Originally commissioned by the Múscailt Arts Festival,'Marcus Marcus and the Hurting Heart' is a tale of power, treachery, romance, regret, blood, space ships, diabolical beings and horrifying revelations. Enjoy!
discussion was quickly concluded. Twenty-five minutes later there was only
If-Dec and I remaining in the room. I was filled with a sudden urge to embrace
the man. My vizier smiled and reach out his hand. ‘I think that went well
yes, Mister Marcus. If anybody causes problems have them killed or exiled.’
worked for my father.’ I said and took If-Dec’s hand in mine. I felt exhausted
to the bone, but in a good way, like an athlete who had just broken a record.
did indeed Your Excellency.’
not correct my vizier.
left, some crew members came in to begin cleaning the room. One of them carried
a plastic wrapped package for me: much needed clean clothes. Another offered to
show me the cabin that had been put aside for me.
you, officer.’ I said, ‘but I’d like some time to myself. Is the cabin easy to
Your Excellency. I can show you on the screen here.’
stood beside the young man as he called up a simple map of the interior of the
Wolf Craft. My cabin was just a little past Talavv’s. I thanked the officer and
let him carry on with his duties. I examined the map for a couple of minutes,
then stepped into the corridor.
Wolf Craft was a compact ship and easy enough to find one’s way around. I was
exhausted but in a restless way and decided not to go to my cabin straight
away. Instead I wandered the ship, acknowledging the salutes of crew members,
but not engaging in any conversation. I made my way to the medical bay but only
stayed a moment. Sternbridge sat beside Talavv’s bed. I left quietly before he
ready now for some rest. As I made my way back up to the cabin prepared for me,
I passed Talavv’s quarters. I stood outside her door, holding the package of
clean clothes. Then I stepped in. I only intended to stay a moment, but
exhaustion buckled my legs and I fell on to her narrow bed. Fatigue was
beginning to affect my mood too. I felt empty and listless. I sat up, shook my
head. I flicked on the little screen by her bed, began flipping through
surprise I discovered that my decisions were already making the news. One
channel was hooked up to the space station I had left so suddenly. A pretty
young woman was chatting away. She seemed vapid but I quickly recognised her as
Joyous Hardiman, If-Dec’s deadliest propagandist.
yes,’ she said, her eyes wide and guileless. 'It was a great shock. Freaky too.
How so? Well, the thing is, His Excellency had this dream, just after he
arrived on the space station. That's why he left so suddenly. He'd dreamt that
the sacred swan was flying upwards on a blade of steel. Go figure! Anyhow next
thing the news came through that 'Nameless' had died and had spilled his Holy
blood on His Excellency's sword, the sword he got into all sorts of fights with
when he was a Demos Guard like yonks ago. So now the Sejan family has been
blessed with Holy blood. Wow, how cool is that?
yeah look I’ve got a sticker here with the new Sejan emblem. Pretty neat huh?
Let me stick it on my t-shirt. Mmm, now that’s a worry. Should I stick here
just above my breast or on my breast itself? Don’t want to be executed for
being disrespectful you know. Oops there goes the gravity again. Sorry if I
embarrassed you there - I really should tuck my t-shirt into my shorts more tightly.
Gravities back on. These creaky old space stations can be a bit tricky. Yeah
the party is still going but in a chilled kinda way. But still fun. His
Excellency says we need to be respectful but the ceremony won’t be held till
next month. Need the time to organise it. Oh yeah people are coming from all
over the place. Who? Well, the other En-Feshqa princes of course. Yes, Narn has
an invite. And there will be all sorts of celebs from the Three Zones of
Humanity. Pop stars, writers, tyrants, generals, porn stars – all the movers
and shakers, should be brilliant.
the amnesty. I don’t think that’s controversial. It’s just like since we are
having a funeral for ‘Nameless’ then His Excellency and the Augurs figured it
would be okay to allow people to publicly mourn any loved ones that y’know had
been a teensy bit problematic when they were alive. So yeah families of rebels,
Kristyanistas, heretics, traitors and what nots will be allowed to do there
memorials. Which is pretty cool I think.
I think His Excellency will be having a quiet ceremony for his departed wife.
Which is pretty neat when you figure that she gets like ten out of ten on the
controversy scales. But you know it’s been two and a half decades since that
whole business – time to let bygones be bygones.
Oh now, you make me blush. Of course I’ve had a fun time at the party. But a
girl doesn’t kiss and tell y’know.’
turned the screen off with a sigh. I thought of myself when I was a young man
and I thought of Nooma. I smiled. ‘Oh to be young’ I said to the empty room. I
noticed my finger had left a bloody smear on the screen. I wiped it off, then
began cleaning myself. I stripped off my dirty clothes. As I washed myself I
noticed the scar on my right hand. It was pale like the faded mark of a wound
that happened years ago.
were other faded scars but they were from the long gone past. Of my journey
through the realm of Melkiresha I could see no trace. It was only after I
finished scrubbing off the blood and gore that I noticed a swelling at the top
of my left hand ring finger. I looked closer and saw a black skelf protruding
out from under my nail. I managed to grip it between my teeth and pulled it
out. I spat into my hand and saw that the object was the tip of a thorn.
and clean I walked over to the small alcove that was Talavv’s shrine. The heavy
knobbly stave that had been used to punish Bramlint had been returned to the
alcove below. I nodded respectfully to the portrait of the Queen of the
Universe and to the little figurine of Space. I nodded at the little statue of
Es'peth but I also gave her a wink, she being the Goddess of alcohol and
licentiousness. I placed the thorn before her and prayed.
prayed for Nooma and for myself. I prayed for my realm and all my subjects. I
prayed for my brave troopers lost in hyperspace aboard the Sejan troop carrier
Umnyblaet. I prayed for the demon that he be delivered from his suffering. My
most passionate prayer, however, was that Sternbridge should never suffer the
loss of his beloved Talavv.