Civa watched his apprentice proudly, holding the sapphire necklace of Lady Mboto, the wife of the ambassador for Southern Kundra. Only moments earlier, they had taken it from thieves and handed them over to the watch. The young man eyed them keenly from where he stood on the edge of the roof, holding them up to the sunlight.
“You have done well Mank.”
His apprentice did not seem to hear him as he continued to inspect the retrieved gems.
“It is time that we returned them,” Civa reminded. “Let us go now,” he said, reaching for the necklace.
The hand tightened, pulling the necklace away from his touch.
“We have to return it,” laughed Civa.
“No,” said Mank, slowly fixing his eyes on Civa, his expression unreadable. “You have said yourself there is no reward for a hero.”
“It is the price we pay to do what is right.”
“It is the price I pay!” erupted Mank. “You married a wealthy widow, while I live an inch above the gutter."
“Please Mank… do what is right.”
“I am! This one is for me. This city owes us compensation for what we do. We risk our lives to protect them, but are we ever paid? Do they feed us? I understand my future Civa. We will tumble across the rooftops until one day we fall and no one will know we existed. I will have something for it.”
Civa jolted forward, kicking the feet from beneath his apprentice, plucking the necklace from his hand as he fell. He looped it over his neck as Mank got to his feet.
“I will take it back myself,” said Civa.
“Give it back Civa, or I will knock you from the roof,” Mank warned, slowly advancing.
Spinning for the edge, Civa leapt into space. His hands caught hold of a clothesline, and with the arcing of his body, he let go, alighting onto a balcony.
Mank stamped down heavily on the opposite end, glaring at him.
“It would be wise to give it to me Civa. I am younger and stronger than you. Not to mention that I know everything that you do.”
Civa spun again, stepping free of the balcony rail, to catch hold of a hanging shingle. Its rusted mount, squeaked and shifted in his grip as he let go for an adjacent balcony. He desperately reached back for Mank as he caught the shingle. It shrieked, tearing free of the wall.
“Mank take my hand!” shouted Civa, but the flailing arm missed making contact…
Togullen strolled the Hall of Heroes as he always did in the privacy of the evening. A shadow flitted across his face in the moonlight. As he looked up, he saw one of his closest friends deftly climb down through the open domed roof. Dropping onto one of the many statues, the visitor leapt to the wall where he rebounded, somersaulting to the floor.
For a moment, the new arrival stood in non-committal silence, panting. Brown eyes stared at the king’s chronicler through slits cut in a small flour sack.
“Civa,” exclaimed Togullen.
It was when he saw Civa tear the sack from his head and seat himself that he knew something was wrong. Tufts of black hair showed at odd points between craters in the dermis of his scalp. Rarely did he reveal his horrendous deformity; even to a friend.
“I have come to confess a great wrong,” he said.
Togullen nodded, motioning him to go on. During the course of the evening, Civa tearfully recounted the rooftop battle, expressing the regret at the death of his friend and pupil.
“You have done no wrong brother,” said the scribe.
He produced his Bible from the folds of his robe and showed him 2 Corinthians 6:14.
“Do you understand now?” asked Togullen.
Civa gave a vague nod.
“Light and darkness Civa; the two can never co-exist. You had chosen your path, just as Mank had chosen his.”
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