Two moons over, p.34
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       Two Moons Over, p.34

           Levi Shipley
 
of them were dead, but a few of them were still alive. They were abandoned by their fellow protesters and would be killed like vermin if they were still here when the guards came out to clean the street. In total there were only three. Two of them were elven men and the last was a wolf dogman woman. The elves looked almost identical, and Cecil guessed they were brothers, but he hoped his assumption wasn’t simple racism on accident. The woman was dressed in a fine gray pantsuit that matched her gray fur. He thought she might have been a rally leader, but the wolves always dressed well. None of the three were breathing heavily, but only small, shallow intakes. Cecil thought it would have been convenient if he knew some healing magic, but he did not. He’d just have to hope that they had enough strength to last until he could get them help.

  He picked up the brothers and let them rest on his left shoulder. Then he did the same with the woman with his right. None of them weighed anything to him, but he thought that together the brothers only outweighed the woman by a bit. Not that she was overweight, in fact she was slim for a dogman.

  Cecil hoped he wouldn’t look too much like Hercules while carrying them. If only I were an ogre. I’d probably only get a glance or two. They were light after all, but three was unreasonable. He looked back and made sure he did not leave anyone. The rest were just dead. And he walked away from the Sentinel. He carried the three in the direction of a clinic he’d seen earlier. On the way the woman stirred a bit. She was gaining lucidity, and Cecil knew that was a good sign.

  Five

  She spoke in a voice that seemed to require all her mental and physical strength to achieve. “What happened . . . to the others?” As she began to speak, her carrier steadied his steps so as to not disturb her weary lungs and larynx.

  “They were not so fortunate, and I couldn’t help them.” Cecil was honest but wondered after he said this if she was ready to hear that. She would have to be.

  Her breathing was raspy, but it grew deeper. She spoke a bit louder this time, as if thinking maybe she made him listen too hard before, “The Chrissenians don’t deserve to die. Usually ‘criminals’ like that are made into slaves. I’m not for that either, but first they shouldn’t die.”

  “Then why are they up for execution?” Cecil continued to walk as smoothly as he could.

  “Dahzir, having stolen some poor man’s body already, wants to draw out The Order of the Wolf.” She paused and drew in a deep labored breath, “You didn’t hear this from me, but since you saved me I’ll tell you. I know better than to think The Order is out to get us.” Another breath. “He just manipulates the stories so that we think he’s the hero and they’re the villains. The opposite!” She coughed, now regretting her rise in voice. “But please don’t tell anyone I said that. I’m trying to get through this without being killed in my sleep.”

  “But getting killed on the street is fine.” He grinned but she just stared at his feet. “Don’t worry. No one will hear what you said but the council of Me, Myself, and I.” He waited for her to reply but knew she was worn. Then he asked, “Is Wellness Abounds a place you can be fixed up? I’m not familiar with Fraushein.”

  “Go up two blocks to the main hospital. But yeah, you’re close now.”

  He could have told her himself if he were close. The hospital was the only building in the whole city that was made at least partially of crystal and didn’t touch the moons. Cecil turned onto the street he’d seen the clinic on, still fighting crowds. Sure enough he saw the hospital itself on the other side of an apartment building on the left side. It was five stories high and painted in swirling white and green, a common color combination associated with healing.

  Six

  The front door opened automatically, for that he was thankful. Despite how inundated the rest of Fraushein was, the hospital was quiet. A sign above a registration station displayed the name of the facility, Saint Braun. Cecil thought it was a strange practice of Desturshans to keep the hospital’s title inside, but he also thought the three on his back didn’t care about that.

  He set all three down on a sofa in the waiting room and explained to a nurse their condition.

  “Oh my goodness!” The dwarfish nurse he talked to put her hands to her mouth and then removed them. “That’s all over the news. Dahzir said he was defending the Sentinel from terrorists from The Order. But that’s ridiculous, and we all know it. He attacked peaceful protesters that have been scheduled for days now is what he did.” She looked behind her as if the king might be right there. Then she looked back up at Cecil. “Well, good on you to bring them here. I didn’t think any survived.”

  “Don’t worry about it. I’ll just be—”

  “But you have paperwork, sir.” She ran behind a counter to retrieve it, while three other nurses, all ogres, put the injured on gurneys and wheeled them away. The elves had never regained consciousness. But Cecil saw the woman look at him with great fascination, because she didn’t know until now that he was carrying two others.

  “I really don’t know them.” He said and tried to push away the clipboard with attached pen that the dwarf was now shoving at him.

  “Just fill out what you can for legal purposes. I can fill in the blanks, or Patricia should be able to. She comes from wealthy stock, as you may assume. She’s likely to have the insurance.” She grabbed Cecil’s right hand, opened it with more force than he would’ve given her credit for, and closed his hand on the clipboard. “Just put this on the desk when you’re done. And then you’re free to go.” She walked around the counter and hopped clumsily onto a stool. Her scrubs had a name tag pinned to them that informed Cecil her name was Erica: Head Nurse. “Although I’ll say you’ve landed quite a catch if you’re dating Patricia Germaine. She’s got a fortune and a half as I’m sure you know, sir. And never mind, I won’t judge you for interracial relations.”

  “We’re not—” he began.

  “Oh my, I’ve overstepped my boundaries again! Yes, hush hush.” She put her right index finger to her lips. “The public doesn’t need to know about you two. I’ll just keep my mouth shut.”

  Cecil was comforted a bit by the fact that no one was in the waiting room to overhear this exchange. Erica would think he was a real piece of work when he put that clipboard on the desk with inaccurate information and then walked out the door, thereby abandoning his love. But that’s just what he did, and the dwarf yelled at him as he did so. She would later find out that Cecil had no connection to Patricia, but it amused Cecil a great deal to hear the dwarf throw a fit.

  Now he knew how to get to the Sentinel and in short order. But in the days to come, he would need to understand its layout. Both the Leviathan headquarters and the prison were attached to the grand castle. And Cecil would need to breech it.

  Seven

  In those days he learned where Dahzir stood in the public eye. He was in fact at odds with his citizens, but he was also feared. Cecil found that many of the Desturshans were aware of what the king did behind closed doors, but just as many were ignorant or did not care, as he once did. From the southern entrance the Sentinel was a perfect straight line, and many used it to make rallies.

  The castle itself seemed impenetrable. Every inch appeared to be made of crystal, but Partheus said Arthur should be able to deal with the front door. Although that could mean the hinges were not crystal, Cecil thought it meant that he had a way to open the door with a code or some other trick. The fence was pointless and seemed only to serve as a decoration. The rear of the Sentinel was the prison itself, but there were no direct entrances to it. The Leviathan base was attached to the prison and was covered in guns wherever its roof had room for them.

  The Leviathans had their own door, but it seemed to be made of thick steel and not crystal, which Cecil was glad to see. He watched from a distance as armored warriors walked in and out. The door for now was propped open, but it would be closed on the upcoming Execution Day. He could see the inside from where he st
ood and was pleased to note that none of it appeared to be crystal. Of course, once he was inside there would be no need to worry about the fortifications.

  Eight

  On the third day he was camped outside Fraushein, Cecil managed to participate in a museum tour inside the city. Unlike the last few he’d been to, this one was important. The tour went over historical kings and explained the layout of the Sentinel quite well. He could only hope that the information was still accurate, as he would only have one chance at this. But he wondered just what his part was. The Order was going to set the Chrissenians free and perhaps try to get Hodge his body back, but Cecil’s part was unclear. He could use this information to confront Dahzir if he was in his office, but that could be wrong. Cecil supposed just about anything would help if he could at least make a diversion.

  He returned to his camp that day with a new set of clothes to replace the ones he’d been wearing for over a week. The jeans he bought were far too large, but he fixed that with a leather belt. His new shirt was wordless but was a mural of the two moons in the night sky over a field of snow. He would alternate between the two pairs and wash the one he wasn’t wearing.

  But when he walked to his sword, a group of boys was congregated
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