Thursday, September 22, 2011

561 - Into Perspective

The little chapel’s door opened, letting in all the light from the rest of the suite.  It was like a file across my senses.  “Go away,” I said, burying my head deeper in my arms.  “Please go away.”  A clicking noise on the marble tiles and a big, cold nose snuffled into my neck.  “Hey!”

“Minis… come out and talk to me now,” Tanifas said.  “The Ten are a comfort, but they don’t tend to talk as direct and personal as livin’ people do.”

I sat up and turned around to find the one-eye’d bitch had shoved her head under my armpit so I had one arm slung over her heavy, muscled neck.  She didn’t try to lick my face though, with was good.  I couldn’t see Tanifas except as a darker outline against the bright light behind him; the Presence Light was only bright enough to light the corner of his eyes, a cheekbone.  “All right.”

My bones hurt.  My guts hurt.  I felt like an old man and got up like one. Tanifas moved out of my way and I heard the door close behind me.  “Thank you… for coming up.”

“I wasn’t going to sit in the Marble Palace while someone tried to kidnap you.”

“You were out with the Guard?”

“I took Scenter and Haunter out.  One fellow would have gotten away.  You’ll get the whole report, later, but he’s being truth-drugged now.” He held out an open box to me.  “Haunter found these for you.”  In it were all the silver charms I normally wore.  My hand flew up to my neck.  “The chain must have snapped,” he said.  “I think they are all there.”

I took the little box… the donkey, the dagger, the flower… yes.  All the love they symbolized tumbled into my hand and I closed my fingers on them, holding them tight.  I folded up and sat down, and found myself with my forehead on my fists, rocking back and forth.  “I’ve lost them all, haven’t I?  All eight?  Joras, Ilnaras, Ruboras…”

“Joras is still with the Haians.  And Tirias,” Tanifas said. His hand was on my back.  I had not only the dog against my knees, Altras lay across the back of the chair, purring. I straightened up slowly.  “They all swore to protect me.  I just… I just… didn’t think…” My voice was rough and choked.  “I thought I was safe enough in the city itself.  Voted in.  There were solas who stepped up to help my guard… and the Sereniteers…”

“Yes.  They did swear.  And people did try and keep you safe.”

I laid my charms on the tiny little table next to the chair and lined them up carefully with my finger.  “As Imperator… when I’m of age… people are going to keep trying to kill me and people are going to die trying to protect me.”

“Yes.  You should remember that as people get more used to the idea, that they do not need to either kill or kidnap you to get heard, that will happen less.”

“How did they manage to kill my guard so fast?  It looked like they ran, neck-first, into some kind of fence.”

“It was wire, on handles.  They were laid across the road in such a way that they could pick them up and snap them taut, in front and behind you, like the wire on the leading edges of aNiah war wings.  They obviously thought they could then just bundle you in a net and haul you away.  We’ll find out from the one we caught, how they managed to kill the first four of your guard before attacking your escort directly and perhaps where they were going to take you.”

“Because they couldn’t risk trying to smuggle me out of the City Itself.  They must have found a forgotten passage somewhere.  Like the buried old baths and sewers.  Or the depths of some ancient manor’s sub-levels.”

“Most likely.”

I took a deep, deep breath, deep enough to make my ribs ache and my lungs strain.  My back cracked and I let out that air and petted the animals.  “It puts things into perspective.  Did you see that one solas family where the children tried to help their father?” Tanifas’s hand on my shoulder was like a tether, holding me safe on the earthsphere.

Tanifas nodded.  “He was offering his report, and what he saw when Scenter began belling and led us into the back alleys.”

“I’ll have to thank him… and the others who tried to help, even though they were off-duty.”

“That will be a good idea.  How do you feel?”

“Better.  I should go down to see how Joras and Tirias are.”

“Why don’t you take Bella along, keep her with you?”  He nodded at the dog.  I laid my forehead on her muscled neck for a moment.

“I shall.  Thank you, Tanifas.”

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