World's Eye: Sacrifice This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

April 17, 2010
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The rain cloaked the storefronts, veiling their brightly colored advertisements in streaks of grey and white. In fact, in Iono Akes’s opinion, the entire block looked as if it were an old black and white film, with nothing but shades and hues to give contrast to the world.

Hunched against the driving rain, he peered out from under the cowl of his black robe and fixed his eyes on his destination. Bookends, it was called, not much of a book store by comparison to most, but that was not important.

Darting quick glances to left and right, Iono scuttled across the street, stopping on the other side to huddle beneath an awning. His gaze flicked nervously over the surrounding area, head swinging this way and that, swift and twitchy. Good. He thought to himself. No sign of them yet.

Hurrying onward, head bent, he almost didn’t see the massive figure slide out of the alleyway on his left. He noticed the looming presents just in time to avoid a collision.

“Francis, Gods, you nearly gave me a heart attack.” Iono spoke in a fluttering, wispy voice, made reptilian by the whispered hiss he used to deliver his lamentations.

“Iono. You should be more careful.” Francis’s voice was deep and slow, but he too spoke in hushed tones.

“What are you here for?”

“Extra protection. Saren says this is more important than… the other task in which I was engaged.”

Francis fell into step with Iono as they continued down the sidewalk, . His immense face, marred by a scar that ran from his right eye to his chin, was unbowed, constantly looking, ignoring the downpour. The two forms, huge and hulking next to small and thin, both shot final glances over their shoulders before disappearing hurriedly through the door into Bookends.

Francis placed his back to the door and folded his hands in front of him, watching impassively as Iono stepped forward, looking apprehensive and skittish, as usual. Relieved from the torrential rain, Iono straightened up somewhat, and threw back his hood. His face was thin and pinched, much like the rest of him, and his violet eyes continued to flick around, taking in the scene, noticing each detail and moving on to the next one in a second.

It was not a very impressive scene, as scenes go. The book shop was small, with a small collection of books, and a large collection of shelves, most of which were empty. On the wall opposite Iono hung a picture of Richard K. Ellard, identified as the author of “Bliss and Harmony: A Definitive Guide”.

Beneath this portrait was a desk, small, unsurprisingly, and constructed of what appeared to be oak planks, partially varnished and mostly not. Behind the desk sat a tall, thin man, with brown hair and a trim beard. He looked up at Iono and Francis as they came in, peering at them over the empty desktop.

“Can I help you gentleman with something? Perhaps you would like to buy a book?” he asked, looking polite and helpful.
“Yes, actually. We are looking for a copy of ‘The World’s Eye Encyclopedia’.” Answered Iono.

The man stepped out from behind the desk, unfolding his lanky frame like a spider uncurling from a crouched position in its web. He stalked towards Iono, stopping when they were uncomfortably close. He stared down at the shorter man and spoke carefully, continuing to sound polite and helpful.

“I see. And is there a specific edition you were looking to purchase?”

“Yes there is.” Enunciating precisely, Iono said “I would like to purchase edition five hundred twenty eight point thirty four. Would that be possible?”

The man relaxes visibly, stepping back and sinking onto the edge of his desk.

“Thank Gods, Iono, it’s you. Why’s Francis here?”

“Octavio.” Rumbled Francis from his position by the door.

“Saren sent him along for extra protection. Do you have the boy?” said Iono.

Octavio gave a sarcastic snort.

“Do I have the boy?” He mimicked. “Of course I’ve got the boy! That’s the entire reason you’re here, remember?”

“Fine.” Said Iono. “Where is he? We need to get going, before they find us.”

“They already have.” Said Francis tersely. “Ten of them, and they’re closing fast. Hurry!”

Octavio exploded into action, all languidity evaporated, springing up from his supine position and dashing down an aisle between shelves, away into the far left corner of the shop. Iono shifted nervously from foot to foot, switching his gaze from the door to the shop interior and back, hands wringing each other agitatedly, fingers like so many writhing flesh colored worms twining around one another.

There was the slam of a hastily opened door colliding with a wall, a brief, inaudible exchange of flurried argument, and seconds later Octavio reappeared, dragging along a young boy of perhaps six. The boy was thin and looked terrified, green eyes huge as Octavio thrust him towards Iono.

“Francis!” Said Iono franticly, clutching the youths shoulders. “Come here, we have to go now!”

Francis was looking out of the tiny window in the door. He turned to Iono and Octavio, and the child between them.

“I’m staying.”
“Francis, no, there are too many, even for you!” Said Octavio in a furious hiss. “Don’t be a fool!”

Francis only shook his head, dark eyes grim.

“I can’t risk them finding your trail. I can hold them off long enough for it to fade. Go.” he growled.

“But…” began Iono.

“GO!” bellowed Francis. “Before they get here!”

Iono mouthed soundlessly, looking for words to convince his companion otherwise. Octavio grasped his shoulder.

“Don’t.” he said quietly. “We need to be gone.”

Iono nodded, eyes wet. He took the hand Octavio offered him, keeping a firm grip on their ward’s shoulder with his other. He took one last look at Francis, a silent sentinel at the door.

There was a soft hum around Octavio, Iono and the boy. For a moment, they’re forms were blurred as if by heat waves. And then they were gone. Francis was alone in the empty shop.

He stepped back from the door, hands hanging loosely by his sides. He shrugged off the black cloak, and kicked it off to one side. The air in the shop took on a tense, excited feeling. It seemed to almost vibrate. He was calm, confident in his own power. He felt them coming.

The door rattled. Francis smiled.

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