With Ears To Hear

Nero slowly opened his eyes. It was dark outside, but he had been finding it hard to sleep all night; his dreams were filled with violence and victory. He was finding it hard not to think about Marshal and the Bloodbox.

Sitting up, he looked around the caravan, seeing Skie as she slept across the room, her chest gently rising and falling rhythmically. Sins was nowhere to be seen, and Runt always slept down in his tunnels. Nero was curious as to why Sins wasn't asleep with his friends, though.

Nero was slightly groggy as he got to his feet and slowly drudged over to the hole in the floor, with the intent of going down to the tunnels to speak to Runt, and Sins if he was down there.

With a light thud, he landed on the soft ground below, bending his knees to take the shock of the fall off. It was maybe six or seven feet down from the hole to the ground, as the tunnels had to be tall enough to easily walk around in. He pulled himself up on the wall, tired, and then rubbed the dirt his hand had collected on his jeans.

"You shoulda seen him, though," Nero heard from down the tunnel. It was unmistakably Sins' voice.

"What's your real problem with this, Sins?" Runt's voice replied. Nero made the decision to stay where he was for a moment and listen to what was being said. Light flickered from a candle in the room at the end, where the two were having their conversation. It made the walls change shape and shift around before his eyes, like it always did.

"Nero looked like he was ready to die doing this, and this bloke was encouraging him!" Sins half-shouted, but seemed wary that he could be heard.

"You just said that he didn't let Nero sign up."

Nero felt his face redden and his ears grow warmer as he realised his friends and allies were talking about him. He couldn't resist taking a few steps closer, to the point that he would only have to lean round a corner to his right to see down to the room they were in.

"He didn't look like he meant it, this..." Sins tried to search for the name, and then found it. Nero knew who they were talking about now. "Marshal, that was it. Marshal. He looked like he was hoping Nero would commit a crime just to get in on this!"

"Fine, Sins, fine." Runt was worn down. "I'll go and check this out tomorrow, and see if I can find this Marshal guy. I'll speak to him about the whole thing," he promised. Nero was stunned. It wasn't his business, and it certainly wasn't up to Sins to try and protect Nero from something he wanted to do.

He turned back to the hole in the ceiling, and the dug-in steps that allowed him to climb out. As he did, his foot scrambled and slipped slightly on the ground, making a small sound that echoed through the tunnels and reached Runt and Sins.

Runt looked beyond Sins, out through the tunnels, before sending Sins to go and investigate. He cautiously took a few steps forward before darting around the corner, only to find the tunnels to be empty.

He turned back to Runt and shrugged, and by the time he got back upstairs to retire to bed, Nero was in the exact position he had been last seen in - curled up, a blanket wrapped around him, but this time, wide awake, his back to Sins to give the illusion of sleep.

The End

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