Brother Cord glanced at Brother Law. “That was messed up.”
Brother Law regarded the body hanging from the tree. “Yep,” he agreed, as he began to pat the body.
“I mean--we’re… well, Flagellants,” continued Brother Cord, shifting nervously. “Seeing messed up things is our job. Hells--causing messed up things is our job.” He stepped forward, one gloved hand gripping his partner’s shoulder. “And yet we find what we just saw here… messed up. That is even more messed up! It’s…” Brother Cord blinked, as he realized Law was now quite clearly batting the body around. “What are you doing?”
“Making sure he’s dead,” said Brother Law. He gave a satisfied nod. “You gave a clean break. Good work.”
“Hey, after what just happened to him, I figured the murdering bastard deserved a clean death,” said Brother Cord. “Which is, again, messed up. I mean--he’s a murdering bastard. A murdering bastard of a Crescent man. A Crescent man! And we feel sorry for him!”
Law nodded. He and Cord were Corner’s men, whose youths, prior to joining the Flagellants, had been spent in the traditional undeclared war against the Crescent. Even if they’d put all this behind them, the fact--the bone deep fact--remained that this man had killed one of their own. And yet with both their professional duty and their regional loyalties in play, they still felt sorry for this man. “This war… isn’t going well,” he declared.
Brother Cord considered things, and nodded. “No. It really isn’t, is it?”
The pair stood there in awkward silence for a while. “We should probably get back to the Vestry,” said Brother Law. The Flagellants made their way through the squalid gathering of tents and men.
“Is it just me, or is this place getting worse all the time?” asked Cord quietly as he trod through the muddy path.
“It’s a camp, Cord,” answered his partner. “Of course it’s getting worse. It wasn’t supposed to be up this long in the first place. It’s a makeshift shelter, that’s had to make shift for too long.”
Cord nodded. “I hear the Nightfolk make their camps like little cities. I’ve even heard that some of them have gone on to become cities, when the war is done.”
“Well, that’s just the Nightfolk for you,” said Law. “They have weird priorities. And they’re probably willing to settle for a lot less in a city than we are.”
“I also hear Albracca is an amazing place,” said Cord, as they slipped into the Vestry.
Law removed his mask. The Vestry was, traditionally, one of the few places a Flagellant on duty could do this. Odd as it might sound, the Brothers took the tradition rather seriously. In Joyeuse, one’s mask was often the only thing protecting you from reprisal on the street. “You always seem to be hearing things,” he noted.
“And you aren’t?” asked Cord, as he took off his mask.
“Law--Cord,” said Brother Strict, who was seated at a small table, with a small pile of melon seeds before him. “Heard you two had a problem with an armiger.” Strict placed a melon seed between his teeth and cracked it open.
“Yeah,” said Law. “And I think you heard why.”
“Bastard wanted us to beat a man to death,” said Cord. He shook his head. “I break the precepts for no man, especially not a damned armiger.”
Strict nodded. “I heard that too, and I’d have probably done the same. But you have to remember--those morons are dangerous. We’ve got enough enemies in this…” He stopped as the sound of a horn was heard.
Cord glanced around. “What is that?”
“Trouble,” answered Law.