Chapter 20b

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Delphine wasn’t in any of her classes that morning. I suspected Master Fenrey had confined her to her room while he debated what to do with her. He didn’t speak to me about the incident in the lift. There was no need—I’d laid out my side of the story for everyone to hear. He would have spoken to Dietrich, of course, but ultimately, Delphine’s fate would rest with him. I hoped my pleading on her behalf in the dining room that morning would sway him to be merciful. She was a diva bitch, but ultimately, she was one of us—an apprentice—and I hated to think of what would happen to her and her family if she were turned out on the streets.

In my classes, my fellow apprentices either ignored me or went out of their way to treat me with a sort of wide-eyed pity and guilt-induced kindness that made me want to vomit. Finally, in our “Magic, Mechanisms, and Special Effects” class, I used my technomancy to make our smoke machine belch like a dragon with indigestion until my project partners, Nicholas Clasby and Charity Trant, promised to stop treating me like I was made out of sugar glass. They actually liked the belching smoke machine, so we turned it into a robotic dragon after all. By noon, I was starting to feel normal again.

I planned to work in the tech studio all afternoon, finishing the last of my prototype designs for Delphine. It was the small round disk that could sense hormones and pheromones, and it was supposed to beep if someone with bad intentions was nearby. I had finally dubbed it an “honorometer.” I wasn’t even sure it would work. I’d been at it for about two hours when the door burst open. I jumped, sending a cup full of springs flying across the table. I swore and made a lunge for them, but they skittered to the floor.

Raymond and Thea tumbled into the room. Thea was breathing hard, a hand pressed against the stiff front of her corset. “We just…came from the library,” she said, panting. “Had to tell you.”

From the look on their faces, it had to be bad. Very bad. I thudded back to the bench. “Tell me what?”

Raymond cupped his hand under her elbow and guided her to sit next to me. His eyes had that hollowed-out dry look, as if he really wanted to cry but was too stunned to manage it. “We were coming back from the reference room, and the newsies were all selling papers—shouting the same headline.”


Thea handed me a crumpled newspaper. “There’s been another Peacock murder.”

I grabbed the paper and scanned the headlines, barely able to make sense of the words. “But Delphine said—” I clamped my mouth shut, glancing at Raymond. He didn’t know about Lottie’s prediction. 

“I know,” Thea said. “But look—” She pointed to the headline. “Peacock Strikes Again—Sub Rosa Theater Target Of New Murder.”

I skimmed the opening sentences. The room seemed to grow dim, and my stomach lurched. “The Coggled Noggin,” I read out loud. “Oh my god.” 

The next words burned like fire in my heart. “…victim appears to have been the lead actress of the illegal company, but police have not released a name.”

The lead actress was…Delphine.

“No,” I whispered.

“There was a performance last night.” Thea took my hands in hers. “When the murder happened, the police raided the theater. They arrested a lot of people.”

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