The Cyneweard

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Part I - Bringer of Storms :: 20

Greer entered the Leaping Leporine just after the sun had started to peek over the horizon. The sharp angles of the light hitting the front of the pub caused bright beams of orange light to flood certain seats within the place, highlighting and sharpening the grim features on the few patrons that had made it in that morning.
It had been a rough night for Greer. After the funeral was slap-dashed apart following the death of the boy, the angry crowd split into groups and tore about Little Mille and the Sash district howling at the homes of prominent Foremen. He had responded to at least a dozen fist fights near the Machine's south gate alone.
Wilcox had handled the cleanup and legality discussions with Machine officials. Parton, who had by all accounts, had nothing to do with the boy deciding to jump the dais, was long gone. No statement had been given for his office or his guard. They dealt with a proxy; some young Vice Chairman-in-training offering tepid advice to those expressing their concerns.
The Sigil was already stretched thin and the continuing escalation of the quarrel between the Machine and its workers was adding undue stress to the entire Chop. Greer had gotten little sleep thanks to late night meetings with Sash officials and a representative from the Grand Watcher's office. The man himself was likely to make an appearance soon to try to quell some of the unrest. Greer wasn't going to get his hopes up on that one, though.
He sighed and slumped into a booth near the bar, head lolling to the side as he counted the patrons. Eight not including himself or Lilly at the bar. Not the normal business for the Leporine at this time of day. First Day Shift would begin when the sun fully broke the skyline. Workers and Foremen alike gathered here to have Barkroot Tea and water biscuits, a specialty of Lilly's. This morning saw no Machine workers at all.
"Your usual," Lilly said as she sat down a cup, saucer, and a few biscuits.
Greer looked up to her and smiled. "Thanks."
"On the house," she smiled.
He began to protest but she cut him off.
"I'll have you take these for free, Fielder Greer, or not at all. Considering the work you had to put in yesterday, I probably owe you more."
He shook his head, rolled his eyes, and picked up the tea cup.
"That's right," Lilly giggled.
"Not the usual crowd," he said, taking a sip.
She nodded and looked around. "I think they have the Machine on lock down. You get in, do your job, and get out. I heard that a Vice Chairman was attacked in his office during the funeral yesterday."
Greer raised his brow. "First I've heard of it."
"Heard it last night after late shift came in for their night caps. Happened in baling."
Another sip, then Greer replied, "You sure hear a lot here."
She grinned. "S'my job."
He returned her smile and took another sip. "No Leona today?"
"Sick, I'm afraid. Won't make it in today. I'll tell her you called."
"No need," he frowned, setting the now empty tea cup down. "Just checking in."
Her warming smile made him uncomfortable.
"Any issues with protests or Foremen last night?" he asked, fishing for a shift in subject.
She placed her hands on her hips and shook her head. "No, they usually wait till they get outside to start hitting each other."
"You know you're obligated to report those to the Sigil office, right?"
She laughed. "Don't have time. Don't have time to stand here and keep yammering either."
"Thanks," he said, raising a biscuit to her before tossing it into his mouth. "Good as always."
Before turning, she tapped the plate of biscuits. "Be sure to eat all of these. I have a feeling you'll need the energy today."
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