Saturday, May 5, 2018

Page 1730 -- CLXXXV.

((Triple Saturday -- Page 3 of 3))
Chapter One Hundred Eighty-Five: ‘O, quondam desire...’
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...167 years ago...


Parson’s heel tapped rapidly against the floor of the wagon as it clattered over the dirt road. He wanted to meditate, but his mind was racing as he thought about their destination. It was somehow even more nerve-wracking than heading into battle. He tried to focus on his breathing and calm down a little.

“Nervous?” said the man sitting across from him. His icy blue eyes had a piercing quality to them, and the sharp features of his deceptively young face only added the effect.

Parson managed a nod.

There’s no need to be,’ said Overra, who was attached to the boy’s shoulder. ‘I assure you, he’s quite nice. I’m sure you’ll like him.

“That’s not it,” said Parson. “I’m just... I’m not sure I deserve to be here with you...”

“Nonsense,” said the man. “You were instrumental.”

Parson gave him a dubious look. “You killed all of them.”

The man smiled, and Parson knew what a rare sight that was. “You were a valuable distraction.”

“...I also hid for most of the fight.”

That made the man snicker. “Sometimes, focusing on your own survival is the best strategy.”

Don’t be so quick to compare yourself to us,’ said the man’s reaper, who was similarly attached to the man’s shoulder. ‘Down that road, lies only jealousy and a profound inadequacy.

It’s your humility that we really admire,’ said Overra dryly.

Humility isn’t what creates men of action,’ said the other reaper. ‘If you ask me, this world could use more bold and brazen men like Monty here.

Bold, maybe,’ said Overra. ‘Brazen? I think that’s just you, Hovess.

Psh. C’mon, Monty. Tell her how wrong she is.

“I would. If she was.”

How dare you.’

The journey lasted a quite a while longer and was so bumpy that Parson almost would’ve preferred to walk. When they finally arrived, he was quick to leap out the back and stretch his legs.

Monty tipped the wagoner with a golden tremol, at which the wagoner’s eyes bulged before the man began spouting gratitude. Monty handled it with his typical grace, then he and Parson bid the man farewell and began the last leg of their trek up a steep and winding path of stone steps. Rocks and verdant grass flanked the staircase on both sides, and the early afternoon air held the scent of recent rain.

When they reached the top, Parson’s nervousness and excitement died a little. The cobblestone watchtower standing before him was not at all what he had been expecting. Humble was one word to describe it. Small and ruined were two others.

There were, however, many more Vanguardians patrolling the premises. Too many, Parson thought, which suggested to him that this was not their usual or permanent residence. Several unfamiliar people greeted Monty or Overra as they made their way around to the far side of the building.

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