I - Sentinel
(Welcome. I am the Sentinel. I am your Sentinel. You are the scum beneath my shoe, my boots, my non-issued brass reinforced boots. I have a wife, her name? Justice.)
(This district is my ward, my care, my charge, I'm her cleaner, protector, embodied white blood cell. I will not let her be contaminated, defiled or given disrespect.)
(Every inch of wall, metal or stone is grime-encrusted, every path filled with fumes yet every inch is watched over, and guarded, by me. The law is universal, from the highest sun spire to the lowliest walkways.)
Already my six short years of service mean I can see your actions almost before you do them. Care-free offenders, probably high on fumes. Your attitude, your lackadaisical way of being with your friends all give off a reek to my now acutely trained sixth sense. You're fourteen perhaps, female, long brown hair and pale complexion, you set about the pastry treat now, some form of custard twirl in your overly eager hands, and yes, just as expected the wrapper tumbles to the ground like an insult.
You defile my district, you defile me.
I must admit I like the rush, feeling the anger push upward into me, my strides. Righteous indignation fuels the approach, your friends see me coming and you in turn, turn to face me. I see from your expression that you are going for the defence of ignorance, it will not wash with me.
You follow my arm and extended finger toward the wrapper, you quickly grab it off the floor. Too late. "Half-Penny, and name" I demand.
'You're joking right?" you laugh, your friends do also. It soon stops as you feel the back of my hand upon your face, to the floor you now fall, where the wrapper once was.
The only male of your group now rushes forward, a plump little fool, shouting "hey!", I reply, "Sentinel under threat!" and swiftly break his nose with a controlled punch. The crunching noise causes a moment of stillness and quiet, the small crowd of passing onlookers now moves on as the blood flows freely from both nostrils.
You and your friends must be from the upper classes, most would know not to challenge a sentinel. Not to challenge me.
I am justice embodied, her sword arm and eyes unbound. You know this now, unable to look into the eyes of justice and look away as you reach out a hand with a half penny, and speak "Serena Smithson".
"Your friend's now disfigured nose will hopefully be lesson enough for him, and this coinage shows you have hopefully learnt yours, any floor, from the up above to the down belows is not to be defiled, remember this."
You look away as Justice, satisfied, I can continue my patrol, I know the lesson is learnt though, submission through violence once again ensured, a lifetime of misdemeanours and crime now averted. I leave your group, respect and awe oozes from them now I feel, no longer challenging foolish laughter.
II - The Trader's Daughter
Near the exhaustion supply of handkerchiefs Sam's nose had finally stopped it's bleeding. He and the others left. They didn't blame me with words, yet their body language certainly did. I found a bench under a couple of lanterns to gather my thoughts. The sentinel's intervention had left me in shock, I still couldn't quite believe what had just happened. Thoughts jumbled, jolted. Not helped by the steam pipe's intoxicating vapours used hours ago, passing it around in a circle getting high more on the thrill than the steam itself.
I can still see him a few roads away through the walkway's mists, why did we come through down this hole of a place, we'd been warned not to use the underways. They just seemed like the levels above, just dirtier and more interesting,
The guilt was racking her now, she could feel it as the shock subsided, Sam had protected me, well tried to, that cost him, his nose might never be the same. What if it healed pointing more one way than the other? All because she was being careless, no it was that Sentinel, not her fault, there was no reason to act the way he did.
Reality was finally returning and the considerations of what to tell her parents were floating, would they blame her? Or the anger directed toward the Sentinel? Would a telegram be sent? Perhaps she should go ask his name, would that lessen the potential fallout from her father's wrath.
Deep meaningful breath, seek composure.
Courage finally plucked, she took to her feet, the Sentinel's figure starting to become distant finally spurring action.
The Newspaper Seller
Doryn watched the whole scene with interest, though knew better than to intervene, and there she goes the young one now following trouble like it's a new flavour candy pop.
'Zamner!' she calls out to no one inparticular with no discernible reaction from passers by.
She took an elongated satisfiying drag from her ciggarette, looking up,
'Two found in flooding accident, Zxaminer!'
'This district?' an older badgerfolk gent had approached, his bristles and snout illuminated under the lantern Doryn liked to call home
'They pay me to advertise not spread the news son'
'Zamner!' her voice echoed out as Pask strode on none the wiser.
By Jupiter, if humans could smell the stench of shit and piss they give off, stick smokers worse than any.
Pask had trained his nose, his sense to turn itself off though the occasional close encounter would set the nostrils flaring and the stink would find it's way through to the concious.
Humans stank, especially in the underways.
One of the reasons animal caste usually traded and kept to their own districts. The stench of a weak-nosed majority.
[More soon hopefully]