The Cyneweard

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Part III - All That's Left is Blood :: 53

How long had he been doing this? To what purpose did this all serve? Was it really beneficial to Brisa? To Elara? He didn’t know. He was good at it. Great, even.

Six years now? Seven? He had made a decent living at this for a while now, working as hard and as much as he could. The work was relatively easy and he had been trained well, both in his past life and by his current cohort. Soon though, he’d be let loose on his own, a free agent. Emmet was leaving, done with his personal mission, satisfied and ready to finally retire from his long employment.

The remnant had promised Emmet what he wanted most: revenge. Today, they had given it to him. Today, after years upon years of searching, looking, and coming up with false hope, the Remnant had provided Emmet with the clue he had needed. He could finally avenge Anna’s death, his imprisonment, the entire ruination of his life. His demons were exercised.

“Cyrus,” Emmet called.

“Huh?”

“I think he’s dead.”

Cyrus looked down, his knife still plunged upward from the underside of the man’s jaw, the blade lodged through the target’s mouth, sinus cavity, and into the frontal lobe of the brain. Blood, mucous, and saliva were running down his forearm.

“Oh,” he said, extracting the knife with a loud slurping noise and shaking the loose liquid from his arm. “You celebrate. I’ll go and clean up.”

Emmet sighed and shook his head. “You really need to get your head out of the clouds. I won’t be around after we get back to town.”

“Have you decided where you’re going to go?”

Emmet shrugged. “Maybe Smythe, maybe the Chop. Probably not Millewhist. Kinda tired of all the Animas.”

“Not very progressive of you,” Cyrus said, wiping his arm off on the sleeve of one of the many dead lying on the floor.

“Hey, your tastes may lean that way but I’m tired of all the fur on my clothes.”

Cyrus shook his head. “If you weren’t my friend, I’d kill you for that crack.”

“Good thing I’m your friend then,” Emmet grinned.

They stood in silence, Emmet staring into the lifeless eyes of the man that had set fire to the home of the noble family he had served, killing his love Anna in the process. The man had worked for the Rebellion, one of the many hidden agents of destruction activated during the Purge. Right under the noble’s noses, these agents had sat, waiting for a signal from the Rebellion leaders.

From all accounts, the Purge had taken the lives of nearly three hundred nobles, and that was just the reported finds. Many had gone missing and were never heard from again, including the Emperor. Cyrus had an idea that he was dead too.

Only a small group of fifty or so remained, sheltered in Millewhist and the small villages and towns between the Chop and Mount Hewn. They made up the Remnant and were slowly trying to regain their power, starting up Mines to funnel resources to the Machine. Money meant power in the new economy, and the Remnant craved power.

They paid well and that’s all that mattered to Cyrus. Farming had not worked out so well. He still did it but not nearly on the scale he had attempted before joining up with Emmet. He was far better at killing than growing. Life was as fickle as a short wicked candle and was more easily snuffed than lit. He had been ashamed for the first two kills or so. After that, the money made all feelings irrelevant.

“How did it feel?” Cyrus asked after watching Emmet basking in his success.

“Proud. Happy. Anna’s avenged. Her demon no longer haunts me. I can live peacefully now.”

“So that’s it? You really don’t want to continue this?”

Emmet looked at him, tears making clear tracks on his bloodstained cheeks. “I have what I’ve been looking for, Cyrus. Closure is more sweet than any whisky, more satisfying than any special meal. Maybe now I can let the drink go as well.”

Cyrus crossed his arms. He doubted it. Though he had garnered a mighty thirst himself, Emmet made him look foolish at pubs. The man could drink more in one night than many could in a lifetime. Ale centered him and whisky made him a better shot with his slugthrower, somehow. Booze was Emmet’s fuel. Cyrus sincerely doubted that Emmet was going to just kick the habit just like that.

“Whatever you say.”

“Aren’t you seeking your own information?” Emmet said, wiping at his eyes.

Cyrus nodded. “It’d be good to know exactly who and how the betrayal went down. Not exactly a high point of my life.”

“I imagine not. I hope it doesn’t take you as long to find out as it did me.”

“Agreed.”

“And what happens when you do find out?” Emmet asked, stepping over a couple of bodies and approaching his pupil.

“Nothing. I just want to know.”

“But they took everything from you. Brisa, your job, your parents, your life.”

Cyrus shrugged. “I have a life now.”

Emmet sighed, eyes growing dark. “You know that’s not true.”

With a shake of his head, Cyrus turned. He knew it was the truth. Brisa’s condition was worsening. She’d get frequent nosebleeds. She had begun to shake violently in her chair without uttering a sound. He had thought her being motionless and speechless would be bad enough. Seeing her sitting there in that chair, body shuddering as her blank eyes stared up at him...

“I’m aware of that,” he snapped. “I take the days as they come. It tears me up to leave her. What if when I get back, she’s gone? And I wasn’t there? But I can’t go gallivanting off, in search of distant people to blame, revenge to serve. I am with her until the end. After that...I don’t know. I don’t want to think about it.”

Emmet placed a hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry. I didn’t meant to strike a nerve.”

Cyrus took a shuddering breath. “I take lives for a living. And I’m blabbering on about hers. What is a life worth?”

“Hers? To you? Apparently everything. Come on, let’s get out of here. It’s starting to smell.”

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