A tale of artists, intrigue, and the magical renaissance

6.01 – Obcasus {Sunset}

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The monastery was humble, small and unassuming. From the little window of her group’s room in the inn, high above the city, Elena had a clear view directly to it, on the outskirts of the city. In itself, it wouldn’t have been remarkable in one way or another. Being so close to Florenzia, however, so near to all of the capital city’s indulgence and opulence, the humility alone was remarkable.

Elena had travelled far since she was first blown away by Milia, her country-girl naivete making the small city seem huge and menacing. Even with all of her travelling and experience, even after seeing the grand towers of Rimi and the intricate layout of Venecchi, Florenzia was more overwhelming than anything else she had ever seen.

Florenzia was the heart of Italoza, the ruling city in the alliance of city-states that made up the country. It wasn’t as big as Rimi, or as urbane as Venecchi, but Florenzia was the lantern to which all of Italoza’s best artists and engineers were drawn, and it showed in a million small but impactful ways.

Little levers stood on pillars at the entry to their rooms, and when thrown they would light all of the lanterns in the room. While they could’ve taken stairs to their room, a clicking and whirring set of pulleys dragged a box from floor to floor, allowing people to cross the distance in the space of a few seconds. Elena could drag a finger across the glass of the window to turn the glass dark, casting the whole room into an artificial night.

Somehow, the wonders of the city of marvels failed to delight Elena. Though she could have dimmed the lights, she instead stared down at the monastery and tried to work around the pit in her stomach.

“Strange to think it’s going to end down there, isn’t it?” Ele said quietly, “this whole long mess.”

“I don’t think it’s going to end down there,” Elena answered, not taking her eyes from the small building. “I’m expecting to see either Coastering or Fulvio waiting for us, maybe not either but certainly not both.”

“It still might end, if we all walk into their trap and die,” Fred said from her right. Elena glanced at the Echo, usually so quiet and at Frederica’s side. As an Echo potentially dooming himself to remain incorporeal forever, Fred should have been more invested in matters than anyone, but he seemed as calm and clinical as his Stormtouched did, sitting in the corner and carving a little block of wood.

“Hopefully we won’t let that happen,” Elena said, “but if it does, the Eye will still be around to keep on fighting. With hostages in the hands of the Twisted, we don’t precisely have a choice.”

She snuck a look at Owl. The young man she had assumed was Tomas, a poor family-less garzoni, revealed to be the son of a courtier on the run from a Prince for most of his life. Despite what she had told him four days ago, part of her kept expecting her opinion of him to change. Each time she snuck a glance at him, she wondered if she would suddenly see Allvero D’arcangelo, a young man who she had no feelings for.

It hadn’t happened yet, and it was proving distracting for Elena, wondering if she would survive the next day or if she would die without telling him how she felt. Owl suddenly looked up from his book, catching her stare through his long curly hair, and he smiled at her encouragingly. Elena returned his smile, but turned away.

Focus, she told herself, no matter which way that conversation were to go, it would only make tomorrow more difficult.

“We should see about getting our hands on some weapons,” Owl broke the quiet in the room. “I’m not going to be much help, but Elena your Storm-assisted ability and Frederica’s skill with a knife might actually do well against whatever the Twisted are going to send to the monastery.”

“Should we risk being seen, going out into the street in search of weapons?” Emerald asked.

“We’ve already been seen,” Elena said without hesitation. “Fulvio and Coastering knew when we left Venecchi, they knew we were coming here. Even without Fulvio’s Storm, between the two of them they have enough influence that they could have put the guards on alert at every single gate. The Twisted know exactly where we are, and the fact that some plan hasn’t been enacted against us means they’re going to keep to their end of the bargain, at least as far as letting us get to the monastery tomorrow.”

“Weapons, then,” Owl said. “We don’t need to spend a lot of money on mine, I’ll be just as useless with a cheap sword as with an expensive one, but we should get a good knife for you, Frederica, and for Elena a hammer, if we can find one.”

“An’ a crossbow,” a weak voice came from the bed, and Elena spun around in delight.

“Belloza!” Elena rushed over to the plush bed where Belloza lay, closely followed by the two Echoes and three Stormtouched.

“This doesn’t feel like a Rimi bed,” Belloza mumbled, blinking her eyes and slowly rousing. “We got out of the city alright?”

“Well, you were stabbed, the wound became infected, and you almost died,” Owl said dryly, “so I don’t know I’d say ‘alright’.”

“We ran into the Eye near Venecchi, and Master Asclepius patched you up.We’re in Rimi, meeting the last two of the Twisted at an arranged time and place in exchange for hostages not being harmed,” Elena said, “Marsillo Del Farvero is dead.”

Misericordia et in ignominiam,” Belloza swore, “he would’ve been a feather in my cap. When all this is over, can we tell people I was the one to kill him? It would help my reputation.”

“If you like,” Elena gave a small smile. The casual use of the phrase ‘when this is all over’ made her wonder afresh how likely it would be, the entire group surviving the next few days.

Belloza closed her eyes for a long moment, then opened them. “What hostages do the Twisted have that are making you do something so stupid?”

“My sister,” Owl said, shifting uncomfortably, “I’m…I’m not Tomas, my name is Allvero, and my sister and I have been running from a Prince our entire lives.”

Belloza nodded, the corner of her mouth twitching. “I suspected all along,” she said, “it’s what I assume of all of my friends, really. Was there anything else I missed while I was asleep? Did it turn out that Emerald has actually been a ghost this whole time, and Elena’s mother is leading the Twisted?”

“Somehow I don’t see my mother being nasty enough to try to end the world,” Elena smiled.

“I’m not so sure,” Frederica said, her face serious, “I’ve met her…”

The others laughed, and for a brief moment the laughter lit up the dismal room. When it quieted, the atmosphere shifted along with it, replacing smiles with serious and grim intensity.

“When do we leave for the meeting?” Belloza asked.

“As soon as the sun rises we’ll head down to the monastery where we’re to meet,” Elena said, “but there’s no ‘we’, you’re not coming with us.”

“You can’t be serious,” Belloza said, “I’m a Sagittara, I’m your best fighter.”

You can’t be serious if you think I’m letting my Stormtouched join in on this,” Bello rumbled from where he lay nudged up against one wall, “or do you forget I know exactly how weak you are and how much pain you’re in?”

“Belloza,” Elena said quietly, “the Eye is off preparing for a hostage rescue as we speak. We can’t let the Twisted shut us down completely here. Even if they succeed, we need to tell the world who did this and how. If things don’t go well for either group, you’ll be the only one who can tell the world what happened.”

“No,” Belloza said, “if things don’t go well, he’ll be the only one who knows what happened.” She gestured toward Bello. Although she grinned as she said it, none of the group laughed this time.

“It’s getting close to sundown,” Owl said, “we need to get those weapons.”

Elena estimated the weight of the purse she carried. They had picked up more money here and there, but a few weapons would be enough to chew through almost all they had left. She shook her head as she followed Owl through the door. It didn’t matter, if it gave them any sort of edge the next morning.

They would need all the edge they could get.

***

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***

There is no evidence that a vengeful djinn’s curse still lingers around the link to vote for Twisted Cogs on TopWebFiction, but honestly I wouldn’t risk it if I were you

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6 responses

  1. Woo! It’s the first chapter of the final arc of the final book of Twisted Cogs!

    What a journey it’s been since the first chapter back in 2014. I’m so grateful to all of my readers, commentators, voters and patrons for joining me for the ride.

    Liked by 1 person

    2017-03-17 at 4:12 pm

  2. Thank you for the chapter, Maddi! Excited for the story’s conclusion :3

    Like

    2017-03-19 at 7:17 pm

    • Thank you, and me too! It’s all moved by in such a blur that it seems like no time has passed…but as I plot out my next work I’m finding it really obvious how much I’ve learned over the past three years and the time seems a lot longer.

      Like

      2017-03-20 at 8:49 am

    • Kfzversicherungvergleichtech

      That’s a genuinely impressive answer.

      Like

      2017-05-29 at 12:11 am

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