8th of Cylus, 718
After changing and washing the sheets, Buer washed his hair and scrubbed the sweat off his body. He shaved, he cut his nails, then did his hair. For clothing, he chose a dark gray shirt, which he matched with a black linen pants and a matching vest, black ankle-high boots and a thick coat he’d hang on his arm, all as monochromatic as Cylus’ gloomy atmosphere. The thought of leaving his canvases untouched hurt him deeply, as if he was cheating himself out of a well-earned reward. Even so, Buer resisted the temptation of ditching everything and focusing solely on the one thing that made him happy – a stance with a certain ironic ring to it.
Up the stairs, a thick cold had spread out onto Quacia. A layer of snow had covered the gravel of the inner courtyard, the glow of torches and Bloodlights tainting everything in that ill red, a color the bled nation seemed to attract. With no sun by which to judge the time or date, it was just as disorienting as being locked in the studio. With a quick pace and slouching under the cold, Buer made his way down the arched passageways until he reached the kitchen. A nest of embers remained in the fireplace to give it heat, and oil-fed lanterns hung on hooks to give it light. There lingered the smell of fired mushrooms and pork chops, along with the more recent, more overpowering stink of soap.
“Good morning, sirrah,” greeted Sonya, who shot a questioning, inquisitive glance towards Buer. “There’s mushrooms and pork out on a plate, sirrah.”
She was an older woman, tall and lanky, with greyish hair and bulging brown eyes that gave her the appearance of a rat. She was also an Outsider, hailing from the Kingdom of Andaris, having come to Quacia in search of fortune and love, but having found nothing but the endless paranoia of hypochondria. ‘There’s so much filth’, she used to say, those bulging eyes of hers fixed on the piles of debris so common a sight in the Quacian landscape. Almost ten arcs later, she had finally learned to keep her compaints to herself, although now she wore a pair of gloves Buer had not seen her without for a decade. They didn’t talk much, and none of them had an interest in doing so – a fact that, surely, both of them appreciated in equal measure.
Before anything, Buer chugged down three glasses of water. Cool as it was, it managed to quench that unbearable thirst proper of a night of intense dreaming. Then he sat down and ate, doing so quietly and without much ceremony. Innevitably, Buer’s mind ended up on the canvas again, trying to remember just where he had left it off, judging whether it met his expectations. Again, the tempatetion of going back downstairs, stripping off, and to continue working almost killed his decision to remain inconspicuous. Halfway through his meal, Buer stood up, drank another glass of water, and moved on.
Back in the courtyard, Buer took the stairwell up, on his way to his father’s study. From here, his mother’s moans and the violent thudding of the headboard striking the stone was a sound he couldn’t ignore. The more he approached his father’s study, the better he could focus on the sound of a gentle piano. Knocking twice, Buer made his way in. His father’s study was a large, rectangular room of about the same size as Buer’s basement-studio, albeit far more comfortable. It had a fireplace, for example, and a gentle flame that kept the room both lit and of a pleasant temperature. The stone floors were covered in rugs, and the furniture, despite being ancient and having been through countless restorations, still had that peculiar appeal of ancient luxury. Two small windows revealed endless darkness from the Quacian streets, and his father’s grand piano, a luxorious instrument painted in a gleaming white, took center stage in the large, cozy room.
“Father,” Buer said to him, offering a polite smile before closing the doors behind him. Malvo’s fingering of the ivory keys stopped, albeit his features did not show any resetment towards his son, as if he was looking for an excuse to stop his playing.
“Hello, child. How was the play?” Malvo said, now moving over to the mahogany desk that was, by all intents and purposes, his throne. Malvo was an aging pianist, cherished by his employers but never quite having enough renown to be a celebrity. Both father and son shared many similiarities appearance-wise; Malvo was tall and lean despite his age, and his features had that polished, aristocratic grace Buer had inherited. He also took good care of both his skin and hair, a dark grey man slicked back in quite the virile manner. His brow was strong, his nose sharp, and his lips were two straight lines topping off a powerful jaw.
“Wonderful. I enjoyed it very much.” Buer, instead of facing his father’s gaze, went over to his piano instead. Sitting on the stool, and keeping a straight back, his fingers gently rested on the keys. Reading the partiture from his father’s latest composition, Buer, at a slightly slower pace than that of the piece, began playing. Unlike most modern compositions, his father liked to keep the clef hand the one responsible for the melody, whilst the high notes were used as accents that set the rhythm, much like a metronome would. Ten notes in, and Buer already grasped just how overly-complex this piece was, and thus knew his father was hurting inside. Art betrayed a lot about one’s feelings. “I like this piece.”
indent=30]Malvo took a moment to reply. He seemed intent in stuffing his pipe. “How’s the painting going?”
“I’m working on something new.”
Silence. Pause. Intermission. There was always this growing void between the father and the son, becoming increasingly distant as time passed. Soon, they would be nothing but strangers.
“Mother okay?” Buer queried.
“She is, yes.”
Without nothing else to say, and his duty as a son being fulfilled, Buer stood up, shot an unmet glance towards his father, and went to leave.
“Are you visiting your Grandmother today?”
“I visited her yesterday, father.”
Malvo looked up at him, his face stoic. “You visited her three trials ago. Today’s the eighth of Cylus.”