Home > The Rebels of Gold (Loom Saga #3)(3)

The Rebels of Gold (Loom Saga #3)(3)
Author: Elise Kova


   Florence was born here, but she had no recollection of this place. She was one of the thousands of children split among the guilds when the Dragons assumed control of Loom. She was selected for the Ravens and left to die.

   And she would have, if she hadn’t fought her way out.

   The main entry to the Hall of Ter.0, the most important building in the world, was blocked. Its massive doors had splintered off their hinges and tilted against each other drunkenly, leaving Florence to seek another entrance. Windows cut beams of light from the hollow center of the hall through to the shaded ground below. Florence strolled across their beacons until she came upon a rubble-strewn entry she could crawl through.

   Inside, an anterior passageway snaked around the perimeter of the hall. Florence pressed forward until she reached the grand atrium—the center for all learning and knowledge. The grandiose glass dome that had once arched above it all was shattered into hundreds of shards that painted rainbows across the marble floor.

   With glass grinding beneath her heels, Florence stepped into the sunlight, and onto the stage of destiny.

   She strode to the center of the atrium, surrounded by still-standing statues of the five guild symbols. The revolver chambers, the raven, the sickle, inverted triangles, and crossed tools for the Rivets—they were all there, but none seemed to fit her. None defined her. She did a half-turn, taking in the remnants of what was once the foundation of Loom.

   “It’ll do,” she mumbled. It wasn’t much by way of fortification or construction. But, for now, it could house the pieces of their ailing world. It could hold the Vicar Tribunal on ceremony alone, if nothing else.

   Glass cracked and snapped under footsteps.

   Florence turned. Her pistol was drawn and pointed at the source of the sound before she could blink.

   A woman emerged from the shadows. Her hair was loose, flowing like moonbeams down her back and around her face. The pristine shade reminded Florence of Ari, but this woman’s skin was a deeper hue, a more shadowed slate, not unlike Florence’s own flesh. She wore a smart bronze-colored coat with gigot sleeves, offset by a stripe of steel blue tied in a bow around her bicep. The composition brought out the powder blue stitching of her dress.

   “I am not your enemy.”

   Florence uncurled her fingers from the pistol grip, easing off the trigger, and returned it to its holster. “So it would seem. You’re not Dragon.” Florence looked over the stranger, and the contrast of soft curves and delicate fabrics that seemed to protest against the gritty world in which they existed. “Who are you?”

   The woman brought a finger up to the filled tattoo on her cheek. “Shannra, the Revo.”

   “Florence, the Revo.”

   “I know who you are.” Shannra crossed the distance between them with deliberate steps. “All of Loom knows who you are.”

   “Do they?” Florence couldn’t stop her fingers from twitching toward the gun. The last time she’d been out of hiding as a named entity in the world was the night she killed the Vicar Alchemist. It would make sense if they were hunting her. Though she had heard no word of a manhunt while she was in Ter.2.3, and vicarcide would have prompted both—rumor and hunt.

   “Of course. The woman who inspired the first Vicar Tribunal in years, who sparks rebellion like wildfire, would be known across the world.”

   “The Dragons did the work for me in sparking a rebellion,” Florence said warily. It was true. Uprising was an easy sell when the world was kindling to burn at the hands of their oppressors.

   “Perhaps, but you directed it.” Shannra played with a particularly large shard of glass, sliding it with the toe of her boot. “You organized us.”

   “I’ve done nothing yet.” There were many more steps for Florence to take, and even if she took them, she could well be marching the world she loved to its death.

   Shannra just hummed, giving a wide sweep of her arms and motioning to the room around them. There was a delicate deadliness to her, Florence decided quickly, and secrets sewn between the powder blue stitching of her skirts.

   “Why are you here, Shannra?” The girl had a filled Revo tattoo on her cheek. No doubt she was younger than Florence, and already achieved Journeymen.

   “I’m here to see the world die, and begin anew.”

   “Cryptic.” Florence put her hands in her pockets in an effort to seem less intimidating. It was a meaningless gesture; even with palms stuffed against her thighs, she could still outdraw almost anyone. Of that she was confident. She had to be, or she would hesitate when the moment mattered most.

   Shannra laughed, a sound like the crescendo of a chorus. “Fair, fair . . . Then I’m here to help give you what you need.”

   “And what is that?”

   “The Philosopher’s Box.”

   Her heart stilled. The magic in her blood pushed inward, as if to guard her immediate, instinctive response of hope. Hope was dangerous. And yet, Florence had positioned herself as the harbinger of it, because it made the people around her so much more effective. Hope was indeed a danger—but it was also excellent leverage.

   “What do you know of Arianna?” Florence asked finally. Her hands were still conveniently close to her guns and, depending on what this beautiful Revolver said to her, she could easily reach for them.

   Shannra twirled a strand of hair around her fingers with a coy smile, knowing exactly where Florence’s mind had gone. One look told Florence that she knew too much. More than anyone should.

   “King Louie sends his regards.”

   Florence reached for her pistol without a second thought.

 

 

   Arianna

   Damn the man for having the foresight to tie her down, because if he hadn’t, she would’ve spent her dying breath savoring the feeling of his skull disintegrating against her fingers as she clawed out his eyes.

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