Deathwalker 2.6

             A sudden rise and fall in the crowd’s arguments caught my attention. I couldn’t see much from my position, yet the noise was definitely getting quieter. In fact, after a moment, it stopped entirely. What would cause that? I couldn’t think of anything good. Nervously, I craned my head. All I could see was people’s backs.
            Another sound started, quieter and more repetitive. I blinked. Footsteps? The crowd seemed to be moving aside, and many of the men and women were bowing their heads at someone or something I couldn’t see. Then, a familiarly annoying voice broke the stillness.
            “Ter Dryst, at last! You will see that this charlatan is put in chains!”
            I winced and hoped that the ensuing silence didn’t mean the newcomer was nodding in agreement.
            “How very historic of you, Enna. You realize that we no longer use chains, don’t you?” a deep, cultured voice responded dryly.
            “He deserves them!” The old man hissed.
            “Does he?” The stranger sounded only mildly interested. “What has he done?”
            “He lied, Ter Dryst, about completing a case. Attempting to submit a fraudulent completion is a level 7 offense!”
            “Indeed it is.” Was the man really that calm? “And where is this offender?”
            “Hiding there! The bots were supposed to arrest him, but he tricked them somehow.”           
            Belatedly, it occurred to me that I should probably be standing for this. I started to scramble up, thought better of it, and instead slowly stood, trying to give off the same air of nonchalance that I heard from the stranger. Ter Dryst, right?
            As I stood, I got my first glimpse of him. I wouldn’t have known he was someone important from his clothing. He wore the same gray that was favored by deathwalkers, and his shirt and pants seemed otherwise unremarkable. His face, however, had a power to it. Maybe presence was a better word. I couldn’t really explain it, yet for some reason, I was sure that no one could meet this man and not realize that he was someone with authority. As if he wore power the same way as he wore his clothes.
            Instinctively, I bowed my head and raised my left hand in the Kaihmi sign for greeting. The same sign I would have used to our leader at home – though I would probably have waggled my fingers at him since he was my great-uncle.
            The stranger raised an eyebrow at the gesture and returned my gaze with a scrutiny that made me feel exposed and small. Then, ignoring the old man’s squawks and fluttering, he walked toward me purposefully. The robots parted as if by magic. If I hadn’t been convinced of his position before, I would have known it then. Whoever he was, he was important.
            I swallowed. Would this man believe me? The fact that he was calm wouldn’t keep him from arresting me. I could tell that much, and it made my pulse jittery. He might not be upset enough to have chains made. But would he allow it if others wanted to?
            “Deathwalker Sephtis, is it?” His question interrupted the panicked flurry of thoughts.
            I had to swallow and clear my throat before I could answer.
            “Yes, sir.” 


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