Lif Lifson and Bryan Fuller had been partners since the old “Crestmen” days. Lifson had been at “The Alleys Barracks,” as it had been called then, when Fuller joined the squad. The two hit it off and came to trust and rely on each other in the gritty back streets which were their domain.
Lifson, a tall broad-shouldered blonde, was from a fishing village near Harbourhead. The sea wasn’t for him, however, and he drifted inland until he found his feet in the capital. He liked the anonymity of the Alleys, where his strength and unassuming ways made him an ideal recruit for the Watch. He enjoyed the excitement of a chase, but also the solitude of solo patrols through the narrow streets. In short, he was a born watchman.
Fuller was a husky brute of a man. He had jet black hair which he wore cropped to the neck. He had been reared in the Low Guilds, and very little of the city was unknown to him. Fuller was no great fan of the outdoors, and preferred the shade of buildings to that of trees. At the height of The Black Dune War, he therefore thought it a good idea to enter the “alternative service” of the Watch, rather than risk conscription into the army. He proved to be a good Crestman, even if he did take some occasional short-cuts in procedure.
* * *
The pair had come together in the final months of the war, and not long before the reorganisation of “The Service.” They continued on as partners in the new “Ninth,” with Lifson being promoted to senior constable.
Then came the incident. The city Rosemen, had after six years started to come to grips with no longer being routinely armed. It was in this ill-equipped state that Fuller and Lifson responded to a typical Alley’s street brawl. As the watchmen approached the fray, most of the spectators and eggers-on disbursed. The key participants from the Tumble-Down and Low-Eaves Gangs were more resistant to Rosies interfering with their affairs.
Lifson had just pulled two combatants apart, and Fuller was preparing to apply some wrist-shackles when a bolt from a crossbow struck him in the right breast. The remaining crowd scattered, and Lifson knelt down over his stricken partner who had bubbly blood escaping from his mouth. Lifson scooped up the heavy man, and ran seven blocks with him craddled in his arms. On arriving at the infirmary on the Back Lane, he repeatedly kicked the door until it was opened by an attendant.
Pushing by the startled woman he shouted, “Go wake Miss Bright!”
Lifson had just laid his sputtering partner on large wooden table, when Breena Bright, the healer came in.
“He’s been shot,” Lifson said appealingly.
“Please, step aside,” Breena said calmly. “Abigail, please get the constable some tea,” she instructed an elderly nurse.
Lif was led away, and the healer began her work.
A couple of stress filled hours later Lifson was led to Fuller’s bedside in the maze of ragtag cots that made up the ward.
Fuller was alive, and conscious; and something in the smelly liquid he had been given left him with no pain.
“How you doing, Bryan?” Lifson asked quietly.
“He’ll be fine,” Breena said encouragingly from behind him. “He will need some weeks off,” she continued as she laid Fuller’s truncheon belt on a small table. “I’m afraid his jerkin couldn’t be savaged though,” she said with a gentle smile.
Soon Inspector Cruikshank and Schribner, the desk sergeant, arrived to take statements from the two officers.
* * *
Witnesses were unanimous in their verdict: Lifson was a hero. He was later awarded The Order of The Rose by Lord Oldbridge and promoted to sergeant. It was the kudos of his fellow watchmen that meant more to him however, even if they were accompanied by the new annoying nickname of “Lifter,” in reference to his feat of strength.
As for Fuller, he returned to duty a month after the incident. An additional two-months of light duty at the watch house did nothing to alleviate his hatred of procedure and paperwork. In fact, it was then that he began to use the phrase: “That’s a civil matter,” in response to any inquiry he would rather not deal with.