The Cyneweard

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Part III - All That's Left is Blood :: 56

Greer didn’t buy it. It didn’t make sense.

In one hand, a letter of commendation and promotion from Sigil headquarters in the Sash district.

In the other, a letter of resignation from Watcher Wilcox. He was giving up his position to found a farming colony west of Mount Hewn. The stress of everything was too much. He yearned for peace in lands yet unexplored.

“Horseshit,” Greer growled, slamming the letter down on his desk. He heard his prisoner stir at the loud noise. Too bad.

Three days had passed and Wilcox had not returned from the Machine. A guard at the north gate had confirmed the Watcher had left the Machine compound and the Chop at large. Greer still didn’t believe it. And now he was the Watcher. His new Protector would be here in just two more days.

“Parton,” came the prisoner’s voice.

“Quiet,” he told the criminal. “You only talk to the Union Leader, or did you forget who I was?”

A grunt of laughter.

“Parton killed your Watcher.”

“Shut it or I’ll shut it for you.”

The prisoner obliged, though Greer felt the man to be right. Wilcox had never mentioned anything about starting a farming colony on the Hidden Coast. The area was as mysterious as some of the Chamatrian ruins around Millewhist. No one bothered to go in because no one knew what was there. Those that had gone to the Coast never returned and were quickly declared deceased. The only person said to have ever survived there was someone that was known as the Crone, an aged woman with knowledge beyond her own life time. Completely ridiculous and denounced by most as untrue, rumormongering by those brave enough to boast going to the Coast but not brave enough to have actually gone.

Perhaps he had been silenced by Parton? Maybe he was on to something? Wilcox had copious notes on the Chairman but most of it seemed innocuous, more a retelling of the man’s exploits during the Northern conflicts and the Rebellion. There were a few scribbled notes with big question marks on them, namely to do with the two corpses that had been dug up a few weeks back, not nothing much else.

Even if Parton had killed Wilcox, how was Greer going to prove it? He couldn’t just walk up to Parton’s office and say “Oh, yeah, you killed Wilcox. Come with me.” He’d be laughed out of a job, a job he desperately needed to keep.

Parton was too powerful to take on alone, even if he did have a score to settle with the aging Machine leader. It seemed a lot of people had scores to settle with him. The Machinist group were rarely called generous and when Amyee had been killed, they had proven that stigma. Greer had gotten the fees they wanted him to pay for resource damages waived thanks to his father’s position in the Sash district, but he never forgot the insult against him and his deceased wife.

He’d have to play it very carefully and continue his investigation, all the while juggling to violence erupting all around as the Union and Machinists clashed just about daily. He was always being called to some beating or slugthrowing scene, always having to work to break up fights and arguments. The entire district seemed on the verge of full fledged war, and maybe that’s exactly what was going to happen. The Sigil would, once again, be caught in the middle, this time without the luxury of wide ranging support from either side. At least during the Rebellion, the resistance had been supportive allies in ensuring the people of the Whistlands were protected. Not so much the nobles...but the people.

Greer winced at the thought of the Purge. It had been a nasty business that he had been too young to understand as it occurred. Now though, he was well aware of the heinousness of the act and how it colored the fragile relationship between the Machine and the Remnant. He had no stakes there and mostly ignored it. He had no doubt however that should the Machinists show weakness in their struggle against Unionization, the Remnant would pounce, ready to grab back the power they had been robbed of over a decade before.

And here he was, a Watcher without a protector or any deputies. A lone lawman in a district ripping at the seams. What could he do?

“Parton,” came the prisoner’s voice again.

“What did I tell you about talking?”

“He took Amyee. He took Wilcox. What are you going to do about it?”

Greer shot out of his chair, chest evening, anger flashing across his face. His lips curled, showing the stunted fangs present in all Animas’ mouths.

“How do you know about Amyee?”

The Prison sauntered forward and placed his shackled wrists between the bars, resting his for arms on a cross bar. He had a slight sneer toying at his upper lip. “Calor doesn’t lock his office up too well.”

“So you admit to attacking him?”

The prisoner shrugged.

“Now you go quiet.”

“I will admit to nothing to you. I will only offer advice. If you need to find your peace, Parton will be how you accomplish that.”

Greer slapped at one of the man’s hands. “I found my peace years ago. I suggest you find yours in your cell.”

The newly-minted Watcher flopped back down into his chair, trying to calm his racing heart. Who was this man? Why was he tormenting him?

“I have to finish building this investigation,” he said, rifling through some papers on his desk. It was the only way to rid him of this prisoner, to see that damned sneer swinging from a rope.

He had both the thistle shears now, linking this Cyneweard to Dumdhall’s murder as well as Clantons. The Goody death would be more difficult, as would the attack on Calor. He had to find out who this man was and what his motive was. If he could get motive and evidence to the council in Sigil HQ, he could have the Cyneweard’s neck in a noose before the end of the week. Wilcox’s strange resignation would have to wait, but only for a little bit.

Parton would be a much tougher nut to crack.

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