Part II - Our Common Grave :: 33
Singing. He heard singing.
She was singing again.
He watched as she danced between the verses, her large eyes never leaving his for long. Cyrus beamed at her, his back leaned against her side of the wall separating their gardens.
Parton and his parents were gone; his father had been sent to accompany the Emperor to Millewhist, where tensions between the Empire and its people were growing more and more hostile every day. Parton was off doing whatever Manipulators did. His mother was on a sojourn to the original House of Humbolt to, in her words, "reconnect with the great warrior."
"Where're your parents again?" he asked her as she finished her song.
She let out a long breath and moved to his side, pushing her back against the wall and leaning her head on his shoulder. "Father is away on business. Mother and the nanny are visiting family in Millewhist."
"I thought Millewhist was dangerous."
"I think that's why they're going there," Brisa replied.
Cyrus let his head fall back against the stone and gazed up at the dimming evening sky. It had been nearly eight years since he had made it out of the crucible as the third highest rated recruit. That had netted him a long five year training in the Cyneweard academy just off the palace grounds. The facility was large, well funded, and stocked with every weapon and every possible training room. He had been molded and shaped into a sharp arrowhead by which to protect the royal family and its colleagues. He had been promised by his father that, upon the Emperor's return from Millewhist, he would be officially sanctioned and given his assignment as an official Cyneweard. His life long fate was about to capture him.
He sighed. "I'll be a Cyneweard soon."
"I know," she whispered into his shoulder. "And then..."
"We will have even less time."
"Should we run away together?"
He turned to look at her. Her face was as resolute as he had ever seen it. The sincerity she plainly wore tugged at his heart. He could not abandon his duty.
"I'm afraid that's not an option, Brisa," he replied, shaking his head.
Her dejected look froze his heart for a moment. "I understand. There's so much at stake here for you. I'm just..."
"Beautiful," he finished, pulling her face back up.
She smiled, though the smile did not reach her eyes. "You always say that."
"I only speak the truth."
"I know," she giggled. She gave him a soft kiss. "One day, maybe you'll be my Cyneweard."
"Are you royalty?" he asked, grinning.
"Well..." she said, placing an invisible crown on her head. "How about now?"
He laughed. "Of course, my grace. My life is yours to use as you see fit." He raised a non-existent saber in the air. After exchanging incredulous looks, they both gave out broke into strong fits of laughter.
When the giggle fit had left him, Cyrus wanted to ask yet again why she was kept in this home with just a nanny and mother. Wanted to know if she'd ever be let go. But he already knew the answer to that. She refused to tell him any details and tried to had the utter sadness that crept into her eyes when she spoke of her confinement.
"One day, I will be your Cyneweard," he said in a firm tone. "And I'll get you out of this mess."
She sighed and laid her head on his shoulder again. "Maybe," she cooed.
His father returned a few days later, ignoring him as he and Parton entered the home.
"It's going to be a siege if we're not careful," his father yelled as the two men stormed up the stairwell. He heard his father's study door slam shut. The two continued their argument inside. Cyrus crawled halfway up the stairs and listened.
"Why is the Emperor so stubborn about this?" he heard his father yell. "He of all people should know the importance of keeping the peace there. Especially considering-"
"Especially considering," Parton interupted, "the fact that the place is inundated with rebels, spewing hate speech across the burrows. The defeat of the empire is being sewn in the alleways of Millewhist. We have to crush them at the heart."
His father sighed. "I don't doubt the need to quell the fire being stoked, Lott. But Millewhist is mostly peaceful. To surround it with soldiers will only pressure the rebels into gathering more to their cause. No matter how superior our training is, they may grow to have us beat in number."
"Horseshit," growled Parton. "If we root out the bad apples and teach them a lesson, we show force against the minority element, and we can withdraw very quickly."
"I'm telling you, it'll turn into a siege! There is no quelling a rebellion if you do not take a more peaceful road."
"The Emperor is dead set on this, Heald. If you do not fall into line with his wishes, you may find yourself without a job."
"How dare you threaten me, Lott. You are the last of your family and you are beholden to the rank of Manipulator. We are on equal footing."
"Then I can disagree with you all I want. The Emperor will not be swayed. Millewhist is growing ever closer to the edge of rebellion and we must ready ourselves to protect the soveriegnty of this empire. You are Cyneweard, sir. I suggest you start acting like it."
Parton's bootfalls were heavy, their vibrations tickling the banister. Cyrus moved off the stairs and out into the garden. Whatever was going on in Millewhist, it didn't sound good. And his father was defying the Emperor... not like him at all.
"Cyrus," called Parton, pointing at his charge.
Cyrus whirled around, heart beating in his chest.
"I think I may have pissed off your father," his master grinned.
Cyrus shrugged. "I was out in the garden."
"A lie, but convincing enough," Parton commended. "Waiting on your flower to bloom?"
"Huh?" Cyrus asked, heart close to leaping out of the back of his throat now.
"I'm a Manipulator. We are trained to know secrets. I've heard your secret has quite the voice on her."
Cyrus frowned. "How did you find out?"
Parton waved his hand. "Nothing goes unknown around the palace for long, Cyrus. You will do well to remember that. You'll also do well to take heed of my next bit of advice."
"And what would that be?" Cyrus said, brow furrowing.
"That you best stay away from Brisa, especially now that you're about to become an sanctioned Cyneweard."
"Why?" Cyrus grunted his question, his fists balling in his pockets.
"Let's just say that I'm not the only one who has noticed."