The hour before dawn on a tepid night in the wet season found Gwynn and Sharp Jasper sauntering on horseback down the fancy end of Tourbillion Parade. They had stopped in at the Waxworks for a drink and sexual recreation after the conclusion of the unspeakable business on which they had been out and about. Both cavaliers of the Society of the Horn Fan were, as the saying goes, tired but happy.
Jasper was telling a story about a man with whom he had been slightly acquainted, with whom he was no longer acquainted due to the man being dead.
‘She climbed up the drainpipe and left the same way. Someone broke the door down when the smell started to leak out.’
‘How did you come to know it was her?’
‘Her roommate told me. She was trying to get me to buy the poor fucker’s watch.’ Jasper laughed and grinned broadly. He liked to show his teeth, which were worth showing, being filed to points and decorated with many kinds of twinkling jewels. In his dark, lean face the effect wasn’t terribly short of regal. Jasper claimed to still indulge now and then in the cannibal habits of his people, on occasions of religious observance.
Gwynn was Anvallese and had retained the atheism of his upbringing. He thought ill of religion, no matter the tempting depravity of its practices, but well of Jasper, who in several ways was like himself—possessing intelligence and the will to be a well-rounded man, light in his approach to much of life, and devoted to fashion.
It was Jasper who had recommended the tailor to whom he regularly went. The men of the Horn Fan all went very frequently to their tailors. Their work was hard on clothing, and their elaborate silk cutaway coats and breeches seldom lasted long enough to be ruined by Ashamoil’s tropical weather.
It was of his tailor that Gwynn had started to think as Jasper was telling his anecdote. He was wondering if he might not have hit upon a pleasing way to solve a problem.
I’ve got half a plot — or maybe a third — now I need the rest…