The Cyneweard

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Part III - All That's Left is Blood :: 67

Parton slammed his fist down onto his desk. He was growing accustomed to the gesture, only this time, there was no one in the room to shock. He stood and turned, face awash in the midday sunlight. Down below, he had a clear view of the Little Mille gate. Instead of four guards, there were now twelve, all with autothrowers.

Rumors had reached him through Calor, a big swell in Union members in the district that had started to fill the inns, bars, and letting rooms. No amount of door-to-door searching would out the growing insurrection. A war was looming, despite the Machinist’s continued efforts to dispel dissent. The daily beatings, chastisings, and interrogating were only wasting resources. Parton had asked his entire team of Foremen to step up efforts, to use any means necessary to quell any surges in Union talk. He had personally spoken to each of them in his office, allowing them to use whatever tools necessary, whatever force needed, to bring the noise down.

At first, the tactic had seemed to work. The workers were quiet, acquiescing to whatever demands given. They would not, however, speak further on any Union business, even when pressured with force or worse. Unionizers were so quiet, his Foreman had trouble telling whom from whom in the streets. There was once a defining line. Now there only stood a quiet blur, a shadow, a non-form of threat. It made him nervous.

A knock came to his door.

“Yes,” he called, not turning around. He knew who it was. Only one person could knock on his door.

He heard the latch click and the creak of straining hinges as the door was pushed open enough for his secretary to announce, “Watcher Greer is here.”

Parton nodded. “I’ll see him.”

He continued to stare down at the gate as he heard the door open all the way, followed by a set of footsteps, and then the door shutting. The chair in front of his desk, a new one as the one Wilcox had stained had been replaced, cracked in anguish as ample weight forced its fresh joints to strain.

“Watcher,” Parton said to the gate.

“Yes,” replied the elder Greer.

“I hear the Sash district has pushed out most of its Union element.”

“There wasn’t much to begin with,” came the dry reply. Parton had always liked the straight shooting Greer. He didn’t think things over. He acted, simply and successfully. Shame the son wasn’t as simple.

“And I’ve heard the Union gathers more and more strength in Little Mille.”

“I’m not directly in charge there, but if rumors are to be believed...”

“Rumors are truths masked by a million voices,” Parton replied turning around. “And that district is now yours. Congratulations.”

The older Greer’s eyes squinted, his salt and pepper fur bristling as his underskin crawled. “But my son was just named...”

“Your son somehow lost track of a suspected assassin.”

“The Cyneweard,” Greer sighed.

“Yes. I want him found as soon as possible. Killed if necessary. I’m not entirely sure your son is up to the task, so it’s yours to deal with now. Put two of your best men on it, I have other plans for you.”

“There can’t be two watchers in one area,” replied Greer, frowning.

“But there can be one watcher for two areas,” Parton replied, pointing at the elder Watcher.

“And my son?”

“Do with him what you will. It is not my concern. My concern is the Union. It’s your task to push them out of their nests and take care of the issue.”

“But...”

Parton leaned forward, pushing his hard gaze onto the Sigil Watcher. “Drop your son. Don’t think. Do. Don’t forget who sends you all that extra gold every month. Don’t forget who gives your district the best of the best. We will provide all the tools you need to get this job done. Worry about your son after you handle this.”

The Watcher’s frown stabilized, turning into a resolute sneer. “I will do what I can.”

“Good. Go have a chat with your son. Send him out on the hunt for the Cyneweard. Have him go for training in Millewhist. Just get him away from Little Mille.”

Watcher Greer nodded and stood. “I wonder,” he said.

“Wonder what?”

“Which you fear more, Mr. Parton. The Union and the threat it poses to the Machinists, or the Cyneweard, an assassin roaming the streets.”

Parton’s eyes narrowed. “Just do your job, Greer.”

The Watcher grunted, turned, and walked out, slamming the door behind him.

Parton pushed away from the edge of his desk and sat down in his chair, staring at the empty desk top. The question had merit. The Union threatened every piece of power and control that he had built around his former group of rebels over the years. His, and the city’s, entire way of life was at stake. Should the Union succeed after the Machinists refused their demands, would the Machinists even have a place in their shakedown? Would they all be pushed to the side? Would they be killed? It didn’t really matter. It was a death, regardless of what form it took. He doubted Koph was the murdering type. The man had once been a priest.

The Cyneweard, if Calor was to be believed, was exactly who Parton had feared the moment he had heard the name uttered. That bit of Parton’s history was a nasty one and the consequences of it rearing its head again were all dire. His stomach sank as he imagined meeting Cyrus after all this time. Something told Parton that the former protege of his was non-too-happy with his former master and the only reason he was in town was for some distorted need for revenge.

He knew two things: Dumdhall was dead and Clanton was dead. They had both been pivotal in the attack on the Emperor. Goody was dead, probably by Cyrus’ hands too. Another link to the Purge gone. With Cyrus escaped, Roddy was likely dead now too.

Parton sighed and reached below his desk. He extracted a large bottle of whisky, popped the cork from the top, and took a long, burning pull. He was out of specialists to send after Cyrus. Now it all rested on the Sigil’s shoulders. Parton only hoped he could handle the Union before he had to face Cyrus.

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