Another Silverbolt story.
|A dark cloud hung over Silverbolt, and its name was Voidsong. He had reviewed the battle a thousand times in his mind, and it came back to one thing, overconfidence. He underestimated the two-faced horror, and as a result, he got away. He was glad Kohaku wasn't around to see it.
He wasn't looking forward to the masquerade. He said yes because, at the time, it seemed like solid advice. The last two days made him realize he didn't need council support or Clara's.
Ms. Reynard thought otherwise. "Ethan, I bankroll this operation, which technically makes you an employee. As your boss, I order you to go and have a good time with a nice young woman." Her words were soft, with a hint of steel behind them. She poked him with the parasol.
Constance snorted and covered her mouth. "Have you met Ethan? He is the poster child for teenage rebellion. Clara's all wrong for him anyway."
"I like where this is going," Silverbolt said.
Silverbolt and Ms. Reynard stopped eating and stared at Constance. "Based on what?" Ms. Reynard demanded.
Constance went red. "Based on a lot of things that escape me at the moment. She's just wrong for him."
Ms. Reynard Squinted at her niece, and Constance gave her a peculiar look. Something passed between them, and Ms. Reynard smiled wide. "Now that you mention it, Ethan is a bit of a ruffian, and Clara is quite the brat at times. It is an unlikely pairing."
"Silverbolt. My name is Silverbolt. Ethan died with Kohaku's training," Silverbolt said.
The girls laughed, and Silverbolts ego took it on the chin. "You are adorable." Ms. Reynard said as she reached to pinch his cheeks.
"Do you want to keep those fingers?" Silverbolts words cut the air like a razor. He chuckled as Ms. Reynard withdrew her hand.
"Why do you think Clara picked you?" Constance asked. She scraped her toast extra hard.
"Once upon a time, there was a hero named Silverbolt. He did hero stuff. He loved to punch things and looked awesome while doing it. One day, he saw someone in trouble. It was a girl. Silverbolt saved her. The girl took it as a sign he loved her. Now he can't get rid of her, poor bastard," Silverbolt said in a sarcastic tone.
"Do you think you will ever take a wife?" Constance asked. For the second time that morning, she had caught Silverbolt off guard.
"I refuse to answer on the grounds it's too weird coming from you," Silverbolt said as he rose from the table. "As fun as this is, I need to get out there and find Voidsong. The city has enough problems as it is." Ms. Reynard looked like someone had stabbed her.
A girl like Squeal came from Constance, "Can I help you again?"
Silverbolt stared at her. "What is with you? Can I trust you to keep it together, or are you going to talk about how fuzzy kittens are?"
Ms. Reynard tapped her niece with the parasol. "We should talk before you do anything else. Go on, Ethan, this conversation is not for your ears." Ms. Reynard shooed him away with her regal tone.
Ethan shook his head and left the room.
Ms. Reynard folded her hands on the table and took a serious tone with her niece. "Constance, can you answer me a simple question?"
Constance knew what her aunt was about to ask. She moved from her chair with cat-like grace. "I have chores, auntie. We can talk later." Constance prepared for a hasty retreat. She did not want to have this conversation.
Ms. Reynard blocked her with the parasol. Her voice went hard and stern. "I think we need to talk now. You have been out of sorts for the last couple of days. I am worried about you."
The sound of skin on wood and then a squeak as Constance slid her hand down the doorframe. Her aunt wouldn't rest until she had all the answers. She gently tapped her head against the wall. "As you wish, auntie."
The parasol hung off the arm of the chair. "Constance, are you starting to feel things for Ethan?"
Good question, Constance didn't have an answer. She took a seat across from her aunt. "I don't know. I have moments where the only thing I want is to be near him. Then I wish he would go away forever. I worry that he doesn't think about me at all, or if he cares..."
The parasol tapped against the table and struck Constance dumb. Ms. Reynard moved next to her niece and embraced her. "You got caught by surprise?"
Constance leaned into her aunt's arms and rested her head on a shoulder. "I was so sure about liking women. I never gave men a second thought after lord Tuxley." A tear fell from her eye. "I want it to go away..."
Ms. Reynard sighed. "Constance, it's okay to be confused. I know Ethan is confused about you, although he doesn't know it."
For thirty seconds, silence hung in the air. The last words of Ms. Reynard hit Constance's mind like a collapsed building. "What did you just say?"
The Hawks Nest Forge
The smell of iron and charcoal gave the weapon shop authenticity. Red hot iron hissed as the smiths plunged the fruits of their labor into water. Silverbolt would stop in and visit Jules when he was in the area. Today was about business.
The jovial smith greeted him at the door. "I thought I saw you earlier. What can I do for you today?"
Silverbolt entered the shop and found a stool. "I got my ass handed
to me by a creature who felt no pain, called himself Voidsong."
A stack of ingots crashed to the floor. Jules's hands shook, and his brown eyes stared into eternity. "Impossible."
"What's impossible?" Silverbolt asked. He bent down and picked up the iron bars.
Jules hurried away from the hero, "Nothing."
"How do you know Voidsong?" Silverbolt asked. He blocked Jules from leaving the room. "I won't stop until I get the answer."
A tired expression crept over the smith's face. "Come, lets talk in the forge area, I'll send my employees to lunch" They stepped into the boiling hot forge area. "Just one second," Jules said. He left the room and returned with a book. "Rathmore has a newspaper. It doesn't have much of a following. I am an avid reader."
"So about Voidsong?"
"You're probably roasting back here. Come, let's sit in the courtyard." Jules said as he hurried to the back door.
"Jules, why are you so nervous?"
The brown eyes of Jules darted back and forth. He peered over the fence to make sure no one was around. "Voidsong was a menace to the city. He killed women. he would cut off their faces and store them in jars."
"Voidsong was a serial killer?" Silverbolt's blood ran cold.
"Voidsong was Ms. Reynards, son," Jules said. Not a trace of humor in his voice. He opened the book. Each clipping had a hand-drawn picture of the victim.
A pattern began to emerge. Each victim looked more and more like Ms. Reynard. "He has an issue with his mother?"
"His father was touched in the head as well. It was something hereditary. Malcolm lasted until he was thirty before the madness took him. Ms. Reynard put him in a sanitarium. She never remarried. I was friends with Malcolm."
"What about Francis?"
"Francis was old enough to remember walking his father into the sanitarium. He blamed his mother for what happened to his father. He refused to accept it was beyond anyone's control."
Silverbolt paced back and forth. "Mr. Nottle said he became a firestarter."
Jules walked over to the shelf and pulled a bottle and a glass out. "He did. I can't remember what form he took. Francis began to kill mothers, who bore a resemblance to Ms. Reynard. Francis eviscerated them in a secret room somewhere in Reynard Manor."
"Didn't Ms. Reynard kill him?"
"She did. It almost shattered her spirit. Francis took twenty lives and was never going to stop. His cold and cruel intellect made sure the city watch was two steps behind him. She laced his supper with a sleeping potion and beheaded him herself. That was almost a year ago." Jules said. He poured two fingers worth of the amber liquid and downed it.
Was the two-faced creature Francis? Given the odd nature of Rathmore, it was possible the sharp-elbowed being was. It didn't change the game plan. "I'll press Ms. Reynard for information when the opportunity presents itself." He paused and lifted the mask. "I need a blade, Voidsong doesn't feel pain, and hacking him up seems like a reasonable plan."
Jules poured another generous two fingers and downed the glass's contents. "Do you have evidence it will work?"
"No, but the meteor hammer and my shock power are ineffective. When all else fails, remove the head. Kohaku taught me that." Silverbolt said.
There was an inner conflict in the smith's eyes. "Are you sure about this? Are you ready to cross a line you can't uncross?"
A growl echoed behind the mask, and Silverbolt clenched his fists. "It doesn't matter if Voidsong was human or not. He is a danger to the public at large. If I have to feel bad for a while so others can avoid the pain of losing a loved one, so be it."
A large hand patted him on the back. Jules nodded, "Its going to take a day or two. I assume you will want it to attach to the meteor hammers chain?"
"I do now...Or maybe a transformation rune if they exist." Silverbolt was excited by the prospect."
The smith strolled with Silverbolt towards the door. "I will look into both options," Jules promised. "You might want to head to the Delirious Butterfly. Madame Cuttle has her ear to the ground. She might know something about Voidsong."
"You got directions?"
"What can you tell me about Madame Cuttle?" Silverbolt asked as he activated the communication rune. For the last thirty minutes, no one answered his call. He waited for five minutes.
No answer. "Silverbolt to base. Is anyone there?"
"I'm here, Ethan. Ms. Reynard and I just finished talking. Where are you?" Constance's disembodied voice filled his ears. A part of him reveled in her musical tone. Another part wished Ms. Reynard had picked up.
Silverbolt stared at the black and gold building with butterfly doors. Men smoking cigars laughed as they puffed on their offensive habit. "Outside the Delirious butterfly. Jules said Madame Cuttle has feelers on the streets."
"The Delirious Butterfly is a brothel and lounge. The women barely wear anything at all. Its no place for someone like you. You aren't old enough to enter anyway." Constance sounded uptight and weird.
Silverbolt watched the bouncers for a minute. "I can take the doormen. They move like street brawlers. I wouldn't need the meteor hammer. A short zap is all it would take."
"Are you listening to me, Ethan?"
"Once I enter, all I have to do is find Madame Cuttle."
"ETHAN." Constance nearly shattered his eardrum.
"Can you not go in there for me?"
Silverbolt was confused. "Do you want Voidsong off the street?"
Silverbolt activated the adhesion runes on the greaves and ran down the wall. "I am going in." He cut to the front of the line. "Sorry gentlemen, I don't have time to explain," Silverbolt said as he dropped the burly men with an electrical charge.
The inside of the Delirious butterfly was black and purple. A gothic atmosphere matched the color scheme. Women dressed in corsets and stockings carried trays with drinks. Men whispered sweet nothings in their ears, as they handed out gold by the bag.
"I'm in," Silverbolt said. "Where do you think the office is?" He asked.
"I'm not helping you," Constance said in a childish tone.
Silverbolt watched the main lounge. The women were talented and had crowd psychology down to a science. Not a single frown was on the face of any patron. "I don't think the office is here. Its too loud."
"What are you doing?"
Silverbolt stuck to the fringes of the hall as he stalked is way down it. A line of doors was on either side. "The process of elimination." he could hear all sorts of suggestive noises from the doors. "I don't think Madame Cuttle would put her office here either."
He backtracked and found a hardwood staircase. "Constance, why are you mad at me?" He hugged the wall as his feet carried him up.
"I am not mad, just a little peeved with you." She said in an uppity tone.
He peered around the corner once he reached the top step. Two rooms were at either end of a small hall. Silverbolt chose the door with the word manager on it. He knocked on the door, and the glass rattled.
"I am not doing auditions today." A muffled voice said.
"My name is Silverbolt. I am looking for information about a creature that calls itself Voidsong." He waited for a response. He put a hand on the knob, ready to rip the door off the hinges.
"Silverbolt? Didn't a Silverbolt save Lady Clara Schaefer?" the muffled voice asked.
Constance seemed more irritated at the mention of Clara's name. "People are still talking about that?"
"Yeah, I did. I feel it was a bad decision."
The door clicked open, and a woman wearing a pantsuit stood in front of him. Unlike Ms. Reynard, Madame Cuttle had an air of confidence about her. She was beautiful for her age and was about the same height as silverbolt.
"I have heard a lot about you. You mentioned something about Voidsong?"
Silverbolt described the creature and how he had encountered it. "Anyway, I was hoping you might have heard something. Or knew what I was dealing with."
Madame Cuttle motioned him into her office, "Have a seat." She waited until the hero was seated. "I don't know anything about a two-faced creature, but I do know something about Voidsong."
"Do tell," Silverbolt said. He leaned back in the chair until the wood squeaked.
"You may have heard Francis Reynard took twenty victims. The number is inaccurate. Voidsong started on street harlots according to my sources at the time, Voidsong was responsible for thirty-five deaths." Madame Cuttle said.
"They only found twenty canned faces at Reynard Manor...He might have another hidey-hole." Silverbolt said. "Where do I find it?"
Madame cuttle opened a drawer and threw a bag of gold on the table. "Look for a man named Abiel Necket. He'll help you. Those girls won't talk to anyone outside the Dipperhaven neighborhood."
"Why are you helping me?"
"Those girls are still people. I try to get as many off the street as I can. No one deserves to die because of a bad decision or a life choice."
Silverbolt took the gold and stuffed it in his chest plate. "Thanks for your help. I'll head over there right away." As soon as he was out of earshot, he activated the communication rune. "Are you done being mad?"
"No, but I will help," Constance said.
"I need directions to Dipperhaven. Voidsong might be hiding out there."