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Within an hour, the force had been completely exorcised from the tunnels. The army summoned by Damien had done terrible damage to Spring Street, but it was not completely irreparable. Unfortunately the loss of life was harder to fix. For many, the recovery effort was a painful thing to watch. There were hundreds of corpses and no real way of clearing the bodies on such a scale. To Orwell, who had saved Nae’s life during the mayhem and lost an eye in the process, the only option was to call in the Mephisto clan. He was loath to do it, but saw no other option.
Generally speaking, people would remove their own dead and bury or cremate the corpse, but if a situation occurred where there were no living relatives of the deceased, then they would be given to the Mephistos. This was what people were terrified of. If they were given to the Mephisto clan, then they had no idea what might happen to their corpse. The clan simply would not say why they needed so many corpses.
Laurence had a theory about why they needed the corpses, but it did not make much sense to him generally. He assumed that they were rending the bodies into their six crafting parts; fluid, core, binding agent, hide, twine, and ore. These six parts were what any single object could be refined down into without wasting anything, but generally speaking no one would try. Using the corpse of a human was simply too creepy for most people.
Laurence was the opposite. He did not mind using the corpse of a person to craft something, in fact he saw it as no different to what he had done to the Orik, or the snake. His issue was that what he assumed the Mephisto clan were doing was combining hundreds of the same kind of tier of human, to emulate one of a higher tier. Their reasoning was sound. The process was something that one could do with any material, and the Book of Creation even had a term for it. It was known as using quantity to emulate quality, and was something that the Book advised against using. The issue with the process was that no matter how many times you did it, the refined material would never be equal to one that was naturally of the same grade. After all, the created material was simply an emulation.
The only rumours about corpse desecration that were more terrifying to the general populace were those that were about Avalonians. The Kimbramancers could supposedly keep a person from ever returning to the cycle of reincarnation, but the no one had ever heard anything to substantiate that the rumour was anything other than hearsay. No one was really willing to anger the ruling class of Avalon to check, especially when the result could be so terrifying.
Around an hour after the cleanup had begun, Orwell made a call, and an old man with grey hair showed up. He had an aura of decay about him that put most people on edge. When Yun saw the man, he scurried off to his room and refused to come out until the old man had left. It was not the same kind of fear that Yun had shown when he first arrived in Spirit, but instead of the pure dread he had felt then, it was more like the existence of the man set his teeth on edge.
The only people unaffected by the man were Laurence and Jim. Since Francis had killed himself, Jim had become extremely withdrawn. The boy would barely acknowledge the existence of anyone. It was understandable, when people thought about what he had gone through. The thing no one understood was how Laurence was fine. He had gone through almost everything Jim had, and had been severely beaten on top of that. He was an enigma to the majority of Spring Street, and his ability to ignore the old man’s cloying presence was a simple reminder of that.
The transaction between Orwell and the old man was completed relatively quickly, with the bodies being removed by the end of the day. As the old man left, he handed Orwell a bag, claiming it was a payment for product given. Orwell had wanted to refuse, but when he saw how much money was inside the bag, he sighed and ignored his morals. The loss of hands would heavily impact the gang’s income for years to come, and the damage done to the base was no small problem either. The gang needed the money to survive, no matter how dirty Orwell felt for taking it.
People knew that the repairs to the base would take weeks, but no one was willing to begin that day. As Laurence walked around the corridors and through the halls, he surveyed everything. He looked at the broken down doors, blood-splattered walls, and clumps of rock in a state of confusion. Like the situation with Rosie’s Demise, he liked the place. He had been living there for a long time now, and seeing it destroyed, seeing his home destroyed to such a state made the voice bubble up again.
He wanted revenge.
Eventually he found himself in the claimant hall. The map of the desolate strip showed many things, one of which was the regions that all the different gangs had control over. In the strip alone there were close to twenty gangs, but of those there were only four that could compete with Spring Street. The biggest rival was the Rodah Vale Arrows, a group of thieves who specialised in fast jobs. Coming from the Vale of Rodah, the gang would often describe themselves as quicker than an arrow in flight, and had an incredibly high job completion rate because of their speed.
The Arrows and Spring Street had never gotten on, because of how opposed their targets often were. Members of Spring Street would describe the Arrow hits as low hanging fruit, or easy pickings, and the Arrows would often retort by calling the members of Spring Street show offs or madmen. The name calling and mutual scorn did not lend itself well to the two groups being amicable, and Damien’s intervention, with the additional knowledge of the entrance to their hideout, ignited that hatred to new levels. The problem for Laurence was that he did not know where to go to get into the base of the Arrows.
In all likelihood the base would be in the middle of their area of control, but there was no way for him to know for sure. At least not by looking at the map. In the end, all he could do was take note of their regions of preferred work, and hunt one of their gang members down. He had learned a lot in the time he was a member of Spring Street. Many things were to do with thievery, or skills that he could not learn from the Book, but one thing in particular was the strange actions he had encountered in Cie’Awll. He had learned that what the man, Adrigal, was actually trying to do to him. The more he thought about how they had attempted to torture him, the more he realised that his response truly was an eye for an eye. Just because he was not affected by it did not mean no one had been. That said, he also realised how useful torture could be in gleaning information, so he would not hesitate to pull the location out of a member of the gang he now despised.
He walked up to his room and grabbed his bag, as well as a few small tools he might need for torture. In combat it might be better to fight with invisible weapons, like the ones he made with mana, but in torture the more the victim knew was coming, the quicker they would break. On the way out of his room he bumped into Orwell, who had obviously been waiting for him.
“Law,” he said, “I think you’re about to do something pretty insane, and if I am right in my assumption, also something you do not want coming back to you in future”. He paused, handing Laurence a bag about the size of the boy’s head. His normally jovial face hardened, “This is a secret of the gang, one that I am loath to reveal, but think I must. Wear that and enact vengeance upon our foes. The people who died were our family, and blood repays blood”.
“Yes,” Laurence said simply, before walking towards the exit. Once he got out of sight of everyone he knew, he opened the bag. Inside was a white mask with the insignia of the gang on it, a blue triangle with two curves cutting through it. He smiled and put it on, before walking into the night.
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