Brief excerpt from
A Sea of Glass
Paris, October in the Year of Our Lord 1399
“Was that d’Argnac’s bird?” asked a small, impatient man. He hunched over an ornate and inlaid writing desk lit by seven wax tapers whose warm glow did not extend to the rest of the room. A long, carefully tailored scarlet robe enveloped him and covered all but the tips of his pointed and bejeweled shoes. A simple skull cap, meticulously crafted, rested uncomfortably on his now balding pate and did little to offset the autumn chill that had settled in the room.
The desk and its chair rested on a small dais that kept the writer’s feet well above the cold marble floor. The desk itself was crowded with papers, quills, inkwells, a wax pot heated with a single small oil flame, all of which testified to the volume and importance of his correspondence. A careful stack of letters recently written and sealed with a large signet ring pressed into hot red wax was poised to the right, a pile of unopened and still sealed notes assumed its place on the left, the paper glowing pale yellow in the flickering candlelight. In the center, a missive half written laid below a gnarled hand clutching the finest of goose quill pens that quivered with anticipation, or perhaps annoyance, over the late evening interruption.
Two low, uncomfortable looking wood chairs were carefully positioned in front of the small dais as if expecting guests even at this late evening hour. Anyone sitting there would have to straighten their back and crane their neck to see the face of the man behind the desk.
He looked up from his pool of light and was reminded again of the poor, tired fire smoldering in the hearth, pine logs hissing and popping but providing little heat, and the tattered tapestries of Biblical scenes hung around the room that did little to keep the damp and cold of the stone walls at bay. A proper house, a proper income, he thought angrily, and we won’t have to live like down and out merchants. He vowed once again that the de Cramauds would never return to the obscurity he had endured as a child, that his brother and sister-in-law would carry on the family name proudly.
His sharp features twisted in a scowl as he swiveled dark eyes toward the doorway across the poorly lit room. He had the face of a hawk, once handsome in its own way and still full of authority, the face of a predatory being accustomed to living among lesser creatures. His was not a patient face, and he, too, had heard the small bell and hoped it brought good tidings. Or at least useful information from one of his agents.
© 2015 Gene Jeffers