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Category Archives: Silhouine


“How many barrows of this stuff are there, Dulap?” pants Silhouine, who is starting to get a bit cross.

“Just a few more!” says Dulap. “Oh, and then the barrels on the cart. Do you have a pack animal we could hitch up to–”

“No,” says Silhouine flatly.

“Um,” says Dulap.

“It’s getting dark,” says Yael. “Look, Dulap and I can pull the cart together if Silhouine can manage the barrow, but we don’t want to do it by starlight.”

“I’ve got a lantern,” says Dulap.

“Good,” says Silhouine, brushing red-brown powder off her nose. “I’ll get some candles, too.”


“I think that’s the last of it,” pants Silhouine.

“Wait, this one is holding the door open,” says Dulap, and picks up the barrel to carry it down. He reaches the foot of the steep ladder-steps just as the hatch swings shut with a bang, startling Yael, who drops the candle.

“Where’s the lantern?” says Silhouine, somewhere in the musty cellar-dark.

“I left it outside.”


“Because it’s dark.”

“I’ll just light a twist so we don’t break our necks climbing up,” says Dulap.

His knife scrapes on flint once, twice, three times.

The cellar begins to get brighter.


Light, heat, smoke that tastes of blood or metal. Silhouine tries stomping the stuff out at first–they all do–and then pause, considering each other, a triangle with burning shoes.

On the way up the ladder-steps, Silhouine somehow manages to elbow Yael in the mouth while Yael steps on her hand. Dulap, meanwhile, lifts them both up from beneath with panicked strength. The fire inhales sharply as they burst through the hatch.

A great serpentine tongue of flame follows them up from the cellar, and Silhouine’s cat streaks out to bury its claws in what remains of her hair.


The neighborhood wakes up pretty fast.

Water and sand keep the blaze from spreading far, but throwing them on Silhouine’s shop just seems to make it angry. They can barely get close enough to do so: the column of fire is godlike, taller than the roof ever stood.

It isn’t until morning that it runs out of fuel. The shop is a well of molten stone.

“Damn those pirates,” says another shop prentice, anonymized by soot. “The bridge, our homes–they’ll bomb the whole city soon!”

“It was a bomb,” says Silhouine slowly.

“Of course it was,” says Dulap, exhaustedly giggling.


The survivors take stock of their worldly possessions.

  • Silhouine: nothing
  • Yael: nothing
  • The cat: nothing
  • Dulap: pretty much all the things he had before

“Whatever you want from my shop is yours,” says Dulap. “I’m packing a gunny for the north road.”

“Why do I suspect,” says Silhouine, “that what you’re actually offering us is Mlle. Sunanza’s remaining stock?”

“Do our masters deserve anything?” says Dulap. “They ran off to the country and left us here to get extorted and bombed!”

“It wasn’t actually a bomb,” groans Silhouine.

“What is a bomb, after,” Yael muses, “but a crater and leftover fear?”


Dulap and his gunny are gone by noon.

Silhouine, ashamed of herself, pokes through the front room: trinkets and baubles, mostly. Gewgaws. Mlle. Sunanza sold junk to the gullible and information to the incognito rich, but neither magic nor connections can be stuffed in a sack.

“Beds and fresh linen in the back,” says Yael. “Come on. You need some sleep.”

Silhouine fingers a pewter key, pockets it, sighs and obeys.

She wakes with a sack on her head, jouncing along saddle-hung on a humpbacked donkey.

“I deeply regret making your acquaintance,” grumbles Yael, nearby.

“So do I,” says Silhouine.


“We didn’t mean to burn your stuff it was my friend’s fault and he turns out not to be a very good friend plus we don’t have anything to give you to make up for your loss so we can skip that part,” is what Silhouine manages to get through, when they pull off the hood, before she has to breathe.

The man in the red cassock has his smirking mouth open wide, but he has to pause to run through all that.

He shuts it.

He gets to the end and opens his mouth once more.

Then he shuts it.


While Silhouine and their captor conduct an increasingly far-fetched conversation, Yael looks around. They’re still in the city: she can make out Grandfather Gate through a glassless window. No passersby–the second floor, then? Or higher? Her hands are bound. The guards are burly but few.

She can get out of here, but she probably can’t take Silhouine with her.


Inexpensive melon?” she tries, in her native language, in case he knows any of the old code words. “Unfortunate plover?

The man in the red cassock freezes, alarmed. “Did she just cast foreign magic on me?”

“Yes!” says Silhouine.


He’s going to offer you a last chance to make good on your debt,” the less burly of the guards mutters into Yael’s ear as, once again behooded and bedonkeyed, they jounce off to certain doom in the desert.

“What?” she snaps. It takes her a second to realize which language he’s speaking.

Up to you if you want to take it. He’s planning on killing you even if you succeed, but it’ll be some time before I can get an extraction team out here, so–

Unfortunate plover?” says Yael, astonished, starting to catch up.

It’s ‘sturdy protuberance’ now,” he grimaces.


“Behold,” says the man in the red cassock, whose name, we’ll find out eventually, is Sanguoît. “Your chance at freedom.”

Yael and Silhouine, dehooded, are busy blinking and making faces in the afternoon sun.

“I said behold!”

They behold it.

“Freedom,” notes Yael, “looks like a cave.”

“A cave wherein the last of the masters of the High Age hid his masterwork: the means to challenge the Iron Heart in its own–” (he continues in this vein for a while here) “–OUR FREEDOM.”

“Wait, whose?” says Silhouine. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening.”

After that the cave seems like the safest option.