Chapter three, page four, The City of Locked DoorsMature

The Variatur Hyde kept her foremost eyes fixed on Noir, but her second pair moved to her prey as she cautiously slipped down her web. She drew her prisoner upon the last couple of feet and pressed it into her web, tendrils of brackish webbing sliding from her hands to envelop it further. Soon, all the remained of the Bellua was a vague, quivering, shape with the Variatur crouched over it.

How about her?

How about her what?

How about you marry her? I bet she's pretty enough once the day comes around, and you both like being up high.

Noir grimaced. How about no.

Why not?

Because she's not my type.

Oh, you're so shallow! judging a woman on her appearance. Shame on you, didn't mother teach you better?

Oh, shut up. Noir paused as he came to the end of the Doll District. A void of air separated him from the next skyscraper over, a interval that extended from the ground to the utmost peaks of Umbras.

What are you waiting for?

Noir scowled at the empty darkness and the shadows coalesced before him, darkening as they solidified and extended out across the hiatus. I don't like building temporary things. Noir stepped out onto the newly formed bridge and crossed the gap, releasing the shadows to dissipate as he passed. It feels like such a waste of effort.

You could just not as much effort into it. Not everything has to be a masterpiece, Noir.

I know, but I'll be damned before I make something ugly. The last of the bridge collapsed behind Noir as he stepped onto another pipe. He could see it now, the absence where there should have been skyscrapers, a void in the black forest of Shadow-Steel.

Noir?

Don't worry, I have it under control. Noir continued forward, threading his way deeper into the Grim District.

He had crossed half the distance to his destination when the flapping of wings interrupted his journey, pulling him to a halt as something soared by overhead. He glanced after it and, noting that the creature bore a rider, settled himself in to wait. This will be annoying.

The winged monster banked and retuned toward him, its rider straightening on its back to greet Noir with a wave. The monster landed on the side of the wall several feet ahead of Noir and swung down to saunter forward, "Hello, friend, I haven't seen your face before. What brings you out tonight?"

Noir growled, "Get out of my way, I don't have the patience for the likes of you tonight."

The stranger's jovial facade cracked, his carven features twisting for instant of unveiled wrath, "Now that's no way to greet someone; especially someone who wants to offer you a job." The Stranger extended his arms out to either side and grinned. An ugly green light bloomed along his fingertips in silent warning.

Noir rolled his eyes and a tendril of shadows erupted the piping, impaling the stranger's left hand, "Take those parlor tricks and stuff them up your ass, they'll be more useful there than whatever the hell you're trying to do with them now."

The Stranger looked at his impaled hand for a shocked second and then screamed. Noir shoved past him, fling him against the wall. A hand reached out and grabbed his shoulder, "Who said you could leave?"

Noir glanced back," Get lost," and shoved him off the pipe. The stranger wailed a strangled cry and his mount vaulted after him. Noir kept walking. A moment passed and the winger monstrosity landed in front of his with a crash and a hiss, its rider clutching his hand.

The End

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