It’s been a long, dark, sodden winter, and it’s February that puts the cap on it all with going on 30 straight days of rain. Markfeet can’t remember the last time she saw the sun; all of Albion quivers pallid and shadowless from the clifftops to the harbor. The bay is an endless pimply sprawl of lead that bleeds out into an equally leaden sky.
Her city speaks in whispers, in the same running, liquid consonants as the water that drips, drips, drips off the eaves and runs down the street. The aides down at the University have gone on strike, barricaded themselves in their shared offices and shuttered the labs. There’s blood waiting to spill there, she can almost smell it, a dull rusted thread under the omnipresent tang of mildew. The aides seemed resigned to whatever comes, flat hopeless faces dumb and stolid in solidarity.
The harbor guard has fished three bodies out of the docks in the last week and a fourth one this morning, puffy and bloodless and bruised. All older, fifties or sixties, and with the scarred hands and stained lips of silversmith’s assistants. Markfeet stares down at the latest, back shredded by barnacles, and curses the rain that keeps windows shuttered and eyes down.