Chapter 87

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Rami was itching for a fight.

Which didn't happen very often. Rami tended to agree with Leithan about that sort of thing. Violence should only be used when absolutely necessary. When there were no other options.

But when Rami thought about what those men – including his own father – had done to those girls, it made him want to hit something, or someone. He couldn't help it.

So, when Rami and Rilien, finished with distributing their articles, ran back to Central Plaza and stumbled into Captain Hanna Slyfox, Rami was glad to see that his mother clearly felt the same way he did.

She'd just come down the stone stairs that fronted the City Watch Headquarters. Her dark brown gaze was unforgiving. The holster of her gun was visible at her hip, where her long black jacket parted. Two senior officers flanked her, guns at their belts too, swords slung across their backs.

"You read it?" Rami said, catching his breath from all the running around.

"I did," Hanna said. The stark tone of her voice spoke volumes. Rami wouldn't have wanted to be in his dad's shoes.

"Are you going there right now?" Rilien asked.

Hanna spared Ril a glance. "Yes."

Rami stepped in, "I'd like to come with you."

To his surprise, Hanna considered this, then nodded. She glanced to the officer on her right.

"Go get another sword. Make it quick!" she ordered.

Her officer nodded and ran back up the stairs.

The tram chose this moment to run its course along the plaza. Since no one waited, it didn't stop and simply chuffed on, the lingering scent of coal smoke making Rami's nostrils flare.

As soon as the last wagon had passed them, Shay emerged from the other side, crossing over the rails. Long, wild black curls danced in the wind as her high-heeled boots strode over to them. A crumpled article was clutched in her fist.

She reached them at the same time as the senior officer returned with the sword as instructed. He gave it to Rami.

"Thanks," Rami said, hooking the sheath's straps to the side of his belt.

Then, Rami turned back to Shay as she blurted out, "I'm coming too!"

"No," Hanna said firmly.

Shay's eyes narrowed. "If you want to stop me, you'll have to arrest me."

Rami could practically feel the irritation flaring inside his mother. He recognized that look on her face – she would arrest Shay, if she had to.

So, Rami hurriedly said, "Mom, it's okay. Let her come. I'll watch over her, I promise."

Hanna hesitated. The two officers were very still by her sides, faces stern under their short-brimmed hats.

Rilien helped, too, "Captain, I agree with Rami. I think it's safe. Bear in mind they don't even know about the article yet. We shouldn't meet much resistance. But we should hurry."

Hanna sighed, then nodded, once. "Fine. Try to keep up, everyone."

The captain stomped away before she was done talking. She led them up the narrow alley between a bakery and the City Watch Headquarters; a shortcut to reach Uptown Street faster. Then, she made a left, and they followed, lining up after her – the two officers, then Rilien and Rami, and finally, Shay.

For a few minutes, no one spoke.

Then, Shay trotted faster to catch up, and asked them, "Do you think that's where Leith is?"

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