Shadow's Ascendance

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Chapter Thirty-three

The next couple of days passed by in a blur. All told, four officers lost their lives during the Blood Guild attack; seven more were severely injured but out of those, four were very prominent in their respective churches, and so a priest managed to heal them up back to normal. Well, normal being a relative term. After surviving something like that, it had a tendency to color how you viewed the world and the way you moved through it. Nothing could be done about that except for some major counseling sessions, which took time. Of course, the news had to know what had happened and why; all Dorf would say (being our ‘unofficial’ spokesperson) is that the group known as the Blood Guild had dared to attack the station for reasons unknown, and that the force would be responding in kind once we had taken care of our own.

There was already talk about installing security doors at the front of the station, rearranging where we book the criminals that we bring in under arrest, maybe moving our area back and putting the officers’ desks behind something clear and bulletproof. The people in R&D said they had something in mind that they would get started on right away, and of course the Chief approved it. Speaking of the Chief, he was as good as new, having gotten that bolt out of his arm and getting healed up by the only divine caster we had on the force. Granted, she was an elemental based Shaman, but hey, healing is healing. Beggars can’t be choosers.

Which reminded me, there was even talk of finding a deity who looked favorably on law enforcement and having a small chapel built into the station, to help protect against something like this happening again. Not sure how most of the officers would feel about almost being forced to worship someone just for the sake of protection, but we mortals tend to be very flexible when it comes to stuff like that, so more than likely it will just be something that we all get used to. After all, the alternative would be possibly dying if something like this happens again, just because you chose to be picky about who you prayed to. Not much of an option, really.

And of course, we had the funerals to attend, which the force managed to arrange so they all happened on the same day. The Chief had called in a favor, and the King’s Guard agreed to keep an eye on the city’s citizens while we paid our last respects. Even the King himself had sent a representative to witness the funerals; this man let the families of our colleagues know they would be well taken care of for a while. Yeah, money doesn’t take the place of a loved one, but at least it was one less worry for them at a time like this. Sometimes, that’s all you can do.

Naturally, it rained all day that day; luckily, the sun had burned off most of the smog in the air the day before, so while it was a cold autumn downpour, at least it didn’t burn our skin. After each one, the Chief presented the families with the Academy saber from their departed. I know I wasn’t the only one crying when Copperbeard handed the saber to Timothy’s son, who was only 5 Cycles old. Poor kid, he still looked in shock, as if this was all just a horrible nightmare that he hoped to wake up from, but no one was waking him and he didn’t know why.

During all of this, we –and by that I mean me, Dorf, and the Chief- managed to find time to get a meeting with the city’s head magistrate and defense barrister, since Ivana couldn’t afford one on her own. Granted, normally those of us on the force have a very dim view of the defense barristers, since it’s their job to try and free those criminals that we worked so hard to arrest; this time, I was relieved to see one. The meeting took a couple of hours, but in the end we all came to an agreement, one that chafed both me and the beautiful half-Orc but was the best that could be done considering the circumstances.

Ivana pleaded temporary insanity for the murder of Stumpy; in return, she agreed to be on probation for a period of 5 Cycles. However, since she had no money of her own, nor any family in Aerendor, she had to stay with her parole officer until such time as she could procure employment and get her own place. Guess who was her parole officer? Yeah, like I said, it really irritated both of us, but what could we do? Her only other option was to go to prison for the same period. I guess even the Ronan had heard about our prisons, since Ivana grew very pale and wasted no time assuring the magistrate that she would be happy to live with me.

Of course, this meant I had to rearrange my living situation, which I did by paying a Gnome wizard a pretty copper to cast some spells that created a hidden staircase in the main room of my apartment leading up to the floor above me. To make sure she couldn’t ‘accidentally’ climb the stairs and start poking around in all my magical stuff, I cast a blood ward on it, insuring that only someone with my blood would be able to go into my new living area. I would be sleeping up there, and Ivana could have my old bedroom (hence why I needed the new staircase). Within hours, it looked nothing like it did before, which when I commented on it she just sniffed and said that was the point. Females, that’s all I’m gonna say on the matter.

This also meant that I had to drag her along with me wherever I went. After the funerals, I took her to a training gymnasium that was halfway between my apartment and the station. It was known to be a great place to pick up some new tricks and it was officer-friendly. The owner, a fairly brawny half-Elf named Nicolas, still remembered how cops had stopped some street thugs from roughing him up one night after he closed, and to this day anyone who makes a disparaging remark about the force in his hearing has to answer to him. Rumor is, he’s never lost one of those fights, and looking at the scars that crisscrossed his arms and chest, I believed them.

“Remind me again why we are here?” Ivana asked me as we entered the gym and Nicolas gave me a friendly nod from where he was, showing a Dwarf what kind of grip he wanted to have if he wanted to take someone down by choking them without causing permanent harm.

“Because,” I sighed in exasperation, “you need to have some way to defend yourself in case something happens. I won’t always be around to pull your bacon out of the fire.”

“Thank my ancestors for that!” she said mockingly. I had suggested a few times that maybe she should change what she wore, since she still insisted on wearing the traditional Ronan garb and I had seen a few people from time to time giving her the evil eye. She had told me that she was who she was, whether she lived with her people or not, and changing what she wore wouldn’t change her on the inside or her accent. While I admired that streak of independence, it also meant that her stubbornness could cause problems one day. Hence, we were at the gym.

Ignoring her attitude, I went on. “Anyway, so we need to find what your strengths are. I already know you can shoot,” I was rewarded with her flushing from my little painful gibe, “but we need to see if there is a weapon or a style of fighting that you can use in case someone gets up and close. There’s the changing room,” I pointed to a door off to the left that had a generic drawing of a female on it, “go inside and find some workout clothes that fit you.”

“Wear clothes from somebody else?” she reacted in disgust, and I couldn’t blame her. The first time that I had come here –brought by Dorf, no less- I had reacted the same way. And, just like then, Nicolas came over to explain what that was all about.

“You can rest assured, miss, that I have a dark Elf laundress who comes and washes everything up after we close at night. All of our clothes are cleaned thoroughly, you have my word.” His voice had the expected effect on Ivana, who managed to keep herself under control and not snicker, something I’m not proud of admitting I did when I first heard it. For being such a brawny guy, and possessing such a regal close-cut auburn beard, Nicolas’s voice sounded like he hadn’t gone through puberty yet. It was a source of embarrassment for him, since otherwise he was incredibly handsome, with lightly tanned skin, piercing hazel eyes, and a face that –so I was told by both Dorf and Gregory- could launch a thousand ships. Yet most women couldn’t look past the squeaky voice. Such a shame, really.

Personally, I thought that his voice was the reason that Nicolas had joined the military and, after he had served three tours, used his pension to open this place up. He learned how to defend himself through a variety of means, and was more than happy to pass it onto others. And, he was a true gentleman, so most of his clients were women of many races…and us officers, as I’ve said before. Granted, I never said that I was a gentleman, but I can appreciate it in others.

I was drawn out of my woolgathering by Ivana speaking up. “Well, I would not want to impugn your honor, Mister Nicolas, so I shall believe you. I shall return.” Saying this, she sauntered off towards the female’s changing room. Both Nicolas and I watched her go.

“Is it true, Jonas, that female half-Orcs are hellcats in bed?” Nicolas leaned over and asked me in a conspiratorially whisper after Ivana had closed the door. Hey, I said he was a gentleman, I never said that he was dead below the waist. Besides, as long as this was just between us and he didn’t talk to women that way, I considered the definition valid.

“How should I know? I’ve never been with one,” I responded in kind.

“Oh! I just…well that is…I assumed…” he stammered out, and I saved him from having to apologize by holding up my hand.

“No worries, Nicolas, I’m not offended. And hey, if you want to take a shot, be my guest. I’m just her parole officer, after all.” His face lit up while my stomach knotted up.

We were saved from having to make any more small talk by Ivana returning from changing. Both Nicolas and I had the same reaction, trying to keep our eyes from popping out of our heads. The tight blue leggings she wore hugged every curve of her hips, rear and legs, while the sleeveless black shirt she had put on accentuated her large bosom quite nicely. I couldn’t help but whistle softly as she padded over to us on bare feet. She blushed slightly, but just said, “Don’t be such a pig, Detective. Now, Nicolas, would you like to teach me a few tricks, as Jonas is wont to say?”

Nicolas spoke up quickly. “It would be my honor, Miss…”

“Ivana,” she said, gracing him with a shy smile.

“Well then, Miss Ivana, let’s get started.” And with that, the half-Elf led her onto the rubber mats that made up most of the flooring inside the gym, whilst I went to change into something more comfortable myself. When I came out, I did my best to ignore all of the giggling that the two of them were doing over in the corner, selecting different hand-held weapons and putting them to the test. Why they had to laugh like that I had no clue.

I had the feeling that I would spend a lot of time today working out with the punching bag, possibly seeing someone’s regally-bearded face where my fists would land. It’s not like I was jealous, I told myself, it was just I was responsible for Ivana’s safety and didn’t want anyone else possibly fucking that up. As I landed solid punch after punch on the hanging rubber bag, causing the bag to vibrate wildly with each blow, I tried my best to convince myself of that.

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