Sunrise was an acquired taste. A bitter wash of gray on the horizon, scrubbing away the heavy night sky. A light brush of pink, and purple, and yellow, sweet almost to the point of cloying after the weight of the scouring that came before. A following brightness, fading through the last of the stars. Light that sept gently into blood and bone and breath, bright as mint. All of it drawn out, one insistent moment after another, to make it palatable.
Brance blinked into the growing light. He yawned. His tongue felt thick in his mouth, and his shoulders ached dully. Every thought was slow and flighty as a breeze, and constantly interrupted by the notion that shutting his eyes would be very comfortable. Laying down would be pleasant as well, but not necessary. He could sleep just where he was. And yet, after drinking in too many dawns, one more was hard to turn down.
It had been a cold night, one of those nights that bit at fingers and ears and made Brance happy to walk slow so that the chill didn’t cut into his chest. He had been happier still to duck into his favorite tap-house, where the music was a little too loud and the dancers a little too drunk for real grace, but the room was warm and spiced and everyone was smiling.
He played cards for most the night, happily losing money. He emptied his purse on the table, bought himself a few more friends than he’d had before, and laughed with them, though very few things were funny. Then he danced – two or three wild songs – before he ordered his first round of strong drink, then sat down near the band and traded jokes with folk deeper in their cups than he was.
Someone insulted him. Taking a long drag from his mug, Brance considered punching the man for it. It had been a while since he had been in a good brawl, but it was too cold outside to be thrown out tonight. He settled for draining his mug to the last drop, smacking it down on the table, and giving the man a dirty, seventeen-adjectives-in-a-string insult in return. Brance was impressed when the man understood him and amused when he attempted to retaliate.