They spun through the air like snowflakes, glinting in the light and turning over and over as they fell. All around them the fire sent ripples of light over their sharp edges and turned the glass fragments into prisms.
The blaze had become instantly uncontrollable. Whoever had planted the explosives arranged everything perfectly and when the station had erupted it bloomed like a flower – a flower with petals of glass and flame, with leaves of charcoal and a stem of twisted iron shards.
Within minutes the royal Falconer was on the scene, with a swarm of city watchmen crawling over the wrecked shell of the building with water buckets and fire charms. More watchmen had been posted outside the royal residence and still more had begun to conduct a search of the city. Another round of explosives could be anywhere.
Though it was cool for summer, the blast of fire had baked the air and the Falconer was sweating in his uniform. One thing they could thank the interminable rains for – the fire hadn’t caught on to the buildings in the area. They were too wet.
A watchman came up to him and smartly saluted. He nodded once, a sharp motion, and the man said, “We’ve checked inside, sir.” His face was red and streaked with soot.
“What did you find?” the Falconer asked in his cold, crisp tones.
“No one was inside. But…the tracks are destroyed, sir. And no one knows how to repair them.”
The Falconer rubbed his smooth chin. Destroyed. Everyone knew the trains were a relic, an unsolvable puzzle. There was no way of knowing whether they would ever be repaired. Surely the arsonist had known this. But was it his goal, or a means to an end?
“Return to the barracks. Any watchman not previously on duty is instated as of now. I consider the city in an emergency situation until the arsonist has been found. Send word to Solldyr – he is to raise the city walls immediately.” The man saluted again and departed.
They would find the arsonist. The Falconer had no doubt. But if he had any associates that might be in the city, they couldn’t be allowed to escape.
Glass powder and ash settled onto his coat. He stood with his arms folded, watching. All around his watchmen scurried, pushing gaping citizens out of the way as they smothered the remnants of the fire. At last a lackey scurried up to him and murmured something in his ear. He smiled at the news, his chilling smile that stopped men in their tracks and gave children nightmares. Then he followed the man away from the wreckage and towards the palace.
Click here to read Chapter 2: The Departure.