The City of Locked Doors, Chapter Five, page twoMature

She followed him slowly, spinning around as she stared up at the ceiling. A moment passed and she came back to herself, "So which of these engines do you call home."

He slid down another stair, "None of them and all of them, I'm the only one here so I have my pick." He paused at the base and glanced up at her as she floated down, "And they all have names, by the way."

"Really? What's that one called," She pointed beneath them to a fuming engine and attached waterwheel.


She floated down to the engine and partially solidified as he jumped after her, landing atop it with a crash. "So how do you know so much about Umbras?"

He flinched and slid down to the surrounding walkway, "let's just say that I've been here before."

She fell silent for a moment and looked around, her eyes mellowing and her ears lowering slightly, "Are we allowed to be here?"

Noir smirked again and extended his hands far out to either side, "This is my kingdom, kid, we can stay here for as long as we want."

Her ears pricked up at this but she remained wary, "But won't we bother the Engineers?"

He let his arms drop, "The Engineers don't much care who comes and goes down here, just so long as they don't do anything to the engines."

We need to hurry this up, just ditch her and move out already.

I know. "You should try one of these, kid," Noir reached up and plucked a Drosera fruit.

Adrian's ears instantly perked up and her eyes flared yellow, "Can I really?"

"Sure, it's perfectly harmless to us," He presented her with the vibrant fruit, injecting a thread of shadow into as he did so. Adrian took the Drosera fruit and tentatively bit into it with a squirt of luminescent juice. Her eyes widened, turning rosy, and she devoured the remaining fruit.

She looked over at him with a wide grin as she finished licking her fingers, "That was amazing." Her smile faltered and she stumbled to the side grabbing the railing, "Sorry, sir, but...I'm feeling rather...tired." She slumped against the railing and slid to the ground.

 Noir watched her slumber for a moment, and then changed the Shadow-Steel beneath her, softening it to a far gentler, cloth-like texture. The floor bowed slightly beneath her and began to rock gently, as if it were a hammock.

Noir left her sleeping there and strode back along walkway until he found the engine's door. Once there, he knelt and the ground rippled, eschewing the black box he had found at the Academy. He made a perfunctory effort to open it and found it locked. He sighed, flexed his fingers, and smashed a hole through the Shadow-Steel lid. The box shuddered and writhed around his hand, struggling to hold its shoddily constructed form. Noir scowled. Can't they build anything right these days?

Apparently not, I can't believe their Shadow-Steel is so fragile.

Noir sighed and injected the box with his own shadows, repairing its construction, disarming the trap that awaited anyone who tried to open the box with a forged Shadow-Key, and turning the lock. Removing his hand, Noir opened the lid, revealing a sheaf of papers and several vials carved from Hemomantic wood. The papers were filled with notes written in a private shorthand so Noir set them aside and lifted one of the wooden vials.

There's only one thing somebody wouldn't use a Shadowmancy vial for.

Yeah, I know, but it's better to be certain. Noir tore the vial's wax seal and poured its ugly, red liquid onto his other hand. He hissed as smoke erupted from the back of his hand and the liquid dissolved into his flesh. He lunged over to the railing, extending his poisoned hand out before him. The bannister coiled and struck, its edge sharpening to blade just before it severed his arm at the elbow.

Damn, that hurt. Noir leaned forward onto the subsiding rail as his severed hand fell into the water below.

Idiot, you could have just dropped onto anything around us, but noooo, you had to go poison yourself!

 Noir straightened and glowered at the vial. If I had done that, there would have been no efficient way to halt its progress; at the very least, it would have destroyed Soliamiidas. The shadows coalesced upon his stump, solidifying into the shape of new hand and subsiding. He flexed his new fingers and returned to the box. So this is what made Loc go underground, one drop of this stuff and she'd be erased. He shifted back to the papers. These must be directions and notes, and there's probably another set.

Constantine's got to have them, he's the alchemist of the group and the Pathomancer.

Yeah. Noir closed the open vial and deposited it carefully back into the box. He stood, opened the engine's door and flung the box with all of its contents into Soliamiidas's burning heart. We'll deal with that son of a bitch later, tonight we have a bigger problem.


Yeah, I wish Alucard hadn't been a damn coward at heart. This is going to be such a pain in the ass.

The End

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