by Mitzi Danielson-Kaslik
bull's blood wine
In a moment devoid of thought, emotion, passion or anything else but humanity, I made the involuntary decision to step out between Sylvester Spence Palvine and Marius Chevalier just as a mighty flash of a rapier knocked Sylvester to a half kneeling half, half lying position in the snow. I pushed Marius aside with a harsh gesture of my left arm and he lowered his sword, panting for air. I fell beside where Sylvester lay, hot tears clouding my vision. The thought, emotion and passion had returned. With the benefit of hindsight, the humanity at that moment had forgotten.
It cost a man his life.
Sylvester’s breath was calmer now, and it didn’t take long for me to apply pressure to the red rose that bloomed on the left side of the chest of his white shirt. The same shirt I had worn earlier. The bleeding was quick to stop and when I peeled back the bloody cotton, I found the wound was shallow and unlikely to scar. At the same moment, both I and Sylvester looked to the sky. Dawn was breaking. The crisp snow fell in delicate flakes down to the earth like the broken wings of fallen angels. The snowflakes were free. Free like butterflies. Free like Sylvester. Free like me. Marius returned his gaze to me and Sylvester and a strange unseen forgiveness filled his eyes. In a moment of humanity, the kind I had never seen before, Marius reached his hand down to Sylvester to help his to his feet. Sylvester took it. The two men looked at each other as dawn broke out over the horizon and Paris was alight once more. In a moment I have much pondered over, Sylvester performed a quick deft movement, piercing Marius’s chest on the left side. Marius fell to the floor. I looked down, in shock. The wound was too deep. I couldn’t have saved him if I’d tried.
Marius Chevalier was dead.