Silk and Steel
So sorry I missed a week – things here have been too crazy to begin to talk about it. Here is the first part of chapter 2 of part 2, lol, if that’s not confusing enough! XD And we’re back to Spyro and Ros… (also – bit of mythpunk trivia – the little rhyme in this snip is taken from an old Rom / Eastern-Euro folktale and proverb)
A row of crows hung like so much grim washing from a line strung the length of the antiques shops’ back yard. The stone-weighted shots that had caught them still bound their wings close to their sides and they dangled by their silver-clawed feet, heads hanging limp, lifeless (or very nearly).
Ros crooked the large basket under her arm, resting it against her hip, and with her dextrous right hand, took the head and twisted it clean off. A slough of gore and dark blood oozed down and met the cobbles with a wet ‘fffllatth’ and the Jai’Yantra smiled and added the head to the basket, moving along the line to the next.
Behind her the backyard gate clicked open and closed.
“Heads for the workhouse, wings for the milliner, feet for the alchemist, the breast for our dinner,” she remarked, without turning round, knowing exactly who it was that had entered.
“Fine fayre as always,” Spyro said, coming up behind her and placing his hands on her hips, “but I have a better rhyme; the head for the duke, up high on his throne, the neck for his wife behind him alone, the feet for his enemies standing by, the wings for his allies away they will fly.”
“And the rest of the bird?” Ros asked, turning to arch an eyebrow at him.
“The spoils to the victors, of course.” he said, reaching up and taking down four of the decapitated birds. “But heroes must always be celebrated, not only for our victories, but for our generosity whether we have won or lost or the battle rages on.”
“You have been to the riots again.” she observed.
“They rage well. Soon the watch will be utterly overwhelmed. The duke is drafting patrols in from all other areas of the city but…” he patted his coat pocket in which a few coins jingled.
“They are proving ineffectual?” Ros smirked.
“Commander Kaili knows which side her bread is buttered.” he said cheerfully.
“Then our only consideration on that front,” Ros said, moving along the line and popping another head into her basket, “is whether the duke will draft in some of the militia.”
“Let him try. He will only move the game along swifter. CGS Draimunn will not waste troops bolstering an ineffectual watch effort. If the duke calls on the army he will be instigating a call for his resignation from that quarter – if he’s lucky.”
“You think Draimunn would force a coup?” Ros aksed, adding another head to the almost full basket. “That would not suit our plans…”
Spyro shrugged. “Lieutenant General Vrost thinks it’s possible, though not probable. But you’re right, it would not suit our plans at all. Contingency?”
Ros looked thoughtful for a moment, “I will speak to Agathri. She is poised to be our clarion, raising support for Beaufort to take the duke’s place, at the apropriate moment; if the army looks set to stage a coup then that moment will be sooner than we planned.” she smiled “But it doesn’t sound like it will come to that?”
Spyro shook his head. “I am not overly concerned. Things are going well, the duke is feeling the pinch, by all accounts.”
“By Beaufort’s account?”
“Just so. The pressures we have brought to bear upon him will have him on his knees soon enough and Beaufort is more than ready to take his place.”
Ros pulled off the last head and placed the basket down beside a second that was full of black feathered wings. “I will take these to town later, visit the market and see what the murmerings are on the street…”
She trailed off as a comotion from the house drew both their attentions that way and Žiga came trotting out into the back yard looking wide eyed. “A girl is come, a Sapanai, she is hurt.” she blurted, pointing back towards the shop.
“Well done, love,” Ros said, absently, already wiping her hands on her long grey apron and hurrying inside with Spyro at her heels.
They followed Žiga swiftly through the maze of accumulated artifacts and antiques to the front of the shop where a young girl, no more than six or seven, stood trembling and crying. The flesh on her right arm was slightly burned.
“There, there; Toska isn’t it?”
The girl nodded. “My Papa, they’re killing him, and grandmama too…the people in our building, the other tennants…they say we’re in with the duke…they called Papa a ‘Sztokrai bastard… ”
Spyro looked furious, “Your father is Bartczak? The barber-surgeon?” He already had his coat back on and puased only to grab a handfull of smooth coloured pebbles, each carved with the same intricate design, from a drawer behind the counter, before hurrying out of the door, still carrying the brace of crows.
“Ziga, go fetch my medicine bag will you?” Ros said, and then turning back to Tosca she smiled and brushed the child’s hair away from her tear-streaked face, “it will be alright, pet.” she said soothingly. “Mendicci will put it right, love. Your papa has done so much good work for the poor people of this city; it may be that they need reminding of that before they start confusing his bloodline with his behaviour, but they will rememeber, and then they will be ashamed of their actions, you wait and see.”
She took the large leather medical bag that Ziga was hefting across the shop floor, opened it and took out a brown glass tincture bottle and pipette.
Tosca winced as the foul smelling yellow liquid dribbled over her wounds but she didn’t cry out. “they threw bottles through the window,” she sniffed, “ when they broke the stuff inside them hurt.”
“I see.” Ros pursed her lips, returned the tincture to the bag and closed the clasp with a smart ‘click.’ “Ziggi, take Tosca through to the kitchen and find some pastēti and biscuits for you both,” she said, standing up and taking off her apron. She crossed to the counter, put the bag away behind it and strapped on a pair of arm-mounted dart throwers. “I won’t be long love,” she said, heading for the door “mummy has to go and teach some stupid people a little lesson.”
The door bell tinkled as she let it fall closed behind her.