3.2 Beggars

There had not been much resistance to move through the city toward the other. The wave had not yet crashed down but Myrmidon was standing under its shadow. The few opponents he had met were alone or small in number and either armed with improvisation or not at all, though they attacked him just the same. The sun had since abandoned the sky as much as denizens had abandoned the streets and the city. However, Myrmidon felt that they would return, once they turned, as seemed to be their end, swallowed up and then spit out, to churn in the gyre.

Myrmidon moved through the south market and toward the Beggar’s Quarter, closest to the entrance to the City of Asterion and the most direct path from the palace tunnels. Over time the poor of the city had congregated to that particular subsection, from whom it derived its name, due to, pragmatically, proximity to one of the markets where they could scavenge and ply their trade of supplication; and, secondly, due to otherworldly considerations, the closeness of the entrance to the labyrinth and, thus, the Temple of Iapetus.

As their days were filled with no Sisyphean distractions – in other words, the hurdles and up-hills of cyclical task and completion – but only linear accomplishment – or, the extension of their days by the procurement of the barest necessities and evasion of privation’s spotlight – so it was that they took as beggars in the market but gave of the Self, their alms, in the monument to moments, that is, mortal life. Therefore, while others of a pious nature and of differing worldviews may look at the afterlife and the eternity of the soul as the gift and mortal life as a trial of desert; here it would seem that eternity, without time, is a place where nothing happened and no measure could be taken so piety must judge itself in light of a mortal rubric. The bodily vessel is the only carriage and the equestrian spirit be damned it would not pull its load to the highest heavens.

Nuntius picked up the rear, dragging behind and hanging from Myrmidon’s grip, needling the ground as if Myrmidon were back in his stone chamber and engaged in his late-night tourneys. It sang a plaintive song for those who had fallen by its sting, those it anticipated to entertain and those it had not the voice to save. Shoulders drooped and head dropped, Myrmidon passed by the last of the market stalls. The entrance to Asterion stood within his sight.

Turning his head to the side as he brushed strands of dark hair away from his eyes, Myrmidon caught two other pairs spying from behind an overturned stall. Their eyes plied their trade – they were raised as beggars and their look was one of searching for sanctuary. A boy and a girl who resembled one another enough so that they could convincingly be named blood, but perhaps it was the same masks of filth they wore on their unwashed faces that made them appear consanguineous.

Come out, Myrmidon ordered the children, It is not me who will hurt you. The eye of the storm may provide a haven for the time being but trouble is on the move.

Myrmidon was regarded with a peculiar irreverence produced by the mix of a young mind and surviving by one’s wits. The girl, standing full-up, replied, The only thing moving is you and your mouth and the only trouble we see is hanging from your hand.

You know who I am?

The boy, who measured shorter than his companion, attempted to dull the sharp words of the girl with a Yes, my prince.

And I will have you know, Myrmidon said, grinning at the girl, that the trouble with me starts before the sword begins.

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