Chapter Four Page One, the City of Locked DoorsMature

The skittering of paws on Shadow-Steel woke Noir from his doze. He cracked an eye open as the Shadow-Rat crawled over the ledge and scurried to stand on its haunches between his legs. A shudder swelled through the boiler at his back, waking him further and heralding another burst of steam. He leaned forward over the rat, opening his other eye, "Who's coming?"

The rat scratched itself and then laid its forepaws on Noir's leg, transmitting an image.  He saw a youth walking down through the Undercity, whistling to himself as he glanced from left to right, seemingly fascinated by the horticulture that surrounded him. He wore the white coat of Solomon Doll's guards but no black coattails indicating he was an officer. "He is an ally, do nothing to impede his progress."

The rat dashed away and Noir stood, moving to rest his hands on the railing. He glanced out across the furnace chamber, lethargically watching the Engineer's as they went about their labors. He continued to watch them for a short while, basking in the heat and the dull, shuddering thrum of engines.

I wonder how that bastard even managed to bring down one of the skyscrapers, let alone three. He leaned forward, resting his chin atop his hands as steam burst into the air over his head.

I don't know either, but it probably has something to do with why Lock and Key vanished instead of just slaughtering them all. I wonder... could they have a found a way to poison Shadowcraft?

Noir grimaced and plucked a Drosera fruit from its bait tether. The vine immediately retracted, vanishing into the Drosera's maw. He glanced up to the ceiling after it and watched the Drosera close its massive orange and red blooms. A shuddered passed through the other Droseras, but they kept their baits down. It's possible, and extremely unsettling. They would need a combination of Hemomancy and Pathomancy at least. He bit into the luminous orange and purple Drosera fruit. Necromancy probably wouldn't hurt either.

Is anyone even capable of that?

Even most Tyrants couldn't handle it; the only ones I could even conceive be capable of that would be Black Die and Legion. As for those who are sub-Tyrant level, I can only think of Elis; but there's no way in hell he would make something like that. Noir took another bite. We should've searched that room before wrecking it.

Yes, we should. I tried telling you, but noooooo, you didn't want to pay attention to the voice in your head.

You didn't say a thing about that as I recall.

Now you're starting to worry we; not only are you narcissistic, delusional, and homicidal, but you're also showing signs of amnesia. I think you should see a doctor, trust me, if anyone would know you're crazy, it's me.

Noir rolled his eyes and straightened, dropping the Drosera core over the edge. A dull thud sounded from over head as one of the trap doors was dragged opened and then dropped. The youth peeked into the furnace room, vanished for an instant, and then began his descent of the ladder. Noir watched him descend, noting his unusually pallid skin and the bone mask hanging from his belt on a fine chain. He jumped off the ladder onto a walkway about a hundred feet over Noir's head and rushed along it until he stood over Noir. He leaned over the railing and called down, "Are you Lieutenant Noir?" Noir nodded, "The Proctor says for you to come immediately, we've got an emergency brewing upstairs."

Looks like they found the bodies. Noir climbed onto the railing and vaulted up onto the nearest walkway whereupon he vaulted to the next and so forth until he arrived beside the youth, "You're half-Undertaker."

The youth blinked as Noir swung over the railing and dropped beside him, "How can you tell."

"The mask is a dead giveaway. I more interested in how something like you even happened and why you're out in the city at all." Noir began striding back toward the ladder.

"My mother wants me to learn about the outer world so I choose whether to be an Undertaker or not. She sent me to the Proctor and he's watching over me as a favor to her. By the way, how did you make those jumps back there? You were incredible!"

Why is she pretending to be a boy?

Undertaker girls are utterly helpless until their Scythes finish developing. If word got out that was she was a girl, every nighttime lord in Umbras would be after her, "None of your business, boy."

The End

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