A Moment in Time
Chapter 1: A Glimpse of the Past
By Nagyra

The first time I laid my eyes on him was in the distant city of Beatus, south of
Saltare where I lived. I accompanied my father to a grand feast in the cityís
Banqueting Hall--a grand behemoth of pristine marble that stood on eight stone
pillars marvelously crafted by the best artisans Beatus had to offer.
Normally, I would pass off the opportunity so that I could practice with my
sword or take to my favorite past time which was--I am shameless--sleeping.
However, Hanamichi, my redheaded friend--or at least HE thought so--had
persuaded me to attend, threatening to steal my most prized possession--my sword
given to me by my grandfather before he died--and melt it into a fine butcherís
knife to sell to the merchants.
Of course, he paid for that. (I gave him a punch that knocked him to thank
heavens though only for a couple of minutes as he was a rather strong fellow,
though Iíd never admit that to him.) But when his fine consort who loved him
perhaps more than Narcissus loved himself, entered the scene and revised the
threat into taking my sword and throwing it into the pigsí litter box AFTER
melting it into a butcherís knife, I was given a lot more to consider as Mitsui,
Hanamichiís lover of three years, often did what he says heíll do. [1]
So I gave in and got on my horse for the hour-long ride to Beatus. My father was
pleased and he even commended Hanamichi and Mitsui for a job well done--it seems
there had been some kind of a conspiracy behind my back which both Mitsui and
Hanamichi paid for dearly when we had gotten home from the feast, but weíll get
to that later.
I would admit that another reason I agreed to go to Beatus was because it was a
beautiful place. I had only been in Beatus several times. One had been with my
mother at the tender age of five, and the rest had been to run errands for my
father and for the state. But my glimpse of the city was enough to leave a mark
in my mind.
Personally, I think Beatus is a far more civilized city that Saltare for
although Saltare was the location of the seat of power and the mighty dictator
who sits on it--the Emperor of Bellum--it was a restraining place.
The most powerful men in the Empire lived there and the population was mostly
composed of statesmen or soldiers. You always had to be prim and proper in
Saltare. You always had to stand tall. You always had to speak in a clear and
commanding voice when talking to subordinates, and a respectful voice when being
spoken to by superiors. And as much as I had been trained all my life to act as
I should being a soldier of the empire, I had to admit, it was exhausting.
Now let me tell you about my father. Heís a general. One of the five in the
Armed Forces of Bellum and he answered only to the emperor--and to himself, of
His name is Augustus le Vider and heís formed himself a fine reputation in and
out of Saltare. A man of wealth and power, he was known to have devoted his
whole life to the glory of the empire. I adored my father. He and my younger
brother were all I had when my mother died when I was seven. He was all I had
when my younger brother, who I had loved dearly, had been taken away from me by
consumption two months after my motheríd death.
Perhaps it was the reason why I had been such a socially-withdrawn boy. Alone,
the loss of my mother and my brother would be unbearable to me. But with my
father, it became bearable. He was the reason why I joined the army, and my
relation to him was also the cause why I had been regarded with much contempt by
the other captains when I had been promoted to that level. I was too young, in
their opinion.
But my father had nothing to do with it. I worked my own way up. Another reason
why he had been so proud of me. But enough about that. Remembering my family is
too painful for me now, though I know I will have to speak of them again as I go
on further with my story.
I shall return to that night now.
Me, my father, Hanamichi and Mitsui arrived at the Banqueting Hall of Beatus
just after the sun had set. We were greeted by numerous courtesans, both men and
women--their kind in Bellum all seemed to look alike. Beautiful, deceitful, and
perhaps sexless to a certain extent. My father was a celebrity there, as he was
a celebrity everywhere in the whole Empire, and he was quickly ushered away to
the seat of honor. I, being the "lowly" captain, sat with my other fellow
captains at the side, exempli gratia Hanamichi and Mitsui. [2]
The Banqueting Hall was garnished with the most lavish of decorations and the
table was filled with the most tasty viands and the finest wine the sponsor of
the feast could afford--and since the sponsor was the richest man in Beatus, the
wine WAS truly delicious.
There was a band playing. A fine and lovely tune of flute, harp and drum music
filtered through the air.
And there were dancers as well. Four lovely ladies and two dashing young men who
moved gracefully on an elevated and carpeted platform.
Five minutes into the meal, several men and women--most of which were
courtesans--had already tried to catch my attention. I gave them a passing
glance. None of these elegant people, beautiful as they are with their painted
faces and luscious lips, caught my fancy.
That was until HE came. He wore inconspicuous clothes and he served the wine to
those of our side of the table--as much as we were less important, we werenít
insignificant people either. Soldiers always had a high stature in the Empire
being the ones who keep and earn her glory--most of the time.
So he was serving us. Fine of face and he wore none of the cosmetics the others
wore. He was just a server. He was no courtesan. Which is probably why I gave
him a second glance--he was a simple beauty. Though I have to admit, the real
reason why I noticed him in the first place was because he had spilled wine all
over Mitsuiís ensemble--and Mitsui, during that time, was in full regalia.
Mitsui was, needless to say, upset and our poor server had been close to his
witsí end. He started babbling about how sorry he was and how he didnít want to
die and that heíd kiss Mitsuiís sandals if he just spared him his life.
I found it rather adorable and I was, quite unbelievably, attracted. Although at
that time, I only knew the feeling of attraction. I didnít know the feeling had
a name. Added to that, I wanted to congratulate the boy for having made Mitsui
upset as I was still slightly angry at him for having threatened to do something
horrible with my sword.
Hanamichi was half-amused and half-worried as he tried vainly to wipe as much of
the wine off Mitsuiís clothes.
"Itís quite all right," Mitsui said, though he didnít look like he was going to
let such a thing pass. But I knew he was sincere.
"Kiminobu!" a reprimanding but melodious voice carried through the combined
music of the Hall and the noise of people talking with each other.
From the crowd emerged a stunningly beautiful woman with flowing raven hair that
shone like silk. She wore a robe of scarlet satin with golden trim, belted
tightly at the waist and her face was heavily painted with white and red and
pink. A bewitchingly attractive female. A courtesan no doubt.
And Kiminobu was her son.
The server boy was ushered away by his mother and I was left to bear the company
of Mitsuiís complaints and Hanamichiís all too sweet words of comfort.
I never saw Kiminobu again that night. When we journeyed back home, both Mitsui
and Hanamichi were sloshed and I took the liberty of delivering them to their
room. Of course, I had a reason for being "so kind"--as my father had put it.
I threw Mitsui rather unceremoniously into the room he and his redhead lover
shared on the second floor then dragged Hanamichi to the adjoining room where
another drunken couple stayed--Fujima, captain of the guards, and Hanagata,
right hand lieutenant of my father. And that was where I dumped him after I had
completely stripped him of all his clothes save his undergarments.
The following morning, an argument had arisen at the second floor and my
fatherís mistress, Beatriz, whom I hated, was blowing fire after discovering
that her most favorite vase had become one of the rather unlucky furniture that
served as projectiles between the two parties at war.
It was a good day. I sat down to join my father during breakfast, and I thought
of Kiminobu. I never forgot his face.
~~~ End Chapter 1 ~~~

[1] For those who donít know, Narcissus is an extremely beautiful youth of Greek
Mythology who loved no one until he saw his reflection in a pond and fell in
love with himself. He pined away until he died and was turned into a flower. ^^
[2] Exempli gratia is the long version of the famous e.g. which basically means,
"for example."