The Theft of Papers, Part 7

It is finished at last.

The party at the Topsy King’s court afterward was nothing short of uproarious.

Giddy and shaking in the emotional aftermath, Merri allowed Carlo and Harry to treat her like a conquering hero, though she knew right well she was no such thing. It took her three tries, finally raising her voice sharply, to get Carlo to send word out through Spite and the Docks to let her beloved friends know they were in the clear — for her part, anyway. Once assured the word would reach Theodor, Henrik, and Scarlet, she relaxed back onto a pile of… well, it was best not to think too closely about what was actually in that soft, welcoming pile. She ate something that wasn’t dead rat. The Topsy King shared a bottle of Greyfields “First Growth” with her — Merri was grateful, for the symbols on those tall black spires still whirled dangerously just beneath the surface of her thoughts.

She reached for her bag repeatedly, looking past the collection of old London street signs to assure herself the folders were still there, and that they were intact. The work on the parabola equation, and the encrypted notes… on the Correspondence. They were there, they were there. She’d make up her mind later if she wanted her notes on Hell and devils back from the Brass Embassy, after she’d rested, eaten properly, and knew that her friends were well.

On reflection, she didn’t know if it confused her or reassured her that the Bazaar’s offices were laid out in such stereotypically human fashion — a bureaucracy by any other name. It was a fairly straightforward caper once she was inside: Find the desk to which the materials had been assigned, recover them, and go. It was the getting in, and back out again, that took a level of mastery she had not been sure she owned.

Well, not before. There in the aftermath, she knew she owned it and was strangely rather proud of it. Walking over rice paper and bat bones without a single sound!! No one would ever know she was coming now, unless she wished them to know!

All the thieves were toasting her, some suggesting other robberies, others talking about courier routes and the like. Merri just smiled and nodded, hardly hearing any of it. When they were all sufficiently drunk, she gathered Harry and Carlo up and, with much relief, headed home. For a bath. And a hot meal. A decent cup of tea! And gentle, lovely music.

And, wistfully, hopefully, word from her dear ones that all was indeed well, before she slept at last.

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