City of Lies

City of Lies by Lian Tanner Page A

Book: City of Lies by Lian Tanner Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lian Tanner
brother was being so helpful. What was he really after? Was it just a lighter sentence, or could it be something more?
    She remembered the whispers.
“This would never have happened under the Blessed Guardians.”
Since the children had disappeared, those whispers had grown to a steady rumble. If it became known that the Fugleman was responsible for their rescue, there was no telling what might happen.
    The trouble was, if he was right about Harrow, she had little choice but to follow his advice. Her militia were enthusiastic and loyal, and their new training program was beginning to show results. But they were not subtle, or skilled at finding out secrets. If they were put up against a villain like Harrow, in a strange city—
    She came to a decision. “Very well,” she said. “Tell your informants to go ahead with the rescue. We will pay for their help. I want to be briefed every step of the way.”
    The Fugleman picked up his pen. But before he could dip it in the inkwell, the Protector bent down beside him, soclose that she could smell the dungeons, the sour reek of rust and stone and old cruelties.
    “It is a long time since we hanged anyone in this city,
,” she whispered. “But if I discover that you are playing me false, and the children are harmed as a result of it, I will string you up with my own hands.”

am nothing. I am the smell of leather. I am a cockroach in the walls
    Goldie crouched behind the counter of the bootmaker’s shop, Concealed in Nothingness. The rope was slung around her shoulder, the lever tucked in her waistband. In one pocket, she had a twist of paper containing powdered sugar, and an old tinderbox that she had begged from a street stall. In the other pocket was a bag of saltpeter, the stuff that people used to preserve meat.
    Several hours had passed since she had stepped out of the horde of children. During that time, the bootmaker had retreated from the doorstep. Now he bustled around his workbench with the fish mask pushed up onto his forehead. He had a kind face.
    Goldie drifted over to the steamed-up window … 
I am nothing
 … and touched it with an unseen finger. A clear dot showed in the middle of the glass, lit by the lanterns that were beginning to appear in the street outside. Goldie glanced at the bootmaker, then traced a single word in large letters.
    Outside the open door, people were dancing and singing raucous songs. But the bootmaker obviously preferred to work. He picked up a shoe, pulled it this way and that, then slipped it onto an iron last and began to smooth its sole with a rasp. Goldie waited for him to notice what she had done.
    When minutes had passed and he still hadn’t looked up, she rapped sharply on the glass. The bootmaker raised his head. “Hullo?” he said. “Someone want me?”
    Goldie didn’t move.
I am nothing
    The bootmaker stood up and strolled to the window, smiling expectantly. But when he saw what was written there, he stiffened. He looked around the shop, then quickly scrubbed the glass clean with his hand.
    Behind his back, Goldie slipped across to the workbench.In the tiny shavings of leather that dusted the floor around it, she wrote the word again.
    The bootmaker walked back to his bench. He began to sit down—and stopped halfway, his big head wobbling. Goldie was so close that she could hear his sharp intake of breath.
    I am nothing.…
    The bootmaker stared at the leather shavings. Once again he peered around the shop. Then he hurried to the door.
    “Hey, Scrub,” he shouted, over the sounds of revelry. “You see anyone come in ’ere?”
    Goldie couldn’t hear Scrub’s answer, but the bootmaker looked puzzled. He stood there for a minute or two, gazing up and down the street. Goldie licked her finger, and on the sole of the nearly-finished shoe, she traced the word a third time.
    The bootmaker came back inside, his face thoughtful. He sat down and picked up his rasp. He bent

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