Part II - Our Common Grave :: 46
“The man tried to kill you,” Greer shouted, pointing at the dark cell. “And you think I’m going to let you in there unprotected?”
Koph knocked on the door again. “You, in there, get up.”
Greer moved to the Union Leader’s side and tried to pull him away from the door. Koph wouldn’t budge. He craned his head over his neck and shouted “Let me see him,” into Greer’s face.
“No,” Greer replied, shaking his head. His battle against the steadfast leader’s stance started to go his way as Koph had to replant a foot to keep balance. “Don’t make me remove you from my office,” he said, wrapping his arms around Koph’s waist.
“Unhand me,” Koph shouted. “Why won’t you let me speak with him?”
“He. Tried. To. Kill. You.” Greer dictated slowly, deliberately as he started to try to lift the leader.
Koph struggled. “I at least need to see his face.”
Greer finally got Koph’s feet off the floor and started dragging him back towards the front of the office. He plopped the leader down onto a waiting bench near Wilcox’s desk, panting for breath. “You’re heavier than you look,” he said between sharp intakes of air.
Also winded, Koph replied between gasps “Yeah, you’re stronger than you look.”
“What is all this about?” Greer asked after having caught his breath. “Why do you need to see him so badly. Why would you want to see the man that tried to kill you?”
Koph shook his head. “I’m not quite sure yet myself.”
“You jumped and ran at the mention of his title. Did that ring any bells?”
“It’s an old title,” Koph replied but didn’t elaborate.
“Right,” agreed Greer. “Old and strange. The Cyneweard haven’t been around since the Emperor disappeared during the Purge.”
Koph nodded. “If he’s one of them, then he’s probably come a long way here.”
“And why would a Remnant, especially one of the Emperor’s guard, try to kill you?”
The Union Leader didn’t have an answer for that. He simply shrugged and turned his head to cough.
“Sorry for squeezing so hard,” Greer said.
“I wasn’t in my right mind,” Koph dismissed. “It’s fine.”
After a long pause, Koph asked, “What proof do you have that he tried to kill me?”
Greer sighed. “He slammed me in the face. Witnesses told us that after he stormed the stage, he knocked you to the ground and then began fighting another potential assassin.”
“And you killed that assassin?”
“Yeah,” Greer replied, face falling at the memory.
“And did this Cyneweard try to add further harm to my person?”
Greer shrugged. “The other attacker got the upper hand. Witnesses say his face looked as if murder was his first and only love.”
“But still,” Koph said. “He never tried to specifically harm me.”
“He slammed you down the ground.”
“What if he was trying to keep me safe?” Koph suggested.
“Why would he have attacked me?”
“Maybe you were in his way.”
“Of killing you,” Greer replied.
“I still don’t see a motive.”
“Well,” Greer replied with hesitation, “Wilcox and I believe him to be linked to at least three murders. Three deaths that occurred ancillary to all the messed up stuff between your group and the Machinists.”
Greer nodded. “And a foreman and a Vice Chairman. And the attempted assault on Vice Chairman Calor.”
“How do you know?”
“He matches Calor’s description of his attacker. I found one half of a set of thistle shears in his belongings. The other half was found at the House of Humbolt, buried just on top of the imperial corpses we found there.”
“Not exactly a coincidental finding, I imagine.”
Greer shook his head. “Yeah, too easy. The shear at the Church was placed in really shallow dirt, as if it was meant to be found. Directly below it was the corpses.”
“As if you were being led there.”
“I think it really shook the Watcher for some reason. I didn’t have a clue who those corpses might have been, but his reaction told me that perhaps they were more important than they appeared to be.”
“Where are the corpses now?”
“Still at the Chamatri Temple, in the cellar with the other dead. We’ve been meaning to examine them but shit keeps blowing up.”
Koph sighed. “I hope Wilcox makes Parton pay for what he’s done. I’ve not been very effectual so far and here I am running after a stupid old title. Some leader I am, eh?”
The two sat in silence for a moment. After a clap of thunder warned of pending rain, Greer cleared his throat.
“Do you still want to see him?”
“Without me in the room?”
“Especially without you in the room.”
Greer sighed. “You know, Wilcox will kill me if he finds out I let you do this.”
Koph nodded. “I’m aware. I won’t say anything.”
Greer moved over to the cell door, reached into his pocket, and extracted a set of large keys. “I’m going to keep his cuffs and ankle restraints on. I’m going to chain him to a chair just outside the chair. I’ll be right outside the door. If he so much as shakes a finger at you, yell for me.”
“Got it,” Koph replied.
The Protector opened the cell door, extracted a metal chair, and placed it just beside the cell door. He then stepped into the dark cell. Koph heard him mumbling instructions to the prisoner. A moment later, Greer stepped out, guiding the prisoner to the chair with his arm.
“Sit,” Greer instructed the prisoner, who quickly obeyed.
“Like the dark we left you in?” Greer asked, moving to attach the chains dangling from the man’s arms to a pair of hooks in the wall. He chained the prisoner’s ankle restraints to two large iron hooks sunk into the floor.
The prisoner did not answer the Protector’s query. The man wore a simple gray tunic and matching breeches, both ill-fitting, loose on his wiry frame. He had a thickening growth of hair on his cheeks and jaw, his hair matted and wet, clinging to his scalp and the back of his neck. The eyes were fierce and small, and bore straight through everything they landed their gaze upon.
“You’re going to have a nice chat with the man you tried to kill,” Greer told the prisoner. “Nothing funny. If I hear a loud noise, I come in here throwing. Got it?”
The prisoner turned his head and nodded, expression remaining blank.
Greer moved over to where the longbarrels were kept, grabbed the one he had carried earlier, and then pulled a side thrower from a drawer in his desk.
“You know how to use this?” he asked Koph, holding the weapon aloft.
Koph didn’t but nodded anyway, taking the weapon when it was handed to him.
“You can shoot him if you need to,” Greer said. “And remember, I’ll be just outside. Holler and I’ll come running.”
Koph nodded. “Thank you, Protector.”
“Still think you’re crazy,” Greer replied as he left the post.
After the door had closed, the two men stared at each other.
The prisoner broke the silence. “You look good.”
“You look like shit,” Koph replied.
The prisoner shrugged but a small smile pulled at the corner of his mouth. “Never expected to see you here.”
“Nor did I expect to run into you,” Koph replied. “It’s been a while.”
“A long while.”
“Can I trust you?” Koph asked, tilting his head.
“You’re not on my agenda,” the prisoner replied.
“That’s good to know. Anything else I should know?”
“You’re going to have to get me out of here.”
“That may be a bit hard, don’t you think?” Koph replied.
The prisoner shrugged. “I saved your life.”
“But I saved yours first,” Koph reminded him.
“I’m well aware.”
“And if I get you out of here, what do you plan to do?”
“Take care of your little Parton problem,” the prisoner replied.
Koph stared at the prisoner. “I don’t doubt that you could. But why?”
“That’s a long story.”
“I like long stories,” replied Koph.
The prisoner laughed, “Yeah, I remember that.”
Koph smiled. “It’s good to see you again, Cyrus.”