Ah, Cafe Leblanc. That brilliantly changing landscape upon which the intellectually cowardly could dance in an obscene parody of genuine politics. Such cynicism cavorted with equal ferver in the mind of Mr. Dorian Gray as he ran his hand along the obsessively intricate oak comprising the far table at which he was seated.
His own decor was was decidedly drab; a navy blue trenchcoat and disheveled hair that appeared to have had nervous fingers run through it again and again. A passerby was meant to deduce that said digits were his own.
Another figure observed in silence the man who so ungratiously hid himself away as if the concealment of the shadows could hide the stain of blood on his heinous hands.
The letter had reached its intended destination, of that he was sure, but the law had already failed to apprehend this monster once.
Whatever the cost, he would not fail.
A woman with long, dark curls in a bright pink dress approached the man, sitting beside him with a candid look of concern that only one so unenlightened as to the true nature of her charge could afford.
"Lost in thought, sir?", she began.
"Thinking of someone...", he continued.
"A woman, perhaps?"
"Was she very pretty?"
"Yes", the man admitted with a distance to his voice as his eyes remained fixed on a window, "She had a perfect face. But a face is all I know her by. That, and the name Achina..."
"Achina", the woman repeated, "I have heard of no such woman. Sorry."
With a casual smile, he shifted his weight back against the wall by the door; a place he had occupied for the last two hours.
"I might be many things, Monsieur Gray, but at this moment I am He who knows more about Achina than you. Won't you follow me?"
And then, as curiously as he had entered the conversation, he withdrew, exiting the establishment in turn.
Standing abruptly, he followed the man outside. What was his game? Was he a player or a pawn? And if he did, as he claimed, possess knowledge of both the woman who was Achina and he himself, might he not be an enemy for that very knowledge?
As he tailed the man, he kept a firm grip on the knob of the cane carried beneath his coat...
Straying down a cobblestone alley, he came to a halt, his back still turned and his dark cloak waving dramatically as he began to speak.
"I notice you are quite the lover of games, Monsieur. Like myself, a riddle amuses you for its challenge rather than its novelty, and you apply the solution to all aspects of your life.
However, the game is up. I salute you for what might have been a brilliant attempt, had it not been an attempt on the life of a friend."
With that, he began to draw his sword.
The fool! His day was done! With a flick of his wrist, he drew in turn the blade concealed within his cane, twisting himself at an awkward angle to seemingly throw himself off balance whilest actually lulling the opponent into a faux strike, then lunged under the eager blade to make an attack of his own, burying the point of his steel in the heart of the scoundrel.
As the blade pierced the heart of what appeared to be turning to attack, the truth became apparent at last. The blade cracked through a wooden frame with ease, the mannequinn it held together falling in a heap under the cloak. Still twitching beneath was a clockwork device that had provided mobility to the effigy.
No sooner than the handsome young aristocrat had realized his error, he felt a distinctly sharp point on the back of his neck.
"How sad, that a talented illusionist such as yourself fell so easily into the dream I fabricated for you."
Closing his eyes, he smiled softly, "Ay, there's the rub. For in the sleep of death, what dreams may come!"
With a twisting lunge, the nobleman struck out, slashing for the throat of his challenger, seemingly with no regard to defense.
As the two men's blades danced with their footwork and sung with the intensity of their heated glares, it became apparent that they were evenly matched. Dorian knew that he would not best the stranger with skill alone and, leading the duel back toward the dead end of the alley, formulated a plan.
As he backed the murderous knave against a wall, he knew he had him.
"I apologize, Monsieur, for the anonymity of your death. Were my skill greater than yours, I should have hoped to see you in jail."
Slashing quickly for the sword wrist of the boy, he followed with a quick cut to his jugular, and quickly fled before the constable might see him back into the shadows.
Clutching at his throat, Dorian smiled. This was pain. It had been ages since he felt this sensation. As soon as he was sure his quarry had left the area, the immortal stood, tying a lavender scarf from his pocket around his neck and fleeing in turn while his wound began to heal...