"Bah! You smell only the roasting pigs from the kitchen. How long in the moonshine have you stood?" Lucian smirked, "Or perhaps you merely found the presence all these handsome merchants flustering." His mocking laughter was lost quickly in the din of the crowd. Audric, however, began to pale.
"No, Lucian. I- I think that..." He began to sway unsteadily.
"What? The Lady Audric is falling faint. Someone fetch the smelling salts!" Lucian's hands flailed with his mocking, and wine sloshed from his chalice onto his pricey rug. His voice, too, began to reach excessive exaggeration, and the guests began to quiet and watch the scene unfold.Audric's hand, which had been reaching to his slanderer's shoulder to steady himself, now became a warning.
"Lucian. You're not acting as one of your elevation should. If Father were still alive, he'd-"
"He'd what? Produce another bastard with some whore? Or would he be curled in a corner, sharing his secrets with a drink?" Lucian's eyes blazed, daring Audric to deny his claims. Honorable though he was, Audric was too honest to lie about his father's vices or his origin. He looked round at the crowd, which suddenly found the far side of the room fascinating. Taking a breath, he whispered firmly.
"You disgrace his memory when you speak so, may God give him rest."
"All the rest the damned deserve." Lucian spat.
"Lucian!" Audric was shocked. He had grown used to the abuse, but to speak of their father so was simply outrageous.
"May he burn in Hell forevermore." Audric was struck dumb by this new blasphemy. Lucian watched with a sinful joy as his half-brother struggled to collect himself. His mouth gaped llike a trout's, and his nostrils flared with a heavy breath. Suddenly, though, he stopped moving entirely. His eyes grew wide, and his face seemed gaunt and haggard.
"I... need some air." Audric turned and hurried towards the large window at the back of the room. Lucian almost decided to follow him, but chose instead to find a new victim. As he scanned the room, the faintest scent brushed past him.
"Smoke?" Lucian stood for a moment, then shook his head and strode into the crowd.