Siegfried Ansel kept Adewole well into November before he was allowed to return to Mrs. Trudge's lodgings. That teapot-shaped lady welcomed him back with tears and tea cakes before she left him in his old rooms. Deviatka's personal effects had been brought down from Risenton, and Blessing had directed Mrs. Trudge to pack up the dead man's belongings and send them to his family. The guitar remained; Mrs. Trudge said it belonged to Adewole now, his family didn't want it. He picked it up, plucked a few chords and put it down. Too soon for music, too soon for anything stringed, too soon for anything of Deviatka's. The man he knew hadn't existed. Nothing about his friend had been real, not even the friendship, but when Major Berger cleared him to return to Risenton, Adewole took the guitar along.
Doctor Ansel set an armed guard over Adewole's room in Founder's Hospital this time, a chamber set up more like a tiny study than a sickroom, but with round the clock nursing and enforced rest periods. "Oladel, my friend, you've stepped in it," he said, "and not just with the brass." He launched into a scolding featuring variations on the theme you could have been killed, you crazy Jerian.
Adewole shrugged. "Siegfried, it does not matter any more. I have no intention of escaping. I did what I had to do, and there is an end to it. I shall stay here until you tell me I may go."
"I certainly hope so. Berger left orders to fill you full of needles if you so much as stick a toe out of this room without permission. I can't vouch for what will happen if you get loaded up with that much anesthetic, even at your size."
"Oh, no, not now!" said Adewole. "Ofira, can your people distract the autogyros? We need time. Do not put anyone in danger, but see if you can divert them." The owl flew off, calling to the other birds. As word spread, the flocks and singletons tacked to follow her. They met the aircraft just a few hundred yards away and circled in a clogging cloud. Some of the sparrows got too close. Blood and feathers sprayed as a gyro's rotors sucked them in. It sputtered but stayed aloft.
Adewole's throat constricted. "Let me show you something first." They had circled the entire island and returned to the forest near the Ossuary. Ofira flew up to meet them, two members of the parliament of owls escorting her. Just what he'd wished for.
"Learnèd 'un, do that be the summat grand the bad 'un took from you?" said the owl.
"Ofira, my dear, this is my friend Alleine. She is the one who gave the feathered 'uns thought and speech."
Ofira and her owls flew in slow circles around the Machine God. "We are born so, no one makes us so."
A second wind gained Adewole a weak but determined energy. He stumbled to his feet, but the quaking knocked him back down. "Alleine, stop," he cried, "you will bring the Ossuary down on our heads!"
"Down, down, down," she chanted, a blow punctuating each word. The stones parted; the dent became a crater; she jumped into it and hammered at its bottom. "Down!"
"Alleine, listen to me, you must stop, you will kill us," cried Adewole, but the din overwhelmed his voice. Each punch sent dust, pebbles and ever larger rocks raining from the ceiling.
"Karl, you must stop this. She is a child, we do not understand what she may do," pleaded Adewole.
"So you said when I killed you," said Deviatka, "but I'm not worried what it wants to do. It will do as I say."
Adewole staggered down the stairs, coilgun trained on his former best friend. "That worries me even more. Put down the Lyre."
Adewole unfolded himself from the cargo pod. He ached all over, and not just from his injuries; the ride up from Eisenstadt had been extraordinarily rough. Even through his borrowed flight coat, gloves and hat the cold ate into his flesh, leaving his teeth chattering in the chill fall night. Inside the coat, alien to him in every way, nestled an old coilgun, another gift from the insistent Miss Goldstein who wasn't even sure it worked any more, "but better some gun than no gun."
Hildy gasped and stood up from her perch on the desk. "You can't expect me to believe that. A technology that powerful--that's approaching magic!"
"Magic, yes, it does sound like that, does it not?" Adewole switched tacks. "What makes black mercury so powerful, Hildy? Have you isolated what it might be?"
"Black mercury? What about it? What does it have to do with the rising of the island?"
"The ancients of Cherholtz--the city that became Risenton--called it ichor. It means 'blood of the gods.' It is more than a mechanical propellant. Yes, it can be used for that, but if one knows the old secrets it can be used for magic. The Risentoners make an oath at thirteen never to use magic and metal together, and I have discovered why: the ultimate fusing of magic and metal to create power akin to a god's, a Machine God, if you will." Hildy cocked her head and crossed her arms, but he pressed on. "The manuscript I have found details how to make such a god, and I have discovered what happened when he did. The God raised the island a thousand years ago. Thousands, perhaps tens, hundreds of thousands, died." At this point, her not believing him almost appealed. He could say, Ha ha, I was only joking, Miss Goldstein, no, I really need to get back up there because... Because what?
Two days after he regained consciousness, Adewole's condition had improved. Major Berger's attaché Isidore Lentzen had been by to see him, asking whether the professor knew where Deviatka might have gone to ground. He could say no with a clear conscience, as he was unsure himself. Doctor Ansel allowed him cautious walks through the hallways, clutching the ratty bathrobe Mrs. Trudge had brought from his wardrobe; a nurse always followed behind toting the basket crammed full of food Mrs. Trudge sent daily--far, far more than he could eat. He'd been passing it out to the other patients, a plausible excuse to get out of bed and a chance to scope out the hospital. Doctor Ansel's caution emanated from nothing more sinister than concern for his patient, but Adewole increasingly felt held prisoner. Back on his feet now, he had to plot an escape.