Unfinished Business

This story segment comes from another website I help to run: Light in a Glass. It allows different writers to create characters, and every month the story is passed on to someone new. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys spur-of-the- moment fiction, this could become a favorite website. The excerpt below is from the third segment on the character Julius Sithson. And for those who (like me) who have missed the writing of Holli Gibbs, you can get more of her work on Light in a Glass.

* * *

A Kilah was like a security guard, A very high up security guard. The top security guard for the entire Larian church. It was the most important position no one ever knew  about. The Kilah looks after protecting church property, guarding the sacred choir dunkers, and even providing security for the Don himself. Their resources were immense, their power broad—Julius knew something about that from personal experience.

Mendax Lingua poked his head out of the carriage.

“I say good sirs, would you please extract more speed from yon stallions? I wouldst fain arrive at mine abode, uh,” he looked behind him, “with all expediency.” His wore a finely powdered wig and little red makeup splotches on his cheeks—partly because that was what the very rich did. It also concealed a vital truth. Mendax Lingua’s face was thinner than the Grand Duke of Langrehousen

“They’re going as fast as they can your lordship!” called the carriage driver.”

Mendax saw a dark figure fighting his way through the crowd.

“Yes, well, that’s all fine and well but, I say, it seems such fine stallions”

“Mares sir,”

“Such fine mares, should be able to, you know,” he bounced in emphasis “pick up the pace?”

“Doing all I can sir.”

Drat! The man was gaining on the carriage. He moved through the crowd like an eel, slipping around people without seeming to bump into anyone. Could Grand Duke Langrehousen really have hired a security like this?

“I say, pull over carriage. No, no, see I really must get out. I know, I know, but see here, it’s constitutionally good for a man to walk now and then. No, no need to linger my good man. Take the carriage straight back. I’ll just be…over here in this ally way.”

If Dera is the Kilah, this would be the caper of capers. To pull this off would be payback. It would be just retribution. It would be…victory. He still smarted from the sting, even all this time later. He could paper over the defeat of course. Almost no one knew his secret. But almost was not everyone. In the deepest bowls of the blackmarket underworld. Where families stole institutionally, and memories ran deep, people still knew Julias Sithson. They knew his failure. And they laughed.

Gemma Lux was a very ordinary girl. Young, independent, moderately attractive, and more than willing to string along several men at a time. There was really nothing to make her stand out from anyone else—nothing but her light-casting.

She held the emerald gem, carefully in her hand, angling the rays just right so the light sprang from the end in one long thing strand of red. Slowly, smoke rose from the iron safe before her.

“Gemma,” said the nervous young man at her side. “You said we’d be seeing some old artifacts.”

“Oh trust me baby, we will,” she said. “Very old, and, unless I’m very wrong, valuable.”

“But, to be an accomplice to a crime,” the young man said, “it’s not r…”

“Not what?”

“Not  r…really safe.”

She rolled her eyes dramatically. “Sheston, paleeeease. We’ll be right out. And trust me when I say it’ll be worth it.”

How long had it been now? Eighteen years, nineteen? And to think he and Dera had once been best friends. Of course it is easier to be best friends with you cousin when she lives the next township over. Oh, but she had changed. Or not exactly changed. She always thought she was smarter than Julius. Correction: she always knew she was smarter than Julius. It grated on him even acknowledging it.

Mendax was backed into a corner. Literally. Stuck in an ally-way that he could of sworn had a door that was always unlocked. Now, for the first time in ever, it was not. And the tall black figure was bearing down on him.

“Now see here,” Mendax cried out. “You’ll never get away with assaulting a lord.”

The figure cracked a smile. “A lord? But I thought you were Grand Duke Langerhausen. And anyway, your lordship,” the figure said, “I hear the cost of impersonating a member of the nobility is, what was it, 10,000 and a month in Scolaager prison?”

“Now see here,” the false duke called out. “I wouldn’t call it impersonation. More like, gentle fandom. Flattery. Get away from me you fiend. Who even are you?!”

“You really don’t know who I am?” The figure withdrew it’s hood.

He would need a team. A team of the very best. And if there was one thing Julius knew, it was the best. He already had his muscle. Mathis was the best you could get. And Eleysha would be a phenomenal scout. Good grief, he wouldn’t be surprised if she could steal what he needed almost on her own. But then, this was the Larian Church. He needed more. He needed a mimic. Someone with inside knowledge of the church, and someone who could pull it off  flawlessly. And of course, for any job like this, you had to get a mage. Yes, Julius would need the best.

And if the best did not wish to join? Well, he wasn’t really Julius Sithson anymore anyway. He went by a different name these days.

Gemma stared at the inside of the safe, her mouth open.

“Uh, Gemma, w…what’s wrong?”

“It’s empty. I could have sworn…oh no.” Her eyes lighted on the neat little square of paper in the corner of the safe. “No, no, no. It couldn’t…”She lifted up the card and unfolded to see an anagram: “Dakter Une”

“I don’t understand. Gemma? What is Dakter Uner?”

“it means that the undertaker requires my presence.”

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