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11. Help Wanted

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To say that I knew what I was doing entirely when I did it might’ve been a stretch. But I had carried out my plan nonetheless. Linkon Ransom was dead, and that’s all that mattered to me. What I hadn’t considered was how this might affect the war. Who would suffer in this deal.

And perhaps, I should have.

I was able to have three days of peace after my little scene. Three days and nights was I free from the world, sleeping soundly on a conscience heavy with guilt but somehow free enough to function.

And then there was a knock on the door that I would never forget.

The knock was calm and even, nothing suspicious. Very similar to how Colt would knock, or Irish, so I imagined they wanted to discuss the final outcome of things. Brie had gone off that day to look around and get her bearings, which I warned her could be dangerous. She stayed close to the bar and they kept close watch on her. I moved to open the door, relaxed and without hesitation.

The first blow caught me off guard and I staggered back slightly, still gripping the doorknob. The second laid me flat out on the ground. And that’s where I stayed for the entirety of the beating. Nothing more was used than fists. Nothing else was necessary. This continued until I was just about to black out, when the pain had reached an intolerable level that I simply couldn’t ignore. It was right then that my attacker leaned in, inches from my face, her hands resting on either side of my head, covered in my blood.

“Justice has been served. You murdered a sinner who deserved his fate. But in doing so, you’ve condemned yourself. I have had my vengeance.”

I coughed, trying to arrange a sentence in my mind, but it would not happen. She got off of me, carrying me deeper into my apartment, where I could sit up a little and look around. I locked my eyes on her form, blurry and dark, towering over me.

“So finish it,” I muttered, spitting blood with every word. She had a right to my life. I knew this as I stared into her cold, dead eyes as Linkon lay dying. And I had slept peacefully for three whole days with this in mind.

“I have. The only person with the right to avenge Linkon’s death is his family. None have that priority over me. If I declare the issue resolved, then none may question me. However, if I let you get away scot-free, they would come for me, whispering of my weakness. You’re a showman. You know the importance of appearances.” Dacien seemed satisfied with herself, staring at her handiwork. “However, my dear, you will die. Not today, but you will pay the price of your sins. Blood for blood. Three years you have to consider your options, to make yourself useful. Until your 21st year will you be safe from my grasp. But after that, dear Deacon…all bets are off.”

I nodded slowly, breathing in shallow gasps through my battered ribs. She smiled slowly at me, the corners creeping sinisterly across her lips. And the last thing I remember was a gunshot, tearing through my chest. A river of blood snaking down my front as I sat there, dying slowly. The last conscious thought I had before blacking out, before the pain overtook me?

Rest in peace you son of a bitch.

I woke up in bed, bandaged but still tender. The place was empty, and mostly blurry at the moment. It wasn’t my bed, so I began to wonder where I’d been taken and by whom.

“Scared me for awhile there kid, when you wouldn’t wake up.”

Irish’s voice came through the darkness, concerned and severe. I judged from the sound she had to be within two feet of me. I gave up on trying to lock eyes with her, finding it pointless in the long run. From the scraping of legs on the floor, I heard her take a seat at my side.

“How long have I been out?”

“Enough to scare me.”

“How did you know where to find me?”

She paused slightly. “Let’s just say whenever Dacien Ransom drops by the bar, it’s never a good sign.”

I nodded solemnly, still unable to focus and completely content with my pain all the same. I knew there was no way I would be able to get away with it, but I was fully prepared to take my chances. I didn’t honestly expect that I’d ever make it back out of that building once I’d entered. But as soon as my foot hit the concrete outside, I knew I was damned. That vengeance would be stalking me and I could never consider myself safe again.

“I’m going to keep you here. They’re less likely to come looking for you here.”

I coughed a small laugh. “They’re not going to come looking for me, Irish. She proved her point, now it’s all about killing time.”

“I don’t understand.”

“And you’re not supposed to. Let’s just say…Miss Ransom and I have an accord. For the time being.”

Irish just sat there quietly, taking it all in, considering what to do next. Her options were limited and her time was running out. She was growing old fast, and with age came a sort of impatience for childish games. She had seen much in her life, things I couldn’t even begin to fathom. And I knew better than to question her methods. She was tending to me out of necessity, because she was the only one who could vouch for my safety without being personally attached. The Brogans had their hearts and souls at stake. Irish liked me, but would not have been destroyed if I somehow caught a stray bullet. She knew better than that.

The streets serve their own brand of justice.

And since the death of the Endless, there were no neutral parties to clean up the blood, to watch over the lost. Us mortals would have to fight our own battles and lay out our own dead.

Until the wheel turned yet again.

If the wheel turned.

The family behind the Endless, as well as the Endless themselves, had been murdered. Or so the legends say. We would have to suffer this all out in the long run, riding on the wings of chaos until peace reigned free. For how long would we bleed? How long would the streets run red with blood as the sky cried with pain?

As long as it took.

She stayed there, the sound of her breathing somehow reassuring as I drifted away from the real again. Just as I started to pass out, I remember her voice, answering back that of another. A female voice that I had recalled recently. And only one thing passed through my mind before I gave in to the warmth of darkness.

Exactly how long had Dacien and Irish been such close friends?

 

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