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Snippet: Aftermath
Kaame thought of this one as 'the tall man', even though he only came up to Kaame's shoulder. The other one who visited him in his cell was shorter still, most likely of southern stock. He thought of both of them as cthiste flies, those that gather to pick the meat off of the newly dead and the dying. They buzzed about him, poking and proding, ever since he had been captured and stuffed into this unknown prison.

Today, his usually crisp uniform was in a touch of disarray, and there were dark circles under his eyes, despite how he kept to the shadows of the room to hide them. He still spoke with alarming precision, one half cold and one half pretending to be sympathetic. Or perhaps he truly was. Kaame's grief had soured him to most human interaction.

"Good evening.  Have you had time to consider the offer?" the tall man asked. Kaame did not offer a response, and kept still against the cold stone wall. He met the tall man's gaze equally, so that it would be known he was silent, not broken. "The situation out there continues to escalate, and you may not have the luxury of this cell much longer. They may demand your head to crush the spirits of the rioters."

Kaame had been ready for his own death seven years ago, bleeding out on the docks of a strange city. He would be ready for it again now, coming full circle, except for the small ember of fury that still slept in his heart. He wanted to hurt someone before he went into the next world. He wanted to hurt the tall man, or perhaps the short one, or the guard that kept pissing in his water.

The tall man stepped into an angle of light that showed off the distress he was trying to hide, not realizing how easily Kaame could read it. "You will die at noon tomorrow, if you cannot give them what they want. And so will Msr. Sicuro." This managed to elicit a contemptuous laugh from Kaame, which in turn caused the tall man's left eyebrow to rise.

"I know Sico escaped a while ago," he explained with his somber smile. "You lock up the foreign barbarian cur with heavy iron chain." He raised his shackles up to the light for emphasis. "But you thought Sico was just some soft nobleman you could tie up with some rope and toss in a room. The dead guards must weigh heavy on the soul of whomever made that decision."

The tall man's lips pursed tightly, and the lines around his eyes grew pronounced. "Mistakes were made in the security of Msr. Sicuro," he finally admitted. "Regardless, you remain. And they offer you a chance to keep your life. Tell us where he would go. Where would he bring the body?"

Again with the question of where the body was. Kaame swallowed back the bile he wanted to spew across the tall man's face. "We did not take the body," he returned with even measure.

"You expect us to believe that it was assumed up to Heaven, like all the fanatics are saying?" the tall man said, retreating back into the safety of his half-shadows. "He was a man, and he died, and the riots and the heretics and the destruction of our city will come to an end when we show them a corpse.  To that end, we will get what we need from you, in any way necessary."

"Torture will not bring me to betray my husbands," Kaame said vehemently, and immediately regretted it when he saw a flash of insight in the tall man's grey eyes.

"You are mistaken, you poor brute," the tall man said, pacing a bit across the room.  The control was back in his voice, and he smoothed out some of the wrinkles from his uniform.  "Whatever relationship you had with Msr. Sicuro was only through the grace of your marriage to Father Willrain.  And with the good Father's passing, such a marriage ended.  Willrain, even apostate as he had become, is in God's arms now, not yours, and your Sico is nothing more than a man you used to sodomize."

Kaame could take no more and leapt to his feet, his blood boiling and his sight full of red rage.  But the iron shackles held strong, and cut deep into his wrists and he strained to reach the tall man, to tear him limb from limb.  It was the tall man's turn to be silent, to watch as Kaame's rage was frustrated by the iron, and eventually had to be swallowed.  Kaame slumped down again against the cell wall, ashamed both of his outburst, and that he had not been able to silence the disrepect of Will and Sico.

"So that is what you will do now?" Kaame asked heavily.  "You will profane my love, strip me of the last seven years of my life?"

"I will do much more than that," the tall man said, coming closer to the defeated Kaame, but still infuriatingly just out of reach.  The change of tone, the personal nature, was not lost on Kaame.  "For now, the position is that a heretical sect is using the death of a confused priest as a call to action.  Father Willrain could easily become a symbol for return to the Church.  A lost son returned to the fold, despite the rebels who would pervert him.  But if his body remains missing too long, if Msr. Sico is seen with the heretics, then we have no choice but to denounce Willrain, and his husbands.  Destroy every piece of good works he may have performed, smear his name, make him into a monster.  And you as well."

Kaame wept without sound, unashamed.  To deny his tears would have been against everything he had become during his years with Will and Sico.  He did not care that they showed the tall man what could be seen as a victory.  But even in the tears, he held resolve and said not a word.  The tall man backed away to the door, keeping the smug sense that he had removed a keystone from Kaame's defense.

"I will let you ponder that during the night.  Tomorrow, you will have your last chance to save not only your life, but the good name of the priest you loved."  With a jangle of keys and the sound of rusty hinges, the tall man left Kaame to the solitude of his cell, and the burden of his grief.

But that night, Kaame dreamt of Willrain, and the morning was so very different from what any expected.