(12-3) Is a decadent belief

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Samuel waited until daylight and distance had left a substantial wedge between themselves and the precinct before he stopped at a nearby market square and sat his companions down to talk.

"That precinct is definitely in someone's pocket," Angela said irritably. "Orderlies with no work? You need to have your hands over your eyes for that to happen."

Samuel smiled and nodded. "You saw it too. Good. But worse for us, this precinct is in the pocket of the Quenched Redeemers."

"What?" Angela exclaimed. "How can you be so sure?"

"Their captain was kind enough to confirm it for us," Samuel explained. "That woman, Sarah-"

"Isn't a woman," Bertram said.

"You noticed it too?" Angela asked. "Nice one, Bert."

"You saw the stubble around her neck?" Samuel asked.

"No, I just recognised the kind of makeup he uses. Theatre troupes use it to cover up facial hair when someone needs to look like a different character," Bertram said.

"You moonlight as a theatre actor?" Angela asked.

"Small character parts. I don't have the free time to work for major roles," Bertram admitted.

"Regardless, Sarah Eirwald is connected closely with not only the cult, but the cult's use of this granary. She, or he, is also politically connected. Worse still, Sarah uses multiple identities for a reason," Samuel concluded grimly. "I'm afraid that not only have we lost the element of surprise, but if we wait, we will lose Amanda and Silas until what she knows is published."

"Is that so bad?" Angela asked.

"It is," Samuel said. "Captain Raeth believes it would tear the City apart. And Silas is taking someone who knows to a group who will make damned sure it will do as much damage as it can."

"Sam," Angela said. She took a deep breath and chewed on her lip for a moment before she spoke. "I've been avoiding asking this. But did you learn what's making the rejects sick?"

Samuel had known this question would come. It would be insulting to his partner if he hadn't known. And to answer her, Samuel reached to the only secret keeper he respected. A tall man with a badly faded hat, who was completely honest about the secrets he kept. "I did. And I might be a condemned man because of it," Samuel said.

A quiet moment passed, and only heartache spoke between them.

"You're not going to tell us, because we'd end up in the same boat," Angela said. There was bitterness in her voice, but there were layers to her anger Samuel didn't fully understand. "I, Sam, that's..."

"Rule eleven," Bertram said with a short nod.

"Rule eleven?" Samuel asked.

"Secrets are secrets for a reason. I'm not keen on it, but I trust your judgment," Bertram said simply. "I trust you aren't going to let it lie, even if you have to help keep that secret. And there are a lot of people we look after who could use an advocate like you."

Angela threw up here hand and sighed. "Yeah. Spit and ash, I have your back. You've earned a bit of burning trust, Sam."

Samuel shook his head and rubbed at his hair. "Thank you."

"So what do we do?" Angela asked. "If we try to browbeat the orderlies here into helping, they'll take too long and Silas will be in the wind. But our only option is basically to walk out into the Gloam and hope someone throws us a torch."

"We send out missives. We call for help to our precinct, Oversight, the airships, anyone else we can think of. We summon who we can and hope someone makes it to us by the time we're inside," Samuel said. "Because we can't wait, and we can't secure every train out of the district. We either find Silas now, or we never will."

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