The City of Locked Doors, Chapter six, page twoMature

"Do you think that's likely?"

"Yes, it very difficult to wage a war on another Tyrant without having some of the Wild Tyrants move in during your absence. But it's not impossible; Black Die in particular could manage it."

"But you don't think that's the case."

"Yeah." He looked up, absently staring at the ceiling.

She fell silent for a span, considering all he had said, before shrugging it away and nodding at the pack that still hung from his waste, "So what's with the bag?"

He glanced down at her from the corner of his eye and returned to his perusal of the ceiling, "Nothing."

"You carry it everywhere you go."

He gave a little snort of laughter, "There's nothing important about the bag."

"All right then; what's in the bag?"

He glanced at her again, his lips twitching, "Nothing."

Her head dropped forward with a sigh, "Will you at least tell me what the staff is?"

He shrugged, "It's the Marrow Staff."

She frowned, "Never heard of it."

"Of course not, it belonged to a Wild Tyrant, one who  buried herself far up north."

"You stole that from a Wild Tyrant!"

"Yeah, it took me almost a year to get it, and most of that up north." He scowled, "I really hate the cold."

"Wait, you've been outside?"

He nodded, "Yeah, it's not impossible to survive, especially if you stick close to the water."

"What's it like out there?"

He shook his head, "That's enough questions, we have work to do up top and there's undoubtedly some new crisis in need of management." He pushed off the railing.

You told her too much, now she knows that we've been outside the city and that you've dealt with Tyrants before. It won't be long before she tells somebody else and then it's only a matter of time before they make the connection.

I know. Noir strode down the walkway, marching toward the ascending stair with Adrian in toe.

So what are you going to do about it?
Nothing, unless I have to; Solomon Doll will throw a fit if anything happens to the girl; more so if it's permanent .We'll just have to hope that her natural reticence keeps her quiet.

That's a slim hope.

Yeah, but it's better than angering a Proctor at this point. Noir reached the top of the stair and extended his hand with splayed fingers. The shadows began coalescing before him, taking the shape of a stairwell.

Adrian came up beside him, "What are you doing?"

"I got tired of circuitous routes, so I'm making a more direct approach." A vent burst just to his right, berating them with a gout of boiling steam. Adrian drew behind Noir with a murmured profanity, one hand raised to shield her face. Noir remained where he was, with one hand upraised and the guard coat hanging leadenly from his shoulders, its thick cloth swollen on leeched shadows.

The steam burst ended and Adrian stepped up beside him again, "You can't change the city!"

"Don't worry, it won't be permanent." He flexed his fingers, sending the spiraling upward to a trapdoor.

She stared at him, her ears erect and her eyes wavering between a hard black and a fretful green, "Alright, but be careful, the city doesn't like being changed." She glanced around, the rail firmly gasped in both hands.

"I know." Noir dropped his hand as the growing stair reached the trapdoor and stilled. He returned his hand to its pocket and began his ascent. Adrian followed him warily, the black streaks that adorned her visible skin mirroring the color of the Shadow-Steel stair perfectly. They ascended through the undercity of Umbras and reached the Dollhouse without difficulty

The End

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