What happens after 2A
|Lord tuxley ran a hand through his long platinum hair and stared at the terrified Rexword. For three days, he had suffered through his guard's attempts to grovel. "I want to hear it one more time, for the sake of posterity. Why did you return empty-handed?"
Rexword took a deep breath and did his best to keep the fear out of his voice. "Lady Constance was within our grasp. Midgely passed out as I had predicted, and she was defenseless. Constance got spirited, and then Silverbolt arrived."
"A most curious person wouldn't you agree, Rexword." Lord Tuxley sighed. His tone implied he was bored with Rexword's story.
"His weapon was nothing more than a chain with brass weights on either end. He wielded it with expert precision, and he had magic." Rexword stuttered and stammered.
"Why did you not silence his spells." Lord Tuxley's fist slammed on the armrest of his hardwood throne. "Even the most skilled caster can be rendered useless with a simple incantation."
Rexword stared at his boots and didn't meet the eyes of his master. "The spells failed. His strength was beyond a normal man, more skilled than our most hardened veterans, and he controlled the power of lightning."
Lord Tuxley stroked his push-broom mustache in thought. "I have to consider he may not be magic at all. He has just as much value as the girl. Your mission is to capture Silverbolt and Constance. Bring them back to me alive."
"The girl will be easier. How do you propose I capture Silverbolt?"
"Close your eyes, Rexword. I will give you the power to fight him." He paused. "Lord Schaefer is holding a meet and greet for his daughter Clara. I will make sure she gets an invite. But how do we get our shiny friend to come?"
"My spies in the City Watch say Silverbolt has declared war against criminal activity. Perhaps a message the girl is in danger?" Rexword suggested.
Lord Tuxley nodded slow, and then a hyena grin appeared. "And you will be waiting to claim my prizes."
The silence of the temple ended by the squeaky hinges of heavy iron doors as they opened and slammed shut. Heavy leather boots clapped against the marble floor. A hand covered in chainmail dared to touch the mass of kevlar and chrome plates asleep on the stone bench.
"Mr. Silverbolt, are you awake?" An eager young voice asked.
"Depends on whose asking." The distorted voice growled.
"Private Langstaff of the city watch, sir. I have a message for you."
Shit, someone knows I'm here. "How did you find me?"
"People who lack a place to stay often borrow a bench in the temple. I heard you were homeless and figured you'd come here. Do you pray to the All-Mother?"
The silver mask with the lightning bolts around the eyes stared at the guard. "Nah, we shoot the shit at the end of the day. I tell her about my day, and she helps me sleep." He looked over at the statue. "Morning, Weird Lady." The basin came alive with crystal clear water.
Langstaff grew nervous and walked around the fountain. "Does this happen often?"
Silverbolt stretched out and yawned. "Once a night since I arrived a week ago. I have no explanation, so don't ask." The armored hero made sure all of his equipment was still intact. "Care to give me the message?"
"Should I read it aloud, or can you read it yourself?"
Good question. "Let me have a look." Silverbolt held out his gauntleted hand and took the rolled-up parchment. A sigh of relief escaped the mask when the steel grey eyes saw the familiar letters from Earth. He cleared his throat. "To the man called Silverbolt. Someone plans to kidnap Lady Constance Reynard at Lady Clara Schaefers's party. Signed a friend."
"Rather vague, isn't it?" Langstaff read over Silverbolt's shoulder.
"Why are you still here?" Silverbolt was agitated now. I know the Damn Girl didn't write this. Someone thinks I'm stupid enough to walk into an obvious trap. I should give the Damn Girl a heads up. "Do you have directions to Madame Cuttles?"
Langstaff brightened, "You're going to break in, aren't you. Can I come?"
"No. I am going to try the front door first. If that doesn't work, then I'll break-in. I could go as someone's guard. Who makes regular trips to the school?" Silverbolt headed to the door with purpose.
"Lord Midgely, he helps keeps the books. Madame Cuttle doesn't worry about him. Most of the young women avoid him like the plague. The man could crack a mirror at a hundred paces..."
"Is he a good person?"
"Children love him, and he treats all with deference and respect."
"Where does he live?"
Bright gowns and styled hair sat at the tables in the dining room. The latest gossip and, of course, talk about Lady Clara's party. According to Clara, her father spared no expense. Everyone else seemed more excited about the festive occasion than her. That was until she saw Constance sitting alone trying to read.
Constance had stared at the same page for the last twenty minutes. She sighed in frustration and set the book down. Brown eyes and gold spun hair stared at her. "You have the wrong table. Lady Victoria is over by the window, telling her tales of depraved passion." She stared down at the food and didn't feel hungry.
Clara studied her for a moment and then smiled. "Are you in love, Constance?"
I don't want to be. "Unfortunately, yes..."
Clara giggled and leaned closer. "Who is he?"
"You'll think me an idiot." Why am I telling her about this? "Why should I trust you with my secrets. I thought you sided with Victoria?" Constance rose only to have Clara touch her arm.
Clara's face shone with honesty when she spoke. "I fancied Lord Pankhurst. Victoria said she would help me win his heart. Then she stole his attention, and he took her to bed. I think you'll make for a better friend."
Constance straightened the ruby choker, sat back down, and hung the parasol on her armrest. Her slender hands flipped her wavy black hair over her shoulders. "I am not much better at love than you, I'm afraid."
Clara cocked her head to the side. "You've had more gentleman callers than Lady Victoria. I thought one such as you would be sampling the buffet as it were."
Constance giggled. "And act like Lady Victoria? One is enough, yes?"
"Then who has stolen your heart? I bet he would make Victoria green with envy."
"He's not even mine. I try to forget him, but our first meet was beyond perfect. His behavior confuses me, and he throws himself into danger constantly." I needed this. Maybe Clara will have some insights into my current predicament.
Clara sighed. "You're gushing. Tell me his name."
Constance winced as the singular word left her lips. "Silverbolt"
Saucers had nothing on the size of Clara's eyes. She looked around to make sure no one eavesdropped on the conversation. "Mariette raves about his daring rescue of her family. How did you meet?"
"It all started after my dinner with Lord Midgely," Constance told her about the scuffle with Rexword and the meeting in the market place.
Clara leaned back in her chair until the wood squeaked. "He doesn't sound like much of a gentleman. Yet his actions tell another story."
"I thought so too. Thank you, Clara."
"Listening. Sometimes I think I'm going crazy."
"Men are idiots when it comes to love. You have to teach them what a woman wants and needs. You can't do it all at once, either. Their heads will explode from sensibility alone."
The pair laughed. When the Noblewomen regained their composure, Constance sighed. "What should I do?"
"I can't decide that for you. What do you think Silverbolt is doing right now?"
"I don't know, but I hope it safer than chasing criminals."
Silverbolt was glad to be rid of Langstaff. He stared black iron gate of Misty Glen Estate where Lord Midgely lived. A pompous man wearing a fencers breastplate and hat with a long red feather approached. Silverbolt noticed a fuzzy unibrow stretching across his forehead."Do you have an appointment?" he asked.
"No, I need to speak to Lord Midgely. It's an urgent matter."
"We don't allow beggars on the premises."
"Tell him Silverbolt needs to speak to him."
The pompous guard laughed. His voice was less pleasant than nails across a chalkboard. "What a ridiculous moniker. The gate shall remain closed to you."
Silverbolt laughed, the lightning bolts on the mask lit up, and his voice went low and deadly. An electrified fist touched the gate, and it thrummed with energy. "This gate is still on the hinges as a courtesy." A second hand gripped a bar. With little effort, powerful arms pulled the bars wide enough to fit a person. Silverbolt bent the bars back into place. "Now that we've established you don't stand a chance, get Midgely, or I will end you."
The guard went pale, turned around, and headed into the luxurious home. I'll give him a few minutes, and if nothing happens, I'll let myself in. I don't have time to play the polite game. It's bad enough I have to deal with the Damn Girl.
Silverbolt was about to give the Midgely residence a tall order of shock and awe when the average looking Midgely came down the driveway. A smile adorned his face. The pompous guard kept a steady hand on the hilt of his stiletto.
Lord Midgely rubbed his forehead. "By the All-Mother, Spencer, if captain Rexword stood no chance, neither do you. He saved my life and is welcome within our walls. Now, leave us to our business."
"I don't trust..." Spencer started to say.
"I don't trust a guy with a caterpillar crawling across his forehead," Silverbolt said in a sarcastic tone.
"Excuse me, that is my eyebrow."
"Until it turns into a butterfly. What kind do you think it will be?"
Spencer's eyes flashed with anger, and his blade slithered from the scabbard. "I demand satisfaction this instant."
Silverbolt put his hands and pretended to be concerned. "Hey, I don't have any problems kicking your ass all over this yard. Just leave the caterpillar out of it. Put him on a bush or something."
Midgely held a straight face and pointed to the front door. "Please leave Spencer before you are made useless by my shiny friend here."
"This isn't over knave." Spencer shoved the thin blade back in its scabbard and stalked off with a pout on his lip.
"Please tell me you didn't come here to insult my most trusted guard."
"No, but it sure was fun." Silverbolt cleared his throat and handed the parchment through the bars of the gate. "I received that message this morning. I need your help getting into Madame Cuttles. I know it's a trap, but she needs to know about it."
"A courier wouldn't suffice because?"
There's some information I could have used earlier. Why didn't Langstaff make the suggestion? "Nothing like information straight from the horse's mouth."
Midgely gave him a strange look and then smiled. "Are you sure this is about warning her and not about seeing Constance? You seem rather eager to go there."
"Look, the faster I warn the Damn Girl, the less time I have to spend with her..."
"Why is that a concern?"
"I have other things to do. You know, doing the hero thing."
"Are you in denial?"
"Having feelings for Constance."
This conversation went south in a hurry. Time for a subject change truly the unsung hero of this story. "Are you going to help or not?"
Midgely guffawed a little but kept his face straight as he spoke. "Are you sure a courier won't suffice?"
The lightning bolts on the mask lit up. "As I said, this information looks better from the horse's mouth."
"Give me a few minutes to gather my things. Madame Cuttle and I have tea around this time anyway. She discusses expenditures, and I help her keep the budget balanced. Should we take the carriage?"
"I'll ride on the roof. Horses are not too fond of me."
The fireplace in the tea room burned low. Clara and Constance lounged in the comfortable chairs next to the modest blaze. "I'm sorry Victoria acted poorly towards you. I didn't think she would chastise you for our friendship." Constance said quietly.
Clara scoffed and waved her hand. "You stepped in and stood up for me. You're worth a hundred Victorias as far as I'm concerned. Quite frankly, I find her stories dull and boastful. Once you've heard one, you've heard them all."
"I've decided what to do with Silverbolt."
The truth will hurt, but once its out in the open, the wound will heal. "It will never work as long as Silverbolt stalks evil in the streets. Let today be the first day I dedicate myself to getting over him."
Clara smiled and patted her on the shoulder. "Good for you." Her face grew excited. "You must come to my party tonight. The most eligible young lords will be there. You don't have to fall in love, just keep an open mind."
"What about you, Clara. Who do you desire?"
"You'll think me silly?"
"Sillier than a masked man?"
"Lord Midgely. I know people call him ugly, but we grew up together. I know him better than myself. He is kind and thoughtful, and he is my best friend. No offense."
She has the right idea. Mother said she and father were best friends before they married and were never sorry for it. "I have no space to judge Clara."
Madame Cuttle entered the room and owned it the moment she walked in. She strode up to Constance and Clara. "Constance, I need to see you in my office at once. Clara, you should come too."
The smell of mint and pine wasn't unwelcome to Silverbolt's nose. Discipline ruled the office with an iron fist. Not a speck of dust or item out of place, and he could see himself in the polished walnut desk surface. Silverbolt stared at the gargoyle visage of Lord Midgely.
"Are you sure we have to get Clara involved?"
Midgely sighed in frustration. "Once again, I know Clara as well as myself. We grew up together. I have no reason to suspect duplicity on her part. She despises Tuxley and his cohorts. Not to mention its her party."
The trio of women entered, and Constance gave Silverbolt the cold shoulder. The Damn Girl got the message earlier than expected. Clara gave him a stony glare, but her eyes lit up at the sight of Lord Midgely.
I have a feeling this meeting is going to sting a little. That's okay as long as we all know our roles. Once the party is over, everyone can get back to their lives. Silverbolt stood and twirled a baton around his fingers as he handed Constance the note. "I know I am not your favorite person right now, but I couldn't ignore this."
Constance stared down at the paper, and Clara gave him a look of approval. "Why not send a courier?" Clara asked.
A soft snicker came from behind him. "Yes, Silverbolt, tell us why you came in person." Lord Midgely chimed in.
"I don't know where this came from, who wrote, and why. Does it seem smart to trust this information with anyone? Not to mention, I am hardly inconspicuous."
Constance turned up her nose. "We would know that if some of us weren't leaving all the time. I am surprised some of us are still here, to be honest."
So that's how it is"Some of us have better things to do than cater to a silly rich girl," Silverbolt said in a heated tone. "Someone should not take it so personally."
The parasol tapped against the armor, and the crystal blue eyes were ablaze. "Some of us felt a mutual attraction. While some of us buried their feelings and pretended, it didn't happen at all."
An electrified fist hovered over the metal shaft of the parasol. "Some of us never mattered. Not as a baby, child, or now. Some of us chose to live and die behind the mask." Silverbolt rose. Nobody makes me feel weak.
Constance covered her mouth with a pale hand. "Silverbolt...I'm sorry...I didn't know..."
"Fuck you, and fuck the rest of you. I came here in good faith to offer real help to a problem. I was hoping for cooperation. Now I'm doing it my way. I will bring the house around my tormentor's ears if I have to, as long as the job gets done. How many days until the party?" He stopped at Lord Midgely and held out his hand. "Thanks for helping out today."
Midgely smiled, "Do stop by again. Life is better with friends."
"It's tomorrow night," Clara said in a stiff tone. She glared at Constance.
Madame Cuttle rose from her desk and glared at Constance. The door is locked..."
"Boom" Silverbolts fist knocked the door out in the hall. "I unlocked it. See you all tomorrow."