Postmortem

Chapter 2

© 2008 by Aurea Freniere

This page was last modified: 2009/01/04


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Forty two hours had passed since the discovery of Scorpio Milo's body.

Kanon was sitting in Athena's chamber with dark circles under his eyes and a mug of coffee between his hands. Death Mask and Aphrodite sat on a couch across the room, with the same weary faces that showed the hell they had been through in the past days.

The knowledge that a Gold Saint had been murdered on Holy Ground was a big concern to everyone, because if a Gold Saint had been killed off, just below the Twelve Temples, it only meant that there was little hope for the rest.

The appearance of a dead Saint during a Peace Age, meant that war was around the corner.

For Athena and Aioros, the appointed Kyoko, things were seen from a different perspective. When they had first heard the news, they had been very concerned about the conditions the body had been found in.

It was not only that Milo had probably been tortured and humilliated before death, that their friend had suffered so much before his soul left his body. There was also the undeniable fact that the murderer had wanted to extend the humilliation to the Sanctuary that Milo had protected all his life.

For outsiders, the 13 years of Saga's cruel dictatorship and the following war against Poseidon and Hades, had been reason enough to call the Holy Ground a site of depravation. A site were violence was an everyday situation.
The Kyoko and Athena were very aware of the fact and were doing their best to clean the image of the Order. But for outsiders things were the same as always: people died, etiher during training or by their own hands, they fought for pleasure and people disspeared. Nothing good came from the Sanctuary at all.

If people knew about the details of the gruesome murder, things would get worse.

The body was transported discretely by the Kyoko and Kanon himself, wrapped in a thick linen cloth, treated with Aphrodite's rose petals to dimish the stench. Then it was put in a coffin and placed at the back of the Kyoko's chamber, where Athena herself cleaned up the corpse and put the heads back on their right bodies.

Kanon thought to that point that he had seen everything as Gods were concerned, but he never ever anticipated that Athena would fell on her knees as soon as she saw Milo's body still lying on top of the blanket next to the pig.

Kanon hadn't noticed before, but it looked like Milo and the pig were sleeping together. Athena simply looked at him, with tears in her eyes, perhaps as a silent nod to his realization. To his surprise, she went to him and huggged him. Kanon didn't know what to do at first and stayed very stiff under Athena's embrace.

I'm sorry you of all people had to deal with this, She told him, while the Kyoko stared inquisitively. Kanon simply diverted his eyes to the wall and returned the gesture to his Goddess . Just so that she would let him go.

He had never liked Milo and he felt uncomfortable that Athena tried to find comfort with him. Seeing the Scorpio Saint dead with heads switched with a pig was a pleasure in itself.

Thankfully the Kyoko cut the moment short and ordered Kanon to look for tresspasers, as well as ordering him that giving out information to anyone about the body, even to the other Gold Saints was absolutely prohibited.

This meant that everyone was under suspicion. After all, Milo had been killed by a warrior.

With that in mind, the Gemini Saint nodded and left. Behind him he could hear Athena begging him to find the one responsable for this and then heard her weeping again like a little girl. It was the first time that Kanon realized how young their Goddess really was, and how inocent she could be to the cruelty of the world.
But it was starting to get annoying, because he knew that neither the Kyoko nor Athena cared about what should be the most important thing here: a possible breach in the security of the Sanctuary.
No, what mattered most to them was that Milo had died, especially because all the situation was underlined by the fact that unlike other times, she could not bring the Scorpio Saint back to life.

Ever since the Hades War had ended the remaining gods sat down in mount Olympus to sign a peace treaty that prevented them to mess around with each other's realms. That meant that Athena no longer had the power to return the deceased at will.

The only exception to the rule was if the person died during a war.
Every other day, the task belonged to Hades who, truce or not, still held a grudge against her and the order. And this, of course presented a problem for them, because even if Kanon didn't like it, Milo had many friends who would not sit back and accept the fact that he would stay dead for good.

Kanon had always thought otherwise. For him the son of a bitch was better off dead.

But despite his dislike for the assigment Kanon carried out the orders diligently, taking Death Mask and Aphrodite with him because even with the atonement of their sins and their comeback as loyal saints of Athena, were still mean motherfuckers who could squeeze the truth out of anyone with just one look.

It would be a piece of cake, finding the intruders that had killed Milo. Athena and the Kyoko might hate the evil reputation that the Order had, but Kanon could make good use of it . The villages were filled with people who would talk their brains out at the sight of three Golden Saints questioning them.

It was only a matter time now.

They combed the area from Friday night to early Sunday afternoon, without finding anything that would indicate a breach of the Sanctuary or a clue about Milo's murder. And even when they questioned everyone they could find, going from from bar to bar, from brothel to brothel, asking hookers, sailors, trainees, alcohol smugglers, and even passerbys and civilians, as to where Milo was seen last, they could find nothing.

They even stopped at a clandestine fight joint, located in the suburbs of Athens, where Milo had used to go to earn easy cash every now and then.
Kanon figured they would find answers in this place, since the joint was always filled with savages and street fighters, who would bite, punch and do anything to win some money for booze and sex. It was most likely that Milo could have gotten himself in trouble with experienced-if not skilled- fighters who could have killed him out of spite.
That would explain the body marks and the vicious way Milo had been left to rot.
It was their best shot at finding information, but no matter where they went, the answer was always the same: Milo hadn't been seen in Athens or the Sanctuary for almost two weeks.

The body hadn't been checked by an coroner in the area, but Kanon was pretty sure Milo had been dead for that long. It was only right. The level of decomposition of the corpse alone told him that he had been dead if not for two weeks, for at least one.

Aphrodite and Death Mask were shocked when they learned about this. Not because of the murder itself, but because nobody had felt the missing gap in their Cosmos, and they should have.

All of the Gold Saints should have known earlier about their loss. They probably had, but no one dwelled on that issue for too long as Milo tended to dissappear for more than two weeks in a row, and it was a known fact that a Cosmos felt from afar more often than not dissappeared altogether until the owner reappeared again near the Holy Ground.

Aphrodite kept fixiating on the subject. He was very interested to know how Milo's body had been found. He had been the first one to be summoned due to his special power to control plants and was asked by the Kyoko to prepare a mixture of herbs to diminsh the overwhelming scent of the rotten corpse.

But Kanon kept the details to himself, as he had been ordered to.

After twelve hours, Death Mask had asked him between yawns to let it go, that he as was as incensed as Aphrodite, but he took consolation in the fact that nothing could have been done to save Milo's life.

Kanon just rolled his eyes. Death Mask had always openly claimed to dislike Milo and now? He pretended to be shaken about his death. As if.

Sometimes Kanon just wondered if the Cancer Saint's new found respect for the order was real or just a facade.

Kanon knew all the Gold Saints hid darker sides. His brother Saga was the most extreme example causing the only internal war in the Order's history, but all of them had skeletons in their past. Milo was not an exception.

There had been the incident with a young girl who had been Aioria's apprentice. The girl had been infatuated with Milo and the Gold Saint had been charming and seductive until she had finally caved in and ended up sucking Milo's dick while hidden inside a wardrobe. The poor girl had thought that Milo loved her and when she realized that he didn't even know her name, it had been too much for her so she had comitted suicide.

There had been the boy that sold himself outside the Sanctuary, looking for scraps of food just to survive, whom Milo fucked everytime he felt horny. Kanon had walked in on them more than once and everytime was a disgusting thing to walk in on.

But there were other reasons why Kanon disliked Milo.

At night, he still could feel the poisonous needles of Milo's power inside of him. A bitter reminder of the humilliation that the asshole had made him go through when he had first joined the order during the Hades war.

Kanon was not really a saint in the literal sense. He had cheated and lied and manipulated gods in his time, but at least he didn't do all those things under a veil of innocence.

He was a motherfucker, but at least an honest motherfucker with whom you knew what to expect. With Milo? Everything was left unsaid.

And now he had to deal with his legacy, running errands in the middle of the night, even after finding that there was no treath whatosever to the order, to find Milo's "killer" to keep all the ones who believed in his innocence pleased. He was still a pain in the ass. Even in death.

Of course, Aphrodite's annoying questions were an advance of what was to come. As soon as the three of them set foot on Sanctuary grounds, they found out that gossip had spread quickly and even without the gruesome details of how Milo had died, the knowledge of his death, had encouraged the rest of the Gold Saints, to demand Athena and the Kyoko to see the body.

Everybody wanted to know what had happened that night.

Kanon just wanted to sleep.

"I'm sorry that I kept you waiting" Athena said interrupting Kanon's thoughts.

Surprisingly she looked more human than ever with he eyes swollen and her cheeks stained with tears. But Kanon had to admitt that Milo's body was not an easy thing to stomach. A girl of her age had the right to fall apart at the sight of something like that. Especially because now she had to deal with the rest of the Order who, were threatening to come up to talk to her, since Kanon would tell them nothing about what he had found when he first arrived to the premises.

"It doesn't matter Athena. We are here for you," Kanon said respectfully, standing up before kneeling in front of her. Aphrodite and Death Mask followed suit.

"Did you find anything?" She asked with a sweet but tired tone, placing a hand in Kanon's shoulder, indicating him that the protocol was fulfilled and he could stand up now.

"No, My lady," The three Saints answered at the same time.

"There are no intruders on the premises, My lady. The Sanctuary is safe," Kanon added, bowing respectfuly.

"And what about Milo, Kanon?" She asked, crossing her arms "Did you find anything that would give us the identity of his killer?"

At this, Kanon bit his lip and looked to the ground, showing plainly that he was upset that now the suspicion would turn to the other members of the order. Like himself.

Un-fucking-believable.

"Kanon?" Athena asked again lifting Kanon's face, forcing him to see her.

"No, My lady. We found nothing. Only that he hadn't been in the area for almost two weeks."

"I see," She said and walked to the couch to sit down "I was hoping we could find something that would give us more clues"

Kanon looked sideways to see Aphrodite and Death Mask who looked at each other with puzzled expressions set on their faces.

"I think you may now go to rest."

The three of them nodded and Kanon turned around to leave the room.

He wasn't able to reach the door, as it opened letting the rest of the Gold Saints walk in. Kanon noticed that they weren't even wearing their Clothes as protocol indicated. Milo's death had been a shock for everyone else indeed.

Athena raised her head and stood up to meet her warriors. Kanon stood up behind them and leaned to the wall while the newcomers kneeled to present their respects.

"May I help you?" Athena asked politely. Kanon just sighed, if Saga had been here all of them would have gone back to the temples in that very moment, chopped in pieces in eight different boxes.

Aparently during a Peace Age, things got a bit loose for Kanon's taste.

"My lady," the Aquarius Saint was the first to speak "We want to know exactly what happened to Milo."

Athena fidgeted, biting her lip. It was clear to Kanon that she was about to cry again. This was definitely not going to be a pretty thing to watch.

"I'm sorry if we are being so pushy, Lady Athena, "Aioria the Lion offered his apologies on behalf of his fellow saints, maybe realizing what their demands were causing to the already shaken psyche of their Goddess. "But we want to help you to find the culprit and punish his murderer. We owe it to our friend."

"I already did that job for her, Aioria," Kanon answered dryily from behind "And we found nothing. You should leave Lady Athena alone and go back to your temples. Now"

Everybody turned around to see him angered by his words. But Kanon was not intimidated so he just smiled widely, raising his eyebrows as a silent statement of the fact that he held the highest position in the room. He was after all, whether they like it or not, the Gemini Saint and thus the commander of the Gold Saints.

But the fact thay they were demanding Athena to give them answers was an unsaid accusation of the way the investigation was being executed. As if Kanon's personal feelings for the deceased Saint would have interferred with his duty.

But he had been expecting this. No matter how many times he proved himself, they wouldn't let it go. He would still be the brother of the dictator, the man who had started the war against Poseidon, and now, the brother of a mad man; Saga had fallen ill after he had been brought back to life.

"Well, maybe you didn't look far enough," Camus said, returning his attention to the Goddess. "I think we should all look again. Harder. All of us could go to the town, ask people again..."

Kanon took a deep breath, closing his eyes. If Athena hadn't here he would have grabbed the French fucker and make him swallow his goddamned tounge. But instead, he lifted his chin, in a gesture of pride. Camus could talk as much as he wanted with his accented Greek but he knew he had done an excelent job. Had it not been for him, he would have returned to the Sanctuary as soon as he and his search mates had found there was no visible threat to the order.

"Wait," Death Mask interrupted, blushed with anger. Maybe Kanon could stand back and take all the verbal abuse from Milo's friends, but Death Mask wouldn't. Especially since the Aquarius Saint wasn't only questioning the way the investigation had been done, but also Death Mask's ability to interrogate people. Bringing fear to his peers was one Death Mask's of many prides. "Are you implying that we didn't do our job?"

"No," Camus answered almost immediately while crossing his arms "I'm just saying that no one would be able to carry out an errand as efficiently as needed with almost three days without a good night's sleep."

"Well, talk for yourself Aquarius," Death Mask retorted, with a grimace of desdain on his mouth. "Believe me, we did our job. You can be sure of that. I even got some ATM pin numbers from people who knew nothing but still wanted to contribute to the cause with some information, as useless as that was."

"And what did you find, may I ask?" Virgo Shaka, asked with his hands clutched nervously to his Japa mala. Kanon didn't know why but out of all the Saints, Shaka was the one that exasperated him the most. It was probably because Shaka addressed everyone with a condecending, patronizing tone as if he would be speaking to idiotic children who would not understand beyond the word "hi".

"Nothing," Kanon answered, walking to the center of the room to face Shaka. "Like I already told you, we found nothing. The only new piece of evidences is that Milo hadn't been seen for almost two weeks. Not even the hookers or the male prostitutes who Milo so merrily frecuented, knew his whereabouts. Just that he didn't show up to his appointments."

"We even went to the bar that's outside the pastrie shop near Athens's downtown and everyone told us, Milo hadn't shown up in over two weeks," Aphrodite added, also ofended by the insinuation made by the others.

"Well, that's enough," The Kyoko exclaimed coming out of the room where Milo's body rested. A doctor was next to him, holding many files and a camera.

"I think you all should go back to your temples. There's nothing you can do to help Milo now."

"Yes, I can see that your highness," Shaka interrupted with a calm tone of voice "But, with all due respect, I think that we have the right to know what's going on. I tried early this morning to see the body to pray for my friend's soul, but I wasn't allowed to go near it, and they wouldn't tell us what they found in their investigation."

"I know, Shaka," The Kyoko answered, untouched by Virgo's eloquent speech "I told Kanon, to keep the details to himself"

"Yes I can understand that. But if we are to surpass our misunderstandings and clean the already tainted image of the order, we have to work as a team. We have to start to tell each other the truth. It's the only way to achieve wisdom and healing."

Kanon rolled his eyes. Sometimes, Shaka was the perfect poster child for a Green Peace add. The problem was that like that obnoxious organization, Shaka had lost the point entirely.
This was not about sharing each other's tragedies and pushing the order forward with hindu chants and color beads. This was about a murder and even if the killer was found they weren't going to have Milo back. If this continued the hindu man would have them all sit down in a semi circle, smoking pot.

"More importantly," Shaka kept on. "We need to be informed of the advances they make in their investigation in case we are under the same threat, as Milo."

Everyone nodded, except Athena, who sighed and looked at the Kyoko, who didn't say anything, instead he handed a folder to her, with evident annoyance.

"Very well," Athena said. "However you need to promise me that what I'm about to tell you won't leave this room. Is that clear?"

Everybody stayed silent as Athena described Kanon's findings. Kanon could see Shaka holding his japa mala very hard, his mouth open in disbelief. Aldebarán and Mu started to cry, while Aioria kept muttering profanities against whoever had killed one of his best friends.

He had been hoping to see Camus flip, but the French warrior never lost composure. He kept staring at the wall behind Athena. Kanon supposed this was the closest to emotion that the other Saint could express.
On the other side of the room, Death Mask frowned and Aphrodite covered his mouth with his hands.

"...doctor Pasifakis," Athena kept going trying her best not to cry. "Who kindly did the autopsy as best as he could given the state of the body, has confirmed that Milo had been indeed killed during a fight and his hand had been torn off before he had died."

"Was he beheaded after or before he died?" Death Mask asked casually, making everyone turn to look at him.

"After," The coroner answered. "And by what I could grasp from the traces left by the livor mortis - that is, the blood that pools in the lower part of the body right after it dies, in this case, his abdomen-, indicated that the body laid at least for 12 hours facing downwards, and that later on was moved, at least twice, until he was dumped inside the ditch. Also, the way that the hand was cut off doesn't match the way the head was severed from the body."

"What do you mean it doesn't match?" Camus asked. He was now sitting in the couch looking pale. "Are you suggesting there were two killers?"

"No. I'm saying that maybe the killer chopped off the hand, killed him and then, in a rush, beheaded him."

"What do you mean by 'rush'?" It was Kanon's turn to ask. This was taking an interesting turn.

"That the head was literaly torn off the body. There were chain marks in his neck, which suggests a sudden change of mind. Maybe the person who killed him was mentally unstable and though he or she knew how to kill a person, had a moment of panic and decided to desecrate the body in an untidy manner before he put it on display with the pig."

Kanon felt all eyes on him as soon as the coroner said the phrase "mentally unstable". But he couldn't blame them for this one. His twin brother Saga, was after all mentally ill.

"Gentleman," Kanon said trying to dimish the impact of the words spoken by the coroner "Milo was killed by a warrior. For all we know, we are all suspects here..."

"Please, stop Kanon," Athena pleaded which made everyone shut up, though Kanon could feel tension building up around him. What he had said was true. He could almost hear their thoughts, Was it you? Or maybe you?

There was nothing left to say and after Athena promised they could pay their respects to Milo tomorrow, everyone left.

Death Mask stayed put though, waiting patiently to have a moment alone to speak with Athena and the Kyoko, making Kanon wondered why.

Twenty minutes later the three of them sat at a table inside the forbidden room, with Milo's body a few meters away from them.

"What do you want to tell me, Angelo?" Athena asked, adressing the Cancer Saint by his real name. Death Mask flinched at the mention of it, but did nothing more.

"Well," He started saying, looking down to the table. "It's just a rumor that I heard from the villagers, but it might help to clarify some of the mistery here."

Athena nodded so Cancer kept on. Kanon simply stared at him, feeling a rush of adrenaline going through his body. Death Mask wouldn't have asked for a private meeting if he hadn't something valuable to say.

"I met a person a while back who told me that his best friend had been cheated by his wife with the local butcher and well... you know, do shalt not covet, your neighbour's spouse and all that." Cancer made a pause to clear his throat. Kanon started to feel a bit impatient. "The husband had the guy killed and placed his body next to a pig, switching their heads afterwards, so that everybody would know he had committed adultery. So that everyone would know the kind of man he was."

Kanon couldn't help but smile. This cleared things up. Milo had been comitting adultery with a woman, and had got himself killed in the process...

He had got what he deserved. Still, there were some things that didn't quite match, because Milo, adulterous or not, had been killed during a fight.
A commoner would not have the strength to kill a well trained warrior. Not in a million years.

"Are you sure?" Athena asked obviously not wanting to believe Death Mask's words.

"This is just something I heard, my lady," Cancer said, sounding uncomfortable. "But still it's pretty strange, because as far as I know those practices were carried on in small towns around Italy and it could have a lot of other meanings around here."

"See to it then," Kanon ordered.

Then he stood up and left the building.

The End of Chapter 2 -- Continued in Chapter 3


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