sunlight gleams fitfully into her chamber, where there is coffee.

The Rains of Louchébem

The Streamers, light rains from high clouds, which evaporate in the air before they reach all but the tallest hills.

The Summer Rains, which offer no relief from the heat, soaking the city for ten or more days: when they end, the air has a stunned, sparkling clarity and the roads are a fine froth of mud, ordure and food scraps.

The Dirge, an imperceptible night rain blown almost horizontal by the autumn winds, which brings evil dreams to all those who sleep against the eastern walls of a dwelling.

Return to Louchébem 2

The last rays of the evening sun reflected in the windows of the tower overlooking the loggia. He watched her chrysoprase eyes as they watched the distant mountains, which in turn watched over the broad lowlands which lay, blind, in shadow.

“The Blind Lowlands”. It was a song he had heard in youth, and only now did he seem to understand its import. Like so many other things in this life, he thought.

“I never thought to see you again.” She did not meet his gaze. “No, wait, that’s not right.” He took her bejeweled hand, which did not resist. “I thought never to see you again.”

You so want to do it with her.

“What is the matter with you?”

She withdrew her hand. “I’ve offended you. Please, forgive me. I did not seek to hurt you.”

“No: it is I that should beg your forgiveness, my Lady. I have travelled long, and I am weary. And my speech is sometimes affected by sorcery.”

“Sorcery?”

Always with the sorcery.

“Aye, my Lady. A demon sometimes affects my speech—”

A demon with one eye and two balls.

Disasters of Louchébem

The Fires which were caused by, and which ended, the Social War

The Winter Plague

The Locust-birds

The Miasma of the Great Comet

The Batdogs

The Missionaries

The Collapse of the Old Keep

The End-Times

Dainties of Louchébem

Here we have river crabs, barely steamed in the vapour of boiling wine, dressed with bulrushes.

Or, perhaps, sir would rather tree-fungus, a most fashionable dish in the New City. Pounded with mace and certain other spices– No?

Ah, yes, a most discerning choice, sir. The “Jane and Her Brothers”, a whole bird, roasted with the preserved eggs of the same brood. This is the time of year at which the eggs are at their most piquant.