Thursday, February 06, 2003


This is the opening scene to one of my first forays into short fiction, "The King's Taster". I'm not enamored of the results, but I've always like this opening, so I thought I'd use it here. Its main source of fascination to me lies in its brevity. That's a quality I don't often achieve.

:: "The King's Taster", opening scene

When Fesk Rangol was born, just after his mother completed the Naming, the Priest placed a tiny droplet of orange liquid on his tiny pink tongue and closed his mouth.

"Be silent!" the Priest hissed. The woman’s wailing was highly irritating. She knew the risks of delivering a child this month.

The Priest held his breath as little Fesk swallowed the juice of the whisperberry. It would take seconds to enter his blood, and seconds after that for the seizures to begin. But in Fesk there were no seizures; the child only continued to scream the shrill howl of the newborn. The Priest handed the child back to his mother, who slid her bare nipple into his waiting mouth.

"We will come for him in six months," the Priest said to her as he wrote down the child’s name and the mother’s. He then packed up his belongings and left. On his way he passed a wagon in which lay six infant corpses. Six, before he found one resistant to whisperberry. It was a good year.

Six months later that same Priest came and took little Fesk away to the Venomous Academy. The mother cried and wailed a lot. They always did.


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