Chapter Eight

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Hours later, Snow still hadn't figured out what to do. She decided the best thing would be to approach the sky-dock to catch a taxi down to the land village below but she hadn't left her hiding place very long before someone recognised her. There were men at the sky-dock terminal asking after her whereabouts when someone pointed her direction. She was on the run again, without a clue as to where to go, but she knew that if those men took her back to Raena, it wouldn't be Edison's death she would have to care about.

She took to the train tracks, then found a service tunnel leading off the tracks. Part way through, she found a door off the smaller tunnel that lead away from her pursuers and into the belly of the city. It felt like her only way of escape.

She had only been down this far underground with her father twice before. The first time to an engine room, one of three, where she saw first hand just how large and noisy the engines were. The second trip down was with the King's entourage on the day Skylands was launched. She didn't get very far in her solo exploration when both her father and Hunter found her again and warned her from wandering off. It was awe inspiring how big the city was underground and she'd almost got lost the second time down until hunter had found her.

Hunter. Her father. Edison. Everyone she loved were so far away and she felt so very alone and very scared. She found a darker cubby-hole many turns later where she stopped and sat down to rest. She curled up tight, with head on her knees and cried herself to sleep.

CLANG!

She awoke with a start, her heart tumbling around the humid darkness that invaded her on every side. It didn't take long for her to remember where she was and what had happened. She listened again for what had startled her, only to be greeted by the natural hum of the coal engines below and vibrations of the floating city above.

Moving again, she came across engineering mechanics in greased-covered overalls in the tunnels. She was sure they'd know her face, so she kept herself hidden as much as she could. She came across a large, overhanging water pipe and followed it until she found a dripping seam. Cupping her hands under the flow of water she drank the metallic tasting water. It was horrible but it would keep her thirst at bay.

She moved through more tunnels, avoiding people as much as possible, when she heard a loud bark and from nowhere Edison bounded towards her. She fell to her knees and buried her face in his shaggy neck, holding him tight. Then she realised too late that it was probably a trap. Arms pulled her to standing as she screamed, trying to fight them off.

'Snow, Snow, its me, its Hunter. You're OK,' letting her go, hands in front to show her he was no threat to her. She placed her shaking hands over her beating heart and breathed in deeply.

'Oh Hunter, you scared me. I thought she'd found me.' She looked behind him, fully expecting armed guards.

'I came alone. I knew something was up when I was asked to take Edison to the pound and heard that you were missing.' He looked into her eyes, questions in his expression.

'Hunter, I overheard Raena talking about kidnapping women and children for the slave trade, and, oh goodness Hunter, I don't know what to do.' She was almost panicking.

'You're telling me that the Baroness, - my great great aunt - is an illegal slave trader?' he asked in disbelief.

Snow took a step away from the young man.

'You have to believe me, she's manipulated everyone and everything and now with my father away on business she has no reason to keep me here.' She was pleading with him to believe her, but knew it was useless.

'Snow, listen to yourself.' He stepped towards her retreating form. 'Raena might be a vindictive woman, but she is very wealthy and very influential. These kind of claims could get you thrown in court.' It was obvious he didn't believe her.

She tried to recall the details of the conversation she overheard in Raena's drawing room, and got frustrated when she couldn't remember it all.

'She called him Lory, or Lamb or something. Liam! She called him Liam!' she whispered rather loudly.

Up until that point Hunter hadn't believed her story. Up until she said Liam's name.

'Liam, you sure?' he asked her.

'Yes, Liam. He was really angry with her, Hunter.' She saw the worried look on his face. 'Hunter?'

'Liam is Raena's brother, step-brother I believe. He's my great, great uncle once removed or something. But he is a nasty piece of work.' He closed the gap between them and took her hand. 'You couldn't have known about him, Snow, I believe you, but if he is involved then you are in grave danger.'

'Well, that is comforting,' sarcasm becoming the better of her.

'We have to get you out of here, off Skylands and away from Raena.' He looked down at her dress and realised that might not be so easy in what she was wearing.

'The sky-docks are flooded with Raena's men, I tried, it wont work. But I need something to eat,' she looked up at him. 'How did you find me?' It was a sudden thought.

'I'm Hunter, its what I do,' the same line he'd given her every time she got lost. 'It also might have something to do with Edison and his big fat nose, but...' he stepped back holding his nose, 'That might have something more to do with how you smell,' he said with a grin as she slapped him on the arm.

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