Angel Arias
frossing awful clothes.’
    Naif tried to smile at him but couldn’t. Fear of discovery made her rigid. Would they be noticed in their Seal clothes? Or would the dark be enough to disguise them?
    ‘Ready?’ asked Markes.
    She nodded. She’d never been inside the wall of Grave North before. What would it be like? Would it take them long to reach Markes’s friend?
    ‘Stay close. When we’re inside, walk alongside me not behind,’ he added.
    She shot him a questioning look.
    ‘Inside Grave North some rules are bent. You have to know which ones.’
    Naif’s stomach pinched tighter. ‘But I won’t.’
    ‘Watch me,’ he said.
    ‘Where is your friend?’
    ‘Her home is along the north side of the wall. If anything happens and we’re split up, find the prayer space below the northern arch. On one side is a Clockmaker’s shop. Her home is behind it. Knock and ask for Emilia.’
    ‘What if you’re not there? She won’t know me.’
    ‘When she comes to the door, say that Markes wants her to help you, that you should go to our place and talk.’
    ‘Your place?’
    ‘It’s where we would go to be alone.’
    ‘You were alone with your trothed?’
    ‘Our families didn’t know. Trothed have hidden places all over Grave North.’
    Naif shivered. In the Seal compound such a thing would never be tolerated. ‘Let’s go. I can hardly feel my feet.’
    He gave her a questioning look, his eyes and hair the only thing visible above the line of his scarf. Then he turned and walked out onto the main thoroughfare.
    The sett street was smoother to walk on than the cobblestones and they traded the smell of raw sewage and vomit for coal smoke and fresh horse manure. They stayed on the side of the road closest to the Grave North gate, mingling in among the other evening traffic.
    Many were on their way to chapel. They disappeared into nearby doorways and up narrow stairs, and by the time Naif and Markes reached the entry to the wall, the only people left were a small posse of men, smoking and stamping their feet at the cold.
    Markes slowed as they approached. ‘Wardens,’ he warned.
    Naif peered around him and saw their distinctive hats. She wanted to turn and run but that would attract attention. Even now, she could see them lifting their heads, watching her and Markes approach.
    The entry was a huge studded gate which glowed like dying embers in the night. Together with the street lamps it created a halo above that section of the wall. As they came closer, Naif heard a faint groan. Joel had told her about that. Something to do with the burning of the long-coal in the trenches below the wall’s foundations caused the whole wall to expand and contract. At certain times of the day it cracked, at others it groaned.
    ‘Hail!’ called one of the wardens. ‘Who goes?’
    ‘Lenna Markes. Son of musician Grol Markes.’
    Naif bit her lip and kept her head bowed. Markes pretending to be his brother was a dangerous move. She wished he’d told her that he planned to do that, so she could have warned him against it. And yet it would explain away any likeness to the boy who had run away to Ixion.
    ‘Grol Markes has been on probation and not allowed to travel. His son disfavoured him.’
    Markes dropped his head as if shamed. ‘I am his other son. I know my father’s pain. I am not disallowed, though. I have to work.’
    One of the other wardens, a slight man with large ears protruding from underneath his hat, detached from the posse and came closer. ‘I believe Lenna Markes to be heavy set, and one to wear felt, not Seal threads.’
    ‘T-times are hard, brother warden. We share among families. Our cousins are Seals.’
    The warden walked a slow circle around them and Naif’s knees weakened so, she feared they’d collapse on her.
    ‘And who is this little Seal?’ he asked.
    ‘Toola Raspart. A cousin by marriage.’
    ‘I’d heard that Grol Markes’s son married among Seals. No accounting for these things. What

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