The Crimson Diary

Submitted into Contest #148 in response to: Write a story involving a noise complaint. ... view prompt

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Fantasy Mystery Speculative

Lady Brackvark had sent her manservant to the constables to complain about her neighbor, Lady Razia, and her raucous party. This was nothing new: Lady Razia was always throwing parties of some kind in her salon, and Lady Brackvark was a jealous, acrimonious old badger who longed for the days when she would be invited to such parties.


This party was unusual, though, as it had been snowing heavily: Enough to deaden most noise. The constables - mostly collies and a few bloodhounds - assumed that Lady Brackvark was simply complaining again and gave it little mind, but went to see anyway: she was an important donor.


Three of their junior members seated their horses and rode up the long road to Lady Razia’s charming, small mansion. Even before the constables arrived at the front door, the screams and moans and yelps were disturbing. 


“Everythin’ aw righ’ in there?” The lead called, banging on the large iron door. He was a rottweiler, accustomed to the habits of the upper class. There were still screams and moans, and the poor dog could only guess what kind of party was occurring inside. After a few moments, a small weasel - ferret? - answered the door. She was dressed in traditional maid garb.


“Hello there officer,” she said softly. “If you’re wondering about the party, I’ll calm them down for you. Tell Lady Brackvark that we’ll invite her to the next one.”


“O-oh, aw righ’ then,” he said.


It was still snowing, but at least the sun hadn’t set completely yet - that’s when it got really cold. The dogs threw blankets over their horses as they trotted in place to warm up their hooves. Officer Mothscrap waved down his attendants as he trudged up the wet snow to the other mansion. It was larger and more stately, with tall, marble columns. He knocked a few times on the front door until an old, bent beagle answered the door.


“‘Scuse me, ol’ chap.”


“Yyyeeesss?”


“Lady ‘o the ‘ouse. Tell ‘er the problem’s solved.”


He merely nodded and closed the door.


Farah, still in her maid’s outfit, watched as the dogs left on their horses. She turned the corner into the salon and saw ‘Razia’ and her guests, writhing on the floor in fits after hearing the dread words of the Crimson Diary read aloud: tales of love and loss so profound that any creature would be overcome merely by a paragraph.


Farah removed her ear plugs and stepped over the writhing figures - foxes, dogs, a rat and a weasel - and leaned down to the uncanny chef.


“Di-did I read it all to them? Was Lady Razia pleased?” The mouse had a cunning smile on his lips as Farah gently rested her hand on the tome.


“Most pleased, sir Chef,” she said. He sighed relief and relented his grip. That’s when she heard another knock. Farah gulped and grasped the diary with both of her tiny arms. She stepped gingerly over the bodies - who were cuddling and kissing each other with empty bottles of Veilwinter wine drizzling onto expensive carpets - careful to miss Razia in the front row, to reach the door out of the salon. Razia trusted her: there would be other opportunities to steal the Crimson Diary... so long as she did not sell it - or lose it to another thief. 


With the Crimson Diary, Farah could evade that archmage who had followed her from Vulane... possibly any adversary.


At that moment, she was grabbed by the ankle as other guests started to stretch and coo.


“How marvelous!” Stretched a weasel.


“Another success, Lady Razia!” Called out a male fox.


“What time is it, even?” Said a husky that she recognized as a magnate of some kind.


“So heavenly and so profane!” Cried out a young, beautiful vixen in a sparkling blue dress - surrounded by two bottles of Veilwinter merlot. Farah looked down and smiled at her.


Farah patted the heads of the patrons and rubbed the long velvet ears of others, urging them back to sleep. Slowly, she made her way down the spiral staircase, kicking the diary under a small table and responded to the urgent knocking while snow patted and melted on the tall glass windows.


Slowly she opened the heavy iron door to see a plump badgeress and her emaciated manservant. She bowed, but Brackvark merely sneered at the sight of Farah and pushed her way in.


“What is going on here?” She intoned, looking up the staircase toward the sounds of reverie.


“Merely a party, lady Brackvark,” Farah said, still bowing and avoiding eye contact.


“Where is that vixen?” The brash badger asked, stepping onto the checkered marble floor. Farah assumed she meant Lady Razia.


“She is... currently engaged upstairs.”


The badger harrumphed and clomped her way across the floor while Farah snatched up the diary and fled out the door, only to run into the badger’s beagle attendant. They both collapsed into the snow. Farah spat out snow onto the old dog’s face.


“Out of my way, old timer!” she said, clawing herself to her feet on his chest and running out into the snow of the front yard. The Crimson Diary was much larger than she had thought at first, and the snow was falling heavier than she anticipated. She adjusted her maid’s skirt and stockings as the snow began to soak into her fur.


The gate itself was closed. And icy. She looked back at the manor and heard the irate voices of confused upper-crust guests. She forced the Crimson Diary through the bars... but it was too thick.


She huffed. She had to carry it over. 


She looked up the iron-wrought gate and climbed it as fast as she could. Even though she was skilled at climbing, her paws were already freezing with wet ice as she reached the spired pinnacle and dove down, book in tow. Using it as a fall break, the snow FLUFFED as she collided with it, sending a plume in all directions.


She quickly hefted the book out of the snow. It was enchanted, of course, but not every part: she didn’t want any part of its devastating narrative to be obliterated by the elements. That’s when she heard more commotion from the upper story of her former ‘master’s’ abode. Farah gulped and followed the horse hooves down the muddy road back down to the glittering city of New Nottingham, eager to outrun the party guests.


“Magnificent, Razia, magnificent!” a jackal ambassador said, resting his arm on Selthia’s shoulder as she arose. Selthia, an old, dusk-colored vixen, saw her troublesome neighbor busying herself with asking the guests questions. Of course, they were all too clever to answer as she continued berating them. Selthia smirked and looked at her old friend - the only prey animal to have been invited.


“My dear chef,” she said softly, helping the old white mouse to his feet. “Thank you so much for your reading.”


The mouse yawned, smiled, and dusted himself off. “Thank you, madam. Do you have my book anywhere?”


Selthia cocked her head to the side, her smile disappearing from her muzzle.



Character Farah™ by MB, along with his edits and assistance: https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/author/m-b-197b3a/



May 28, 2022 23:50

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