For those tired of In Nomine fan fiction, I offer up this Nobilis fan fiction, for this our Random Thursday.
Nobilis is one of the primary influences on my Mythology series, though it is (generally) a darker take on it. Humanity mixes with the divine, assuming Estates and powers, and entering into a very genteel warfare between different ‘familias’ of nobility among the demigods.
This is as typical a Nobilis story as I can think of. And I think it stands on its own. If not… um… well, please accept my hope that you win the lottery.
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I remember when first I truly established myself among the Nobilis….
He was drunk, which is never wise for the Nobilis. Alcohol in quantity ruined the judgment and loosened the tongue, and every Dominus had sentences best left unsaid within them.
In this case, the somewhat ox-like Marquis of the Scent was the unfortunate soul who sopped up drink after drink. His boorish behavior had not gone unnoticed by our host – the fair Domina of the West Wind had wrinkled her flawless nose at the boor, and expertly manuvered her guests like leaves in the breeze, until the very newest and least influential of her guests was left to listen to his mewlings.
Which is where I entered the story I am telling. While I was mature in years, it had been less than eight months since I had liberated my enchained heart from Helena’s by consuming hers. Given the unorthodox nature of my entry into Noble society, it was hardly surprising that I had been given a weather eye to that point.
“You,” Hasdrubal Barca said, stabbing toward me with the lit end of his cigar. “You’re the one that did the Redtooth to old Helena Cross, aren’t you?”
I allowed that I was, fingering the smooth, polished bone I wore at my throat. It was a small finger bone – delicate, like the hand of a child. Or a woman.
“Hah! Well enough. The old bitch was a curse on decent society. She dug up innuendos and skeletons – dragging them out at the worst possible moments. You don’t see history that way, do you?”
“I tend to focus on the forces of historical inevitability,” I demurred. There was no point in describing what arsenal I might bring to bear against my foes.
“Hah!” he shouted again. I refused to wince at the boor. “Good enough! It doesn’t mean anything, but what does, eh? Half the blasted Powers you meet have poetry for Estates. Mrph. What’s your name, boy?”
I didn’t rise to that, either. Newly Noble or not, I was hardly a boy. “Miles Cornwall, Lord Barca.”
“Cornwall,” he said, his drunken maw twisting into a dubious shape. “British?”
“American. But primarily of British descent.”
“Pah!” he said, draining his drink and scowling. “Another blasted Brit. Do you know — do you know — that I am the only Carthaginian among the Nobilis?”
“Truly,” I asked. I truly didn’t care, particularly after being so rudely dismissed, but when one is low in the pecking order, one must guard his tongue. I’d learned that much in my academic career before my rapid ascent into Godhood.
“Truly! And it is well known that Carthage is the very jewel of the world! The greatest, most significant land in all your precious history!” He swept his arms out expansively at this, knocking over a glass which a zephyr swept down to clean up. “The Nobilis should be a thousand Carthaginians strong, standing shoulder to shoulder against the Excrucians. Instead — look at them! Frenchmen, British, Americans. Carthage has withstood the very test of time, weathered the centuries, and forever planted their flag atop their enemies.”
“Well, aside from World War II,” I said mildly.
“Pah!” he snapped again. “An abberation. We were deluded by Fascism and the promises of Germans. We were the vanguard of civilization, the founders of empire. None stand before us.” He took another long drink, and waved a bearer over to refill his glass. “Carthage stands eternal, bright and glorious! She could stand before the assembled might of the world, and give them a lesson they could never forget. And should Heaven itself turn against them, the noble men of Carthage could stand before the assembled Nobilis themselves — stand and prevail!”
There was a sudden hush in the room, which Hasdrubal Barca ignored, drinking his freshened drink.
“Surely,” I said slowly and carefully, “you exaggerate.”
“I do not,” he snapped back. “Give me a Carthaginian Army and I could sweep through any Locus I desired, taking what I would. We would follow the hunt like dogs, and prove our supremacy before all who would challenge us.”
“Enough,” Michael Corbett, the Duke of Furniture and one of Barca’s Familia, had stepped close and taken him by the arm. “Viscount,” he nodded to me, somewhat dismissively, and pulled his fellow away. “You’re drunk,” he hissed, “and stupid. Let’s go.”
I watched them leave, considering softly, rubbing my thumb and forefinger along the finger bone at my throat.
There are two sides to all things. That which is real, and that which is myth. Mine seems on the surface to be a very dry, real Estate, grounded in Prosaic study. However, History is, in many ways, nothing but mythology codified and agreed upon. The national mythologies become the official history. The legendary figures become the Founding Fathers. George Washington throws silver dollars across mighty rivers and chops down cherry trees without telling lies, and is called historical.If one looks within Mythic Reality, one can find the thunderous Force of History. It is a river, far too broad for General Washington to hope to hurl any coin. The spirits of history sport and play throughout it, but none impede it. History is inevitable. It is undammable. It is undivertable. One can try to use its power, but it is all too easy to be sucked in and swept away.
That is its power. That is also its glory.
For some weeks, I poured over Carthagian history — the rise and fall of Carthage’s dominance. The Holy Carthagian Empire. The Catholic Church’s growing dominance. I saw how powerful it became, and how that power might wane later on… I saw how ther Gods had influenced the world, and their example had become a part of Western Civilization.
And I found where their History was weak — ultimately finding the weakest of points in their past. And then I gathered up my strength, and used the Rites to move some of the power of my Aspect into my Estate. I gripped the finger bone in my hands and climbed to the high peaks, and lifted my hand up high and cried out the thunderous, devestating, ultimate Word — the Word that split open the heavens and called down thunderous power through me. Power that split and injured and left me weak and bloodied. Power that can change the World.
I did not divert the River of History. It carried events to the same place. But some tributaries could be washed away, couldn’t they?
It was three days after my Word of Command before my door was slammed in. The servents brought the furious Dominus to my sitting room, where I was slowly recovering from the deep injury. My other guests waited just out of the room. One must prepare these things.”You,” he snarled. “What have you done? What have you done?”
“Lord Barca,” I said lightly. “May I offer you some cognac? Or perhaps a cigar?”
“You can tell me what has happened, before I break you in two, little Redtooth,” he thundered.
“What has happened,” I said, mildly. “That’s simple enough. After some hundreds of years of contesting dominance of the West Mediterranean with Rome, Carthage was divided among its various political powers, allowing for its defenses to be sundered and the city to be destroyed by Rome in the Third Punic War.”
“There was no Third Punic War. Rome declined before Carthaginian Commerce and became a holding in–”
“Read history, Lord Barca. Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Numantinus destroyed Carthage in 147 B.C.E. Rome then rose to conquer the known world, and profoundly influenced the course of Western Civilization.”
“You… would destroy history this way? Why?”
“History cannot be so easily destroyed, Lord Barca. Look again. The Holy Roman Empire spread through the Middle Ages. The Roman Catholic Church dominated Christianity until the Reformation. Italy even fell under Fascism and stood with the Axis in the Second World War. All remains the same… save that Carthage has not been a part of it.”
The bullish man stared at me, his face turning different colors in rage and fear, before finally he managed to speak. “Why,” he rasped. “Why would you do this?”
“Because you offended me, Hasdrubal Broca. You mocked my lineage. You mocked my Estate. And you dared to claim your mortal countrymen could stand against the Gods. And because you were foolish enough…” I lifted my hand, holding a crisp bloom of the Flower of the Scent, “…to let your guard down.”
I closed my hand, hard, twisting and nettling Broca. And we drunk deep of his Carthaginian Pride, so solidly descecrated and destroyed now. His very Familia yielded up their strength to mine, in the flush of the moment.
Broca stared as he realized the depths of what had happened. “You’re dead,” he finally breathed. “I’ll kill you now, oh weak little Redtooth–”
Weakened and injured from my Word of Command, I still arched an eyebrow. The mansion was rocked by thunder. “I am Warden of my Locus,” I said, my voice echoing with power. “You beard me in the seat of my power. Do you truly dare to challenge me here?”
Broca dropped his clenched fist, then pointed, letting fly his rage. “I’ve the scent of you now, little man,” he shouted. “I will harry and hound you forevermore. I will break your anchors and sunder your very Estate, and you will break before me! Do you hear me? Do you?”
“Oh, Hasdrubal, do you deny you claimed that the Carthaginian people — mortal men all — were superior to the very Nobilis? And given that, how can you claim injury at all?”
“I stand by all I said! Carthage could and would destroy your damnable Chancel, and the least of Carthage’s sons is higher than you, you worm!”
I watched my other guests quietly enter. “You speak treason against the Code Fidelitatis,” I murmured to the infuriated Dominus. “Treat no beast as thy lord.”
His answer was cut off by the hand falling, hard, upon his shoulder. His anger turned to fear as he recognized Lord Entropy’s dog. “Rosewood,” he murmured.
“You’ll come with us now,” Hugh Rosewood said. “Won’t you?”
Broca looked at me — a look of pure hatred, of malice given form within his skin and eyes — but nodded, and followed the hunters from the Locust Court out.
And this is where the story ends. My Familia, once I had made my plan clear to them, had given certain considerations to the Locust Court. They gambled my plan would work, and the windfall of my Nettle Rite would strengthen us all, and supported me before and after. Broca’s Familia, while not happy to have their own strength reduced, knew Broca’s treason had been half-shouted throughout a room, and were as happy to have him removed with as little fuss as possible. The Domina of the West Wind contributed her own bribe — she hadn’t forgiven him for the damage to her party. And so, soon enough the last son of Carthage joined his brothers in destruction.
And as for me? I had my satisfaction. I had the strength of the Nettle Rite. And following this experience, I had the respect of my fellows in the Nobilis. No longer was my commencement’s method of interest — merely my methods and attitudes. And finally, I had the warm feeling that boorish behavior had been rewarded appropriately.
It is never wise to be drunk among the Nobilis.