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Silhouine sees the Iron Heart for the first time at the suq, buying a cat for the master’s mouse problem. They all see it. No shadow falls over them; no screech makes them cower. They just know to look up together.

Lanthorn’s skybeast is blood-red with cultured rust, and the tick of its mainspring smooth as a knife. Its wings and keel are taut orange silk. It is a dragon. It is fire, and greed.

Silhouine becomes aware that the market has, with silence and expediency, emptied out around her. One of Vertumn’s gang has stolen the money-pouch from her belt.


“Hold out the plan-scroll, boys,” says Captain Lanthorn, and her first mates stretch the saurian form across the empty little shop.

“It’s been long since I designed at such a scale,” frets the old clockmaker, twitching once a second. “I can’t guarantee it will work!”

“Of course it will,” she murmurs. “It’s perfect, isn’t it, boys? And now, unique.”

Cutpenny binds his wrists and gags his mouth. Curl snaps the cord for the heart-key from around his neck.

It’s six days before anyone finds the body. Around him, dragons of teak and rosewood are just beginning to wind down.