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Gevilla Stories

PostPosted: 03 Dec 2008, 21:43
by Rik
This was my first attempt at blogging a story - currently it's on an extended leave of absence as I work on other projects ...


PostPosted: 03 Dec 2008, 21:46
by Rik
For Jes, being blown up was like having a heavy, invisible blanket thrown over him.

He didn't see the explosion. Some reflex must have triggered his arms to move slowly around his head as his body lifted from the ground. When he opened his eyes mid-flight he could see glass fragments traveling alongside him, spinning tip over base. When his back met the wall it took its time to putty itself into the bricks. Then everything went dark.

Someone was dragging him through the smoke, their arms under his shoulders. He could feel his feet bouncing against rubble, which was a good sign, he thought. Time seemed to be speeding up again, though the invisible blanket still seemed to be wrapped around his head. He could hear nothing. He noticed other shapes in the smoke and dust, people-shaped figures hunched low as their arms fished across the floor.

The sunlight came as a shock. Jes squinted as colours reintroduced themselves to his eyes; the blueness of the sky suggested that it was still morning. Then the dragging stopped and a head appeared before him. A dirty face, Jes thought, with big white eyes. The head's mouth appeared to be shaping words, but the blanket's silence was complete.

"Marak, why are you looking so scared, man?"

The words, which Jes knew he had said even though he couldn't hear them, seemed to have a magic effect on the face before him. Marak gave him an open-mouthed smile before looking away and, by the look of the tight chords in his throat, shouting something to someone else.

Jes sat up, and for the first time felt a tickle of pain in his right shoulder. When Marak turned back to him, he signalled with his left hand: I can't hear you.

His friend nodded, switched to handspeak: Are you hurt? Can you feel any pain? Help's coming, but we need to get you out of the street.

My shoulder hurts, and I think my leg. Stand me up.

Stay still. We'll carry you.

Fuck will you! He leaned forward, laid his dust-black hands on the ground and started to lever his hips up far enough to swing his left leg under himself. Once more, his friend's arms came to help him, wrapping around his chest and pulling him upright. And then he was standing. He tried to put some weight on his right foot, gripped Marak's shoulder as a first ring of dizziness spun behind his eyes. But Jes was determined now. He could see people with cameras running up the street towards him and he had no intention of letting those gossip-rats take photos of him being stretchered away from the wreckage of the street!


PostPosted: 03 Dec 2008, 21:50
by Rik
Lassan was really angry: Marak could tell this by the way she held her her small body taut like she wanted to punch something hard. The shouting was also a clue.

"What in all the colours of shit were you two doing there?" She raged. "You were supposed to be patrolling Lakantrees Square!"
"We got a shout, boss. We had to go. Fighting in the Market."

Lassan considered this for a moment. She hadn't had time to check the incident records. She hadn't even had time to put on her uniform - the loose shirt and pantaloons were the only things she could find close to hand when the Guild called her. At least she had her workboots on. She felt she could rage properly with her boots on.

"Don't you dare go officious on me! The deliveries offices are two streets away from the market. That lad lying in the healing rooms downstairs was supposed to be in your fucking care! How long's he been in the Guild? Seven weeks? You could have at least waited until he'd paid enough dues to cover the cost of his funeral before getting him blown up!"

"We were on our way back to finish our patrol. Jes said something about expecting a parcel and I suggested we pick it up - it's not a big detour!" Though in fact Jes had insisted on picking up his bloody package. Marak had wanted to go by a different route so he could buy some Lutestran smokes, but the boy had a winning smile.

"And then the building blew up!"

"Yes, boss. That was a bit unexpected."

Lassan could feel the anger loosening from her stomach. "Does anyone know why the delivery building blew up?"

"I don't know, boss. I don't know who's been assigned to the case." Feeling the danger point had passed and the woman was probably not going to boot him in the head, Marak began to relax. He'd had time to wash his face and hands, but he could feel the grit from the blast's outfall scratching against his skin. He'd need more than a shower to get himself properly clean. And his hand was still oozing blood from the graze a wayward piece of shrapnel had given him. He chanced his luck and asked: "Is he going to be alright?"

The question distracted Lassan's thoughts away from the politics of the investigation. "He should be fine. The Healer told me he'll need a few days to recover, but he should be back at work by the end of the week. Light duties!" She spat, the juices of the leaf she had been chewing arcing expertly into the spittoon in the corner of the plain, white room. "But you're back to work tomorrow morning. You now owe me the work of two guards!"

"Boss! I can't even hold a truncheon!"

"Oh, don't you worry my fine lad! I'm going to find you some light duties." Already she could feel her shoulders bracing for some serious arguing with the Folks Upstairs. "I'm going to get us this case, and then we're going to find some answers. No fucker blows up my boys while they're on duty!"


PostPosted: 03 Dec 2008, 21:51
by Rik
It was a struggle for Nattie to shoulder her way through the bodies to the corner of the street. The crowds were packed like corn in a sack at this point of the course, all straining their necks to get a view of the runners. It was easily the best point to watch the race, marking the point where the road left the city and started its long, steep climb up the hill to the Pavillions.

The good mood of the people around her was only mildly upset as Nattie used her elbows and heels to squirm her way forward, like a small eel slipping through tall weeds. With a final shove, she finally broke through to the front row. And just in time too, as the first of the runners turned the corner, their faces uniformly grimacing as they caught sight of the final, killing section of the course.

"Go, Feddie! You're almost there!"

As soon as she saw her younger brother, Nattie was shouting her encouragements. This was his first time in the race, and even though she knew he was a fast runner, she could not believe he was keeping in touch with the leading pack. This was not the plan they had worked on so hard over the past few months. She checked his running style with a practical eye: he was loping rather than running effectively, not lifting his legs high on each stride.

"Shit, Feddie! Pace yourself! Get some bounce into your stride!"

The lad took no notice of her as he rounded the corner, not more than a couple of armstretches away from a comforting hug. His head was down and sweat seemed to be irritating his eyes.

"Look up, you idiot! Feddie! Keep your head up!"

But already Nattie knew her brother would not complete the race. Rather than watch the other runners, she turned and started to squeeze her way to the back of the crowd, this time not caring about whether she stood on strange toes. Once away from the crush, she went looking for the rest of her family. It took her a good ten minutes to spot the tall, prematurely balding head of her father in the clusters of people still hanging around the starting area in the market square.

They embraced quickly when the met up. "You saw him then?" he asked.

"He's running too fast," she replied, rearranging her shawl around her shoulders after their greeting. "He never listens to my advice, you know."

"Since when has listening to advice been a strength in our family?" He smiled at her, put his arm around her shoulder as they started to walk along the course towards the city gate. She turned her head up to offer him a hard stare. "I've always listened to you, Brem, when it comes to running!"

"No you haven't. If you had listened to me, you could have won the race last year."

"It was horrible weather last year. That rain turned the hill into a mud cascade. Old Tebak only won because he found a stony path up the southern flank."

"If you'd listened to me and followed Tebak, instead of taking the short route, you would have won." This was an old argument, and both father and daughter rehearsed it again without rancour.

"But it's too hot this year, and that idiot has wasted his energy scurrying round the streets. He's good at hill running - almost as good as me - but he won't make it to the top, I tell you!"

"Then he'll learn the hard way. There's always next year - I'm confident one of you two will win the race one of these years."

"We only do it in the hope that victory will stop us having to listen to your boasts. The only person to win the race two years in a row, yadda, yadda."

Brem laughed, a short bark that threw his head back. "You think that will stop me boasting, child? I'll be down the canteens and gossip halls boasting how I fathered champions!"

Nattie joined in the laughter, slipping her arm around her father's waist as they carried on ambling. They walked in silence for a while, occasionally waving to friends seen in the distance. Only when they reached the arch of the stone-built city gate did they let go of each other.

"Your mother said she'd meet us here with the picnic," said Brem, "but I can't see her."

"What's she wearing?" asked Nattie. She had been too busy that morning trying to tell her brother how to plan the run to take much notice of the rest of the family's preparations.

"A big hat. That one she got from Auntie Galla for the solstice feast."

"The one that looks like a chicken in a tree?"

"That's the one. She only wears it because she knows I can't stand it."

Nattie grinned. Her parents' bickering was always a source of entertainment for the whole compound. She hoped that her relationship ended up as strong as theirs.

"I told Tirr I'd meet him at the bottom of the hill. He doesn't want me climbing the hill on my own. We'll catch up with you and Mum at the Pavillions, yes?"

"That man of yours worries too much, Nattie! I'm surprised you're not running up that hill already, barking instructions at your brother."

"Tirr would have a fit! The sooner I have this baby, the sooner he can turn back into a normal person and the better my sanity will be!"

Brem stopped walking, placed his great hands on her shoulders and turned her round to face him. She could see the concern in his eyes, lurking beneath the ever-present laughter lines on his face. He held her in front of him for a couple of seconds, before grasping her in a gentle bear-hug. "We'll be in the South Pavillion - it's a longer walk, I know, but less steep. Now go find young Tirr and race him up the hill!"


PostPosted: 03 Dec 2008, 21:52
by Rik
The day after being blown up, Jes was pronounced fit enough to go home. He had to borrow some clothes from the Guild stores to make himself decent enough to be seen in public - an old, faded red shirt, a pair of loose pants with a rope belt and hems that dragged on the ground as he limped out of the healing rooms, a pair of wooden sandals of the type he had worn when growing up in the settlement downriver from the city. The final item he selected was a stout walking stick, wooden with a rubber heel and handle. Jes signed for all the items before leaving, smiling at the bored receptionist as he struggled to ink his name to the register with his left hand.

His personal belongings were still in his locker on the ground floor changing rooms of the Guild House. The lock on his locker was new, less than a week old; Jes had bought it out of his last pay cheque, choosing a barrel combination model over the new fingerprint activation type which he didn't trust - even though they were the current fashion among city guards. Opening the rough wooden door, he reached in and felt around the shelf for his wallet. The smoothed leather item wasn't there.

For a good minute Jes stood in front of the locker, nonplussed. He always left his wallet in the locker, only carrying his guards pouch with him while on patrol. Then he searched again: sweeping his palm across the the shelf; fingering through the litter at the base of the locker; even checking the back of the locker door. Nothing.

Jes was beginning to panic when a stray recollection caught him sharp. The parcel! He'd needed to collect a parcel from the city's deliveries offices and had taken his wallet with him on patrol. It must have been lost in the blast. Angrily, he slammed his hand against the locker door, yelped in pain when his injured hand protested at this new abuse.

"Who's cursed me? Which bastard deity have I offended this time?"

The empty rows of lockers chose not to answer. For the first time, Jes realised that something was not right. He'd never been alone in the locker room before - there was always a few people around, either getting ready to go on duty or relaxing their feet after finishing a patrol. There was always some background murmur of activity. Why was it so quiet today?

In fact, now Jes came to think about it, the whole building was quiet. He'd seen nobody on his limping journey through the corridors and stairwells of the Guild House. The only sound he remembered following his departure from the healing rooms was the rubbery clump of his walking stick on the stone floors and the occasional huff of hot breeze brushing the wooden slats hung in front of the open windows.

Something must be wrong, he thought. More blasts, perhaps?

One place was guaranteed to be inhabited at any time of the day or night, Jes decided. Snapping his locker shut, he turned and made his way out of the mazy room and towards the canteen at the back of the building.