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Excerpt: The Copper Goat

Riwenne and her friends go to meet with the local cell of the rebellion to see if they can get more information about Riqar City, and learn how to sneak in to see the Synthetic Ethereal Apparatus.

Meet the Rebel Cell

Illari put us through our paces. All of us were in good shape, thanks to the demands of being divine warriors, but Illari wanted to see the extremes of what we were capable of doing without magic. Nothing could match the trained acrobats that she usually worked with.

When it was finally time to break for lunch, Illari shook her head. “I’m not sure what I can do with you lot,” she said. “You can barely dance or keep your balance on a tightrope. We’re going to have to rely on the machines to make this a spectacle.”

Janera groaned as she stretched out her shoulders. “Isn’t that the point of the Scientific Circus? You wanna show off what your inventions can do, so why do you even need people?”

“It’s the human element that the audience will relate to,” Illari said pointedly. “They’d get bored if all they saw was a few automatons spinning around the ring. You guys have to sell this so it keeps people’s attention.”

“Then come up with something we can actually do,” Vilqa grumbled.

Deryt set down the sharp knives he’d been juggling. “Yes. You can’t expect us to turn into performers overnight.”

Illari sighed. “I’ll go back to the drawing board. You lot sure look flashy when you’re jumping onto high buildings and falling out of airships, but I should have realized that it was all magic.” She waved her hand, dismissing us. “I won’t be back for a few hours, so you’ll have time to recover. Maybe I’ll think up a new routine by then.”

I tried to suppress my own complaints because I didn’t want to sound like I was whining, so I was grateful that my friends were speaking their minds. We had to find a way to make this work fast if she was holding us to tomorrow’s showtime.

We changed out of our sweat-stained clothes and dressed in local styles to go for lunch. Amena led the way to the restaurant that matched the coordinates. It was far enough away that we had to take a trolley. That wouldn’t be too bad, except we had to climb the stairs up a tower to the trolley lines over the streets. My sore legs were ready to give out from under me.

The restaurant was called The Copper Goat, and its namesake was a large metal animal mounted over the front door. I kept a wary eye on it as we walked underneath. The construction reminded me a little of the mechanical beasts that Rennu and Pomavar had used to attack us last year, but this one didn’t seem to move.

The space inside was large: an open floor plan with three stories stretching above us. No more metal animals, but all the dishes were made of copper, shining brightly under the sunstone lamps. There was a line to order from the counter on the ground floor, then waiters came out from the kitchen behind that with hot plates of food. There were tables on all three floors with several winding staircases to connect them. It looked like pure chaos.


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