Death Wears Red

The blood red cape flapped in his wake, stained that hue when he pressed it into the bleeding side of his brother. Reasonless after the night—no dream came to heal his mind, but stark reality hounded him in the darkness—he walked into the city, into the light of the city, searching.

The cavaliers sat round a table, drinking fine wine they’d no need to pay for: their swords, their positions, empty pretenses of I.O.U.s in place of threat. They laughed, and that, perhaps, is what drew the madman to their table, the madman clothed in blood.

It silenced them, somewhat, when his shadow, the shadow of the man in red, came over them, but still smiling, one spoke: “Have we scared off the wench? Where’s our bread?”

An accident, divine sovereignty, or perhaps this fate was procured by lower regions, but this was the man, this smiling, jesting cavalier. Already he was gabbing with his two comrades, paying no attention to the man in the red cape. But his hand had gone for his sword, resting on the hilt. A wary eye, he was a man long associated with death, returned to the stranger.

The madman spoke, “I challenge you to a duel.”

The cavalier replied, “You have no arms.”

“You murdered my brother.”

There was a pause as the cavalier considered this.

“Last night,” added the madman.

With a hint of realization the cavalier nodded. “Still, I cannot kill you unless you are armed.”

“I am always armed,” came the retort.

The two friends were laughing through all this, absorbed in some joke, ignoring the verbal foreplay. As the cavalier began to get out of his chair, however, they were silenced by his gasp, and when they turned their heads they saw the dagger. They had no time for his dying gurgles, for soon the madman had the closer of the two. Then there was only one. His sword was drawn now, but a glare of the sun blinded him; a knife deadened him.

Wandering on, the madman continued searching, killing, never knowing. All would die.

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