Part III - All That's Left is Blood :: 63
The Guild Master sat behind a wooden table that had gained many scars over its long life spent in the corner of the Leaping Leporine’s main dining hall. Cain studied the many scratches and divots, trying to puzzle together the story behind each and every one.
Watcher Greer had asked him to come to the bar and await his arrival. There was quite the mess to be cleaned up and he had not wanted to get in the Watcher’s way, especially considering how quick the law man was to pull his slugthrower. A prisoner was missing, two men were dead in the Sigil Post, and there would be a lot of explaining to do to Sigil’s head quarters. Cain could sympathize.
He patted the inner pocket of his long Master’s robes, feeling the heavy object stored there sway. Its weight was calming, despite the troubling portents it carried. There was going to be a lot of questions asked in the next few weeks, the answers to which Cain would be tasked with providing to the Guild Hall in Millewhist.
The whys and hows of it all were beyond his knowledge. He just had a who and a when and, as he had promised two weeks ago, he was going to share it with Greer. But something of this size and this breadth needed telling in person. No post should carry the burden of delivering this news.
Cain tore his tiring eyes away from the tabletop and moved his glance over the bar proper. The place was dingy compared to the establishments he never bothered to patron in Cobble. Dust danced in the shafts of light that hung across the faces of the pinched faces, their sour expressions spiting the blooming glow. Off in one corner sat two healers tending yet another assault victim, using potions and motions to heal rather than magic. Cain had the desire to assist, but the looks on the majority of the customers warned him away from actually following through.
These were a hearty, stubborn people, accustomed to the worse life had to offer, a worse that was getting more pronounced by the day. He was an interloper, his grand Master’s robes flowing on both sides of his hips, covering both his legs and those owned by the chain on which he sat. Alchemists were considered to be much higher on the social totem pole, associated with those that ran The Machine rather than those that worked it. Cain imagined that the scowl owners were likely those currently fighting against the Machine’s tyranny. By the looks of them, the battle was not going too well.
Many of the bar’s patrons wore bruises or had matted, bent fur. Knuckles were wrapped, arms were in makeshift wraps, lips were split and scabbed. Had these people even the decency of a group of healers? Perhaps they were tending to more seriously wounded?
“Don’t stare too hard, they get antsy.”
Cain’s shoulders twitched and he brought his gaze to Greer, who was sliding into the seat across from him.
“I was only observing,” he told the Watcher.
“Right. I forget you types like to watch.”
Cain smiled. “I thought that was your job.”
“Funny,” Greer growled, not a single amount of amusement anywhere on his countenance.
“Get the situation sorted? I measure I’ve been waiting about an hour.”
Greer sighed. “Besides the fact that a very dangerous, key prisoner is on the loose, my newly minted Protector is dead, and I have to find out why a Foreman had his face smashed into the corner of my desk, I’d say it’s pretty handled.”
“No need for that tone, Watcher. I was merely curious.”
Another sigh escaped Greer’s thin lips. “I’m only dreading the investigation, the man hunt, and the questions headquarters is going to ask of their new Watcher. I’ve only been on the job a week and I've failed miserably.”
Cain didn’t have much to say to that and caught himself switching back to observing the bar. The bartender was discussing something in great detail to a small feline waitress. The customers didn’t seem to mind too much.
“Not much frivolity in here, is there?”
Greer snorted. “Not with the mess flying around like it is. I’m only one man. I can’t control what these two groups do to each other in alleyways.”
“Do you imagine it getting better?” asked Cain, turning his attention back to the Watcher.
A shrug. “I’m not sure. It won’t be anytime soon if Parton has his way. That man seems to breed conflict.”
Cain nodded. “Agreed on that one.”
“So why are you here? Do you have an update for me?”
The Guild Master nodded, his eyes widening at the prospect of finally getting it off his shoulders. He held up a finger asking for a moment, began to dig in his robes, and extracted a long, silver cylinder. Glass windows on both sides emitted an odd green glow. Greer could see a pulsating green orb bobbing inside.
“Does this look familiar?”
“Yeah, looks like the type of cylinder used in the Script Store. And I’ve seen another.”
Cain tilted his head, eyes narrowing. “Where?”
“Long story, but the crux of it is this: the Chamatri temple was attacked and a cylinder like that was found at the scene. It was mostly melted but I can confirm it had the same type of metal cap.”
“When did this happen?”
“Just the other day,” replied Greer.
“Why is that odd?”
“Well, this cylinder here, like the ones you’ve seen, are military grade. Formerly made by us for the Empire.”
“And why is it in your possesion?”
“Well, you know the Machinist Group’s position on magic.”
Greer nodded. “Yeah, especially military grade magic.”
“They asked us to store them in the guilds.”
“Not to destroy them?”
“No, just in case it was needed for defense purposes.”
Greer sighed. “Is that all?”
“No. You see, this particular canister is one of the stored ones. We don’t do inventory on them as much as we do on the energy canisters we produce. I decided to check the inventory over the past three months and found inaccuracies.”
“So someone’s been taking canisters.”
“And those canisters, from the sound of things, have been used for nefarious activities,” Cain conjectured.
“Yeah. Great. Wonderful. More shit to add to the plate. I’m going to guess you don’t know who did it.”
“Well, actually, I do know who.”
“And his name?”
“That sounds complex,” Greer grunted.
Cain sighed in reply.
Greer leaned back. “Really don’t need this right now.”
“I doubt I have time to go into it all, so I’ll make this quick.”
“Alchemists are separated not by race or creed or belief, but their ability. If you can conjure with your hands, without the need of a canister, you are considered Enlightened. If you can’t, but still can create magic with the assistance of a conveyance, you are named Adept. For years, the Adepts and Enlightened have gotten along.”
Cain nodded. “There was a disagreement in regards to the accords forced upon us after the Rebellion. The Enlightened feel that the accords were fair. The Adepts, who could only produce magic with canister assistance, felt it too limiting. Eight canisters a day prohibition while Enlightened have no limits.”
“So the Adepts split and are trying to overthrow the makers of the accords.” Greer rubbed his face. “I really don’t have time for this.”
“No, not quite. Chevro teaches non violence. We are enablers, assisters, healers. We Alchemists do not actively pick sides. Even the Adepts hold true to that rule.”
“Except they’re not.”
“In this case, their actions appears to have enabled violence.”
“So you have the who, but not the why or the how?”
Cain nodded. “I had hoped to enlist your help with this.”
“Not anytime soon, Guild Master.” Greer grunted as he stood. “I have a prisoner to catch, a district to keep from imploding, and yet another murder to investigate. I wish you the best of luck.”
Cain watched as the lawman exited the bar, head firmly facing downward. He sighed and stood himself.
One more glance around netted him another set of hard stares and scowls. Cain sighed and left, wondering just where to start.