This week’s profiled author is fantasist
The Night Visitor Bret Bouriseau
The moon was almost full as it shone down on the jewel of the desert that was Tashram. There was an eerie stillness to the night. Shortly after the dying of the sun, a chill crept through the back streets of this ancient city. Half-shadows danced just out of reach of the brass oil lamps that tried in vain to illuminate the cold darkness. Overhead a sound like the flurry of leathery wings descended through the dead calm.
From out of these shadows stepped a tall figure shrouded by hood and cloak. He walked down the winding alleyway, past the beggars huddled in crumbling doorways, past the dunghill curs sulking in the blackness. Onward he moved while rats scurried underfoot, scavenging for forgotten crumbs. He took in a deep breath. There was an ever-present fear in this poverty stricken barrio, a fear of something far more terrifying than vermin and half-starved gutter dogs—worse than the fear of the stranger himself. It loomed, all-consuming, like the night itself.
Up ahead, a half-rotted door—the numbers 1565 scratched into the soft wood—beckoned the dark outsider. He approached the squatting residence and gently rapped against the unpainted portal. The door opened but a fraction. The light inside was only slightly brighter than the night outside.
A work-weary woman, old beyond her years, peered out and asked in an unsteady voice, “Who calls upon the humble home of Julisicth at this late hour?”
“I have come for the child, old one,” replied a regal voice.
“Setti be praised,” quoth she who dwelled within. “Enter of your own free will.”
“Nay, hag, fetch the child. I have little time for pleasantries.”
“As you wish, great lord,” she said as she turned and walked through the filthy blanket that served as partition for the one-room hovel. She stepped over sleeping bodies lying haphazardly on the sand floor. Gingerly she picked up a squirming bundle from a discarded mango crate at the foot of a young girl barely in her teens. She walked back to the doorway.
“Bless you great one, for we can ill afford another mouth to feed. This one is healthy and will make a fine servant girl for your esteemed house. She has just recently surrendered the teat. Her further care would keep my daughter from plying her trade. Better to sell the flesh than sell the soul. The extra income is much needed.”
She held the wriggling girl-child upwards toward the sinister stranger standing just outside the doorway. Upturned hands slowly emerged from their hiding place in the under-sleeves of his flowing garment. His broad, flat fingers were capped with brown and yellowing fingernails. They were filed to a razor-point. The sharpened digits gyrated up and down in anticipation of the succulent offering. A solitary oil lamp within caught a glint of the golden fez underneath his cowl. The grandmother before him hesitated and started to draw back. Swiftly he scooped up the helpless baby. The soft pink palms and tan backs of her hands outstretched toward her new guardian. He turned to go, cradling the suckling babe as if it were his most near and dear.
“Ah-uhumm,” the woman cleared her throat. She placed her outstretched hand toward him, palms facing upwards. “Your servant mentioned payment, great lord.”
“Ah yes,” the dark one said as he turned. His hand reached into his grey robes. He produced three silver coins. He then dropped them one by one into the old crone’s cupped fingers.
“Wait, my lord, and I will get another blanket to wrap my sugar date against the chill of this late night.”
“No need to wrap it, old crone,” Quelala said through an ape-like grin. “I’ll eat it here.” He turned and walked into the blackness. Three undeniable sounds followed; the slurping noise of gorging, a woman’s shrieking screams of madness and the beatings of leathery wings against the cold night sky.
The Prince of Knocknafay is the first of 3 books in The Knocknafay Novels trilogy
The Voyage to Cibonay and Devil’s Due Hell to Pay to follow in ’17 & ’19
And here is the opening chapter to Bret’s latest novel “The Prince of Knocknafay“
Chapter 1 The Lost Highway Tavern
When last we left Travers McCraken, the outer doors of the Royal Harem of Amon Sin Algol were giving way under the combined weight of three large guardsmen. The sultan was due back from the Council of Sinister Magicianals by nightfall. He would not be pleased. To further worsen matters, the harem had only been half-serviced while cognac rations ran fearfully low.
Hearing the sound of wood splintering at the other end of the seraglio, Travers knew it was time to get dressed and prepare an elegant farewell for the lovely ladies he so regretfully had to leave behind. “Attention, m’ many loves m’ minutes that fly by oh so quickly.” He spoke in a clear Irish voice that rumbled slightly like distant thunder. It gently commanded all within the sound of it to listen. The one hundred and eight wives of Amon Sin Algol rose as one and moved closer to the young wayfarer.
“A toast,” he continued. “I crept in t’ y’r beds, like a thief in the night/T’ plow through y’r gardens o’ earthly delights/Alas I must go—but return o I will/With a stiff drink in me one hand…an’ in the other…/Somethin’ far stiffer still.”
For the next few moments there was much giggling and clicking of glasses. Suddenly the happy mood was broken by the sound of the inner doors to the harem bursting open. At the sight of the trio of burly men with their scimitars drawn high, Travers decided it was time to make his exit.
He was above all else a lover, but since many a husband seemed put out by his chosen profession, being a fighter had become a necessary second vocation. Sadly, he grabbed the next to the last bottle of L’Esprit de Courvoisier cognac he had brought then shattered it against the head of the first eunuch guardsmen to reach him. The defender of the harem fell like a stone. The wives of the sultan descended on the other two but reinforcements had already been summoned.
Travers put on his boots and britches. He casually tucked in his shirt and buckled his sword belt as if time had agreed to go in slow motion until he was ready for his grandiose exit from this garden of pleasure. He then donned his longcoat, a gift given to him by the sorceress Tammera at the start of his ramblings so many years ago. With equal parts flourish and flair he snatched up his last bottle of cognac, flung open the tails of the longcoat and put his fingers to his lips bidding the harem a fond farewell.
Before Travers could fall back into the folds of the coat as he had done so many times in the past, a jewel caught his eye. It was Margay, the olive-skinned favourite of the sultan. Her almond eyes pleaded for Travers to take her with him. He knew well why the sultry sultana was Amon Sin Algol’s favourite. In a move both foolhardy and fateful he grabbed her warm, willing body. They kissed deeply. She closed her eyes and sighed as they fell through the portal at the back of his magical garment.
When the royal guards finally made it through the beautiful multitude to where Travers and his eager captive once stood, all they saw was a magnificent longcoat, woven of the finest thread, free-floating before them. It hung in mid-air as if occupied by a headless phantom.
Suddenly a hand shot out from the interlining, bejeweled fingers outstretched. It grabbed the lapel and disappeared back in, taking the free-standing coat with it. There was a rustling of heavy cloth flapping together, then abrupt silence. Next a tiny pop broke the stillness, caused by the sudden rush of air filling the space where the coat and the couple stood only a jiffy before. This was accompanied by the unmistakable sound of the last bottle of well-aged French brandy shattering against the quartz-tiled floor.
A familiar voice shouting, “Noooooo,” echoed on every wall of the marbled bath.
Travers McCraken offered to Bacchus, the god governing such matters, a curse-filled prayer. He prayed that wherever their journey ended, a blazing fire, good companionship and a well-stocked liquor cabinet would bid them a warm welcome.
BRET & TRAVERS Online:
Bret’s Homepage: Bret Bouriseau’s Knocknafay.com
Bret’s novel THE PRINCE OF KNOCKNAFAY
Travers McCracken Fan Page: The Bonnyknocker Brigade
Bret’s art page: Bret Bouriseau Cabellero Diablo
Bret’s publishing house: BonaFide Outlaw Freepress