I’m continuing my goal of making up for my less than stellar posting last week!
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This is from my book Gears which will be coming out after Keys. Keys is out October 1st from Dreamspinner Press (probably. it’s not on pre-order yet)
Please remember this is unedited and subject to change!
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“Oss, let me know when you want to go. I’ll be in my workshop.”
Oss turned to face him. “I’m thinking tomorrow. Can you shut down your shop?”
I nodded. “I haven’t really re-opened it yet.”
Business had been good lately and I saved every penny in case I needed to escape. I never slept without an escape plan, a remnant from my time on the street. My mechanical curiosity shop had been open for several years and I’d started to have quite the clientele among the city’s elite. There was a bit of satisfaction getting money from the people who used to ignore me or kick me as they passed. The ones I remembered from those lean years were charged a lot more.
Bidding everyone goodbye I headed home. Thorne’s butler sneered at me as I passed. When he turned away I dropped one of my mechanical bugs. The little beetle would run around and wreck havoc. Served the ass right for how he treated Oss. I didn’t care about if he liked me but Oss lived here and I wouldn’t tolerate him disrespecting my friend.
Smiling I headed home.
The walk from Thorne’s house to my workshop took me through the posh Fourth Quarter. Everything in this quarter had the sheen of perfection. Well-maintained streets, freshly painted houses and smooth, filled in streets. Beggars weren’t welcome here. Halfway across the square a shadow moved.
I reached into my pocket and wrapped my fingers around the handle of my pistol. Unlike Oss who preferred his blades, I needed distance in my kills. I persuaded an illegal witch to place a silence spell on my weapon. When I pulled the trigger no sound would alert anyone of what I’d done. Luckily the witch had been willing to swap her spell for a gear wren. Those of us without money traded our skills and never told anyone the full extent of our abilities.
“Marbrey.” The whispered voice had me taking my hand off my weapon.
“Affie.” I watched the street urchin approach. I hadn’t seen him since we opened the door to the underground city. His eyes still had a blue ring around the edges where mine still had a metallic tint. Something about breaking the seal had affected all three of us, magical backlash perhaps.
“I came to warn you.” Affie whispered. His throat had been damaged years ago, his voice now barely above a soft whisper. I still hadn’t found a solution to Affie’s issue even with my tactics.
“About what?” The city, filled with dangers could turn on you in a minute. Murders and thieves hid in the shadows and law enforcement did little to stem the tide of corruption and murder.
“The Magistrate is looking for you.”
“Why? I thought they told him to back off?” After Oss became Key King he’d sent word that I was hands off.
Affie shook his head. “I don’t know but it can’t be good.”
I nodded my agreement. The Magistrate never came around for good reasons. I had escaped his orphanage as a child only to have to deal with him on the street. He’d tried to shake me down for cash when I opened my store but after a few bribes to some local thugs I kept him back. He isn’t well liked by the street people so I didn’t have to pay much to get them protect my store.
“Thank you Affie, let me know if you hear anything else.”
“You’re welcome.” Affie paled then his eyes flared bright blue swallowing the dark bits.