City of Lies

City of Lies by Lian Tanner Page B

Book: City of Lies by Lian Tanner Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lian Tanner
over his work—
    Then he froze, staring at the shoe. He touched the drying spit with his thumb. He dropped the rasp with a loud clang and picked up a hammer, hefting it in one hand.
    Suddenly he didn’t look the least bit kind. Goldie shrank back into the shadows.
I am the smell of leather. I am the breath of a mouse.…
    The bootmaker shouted at a boy who was running past and thrust a coin into his hand, muttering instructions.Then he sat back with his arms folded and his hammer held tightly in his fist.
    Goldie crept out of the shop, slipped through the crowd and found a spot from where she could see the doorway. She let go of the Nothingness. And she waited.
    And waited.
    And waited …
    The longer she sat, the more she doubted herself. What if she was wrong about Toadspit’s message? What if it meant something else entirely? Or what if she had got the meaning right, but the woman in the green cloak didn’t come?
    She wished the cat were there with her. She wished she knew how to use the wildness to catch a Big Lie.
    She closed her eyes. It wouldn’t be easy, she thought. Wildness had teeth. Wildness could not be trusted. And it certainly couldn’t be summoned like a slave—
    Something touched her hand, and her eyes flew open. There was no one near her, but on the other side of the street the bootmaker was ushering a woman into his shop. A woman wearing a cat mask and a cloak as green as a parrot.
    With a sigh of relief, Goldie looked down at her lap to see what had alerted her. It was a feather, fallen from the sky. A
black
feather!
    Her breath caught in her throat. She flung her head back and peered upward. “Morg!” she whispered.
    She couldn’t see the slaughterbird, but it didn’t matter. Shefelt as if the Museum of Dunt and its keepers had reached out and touched her, and given her strength. A great flood of happiness filled her.
    I’ve got an ally!
she thought.
In fact, I’ve got two, if only the cat would return. No, three, if I count Mouse. Or fifteen, if I count his white mice
.
    She giggled, then quickly became sober again. She was going to need all her allies to beat Harrow. And even then it might not be enough. If only she could find a way to tap into the power of the wildness …
    Night fell early in Spoke at this time of year, and before long the only light came from the rising moon and the handheld lanterns. Every now and again the bright sparkle of a fizgig broke the gloom. Goldie thought she could hear the brass band somewhere in the distance, though it was hard to make out over all the noise.
    There was a flash of green as the woman emerged from the shop and set off up the hill. Goldie slipped back into Nothingness and followed her, staying as close as she dared.
I am the smell of rain in the gutter. I am nothing.…
    The lanterns, the fizgigs and the crowds were soon left behind. The streets grew steeper, and the houses became more pinched and decrepit than ever. There were fire bells everywhere, although most of them had lost their clappers.
    The woman began to puff but did not slow down. Up thetattered streets she bustled, occasionally looking back to make sure no one was following her. The shadow that was Goldie drifted in her wake, as silent as the rusted bells. Somewhere in the distance, the brass band squawked an unrecognizable tune.
    Goldie saw no sign of Morg, but twice she heard the flapping of wings high above her head, and she knew that the slaughterbird was still with her.
    The house they eventually came to had five teetering stories and bars on its windows. The woman glanced up and down the apparently empty street, then unlocked the front door and went in.
    A moment later, a light went on in one of the fourth-floor windows. A figure passed in front of it, but Goldie couldn’t tell who it was. She waited. A man and a woman came out of the house next door and hurried down the street without seeing her.
    The figure walked back to the window and stopped, its face as sharp as a

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