Chapter three

That little girl was the one who gave me the most complete picture. A few Hebens were spotted in the area, she herself saw a couple of them, but very few were hurt or caught up in the wreckage of building and bodies. Everyone who came to the square said they’d been attacked by Hebens.

Around noon the girl’s father finally found her. He was limping and there was blood on his face, burns on his clothes and dust in his hair. I think I saw him earlier, one of the first people to arrive, but I couldn’t remember. He hurried her away to an actual healer and the both of them disappeared without a goodbye. She was a lucky one, there were plenty of other children here and their parents didn’t come to pick them up. There were also parents without children.

This carried on all day. Eventually the injured stopped coming and some actually started to leave. If the guards weren’t here keeping things in order then they were looking for accommodation for those ousted from their homes. In the grand scheme of things there weren’t too many people who needed to be relocated, but they refused to stay in the poorest part of town and there wasn’t much space available in the second quadrant. Any space there might be was expensive and with the bank taken out of play it was impossible to get money.

I had a feeling this was one of the reasons why the terrorists targeted the bank. It destroyed buildings, people and possibly the economy. Greystone was an unforgiving place, if you lost your money, even it wasn’t your fault, then you still had to suffer the punishment. Many people would become bankrupt because of this attack and they’d soon be taking up permanent residence down here. The Regent wouldn’t take sympathy on them because he couldn’t afford to. Another thing to blame the Continent for.

“Hey you, get outta here,” a guard yelled from across the way. As one we all looked up from what we were doing and saw a Heben hanging our round the edges, hovering menacingly. He refused to look the guard in the eye and couldn’t quite bring himself to look at the casualties in the square. he was shifting from foot to foot, hands stretched outward with a bundle balancing on them.

“Please, I’ve come to help. I have supplies,” he kept his voice unthreatening.

The guard reached out with a gloved hand, about to prod the bundle. There was an intake of breath from the people around him and he hesitated.

“I wouldn’t even entertain the notion,” one of the victims called out. “He’s just trying to blow the rest of us up.” A little boy at his feet started crying at the idea of being blown up. The guard drew his sword and forced the Heben to place whatever he had on the ground and unwrapped in awkwardly with the tip of his sword. They were indeed medical supplies.

“An’ where did you summin like this from?”

“It’s all been donated by a group of my kind. We heard what happened and we want to help.”

“An’ how do we know you ain’t with Them?”

“Do you really think I’d be here if I was?” He reeled back, the guard backhanded him across the face.

“You don’t speak to me like that,” he wiped the back of his hand on his tunic. “Anyway, who knows what you people do,” the guard shrugged his shoulders and picked up the supplies, we were running low and beggars can’t be choosers.

“I say we should lynch him anyway. Show them that’s what they get for messing with us.” There was a flat cheer at these words but no one really had the heart.

“Just because some of them have these extremist views doesn’t mean they all do,” a woman my age piped up.

“Sympathiser!”

She was soon drowned out by a small crowd of people outraged by her comment, she had a resigned look on her face telling me it wasn’t the first time she’d had such a reaction. A lot of other people didn’t say anything but did group around her in a protective gesture. Likely they had the same views but weren’t as willing to voice them aloud. I was of the opinion that she deserved what was being yelled at her.

A couple of guards waded their way through the crowd and tried to calm them down, the woman melted back into the crowd, pulled away by one of the people surrounding her who’d decided it was safer if she disappeared.

All in all an eventful day at work. I headed straight back to Warren’s with money jingling in my coin purse. The news of the attack had obviously rushed round the Quarter. Everyone was huddled together talking about what it meant, and Heben in the street was dangerously close to being killed by all the looks they were getting. One rushed past, bumping into my should. Before I could think I’d spun round and shoved him as hard as I could. He was already off balance from walking into me and with the extra force he was soon sprawled across the ground, knocking his chin on the cobbles and droppingĀ  whatever he was carrying.

“S-sorry,” he stammered as I towered over him, “it was an accident.”

“Don’t really care,” I spat at him, “you don’t do it.”

Others were beginning to circle, I saw some of them had sympathetic eyes for the Heben but the rest were glad someone else had acted so they could too. There was blood on his chin where he’s scraped it open and I saw a bruise around his eye. He’d been attacked by someone else already. Not that I cared. This mob of people picking on the single Heben reminded me of the incident yesterday and I felt like this made up for me interrupting what was going on yesterday. At least one of them was going to get what they deserve.

He looked at me with desperate eyes but was soon swallowed up by the circling people as I turned and walked away. I heard someone say:

“Scum like you belongs on the floor.”

A lot of insults followed and the noise grew and grew, but not once did I hear the sound of kicks and punches landing on flesh. I think I was relieved by that but didn’t give it much thought afterwards.

Warren was confused when he opened the door to find me standing there, I think I almost got a few words out of him. At least, his lips moved a little. It wasn’t often I visited him twice in a day, in fact I don’t think it’d ever happened before.

“You heard the news?”

He nodded.

“So many people were hurt. Hopefully this’ll be the kick the Regent needs to get those terrorists sorted out. And the Hebens, maybe he’ll finally send them all home.”

He didn’t say anything, still just stood there looking at me, puzzled. I walked to the table, now cleared of all the ingredients and with the remains of his dinner still hanging about. I dug my hand into my pocket and chucked my coin purse onto the wood.

“The guards demanded I hand over all our bread to them so they could share it between themselves and the hurt. I told ’em they wasn’t gettin’ it for free, it’d run me out of my home and you out of yours,” I started dividing the money equally, “I was tempted to charge extra but figured it best not to draw attention to ourselves. Sold it all as I usually would.”

The money was in two piles now and it was beautiful. The sun was just setting and Warren had a window in just the right place. it glinted in the light.

“Have you ever seen so much in one place?”

He shook his head and stepped closer, I could see the wonder in his eyes and I felt pleased. We might not talk much, I doubt we’d ever had a conversation, but I was fond of him and was glad I could do this for him. we always split our profit fifty-fifty and each of us put a little aside to pay for the stall each month.

“I don’t think we ever sold out before.”

He shook his head in agreement and held his hand out. I shook it and we congratulated ourselves on a good job well done.

I didn’t stay for long and soon headed for home, going back the way I’d come. When I got to the street when I pushed the Heben down I noted there was no blood anywhere and none of the people were hanging around.

Ten minutes later I walked through my door and was about to sit at me own table for the first time that day when I saw someone else was there. I’d forgotten all about him but he was still here with dinner laid out in front of him.

“My name’s Elswick, by the way,” he said lightly, “or you can call me Wick. Most people do.”

Advertisements