House of Thieves

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  • Publiceret: 12 apr. 2019
  • Opdateret: 15 apr. 2019
  • Status: Igang
One for love
Two for joy
Three for poison
Four to destroy


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1. The Graveyard

The Graveyard

 

Thud. Thud. Thud.

The sound of the shovel hitting against the dry, rocky soil was the only sound that night. Cadence wiped her forehead with the back of her grubby hand, almost certain that she would be taking half the graveyard home with her. The soil was dry and fine this time of year, and somehow it had managed to find its way into the small crevices between her clothing and beneath her manicured fingernails. She gripped the handle of the shovel again, determined to at least get halfway before taking a break, but before she could plunge the shovel back into the ground, a sharp pain shot through her lower back, and Cadence doubled-over in pain. 

She dropped the shovel with a hefty sigh, flinching at the clang that resounded through the graveyard as the metal collided with rock. She crouched down and peered over the grave. It was a lot harder than they made it seem in novels, and she was sure that she'd already pulled a muscle in her back. Cadence rubbed the area, trying to soothe the ache that had been building up over the past hour, and then felt a hand press lightly on her shoulder.

She looked up, not realising that Erik had stopped digging at his side of the grave too. The moonlight cast all sorts of shadows across his sculptured face, and it was all she could do to ignore the bulge of corded muscle that ran along his arms and across his chest. Cadence pushed herself up onto her feet and stood, surprisingly tall, beside Erik. 

"How much longer?" He asked, his voice a welcome interruption from the silence in which they worked. 

Cadence exhaled slowly, "An hour, maybe two." 

Erik smiled, the gesture awkward and unnatural, and stumbled back towards his end of the grave. Once he had started digging again, Cadence turned and observed the graveyard around them. They had driven further this time, almost two hours from the city, to a ramshackle town that was surrounded by nothing but fields and forest. The graveyard itself seemed to have been left to nature, and Cadence was sure that if anyone noticed that a body had gone missing, it certainly wouldn't be for a while. 

Cadence smeared her muddy hands across her pants, and then bent down to pick up her shovel. The digging was not the hardest part compared to what came after, but it seemed to take up most of her energy anyway. Sweat beaded on her brow as she hauled out shovel after shovel of dirt and rock, and maybe it could have been minutes or maybe it could have been hours later, but finally Cadence stopped as her shovel hit against something hard in the ground. 

Clunk. Clunk. Clunk. 

She raised her head towards Erik, who had already started to brush the dirt off the top of the coffin with the back of his shovel. Cadence joined in, until finally the coffin was exposed. 

Unlike some of the ones she had seen in the past, this one was very poorly made. Some of the wood had already splintered underneath the weight of the Earth, and the gaps between the wooden planks were large and poorly aligned. This was a coffin designed for a person with no family, somebody who had nobody to remember them. 

They will remember you now, Cadence promised.

Erik lurched into the grave and began to pull the wood up. It proved to be somewhat difficult given the condition of the coffin, but eventually Erik had removed enough planks so that Cadence had a full view of the body within. 

This one had not been dead long. The skin was still fully intact, which was surprising given that the coffin was not. The eyes had been sealed, as with all the bodies she'd encountered, and it was dressed in standard-issue burial clothes. The man was not particularly old, probably middle aged, and his hair had not yet greyed and instead remained the colour of bark on a tree. 

Erik looked across at her, waiting. 

Cadence rubbed her hands together, feeling the thrum of energy between her palms. It always began like this; excitement, energy, the feeling of something more. She steadied herself as she moved closer towards the grave, and then held out her hands above the body. Cadence closed her eyes, feeling for bone and muscle and ligaments. It was the same search every time; the remainders of life that allowed her to seize control of the body. She found them with ease, and then she flicked her fingers and her puppet came to life. 

It was not as though the body was actually alive. What was dead remained dead, but as long as the integral structures remained, it could be manipulated. Cadence opened her eyes as her new puppet rose out of his grave. He did not speak - that was something she saved only for Erik - but he climbed and clawed his way out until he was stood before her. It was a long process to get him out of the grave - the muscles had stiffened during rigor mortis and the bones were becoming brittle. But he was only needed for one show. Then she would return his body to the ground and find a new puppet. 

Erik shuffled towards the van and returned carrying a body between his arms; her old puppet. He was of a similar age and build, but other than that had no resemblance to the man that stood before her. Erik hauled the body into the grave and began to return it to how it had originally looked. Cadence moved her new puppet towards the van, and once he was in the back, she loosened her control on him and let him fall to the floor. She had to save her energy for the performance. 

For the next hour, Cadence and Erik refilled the grave with dirt, and as they finished the sun began to peek over the horizon. They moved their tools into the van quickly, and once they were seated, Cadence turned towards Erik.

"I love you," she said. She wriggled her fingers slightly and his head turned towards her, as smoothly as if he was alive. 

"I love you too," he replied, but Cadence could see that his mouth moved haphazardly, as if out of sync with the rest of his body. She would have to fix that before the ball. 

Cadence sighed and started the engine. Without looking back at the graveyard, she headed towards the city. 

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