"You'll leave your weapons outside, obviously," Quentin insisted, pointing at the side of the door. The young man managed to slip into a tone of respectable authority again, a place that seemed to settle the young man's nerves and returned his comfort and confidence. "Salamanders are dangerous things to take into a granary."
"So are rejects," Bertram replied, gesturing with his knife towards the other unarmed man. "That doesn't seem to concern you."
Samuel smiled, shook his head, and took one step forward. The young man in his path was obviously a leader, someone the others deferred to when real decisions needed be to made. If he let Quentin regain his composure fully, this situation could end badly.
Samuel observed as Quentin shrank back, but held his ground. It was a relief, the act was just enough to put the young man on-edge, but it enough that he'd panic in front of his subordinates. Samuel put on a scowl and raised his voice. "I'm not here asking your permission, boy. And we are not negotiating."
Samuel watched Quentin carefully, marking the flinch the young man made at being called 'boy' in front of his subordinates. "Fine. Tarks, go let our guests know we have visitors. And set up a table in the upstairs dining hall. They can keep their weapons."
Samuel smirked, and stepped forward, deliberately walking up to Quentin. "Lead on. And why don't you tell me about this little cult of yours while we walk?"
Samuel took a deep breath, and let himself recall his current objectives. Keep their leader off balance. Stall for time. And most importantly, learn if Amanda Destir has told them anything.
Quentin smiled and gestured towards the door. "Of course."
Samuel tucked his gun beneath his coat and walked with the young man. Angela and Bertram fell into step just a little behind, and the others gave them a wide berth.
"The Quenched Redeemer? Is that the official title?" Samuel asked.
Quentin nodded. "Stalwarts of the Quenched Redeemer. We work so that humanity might be redeemed in the eyes of the Eternal Fires Below."
"So far, it doesn't seem like the fires care much about us, one way or another," Samuel reflected.
"Can you really say that, with the Gloam?" Quentin asked. "We know the Eternal Fires are real. The Spire is proof enough. And what else could possibly create something like the Gloam?"
Samuel was surprised to find he had no rebuttal to that. "The little I know about your cult suggests your agenda is a danger to the City. Something about wanting to quash the Spire."
"Did you know it was a member of our order that designed the Channel?" Quentin asked.
Samuel searched Quentin's face, his expressions, his mannerism, but couldn't tell if the young man was lying. "Is that so?"
"Think about it, Inspector," Quentin said as he lead Samuel inside. "The Channel is miles of river carved out of some of the most important real estate in the City, just to drown the one thing that keeps the Gloam at bay."
"I was told it was made in case the Spire turned on the City," Samuel said, but there was something in what Quentin noted, a sense that niggled at a decade with the Orderlies, a decade of not putting up with things that didn't make sense.
Samuel grinned, impressed at how good the young man was at reading people. Quentin was already taking stabs at his resolve, careful prods fed with pointed truths. Samuel believed the young man when he said a member of his cult may have designed the Channel, it was the kind of fact a good liar used to anchor whatever else he wanted to say.
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Bitter Cold Truth: A Tale of the Everburning CityFantasy
There is no night in the Everburning City. There can never be. Fourteen people lie dead on the platform of Billows Station, killed by fire and rage. And as the perpetrator hides within the millions of people who inhabit the City, the task of findi...