For the full chapter list of Out of Shadows, go here.
Perry led them up into the hills to the west of Moorgate Hollow. It was slow going, but he procured a few hardy horses for the journey and they were able to carry Perry, Lettie, and Dominic in relative comfort up the rocky slopes into the foothills of the jagged western mountains.
Lettie and Dominic had come to Moorgate Hollow by train rather than by airship, and so she had not had the opportunity to see the city from above. But now, high in the hills above, she could look down at the whole of it. She pulled on the reins and brought her horse to a stop to look down, and had she been paying attention, she would have noticed that Perry was kind enough to stop, too.
It took her breath away. There were the huge, rocky fields of heather in red and pink and deep purple, and here and there she could pick out spots of white and there, among them a fallen city of metal and stone that cradled a new city built from the salvageable pieces and from the grey and white stone of the mountains and of timber from the south. She saw the airfield to the north, a huge and flattened expanse of land, and the train tracks that ran from the north and south. She found herself staring a moment at those northern train tracks. She had always known that there were civilized places further north than Moorgate Hollow but here was solid proof of it. The tracks would not go north for no reason.
“The stories say it was once called Tull O’Roc,” Perry said, startling her. He leaned forward in his saddle, looking down at it. “And that it was ruled by great kings and queens in the last days. The researchers believe it was the last great city before the Fall. And they also believe the Grey Queens made their seat of power here.”
She smiled. She knew some of those stories. “So this is the home of the hero David Archer.”
“And his lady, the Green-Eyed Huntress,” Perry said, smiling back.
“I wonder what her true name was,” she mused.
“I’ve it heard it was Jade,” Dominic said, settling at the other side of Lettie from Perry.
“No,” Perry said. “That’s only what David called her to hide her true name. He liked rocks, and he said her eyes reminded him of jade.”
Dominic arched a brow at him. “Are you immortal, sir, that you know the tale so intimately?”
Perry laughed. “No. But my family fancies itself of direct descent from the line of Archer, so we carry as many stories as we can.”
Lettie studied his profile for a moment, and then she grinned and said, “I cannot see it,” though in fact she could see something of the traditional hero in his profile. But looks weren’t everything, after all, and she found she already liked to needle him.
“I confess I can’t see it either,” Perry replied, refusing to be needled. “Come on. It’ll take all day to get there at this rate.”
It did take all day. Their destination was not far from the city but the path into the hills was narrow and rocky and treacherous, and more than once Lettie was grateful for the sure-footedness of her bay mare. The horse followed Perry’s horse without much need for direction and Lettie had only to passively ride and take in the land around her until it began to grow too dark to see it properly. Perry had made them pack blankets and extra food and she understood why now, and she also wondered how in the world he had managed to get this war machine up here without being seen.
Perry, for his part, was mostly silent except to give direction now and again. Dominic asked him questions from time to time but such a mission seemed to demand silence and secrecy.
Just as it began to grow cold enough and windy enough that Lettie wanted to complain, Perry led them into a ravine, and then into a cave and safely out of the wind. He lit a lantern and she saw the remains of a campfire and a place to corral the horses. He set about to work immediately, directing Dominic to help him uncover a cleverly hidden cache of crates behind a false wall that Lettie knew had to be the result of some sort of enchantment. She couldn’t tell exactly what he had stashed in there, but he did have feedbags for the horses and bedrolls to put around the fire.
All this preparation for camping was necessary, of course, but Lettie couldn’t help but feel that Jon was putting them off. Finally, she said, “But where is the machine?”
Perry looked sour but stopped brushing down the horses. He vaulted the corral fence and gestured for Lettie and Dominic to follow. The passage narrowed sharply as they descended and Lettie wondered, not for the last time, how he had got the war machine in there, or if it was just very small.
At least one of her questions was answered when it came into view.
It was not small.
Isaac Teague followed Felicity Hely from the airfield to city hall, but he didn’t dare enter and eavesdrop her conversation with Gregor Ashworth. He had a feeling he knew how it would go anyway. She would assure him that she was doing everything within her power to find the merchandise she sold to him and he would pretend to believe her. Then they would part and she would go to find Jon Perry.
Perry. That thorn in his side kept digging in deeper. He found Robson nursing injuries in his front office. “He has to have it,” Robson slurred, without preamble. He was nursing his injuries with alcohol, and he was not applying it topically.
“What happened to you?”
“He’s got new friends.”
He started toward his office but Robson stopped him. “The boss is waitin’ for you back there.”
Teague paused, glaring at the door. But then he steeled himself and stepped inside.
‘The Boss’ was an older man, decked out in a fine, expensive dark blue suit with a very white but dated lace cravat. Teague’s men had taken to calling him the Gentleman, for none of them knew his name. But they did know the color of his money, and it was gold. He peered at a pocketwatch and snapped it shut as Teague entered, and said, “Where is my machine?”
“Don’t have it yet,” Teague said. “But I’ll find it.”
“You’ve been saying that for three days.”
“And it’s as true now as it was three days ago. Felicity Hely is here. I’m certain Perry will lead her to it, and we’ll follow. Kill a few birds with one stone, yes?”
The Gentleman arched a brow, as if to ask him to elaborate.
“Kill Perry and get the girl and the machine. That would be useful, wouldn’t it? She’s the head of Hely Industries now and if you had her, you can machines aplenty at your disposal. You can do it, can’t you? She may be a sorcerer but you’re-”
“And how will you know when she goes to meet him?”
Teague couldn’t very well tell the Gentleman that he had formed this plan on the spot after seeing the mess Perry had made of Robson. So he sidestepped. “She’s with Mayor Ashworth. That business will take her a while.”
“And do you have someone watching Perry?”
“I was going to go right over there after collecting some supplies.”
The Gentleman smiled, staring at him with unnerving pale blue eyes. “Then by all means, Mr. Teague. Collect your supplies and go. And do not persist in failing me.”
Teague nodded and quietly backed out of his own office, and when he came back into it later to get his other gun, the Gentleman was gone though neither Teague nor Robson ever saw him leave.