Here is the next chapter. In case you are wondering, the date is Sunday, January 22, 1905. The location, St Petersburg, Russia. If you want more information you’ll just have to google it.
Snow drifted past the outside window as I stood inside the cramped apartment looking down on the citizens gathering in the streets below. In the past hour since the sun had risen the streets had slowly begun to fill with people as they roused themselves from their slumber. Strikes had been going on for weeks now and the unrest had grown steadily during that time. This had been my second time back to Russia in the last four months and it had been clear that things had gotten progressively worse during that time. The city had been dark upon our arrival but that did not stop us from walking it’s dark streets until we reached our destination, a small apartment shared by a family in the heart of St Petersburg Russia.
Once we had scouted out the area and located of our target Josian started to speak with the young woman as she slept. The words flowed slowly from Josian’s mouth in a way I was never comfortable with. It was only during these times, when she was speaking to a mortal, that her speech was the exact opposite of the quick and smashed together words that I heard when she spoke. She was much better at talking to mortal than I was so unless there was a need the job always fell to her while I stood guard as time passed and the apartment slowly came to life.
“”Natasha, why do you insist.” The older man pleaded from beside me, his deeply accented words translating clearly in my mind.
“Papa, I dreamt of Palcof, he spoke to me, I must go with you. Leonid can take care of Momma.” Natasha replied as she reached for a tattered jacket hanging on a coat hook and slid her arms through the sleeves.
“We talked about this last night no?” Papa replied as the worry and pride shown clearly in his face at his daughters request to join him on this blistery January morning.
“You said yourself the people must stand. Father Gapon is right, the Tsar must hear his petition for reform. I cannot sit here while my countryman in the streets Papa. The people must be heard.” She retorted, her decision to go made clear.
“Last night you did not wish to go but this morning you do, stubborn girl.” The man replied as he grabbed his own jacket.
“Just like my Papa.” Natasha replied with a smile.
“Palcof would be proud of you Natasha, just as I am.” Papa said as he finished putting on his jacket and turned towards the door, “ Come my child, Father Gapan awaits.”
“Leonid you stay and watch over Grandmamma, keep warm my dear, a new day is dawning.” Natasha said to the boy who could not have been more then seven years of age as he sat at the table chewing on a hunk of bread.
“But Mamma, I want to go with you.” The boy replied.
The conversation between mother and child continued as I stood by the window watching the old woman. At first I had thought it was just a coincidence but as the morning had progressed I had come to notice the old woman, wrapped in blankets upon the chair, was clearly watching me. Whenever I turned in her direction regardless of where I was in the room she meet me with those worn gray eyes. Never once had she looked over towards Josian as she stood close to Natasha she only watched me. It did leave me to wonder what she saw when she looked at me and made me wonder if she would say anything about my presence. Since she hadn’t yet I could only imagine she was mute or some other sickness had taken her voice. The way her eyes had followed me around the room gave me the impression she only saw a shadow of what I was much like the figures I had seen while alive. I hadn’t been in Grayton long before discovering the answers for the shadows I had seen during my life. Even with an answer as to what I had seen, what this old woman might be seeing, there was no explanation as to why some mortals can see and others can’t. That answer is hidden from us just like the answer to why Elise keeps appearing to me and why I think about her so much. My request to speak to any God on the matter had been denied I was told.
“Heading outside.” I said quickly to Josian who stood behind the young mother, my dislike for enclosed spaces along with the looks from the old woman had finally gotten to me.
Outside the snow had continued to slowly fall as the citizens of St Petersburg gathered in the streets. I am sure that panic would have erupted if any of them had been able to see Olfand as they walked past him. Towering above everyone else Olfand stood upon the street looking for any sign of opposition while holding his huge hammer loosely in his hands ready to weld it with the gracefulness that only he could. We each had our own methods and the weight of the Peacemaker hanging in its holster was my reassurance. Having Olfand as a lookout usually brought about one of two things, the others either left us alone or it let them know they should gather more fighters before advancing.
“Should be comin in soon. Seen Dioman?” I asked.
Olfand pointed off to his right as a indication to the last place he had seen Dioman. There was no telling what our winged leader was doing at the moment, most likely making his rounds and checking up on the status. If there was a need or a change in plans he would let us know.
Behind us the door opened as Natasha and her father walked down the stairs while Josian followed close behind. The couple walked among the people offering greetings and exchanging words as they all headed farther into town. The energy from the crowd flew around us as we followed their progress. Moving off to the side of the road Olfand blended in with the crowd near the sidewalks disguising his bulk in way only a giant with centuries of knowledge would know how to do. Josian had fallen back behind them as I walk a little farther ahead of the couple. Each one of us fell into the protection pattern the way we always do. Always on guard. Always ready.
It wasn’t long before the streets became choked with people causing me to struggle in finding Natasha when I glanced back towards them making it hard to keep on the lookout for others. Finally the crowd came to a halt and we waited. Somewhere in front of the crowd a man started talking. The words flowed from his mouth leaving little doubt this was Father Gapon. Soon the crowd started moving again and as the bodies pressed closer together I it forced me to flow through them, something I really tried to avoid if there was any chance. The idea of being able to walk through a person had never settled well with me and there was always something residual about the person that lingered about me which was rather unsettling. A quick glance back towards Natasha revealed Josian standing behind her, knives out and ready for something that I hadn’t seen but something she clearly had. It was in that moment when the sun broke through the clouds and glistened off the young girls necklace when I noticed the symbol illuminated by the light. The light reflecting from it hit my eyes causing me to look away and the recognition of the symbol escaped my mind as I stared directly into the face of a bare chested man who was running towards me with a crude wooden club raised above his head.
Any stealth the man had once had had disappeared upon being discovered. Specks of the mortals essence spiraled in the air around the man as he rushed through them with a wooden club held high in the air. He swung the club down towards my head , the end bristled with rough spikes that cut through the air above me as I ducked from its path. His momentum carried him passed me as he clumsily attempted to turn for another attack. His surprise attack had failed him leaving him confused longer than I needed to react. Shooting up from the crouch my right hand flew through the air clenched and ready to impact my would be attackers face. It connected with a sickening smack as the crowd around us shouted while his club flew out of his hand landing somewhere far behind him. The punch was quickly followed by another from my left hand before connecting again with my right. He fell quickly onto the ground stunned by the blows he had received and disorientated from them. Quickly I glanced around for any other attackers knowing they never traveled alone either. In the split second it took to check my back the man had loosely recovered from his fall and rolling off to his side. I turned back just in time to see the small knife traveling through the air towards me as I reached for the Bowie knife strapped to my side. The throw was clumsy and untrained. The knife bounced harmlessly off my leather vest as the man’s eyes widened in disbelief and shock as the Bowie knife left my hand. With a thud the Bowie knife embedded in the man’s chest. Instantly his eyes rolled up as he crumbled to the floor. In my right hand the Peacemaker was held tight, ready to put a slug into anyone who decided they were next. Blood dripped from Josian’s blades as she approached me. I followed her gaze toward the winged figure flying in the same direction in which the crowd was heading.
“Who was it?” I asked while scanning the crowd, behind us Ofland had come out of obscurity to stand close enough to Natasha that he could protect her without giving away who he was guarding. As the crowd started to walk through us I bent down and pulled the Bowie knife from the shirtless man’s chest.
“Bloody hell if I knows. Didn’t see da damned winger till it showed its arse” She quickly replied.
“Ain’t seen him before, you?” I asked while motioning to the man on the ground who was slowly starting to fade away.
“Nay, had a runin with the bastard who tried an jumped me. Stuck em real good just like before.” Josian replied as she slipped her knifes into their sheaths.
“Let’s get a move on, bound to be more.” I replied as we both started moving with the crowd always on the lookout as we continued our way deep into the city.