Jenny: Silver, And the Colour of Death's Knife

By the time he was fully prepared, Master Lucius found himself surfacing to an atmosphere wholly different from before. The atrium had become a shell of golden light, lined with black velvet, and he had the distinct impression of something huge and angry breathing just behind him. He forced himself not to look round, knowing there would be nothing there. But the whole huge angry sensation, golden as a lion's mane, which filled the atrium and breathed long and low was something he had never felt before.

The farm folk had all slipped away now. Caleb and Kay were missing from the Companions' ranks, but the others stood round near the head of the room, waiting, eyes on the doorway, hands on their swords. And at the end of the room were Jupiter and Tyr and Epona. The pen began to move across the page. Ambrosius and Artos were both seated in their chairs of antler-make, and the Guttersnipe stood between them and behind them. She was dressed in a white mare's hide as her cloak, lined with bright red taffeta, slung over her fine catskin dress, amber at her ears and in her hair. He had never seen her quite so fine, nor so elevated and cold: even the fire in her eyes was cold, and her countenance, while not meant for him, pierced him with a knife's blow. One did not notice her smallness in that moment, nor the fineness of her build. She was charged with the reckless anger that filled the room, reckoning nothing of the consequence of blood, and even he, seeing that lovely familiar face so changed with pride, was a little afraid.

At her left hand Artos sat like a dark lion, his head up and his nostils flared unconsciously. His hand rested on the pommel of his sword which, like a hunting dog, rested quiet but tangibly eager beneath his touch. He was dressed far more simply than the Guttersnipe, clad in his weathered scarlets and a tunic of embossed black, his greatest adornment his bear-claw brooch and his own lively grey eyes.

He saved the best for last. Almost reluctantly he dragged his gaze to Lord Ambrosius. Like his nephew, the man was dressed in simple war-gear: a plain, clean white tunic under his battered black leather harness, a silver-ticked wolfskin cast over his shoulders. His signet ring flashed in the light as he turned his hand upon the arm of his chair, and the scars on his face and hands became alternately slashes of electrum and soft feathery lines as the light played on his skin. He had chosen his wardrobe perfectly. His hair, cropped short, and his knees bare between tunic-hem and the tops of his riding boots, the styling of his harness... All was Roman. Behind them stood all that was tempestuous and driven by the fires of passion which was Britain, but in himself and his nephew there was all that would ever be Rome, all that Rome would be remembered for: her law, her reason, her ideals. The Guttersnipe, cold in her flames, was a wild thing; Artos was a creature who had counted the cost and was eager for the hunt. In those grey shifting skies of Ambrosius' eyes, Master Lucius saw only the calculating mind of an angel of death.

He shivered.

There was a scuffling in the vestibule, and he wrenched his attention away to see who entered. The many formless sounds in the little dark room distilled, and the first through the doorway was a man Jason's age, young and slender with hands that made big fists. There was a purple thundercloud bruise on one fine cheekbone, which Master Lucius could see as the boy, coming into the room, cast up his head to the light to stare with a burning rage on the three who waited for him.

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