Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Necessary Sacrifice, Part 2

((This is set some 20 years in the past in this universe.))

 . . . . . A crowd surrounded Master Vincenzo's residence well before I'd finished the mile-and-a-half sprint to reach it. Elua forbid that I should ever try such a stunt again. Bent over my own heaving bellows, I tried not to vomit my breakfast onto my shoes while I listened to the angry rabble around me. I recognized several students among them and was certain that many more I simply did not know were there as well.
 . . . . . “The Masters are exploiting us!” came one angry Caerdicci shout.
 . . . . . “It is the foreigners corrupting our virtuous women!”
 . . . . . “Oh, shut it, Andros, you're foreign!”
 . . . . . “Your mother is foreign!”
 . . . . . An elbow crunched down on my bowed spine and it was truly just instinctive reaction which led me to shove my shoulder sideways into my unwitting attacker's knees. With a yelp, he fell, flailing out to catch another man in the stomach with his fist. That man, enraged – once he stopped barking for lack of air – fell upon the first with fists. Cries of “Fight!” rang through the crowd and before anyone could quite put stop to it, the crowd gathered in front of the residence had devolved into fisticuffs.
 . . . . . I gained a few bruises for my troubles, but I managed to dodge the worst of it as I battled free of the riot and found myself at a wooden door set into the stucco-brushed stone walls protecting the Master's loggia. The door itself was painted a rich green. While I was busy considering how to scale the wall and gain access to the balcony above the loggia's arches, the door creaked open. A furtive face peered out, marked by the broad nose and curly hair of a Hellene.
 . . . . . He spied me and made to close the door, but I hissed “Wait!” as loudly as I dared. “Wait, please, I beg” I repeated in Hellenic.
 . . . . . That earned me a skeptical look, but the man glanced towards the corner I'd rounded which separated us from the rioting crowd at the front and nodded once. I was attired – and dirtied – as a gardener, not a University student, and my Hellenic was of the common man instead of the orator.
 . . . . . “What has occurred here?”
 . . . . . At the man's beckon, I pressed my back against the wall next to the door and listened to his quiet words. “Great tragedy has befallen my master's household,” he bemoaned. “Lady Basilia has been foully murdered for refusing the advances of one of my master's students. A sweet and innocent lady! I shall never see her warm smile and soft brown eyes again!” I heard the clack of komboloi as the servant fingered his worry beads. “Master Vincenzo has gone to the magistrate with the city guards to provide information so the student may be caught. He fled! Oh, the misfortune, he slipped right past me!”
 . . . . . “I am sure all will be righted in time,” I murmured to the servant as the beads clacked somewhere behind the door. “Dike throttles Adikia.” An old Hellenic saying, I assured him that moral justice prevailed over injustice.
 . . . . . An approving cluck of the tongue was the response, followed by, “You should leave before this gets worse, especially being Kriti.”
 . . . . . “Especially?”
 . . . . . “The student was Kriti. Actually, he looked a bit like you, with longer hair.” The servant peered out as if inspecting my shoulders for recently clipped strands.
 . . . . . “No, I've not had a haircut recently,” I demurred even as I strapped a bit of mental steel to my spine in preparation for another full-speed flight.
 . . . . . “Even so,” the servant warned.
 . . . . . I took him at his word and pushed off the wall, fleeing into the streets.