Chapter 18 of The Holy Lance, a fantasy thriller

Chapter 18, a mere 335 words, shifts back to St. Petersburg and a change of plans. As always, comments are welcome.

Chapter 18

Fyodor Stolypin, Sasha Krupsky, and Dmitri Bogdanov sit in the lounge of Stolypin’s apartment. Stolypin, in a near rage, glowers at Krupsky who refuses to look at him. Bogdanov glances at Stolypin and raises his eyebrows as if to say, “Enough, Fyodor.” But Stolypin is not done.

“At least it didn’t make the front page,” he acknowledges.

Krupsky, who has been looking less like a murderer and coconspirator and more like a schoolboy in the headmaster’s office for the better part of hour, finally summons to nerve to address Stolypin.

“Fyodor, you have to believe me. I had no choice.”

Stolypin continues to lecture him.

“You put everything at risk!”

“He would have exposed us, or bled us to death. I had to act,” Krupsky pleads.

Stolypin jumps to his feet.

“You risked our future, the future of Russia!” he thunders.

Bogdanov decides to change the focus of the conversation from Sasha’s potentially disastrous error to how the group should proceed in light of it.

“We have to move Kotuzov. The on-line reports have a sketch of Sasha. It’s not a good one, but if someone puts his face together with this apartment, all of our work is undone,” he suggests.

Stolypin regains his composure enough to go into decision mode.

“Notify Kranzler,” he directs Bogdanov and Krupsky. “We’ll need to ready the dacha. We have to move the meetings up, move everything up. Sasha, bring my car around to the back.”

Krupsky stands to face his tormentor.

“Fyodor . . . Forgive me.”

Stolypin tosses a set of keys to Krupsky who nods and begins to leave.

“And Sasha.”

Krupsky stops in his tracks and turns, bracing himself for another outburst from Stolypin. He is relieved, however, to see a sly grin cross Stolypin’s  face.

“Try not to kill anyone for at least the next 24 hours.”

Delighted to see he is at least temporarily back in Stolypin’s good graces, Krupsky nods enthusiastically.

“At least, Fyodor. I promise. At least 24 hours.”