Chapter Thirteen

The carriage clattered over the cobble stone road, rocking side to side as it traveled. Toby sat atop the carriage accompanied by four of Stratagus' servants assigned to help him. Each steadying one of the fastening that held the cage in place.

Toby signaled for the wer's that pulled the carriage to stop. The carriage swayed to a jolting halt and Toby climbed down from the carriage. His four helpers climbed down after him. The cage was covered by a large black cloth that was tied securely around it. Each man grabbed a handle along the cage and on Toby's instruction they lowered the structure to the ground.  

"Careful!" Toby hissed as the men placed the cage clumsily onto the ground. The cage shook under the blanket. Toby growled under his breath in frustration.

He took off his top hat and ran his hand through his shaggy black hair as he glanced around the market square.

            A small group of people had gathered along the edges of the square. Standing in the doorways of shops and the opening of alleyways they cowered like vultures watching, trying to catch a glimpse of the contraption. It was no secret, today was the day Stratagus would have his revenge on his greatest foe. And all waited eagerly for the demonstration of  Stratagus' wraith. Hidden amongst them, Toby knew Stratagus must've placed some spies to watch his every movement. He tried not to let the pressure get to him but his temper was short. Toby cast the on lookers a disgusted look, he knew that hunger in their eyes that thirst for misery, it made him sick to the stomach to remember...all those faces...all cheering for the pain of another...it was the same in all his fights. He shook his head and turned back to his helpers who watched him confused.

"We're going to move this to the center of the square." Toby instructed. The helpers nodded, each took an edge of the cage and began to pull it towards the center of the square.  

"Interesting choice."

Toby turned around, as one man stepped away from the crowd.

"And you are?" Toby asked as the man approached.

"General Wilhert." The man said pushing off his plain black cloak to reveal his uniform complete with several metals and decoration.

Toby nodded politely biting back his anger.

"It's not all too interesting, if we place the cage in the center of the square everyone shall have a view, we can fit more people." Toby explained simply.

"How fair. Why don't you move it a little further from the north tunnels?" The general asked.

"What are you implying?" Toby demanded.

"I'm implying it's far too close to the north tunnel for comfort. What if Adrian breaks free from your cage."

Toby laughed.

"Firstly, Stratagus himself has inspected my cage. And are you suggesting that Adrian will be able to escape both your men and Stratagus. You give him too much credit for a decrepit old man." Toby countered.

"It wasn't a suggestion." The general said sharply.

"I only take orders from Lord Stratagus." Toby gave an apologetic smile though his tone held no apology.

"I'm sure Stratagus would agree with me." The general said confidently.

"Which is why he assigned you to this mission...or maybe you simply had nothing better to do with your morning. What are you? the fourth general this cycle? and me, I'm the only cage maker." Toby said, his words rendering the general speechless as he turned to continue giving instructions to his men. But his troubled didn't stop there. The general didn't retreat in fact he was merely a prelude for what was to come.

Toby had barely finished with his task of centering the cage when a royal carriage rolled into the square. As the carriage pulled to a stop, Stratagus, himself climbed out.  Toby did very well to hide his dismay as he bowed.

"Milord, I'm honored." He lied.

Stratagus nodded dismissively. He turned to his  General.

"The premise?"

"We're closing down all the stores and houses in the square, we should have that done shortly. There are archers set on the roofs of all buildings." The general replied, formally.

"How many?" Stratagus asked?

"Three on each?"

"Double it."

"Yes sir?" The general bowed.

"The cage?" Stratagus asked Toby.

The End

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