Notes from the Studio

The Queen of Summer’s Twilight, Chapter Nine.

© Charles Vess 2019   Chapter Nine       Janet cried, “Bloody hell that fucking madman’s got a sword!” And a moment later as a second question crashed through her mind, she cried, “Why isn’t everyone running away?” Then she realized the answer. Only she and Tom actually saw the swordsman and his pack of wretched beasts.  Tom face was a grim, determined mask as he pulled away from Janet’s arms. Suddenly there was a long thin blade in his hand as well. Seeing the flash of that blade, the other man hesitated. The feral beasts at his feet, though, continued to circle their prey, simply ignoring the crush of people that crowded the floor in front of the stage. Then Janet heard the leather-clad figure call out over the pounding music. He spoke in the same other-language as the troll on the bridge, and understanding every word the stranger uttered caused Janet to break into a cold sweat.       “Well then, at last the hunter has found his quarry.”       A grim smile slid across Tom’s lips before he replied, “Huntsman, you have no business being in this mortal realm. Why come you here?”        “For you, Sir Knight of the Rose. My master commands, and so I must obey.”       Before he even finished speaking, The Huntsman launched himself through the air directly at Thomas. At once, The Rose Knight leaped forward to meet his opponent. Their swords glittered, arcing through the air, flashing in the glare of the multi-colored spotlights from the ceiling above. Their blades glanced off each other with a harsh rasp. Again and again Janet heard the shriek of metal against metal. Then the two figures sprang apart. The Huntsman paused, clasping both hands firmly on the hilt of his sword.       He cocked his eye at Tom, “I was mistaken then, I

☙ Continue Reading ❧

The Queen of Summer’s Twilight, Chapter Eight.

© Charles Vess 2019 Chapter Eight A light rain began to fall as Thomas pulled his bike into the loading zone in front of a busy downtown music club. As she hopped off, Janet whispered into his ear, “Meet me inside, okay?”       Tom nodded and then as he threaded his bike through the busy traffic looking for a place to park, he began to wonder why he’d allowed himself to spend so much time with this mortal woman.        May The Queen forgive me for shirking my true duty.       ****************       Janet had chosen the Club 320 because she was reasonably certain the only kind of monster that might lurk inside was the human kind, and she’d had more than enough experience handling those. Also, its owner was a good friend.       Inside, the beamed ceiling was low and there were no windows save for the two on either side of the club’s entrance. An old-fashioned oak bar extended along the wall of the long room back into semi darkness where it ended, leaving just enough room for a well-lit stage that had, over the years, seen its fair share of performers. Two dreadlocked young men with high, penetrating voices that carried easily over the raucous audience led the small band now playing enthusiastically from it.        Relaxed, Janet leaned comfortably against the bar listening to the song, idly studying the crowd. Directly in front of the band, its more enthusiastic admirers were on their feet, gyrating to the intense rhythm of the music. The rest of the floor was closely packed with tables, most every chair filled with young people of every shape, size and color. Right away Janet felt herself relax.       Never get any bollocks about the color of my skin from folks here.       Wonder if Tom even noticed how many bloody

☙ Continue Reading ❧

The Queen of Summer’s Twilight, Chapter Seven.

© Charles Vess 2019          Chapter Seven          Two days later, Janet was seated at one of a long row of benches that lined a small triangular park at the junction of two streets in downtown Inverness. The park is filled with bright, multi-colored playground equipment, being enthusiastically and thoroughly abused by a half dozen gleeful screaming children. Along the other benches, adult guardians sat patiently watching their charges exhaust themselves.          Beside her was a small mountain of shopping bags, which, with one slim arm, Janet casually kept from tipping over and spilling onto the sidewalk. She smiled and waved pleasantly at two men standing about 6 meters away,  tasked by her father with following her whenever she leaves the estate. Even at this distance Janet saw the look of absolute boredom that had settled on their faces after accompanying her through store after store over a long, uneventful afternoon. Their arms were laden with even more shopping boxes and bags. Both men looked so uncomfortable with such a domestic chore that Janet almost laughed but thought the better of it.           At first, it had seemed like a good idea to get out of the house and in the process give her room a thorough makeover, but now a slight frown creases her forehead. What began as an angry response to her father’s suggestion, didn’t feel at all satisfying now.           Binge buying all this frivolous crap seems pretty childish now.          Well, he was right about one thing though, I do need help getting all these packages back home.          I wonder what today would have been like if I had any friends to share it with instead of those two stiffs.          Behind her, on the other side of the small park the furious yapping of a small dog cuts above the happy laughter of

☙ Continue Reading ❧