Judgement: Wasted Hours

"Nothing at all." Red sighed and leaned back in his chair. Marianne rubbed her eyes a little and continued to pour through the book on the table. 
"I'm sorry I can't help you, but we didn't receive anything around that time."
"So why are you still looking?" Lucy shrugged. "You handle all of this, you'd know if you made a mistake, right?"
"Well, that's the thing." Marianne continued leafing through the book. "This book records all of our incoming shipments. I don't always hand them, but I know I saw Talbot deal with an incoming delivery around then. If this is to be believed, our only shipment four days either side of then was our extra food, and I dealt with that myself."
"So you're saying there's an unidentified package?" Red sat up a little. "Like a mystery box?"
"A mystery box?" Marianne cocked her head to one side. "I guess so."
"Here we go..." Lucy rolled her eyes. 
"Mystery boxes are probably my favourite bit of local lore." Red grabbed a pen and began sketching on a blank piece of paper. "All sources point to them being pretty standard crates." He drew a stick-figure man next to the crate, with question marks above his head. "It's fairly standard ancient artefact myth. Someone finds something, they leave it to get others, or to find a way to open it, or something similar." He drew two arrows, one pointing away from the figure, and one pointing towards. He struck through the box with a thick line. "They leave, they come back. The box is gone. They go home and tell their friends about this weird thing they found."
"You think our mystery delivery was one of these?" Marianne asked, somewhat confused. She'd never heard of mystery boxes before, but to her credit she hadn't heard of much outside of the walls of Hra. She crossed to a window, the centuries old architecture having defined 'window' as a hole with wooden coverings. She stared outwards, not blinking, simply considering the possibility. 
"Marianne?" Red rose from his seat and wandered over, placing a hand on the girl's shoulder. "Do you know something?"
"I... I think I'll go ask Talbot about the delivery." Lucy said quietly, excusing herself from the room. As she closed the groaning wooden door to the Hra Monastery Customs Office, Marianne cast her a suspicious glance. 
"I've been wary of Talbot for some time now." She sighed heavily, returning her gaze to the outside. "Do you know how you get to be a part of Hra Monastery? How you come to be part of an ancient, secret order?"
Red scratched the back of his head a little, confused. "Um, no?"
"Neither do we." Marianne gestured to the people working the fields. "There's no place in the outside world for people who are eternally children. We're a step too far to the left. So they say, anyway. Somehow, we all ended up here. With no memories, no personal effects. Just ourselves. Talbot tells us all a variant of the same story. We were regular people who suffered trauma. Our memories repressed themselves. We have group therapy every day, you know." She laughed slightly, gesturing with excited fingers. " 'To unlock our former lives and enable us to live happily'. But..." She eyed Lucy meeting Talbot at the door to his room. "Many of us have suspected it's not quite true. We've been thinking this way for a bit now."
"How do you rebel against the only life you think you've ever known?" Red intoned, more stating than asking. 
"Exactly."
"Oh, hang on." Red pulled out his cellphone, a sleek black flip-top thing his daughter (but more likely his mother) had bought him for his birthday. "Hello? Yeah? Okay. Judgement cult? Wow. I think we've got what we need here anyway." Pause. Breath. "Vulca? Alright. I'll meet you there."  He turned to face Marianne. "Thank you for your help. I'll be back soon if I need anything else. Which, let's face it, will be more than likely."
"Thank you for listening, at least." Marianne shrugged her shoulders. Her wings, which had once seemed angelic and beautiful, seemed much more physical now. They were bulky and unnecessary, and Marianne still seemed to struggle with them. 

-

Blackwood tapped the glass window's on Red's office. Sepia jolted awake, fumbling a little in Red's chair as he came to. Blackwood entered the office and scowled a little.
"I take it you didn't get much sleep last night."
"Kinda hard to." Sepia rubbed his neck a little, feeling stiff after his sleep. "I was keeping watch in case Addy came back."
"People in this city want to kill everyone, Sepia." Blackwood leaned on Red's filing cabinet, staring a little at the checkered floor beneath him. "Not literally, of course. But it's a dangerous place. Don't kid yourself that you're anything special."
"Addy was..." Sepia caught himself. "Intimidating, that's all."
Blackwood rolled his eyes. "Whatever. Emmy's gone back to the hospital, so we're meeting Red and Lucy at Vulca." Blackwood cocked his head a little to one side, adjusting his glasses as they began to slide from his nose. "Or did you forget that we have two massacres to worry about?"
"Right... Vulca... Yes..." Sepia jumped from Red's chair and headed for the door. Blackwood grabbed him and pointed to the desk. 
"Don't forget your notebook." Blackwood stepped towards the exit, waving for Melee to follow him. "You're doing all the writing this time, sleepy."

The End

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