The City of the Bells (Vol 2)

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: The Imaginarium

Chapter 25 (v.1) - Chapter 25

Submitted: February 11, 2019

Reads: 7

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Submitted: February 11, 2019

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The twins and Jason were treated to quite a feast in the kitchen of The Residence that night.  The staff didn't know exactly what had happened, but when the Duchess' private secretary brings three children to you and says, "The Duchess is extremely pleased with the service they've provided her this night.  Take good care of them," you hop to it and do exactly that.


It didn't hurt a bit that they were well mannered, even though the boy Jason seemed a bit stiff and uncomfortable.  Having seen a goodly number of people overwhelmed by the Duchess, they just wrote off his slightly odd behavior as being a case of nerves.  After a while all three of them were chatting with the staff as if they were old friends.  From that point on they felt like they were having their own, private Harvest Ball, and even the staff had a good time.


What with the crowd, fatigue, and a tad of confusion resulting from having over-eaten, (yes, we'll call it only that, shall we?)  their parents completely forgot to seek out the children when they left.  It was about half an hour after that when the major-domo swept into the kitchen and sent the staff off to help clean things up.  


He spoke rather brusquely, "It's time for you children to go home.  The Duchess appreciates what you've done for her.  You have my thanks as well.  Now, goodbye."


With that he swept back out the door to oversee things in the great hall.  The kids let themselves out the kitchen door, then headed toward the main gate.  Once on the street they noticed that it was nearly deserted.  It had to be much later than they'd thought.  


Jason looked up at the stars.  "My gosh.  It's after midnight.  We'd better hurry."


There was one stretch of road where two of the night-lamps had somehow been extinguished.  Naturally that was where they were attacked.


Five young men, nobles by their dress, and probably somewhere between the ages of 18 and 20, were headed in the opposite direction.  They spread out in front of the children and their leader slurred, "Watcha got there m'lad?  Two wenches?  You're far, far too immu...imma....young to know how to take proper care of both of them.  I 'spect we 'cun show you how it's done."


There was no time to try to talk them out of it, nor a way to escape as, while the leader had been talking, one of the group had slipped behind the trio and blocked that direction.


All five of the them were more than somewhat drunk, more than unusually arrogant, and thus overconfident.  The fight lasted all of nine seconds.  Hibiki didn't pull her blows as she had long ago at her first week at Chapman.  Her two precisely placed kicks broke the legs of the two immediately in front of her.  


Jason, while never as devoted to the art as Hibiki or Eugenia, still easily disposed of two more, breaking the right arm of the first in two places, and several ribs on the second.  With their opponents lying on the ground groaning, they spun around seeking number five.  What they saw was Yoko standing over the unconscious body of the last one, with a potted plant in her hands.


There hadn't been much noise, and, thus far, nobody seemed to have noticed anything.  The trio had a hurried conversation in "twin" and quickly abandoned the area.  They didn't sprint, that would have attracted attention, both from any passers-by and from Blair if they arrived home panting.


What they did was walk briskly, as if they were hurrying home and worried about having stayed out past their curfew.  
While their footsteps were nearly silent, their conversation was anything but, "Yoko!  I thought you HATED fighting.  I don't think I ever saw you at class with daddy."


There was deep pain in Yoko's voice as she answered, "You're right Biki, I do hate fighting, more than just about anything else in the world.  BUT, when you have no other choice but ta fight or let your loved ones be hurt, well, in my opinion, anyone who won't fight when the people they love are in danger doesn't deserve anything but contempt.


"Besides  that one I put down had pulled out a knife.  I surely wasn't about ta let him stab one of you just because I despise fighting."


"Oh, I see.  Thank you.  Are you or Jason hurt at all?"


"I'm fine Biki.  Jason?"


His reply was in the detached tone he used when he was emotionally overwhelmed, "No. I'm fine too.  I think my wrist will be a bit sore for a day or two, but that's all."


Hibiki heaved a sigh of relief.  "That is good.  I do not know how we would explain anything that our parents would notice, and we certainly cannot tell them what just happened.  All hell would break out if we did."


Jason, rightfully, sounded puzzled, "Why would you say that?  They attacked US.  We just defended ourselves."


"That is true dear, but there is one thing you do not know.  The one Yoko bashed over the head is Liam, the son of Baron Laroan.  I heard some of the older girls talking about him a while back, and none of it was anything but bad.  He is a real rotter.  I think it is highly likely that he has already raped a number of girls and had his father cover it up.  After all they were 'just commoners'.


"Frankly Yoko, the world would be a better place if you had managed to kill him."  


Hibiki cocked her head to the side.  "Which you may have.  His breathing was not all that good when we left."
She directed a steely look at her twin.  "Does it bother you that I feel that way?"


"I can't say that I'd be happy about it, it's not the way I'm put together, but I don't regret what I did either.  I didn't know of his personality, and even if I had, I wouldn't have hit him any harder.  All that matters is that he was going ta try to kill at least one of you, maybe both.  I didn't, and still don't, need ta know more than that."


A few minutes later they arrived home and prevented an incipient scolding for staying out so late by reminding Blair that it was she who had forgotten to come get them when she left.


Jason, said his goodbye's and ambled off.  Once he was out of view, he sprinted the rest of the way home.  The girls were wrong.  Someone needed to know what had happened, and he knew who.


He got home, used the same excuse that the girls had, was forgiven, then said, "Mother, something important has come up. I need to speak to Mrs. Donetti, right now."


His father's voice made its way past Akane, "This late?  Are you absolutely sure?"


"Yes Father, I am.  Please excuse me."


Before either of his parents could say anything else, he ran off, leaving his mother to decide just how much it was safe to tell his father about what they were involved in and why Jason would want to speak to Miranda rather than them.
Upon his arrival at the Donetti's house, Mimi answered the door, looked him up and down, somehow taking in everything in that once glance and said, "The family parlor."


Jason had to wait only a couple of minutes before Miranda swept in, wearing a simple but voluminous dressing gown.  She also gave Jason a once-over then murmured, "This should be interesting, sit."  


After waiting for Miranda to seat herself, Jason did likewise then said, "You might as well show yourself Genie. I can feel you."


"Oh, darn. You're no fun Jason."Eugenia popped into sight and sat herself on the nearest chair.


Miranda limited herself to a "why me" look at the ceiling before she commanded Jason, "Report."


Once he'd finished, Genie whistled softly.  Miranda grew still and thoughtful.  Momentarily she asked, "Jason, why did you come to me with this information, especially after Hibiki warned you who was involved?  Please be concise.  Just list things with numbers.  That way it should be easier for you to stick to the facts and avoid going off on a tangent."


"Yes ma'am.  That ought to work. Nobody told me that way of doing things before.


"1) The one Yoko hit was a baron's son.  He wasn't the leader.  Knowing how arrogant nobles can be sometimes, that means that one of the others had to be either more powerful or meaner than he is, or was, depending on whether or not he dies.


"2) It was dark what with the night-lamps having burned out, but even though they probably couldn't see our faces, they probably could see how tall we are, and if they aren't too hung over to remember us, a smart person might be able to reason out who were are anyway.  Even with several hundred trios in town, I haven't seen any others as young as we are.  It should be fairly easy to track us down if you had someone check to see who might have been out that late and coming from the direction of The Residence, and at least one of them surely will have the resources to do it.


"3) If they DO figure out who we are, we're going to be in a great deal of trouble, if not at risk for our lives.  People like those don't hesitate to have someone they don't like murdered, especially if they're the ones who are likely to get put in jail if it goes to court.


"4) Considering that you're the Duchess' spymaster, you're supposed to know everything that happens in town that's important, and probably a lot of things that don't seem to be important that may be later on. This is important.  I already know how smart you are, so you probably do know almost everything else that's happening.


"Uh, I think that's everything."


Eugenia whistled again, this time in admiration.  "Way to go almost co-brother-in-law.  Unfortunately you're probably right."  She turned to Miranda.  "So Mother, what are we going to do?"


Miranda assumed her favored thinking posture, with her fingers steepled.  "First of all, tell me where you got this strange idea that I'm a spy for the Duchess?"


Jason almost snorted in exasperation, then realized that he was talking to an important adult, who tended to be on the formal side in her behaviors.  He managed to convert the snort into a cough.  It didn't fool anyone, but it satisfied propriety, and Miranda let it slide.


"Please excuse me ma'am but can I just say it fast-like without being too formal with my words?"


Seeing Miranda nod, he smiled his thanks.


"You were there when we set up the trap for Avellino.  You were there when he was interrogated.  No way in heck would someone who was 'only' a banker's wife have even known that anything was going on at all.  You obviously knew right away who Avi was when Yoko showed you her drawing of him, but it was Mr. Macklin who ran things, which means that he outranks you.  Also, every time I've see you all together and someone asks a question about what's going on in The City, most of the time you're the one who answers.  If it's about something somewhere else in Italy Mrs. Macklin does, and if it's outside the country, Mr. Macklin does..  


"Also, a while back Genie mentioned that you almost never leave town any more, like you did when she was little.  Back then you went out of town on vacation or business fairly regularly.  The logical conclusion is that there's now something tying you down here.  Since you're not a twin, logic also says that you can't leave because you're doing something important that needs constant attention.  


"And you know the Duchess personally, not just because of your husband.


"Putting that all together with everything else I've seen, you have to be her spymaster."


He paused for a few seconds.  "Now that I think of it, Mrs. Macklin probably is in charge of the same for the rest of the country and Mr. Macklin for everywhere else.  Either that or they know the people who are."


He stopped ticking things off on his fingers and looked up at her.  "Is that a satisfactory answer Mrs. Donetti?"


Eugenia desperately wanted to tell her mother, "I told you so!" but she didn't dare just then.  Miranda was far too upset.
"Yes Jason, I believe that your answer was

more than adequate.  Unfortunately for me, it raises several other questions. Who else might have noticed the same things you have and put it all together?  If they have, how do I find out who did and when?  If nobody has, what do I do to prevent it from happening at some time in the future?"


She waved her hand to stop Jason.  "No, you don't need to answer.  Those questions were aimed at me, not at you.  It's something for Blair, Hiroshi, and I to deal with, though I must thank you for bringing it up.


"For now let's return to your situation.  It's not possible to walk if your shinbone is broken. With two of your attackers having broken legs, someone will have had to carry them away, and surely Liam as well.  That means the Guard or the militia, which means that there's been some sort of report.  I'll talk to Robert and see if he can arrange to meet with Captain Murray early tomorrow.  No, it's after midnight, make that early today.  I'll slip in during the meeting and let him know what really happened.For right now I do nothing except go to bed and try to sleep.  Lord knows I may not get much the next few nights.


Jason stood intending to apologize for causing so much trouble.  Miranda beat him to it.  "No Jason. You are NOT responsible for anything that went wrong tonight.  Not one single thing.  Never apologize for something that's not your fault.  No, strike that, sometimes it's politically necessary, but normally not.  Ask your mother to explain later, OK?"


Jason nodded his incomprehension and agreement all at once.  He definitely needed to talk to his mother about that.


Eugenia stood.  "I think I'd best see if I can milk some information from my other friends later today.  One of them in particular is a horrible gossip.  If anything anywhere is going on or has gone on, she always has at least some information about it.  She often gets the details wrong, but she's almost never wrong when she says that something did or did not happen."


She grinned at her mother. "If she were able to keep her mouth shut, she'd make a great source for you."


Genie turned. "I'll walk you to the door Jason."


She escorted him to the front door, and added in "twin,"  "Whatever you do, make sure that Biki doesn't start carrying a knife.  I know she knows how to use one, but if something public happens because of this incident, and she's found carrying one, claiming self-defense could get muddied up by a good lawyer.  Yes, I know it's not right, but right isn't always what happens.  Surely you know that by now."


Jason sighed.  "I'm afraid that I do."


He surprised both of them by giving her a hug.  "Thanks almost co-sister-in-law.  See you later."


He turned and trotted home.  He'd have to explain things to his parents, but first he'd have to sort out just how much it was safe to tell them, even his mother.

 


© Copyright 2019 Charlotte Braun. All rights reserved.

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