Authors: Scott Lynch
“What?” Locke prodded him again with the hatchet. “Quit being deliberately freakish and give me my fucking answer.”
“I’ll give you two,” said the Falconer, “and I’ll give you a choice. It’s guaranteed to cause you pain, either way. What hour of the evening is it?”
“What the hell does it matter to you?”
“I’ll tell you everything; please, just tell me what the hour is.”
“I’d wager it’s half past seven,” said Jean. The Bondsmage began chuckling once again. A smile grew on his haggard face, impossibly beatific for a man who’d just lost his fingers and thumbs.
“What the fuck is it? Spit out a real answer or you lose something else.”
“Anatolius,” said the Falconer, “will be at the Floating Grave. He’ll have a boat behind the galleon; he can reach it through one of Barsavi’s escape hatches. At Falselight, the
will turn on her anchor chain and put out to sea; she’ll tack first to the east, sweeping past the south end of the Wooden Waste, where it opens to the ocean. His crew in the city has been sneaking out to the ship, one or two at a time, in the provision boat. Like rats leaving a sinking vessel.
stay until the last; it’s his style. Last out of danger. They’ll pick him up south of the Waste.”
“His crew in the city,” said Locke. “You mean his ‘Gray King’s men,’ the ones who’ve been helping him all along?”
“Yes,” said the Bondsmage. “Time your entrance properly…and you should have him to yourself, or very close, before he sets off in the boat.”
“That doesn’t cause me pain,” said Locke. “That thought brings me pleasure.”
“But here’s the second point. The
puts out to sea just as the greater part of Anatolius’ plan goes into effect.”
“Think, Lamora. You can’t truly be this dense; Barsavi slew Avram Anatolius, but who
it to happen? Who was
“Vorchenza,” said Locke slowly. “Doña Vorchenza, the duke’s Spider.”
“Yes,” said the Falconer. “And behind her, the man who gave her the authority to make such decisions?”
“Oh yes,” whispered the sorcerer, genuinely warming to his subject. “Oh, yes. But not just him, either. Who stood to benefit from the Secret Peace? Who did the arrangement shield, at the expense of men like Avram Anatolius?”
“Yes. The peers of Camorr. And Anatolius wants them.”
“Them? Which ‘them’?”
“Why, all of them, Master Lamora.”
“How the fuck is
sculptures delivered as gifts to the duke. Currently placed at various points within Raven’s Reach.”
“Sculptures? I’ve seen them—gold and glass, with shifting alchemical lights.
“Not my work,” said the Falconer. “Not my sort of thing at all. The alchemical lights are just a bit of mummery; they
beautiful, I suppose. But there’s a lot of room left inside those things for the real surprise.”
“Alchemical fuses,” said the Falconer. “Set for a certain time; small clay pans of fire-oil, intended to be set off by the fuses.”
“But that can’t be all.”
“Oh no, Master Lamora.” Now the sorcerer positively smirked. “Before he hired me, Anatolius spent part of his considerable fortune to secure large amounts of a rare substance.”
“No more games, Falconer—what the hell is it?”
Locke was silent for a long moment; he shook his head as though to clear it. “You can’t be fucking serious.”
“Hundreds of pounds of it,” said the Falconer, “distributed in the four sculptures. All the peers of Camorr will be crammed into those galleries at Falselight; the duke and his Spider and all their relatives and friends and servants and heirs. Do you know anything about Wraithstone smoke, Master Lamora? It’s slightly lighter than air. It will spread upward until it fills every level of the duke’s feast; it will pass out through the roof vents and it will fill the Sky Garden, where all the children of the nobility are playing as we speak. Anyone standing on the embarkation platform
escape…but I very much doubt it.”
“At Falselight,” said Locke in a small voice.
hissed the sorcerer. “So now you have your choice, Master Lamora. At Falselight, the man you want to kill more than anyone in the world will be briefly alone at the Floating Grave. And at Falselight, six hundred people at the top of Raven’s Reach will suffer a fate worse than death. Your friend Jean looks to be in very poor health; I doubt he can help you with either task. So the decision is yours. I wish you joy of it.”
Locke arose and tossed Jean his hatchet. “It’s no decision at all,” he said. “Gods damn you, Falconer, it’s no decision at all.”
“You’re going to Raven’s Reach,” said Jean.
“Of course I am.”
“Have a pleasant time,” said the Falconer, “convincing the guards and the nobility of your sincerity; Doña Vorchenza herself is rather convinced that the sculptures are completely harmless.”
“Well,” said Locke, grinning wryly and scratching the back of his head. “I’m kind of popular at Raven’s Reach at the moment; they might be glad to see me.”
“How do you expect to get back out?” asked Jean.
“I don’t know,” said Locke. “I don’t have the first fucking clue; but it’s a state of affairs that’s served me well in the past. I need to run. Jean, for the love of the gods, hide near the Floating Grave if you must, but don’t you dare go in there; you’re in no condition to fight.” Locke turned to the Bondsmage. “Capa Raza—how is he with a blade?”
“Deadly,” said the Falconer with a smile.
“Well, look, Jean. I’ll do what I can at Raven’s Reach; I’ll try to get to the Floating Grave
. If I’m late, I’m late; we’ll follow Raza and we’ll find him somewhere else. But if I’m not late, if he’s still there…”
“Locke, you can’t be serious. At least let me come with you. If Raza has any skill with a blade at all, he’ll kick the shit out of you.”
“No more arguments, Jean; you’re hurt too badly to be of much use. I’m fit, and I’m obviously crazy. Anything could happen. But I have to go, now.” Locke embraced Jean, stepped to the doorway, and turned back. “Cut this bastard’s fucking tongue out.”
!” yelled the Falconer. “You
“I didn’t promise you shit. My dead friends, on the other hand—I made
certain promises I intend to keep.”
Locke whirled and went out through the curtain; behind him, Jean was setting the knife over the oil flame once again. The Falconer’s screams followed him down the debris-strewn street, and then faded into the distance as he turned north and began to jog for the Hill of Whispers.
IT WAS well past the eighth hour of the evening before Locke set foot on the flagstones beneath the Five Towers of Camorr once again. The journey north had been problematic. Between bands of drunken revelers with obliterated senses (and sensibilities) and the guards at the Alcegrante watch stations (Locke finally managed to convince them that he was a lawscribe heading north to meet an acquaintance leaving the duke’s feast; he also slipped them a “Midsummer-mark gift” of gold tyrins from a little supply concealed up his sleeve), he felt himself fortunate to make it at all. Falselight would rise within the next hour and a quarter; the sky was already turning red in the west and dark blue in the east.
He made his way past the rows and rows of carriages in close array. Horses stamped and whinnied; a great many of them had relieved themselves onto the lovely stones of the largest courtyard in Camorr. Locke snorted; horses were not Verrari water-engines, to be left standing decorating the place until needed. Footmen and guards and attendants mingled in groups, sharing food and staring up at the Five Towers, where the glory of the coming sunset painted strange, fresh colors on their Elderglass walls.
Locke was so busy considering what to say to the men at the elevator hoists that he didn’t even see Conté until the taller, stronger man had one hand around the back of Locke’s neck and one of his long knives jammed into Locke’s back.
“Well, well,” he said, “Master Fehrwight. The gods are kind. Don’t say a fucking thing, just come with me.”
Conté half led and half hauled him to a nearby carriage; Locke recognized the one he’d ridden to the feast in with Sofia and Lorenzo. It was an enclosed, black-lacquered box with a window on the side opposite the door; that window’s curtains and shutters were drawn tightly shut.
Locke was thrown onto one of the padded benches within the carriage; Conté bolted the door behind him and sat down on the opposite bench, with his knife held at the ready.
“Conté, please,” said Locke, not even bothering with his Fehrwight accent, “I need to get back into Raven’s Reach; everyone inside is in terrible danger.”
Locke hadn’t known that someone could kick so hard from a sitting position; Conté braced himself against the seat with his free hand and showed him that it was possible. The bodyguard’s heavy boot knocked him back into his corner of the carriage; Locke bit down hard on his tongue and tasted blood. His head rattled against the wooden walls.
“Where’s the money, you little shit?”
“It’s been taken from me.”
“Not fucking likely. Sixteen thousand and five hundred full crowns?”
“Not quite; you’re forgetting the additional cost of meals and entertainment at the Shifting—”
Conté’s boot lashed out again, and Locke went sprawling into the opposite corner of his side of the carriage.
“For fuck’s sake, Conté! I don’t have it! It’s been taken from me! And it’s not important at the moment.”
“Let me tell you something, Master Lukas-fucking-Fehrwight. I was at Godsgate Hill; I was younger then than you are now.”
“Good for you, but I don’t give a sh—,” Locke said, and for that he ate another boot.
“I was at Godsgate Hill,” continued Conté, “too fucking young by far, the single most scared-shitless runt of a pikeman Duke Nicovante had in that mess. I was in it bad; my banneret was up to its neck in shit and Verrari and the Mad Count’s cavalry. Our horse had withdrawn; my position was being overrun. Our peers of Camorr fell back and saw to their own safety—with
one fucking exception
“This is the single most irrelevant thing I’ve ever—,” said Locke as he moved for the door; Conté brought up his knife and convinced him back into his seat.
“Baron Ilandro Salvara,” said Conté. “He fought until his horse went down beneath him; he fought until he took four wounds and had to be hauled from the field by his legs. All the other peers treated us like garbage; Salvara nearly killed himself trying to save us. When I got out of the duke’s service, I tried the city watch for a few years; when that turned to shit, I begged for an audience with the old Don Salvara, and I told him I’d seen him at Godsgate Hill. I told him he’d saved my fucking life, and that I’d serve him for the rest of his, if he’d have me. He took me in. When he passed away, I decided to stay on and serve Lorenzo.
move for that door again and I will
some enthusiasm out of you.
“Now Lorenzo,” said Conté with undisguised pride, “he’s more a man of business than his father was. But he’s made of the same stuff; he went into that alley with a blade in his hand when he didn’t know you, when he thought you were being attacked for
, by real fucking bandits that meant you
. Are you proud, you fucking pissant? Are you
of what you’ve done to that man, who tried to save your fucking life?”
“I do what I do, Conté,” said Locke with a bitterness that surprised him. “I do what I do. Is Lorenzo a saint of Perelandro? He’s a peer of Camorr; he profits from the Secret Peace. His great-great-grandfather probably slit someone’s throat to claim a peerage; Lorenzo benefits from that every day. People make tea from ashes and piss in the Cauldron while Lorenzo and Sofia have you to peel their grapes and wipe their chins for them. Don’t talk to me about what
done. I need to get inside Raven’s Reach
“Get serious about telling me where that money is,” said Conté, “or I’ll kick your ass so hard every piece of shit that falls out of it for the rest of your life will have my gods-damned heel print on it.”
“Conté,” said Locke, “everyone in Raven’s Reach is in danger. I need to get back up there.”
“I don’t believe you,” said Conté. “I wouldn’t fucking believe you if you told me my name was Conté. I wouldn’t believe you if you told me fire was hot and water was wet. Whatever you want, you don’t get it.”
“Conté, please, I can’t fucking escape up there. Every gods-damned Midnighter in the city is up there; the Spider is up there; the Nightglass Company is up there. Three hundred peers of Camorr are up there! I’m unarmed; haul me up there yourself. But for the love of the fucking gods, get me up there! If I don’t get up there before Falselight, it’ll be too late.”
“Too late for what?”
“I don’t have the time to explain; listen to me babble to Vorchenza and it’ll all fall together.”
“Why the hell,” said Conté, “do you need to talk to that fading old crone?”
“My mistake,” said Locke. “I seem to have more of the pulse of things than you do. Look, I can’t fuck around anymore. Please,
, I’m begging you. I’m not Lukas Fehrwight; I’m a gods-damned thief. Tie my hands, put your knife to my back; I don’t care what your terms are. Please just take me back up into Raven’s Reach; I don’t care how. You tell me how we do it.”
“What’s your real name?”
“How is that important?”
“Spit it up,” said Conté, “and maybe I’ll tie your hands, and fetch some guards, and I’ll try to get you up into Raven’s Reach.”
“My name,” said Locke with a sigh of resignation, “is Tavrin Callas.”
Conté looked hard at him for a moment, then grunted.
“Very well, Master Callas. Hold out your hands and don’t move; I’m going to tie you up so tight I guarantee it’ll fucking hurt. Then we’ll take a walk.”