City of Lies

City of Lies by Lian Tanner

Book: City of Lies by Lian Tanner Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lian Tanner
vibrating in her bones like the deepest notes of a pipe organ. What was more, she recognized it.
    It was the same wildness that she had felt so many times in the museum!
    As she set out across the city to where she had hidden the coil of rope and the lever, she shivered with nerves and excitement. According to Pounce, no one knew where one of the Big Lies would appear. But it was the wildness that created them, she was sure of it. It burned beneath the Festival like an underground fire, just as it burned beneath the Museum of Dunt.
    Maybe—just
maybe
she could use it to catch a Big Lie and beat Harrow!

I t was the middle of the afternoon, and the Protector had not slept for several nights. She was about to put her head down on her desk for a short nap when the captain of militia burst into her office, gasping for breath.
    “Your Grace. The Fugleman—”
    The Protector shot upright in her chair.
I knew it
, she thought.
He has corrupted my officers! He has escaped! In the middle of everything else—
    But the captain was smiling. “The Fugleman—he has
found
the children!”
    The Protector stared at him, wondering if she had fallen asleep after all and was dreaming. “He has?”
    “I have seldom seen anyone work so hard, Your Grace. He has sent out message after message, and now he has a reply! A runner came from the semaphore station just a little while ago—”
    The Protector held up her hand. “Where are they? Where are the children?”
    “In Spoke, Your Grace. The descriptions match exactly.”
    A bubble of hope welled up inside the Protector. She leaped out of her chair and strode to the door, herding the captain before her. “Send a message to the Museum of Dunt.
And
to Vice-Marshal Amsel. Quickly, man, get a move on. I want a company of militia ready to leave for Spoke within the hour.”

    The Protector hadn’t been to the House of Repentance since the day she ordered it closed. She had wanted to pull the whole thing down, but now she was glad she hadn’t. She liked the thought of her brother being chained up in his own dungeons.
    He wasn’t in the dungeons now, of course. His legs were shackled to a desk in the middle of the office. From the look of it,
he
hadn’t been getting enough sleep either.
    The Protector pushed past the militia guard. “Tell me,” she demanded, “
exactly
what you have discovered.”
    The Fugleman nodded eagerly. “The man who stole the children is called Harrow. I know of him by reputation; he is the
worst
of villains, and his men are the dregs of the peninsula—thieves, murderers and confidence tricksters!” He wiped his hand across his forehead. “However, I gather they have not harmed the children. Yet.”
    “Whereabouts in Spoke are they? Give me an address. I will send the militia after them.”
    The Fugleman looked startled. He tried to rise from his chair but was pulled back by his chains. “Your Grace, that would not be wise!”
    The militia guards took a precautionary step forward. The Protector waved them away and glared down at the prisoner. “Did I ask your opinion? The opinion of a traitor? I did not!”
    The muscles in the Fugleman’s cheek flickered, as if he was trying to control some great emotion. He bowed his head. “I beg your pardon, Your Grace,” he said in a humble voice. “But this man Harrow has spies everywhere. He is completely ruthless. If a body of militia entered Spoke, he would know it within minutes. Before they could get anywhere near the children, he would move them. He might even kill them.”
    He paused. A pulse throbbed in his temple. “If you will allow me to make a suggestion—just a suggestion, mind—perhaps my informants could attempt a rescue. It would cost money. They are villains themselves and do nothing for free. But they know the secret ways around Spoke. It will still be dangerous, I do not deny it, but there is a greater chance of success.”
    The Protector tapped her fingers on the desk, wishing she knew why her

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