Set in an alternate reality, Britian is still the world's leading super power, her empire spans the globe from the steppes of mongolia to the deserts of the Mojave and Sierra. No power can stand against her indomitable might, yet even now at the height of her power trouble blooms, one man stands against the Rise, will he last?
The piano sang mournfully along the ornate halls. The opulent hallways of the manor were deserted, no servants walked the red carpet, no dogs sprawled before it’s, now cold, fire places. Brand was alone, his were eyes closed as he played out the melody. He wasn’t a handsome man, but he wasn’t ugly either. His power made up for this however. The fire crackled in the corner of the parlour, he pretended not to hear the shallow breathing, or soft treads behind him. He stopped playing as the revolver clicked behind his head; a small smile came to his lips. He lifted his whiskey to his lips, sipping gently, before setting the glass down upon the silver tray with a slight clink.
“So it’s started?” he said without turning. The piano sounded one last time, as Brand slumped upon its ivory keys. Their whiteness a harsh contrast to the pooling red. A candle was lifted, gently, by a gloved hand, and then laid down at the foot of the heavy curtains, the curtains soon caught light. The fire soon grew to a terrible blaze, swallowing Brand Manor in a towering inferno.
Beyond the garden and gilded iron gates, a carriage stood. Its twin horses stamped their hooves in frustration at the fire. The coachman watched the blazing flames with horror, another crack and he slumped off the seat, hurried on his way by a harsh shove. The whip cracked and the carriage hurried away. Leaving the manor to the fast encroaching firemen.
Baronet Cole slapped the paper down onto the coffee table, his counterpart Earl Bane looked up at him from where he was reclining in the leather arm chair. He took a calm sip of his tea then spoke, in a monotone voice;
“Do sit down my dear fellow, Victor shall bring you some tea” They were in a quiet gentlemen’s club. Cole sat in the opposing sofa, scowling. Bane noted he was a terribly unappetizing gentleman when anxious, his green eyes failing to complement his pale skin, normally so fine, was aggravated by the deep furrows in his brow. While only in his forties, Cole sported a receding hair line of greying brown. His nose was soft and small, his jaw not too prominent. To many he was an unattractive gentleman, his features all too feminine, the same could not be said about his daughter; Miss Jenison, married to a successful banker.
Cole accepted the tea slurping it vulgarly. He clanked the dish and cup down before speaking;
“Bane, have you seen the papers they’re alight with the news”
“No pun intended” Banes interjected
“What. Oh do listen. It has started.” Cole shrivelled at the Earl’s glare, he fortified himself and continued. “Brand is gone, and I have no doubt others shall follow. I’ve sent men I trust to secret my daughter and her husband from the country; once my affairs are in order I intend to follow, I suggest you follow suite”
“No” Bane replied, feeling shame for the baronet.
“Samuel...” Bane held his hand, shortening Cole’s protest.
“It is all well and good for those who can, to abandon the ship, but I’m afraid they are the few. The plenty require assistance, even if they don’t know it yet. I shall not leave these people without aid, even if i doubt my ability to make much of a difference.” Flabbergasted Cole stared dumbly
“I admire your bravery, this may well be goodbye my friend.” They stood and shook hands, each resting their free hands upon the shake, exchanging private smiles, then Cole turned and left, pausing at the door, turning back to look at his friend one last time. Bane smiled a sad smile, in reply, despite his flaws, Cole was his dear friend, it was a shame he had not the courage to stay.
Bane returned home that evening his man-servant took his coat and hat from him, before silently retreating into the servants’ quarters, to brush down his hat and inspect his coat for flaws. Once alone in his study bane sat at his desk, and took a key from round his neck, using it to unlock a draw, pulling a cracked leather journal from its depths. Flipping it open to the first page, he rang for the valet, and gave orders for extra ink, paper and envelopes. He banished the servant with a wave upon his return, and sub-sequentially sent a maid weeping, with a harsh remark, when she attempted to bring him dinner. The butler would have quiet, polite yet forceful words with him later, but it didn’t matter.
Finally, exhausted his hand in agony from cramp Bane leant back in his chair stretching his back. He was in his late thirties. Ink stained his fingers, shirt and waistcoat. he staked the letters upon his desk and rang the bell for a servant, the butler entered.
“Would you be as kind as to deliver these letters to Mr Able of Solomon drive, number 15, please instruct him to read the letter addressed to him, and that letter alone”
“Of course sir” the butler took the letters and headed towards the door
“And Karl, take your pistol, there may be trouble”