Two moons over, p.36
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       Two Moons Over, p.36

           Levi Shipley
 
on Execution Eve. And that would be fine. No, that would be great.

  Having spent every single moment of every day awake for two years, Cecil could tell the time without a clock. He knew midnight would be coming soon, so he walked into the city.

  Two

  The wind blew all around Cecil as he walked down the cold, icy streets. The tail of his shirt fluttered, and his hair was pushed back behind his head. The rainwater on the streets had already begun to ice over, and he was sure to not slip. Snowflakes landed on his shoulders and were whisked away by the gale. The sound of the high winds in the streets and along the eves made a terrible howling sound that reminded Cecil too much of himself.

  Aside from the screaming wind, the streets were bitterly quiet. There was light inside windows, but thick ice on the outside was obscuring most of it. Even with his extraordinary hearing, he could not hear the sounds of residents inside their homes. There were no street plows nor were there guards on the roads. The emptiness was unsettling and more than a bit strange. But Cecil continued walking in icy solitude toward the Sentinel.

  He walked to the north side where the prison and guards were. The front door of the castle to the south seemed intact, and he assumed that he had arrived early. The door of the guardhouse was shut and none stood outside to guard it. He approached the steel frame and gazed at the weaponry laid up on the roof. Cecil fully expected to hear the turning crank of Gatling guns followed by the blistering whistle of bullets. But these never came, and he approached the door without hindrance.

  The door was heavy in appearance, and Cecil was certain that it was heavy in weight as well. The handle was curved to fit the shaping of a hand and was made of polished brass. Cecil tried the handle to see if it would open the door. He pulled on it and gripped a trigger, but the door did not release from its frame. He released the brass, leaving a hand print made of condensation, and stepped back.

  He drew Bane Edge and let the tip of the blade rest on the top step, where snow was beginning to accumulate. He looked at the white orb being held by four claws. He took a moment to steel himself. What he was readying himself to do was treason by definition, but it needed to be done. A vein of fear ran into his veins at the base of his neck which was far colder than the icy breeze.

  The wind picked up and slowed down. The howling grew in intensity, and the snowflakes tripled in size and number. A blizzard had begun. As he listened to nature’s crying and felt its cold fingers attempt to sink into his skin, Cecil heard a commotion of clattering and yelling from the south. He knew that was his queue.

  Three

  He held the blade back and used both hands to swing it forward. The sword crashed through the steel as the inner workings of the lock twisted and shattered. The door opened only half an inch, and Cecil withdrew his crystal sword. He shoved his shoulder into the steel and watched it come free of its hinges. He saw it slide over a marble floor, strike a guard at the front desk, and pin her under its great weight.

  The door would’ve killed her if she’d not been wearing her armor, but since it didn’t she screamed in distress. Cecil ignored her yelling and walked down a corridor on his right. The walls might as well have been made of paper for all he cared, and Cecil heard the shuffle of feet as guards prepared to burst from doorways.

  To the left and right Leviathans came crashing through five doors. Two doors on Cecil’s right and three to the left. A total of eleven came out. Each was holding a pistol. And despite how fast they came out, they were well organized. All were clad in crystal armor from head to toe. Cecil couldn’t help but think how odd it was for them to wear helmets inside. And just as soon as he came into sight, they formed a line and began firing charged bullets.

  The projectiles bounced off of his skin without a second thought, but his shirt filled up with tiny burning holes. Cecil ran forward and swung at his adversaries. It only took a few swings to hit them all with the buster. Each clash made an odd harmonic sound as crystal clanged against crystal. The guards that were hit were sent sailing. Some went through the paper like walls. Others just slid across the floor. None of them stood back up, but he didn’t hear any crunching. Cecil hoped he’d not killed any by accident, but thought he probably did and forced himself to move on.

  The end of the corridor was the door to the prison. It was unlocked and unguarded. He opened it and found himself on a metal walkway a floor above the base. There were cells on this level, but most were underneath. Cecil jumped over the railing and struck his feet on the concrete below. Still no guards came to interfere as he walked to the end of the block. The prisoners of Chrissenia had been kept here so that the Leviathans could keep a better watch. He walked up to the last group cell, which was filled beyond reason with captives.

  “I’ve uhh,” Cecil began, “come to cancel the execution. How many here are Chrissenians?”

  The prisoners had been quiet, most even asleep despite their impending demise. But a dwarven man walked up to bars, pushing through as best he could. The man had been the gatekeeper in Chrissenia, and Cecil recognized him. “I never thought I’d live to see you again.” He tugged on his steely gray beard. “By heavens, you are tall like the rest of them!” He released his beard and crossed his arms. A broad smile pushed on his beard and raised it up from resting on his chest. “Everyone in this block. We were spread across three, but they decided to sardine us in here about two months ago.”

  Cecil didn’t waste any time and sheathed his sword. He then ripped the iron bar doors from the cells one by one. Of all the things Dahzir decided to make of crystal, Cecil thought it would’ve been wise to make the cell doors of it. But by the time he processed that, all the cells were open. The Chrissenians congregated outside their cells, but still had little room to breathe.

  Four

  Cecil walked up a steel set of stairs that lead to the door he came from and motioned for the prisoners to follow. He was overjoyed that no one put up a fight and seemed to understand what he wanted. He had no idea what to do with them once they were outside the guardhouse. But he would deal with that when he came to it.

  He walked back through the hall, making sure the Leviathans were unconscious. None stirred, and he led the prisoners through the base and to the door that now laid on a hapless desk attendant. The outside air was cold and had begun pulling in snow from the street. As Cecil passed the threshold and thought of how to keep these people warm and safe, he was greeted by a fleet of buses. Standing against the closest one was an elf with blond roots showing.

  Partheus waved at Cecil, and the werewolf waved back. Then the elf began instructing the prisoners to board buses with their families. Once they had the routine down, the mayor walked over to Cecil and shook his hand. Cecil made sure not to shake with any of his strength.

  “And The Order?” Cecil asked while surveying how many buses the elf brought. There were at least three dozen.

  “Hodge.” Partheus yelled, though it came out as not much more than a whisper. The elf was run ragged again. So instead of saying more, the elf pointed behind Cecil toward the castle. After this, Partheus lipped a “thank you” and climbed into one of the buses. Cecil was unsure if it had just been melted snow, but he thought he saw a tear roll down Partheus’s cheek.

  Five

  Walking almost single file took the better part of ten minutes for the prisoners to come out and board. Every moment made Cecil increasingly nervous. He kept expecting those weapons above to rain lead and magic on them, but they never did. He also thought that the Pheonix might light its cannons on them, but it too hung silently in the sky.

  Cecil waited with his nerves growing thorns. At last the steady stream trickled down to a rough march. Nearly at the very end came an orc boy with a scarred but healthy face. Cecil raised an eyebrow at the boy, and when the boy saw the tall novian, he came running. The snow didn’t seem to bother the boy’s bare feet as he barreled toward the one who brought him out of Hu
rlinge.

  At the last moment, Cecil recognized the boy and said his name. Then the child was on top of Cecil. The werewolf almost tumbled over backwards when the boy jumped on him. The boy looked the same as he had two years ago, but he was somehow healthier looking now. And he was taller of course.

  “Cecil!” Folas exclaimed and clamored off the man with the sword. “I never thought you would come.”

  Cecil lifted the boy up and set the child’s feet on his boots. That wouldn’t be much warmer, but it was better than the cold concrete. “Yeah, I never thought I would either.” He would’ve enjoyed catching up with the kid and seeing how he turned out, but there was no time for that. The last of the refugees were boarding as Cecil let Folas down and pushed him along. The boy walked reluctantly and stopped at the open door of a bus to wave at the werewolf. Cecil waved back. “I’ll catch up with you soon. Maybe I’ll get you some candy.” At that the boy’s face lit up, and he turned to enter the bus.

  Now Cecil should have known better than to think all was well and good. As Folas took his first step onto the bus, the sound of a striking hammer and igniting gunpowder sounded. Cecil’s muscles were fast, and he turned and saw the shooter. The attendant crawled free and
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