The Cyneweard

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Part III - All That's Left is Blood :: 60

“What do you mean, ‘uh’?” Greer asked, his lips pulling down into a scowl.

“We, uh, we’ve had an incident,” the young adept responded, eyes flitting every where but upon the consternated face staring into her own.

“What kind of incident,” Greer growled, trying to push his way through the Priest-in-training’s grip on the aged temple door.

She held fast, turning to look over her shoulder. “Someone get me Guerre,” she called.

“Tell me what’s wrong.” Greer slammed the meat of his palm against the door she was holding. The gesture worked. Her eyes met his once again. “Do you have the bodies or not?” he asked, leaning towards her with his winced eyes.

The door was shut in his face. Greer let out a long, heavy sigh and jammed his hand into his right pocket, fiddling with the broken set of thistle shears there. He had come to the temple to study the bodies of Clanton and Dumdhall in the hopes of confirming his theories about the Cyneweard character. He also had the Imperial sigil pendant that had been found amongst the suspected assassin’s belongings. Guerre had stowed a similar necklace that had been extracted from the corpses dug up in the House of Humboldt’s garden. Linking the two would take the Cyneweard case a long way towards completion. And if the thistle shear he had found in the former royal guard’s hidey hole in the abandoned inn matched the cut on the dead priest and Clanton? The Cyneweard’d hang within the next two days.

Greer flexed his shoulders, shook his head, and knocked on the door again. This time, Guerre answered it.

“Watcher,” the elderly High Priest nodded.

“Guerre,” Greer replied, tipping his hat. “I’m here to see some of the dead you’re stowing for me.”

“I’m aware. Look, Greer, there’s actually a something we should have come to you this morning about.”

Greer tilted his head. “Is it the incident the adept mentioned?”

Guerre nodded. “The Parlor was immolated last night.”

“Set afire?” Greer nearly shouted. “But why?”

“Well...I supposed I used the wrong phrase. It was...melted.”

“By fire,” Greer nodded.

“No. Not fire. Nothing is burned inside. And it reeks of sulfur.”

“Melting solution? What was damaged?”

“All of it,” Guerre replied. “All bodies, tables, chairs, storage boxes, elixir racks, glass, books, all of it. Melted. All attempts to wipe at or shift the glopped and crusted waste on the marble have resulted in cleaning tool destruction. It’s pooled mostly around the drains along the left of the room.”

“Can I see?” Greer asked.

“You will need to cover your mouth and nose. It’s quite pungent.”

Greer nodded. The priest stepped to the side and the Watcher entered the Chamatri temple. Guerre led the way to the Parlor of the Dead. The Chamatri priests were well endowed with knowledge that spanned centuries and their body preservation methods were uncannily successful. This made them the only option for victims of murder, as typical investigations lasted weeks. A rotting body was a useless body.

The damage was far worse than Guerre had led Greer to believe. Nearly the entire contents of the room, including every single body Greer had come to see, had been melded with the floor in large soupy collections of half and mostly melted materials.

Guerre had also understated the strength of the smell. Despite his covered mouth and nose, the smell crept in through his eyes, forcing them to tear up as they slowly burned in the tainted atmosphere. He had never quite experienced an olfactory response so foul.

“When did this happen?” Greer choked out through his improvised cloth mask.

“Last night, while the adepts and I were resting.”

“When do you rest?”

“Four short hours.”

Greer nodded and walked towards a particularly large clump of melted matter, his eyes picking up on a glint of bright steel. Only one place produced that light, strong metal.

“Don’t get too close,” Guerre warned, grabbing Greer’s shoulder as the Watcher squatted before the still-steaming pile of fused refuse.

The steam gave off waves of heat and stunk worse than the putrid amalgam floating above in the general air. Down here, it was beyond nauseating. Greer gagged as he reached down and flicked the bit of warped metal. It thunked. Hollow.

He turned to Guerre. “Do you store spell canisters?”

Guerre shook his head. “All our spells are spoken, and they are only healing spells. Healing magic cannot be canned.”

Greer nodded and turned back, flicking the hollow metal again. A jet of steam hissed from just to the side and Greer drew back. Guerre helped him to his feet.

“Do you still have the pendant?” he asked the high priest.

“I do.”

“I want to see it. Please tell me it wasn’t in here.”

Guerre’s eyes had to do his smiling for him. “It’s in my office. Let’s get out of here.”

Greer followed the priest out of the foul room and into the cool, wood oil rich atmosphere of the main worship hall. Greer coughed and removed his makeshift mask.

“I hope that mess can be cleaned,” Guerre remarked, removing his own mouth cover.

Greer nodded. “And soon,” he sputtered.

The two made the short walk to the priest’s office.

Guerre sat behind his large oak desk and rummaged through a few drawers.

“Is this to do with the prisoner you’re holding?”

“Yes,” Greer replied, extracting the pendant from his pocket and setting it on the desk. “I have to figure out Wilcox and this Cyneweard individual is in my way. The sooner the case is done and he’s hanging, the sooner I can dive into what really happened to my former Watcher.”

“I agree,” Guerre sighed as he placed the other pendant on the desktop near Greer’s. “But we should not hasten someone’s returning to the Mother without proper confirmation of their need to do so.”

Greer leaned over and studied the two pendants, picking them both up, making sure to examine every inch. After a long silence, he finally replied. “I am completely in agreement with that,” he said, placing both pendants down in front of the priest. “And we have our link to the dead Humboldt priest.”

Guerre looked down. Both pendants were the same.

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