I recently took part in a great initiative called Open Changes, part of the Lost in Track Changes project run by the rather lovely If:Book Australia. The Marquess of Time was one of the stories they included in the project.
The Marquess of Time picked up the tray and slipped easily around the cafe tables. A mocha for the gentleman in red, a green tea for the woman with inked imps scuttling up her left arm, a ginger beer for Death.
‘Thank you,’ said Death, running one bony finger through the condensation on the glass.
‘Don’t often see you here,’ said the Marquess.
‘I have come to collect War,’ said Death, ever the plain speaker.
The Marquess caught the words, then her breath.
‘He grows ever more greedy,’ said Death, plucking an ice cube from her glass and running it along the blade of her scythe. It sang.
The Marquess nodded, all the elementals had warned her. She didn’t listen. ‘Where will it happen?’
‘At the crossroads of day and night,’ said Death.
‘He will fight,’ said the Marquess, sisterly pride getting the better of her.
Death softened. ‘He cannot win.’
The Marquess watched the noon light play along Death’s blade. ‘Will I be the only one to grieve?’
‘No,’ said Death. ‘Though you will find no solace among others who do.’
The Marquess untied her apron, letting it fall she kissed Death on the cheek and walked out to find her brother.