The Cyneweard

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Part III - All That's Left is Blood :: 70

Cyrus watched the sun dip below the horizon in a bright purple wave of light through one of the least dirty windows on the west wall of the small shack. He had been a good little assassin, racking up the dead per the Union’s request.

They had paid him and supplied him through the same location on the back of the shack, his payment there for the previous nights work each night. There had only been two nights as he had turned a two-for-one just a day ago.

Serril had not shown up since the first night, prior to the bath house visit. His next instructions had been in a note that he had promptly burnt with a match. No sense in leaving a trail.

He had also followed Serril’s mild orders. He had not left the shack outside of collecting his bounties and heading off to his assignments. The shack offered little in comfort, its moldy bed less comfortable than the floor, its breezy, cracked roof and walls no safe haven from the elements.

Cyrus dare not light a fire, per his instructions, and instead ate cold, dried meat and stale nuts supplied him on a nightly basis. Water was replenished in a small metal canteen that gave each gulp a nice coppery taste. Fire could have boiled that horrid tang away. It would also get him attention he didn’t need, especially right in the Machine’s back yard.

As the light started to finally expire for the day, Cyrus’ eyes found the two large bags of gold sitting pretty as they please on the hearth of the soot-stained stone fireplace. He had no use for the money and had no thoughts on what to do with it if he made it out of this madness with his life intact. The thought of death had crossed his mind; his need for the money was gone, the job in which he found his current employ was high in the ‘will cease your breath’ category, and he had no plans for the ‘after’ portion of finding his peace. He knew Emmet had found his peace in continuing his hunting activities. His former colleague was good at it, made lots of money at it, and was comfortable taking lives for money, though only those that were known to be in the wrong.

“The revenge game taught me everything I know,” Emmet at once told him. “I got used to it.”

When Cyrus had asked him what he was doing with the money, Emmet had shrugged. “Pays for booze, the occasional female attention, my roof. The rest of it I just throw in a box somewhere. Maybe I’ll get it away to someone poor. I dunno.”

There never seemed to be an endgame to anything Emmet did; he was always go, kill, drink, sleep. Repeat. A part of Cyrus envied that. The other part had died the same day as Brisa. He had lost his comparison. So he let it lie. He was not Emmet’s keeper or coach.

But death was always there, either to be dealt or received. Cyrus has been very, very lucky to not have received it yet. He owed so many his life he had lost count. Maybe that money could go there?

He shrugged and walked over to the door, opened it, and found Serril getting ready to knock.

“That’s not very safe,” Serril said.

“I heard you approach,” Cyrus replied, ushering the Union spy into the shack and closing the door.

“I have bad news,” said Serril, always to the point.

Cyrus nodded. “I figured. Your face is much more frowny than last night.”

Serril paid him no mind and continued. “We are moving the attack up.”

Cocking a brow, Cyrus asked, “How far up?”

With a sigh, Serril replied. “Tomorrow, mid afternoon.”

“That’s a tad bit early. Four days early in fact.”

Serril nodded. “The Sigil have become aware of our plans. To avoid raids, we’re going to have to step up the schedule.”

“What about me?”

“There are three targets left, not including Parton and Calor. We do not expect you to complete your contracts at this point.”

Cyrus frowned. “Do you at least have information on who should be next?”

Serril reached into his coveralls’ front pocket, pulled a small piece of parchment out, and handed it to Cyrus. “We only have enough information about two of the three remaining. You’ll find it there. You know what to do with it when you finish.”

Cyrus nodded. “I’ll do my best. I take it I won’t be seeing you or being supplied tomorrow night?”

Serril nodded.

“Any expectations on my actions during the attack?”

“You may do what you wish. Our contract was only for the VCs.”

“You know who I really want.”

Serril nodded. “Again, do what you wish. Your connection with the Union is essentially void once the sun travels over half its way across the sky tomorrow.”

“So who pays me if I succeed tonight?”

Serril was already turning to leave. He deadpanned “Take it up with Koph,” and exited the shack.

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