The Aparousia Schiavona

∴ An Unexpected Honour ∴

Saltwater, milky with moonlight, laps at the marble steps where even now ladies in their finery descend into sleek black boats. You watch with a faint smile as each craft slips from its bounds and circles silently. It is all part of the dance, you muse. All part of the ritual.

As the last gondolier pushes away from the dock with a ripple, the heady haze of gold and noise that held the palace in its sway falls away. You are alone, but for your blade and the winged lion that guards the door.

“Just you and me then, old friend,” you murmur, casting your eye upward to where the stone beast grimaces above the portico. The lion says nothing.

You turn your attention instead to the sword. It was the sword, after all, that brought you here. Hard won, but worth it. The artefact alone speaks of a world you once failed to dream of. A complex web of dark bars, and a tasteful glimmer of copper. Three graceful ladders sweep around your fist – like Jacob’s ladder, you ponder. A stairway from the profane to the glorious. From the docks of Zara to the palace steps.

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