The City of Locked Doors, Chapter Six, page threeMature

They found Solomon Doll once more occupying the entrance hall in the midst of his subordinates. Hierophant stood to one side of his, rifling through a sheaf a papers while the Proctor spoke with Gregorio Taim and Rias Dorian. The group separated as Noir approached, scattering to proceed with their various obligations and leaving him to speak with Solomon," So, who's the new corpse."

Solomon's eyes flicked over him briefly, "A former Wild Tyrant called Brigadier. She attacked Umbras about a century ago and, after her utter defeat, was imprisoned in the palace for a couple decades. Flip forward three or four decades and she is released into the city, apparently cowed into submission by Lock and Key."

Noir frowned, "What has she been doing for the last six decades?"

"We don't really know, probably guard duty of some sort; the other Proctors aren't being very forthcoming."

"Strange, why would Lock and Key let a Tyrant level individual abide in her city, much less a former rival."

"Again, I don't know, whatever was going on with Brigadier had something to do with Lock and Key, which means there's not a lot of information going around at the moment." Solomon ground the bone toothpick between his teeth, "As it stands, the corpse has been strung up in Madra's District, and nobody has any clue how it got past his sentries."

"Whoever did this is playing with us."

"That, or he moved the corpse so we couldn't find the battlefield; we're going to have to search the whole city now."

"You can skip the Grim District; I had that under surveillance all night."

"That'll at least make things a little easier." He sighed and rubbed his brow," You and Dorian will be in command while I'm out. There have been a couple small incidents that you should be able to assign people to, Corporal Valerian has all the information. Of greater important is that a group of Radiance's Malakhims arrived in Umbras today and decided to start preaching on our district's main thoroughfare. I don't want then ousted, as they could very well start a war we don't want, but definitely keep an eye on them."

"Alright, who's ultimately in charge, me or Dorian?"

"I suspect you will be in a short while no matter what I say, and, in light of that truth, I've decided to have Gregorio take up residence here for the duration of this inquiry; it'll help everything go quicker."

"I'll try to restrain myself."

"That's very generous of you."

"Well you look tired, so it's the least I can do."

"How surprisingly...altruisitic of you, I'm tempted to think you have ulterior motives."

"Hardly, I have no use for Dorian. I've seen smarter rats and conversed with more interesting boulders. Literally."

Solomon Doll cocked an eyebrow, "I find that hard to believe."

"A rat at least has the sense to run from the dog, Dorian does not."

"Rias Dorian is an able Pathomancer and a Lieutenant in a Tyrants military force; you should give him more credit."

"Lieutenants are merely a celebration of mediocrity."

"You yourself are a Lieutenant, Noir; are you mediocre?"

"Putting Rias Dorian on my level is the equivalent of putting you on the same level of Elis Madra: laughable and irrational."

"I won't argue with you on the last account and I don't have the time to discus Rias Dorian's suitability, or lack thereof, for the station of my Lieutenant." Solomon Doll pulled on his coat and donned a cap, "I trust that the Dollhouse will still be standing upon my return?"

Noir drew back with a small genuflection, "Like I said, I'll restrain myself."

"Good," Solomon Doll whistled and Hierophant emerged from the crowd, likewise equipped for the rain that poured outside. Solomon tipped his cap and departed, a quartet of regular white guards trailing after him.

Noir watched him go. It's just our luck that Radiance would choose now to send a pack of his Malakhims here.

What did you expect? He knows that you're going to be in town and preoccupied with Lazarus, this is the best opportunity he's had to mess with you for decades. At the very least, he probably hopes to cause some damage to Umbras.

Over my dead body.

That oath would have more weight if you weren't basically immortal already.

The End

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