He was working with a mass murderer.
The smell of torched flesh had lingered in the back of Samuel's thoughts in every waking hour since he started this investigation. The mutilation of those bodies was the stuff of horror stories to frighten children. The collateral damage had injured over a hundred people.
Silas Miller was a mass murderer, and Samuel needed to put that aside.
"What's your plan?" Silas asked, as Samuel followed the young man up the stairs. "In case talking doesn't work?"
"My plan?" Samuel asked with a dismissive scoff. "My plan is to hope I can talk sense into people, before Theo Ratterson turns this place into a puddle of molten stone."
"That's a terrible plan," Silas retorted.
"You do understand this is your burning mess, don't you?" Samuel asked as they reached the top of the stairs. "You're the one who took an employee from Research and walked her into the hands of some insurrectionists! You took her and put her into the heart of this madness! You put her life at risk by doing this!"
"Shut your gob, you lowlife thug with a badge!" Silas screamed, and he pushed Samuel into the wall. "I love her!"
Silas pulled at Samuel's coat, just enough to pull him from the wall, before Silas shoved him back again. "I got her out! I found out they were doing something terrible to her! I risked my life for her!"
Samuel forced himself to swallow his first response, instead letting his thoughts focus on what Silas was saying. The passion in his voice, the physical violence, even the anger twisting his lips into a manic grimace was all very human.
But there was no remorse. No grief. No shame. Only resentment and rage. It was almost as if someone had cut out a piece of the young man. Or, more telling, something had burned it away.
"And you're not bothered that you haven't actually helped her?" Samuel asked. "That what you did has made her situation worse?"
Silas sneered at him, but there was a flicker of confusion in his expression. Some doubt.
"Aren't you troubled by the fact that it doesn't bother you, like it should?" Samuel asked.
Unmistakably, Silas grimaced and his arms went limp. He released Samuel's coat and turned away. He shuddered once and stepped back.
Silas was afraid. Of himself.
"Come on," Samuel said, pointing to the next flight of stairs. "Let's keep going."
Silas lead them up another two flights before Samuel began to notice the change in the colour coming through the windows. The light was blue, but a shade Samuel had never seen before. And judging by the way it shone through the window, casting light onto the ceiling as well as the floor, it was coming from more than one place.
"What is that?" Samuel asked.
"It's that Crafter," Silas said. "I've only ever heard about this happening. I've never seen it."
"What is it?" Samuel asked as he looked out the window.
In the distance, he could see the figure of a single man, wearing a distinctive red coat. One of his hands was raised, and all around him the air was glowing in a haunting, beautiful blue haze of light.
More frightening still was that the light seemed to be coming from a wide haze around him, and was so bright that the small garden wall in front of the granary was casting a shadow.
"That Crafter has seized all the heat in the winds around him," Silas explained. "If it's powerful enough, it does something to some of the gases that make up the air we breathe. I don't know much about electricity, but it's called an arc flash."
YOU ARE READING
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...