The City of Locker Doors Chapter Six, page oneMature

Noir leaned on the railing, his forearms subconsciously merging with the ancient Shadow-Steel. A pair of Shadow-Glass vials brooded in the cradle of his hands, controlling a peripheral sliver of his wayward attention. The great, burning Soliamiidas fumed behind him, grinding its unseen jaws and eschewing boiling clouds of white steam. One such cloud tumbled over Noir, bathing his Shadow-Silk clothing and metallic disfigurations in sweet condensation. The white guard coat was now black as his skin, its thick fabric wholly corrupted with his Shadowmancy’s leeching.

He felt Adrian waken and stir in her hammock behind him, but did not turn. He felt her rise, crawling out from the Shadow-Silk cradle to stretch out the aches from her long, curled slumber. He kept staring outward vacantly even when she leaned on the railing beside him and glanced at what he held, “What are those?”

His eyes flicked to her, sharpening briefly before returning to the distance, “Half of a promise.”

“What kind of promise?”

His hands closed reflexively on the vials, “A promise with a lot of hope tied to it.” He surfaced from his ruminations and glanced at her, “Did you sleep well? I apologize if you weren’t comfortable, I did what I could.”

“No, I was fine.” She frowned, “The strange thing is that I don’t remember being particularly tired last night right up until that last moment when I was suddenly really sleepy and my head was filled with cotton.”

“Yeah, that was my mistake, I forgot that the Drosera lace their fruit with a mild sleeping toxin to prevent their prey from struggling as much. Normally it’s not dangerous or effective on humans due to the high amount of corruption we carry in our blood, but since you’re an Undertaker…”

“... I have less corruption in my blood and, thus, it was far more effective.” She nodded and then noted his black attire, “What happened to your coat? It’s all black!”

He glanced at the sleeve of his coat, as if noticing him them for the first time, “Oh, yeah, I was working all night, searching the city for the murderer.”

Her eyes widened and she turned to face him, one hand grasping his coat sleeve, “You went outside!”

He snorted with a smile, “No, not even I’m that stupid. I was conversing with the city.”

She drew back, “What?”

He smiled a little wider and ran a finger along the railing, “Don’t you know; Umbras is entirely made of Shadow-Steel. Every floor, ceiling, wall, and furnishing, they’re all Shadow-Steel.” The railing shuddered and liquefied after his finger, beginning to churn gently in the air.

She leaned forward, marveling at the liquid shadow, “Everybody knows that it’s made of Shadow-Steel, but how were you conversing with it?”

“Well, maybe not conversing, but rather… mingling? Any decent Shadowmancer can immerse himself in the Shadow-Steel of Umbras and I was using that ability to search the city.”

She considered for a moment and then shrugged, “Did you find anything?”

He shook his head, “No, but the city is huge and it’s impossible for one man to search even half of it in a single night.”

“Then why even bother?

“Because even if it doesn’t tell me where he is, it tells me where he is not, and that is valuable information.”

“You’re trying to discover his hideout.”

“Yeah, I searched all over the Grim District last night but there was not even a whisper of a Caelus Hyde or anything that resembled controlled violence.”

“But what he simply wasn’t active last night? Wouldn’t it be wise to let the dust settle before committing another murder?”

“Oh he was active last night, I can guarantee it. Someone as powerful as he seems to be would not moderate himself for fear of the Proctors' retribution." Noir turned about and reclined back against the railing, resting his elbows upon it and gazing at Soliamiidas, "I hope that whoever it is, is merely a Wild Tyrant and not the servant of Pandora or any of the other settled Tyrants." 

The End

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