[Oc] Week 230: Consequences Pt. 1

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MoonlitRain014

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The door of Notius’ engineering firm blew in off its hinges as the group of five large men broke it down. Each of them wielded a torch to light their way. They waded into the cavernous space, sledgehammers smashing and blades cutting. One of them, a gigantic velen, heaved the heavy wooden drawing table that Notius used up and over. He seized the huge blueprint that lay across it and held it against his blazing torch until it flared, caught and burned. After this was done, he stomped out the flames. Instructions had been given and the team knew better than to ignore them.

Papers were scattered and strewn around, furniture smashed to sticks and precious plans incinerated. Everything was left in a tremendous state of disarray and if anyone around heard the commotion, they were wary enough to simply steer clear. Once the destruction had been wrought, they departed. They left a simple missive pinned to the remains of Notius’ desk by a dagger. It read: We were not best pleased by your lack of cooperation. This is a small example of the very least we will do to you if you fail to cooperate with us in future. Aeria Luxus is what we want and you will aid in her procurement.

The note was unsigned but no signature was necessary.

The velen engineer had stopped, staring at the doors that stood broken open and crazily hanging on their hinges. Once inside, Notius turned in a slow circle. His features were slack, his eyes wide as he viewed the swath of destruction around him. He walked around dazedly, picking up and putting down small scraps of paper. Painstakingly drawn blueprints had been reduced to ashes and the desk that he’d built with his own hands was smashed to kindling. The note he’d found hung loosely from the hand that drifted limply by his side.

Thousands of aurits were bound up in those plans and zombie-like Notius stared at their remains. One chair remained intact and he collapsed unsteadily into it, pushing his face into his blue-scaled hands, tears leaking from his eyes and dripping between his fingers. His shoulders shuddered although he made no sound.

He sat still in the chair for twenty more minutes before standing up suddenly and forcefully. His fists were clenched and the lines of his face were taut. He gave a brief nod before starting to pick up the undamaged furniture, gather up the broken fragments and stack up the papers that weren’t completely shredded.

Slowly the staff began coming in, all of them slack-jawed and wide eyed, fingering the destroyed furniture without saying much. A few of them had tears in their eyes and many disbelieving comments echoed in the large space.

Aeria was one of the last to arrive and she stopped, rooted to the spot as her violet eyes took in the destruction. Her lips tighened into a hard line and without stopping, she strode towards Notius. He saw her coming, extended a hand and swept her into his office, shutting the still functional door.

Once they were closed off, he turned to face her.

“It seems that my note to you wasn’t off-base. They followed through on their threats.”

Swallowing hard, her voice unsteady, Aeria asked, “It was definitely TorBru?”

“They made it clear. I should do what they ask or else.” Notius eyes were icy.

“I’ll leave. You don’t need this!”

The velen across from her made a chopping motion with his hand.

“You will do no such thing. I won’t be intimidated by the likes of them.”

Aeria began to raise a protesting voice, but Notius cut her off.

“No! We’ll pick up the pieces and continue. You’re part of my team now.”

“How can I be? Next time, it won’t just be fucking furniture!”

Notius’ whole frame straightened as if a steel rod had been thrust through it.

“If they think that I’ll go down without a fight, they have the wrong man.”

“I don’t deserve your consideration.” She said this as she turned away from Notius, her voice so quiet that Notius had to strain to hear it.

“Damn my consideration! Nobody pushes me around, especially not some jumped up bunch of thugs.”

After a moment, the engineer cleared his throat and set both hands on Aeria’s shoulders, looking into her eyes.

“I was in the navy until I was 35. I spent most of that time fighitng pirates, marauders and all manner of other thugs. I learned that backing down from a fight with bullies is the best way to encourage them.”

“My being here has cost you money, time and effort. If I just went away, TorBru would leave you alone. Why are you protecting me?” There was a plaintive note in the spurii’s voice now.

“I told you when I hired you that I think everyone deserves a fair shake. Those bastards are depriving you of that chance and I won’t stand for it.” Notius’ jaw was firm and his hands had clenched into fists again.

“Now,” the velen said before Aeria could speak again, “We are going to clean up this mess, figure out what we need to replace and get on with it. You and I can discuss what we’ll do about TorBru later.”

For a moment, Aeria’s mouth was open to speak but she shut it. Her whole body sagged, all of the taut lines going slack. With a resigned nod, she opened the office door and went to fetch the broom that leaned up against the wall. She began to sweep up the shattered pieces of wood that scattered the floor. Notius watched her, his eyes touched by moisture for a moment, before he cleared his throat and strode out of his office. He began issuing orders to the other staff members, his bearing straight and his eyes clear.

As she swept, Aeria’s face was drawn and haggard. Her normally sparkling eyes looked dull and she shuffled along in a daze, barely registering anything external. In her mind, there was turmoil.

What am I going to do? The bastards wrecked everything just because he wouldn’t give me up to them. What happens if he keeps resisting? People have nearly died for me already, when’s the first death going to happen? What if next time it’s Yulia or Craxtus? I could never live with that. I should just go! NO, I can’t run. I am fucking tired of running. What the hell am I going to do?

She continued to shuffle along, her dull eyes staring and her mind spinning.

Word Count: 1100
 

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