April 21, 2006 at 8:47 pm #1992CatherineParticipant
Despite what his children might have had to say on the matter, Sir Abraham Newton Hughes III, esq., was not a fool.
While he had insisted to Egeria that he would do all in his power to see charges brought against Bishop Southwell, to see the man (if one could really use such a word in description of an inhumane monster such as the Bishop ? it was only in the loosest, most liberal sense that it could apply) brought to justice, he knew full well that it would take more than the title and social status of a knight and the word of a blind seamstress (though he himself certainly saw her as far more than that, he was realistic enough to know how things would appear to the courts) to see it done.
As such, it then befell that he would have to take matters into his own hands, aging and increasingly fragile though they were. Yet despite his age and the limits of his body, Abraham still possessed a vitality and stubborn persistence that had served him well through the years, and continued to do so now. Perhaps he wouldn?t be able to overpower the Bishop in any manner, but that didn?t mean there weren?t other options available to him, options that had also served him well in the past, though the reasoning behind his actions back then had been remarkably different, and possibly, in a way, more questionable than his motives during this present situation.
Assembling his wits and what else would be needed in the decided course of action, he made his way, via his carriage, to the Bishop?s seat of (likely) ill-gotten and (certainly) ill-used power, St. Paul?s Cathedral.
It was early in the evening, and the Bishop was supping on a fine meal of steak and the freshest vegetables available during the season within his private chambers within the cathedral. He?d spent the day as he did most of them, presiding over the various services and goings-on within the Lord?s House, and attending to those parishioners who needed that extra little bit of guidance from his holiness himself. It was all in a day?s work for a man of the cloth.
Melal, the angel, ever-present guardian of the Bishop thanks to Elijah, was visible for once, standing statuesquely and silently, eyes seeming to peer across distant dimensions. It was still a disconcerting effect, though Octavius was used to it by now. Before he?d begun partaking of his supper, he?d spent some time continuing his training with Melal. While he?d been awakened to his abilities already, as it were, there was still much left to learn, as was the case with all things, really.
As he finished dining, he heard the angel?s voice in his head. –Someone is coming. It is the old knight.–
He turned to face the door in his seat, waving his hand slightly to Melal, who, with a shimmer of the air, became unseen once more.
An instant before Abraham rapped on Octavius? door, the Bishop?s voice called from within, ?Please come in, Sir Hughes. You?ll find the door open.? Surprised and, indeed, a bit rattled by the Bishop?s words, Abraham opened the door, and found Octavius sitting at his desk, elbows resting upon it with his fingers steepled in front of him, a faint hint of a smirk resting upon his lips. When Abraham saw that expression, another surge of hatred flowed freely through his veins, and he felt it all the more when he forced a pleasant smile at Octavius. ?Good evening, your Grace,? he heard himself saying. ?I hope I?m not disturbing you.?
It was easy enough for the Bishop to pierce through the thinly concealed contempt and hatred the blind witch?s pet clearly felt for him, but this only served to amuse him further. ?Not at all, Sir Hughes. What might I do for you? Oh, but where are my manners? Please, come in. Have a seat, won?t you? Might I get you anything? Some tea, perhaps??
The glee that wasn?t quite hidden within the Bishop?s voice made Abraham uneasy; did he know, somehow? Or was he simply just the smug son of a bitch that he?d clearly shown himself to be? ?Some tea would be appreciated, your Grace. Thank you.? He walked further into the room, feeling distinctly as though he were entering the lion?s den. Foolish. It had been remarkably foolish to come here. Yet it was too late to turn back now, and so he kept walking, until his footsteps brought him to the offered chair, which he sank into a seat in.
As soon as his back was turned, the Bishop allowed himself a full smirk as he fetched the tea, pouring two cups and setting them upon the desk. Once he?d re-settled himself in his own seat, steepling his fingers in front of himself once more as he leaned back in his chair this time, he again asked, ?So, what is it that brings you here this evening, Sir Hughes? I cannot say I?m not honored by your visit, however, I also cannot say it?s been oft of late that you?ve come to our cathedral.?
Abraham didn?t reply immediately, instead choosing to stare into the cup of tea that had been placed before him. ?Have you any sugar, your Grace?? he finally asked, eyes lifting from the cup to behold the vile visage of the man seated across from him. He nearly winced when the Bishop laughed before replying.
?Certainly, Sir Hughes, certainly?how very rude of me. You must forgive me.? Smirking slightly again, the Bishop lifted from his seat once more, deliberately turning his back to his guest as he rummaged around, muttering, ?Sugar, sugar?where is that blasted sugar?? His smirk widened as he did so, purposefully taking far longer to ?find? the sugar than he really needed.
In the meantime, Abraham, knowing it was now or never as the Bishop was preoccupied, withdrew a small vial from a vest pocket and, reaching carefully across the desk, poured several drops into the Bishop?s tea. Had Abraham not been so worried about his own actions and being unseen by Octavius, he would have realized just how forced the Bishop?s long search was. Almost the very moment that he returned to his seat, slipping the vial back into his pocket, Octavius exclaimed ?Ah! Here it is!? and turned around once more, smiling at the old knight. He once again sat down, passing the sugar across to Abraham, and yet again fixing him with a questioning look, waiting for Abraham to explain his presence.
Abraham concentrated on fixing his own tea, and took a slow sip, watching Octavius with feigned nonchalance. ?As you say, your Grace, it?s been some time since last I attended church here. I thought to myself, ?What better way to get myself on good terms with our Lord again than to enjoy a quiet cup of tea with His servant, the good Bishop Southwell.? And so here I am, your Grace, asking forgiveness for my laxness in attending services. I?m sure He could forgive me for such an oversight, don?t you think??
A serpent?s smile grew across Octavius? face as he listened to the old man speak. ?Oh, yes, absolutely, Sir Hughes. However, don?t you think He would have something else to say about poisoning ?His servant, the good Bishop Southwell?? Or are you so full of your own hubris that you not only believed you would be successful, but that you would get away with it a second time in this life and still escape unscathed from the Lord?s wrath in the next??
It took every ounce of restraint that Abraham had to keep his expression from betraying himself, and to keep any quiver of nervousness out of his voice. ?Why, whatever do you mean, your Grace? I wouldn?t dream of committing such a horrific crime, and certainly not against a man of the cloth such as yourself.?
Octavius laughed, a harsh bitter sound against Abraham?s ears, and the knight felt a pressure building in his head, which turned itself into a blinding pain from within. ?My dear Sir Hughes, I mean, of course, the vial in your vest pocket. The same kind you used upon your wife so many years ago, isn?t it? And please, good sir, don?t bother trying to deny it; the least you could do for yourself is maintain some semblance of your dignity and honor by keeping your chin held high and making confession of your misdeeds.?
Gritting his teeth against the pain coursing through his head, he stared at the Bishop with hatred and anger, and gasped out, ?I?confess?nothing.?
?Oh dear. How unfortunate, Sir Hughes. I would have expected far more from you.? Octavius made a small ?tsk?-ing sound, shaking his head with exaggerated, feigned sadness. ?No matter. I rather imagine it wouldn?t do much good for you were I to present this cup of tea as evidence or to denounce you to the courts. I would make a rather compelling case, don?t you think, Sir Hughes? Come, with all your studies of the law, you tell me?would you have an easy time convincing the courts of your innocence, with the case I would be able to present?? He smiled again, notes of triumph evident within his expression. ?I don?t think either of us wants that, Sir Hughes.? As he spoke, he walked around the desk until he was standing by Abraham.
Abraham had been beaten, and he knew it. His face fell in defeat. ?What is it that you do want, then, your Grace?? The last two words were spat out, leaving distaste in his mouth even after they?d passed.
?Oh,? the Bishop?s smile turned slowly into a wide smirk, as he placed a hand upon Abraham?s shoulder, looking down on the old knight, ?I?m certain we could work something out.?
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