The Stone that Puts the Stars to Flight

for the Rat King

All sixteen council members died in their beds, their throats raggedly cut. Each died a little before seven, mere moments before the morning prayers. The valet of the Chief Counsel, who was coming in energetically to rouse his master, found him still alive, the blood pulsing weakly from his throat. The valet screamed for the doctors and drew near to the bed in time to hear the Chief Counsel’s last words — the vilest epithet imaginable. The ghastly curse hung in the air as the Chief Counsel died; the valet swooned as the doctors burst into the room, from shame no less than fear.

The precision of the attacks and the elusiveness of the assassins baffled the police and fuelled the demands for someone to take control. Gangs of men roamed the streets wearing the green armbands of the civil guard, beating anyone they found. Four people were lynched, three men and a woman. An emergency Council was formed and still the riots increased. A curfew was imposed; undergrounds began to coalesce. The emergency Council imposed stricter and stricter measures.

Two months later every member of the emergency council died, again simultaneously, again inexplicably.

That night the first fire started.