The City of Locked Doors, Chapter six, page fourMature

Gregorio crossed his arms with a sigh, "This is going to be a long day, isn't it."

Noir swiveled back to Valerian, "Mark the Death Merchants as Lieutenant Dorian's responsibility. Next." A pool of shadows coalesced beneath Dorian's corpse, collecting the blood that spilled wantonly from his breast.

Corporal Valerian inspected her chalkboard again, "The Hemomancers are growing a new orchard at the Proctor's request, but they need a high-ranking officer to oversee the operation. That would be you, sir."

Noir scowled. "Fine, what else." I should have listened to the whole list before doling out responsibility.

Sad but true, oh if only you had the wisdom to harbor your words instead of spreading them like pollen in spring! You could always reassign Dorian.

There is no way in hell that I'm going to reassign him; he'll think he actually won the exchange.

"There's only the question of what to do with Radiance's angels left. I hear there's twelve of them out there."

"What rank are they?"

"They seem to be mostly just Malakhim and maybe one Arch-Angel, but that's unconfirmed."

Noir grimaced, "The Proctor wants them under surveillance for now. We are not to engage them for fear of sparking a war with Radiance, which we are not currently prepared to deal with. Valerian, I want you to handle that and take a squad with you; we need to be ready in case things do break down. Also, do we have any Duskblades in the armory?"

Valerian's eyebrows furrowed. "What are Duskblades?"

Gregorio answered before Noir could, "They're swords made with a special kind of Shadowmancy, the kind that made this city and the Black Coins." He glanced at Noir, "They're rare, but I think the Proctor managed to secure a cache some years back."

Noir nodded. "Well take those with you; they'll help you survive if Radiance's angels go berserk." He swiveled again. "Gregorio, you'll be in charge while I'm gone, though I expect you to call for me if something calamitous arises."

"Of course, sir."

Noir swiveled to Silas June. "I assume you're our liaison with the underworld, correct?"

Silas bowed, "Yes sir, but I hold little sway there; I just listen to whatever rumors and truths I can find."

"Your influence in the underworld is unimportant; I want to hear the rumors and what the underworld thinks of our murderer. I want to know how their reacting to him and what, if anything, they know about him."

Silas June bowed again, "Of course sir." He took a moment to order his thoughts and then began, "The most recent, and unsettling, rumor is that someone scared Harley Press enough that he abandoned his shop and vanished into the undercity."

A murmur of surprise worked its way through circle. Noir grimaced, "Who the hell's stupid enough to mess with Harley?"

Gregorio shifted his stance, "It's probably our murderer; Harley wouldn't have known about him as he's from outside and he's probably powerful enough to bully Harley, or to at least frighten him enough that he had to disappear." Gregorio shifted again, absently scratching the coat of black feathers that covered his bicep.

"There's more to it than that, for our murder to even be capable of strong-arming Harley he would have to be familiar enough with Umbras to know that Harley's even exists; which means he far more knowledgeable of Umbras than we believed." Noir tapped a quick pattern on the armrest of his chair, "What about the Ferryman, did he have any useful information about our murderer?"

Gregorio shook his head, "No, he has no memory of his own death, only of approaching a figure on the outside bank, which he describes as humanoid. The Proctor thinks it likely that our murder's an Evolved."

The End

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