The City of Locked Doors, Chapter Five, page fourMature

Noir ascended the final stair in the undercity and stepped out onto the Doll District's main thoroughfare. He spun slowly, scanning the dense fog for any sign of movement.

So we know she's to the North, but we still have to find her out there, and that's a big forest.

Finding her won't be a problem. He looked down at his coat with its bullet holes, severed sleeve, and Shadowmantic leeching. Luckily, they're giving me another coat tomorrow.

What does that have to do with anything?

You'll see. Noir flexed his shoulders and the shadows began coalescing on his back, burrowing through the white fabric of his coat and merging seamlessly with the shirt underneath. A moment passed and the coat began bulging outward, straining against his shoulders as something took shape beneath. Then it tore and four Shadow-Steel feather wings stretched out from Noir's back, two from between his shoulder and two from his lower back. Look upon me and despair, for I am the Archangel of Darkness. Noir smirked.

Hmm, impressive but popular mythology dictates that angels have only two wings sooo... you suck.

Noir rolled his eyes. Do you know have large I would have to make them so that they could carry my weight? Besides, four wings give better balance and control.

But they look worse so you still suck.

Oh, shut up.

Bad things happen to people who don't listen to their conscience.

So you're my conscience now?

No, I'm just a voice in your head that you insist on talking to, which is also a habit that tends to have tragic consequences.

Noir rolled his eyes and flexed his wings outward. A breeze trickled by, teasing his feathers and whispering a song. His wings slammed forward and down, hurling him heavenwards as he spun to face the skies. A second beat sent him soaring even higher and soon he found himself soaring through the bitterly vacant sky. He spun in the air and flew northward, cutting through the wind and the heavy scents of bone, decaying flesh, and graveyard soil.

So why didn't we just fly over to Grim's district last night?

Noir arched around a particularly high skyscraper. Because flying is a lot harder than walking.

But those wings aren't even really yours.

Yeah, but the weight they carry is and the strain has to go somewhere.

So what you're saying is that you prefer to walk because you weigh a lot? That doesn't even make sense.

Oh, shut up. The city beneath him gave way to open ground and then a forest of rot-stricken trees. He banked and descended, circling gently until he found a small grove amidst the forest. He landed with a dull thud and straightened, observing his surroundings with a perfunctory glance. When they revealed nothing dangerous, he shucked his wings to the ground with a metallic crash and knelt. The barren, rotting earth throbbed beneath him, its sodden depths pulsing with the plague's green, fibrous infection. He scraped away the surface dirt, digging through the corruption-laden filth until he found the skeleton of a mouse. He poked it with a finger and the skeleton shuddered, its limbs thrashing in momentary life. He grimaced. Let's hope it's because she's close and not that she cast her net across the whole forest.

With a whole day to prepare for you, that is not likely.

Yeah, I know. Noir stood and the shadows began pulling away from their perches, flowing outward into the forest, searching for the Necromancer as they took the shape of small, black butterflies: the Almas. One of the Almas struck something and was immediately shattered. There you are. Noir turned and strode eastward, stepping over a wide vein of fossilized green earth as more and more sable butterflies materialized from the darkness.

The End

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