6th of Cylus, 718
It was past midnight when he neared his street. About a ten bit walk split the Wounded Stage from the Du Gäap household, both in the middle of Quacia, in the shadow of both the Fortress and the Citadel of Truth. In this historic epicenter, the architecture depicted the ancient glory of a long-forgotten nation, where once wealth flooded the streets. The dark, matte basalt buildings stand tall where they remain, most often in a ruinous state and, in others, like in the Du Gäap’s household case, still having that old glint of majesty. Both the Theocratum and the Royalty had spent large fortunes trying to maintain everything around the Fortress in the best state possible, trying to hold on to the ghosts of the past that, inevitably, slipped like mist between the fingers.
The Du Gäap household was somewhat hidden, only accessible from a funnel-shaped alley which then opened into a small, empty plaza. A fountain was once there, but all that remained of it was the obvious stamp of new rock used to cover it’s disappearance. Two naked, decrepit walls stood on both sides, and right before the eyes stood the three-floored basalt building that Buer called home. It was beautiful architecture, the household. It was a symmetrical, rectangular piece of masonry, which seemed to borrow the feel of the Fortress, as in trying to look formidably impenetrable, like a bunker. The façade was plain, except for one large, round stained glass. Behind it, Bloodlights were placed as to reveal the image of a woman in a pious stance, her arms gently open and her palms facing out, from which blood flowed down beyond what the glass represented. A sacrifice for the Wounded God, and perhaps the most beautiful part of the home.
A large set of barred doors, much akin to cell doors, gave entry to the inner courtyard, which the records showed held a garden but now held only gravel. It was small and square, of about three yards of both width and length. It was in there where the property ‘opened up’, still resembling the monastery it once was. Under the glow of the bloodlights, the carved details and the statues that decorated every pilar, every arch, now took a phantasmagorical feel, as if this location was haunted. Gargoyles kept their eyes open, as did hooded figures wielding magic balls between their palms. Pyous saints kissed the altars in which they bleed, adoring the Wounded God and, judging by their faded, dramatic expression, begging for mercy. Buer always felt watched when he stood in the middle of the gravel, as if all those carved figures had kept living under the layer of stone, as if their hearts still beat, as if where he stood was sacred ground. Rarely did he stop to taken in the details; he had drawn them all from every angle, under every possible light. One can get used to even the most grandiose of scenes, and pass by without a care.
Even so, the structure was only appealing for the courtyard and the stained glass. It was an ancient structure, and it had not aged well. The rooms, despite being many (it had eight bedrooms, three living rooms, three studies, two privies, a large kitchen, a pantry and two basements), were small and stuffy. The ceilings were low, and in others, the walls had started to crack and cave in, threatening a collapse. The windows were small and barred, impossible to expand lest they risked the aforementioned collapse. The Du Gäap were living in the carcass of long-dead glory, clinging to the past. The silence was their witness, for the house was always quiet, always mourning.
After lighting a lantern, Buer made his way to his stairwell, and descended down into his study – the basement. Down the spiral staircase stood the thick wooden door. He unlocked it with his key, pulled three latches to close it behind it. Surrounded by darkness, it wasn’t until he began lighting the candles that the instance was revealed. It was a large, dry space, with the tallest ceilings available in the house – which made the study about as tall as any modern edifices’. Lacking any sort of windows, a thick gloom seemed to have possessed his work place. There was truly no free space in the whole study, overly stuffed with canvases, paints, easels, drafting tables, and shelves holding more and more of these elements. The stone floors were stained with dry oils, and lost brushes scattered here and there under tables and stools. His living space consisted only of an unmade day bed with rusty bars, and a chest stuffed with clothes, pomades, and towels, over which stood a couple of unwashed plates from his meals.
Buer still didn’t know exactly why he picked the basement as his den, or why he lived in such filth. He had always assumed artists were meant to brood and smoke cigarette after cigarette because of their art. In a way, it was true. His art, however, helped him escape. Most of the canvases scattered in his room contained the images through which he lived, a window into that other world. The nicer paintings depicted landscapes, flowers, or architectonic pieces, most being only drawings made with charcoal, some painted with oils.. But the nicer pieces were rare. Most of the others depicted his true passion: the female body. Naked women contorted on the canvas, exposing their femininity to him, their legs either spread open or buckled underneath them. Their faces had been possessed by lust, lacking any humanity, replaced, instead, by a feral, animalistic expression of heat. These were not caring mothers nor loving daughters; these were harlots and prostitutes, whores and sluts that knew no love.
And they would know no love.