The Toll

- 5th October, East Twins, Late Night, Residence of Ezekiel Thinker -

Ezekiel stood by the fireplace looking at the greenish embers of Flagesium pop and crack and its hellish smoke raise through the chimney to join the populated skies above the city.
He cast his mind to the events of the last few months contemplating all that had happening. The stir of Proletariat Revolution in the Green Docks and Silken Mill. The sacrifice of so many brothers and sisters who gave their lives in the face of the Militia brutality. The decision to bring the walls of Dusk down for the first time since the Foundation of the City. The mysterious plague that was spreading through the city claiming more and more lives each day. The creation of a quarantine camp in the Sprawl for those affected just a dirty political move by the government. Rumors of people that spoke against the establishment disappearing or being transferred to the area were on everyone's lips at the University and across many Members Clubs.

Josiah, Edward and Maynard were not stupid. One did not hold on to power for as long as they had by underestimating their enemies. The delivery of the People's Charter had ruffled some feather and soon they would come for him.

And if is own thought willed reality there was a large banging sound from the entrance of his abode. He heard it splinter and fall. As he turned two large men in Militia outfits entered his living room turning a few chairs in the process. He was alone. He had given his maid the week off. He did not want anyone to be caught in the cross fire of any confrontation.

"Ezekiel Tinker. You are hereby arrested on the orders of the Ministry of War." the first man said and grabbed the older man's arm forcefully.
"And what are the charges?" he asked trying to quash the rising fear in his heart. This meant a one way trip to the Black Gallows.
The men grinned. The older of the two men pulled his baton out and hit Ezekiel across the face with it break his nose.

The old scholar reached to grab his bleeding nose and staggered. He only remained on his feet because he was being held by one of the Militiamen.
"Shut your trap, you scum. We know you were involved in the attacks at the Silken Mill." he spat in Ezekiel's face.
"We had mates there that day. Good soldiers. Good men." he shouted and drove the baton into prisoners stomach making him bend over in pain.

They dragged Ezekiel away into the night and into a nearby alley.
"It's off to the Black Gallows for you, mate. But before that we will have a bit of fun with you." they laughed.
"This is what happens when you resist arrest." they threw him on the floor. Ezekiel could only curl into a ball as the blows and kicks rained down on him. He felt his left arm shatter, along with some ribs. Blood poured down is face and head and he lost track of how long his ordeal took. In the distance he thought he heard someone scream. A woman or maybe a small child. He could not be sure. It was a long and low wail. and despite his predicament he felt chilled to the core.

Suddenly and as quickly as it had started the violence stopped. The alley was silent apart from the rushing sound of blood Ezekiel could hear inside his on skull.
Slowly and with much effort and after what felt an eternity Tinker managed to open one of his eyes. Through swollen slit he was shocked to see the two men on the floor. His mind could not understand what was happening.
The low piercing sound seem to rise intensity. Gloved hands grabbed him and lifted him up as if he weighted as little as a small child. His vision blurred and his face covered his blood he felt himself cold. He was pressed agianst the wall and felt a presence around him but he could not see who was holding him,

A barely audible rasping voice spoke and he felt as if it was inside his head. He could not be sure. But the dread he felt was like nothing he had ever experienced before

"While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; so that Profecy might be fulfilled."

He could not make sense of what he was hearing but by then it was too late he felt a ragged blade pierce his chest, slowly and deliberately, almost tenderly, he felt, h=just before the light went out of his eyes and his soul chased the Aether.

The next day pieces of the three men would be found scattered across the quiet neighborhood of East Twins. A symbol as old as Dusk itself found scrawled in charcoal in a nearby wall...

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