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Books glared over his shoulder. Of course Maldynado had no trouble with the treacherous footing. He was younger, stronger, more agile, and—according to the women—the most gorgeous human being in the city. Not that the latter offered an advantage in navigating aqueducts, but it added to Books’s overall annoyance with the man.

Do you want to go ahead?” Books asked.

Gladly.” Maldynado planted a hand on Books’s shoulder and mashed him against the wall to pass.

Books dropped his kerosene lantern and nearly lost an important appendage when Maldynado’s sword hilt grazed him. “Blundering troglodyte,” he muttered.

Save your endearments for later. There’s work to do.”

Books rolled his eyes toward the arched ceiling but picked up his lantern and followed. He increased his pace to keep up. More than once his foot slipped off the ledge and splashed into the water flowing through the channel. It could be worse: they could be hiding out in a sewage pumping station.

Maldynado slowed down when the water rose over the ledge and lapped at their boots. “I didn’t know this would involve getting wet.”

When the waterway is blocked, the water rises. Surely even warrior caste louts such as yourself have heard of dams.”

Maldynado lifted a soggy leather boot and grimaced as droplets dribbled from the tassels. “Yes, but these were made by Svunn and Hilderk. They cost a fortune, and we’re making...rather less than a fortune.”

Books rolled his eyes. “Just keep moving.”

They slogged through ever deepening water, and Books shivered as icy currents tugged at his calves. Somewhere nearby, machinery clanked and ground. They had worked their way through the maze of tunnels and now walked close to the pumping station’s exterior wall. Books hefted his lantern, figuring they should be able to see the blockage soon.

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