Nizzin found the wine almost immediately. Many of the guests drifted past him, glass up, tipsy nod, moving in a steady flow towards one of the main rooms where it looked like a voluptuous woman was holding court with a story as she waved her hands about. One of the servants, hovering on the fringe of the gathering bending his ear to hear the lady’s story, absently held aloft a tray of wine glasses. Nizzin lifted it easily away, as if in an updraft, claimed a glass for himself and pawned the tray off to a passing couple all in one easy movement. He could be very graceful.
Nizzin rolled the golden wine around his mouth and rolled his gaze around the room, taking in the house, the light, the shadows, the currents of the event. While many eddied around the main room, some of the guests were quite caught up in their own activities, filling alcoves with heavy breaths when he passed.
The library was upstairs. Tall windows were open to the night. There a scant growth of guests, swaying lightly in the atmosphere like seaweed in the shallows. Wreathing the tall open windows were vines of climbing jasmine yawning and panting in the warm night. Threading the growth with the expert allocation of an experienced gardener where those luminous blossoms native to the island, heaving their mild narcoticism into the perfume of the library.
Nizzin ignored the guests and ran his fingertips along the spines of the books. As a collection the quality of the volumes varied wildly, some seemed piled atop each other with little to unite them other than the artist who painted the covers. Other shelves were curated heavily. Title . . . Title. . . Title . . . Nizzin stopped at a book entitled The Ecstasies of the Panopliant and pulled the volume off the shelf.
‘Give us a bit,’ a young man from a couch in front of the windows popped up. A small pile of the profligate guests reclined there chewing slowly on the narcotic blossoms plucked from where they trumpeted through the wreathing jasmine. Their stray hands swirled wine glasses, bottles ,or were instead playfully tucked inside each others clothes.
Nizzin balanced his wine glass, now empty – the fire of it’s contents opening in his veins, on a small table stacked with folios and opened the book he held. He aimed an arched eyebrow at the young man who had spoken. The fellow, pale with clouded eyes raised his glass to Nizzin. Others around him showed there assent likewise.
Nizzin made a play of clearing his throat, caught himself up in a real cough and had to turn his head, his forefinger marking his page, as the fit exhausted itself.
‘On with it!’, sang out a girl with no more than sixteen summers in her blood, her smile painted plum and bits of flower stuck between her teeth.
Nizzin (reading from the introduction): ‘The prisms of skin display a spectrum only from that light of identity and imagination inside. That light that is carried to the skin may tickle the surface with sparkle, but bends the light backwards through the prism to a dull glow only as bright as the one who wields that light.’
This seemed cursory, but curious.
‘Play us another one!’ The young man from before howled. Nizzin imagined any fool thing would tickle the group of them. But as he had read the pack he carried with him gained weight, if not on his back, where what he had stolen that was hidden, then in his mind, where the idea of it burned brightly. The coincidence felt significant.
Nizzin flipped ahead a few pages until a sentence caught his attention.
Nizzin (reading): ‘Under the objectification of the stars, what does the body become?’
A companion to the young man loosed something like a stream of giggles into the air before tucking his face into his cuffs. The pile of them dissolved in puddle of howls and laughter.
Nizzin had found his book.