The Cyneweard

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Part II - Our Common Grave :: 40

“Brisa” he called, reaching towards the blurred face in front of him. Something caught his arm, wouldn’t let it go all the way to touch her face. He jerked at the binding. It stayed fast. Was that her?

The face gasped, moved away from him in a hurry, and someone yelled in a tunnel, their words echoing back and forth in his head. He winced at the pain rolling from the crown of his head to the back of his neck.

“He’s awake!”

Awake? Who’s awake?

“Brisa?” he asked, trying to pull his arm across his chest. Again something kept its motion in check and again he jerked at it to no avail. Had she forgotten him again? Was she having an episode?

He tried to get up, called her name again. A hand, large and firm, pushed him back down. He couldn’t make out the dark, hazy figure’s face. He tried to get up again. Another push.

“Stay down,” came a gruff, old voice. It was tired. Angry.

Cyrus tried to ask the voice who was its owner. Nothing came out.

“He needs water,” came a feminine voice. A trickle of recognition eased down the back of his mind. Did he know that voice?

A cold glass rim was shoved to his lips. His head was titled back. Cool water filled the crevices and cracks of his dry mouth, reawakening his shriveled tongue.

He took more and more water until he the holder muttered, “That’s all. I can get more.”

“No,” the old man said. “It’s time to talk.”

Cyrus shut his eyes hard, until bright specks of light burst behind his eyelids. When he opened his eyes, the room and its occupants met him.

Chamatri regalia was everywhere. Images of the Mother, both painted and sculpted, adorned the small stone room at every corner. Books of all types were stacked on the floor. The old man was Sigil, tall and lean, eyes like steel and face chiseled with experience and age.

He recognized the girl. She was the Animas that had saved him before, large eyed and slight framed, fur thick, ears twitching. Her eyes were fearful as they looked on him; she had gained knowledge of who he was, what he’d done.

Cyrus looked down at his wrists. They were shackled to long chains running to the iron posts of the bed he was lying in, its white sheets wet with his sweat and blood, stinking from days of unwash. He had been here a while.

“Well?” said the old man, staring at him.

“Can I sit up now?” asked Cy, voice hoarse, cracking at every vowel.

The old man nodded and looked at the girl he knew to be called Leona. She approached him with a slow and deliberate gate, eyes never leaving his face. She reached over, helped him upright, and then quickly backed away.

“You can leave,” the Sigil told her. She obliged with haste and shut the door of the room behind her upon her exit.

The Sigil grabbed the chair near the door and dragged it to just a few feet in front of the bed. “Comfortable?”

Cyrus titled his head.

“Now, I guess we should start with names. I’m Watcher Wilcox with the Machine District Sigil Post, also known as Little Mille.”

The former Cyneweard didn’t reply.

“It’s your turn now, son.”

“I’m not your son.”

Wilcox grinned. “Don’t make this harder than it has to be. I just want a name.”

“Cyneweard,” Cyrus replied.

“That’s a title, not a name. Try again.”

“You’re not going to get anything else.”

Wilcox frowned and scooted the chair forward. He spoke in a hushed, gutteral tone. “You hiding from someone? Someone out to get you? Can’t share your name with the law?”

Cyrus only gave him a blank scowl.

With a sigh, Wilcox stood. “Why did you try to kill the Union Leader?”

Silence.

“Were you involved in the murder of Priest Dumdhall?”

Cyrus looked away, training his eyes on a large parchment adhered to the wall.

“Look at me.” It was a command, not a request. Cyrus did not oblige.

Wilcox stood, throwing the chair to the ground. “You won’t have much luck once we get you back to the post. We have a place that makes people talk.”

Cyrus turned back to him. “I don’t remember the Sigil dallying with coercion.”

“We’ll make a special case for you. Regardless, we have the witness testimony to have you hanged. Whether or not we get your full story won’t make a lick of difference. The people don’t need a motive. They just need to see justice brought.”

“Do what you have to do, Sigil.”

Wilcox leaned over and sneered in Cyrus’ face. His breath reeked of coffee and thistleweed, his bared teeth stained green.

“Do you understand the trouble you’re in? Do you realize that you’re going to hang for the attempted murder of Union Leader Koph?”

“I will not take ownership of that crime.”

“Then you deny that you slammed Koph to the ground? Do you deny going after the other assassin? Was he stepping in on your kill? Who hired you?”

“Get out of my face,” Cyrus groaned, turning his head away from the Watcher’s foul exhalations.

“Your chances are slimming with every word.”

“You said I don’t have a chance, that I’ll hang regardless of my words.”

Wilcox hated having his own words thrown back at him. “Cyneweard huh? Yeah, you talk like a noble. Arrogant shit. You used to be Imperial, huh? Too bad about that whole coming out on the wrong side thing.”

“I never fought for the Empire.”

“You protected its leaders though, didn’t you?”

“No.” Cyrus felt his chest grow tight. He looked away from Wilcox. He had never managed to protect anyone as a Cyneweard.

“Then why the title? Didn’t you earn it?”

“Not yet.”

Wilcox through up his hands and turned to the door.

“Greer,” he shouted. “Come get this filth. We’re going back to post.”

A tall, hat wearing feline Animas walked in and gave Cyrus a stern glare. A bag was draped over one of his shoulders.

“I owe you,” he said, pointing at the Cyneweard. “One solid pop to the back of the head.”

“Save it for the post,” Wilcox growled. “You can repay him there. No need to mess up the healing room any further.”

Greer nodded and produced two ankle restraints from the bag at his side. He threw the covers off of Cyrus and put the cuffs in place, chaining them together.

“I’m barefoot,” Cyrus said as Greer began to chain his wrists together. Wilcox was working on the chains hooked to the bed posts.

“Tough shit,” Greer replied, grabbing Cyrus at the knees. He felt two arms hook him from under his own. The two Sigil lifted and placed him upright, the chains on him clinking, the sounds of their effort echoing off the stone walls.

“I don’t have a shirt, either.”

“Deal with it,” Wilcox grunted, pushing him at the small of his back. “Now walk. Try anything and we skip the hanging and go right for the slug treatment.”

Cyrus nodded.

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