The grand galas and balls that had plagued her city were distant memories. As soon as the Resistance took hold of the walled city of Tirr, those loyal to the crown grew frightened. The wealthy and influential of the town fled in droves. Landships were commissioned to transport entire homes and steam carriages were hurriedly built to ensure no one had to walk all the way to Calostadt, a haven of royal supporters half a continent away. A few wealthy families remained in the city, meeting at night and under heavy guard, but for the most part the city was devoid of the upper class that had kept the rules of an world in tact.
It was the dead of winter now. She walked the city in a heavy coat, lined with mink or cat or something of the sort, she paid little attention. The snow that had just weeks earlier been a pleasant novelty had turned into a stark reminder that food was to be rationed until the ground thawed and seeds could grow once more. She wore the feather of an exotic bird in her hat out of habit. The fashionable elites, now well outside the city’s land, were keen on feathers for reasons she failed to be attention to as well. Blend in, play their games, that was her motto. With no games to play and no one to blend in with anymore, she was at a bit of a loss.
The disruption in social obligations allowed free time to be spent researching and learning new words to control the natural world. She was delighted with the opportunity to expand her skills instead of running around gathering secrets and sneaking into cellars or sewers. Her first love was books and the power they hid within the binding.
The library at the heart of town, across from a clock tower that was painted in the cog and hammer symbol of the Resistance every night and washed away by morning now, was her destination. The town had regular patrols of two to three soldiers walking about in routine patterns. She very much wanted to avoid having to speak with representatives of the crazed king and opted for a path of back alleys.
She enjoyed the walk. Taverns were full of life, songs of rebellion flooded outside. Bakeries were busy making loaves for the next day. Children tossed snowballs at each other. The country was in open rebellion, but life went on as usual. She hoped that once the monarchy was ended and the unsympathetic wealthy toppled that there would still be alley ways so full of life and joy.
She came to an alley behind a row of abandoned businesses; jewelers and furniture dealers that had fled with the loyalists. There was no life here except for two men in robes at the end of the alley. She noted the symbol of Perseum, a god revered throughout the city, emblazoned on the back of the robes. There were no temples of shrines near the center of town though and to see a friar or regent this far away from the Cathedral was a rarity. She longed for a day when this site would be a concern, but that day had not yet come.
“Good sirs,” she said as she passed the robed men.
“Ma’am,” replied the taller of the two. He was wiry and had a mustache that stretched from ear to ear.
“I apologize miss, that was not meant as a greeting. You see, we’ve been waiting for you. You have been staking out this path for three nights, monitoring the guards I presume?” The shorter one spoke up. She recognized him from the party held at the Cathedral before the world turned. He was drunk at the party and judging by the current situation, that was a typically state.
The taller man pushed off the wall he was resting against. She watched him flip his wrist to reveal a dagger.
“Rumor has it that you have been helping the Resistance gather intelligence. Regent Rissorio is not too fond of helping those that deny the divine right of the King,” the short man threatened.
She stepped back and loosened her coat.
“Your treachery cannot be allowed to continue,” the tall man spoke in a meter so slow she almost stopped paying attention.
“Your regent would silence a voice of reason? You support a king that would rather end a life than listen to his people? Have you considered your alliegences, gentlemen?” She asked.
She cared not for their answers. Debate of the issues with these two would be an incredible waste of her time. She needed to keep them busy while she pulled out a new book. She found a journal belonging to Nicolas Steno that upon her read through, could upend the very earth of a desired area. The book was relatively new for her liking, but the power of Steno’s words; the value of his research and insight in the world was just as strong as any she had worked with before. The book was due back to the library’s shelves this very afternoon.
“Would you need a final prayer?” the short man asked.
She smiled at the good fortune and considered giving thanks once the encounter had ended.
“I do have some words, actually,” she said. She pulled the book from her inner coat pocket and shouted Steno’s words as fast as she manage.
The earth roiled beneath the feet of the two attackers. She could make little sense of the scene. Dirt flew up, the men began sinking below the surface. At one point she thought a bone emerged from the soil and beat the two men over the head.
She could not bring herself to look away. She could not even blink. The words of Steno were even more impressive than she originally thought. As soon as the men were fully within the earth, the commotion ended. The earth looked undisturbed, the only thing out of place were the cobble stones that had long ago been broken and shattered.
She wondered if her heart rate was supposed to have gone up during the altercation. She felt nothing for the robed men. They were agents of the crazed king, willing to murder on a rumor for the sake of keeping their power granted by the word that meant nothing to the people. Battle may have been on hold until winter ended, but the war for the hearts and minds of those that had not yet picked a side was going to be vicious. And winter looked to be long.
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