Twelve years after Ivory first visited the Black Carnival, Neu Venedig has changed: wilder, crazier, and even more surprising, this new Carnival has even old hands like Lukan staring wide-eyed.
I have bittersweet feelings about this story, which first appeared in an anthology put together for the benefit of Doris O’Connor and her family in the final days of her struggle with cancer. There will always be this great sadness connected to it.
On the other hand, it was great fun to dive back into the world of Cydonia, the Sci/fi series that started my published author career in 2011 (2011? Eight years ago? How did that happen?) with the release of Black Carnival.
It’s a great pleasure to re-release the story, with a new edit and this fabulous cover by Jay Aheer.
I am terrible at short stories, because my world building addiction always brings me to write a bit more, and a bit more, and then the short story becomes a full length novel. I thought it might be easier to write a short story in a pre-existing universe, but, no even so, the world and the characters still managed to do their own thing. Everything changed in the telling. Neu Venedig is a wholly more interesting place now, and I am wondering if it is not time to write a new full length instalment in this series… all this just to say, that this story was a tremendous fun ride for me, quite the surprise, and brings me full circle, in a certain sense, connecting my current Transgender Romance theme, to my debut novel. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Wealthy, charismatic, influential and damn near immortal, Lukan Løvensgård looks like natural Dom material, and in fact he has never, but never submitted to anyone in his long life. But among all the bizarre and fantastic people roaming the far planet of Cydonia, there is one who stole his old, cold heart.
And her love comes at a price. Complete surrender.
With her impressive presence and unusual equipment, Helenay is the hottest and trendiest professional Domme in Neu Venedig and she hardly has the time to top for pleasure these days. But she knows what her old friend Lukan needs, something he never suspected. Release from power.
Three-hundred years after the demise of Earth-that-Was, the Galaxy’s central government has banned all artificially modified and enhanced humans. Only the remote planet of Cydonia has finally dissociated itself from the ban. The wild revelries of the Black Carnival in the Cydonian capital, Neu Venedig, have now taken an even wilder turn…
On the fifth night of the Carnival, Lukan strolled out of his high walled courtyard, twirling his walking cane in the air and humming Johan Caspar Ferdinand Fischer’s “Praeludium VIII” to himself. He had been playing it on the harpsichord again and again that afternoon, and its slippery, silvery perfection still clung to his inner ear like a haunting voice.
He crossed a little bridge into a narrow calle, then turned right into a slightly wider canal-side, lit by glowing fire-bulbs and the shimmering reflections from the dark water. The place was quiet, and the music hummed on in his head, undisturbed. Even at the height of the festivities, it was almost deserted in this part of Neu Venedig. He had carefully chosen his 16th century palazzo to be well out of the raving crowds.
He skipped from flagstone to flagstone along the edge of the canal, almost like a child, almost like a dancer, following the music that he alone could hear. The long tails of his embroidered coat flapped behind him as if charmed by the inaudible melody. His ghostly shadow flickered in and out of existence as he passed streetlight after streetlight.
It was Carnival, and he was going to Hell.
The Praeludium in his head gave way to an altogether more spirited Rigaudon, and he skipped faster, actually counting, two, three, four—he skipped a larger flagstone—five, six seven. Eight, nine, heaven.
Hopscotch. A forgotten game, like the music was forgotten, like the harpsichord was forgotten, ghosts of a dead world, long, long ago. But he was alive, and he remembered. He had been alive a long time, far longer than his looks suggested.
The night was cold, and he was as taut as a violin string, ready to snap with ache and longing, and something else, too, a sort of mute grief he didn’t want to acknowledge but that haunted him all the time, subtly gnawing at him.
But he was going to Hell, so all would be fine tonight. Soon, he would be all right, freed from that silent sorrow, and released into flaming brilliance.