A Long Road Back-Arrondissement-Part Forty-Five

Heavy snow pelted the Gelatinous Arc as it slowly slid across the Plaza of Vœux and was absorbed. Olivia and her Chevalier bodyguards strode underneath but the flakes still swirled about them.

“We should find shelter,” said the Cautious Chevalier.

“Most people are indoors,” replied Olivia, “We are perfectly safe.”

“Visibility is far too short, a perfect place for an ambush.”

“Or perfectly suited for me to find what we are looking for.”

“I must insist we go inside.”

Olivia, who was looking intently at the objects moving within the Arc frowned.

“I thought Chevaliers were supposed to be brave.”

This elicited laughter from the other Chevaliers.

“That is not helpful!” he said to his compatriots.

“I don’t know, a good laugh makes life worth living,” said the Jocular Chevalier.

“I am brave, but I am also cautious.”

“If you say so,” replied Olivia.

“If I were not brave, then I would not be here!”

“How did you get that name?”

“It was bestowed upon me when I was dubbed.”

“Each Chevalier is given a descriptor when they are elevated,” added one of the others, “For example, I am known as the Watchful Chevalier because I am acutely aware of my surroundings.”

“Very useful,” said Olivia.

“And if Cautious had merely asked, I would have told him that at present, we are the only hearty souls on the plaza at the moment,” Watchful said with a smile on her face.

“You might have offered that insight without having to show off,” said Cautious.

More laughter ensued.

“True enough! Will you accept my apologies Cautious?”

“I will,” he said as they shook hands.

The finder carefully gazed at the myriad objects that were suspended in the clouded structure. A variety of things came into view and then tumbled slowly away.

“At the risk of stating the obvious, removing something from the Gelatinous Arc is considered very bad luck,” observed Cautious.

“I am aware of that.”

“And yet, it looks as though you are searching for something.”

“That is correct.”

Wind blew snow around them, adding an additional layer of frost to their clothes and armor.

“Are you planning to risk the wrath of the Arc?”

Olivia sighed and said, “Only if absolutely necessary.”

“The thing is-“ began Cautious.

“What happens to the objects that the Arc leaves behind?” Olivia asked.

“Pardon?”

“The things that are ejected by the Arc.”

“I would think that there is some sort of system to collect them.”

“There is, people pick them up.”

“Custodians?”

“No, ordinary people.”

“That seems…disorganized.”

“I suppose so. The legend says, when the Arc gives up an object, the wish is either fulfilled or rejected. Whatever comes out is found by the person who needs to.”

“Quite random.”

“That’s the nature of luck.”

“But what-“

“Shush.”

Olivia followed something moving through the gel. It was rectangular and traveled toward the back end. She dashed around to the corner, nearly slipping on the slush to see the object she found slip out with a wet sound. (The Gelatinous Arc was unaffected by temperature, it neither melted nor froze.)

Picking it up and wiping the goo off, she gestured to Cautious who opened up a satchel for her to place it in.

“Now we go inside,” she said.

Leading her protectors off the plaza, they traveled along a series of narrow streets, which troubled Cautious to no end, until they came to a brothery. Her cousin told her about this place and she knew where all the best but uncrowded eateries were. An Oriole chanteuse sang on a small stage as wonderful and comforting smells drifted around them.

Once they settled in a booth in the back, ordered a tureen of chicken and a basket of fresh rolls, Olivia took a look at her prize. It was a box made from a sliver wood and bound with deep red metal straps.

“What do you think is inside?” asked the Curious Chevalier.

“Let’s find out,” Olivia answered.

After a half-hour or so of examining, tapping, pressing, one shake that did nothing, and including a quick break to enjoy the truly excellent broth and rolls, they finally discovered a hidden latch.

“Huh,” said Olivia.

Wrapped in a thick, soft cloth was a tombstone replica. The name was ‘Guy Naviaux’ and the date of his death twelve years prior. Two swords were carved on either side of this peculiar item and the words, ‘Let Darkness Take You.’

“What does this mean?” asked Curious.

“It’s a clue,” said Watchful.

“Who makes a replica of their tombstone?” asked Cautious.

“How do we know it’s a replica?” said Curious.

“What else could it be?” replied Cautious.

“A clue,” stated Watchful.

“Could this really-“ began Curious.

“Quiet please!” said Olivia.

The Chevaliers stopped speaking but looked at her expectantly. She ran her fingertips over the carvings, they were very expertly done, this was a well made if bizarre thing. That inscription…

“Finish your meal,” said Olivia.

Everyone wiped their mouths and looked at her.

“We’re going to pay our respects.”

Once they left the brothery they found that the weather had taken a much warmer turn, the skies were clear and the snow was melting. They entered their Velo-Pede and sped off through the Arrondissement. After a short trip, they arrived at the Jardin Des Morts, a small cemetery off the Rue de la modestie.

“Look for the full-sized tombstone.”

It only took ten minutes or so to find it. It stood near a small willow tree that shaded a stone bench. Sitting on that bench was an old man. He looked up as they all approached.

“Good afternoon,” he said.

“And to you,” said Olivia.

He looked at all of them, four Chevaliers and a stylishly dressed young woman and smiled.

“Do you have it?” asked the old man.

“Do we have what?” asked Cautious who could not escape his nature.

“Either you know, or you do not,” he replied.

“Give it to me,” said Olivia.

Cautious took out the box and passed it to her.

“May I?” asked the old man.

Olivia nodded and with assurance, he opened the box and uncovered the small tombstone. He smiled and sat straighter.

“Well then, I am to give this to you.”

He reached under the bench and took out a long, flat, and battered case and placed it alongside him on the bench. It was made of leather and was scuffed in many places, the straps were worn and some had been repaired where they had broke.

“May I?” asked Olivia.

“By all means,” replied the old man.

She unbuckled the straps, snapped open the case to reveal two long swords in pristine condition. One had a brass pommel with a green gem set in it, the other blue steel with an orange gem. The Chevaliers all gasped in unison.

“It is them!” said Watchful.

“I didn’t think it was possible,” said Cautious.

“And yet, there they are!” exclaimed Curious who reached out and then pulled his hand back.

“The Twin Swords of the Whirlwind Chevalier,” added the Solemn Chevalier, who up till this moment, had said very little.

“Indeed,” the old man replied, “My brother entrusted them to me when he died. Forgive my manners, I am Paul Naviaux.”

“I have so many questions,” said Curious.

“My name is Olivia Chercheur,” she said offering her hand.

The Chevaliers very quickly followed suit, shamed by their lack of manners, though Paul seemed unconcerned.

“This story is worthy of a song but I fear that it might end up an opera if I’m not careful. My brother Guy was a prognosticator, but of a very limited scope. He could see the future only for the Whirlwind Chevalier. I know how odd that sounds and the Whirlwind Chevalier was equally skeptical, as many of you might be. But after a number of very accurate predictions, he accepted that it was true and they became partners and friends.”

Paul took out a pocket square and wiped his brow, the day had become very warm.

“This went on for many years and Guy was a great help. But one day, he saw Whirlwind’s end. Guy debated telling him, but in the end, he felt it would be a disservice. When he told him, the Chevalier nodded and accepted his fate but asked my brother to accompany him on this last quest. And when Whirlwind fell, Guy was to retrieve the swords, so that they would not be used by his foes. My brother was no fighting man but he agreed when the time came, Guy honored that last request from his friend.

“He had that small tombstone prepared and put it in the Gelatinous Arc and instructed me, once he had died, to visit every day with the case until someone came and presented the replica to me. So here we are.”

“I have even more questions now,” said Curious, “Why not just bring the swords to the Tower Cerulean? How did he know the right people would find the box? How did he know the date of his death? What does that inscription mean?”

Paul shrugged and said, “Guy was the seer, not I. While it seems unnecessarily complicated to us, I trust he had his reasons.”

“Merci Monsieur Naviaux, I hope this brings you some peace of mind,” said Olivia.

“Indeed it does. Now I may do some traveling, it’s impossible when you have to come to the same bench every day.”

The Chevaliers all knelt and presented Paul each a coin that bore their sigils.

“You have done a great service for the Coterie du Honor. Should you find yourself in need of our swords, you may present these and your request will be honored.”

“I think perhaps I’ve had enough swords for a while but thank you. Since the weather has turned warm, I think I’ll take a walk and enjoy it.”

“We have a Velo-Pede, where can we take you?” asked Cautious.

“Thank you but I’d like to stretch my legs. Au revoir!”

And with that, he walked away. Olivia and her escorts strode back to the Velo-Pede and speed off to the Tower Cerulean.

“I must admit, I did not think you would find the Blades of the Whirlwind,” said Curious, “They have been lost for quite some time.”

“Who was the Whirlwind Chevalier?”

“He slew the Eponymous Ettin, rescued the Sable Salamander, broke the Gloaming Ward-“ said Curious.

“And is one of the few Chevaliers to fight with a sword in each hand,” added Solemn.

“That’s some CV,” mused Olivia, “Most of my clients aren’t looking for the legendary. It’s good to know that it wasn’t a barrier to success,” replied Olivia.

“While this is a victory, do not forget that we are merely a decoy. Our success was not the point,” said Cautious.

A social chill ran through the Velo-Pede.

“Which is not to say that I’m displeased by it,” he added.

“Hold on,” said Watchful.

They had stopped for a change of light when a figure crossing the rue stopped in front of them. She was completely ordinary.

“Back up quickly!” shouted Cautious.

Someone landed on the roof with a thump.

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