A Good Death
Magga was about to die for the fourteenth time. She had bitten into a rotten apple–yet again. Its putrid flesh had, as always, infected her with carrionshade. The actress went through the motions of stumbling to her death while shouting her final words for all to hear.
“Oh, but how wondrous a dream is life? Only now—too late!—do I wake to see its myriad of splendors,” she bemoaned.
With a puff of smoke and glittering powder, Kindred made a grand entrance upon the stage. As per tradition, they were played by one actor, his head covered by two opposing masks. He approached Magga, the white mask of the Lamb facing her.
“Hark! Do I hear a plea for my keenest arrow? Come, child, let the warmth of your heart fade into the cold embrace of oblivion.”
Magga refused, as she had thirteen times before. Any nuance in her performance was buried beneath the ear-splitting delivery of her scream. On cue, Lamb spun around, revealing the second mask–that of the Wolf.
“There is naught ye can do to stave off thine end,” growled Wolf.
“I am but a poor young maiden! Please, let my piteous cry fall on all four of thine ears.”
The audience seemed enraptured by the unfolding dramatics of the Orphellum Mechanicals. With the twin threats of plague and war on the tongues of those in neighboring protectorates, death dramas were all the rage.
Denji, the actor portraying both Lamb and Wolf, descended upon the young actress, awkwardly baring wooden fangs. Magga offered her neck. At the threat of Wolf’s bite, she triggered the device sewn into her blouse’s collar. Ribbons of red fabric unspooled to the delighted pips and yelps of the audience. They’d gotten what they paid for.