Evan sat in the vast vaults of the treasury in the depths of the Citadel.  He spent a lot of time here every night by himself, counting money.  Not counting it for accounting purposes, they had people to do that, but for the sake of feeling the coins slide through his fingers.  They had stopped using paper money a long time ago, having lost the means to produce it, but coins were not that difficult.  Gold, copper, iron, they had piles of it by now.  Some of the vaults had heavy-duty shelves for jewels and sculpture, vases and other items of value confiscated by their soldiers.  But the money, that they had been forced to pile up into shimmering, sparkling mountains.  Fourteen years of oppressive dictatorship could collect a lot of treasure.  And Evan got to spend his nights revelling in it.

            He had promised himself as a child that he would never be poor, and that he would make all the boys who made fun of his hand-me-down clothes feel sorry.  Now he was one of the richest men in the world, he and his friends ruled an empire.  A covetous grin, like a weasel’s, crossed his face as Evan chuckled, letting the coins sift through his ringed fingers.  No one could mock him now.

            Evan heard sudden derisive laughter and whirled around.  Coins fell from his fingers to rattle like bullet-fire on the cold stone floor, echoing in the immense chambers.  He was startled to find that, for once, he was not alone down here.  He saw the fighting form of a man in black with light armour on the chest and shoulders, gauntlets on his hands.  He looked prepared for this war.

            “Ethan, what are you doing down here?” He asked.  Evan instinctively backed up, his hand resting against a nearby wall as if it could provide him strength.

            “I think we can call me by my name, Evan.  We are alone, after all.  No need to keep up pretences, is there?”  His unwelcome visitor said.

            “You’re right of course, Reza.”  Evan tried to smile.  The monster before him always made him nervous.  Had ever since Lamb had included him in their inner circle.  “What can I do for you?”

            “Neal and Simon want to know if you’re coming with us.  For the war.  We begin our march at dawn, so that we might reach the enemy camp before the winter.”

            “I’m not a warrior.”  Evan said.  “I don’t see what use I would be.”

            “That’s true.”  Donovan smiled, still standing in the same spot.  He had not moved since he arrived, merely appraising Evan, who stood against the wall like a cornered rat.  “Am I making you nervous?”

            “What?”  Evan sputtered.  “No, no, of course not.”  Even as he said it, Evan knew he sounded like he was afraid. 

            Reza seemed to ignore it, and instead surveyed the chamber with his eyes.

            “You know, I don’t think I’ve ever been down here.”

            “Most people don’t bother.  It’s dark and dusty, usually it’s just me.”  Evan explained.  “It’s actually kind of funny, I mean, we’ve accumulated all this wealth and only I seem to appreciate it…”

            Evan finally let go of the wall, walking among his piles of money, his hands unconsciously brushing over them with affection.  His eyes were glazed over with a lusting, enraptured look that brought a sneer of disdain to Reza’s face.  Evan’s attention had shifted entirely, his mind preoccupied with the glittering prizes around him. 

            “You’re quite proud of this place, aren’t you?” Donovan said as Evan admired his collection.  “Of the way you helped make us wealthy.”

            “Of course I am!”  Evan grinned, spreading his arms towards his treasures.  “Just look at this place!”

            “So you must be proud of the way you did it, then.  Stealing from taxpayers, having guards kill families so you could seize their heirlooms, smuggling food using the black-market, gouging customers with high prices in the stores you own, pinching every penny.  You must be proud that there are children who starve so you can make a few more pieces of silver.”

            Evan had turned his back on Donovan, but now whirled around, furious. 

            “What are you saying?  I made us rich!  I built this place, equipped that army, put food on our table.  We are the most powerful men in the world!”

            “Powerful?  You think it’s power to build up these treasures?”  Donovan said derisively.  “You sit in the dark, counting your coins and masturbating over your own corruption and thievery, and you call that power?  You weren’t the one murdering people, risking your neck, and you weren’t the one who built this place.  You have this money because of the army, we have that army because people trusted us, because Jason had a healing power.  Life and death, that’s where our power comes from.”

            Evan prepared an outburst, but felt himself deflate when Reza took a step forward, his hand on the hilt of his knife on his belt.  He backed up when the dark man’s shadow touched his feet.  He felt as if he would be sucked into its void if he let it catch up to him.  It flickered and stretched in the light of the torches, seeming like a living thing.

            “You hide here in the Citadel, safe within its walls, while the rest of us fight and die and kill.  You did nothing, risk nothing, are nothing.”  Reza spat out.  “So stay here within your walls while we fight a war.”  With that, Donovan spun on his heel and headed towards the door that led to the stairs up away from the vaults.

            Evan breathed a sigh of relief, running one hand over his mouth and resting the other on a nearby shelf.  His pulse raced, and he struggled to calm the knots in his stomach.  For a moment, he had been certain that Reza was about to strike him.

            “But I’m safe now.  Safe here.”  He whispered to himself.

            “Yes, you should be safe in here forever.”  Reza rasped in his ear, having snuck up as silent as a stalking cat.  His lithe and powerful arm wrapped around Evan’s neck, and he hauled him one-armed away from the shelf.  Evan struggled and kicked, trying to break free, but was no match for Donovan’s steely strength.  He felt himself tossed like a child or a doll, and his body slammed through a pile of coins and into the wall behind it.  The sparkling money tinkled like metallic rain on the floor, falling on him like heavy hail.  Evan covered his head with his arms, but felt the pile bury his legs. 

            He was certain he could get out; it was just like being buried in sand.  Evan had to scramble and push the small coins aside, but he could get up.  As he struggled to get to a kneeling position, he looked up to see one of the shelves tipping towards him.  It was made of heavy metal to hold jewels and candlesticks, sculptures and antiques.  It crashed down, pinning him at his waist to the floor.  Evan strained to push it up, and found himself incapable.  The weight squeezed his chest, and he knew some of his bones were broken.  When he spat blood, he realized he was bleeding internally.

            Gasping for air, Evan felt sweat beading on his forehead as he strained to hear Donovan.  He was so afraid.  There was no sound at all.  The torchlight flickered against the walls of the chamber, he could hear his own pounding heart and ragged breath, but nothing else was discernible.  He looked up and saw the ceiling above him.  He tilted his head to look around the room, but he saw stone and piles of gold.  Nothing else.

            Evan groaned as he tried once again to lift the shelf, getting nowhere.  All he accomplished was more heavy breathing.  He began to whimper, knowing that he was trapped and that his assailant was probably still out there. He cried out when the first torch went out, off on one side.  That part of the room was cast into shadow, leaving only two nearby torches to illuminate the chamber.

            “Shit, Donovan!  I know you’re out there.  Please, please don’t kill me.”  Evan whined.  “I’ll do anything, pay you anything.  FUCK!”  He screamed.  “Just please…”

            Another torch went out, as if a wind had gone past it.  Evan saw motion out of his peripheral vision as it went out, but the darkness that fell there came so swiftly he could not be sure.  He swivelled his eyes from side to side, trying to peer into the darkness.  He put his cheek on the floor and stared at the last torch, on his right, knowing that it would be all over if it went out.  The spark of his life was bound to be extinguished not long after the torch, if he knew Reza.

            Evan stared at it for a long time, the light floating in his eyes like a hazy bright spot that left him unable to really see anything else after awhile.  If he blinked, there were dark spots floating on his eyelids, and he felt his sweat trickling off his temples and forehead, running down to the ground.  Some of it got in his eyes, making him blink all the more as he struggled to keep his eyes on the torch.

            So intent was he upon that last source of light that Evan was unaware of Reza until the killer’s hand was around his throat.  Taken completely by surprise, Evan found himself incapable of speech as Donovan squeezed his throat to silence.  The shadow’s hollow voice whispered in his ear lethally.

            “Do you really think I’d be bought off?”  He snarled.  “Did you think you could beg and pay for your life, if I wanted you dead?  Can you put a price on life or death, Evan Kimball?  Can you decide what they’re worth?”

            Evan moaned as his eyes began to see red while his life was choked out of him.  He began to weep as well, tears rolling down his cheeks.  He tried to hit Reza’s hand and arm, tried to break free of that iron grip, but he did not have the strength.

            When the hand released him of its own accord, it took Evan a moment to realize he could breathe again.  He took great gasping gulps of air, his chest heaving, the sound echoing loudly in the darkened vault.  Evan put his own hands around his throat, trying to soothe the ache there.

            “I’m leaving now.”  Reza said in the darkness.  “I’ll leave you here with your treasures in your vault.  Let it be your tomb.”

            The final torch blew out, and Evan was cast into eternal darkness.  The last sound he heard besides his own wheezing breath was the door as it slammed shut with finality.

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