Nemo's Memoirs: A Dinner With Mr. Dark
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A Dinner with Mr. Dark

It was on the 6th of April, in the Year of Our Lord 1872, that I was able to secure an invitation to a dinner held at the townhouse of one Mr. Leopold Dark, in London. As M. Verne's novel regarding the voyages of the Nautilus had just been published in England, I believe that Mr. Dark was eager to meet the captain of that great vessel; and while I was quick to correct his mistake, the invitation stood. (I myself met the man some years later, at a members-only club in Istanbul with the most delightfully disorienting mesmeric patterns in its wallpaper, but that is a tale for another time.) The dinner took place three days later, on the 9th; other than Mr. Dark and myself, there were around a dozen diners present, including Messrs. Ezekiel Marshall and James Carter, with whom Mr. Dark owns a trading company of some renown.

A full ekphrasis of the dining room itself could fill a whole book, containing as it did so many trophies and curios from Mr. Dark's long career, but I will limit myself to describing just a few of the more notable pieces in the collection. The table and its accompanying chairs had originally been created for Louis the Sixteenth himself, in a Venetian workshop whose clientele included Ottoman sultans and Habsburg emperors; it was en route on one of Mr. Dark's grandfather's ships when the Revolution started, and brought instead to his Amsterdam warehouse, whence it made its way to London. Upon the walls were mounted a number of taxidermied animal heads, including a great ape of the "Ye-Teh" or "Sasskwatch" family; a bull unicorn, its horn a good two feet long and still wickedly sharp; and a manticore, kept alive despite its decapitation through some ungodly art, temporarily muzzled to prevent its pitiful wheezing from disturbing the diners. Beside these there were displays of weaponry and armaments, from a bronze spear carried by Agamemnon at Ilium to a sort of phlogiston-thrower developed for use in the Royal Navy's abortive lunar campaign. The table's centerpiece was an inverted-time floral display, which at the start of the meal was withered and dead; as the meal progressed, the flowers regained their color, progressing backwards through the seasons, until by the dessert course they were closed green buds.

Of course, my main reason for accepting the invitation was not to enjoy the decor, but to study Mr. Dark's security arrangements, and note the locations of some choice objets d'art that I might be able to make use of or to sell to one of my more discreet associates. His house had the most fascinating warding scheme around it, an interlocked maze of alarms and shields reminiscent of the wards around the treasure-house of Babylon;

tags: goi-format marshall-carter-and-dark nobody _nobody

originally i wrote this for the jamcon2020 "delicious" theme but that clearly didn't pan out

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