The Cyneweard

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Part II - Our Common Grave :: 35

There was no song in his heart as Cyrus approached the burning home. A cold, heavy dread now settled there. He and Elam called out to the home, trying to ascertain if anyone was trapped in the blaze. They heard no response.

“I’m going in,” Elam told him, dropping his lance. “Try to flag down another Cyneweard.”

Cyrus nodded. “Be careful. Fire spreads quickly.”

Elam nodded and disappeared through the home’s open door.

With a quick heel turn, Cyrus began jogging down the oddly empty street. He called out for the local Cyneweard, a man he knew well.

“Grantham. Grantham!”

His calls were answered with a woman’s scream. He turned a corner and then stopped dead in his tracks. At the end of the street, a large red-masked individual was pulling a nobleman’s wife by the hair out of her front door. Cyrus’ brain kicked back into gear and he sped forward, lance thrust out in front of him. Before he was halfway to the attacker, the woman’s throat had been cut. A man was screaming inside the house, his words unintelligible behind a wall of agony.

Cyrus’ lance found a home inside the attacker’s chest cavity. The mask was solid red with no eye holes. He wore a Machine worker’s overalls. Cyrus asked the man who he was and received no reply, just a grunting, pained laugh.

More screaming. Cyrus yanked the lance from the dying masked man and turned. More masked attackers. More nobles being pulled from their homes. He knew these people.

“Grantham,” he yelled as he charged another attacker. His target side stepped and took a swing at his head with a large iron pipe. Cyrus ducked and brought the lance’s tip up into the attacker’s abdomen. The foe gasped and fell backwards off of the blade, gripping the large wound the weapon had made.

CRACK.

Cyrus turned in time to see Elam, covered in soot, falling to the ground, a blossoming red flower between his eyes.

“Elam!” he yelled and started to rush over to his fallen friend. The cobble in front of his feet kicked up dust as a slug bit into the ancient brick. He side stepped, turned his upper body, reared back, and threw the lance at the nearest attacker. They all wore red eyeless masks.

His friend and colleague was dead. More and more nobles were being dragged from their homes. He eyed Elam’s fallen lance but a slug cracked at the handle before he could even bend down to try to pick it up.

“Shit,” he growled. More screams. More cries.

Brisa, he thought. Mother. Father!

He looked towards his home and realized an attacker was rushing him. He pulled on the man’s large shoulders and drove him into a waiting knee. Cyrus heard the man’s face shatter at the bridge of the nose. He started into a dead run for his home. More cracks sounded behind him. People were dying and he couldn’t do anything to stop it.

The front door to his house was lying on the ground in two splintered halves. His heart sank.

“Mother,” he called. Cyrus ran to the living room, the kitchen, the parlor. He found her in the hallway to the large bedroom suite. Blood clung to the marble floor around her head, her lifeless eyes staring up to the ceiling, her jaw forever unhinged in her final shocked expression.

“No,” he growled, knees starting to buckle. He fell to his knees beside her but didn’t dare touch her, in fear of confirming his own tradegy. Tears threatened the corner of his eyes. He wiped them away and sprang to his feet.

“Father? Father?!”

His found his father in a state of undress at the side of his parents’ bed. His throat had been cut so violently that the head was cocked at an unnatural angle.

Grief battled rage as he stomped around his father’s body, trying to make sense of it all. What was going on? Who would do this?

He let out a howl and ran to the garden, a cacaphony of sounds hitting in a rush of wind. He smelled burning wood and flesh. Someone in the next home over was tearing it up, tossing things all about, yelling “Anna! Anna!”

“Brisa!” he yelled, starting to climb the tree. “Brisa!”

“Get down you foolish boy!” shouted a familiar voice behind him.

He turned. Standing behind him at the patio was Master Parton, a longbarrel slugthrower in his hands.

“My parents!” he snarled, tears once again settling at the corners of his eyes.

“I know, I know,” grunted Parton. “No time for mourning now. We need to get the Emperor and his family out of here. You and me, we might just be the last ones left to help accomplish it. East is gone. Grantham dead. Broch’s dead too.”

“And Elam,” Cyrus added, jumping down from the tree.

Parton nodded, reached into the side pocket of his large Manipulator’s vest, and tossed Cyrus a slugthrower sidearm. “Know how to use it?”

Cyrus nodded.

“Good. Let’s go.”

“Brisa!” Cyrus called, eying the tree.

“Come boy, you’ll find her yet. I promise. To the palace. Put a slug into anything wearing red.” Parton dashed off back into the house.

Cyrus eyed the weapon. He’d never used one live before. And what did Parton mean he’d find her soon enough?

“Now, Ferweard!” growled Parton from inside the house.

With a nod, Cyrus rushed off to follow his Master.

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